I see by your op-ed in the Globe that you are going to whack the Mass. Turnpike Authority. Pardon me if I stifle a yawn. Doing in the Mass Pike board has been a goal of every Republican governor since William Weld in 1993. Is this the big-time innovative governing that we voted for?
Toward the end of your piece you write about a future move to “align all transportation strategy and administration.” Good luck. I write this not as a cynic, but as a real supporter. I am troubled that your administration-on too many policy questions-is often reactive and produces piecemeal policy. It seems to aim for mediocrity, knowing that in the hurly-burly of the policy process, we shall probably fall short even of that mark.
A key issue is revealed by what you plan to do with a big chunk of Mass Pike: “We will work with the Legislature to allow Massport to absorb the tunnels and roads that provide essential service to Logan Airport and the South Boston Seaport, including the Mass. Pike from Route 128 east to the tunnel.” In short, transfer MassPike to MassPort. Wow! That’s Change We Can Believe In.
Let me suggest that there is a deeper issue. Authorities. Back in the 1950s we thought that creating entities that had independent power, including the power to raise their own revenues, would “insulate them from politics.” Not, as it turned out, a good idea. This concept has caused, over the years, the proliferation of dozens and dozens of “authorities.” For a sample, see here. They, collectively, constitute a fourth branch of government. It’s not just MassPike, but HEFA, MEFA, MWRA, MBTA, and the list goes on and on. Sure, they can create value. But they also create political jobs, under-regulated debt, and continuous controversy. In a state of our geographical size, do we really need 15 separate regional transit authorities? And do authorities insulate themselves from politics? We know the answer. You admit, implicitly, Governor Patrick, that MassPike has been a haven for “waste and duplication.” Fine. Let’s not stop at MassPike but keep going through the whole morass of state authorities-including MassPort. You have created a state ethics panel. Why not a state authorities review panel? The two are not, after all, unrelated.