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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, January 15, 2009

That was easy

The most interesting thing about the plan unveiled yesterday by Massachusetts Senate leaders to deal with the state's transportation problem is the fact they did it -- in far less time than the Patrick administration.

A fair amount of flesh needs to be added to the bones -- and there will be a lengthy debate about the need for higher taxes or tolls.

But the proposal authored by Senate leaders offers a road map, something that is still lacking from the administration after nearly two full years.

Despite good intentions, Deval Patrick still seems to be working to grasp the concept that he is the proposer-in-chief, that his ideas are structures upon which the House and Senate build (or in the case of casinos, tear down).

The administration, to borrow the popular catch phrase, is letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. While noble in theory, the presumption that anything they craft will emerge intact from a legislative process is naive, to be generous.

The Senate plan offers a perfect example. Look at Senate President Terry Murray's response to questions about the probability of a gas tax.
"Most likely, we will at the end of the day, but we're not willing to go there yet."
It seems apparent, even to an outsider, that the transportation hierarchy didn't work too well. The "resignation" of former Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen is Exhibit A. He was to be a new kind of agency leader, unhindered by ties to past failures.

The new boss, James Aloisi, may be the poster child for those failures. But as noted here, and even acknowledged by Patrick, the new boss "knows where the bodies are buried."

So let's start digging 'em up.

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