Deval Patrick talked about changing the Big Dig Culture, and involving the grassroots as a means of governing. So it wasn’t a big surprise when he got criticized for meeting with über-lobbyist Tom O’Neill during the campaign; or that Tim Murray took some heat and had to cancel a breakfast with the same on Friday; or that Patrick has been criticized for planning (or allowing to be planned, whatever) an expensive, corporate-funded inaugural.
Although it’s true that O’Neill and Associates represent a wide variety of interests (do a search on “O’Neill”), from Bechtel to environmental groups to Chris Gabrieli’s Mass2020. Doesn’t matter. If you’re waiting for me to jump to the defense of Patrick and Murray on this issue, you’ll be waiting a long time. I’m not gonna.
Let’s have this discussion. Let’s talk about who has influence on Beacon Hill — and by extension, who does not. Are lobbyists bearing campaign-finance gifts now politically toxic? Does a governor now get screaming headlines in the Herald for meeting with them? Are we willing to set the bar that high?
Why the hell not?
But please, please, please, professional media-folk: Don’t just make Patrick and Murray pay for not living up to their own vaunted standards, and let all the other pigs feed at the trough. Hold the legislature, AG, and Sec. of State to the same high standard. If it’s unseemly for Tim Murray to have a breakfast with O’Neill & Assoc. (for example), what does that say about the longstanding “relationships” — including the legalized bribery of campaign contributions — that lobbyists have built up with other public servants over the years?
Let’s not have a double-standard: high for Patrick and Murray, low for everyone else just because they don’t aspire to anything better. Let’s have a uniformly high standard of transparency and responsiveness.
Shoot, let’s have some screaming headlines — just spread ’em around fairly, for everyone who deserves it.