Thursday, February 22, 2007
Deval Patrick - Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
A big thumbs up to Governor Deval Patrick for reimbursing the 27 thousand dollars that it cost to redecorate the Governor's office and for paying out of his own pocket half the monthly lease on the Cadillac DTS that he chose for the official Governor's car, replacing Mitt Romney's more pedestrian Ford Crown Victoria.
I try to be pretty fair on my political views, so when the newspapers reported that Governor Patrick had:
Hired a 72k a year Chief of Staff to assist his wife in her duties as first lady
Redecorated the Governor's office
Used a State Police Helicopter
Purchased a new Cadillac
I tried to keep an open mind.
When I read about the assistant for his wife, my thoughts were, gee should we really foot the bill for an assistant for Mrs. Patrick? I mean, she's not an elected official or anything, but then I reasoned that we foot the bill for the First Lady of the United States, so maybe this wasn't so out of line. I do think that 72k is a pretty hefty price tag for a glorified appointment manager. Where I live tenured teachers don't make 72k. The mayor of Somerville is paid a little over 85k and he's got to run an entire city! Still I'm willing to give D.P. the benefit of the doubt.
Then I read he redecorated the office. Hey, it's his office now, he's going to be there working hard, he should be able to make it his own. Still, 27k?! 12k for curtains?! I could add a bathroom to my house for that! But it is the office of the Governor and certainly we must budget for upkeep and stuff. If we don't we should and considering how little time Mitt Romney spent in the office who knows how long those curtains have been up.
Then, of course, came the joy-rides in the copter, and I thought really this isn't that big a deal. I mean considering all the 'money is tight' talk maybe D.P. would have thought about the perception a bit more. Considering how badly Jane Swift was treated for using the helicopter to get home for Thanksgiving (people forget the State Ethics board ruled there were no violations). You think D.P. would have handled it differently. However he is the Governor and if using a helicopter allows him to attend functions that he couldn't if he took car, truck or train, I've got no complaints.
Now the Governor's car is in the news! It seems that the 2005 Ford Crown Victoria that Mitt Romney used needed to go! High miles and a broken heater signed the car's death warrant. So D.P. chose a 2007 Cadillac for his new ride - sweet to be sure but the car cost 20 thousand dollars more than a brand new Crown Victoria. D.P. didn't do himself any favors when he mentioned that he wanted another Ford, but they don't make them anymore! Well that's news to the boys at FoMoCo. because they still sell them. So, while the press had a field day with the DeVille for Deval, it turns out that Governor Patrick was given a list of approved cars by the State Police and that his choices were limited to the Caddy or a Chrysler. Well if those were MY choices I'd have chosen the Caddy too! Still it does beg the question why wasn't the Ford on the list? Supposedly it didn't meet the State Police safety standards but this is the car they drive! There was some mention about the Ford's side airbags being a problem but the 46k Caddy doesn't have side airbags? What about that 2005 Ford? How many miles did it have on it for God sakes? The cops run these things non-stop and cab companies use them just how worn out could this one be? You can fix a broken heater can't you? Oh well, he got a Cadillac, big deal, but I have to wonder who is advising him here.
The bottom line is none of this stuff is much of an issue. A lot of it is perception and a lot of it being over hyped by the press. Still it would have been nice for a Governor who is calling for belt tightening to lead by example. In the end I'm pretty sure most of this stuff would have eventually gone away, but for the Governor to reach into his pockets and pay for some of these expenses is something I don't think he needed to or had to do, but I appreciate the gesture.
***If by the way the Governor would like to gift the 2005 Crown Victoria to some average Joe, I'd take very good care of it and I'm sure the kids would love the extra leg room! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org...thank you for your consideration***