Roast pork

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  May 27, 2009

That's a rhetorical question, of course: Patrick's list of roast-worthy faux pas and missteps this year are legend. Apparently, the way Patrick celebrates the "season of reform" is by rewarding friends with plum jobs and unearned raises.

At least Patrick has offered something like real pension reform — unlike the legislature, whose reform would begin taking effect in a quarter-century (seriously), as the Globe's Scot Lehigh has explained. Everyone currently employed by the state is grandfathered in. It's a fairness thing: there are officeholders who would never have gone to all the trouble of calling in favors to get these jobs if they had known they would have to actually work 20 years to get their pensions.

The legislature is also resisting Patrick on the mammoth transportation-reform effort, thanks to Patrick's inspired selection of James Aloisi, the Don Rickles of intergovernmental relations, to alienate everyone in his path.

Aloisi recently demonstrated his credentials for heading a major reform effort: after thoroughly examining the many contributing factors in the Easter-weekend turnpike disaster, his department reported that the blame lay, conveniently enough, 100 percent with former Turnpike director Alan "Lights Out" LeBovidge — the one guy Aloisi's already sacked.

Not that blaming your former employee is anything unusual in the Beacon Hill sport of evading culpability.

Aggregate Industries, for example, no longer employs the six middle managers currently known as federal-court defendants 06-CR-10116-1 through 06-CR-10116-6. Thus, the state had no qualms about handing the company a $4.2 million contract, despite the company having previously scammed the state into unknowingly using cheapo, substandard cement in the Big Dig.

Blatant fraud and deceit isn't enough to get you off the state's teat, even if it's at the scope perpetrated by Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff — which, among other things, has admitted that its employees knew about the faulty tunnel roof that killed Milena Del Valle, years before it collapsed.

We can thank Attorney General Martha Coakley for letting B/PB off with a fine — and, in fact, for having just wrapped up the state's prosecutorial investigation into the Del Valle death without holding anybody at all accountable for it.

That tunnel collapse sure spurred a whirlwind of reform in the legislature, though. I mean, no wonder we've put the current transportation-reform effort in the hands of State Senator Steve Baddour, who similarly took charge then, holding hearings and producing — with great fanfare — a bill to provide some modicum of oversight over large public construction projects.

That bill died quietly in committee four months ago. As the reform went nowhere during the two-year session, Baddour was busy raising more than $200,000 in campaign contributions — much of it from construction, engineer, architectural, and design firms!

Baddour — who called LeBovidge's resignation "a blow to real change and reform in our transportation system" — has now crafted a reform bill that, according to some analysts, could actually increase the state's cost of running the transportation agencies. Baddour's plan does, however, create a lot of new advisory boards and feasibility studies. I can feel the streamlining already!

Baddour and his House counterpart, Joseph Wagner, both fashioned reform bills that left out the cost-saving recommendations of the Transportation Financing Commission — in particular, lower wages, reduced benefits, and elimination of redundant jobs. If I was cynical, I would suggest that Baddour, Wagner, and the rest of the state legislature are trying not to upset their good friends in the organized labor force, like the 6000-member BOSTON CARMEN'S UNION.

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Related: Patrick's paradox, Ménage-à-trashed?, Women on the verge, More more >
  Topics: Talking Politics , Deval Patrick, Joseph Wagner, Richard Vitale,  More more >
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