Friday, March 20, 2009

Deval Patrick (D-MA) On Defense Over Transportation Chief, Patrick May End Up Back in Chicago in 2010

James Aloisi - Boston Globe

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick needed assistance in dealing with the debt from Boston’s notorious Big Dig – so logic dictated that the best person to head the Mass. Department of Transportation would be the very person who spent years burying the growing cost of the project - one James Aloisi. Patrick contends that Aloisi’s experience make him a valuable asset, yet it was this very type of asset that Patrick decried in his bid for the Governor’s office only four years ago: From: August 20, 2006 Worcester Telegram

Mr. Patrick has raised similar concerns and said the administration has failed to address problems with the project for years.

“The trouble I and lots of others have is, we have known for years that it was billions of dollars over budget and had structural deficiencies and our elected executives, including the governor, have shown a breath-taking lack of curiosity about where that money went and what those structural deficiencies were, until this fatal accident,” Mr. Patrick said. “That is a shame.”

Mr. Patrick has said that as far back as 1998, the state inspector general was issuing warnings about safety problems in the tunnels and that a “Big Dig culture” on Beacon Hill ignored those warnings and also failed to act effectively to control cost overruns or collect for overcharging by contractors.

It’s almost as if the Governor is theorizing that there is not a great deal of difference between hiding the money and finding the money – the solution to finding money to cover exorbitant Turnpike Authority salaries, mismanagement of funds and a need to keep the behemoth in Boston stable – raise the gas tax, increase tolls and take it out on the taxpayers of Massachusetts - who are already overburdened by an administration that has lived up to expectations: spend, then tax.

Backlash to the gas tax increase has been statewide. In Western Massachusetts, WHYN talk Radio has an online petition - “No Massachusetts Gas Tax Hike” – addressed to the Governor. The tag line reads: “We not interested in Digging mismanaged state agencies out of their Big financial hole!”. 16,237 signatures have been affixed to the petition since it went live on-line.

Deval Patrick and Obama - (Patrick one of Obama's most visible surrogates)

The Governor, in an attempt to evade growing criticism of his gas tax increases scheme, decided to buy time by tapping into the Turnpike Authority’s Reserves. The administration had previously held back tapping this reserves due to the agency’s “low credit rating." However, this is an emergency - the Governor is experience low public opinion.

Massachusetts GOP Chair, Jennifer Nassour issued the following statement yesterday in response to the Governor's decision to tap cash into cash reserves: “If the Patrick Administration could tap cash reserves, why wasn't this option clearly explained earlier to the toll- and taxpayers? Why are they waiting until the last-minute to make this suggestion? Why has the Governor said nothing about his administration's failure to make reforms, like the promise to reduce 100 jobs at the Turnpike? Why hasn't the governor forcefully rejected his Transportation Secretary's declaration that 'reform before revenue' is a 'meaningless slogan'?"

"The Governor needs to stop focusing on tax and toll increases and start putting some serious effort into real reforms, including eliminating wasteful spending like the no-show jobs on Beacon Hill and the newly created jobs for his friends and neighbors. The Governor needs to explain to the hardworking families of Massachusetts who are struggling to manage their own household budgets why he chose to try to ram through an 11th hour tax increase instead of tackling real, obvious reforms."

Ms. Nassour, as always, brings up some very valid points – points that resound with voters in the troubled Bay State. These voters, however, are not certain Patrick is capable of reform – therefore, the Chicago style of governing that invaded Beacon Hill in 2006, may be given a ticket back in Illinois in 2010.

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