Fitzgerald also revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of alleged wasteful spending — at a time when, with its funding frozen, Tourism Massachusetts’s vendors were owed money, and its grants were not being paid. The MLA offered a small loan to tide MacDougall over, but even that fell through.
MacDougall contends that Fitzgerald’s “shoddy newspaper reporting” lost him the state contract. But he doesn’t dispute any factual claims in those articles, and documentation shows that the funding had already been withheld for months before the situation broke in the media. “People were quitting his board before I even started working on this story, citing his management style and lack of spending oversight by the board,” Fitzgerald says.
Still, up until last week, MacDougall had reason to hope that he had an ace up his sleeve: the newly elected Deval Patrick administration.
Patrick, who had attended a MacDougall-hosted event during the campaign, swept out everyone who had been fighting MacDougall — part of the normal re-staffing of a new administration, says a spokesperson for the governor.
Paul Sacco, the tourism-industry veteran who headed MOTT, for example, was replaced by Betsy Coleman Wall, an industry novice and longtime Patrick friend, co-worker, and campaign deputy manager. Daniel O’Connell, who worked at MassPort with Tourism Massachusetts’s chairman Charles Yelen, became the head of the Executive Office of Business Development. And Leslie Kirwan, another MassPort veteran of those days, became Patrick’s secretary of Administration and Finance.
Slated to work above O’Connell, as special advisor for business development, was none other than Representative Daniel Bosley.
This time, however, MacDougall’s luck didn’t hold. Bosley changed his mind and declined Deval Patrick’s job offer — for reasons unrelated to MacDougall, according to several sources. And when Yelen spoke up for MacDougall in a personal meeting with O’Connell last week, he failed to sway him.
Although MacDougall portrays himself as a victim of unreasonable Romney personnel (and bad media), the new Patrick team has drawn the same conclusions as its predecessors: MacDougall has not come clean about where the money has gone, and has failed to produce the results he promised, according to a source at the new administration.
After numerous meetings and phone calls, a decision was made last Thursday to cut MacDougall off completely. The state will reimburse any legitimate, provable expenses already made, and fulfill any outstanding contracts with vendors. But the rest of the $5 million from the current fiscal year will go back to the state. And the FY ’08 budget will restore international tourism marketing funds to MOTT.
In the two years that MacDougall had the contract, international tourism to Massachusetts has declined, while going up in the rest of the US. Last August, for instance, state officials wrote to MacDougall that, by his own documentation, “for every dollar spent by MIMP on international tourism in 2005, the state actually lost $10 in direct spending” by tourists. The figures for 2006 were similar, according to Department of Commerce projections.
MacDougall and some others blame the bad numbers on the Romney administration’s refusal to promote international tourism. But that claim was belied by Romney’s budget proposal released the same month, February 2005, when the legislature short-circuited the competitive-bid process to award MacDougall the first $2 million.