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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars but in ourselves

So Mitt has Matt one step closer to the exit. Where are the rest of us, except of course for being stuck in traffic?

The unseemliness political posturing in the immediate aftermath of death of Melina Del Valle (including Romney's ill-tempered and politically insensitive remark about the mountain coming to Mohammed) obscures what should be the real focus here: the mismanagement that took place long before either man set foot in a tunnel.

Where is the outrage at Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the mammoth organization that "managed" this project. Or Modern Continental, which has a very checkered, but unchecked history in constructing this mess. Not to mention a history of ignoring the rules.

None of these logical targets have in the sights of our (former) governor as he has professed anger over the Big Dig and focused instead on ousting Matt Amorello. Only now, sensing a potential threat to his sham image as a great manager, Mitt has "grabbed the reins" by seeking to head up the investigation. The Legislature, wanting to avoid the obstructionist tag, went along.

But the results of a Romney investigation are almost as predictable as the latest starting probe of Attorney General Tom Reilly. The "independent" investigation will blame Amorello and the Turnpike Authority for the falling ceiling panels. Reilly will similarly pick off some low-hanging fruit.

But the real scandal that needs to be investigated (but won't be) is how B/PB and Modern Continental were able to go so long without significant oversight. And the fault there can be distributed broadly.

Let's start with the Turnpike Authority, led for the last 16 years by a series of appointees of a number of Republican governors -- none of whom is named Romney. The Jane Swift-appointed Amorello actually came in to fix the messes created by the Welducci appointees named Kerasiotes, Natsios and Capka.

While Amorello has not covered himself in glory -- and should resign -- he is a scapegoat. Period. End of sentence.

There have been some efforts -- notably on the part of the Globe and Inspector General Greg Sullivan and his predecessor Robert Cerasoli. What has been lacking is follow-up: by Romney, the Legislature, Reilly, the Globe, the Herald, the Artery Business Committee and the rest of the business community.

That lack of follow-up has allowed Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff and Modern Continental to produce a shoddy construction job that is now the nation's laughing stock. The only one's laughing harder are the companies that have pocketed the taxpayers' billions.

The proper authority to investigate this highway nightmare is not our (former) governor, a gubernatorial hopeful, a US attorney who has returned some meager indictments or a special blue ribbon panel. No this one should indeed go to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Taxpayers deserve no less -- and Boston drivers, as crazy as we are, deserve a lot more than we have been getting from our "leaders."

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