A couple of thoughts on Charley’s “Biggest Dig” post

Charley has just written one of the best posts ever on BMG.  Read it.

I have a couple of related thoughts to add.

First: remember what MaverickDem posted a while back about why the tax rollback issue is so important, and how it goes WAY beyond the taxpayers getting that extra 0.3% in their pockets?  This is exactly what that post was about.  Not only do voters not trust their government, they have good reason not to trust their government.  Right now, it feels like everything we have been told about the Big Dig for not only the last 16 years of Republican leadership, but let’s face it, ever since this project was conceived by Fred Salvucci and Mike Dukakis decades ago, has been a lie.  That’s a bitter pill for voters to swallow.  They are – I am – angry, and rightfully so.

Second: maybe it’s unseemly to get partisan about this right now, but here goes.  Since 1991 – which is when most of the Big Dig construction has occurred – Republicans have been running the show.  Yes, there has been an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature in all that time.  But the Governor appoints the Turnpike Authority board members and the Highway Commissioner, as well as the head of every other state agency.  Legislators don’t make appointments.  Every decision made by the Turnpike Authority, the Public Works Commissioner, or whoever was running the Big Dig over the last 16 years, every state inspector who failed to do his or her job, every failure to supervise outside contractors, all of that stuff can be traced directly back to one of four people: Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci, Jane Swift, or Mitt Romney.  The Republicans have been managing this project for 16 years, and they must be held accountable for that.  If you needed a reminder, here’s a Globe story about Jim Kerasiotes, brought in by Bill Weld to manage the Big Dig, who was eventually forced to resign in disgrace following revelations of cost overruns and management failures, after years of assuring everyone that the project was “on time and on budget,” and intimidating anyone who dared question him into silence.

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12 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. A Dig, Not a Mortal Wound

    To the comfortable status quo of the Massachusetts political system. The incumbents don't need to worry about their safe seats. I think GGW and STom's comments on Charley's piece were exactly right. (If more people die, or major parts of the system have to be shut down for years, or billions of dollars in repairs are needed, that may change). The biggest losers, to echo others, are Romney and Healey, especially if David's "Built by Republicans" meme can be made to stick, or if crimes were committed, directly or indirectly, by Republican appointees. In that case, the Dig becomes the opposite of the Salt Lake Olympics.

  2. Articulated well

    But to blame anything in Massachusetts on Republicans, is like blaming Artic melting on Polar bears.

    There may not be many of them but at least they have few responsibilities. 

    • $quot;few responsibilities$quot;

      Ummm...about those appointments...

      Look.  Matt Amorello is a Republican, appointed by a Republican Governor.  Mitt Romney even donated to his campaign when he was running for Congress.  Jim Kerasiotes, who got this whole mess underway, was appointed by a Republican.  Andrew Natsios, who ran the Big Dig for a while after Kerasiotes resigned, is a Republican, was appointed by a Republican, and left state government to work for President Bush.  Every head of every state agency for 16 years has been named by a Republican.  This one is all in the GOP family. 

      • snowball

        Who was that scapegoat in Animal Farm? Snowball? 

        The scapegoat was again Snowball.  Whenever anything went wrong it became usual to attribute it to Snowball.

        That's it.  Roof collapse in tunnel?  Snowball, because he appointed the Chairman. 

        Why, if we vote a Legislature that's 100% Democrat along with a Democrat govenor, there'll be no meddling snowballs to screw things up from now on.

        So, play the blame game, try to convince an electorate that it's the Republican's fault. You'll lose that argument and sound silly doing it.  You'll lose because everyone in Mass knows that government is Democrats, lobsters and liberals with 5 or 6 Republicans sympathetically mixed in or else bacause everyone needs a Snowball now and then.

        Want blame? Roll the film...

        Tip O'Neil spearheaded the Big Dig; Reagan vetoed it but the Democrat Congress overroad the veto. 1982 I think.  Blame the Democrats.

        1991 through 1996.  Ah, the Pork years.  Democrat jobs; Republican jobs; Contractor cash out the wazoo!  Remember, William R. Martino, the no-show at his big-dig job? What a hoot! Mr. Martino was coincidently the cousin of, state Sen. Robert E. Travaglini.  Is that Republican pork for giving him the job or Democrat for asking.  Tip was shoveling it and anyone with a snout was there to lap it up. What the hell.  I blame the Republican Govenors for the pork years; the Govenors were untrue to fundamental tenants of Conservatism.

        But frankly, pork is pork and frankly dem pork and repub pork have a fishy taste.

        So fast forward through the corruption and overruns to now: Mitt hired Matt and now Mitt wants to fire Matt but the Legislature won't let him.  Let's blame ... you're call; I'm conflicted.

        Why, it's hard to separate the pigs from the dogs from the humans!  The Democrats from the Republican.

        But you squarely blame the Republicans.  You partisan slip is showing.

        • I am not now,

          nor have I ever been, non-partisan.  (At least not recently.)

          That said, what exactly is your argument?  That it's not the Republicans' fault that their appointees screwed up in their jobs because ... what, some of those appointees had Democratic friends?  Does accountability mean anything?  If Bill Weld's appointee screws something up, doesn't Bill Weld have a certain degree of responsibility for that, regardless of who recommended to Weld that he appoint the guy?

          As for Tip and the DC Dems: that's just the money.  Has nothing to do with who was doing (or, more precisely, not doing) the work.

          And as for the Mitt/Matt show: as you may recall, I blasted the legislature for its pathetic attempt to protect Amorello by extending "Democrat" Jordan Levy's term.  I have never said that the Dems are blameless in this sorry mess.  But again, it seems obvious to me that the first line of responsibility lies with Republicans who have controlled all appointments in state government for 16 years.

  3. It's not a question of the wrong party, but the wrong people.

    In an election year when the Dem candidate will be distancing himself  from the legislature, running against a Republican corner office and trying to court unenrolled voters it will be a slippery slope attacking with a partisan message. I know politics is partisan but…

    Neither the Dem legislature, the AG or the Republican Governor’s office has been able to do anything substantial related to the big dig. A more effective approach (IMHO) is to say we have the wrong PEOPLE  regardless of their party affiliation in key positions within the government.

    The dem candidate should clear himself from the fray and talk solutions not partisian politics.

    • It's a throw the bums out year

      and it's long overdue in this entrenched state.

      The collective snout in the Big Dig Trough is only one example.

  4. My response

    I started writing a comment here and then realized it became a post.  I decided to make my response a post.

  5. It's the Hackery

    I'm coming late to this discussion, as usual, because I can't really blog during work.  But the thing that strikes me, and infuriates me, about this, is that in reality, in Massachusetts, the party affiliation really isn't explanatory.  Much as I would like to blame the Republicans for the entirety of this total f---ing disaster, and indeed they are the first line of blame because they had the keys to the whole damn project, I don't think that approach alone is going to work, for the reasons Frank Skeffington said at the bottom of Charley's post -- people aren't going to buy it.  They know or suspect that the "Democrats" could have raised alarm bells and taken measures the whole time but instead sat around on their kiesters (sp?).  So people are just going to see the whole mess as one undifferentiated conglomeration of hacks too busy yucking it up in the Beacon Hill Beltway to do their f---ing jobs.

    And you know what?  That really is who's to blame -- every member of that whole undifferentiated mass of hacks.  If there was one thing I hoped the Clean Elections law would do, it was to blow some fresh air into that s--tpile.  No wonder it was repealed in the middle of the night with no roll call.  So I think the enemy HAS to be the hackery, business as usual, whatever you want to call it.  And our Democratic nominee REALLY has to push that aspect of his candidacy.  Sure we can demand accountability for the Republican moron dilletante f---tards who are directly responsible for ignoring all of the problems, and Bechtel too, but the only candidate who's going to get traction is the one who responds to this total clusterf--k by demanding a massive challenge to the insider complacency and negligence of the hackery.

    Can you tell I'm pissed?

    • Fortunately,

      we have just such a candidate for Governor.  His name is Deval Patrick.  He has been talking about the clusterfk in very nice, politically correct terms for almost a year.  He has been advocating for an indepedent inspector general to be appointed because there will be no credibility or success without an independent investigation.  He is the only one I personally trust to get to the bottom of the stpile because he calls it like he sees it. 

      • Well I Wasn't Going to Say It, But . . .

        I agree with you. As I've said in other comments, I think Deval's the only one who can make a case, just by force of his personality and style, o.k., and also some of his positions on the issues, that he's not a just another hack.  And yes, I apologize for being somewhat repetitive of what others have already said better, but I've really been feeling the need to vent these last couple of days, so I did.

    • my point

      That was a compact, more emphatic and satisfyingly profane summation of my post.

      Look, David's right about the executive having a lot of influence over the process, but that's not the whole answer, as Jimbob says. This thing boomerangs all over the place, and makes everyone who has been in power at all look bad.

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Fri 19 Dec 7:52 AM