New Bedford appoints retired Superior Court judge to SSA
John A. "Jack" Tierney, the newly appointed New Bedford member of the Steamship Authority (SSA), is familiar with the pleasures and frustrations of travel by ferry.
Mr. Tierney is a retired Superior Court judge, former district attorney for Bristol County, and the husband of former New Bedford Mayor Rosemary S. Tierney. He is also a Nantucket homeowner who once had a law office on that island.
New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang appointed Mr. Tierney to replace David Oliveira, who resigned this month at the end of his second three-year term on the SSA board.
In a telephone conversation from his home in New Bedford, Mr. Tierney, who retired from the bench in 2002, told The Times that he decided to accept the appointment to the SSA board because he believes in giving back to the community. "I know that my fiduciary duty is going to be to the Authority, but to the extent that it can be helpful to the City of New Bedford I will try to work in that vein, bearing in mind, of course, that my obligation is to the Authority as a member of it," he said. "And I've got plenty of time to read the materials so I am really looking forward to it."
Mr. Tierney said he and his wife have owned a house on Nantucket since 1983 and have five children, three girls and two boys. "Three lawyers, a physician and a college coach," he said, crediting his wife for his children's accomplishments.
Mr. Tierney is familiar with the Vineyard, both through his former law practice and time on the bench. He presided over both of the Vineyard's only murder trials in recent years.
New Bedford representation on the Authority, once a subject of bitter political battles and anxiety on both islands, no longer raises a ripple of vocal concern. During the course of the last six years the members from the five port communities have developed an efficient working relationship that was not always evident in the past.
Flint Ranney, Nantucket Authority member and board chairman, said he knows Judge Tierney and is very pleased with his appointment. Mr. Ranney said the fact that he is a seasonal island resident will be helpful, because Mr. Tierney already understands the problems that the SSA must deal with in order to serve the interests of the islands, as it was created to do.
Mr. Ranney added, "I will miss David Oliveira, who turned into a friend over the past six years, as well as a good and thoughtful advisor and supporter in many areas, including the expansion of advertising and marketing to increase SSA income and mitigate fare increases."
Marc Hanover, Vineyard SSA boatline member, said he expects to have the same positive relationship with Mr. Tierney that he enjoyed with Mr. Oliveira. "I know he brings many talents to the board, and I look forward to working with him," said Mr. Hanover.
In August 2002, Acting Gov. Jane Swift signed a law giving New Bedford and Barnstable voting membership in the Steamship Authority. Previously, Nantucket, Falmouth and Martha's Vineyard each had a one-third vote.
The legislation provided Barnstable, Falmouth, and New Bedford each with a 10 percent share of the vote. Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket each received 35-percent shares.