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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Drip, drip, drip

The old line says to the victor goes the spoils. So why is House Speaker Sal DiMasi wondering if he really and truly won his most recent battle with Gov. Deval Patrick?

Sure, Patrick is featured on the front page of today's New York Times is a way that few politicians would relish -- especially when the newspaper is the first or second read of many of his key supporters. Early dazzle, then tough path" is not what the folks at the Patrick campaign committee are looking for to open wallets.

Mr. Patrick is faring better than a year ago, when he was under siege for spending more than $10,000 on drapes for his State House office and upgrading his state car from a Ford Crown Victoria to a Cadillac. (He later agreed to reimburse the state for the drapes and part of the car lease.) By his third month in office, Mr. Patrick had announced that his wife was being treated for depression, and by his fourth, he had overhauled his staff.

But even now, governing is not coming easily for Mr. Patrick, 51, a former civil rights lawyer and corporate executive who came to Massachusetts on a prep school scholarship in the ’70s.

Ouch.

But that same word may apply to Mr. Speaker, who apparently has received the full attention of the Boston Herald, a first or second read of a lot more people than the Times in Massachusetts. With its back to the wall, the Herald is returning to its roots, sniffing out stories that amount to a leaky faucet of annoyance.

DiMasi has already been nicked with stories about playing golf with a casino lobbyist (no traction because it certainly didn't accomplish anything) and intervening in a state contract for a political supporter that was later deemed inappropriate.

Today, the Herald offers up a two-fer: sending political cash to the company of a close friend and how a film festival run by a DiMasi aide and considered a "pet project" of a DiMasi friend netted a $50,000 state grant.

The company in question in today's story sells software that analyzes voters trends and demographics, and helps lawmakers target mailings to their constituents. The film festival grant was cleared by House counsel and the earmark sponsored by the local representative who sees it as good investment to spur tourism in Falmouth and Woods Hole.

But the net effect is a steady drip of stories no politician can relish.

And if that wasn't bad enough, the Department of Revenue has offered a report suggesting that the tax break that has brought the film industry rushing back to Massachusetts is costing the state more than it is bringing in. This is a two-fer of a different sort.

DiMasi has long been seen as the champion of this idea -- and Patrick signed on to increase the size of the tax break. So at least they have something in common they can complain about this morning. That may be the first step to working together.

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