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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, July 16, 2008

Missing pieces

It's clear that Treasurer Tim is eying the Corner Office in 2010. Other than not, everything else is as clear as mud in today's Globe story on emergency legislation that would "bailout" the Mass Pike by having the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in effect co-sign for a loan.

I for one have no problem having all taxpayers, rather than only Mass Pike users, be ultimately responsible for the debt. As I've written countless times, there's a real inequity in having drivers from the west bear the $15 billion burden of the Big Dig that substantially benefit drivers from the north and south.

But beyond that, I have a couple of questions that aren't answered in the story:

Aren't taxpayers already on the hook for the Turnpike Authority debt? It gets into arcane stuff like "full faith and credit" but I thought that ultimately the Commonwealth is there to hold the bag for any of the "quasis", the semi-autonomous agencies like the Turnpike Authority and the MBTA that can issue their own bonds?

Did Cahill -- or Sen. Mark Montigny offer reform suggestions? And how can they be implemented in an agency that operates somewhat independently with a board appointed on staggered terms so that it is not supposed to be in the thrall of one governor.

Both Deval Patrick and his predecessor have attempted to bring the Pike back under control. Patrick succeeded where Mitt Romney failed. While Patrick was able to oust Matt Amorello, there are still Romney appointees on the board who may (or may not) be working with chairman Alan LeBovidge. There have been some efforts to change. We, toll payers and taxpayers, need more information.

What reforms or safeguards are needed? It's easy to toss off remarks about fiscal recklessness. If Cahill offered specifics, shame on the Globe for not including them. If he didn't, shame on the Globe for not challenging him to put his mouth where our money is.

This is a very real and very serious problem, Our transportation infrastructure -- roads, bridges, public system -- is a mess, victims of years of neglect and the massive amounts of money vacuumed up by the Turnpike Authority and its long-gone "leaders" who brought the Big Dig in not on time and way over budget.

It's going to take time and real money, to fix this. If, in the meantime, the Turnpike Authority collapses under the weight of its own bad past decisions, we will only be worse off.

Note to Treasurer Tim. You were elected in 2002, which means we've had six years to hear from you on a responsible bailout plan. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

And then there is the little matter of repealing the income tax...

CORRECTION: Thanks to Joel Patterson for catching the fact that Matt Amorello resigned in 2006, under Mitt Romney, when the SJC refused to block a hearing called by Romney for the purpose of firing him. As they say, we regret the error.

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Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

Did Patrick get rid of Amorello?

Because Globe puts the resignation at July 2006--before Patrick was sworn in.

July 16, 2008 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

And I agree with you--a Treasurer, of all officeholders, ought to have some kind of detailed plan about this.

July 16, 2008 8:32 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

That's a lot of questions ha.

July 16, 2008 11:36 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Joel, you want to be my editor? :-) Thnaks for yet another fact check catch.

July 16, 2008 8:51 PM  

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