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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Transparency in government

This is not what people mean when they say government actions should be transparent.

With slightly less than three weeks to go, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, trying to show off how it is now clearly under the control of (former) Gov. Mitt Romney, votes "in principle" to offer a multi-million break in tolls to Pike users west of Route 128. They claim it will almost pay for itself by eliminating the jobs of toll collectors.

At an afternoon press conference, Gov. Mitt Romney and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey applauded the move

"Finally we've been able to see inside the system ... and we found that we're collecting tolls to pay for the collection of tolls, said Healey, the Republican nominee for governor.

One day after writing off Healey's chances in a national interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the Mittser deigns to offer his presence in Massachusetts at the side of his lt-gov -- and even let her speak.

Let's start with a basic fact: there is no good reason why people west of 128 should be saddled with the cost of paying the Big Dig. Those costs should be assessed to the people -- north and south of the city -- who actually use the road. Toll booths on 93 anyone?

But to offer this clearly partisan proposal, without bothering to put it in the context of a broader plan to pay for the state's massive transportation needs, is reckless (and transparent) pandering at its worst (a hallmark of the Romney-Healey administration).

This campaign ploy comes a few weeks after a supposedly nonpartisan committee suggests that tolls and higher gasoline taxes will be needed to pay for the infrastructure needs that have been neglected through 16 years of Republican mismanagement of the Big Dig. And of course, after Healey's "proposal" to eliminate the gasoline tax for a few months.

Republicans -- especially those in political trouble -- think nothing of pandering to taxpayers. They offer the free lunch theory, thinking the suckers will forget when the time comes to pay for all their promises.

OK Mitt and Kerry -- how about rolling back T fares too? After all, if you're going to make promises, how about us poor schlubs inside 128? Or are we supposed to foot the entire bill for the state's glaring transportation needs?

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