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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, April 27, 2007

Where's the beef?

Try as hard as I might, I'm having a hard time seeing the problem with Patrick transportation chief Bernard Cohen seeking input from people who know a subject.

The Globe's front page headline "Transport chief seeks advice from inside trade" brings images of hush-hush backroom dealing, and even conjures up images of Dick Cheney's secretive energy task force or Hillary Clinton's health care task force.

But when you get to the story, you are reminded of Walter Mondale's appropriation of a line from a Wendy's commercial: Where's the beef?"

Cohen has apparently called together, informally, a group that includes the executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority; the executive director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority; the finance director at the Massachusetts Port Authority; the governor's assistant secretary of administration and finance; the president of A Better City, an organization formed to address business concerns during the construction of the Big Dig; two transportation engineering and planning firms; and a transportation consultant hired by a Washington lobbying firm that recently created a special division to help construction companies and developers compete for public projects.

After that last stretch, toss in a loaded (if unsubstantiated) quote from a conservative think tank and stir:
David G. Tuerck -- executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute, a conservative think tank -- said the financial interests of members of a task force often drive the panel's agenda. "They're teeing up a massive tax increase without a care, because they are going to benefit no matter what," he said. "You can always expect from a group like that, that they will carve out a wish list."
Should a Boston area commuter be on that list? Of course -- if they have the necessary expertise. Where's the smoking gun? This is a story that should have stayed in a tickler file, awaiting the day that one of the consultants got a state gig that it wasn't qualified for.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Better City now has a broader mission than the Big Dig. We are focused on a wide range of transportation issues throughout the metropolitian region, ranging from the Silver Line to the Urban Ring.

To agree with your point, though, of course the Secretary should consult with these groups and people.

April 27, 2007 6:34 AM  

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