GOVERNOR’S RACE IN MASSACHUSETTS IS STARTING TO HEAT UP (INCLUDES CAPE WIND DEBATE VIDEO)…
Governor Deval Patrick spent more than $10,000 on damask drapes for his State House office as part of a $27,387 makeover that also included a new desk, settee, and other furnishings paid for with taxpayer money.
Yesterday, after an inquiry from the Globe, Patrick abruptly announced that he would repay the state for the draperies and furnishings.
At the same time, Patrick said he would contribute $543 each month to the lease of the Cadillac DTS he uses for state business, bringing the cost to the public in line with the more modest Ford Crown Victoria used by Governor Mitt Romney.
Patrick, who just days ago defiantly defended his lease of the $46,000 luxury car, said he changed his mind after a weekend spent struggling with the state’s dismal finances and the budget cuts he has asked his agency leaders to make to bridge a deficit of at least $1 billion.
"I realize I cannot in good conscience ask the agencies to make those choices without being willing to make them myself," Patrick said in a statement released late yesterday.
Aides declined to permit a Globe photographer to photograph the new furniture or the draperies, hung at the enormous windows overlooking Boston Common.
Patrick’s reversal occurred after huddling with advisers about how to deal with a rising political and media storm, the first of his seven-week-old administration.
The wrong man blamed
Gov. Deval Patrick says Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker developed and supported an out-of-control Big Dig financing scheme that was misleading, diverted money from other transportation projects and diminished public confidence in state government.
“He’s got to answer for it,” the governor declared, seemingly without a hint of irony.
It’s a line that could have come from his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, when Patrick was swept into office after railing against the “Big Dig culture on Beacon Hill.” But it’s stunning to hear the governor say it in 2010, considering that less than a year ago his secretary of transportation was the guy who literally wrote the book on the Big Dig.
In 2004, James Aloisi published “The Big Dig: New England Remembers” after being involved in the project since its inception. Aloisi served as an assistant secretary of transportation under Gov. Michael Dukakis, general counsel for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and then as outside counsel to the Turnpike Authority.
As outside counsel, Aloisi racked up $3 million in legal fees before the Turnpike Authority Board of Directors fired him in 2001 for his inability to justify more than $800,000 in billings.
From the time he was ousted until he became transportation secretary in 2008, Aloisi donated more than $40,000 to a who’s who of Massachusetts politicians.
Patrick blames Baker for the Big Dig financing plan, but Aloisi’s own bio from his former law firm describes him as the “principal author of landmark legislation to establish the statutory framework for the operation, maintenance and financing” of the Big Dig.
It’s easy to see why former Turnpike Authority board member Christy Mihos said, “I don’t know anybody who would be more a part of the Big Dig culture than Jim Aloisi,” calling him “the Big Dig personified.” But when asked whether he was part of the Big Dig culture, Aloisi said, “I don’t even know what that phrase means.”
Upon Aloisi’s resignation from the transportation secretary post last fall after a gaffe-filled 10 months, Patrick praised him for “the administration and implementation of our accelerated bridge program.” That program, which quickens the pace of repairs on the commonwealth’s crumbling bridges, is funded the same way the Big Dig was. It appears to be Aloisi’s financing plan when the governor likes the results and Baker’s when he doesn’t.
Baker has taken responsibility for the part he played in the Big Dig. In the midst of Patrick’s misleading attacks, one thing that’s clear is that Baker’s role was far smaller than the one played by Patrick’s former transportation secretary, who was the face of the Big Dig.
Learn more about the Republican candidate and former head of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
Learn more about the state Treasurer and independent candidate.
Learn more about the Democratic governor, who is running for reelection.
Learn more about the Lexington physician and Green-Rainbow candidate.