Indeed. As David mentioned below, we talked with Governor Patrick tonight. We related that the general sentiment on the blog about new Transportation Secretary Jim Aloisi was less than ecstatic. What could Gov. Patrick tell us to make us like, or understand the pick? Here's the transcript of that section, highlights bolded by me:
CHARLEY: [Regarding Aloisi], what can you tell us to make us think that he is not yet another representative of the Big Dig Culture, he's not another hack, and that this is the guy to make transportation bureaucracy clean and efficient, on time and under budget, to the end of all days?
GOV. PATRICK: [laughs] And can leap tall buildings in a single bound, as well! … Well, I'll tell you that in all the conversations I've had with all the potential transportation heads, the one with the most ideas and creativity, bar none, is Jim Aloisi. And I also think that the practicality of achieving the MassTrans vision that we've been talking about … requires so much delicate politics because of so many investments that individual legislators and individual legislative leaders have in this or that agency, that we're going to need somebody who understands that, and can help us navigate it. You know, it's not up to the Transportation Secretary, at the end of the day, to come up with a vision for MassTrans — that's my job. And we've done that; we know where we want to go.
We are frankly surprised that there's appetite in the legislature for taking a bigger first step than we thought. You know, our first step was simply to abolish the turnpike and take the metropolitan highway system and put that at MassPort, and bring the western part of the 'Pike into MassHighway. But there's a surprising level of interest in going to the endgame in a single step, or at least authorizing us to do so, right up to and including considering what new funding sources there may be, and by that I mean the gas tax, but I don't mean just the gas tax.
So I think it's a very exciting time; it's a very delicate series of negotiations for reasons we can get into, that you probably appreciate as much as anybody, and I think Jim appreciates that. You know, I've had some pretty blunt conversations with Jim about … things like the way the debt was managed, and where it was placed, and why; and I understand the justifications, and I did before I talked to Jim. But the fact is that all that stuff has come home to roost, and we're going to have to be much more candid, not just with the public, but with each other in state government, about how big these challenges are, and what the realistic solutions are over the long term.
DAVID: … Is there some sort of pithy thing to say about Jim Aloisi that we don't know[?] … It would be great if there was something that people don't know about him, but should.
GOVERNOR PATRICK: … One thing that is helpful to me is that he knows where the bodies are buried. And you know, the sad reality is that we have to dig up a lot of those bodies, and bury them properly. You know, I wish it were more glamorous, but this is an unbelievably complicated thing. I mean, the financing is complicated enough! But you have layered on that all kinds of politics. You know, there are some agencies … where the nickname is that of their legislative sponsor. And people in communities know that if you want something from that agency, like a job [for a relative] … There are all kinds of guardians and old relationships, and arrangements that were arrived at to solve some problem that you can't know about unless you were there. All that stuff needs to be unwound and brought into the sunlight. And it is so helpful to have someone who understands all that to be on the team and to be on our side.
We also talked about other things: Obama, grassroots governing, ethics … we'll be posting about these issues later.