SCRATCHING OVER THE BIG DIG. This past Monday the Boston Globe ran an op-ed piece that appeared to offer a lot of useful background and perspective with regard to the Big Dig fiasco. Peter Pendergast, the former general counsel of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, blamed much of the lack of oversight on former governor Jane Swift and on her hand-picked Pike chairman, Matt Amorello. Pendergast wrote:
As the direct result of the firings and her appointment of Matt Amorello as Turnpike chairman, Swift stopped the ongoing management restructuring of the Big Dig, including the cornerstone of the reform, to hire an owner's engineer to oversee the otherwise unsupervised Bechtel/Parsons....
The leading candidate at the time to become the owner's engineer supervising Bechtel/Parsons was legendary "Chunnel" construction manager Jack Lemley. In the mid-1990s, Lemley had written a report critical of Big Dig construction management. Ironically, Lemley is now leading the investigation of the leaks he might have prevented.
But wait. Two days later, Swift herself responded, not just whining at her negative portrayal, but making specific, factual allegations that Pendergast got it wrong. And today Swift's former top aide, Steve Crosby, writes to the Globe - again, with specifics suggesting that Pendergast allegations were factually off the mark.
Pendergast's charges are serious and relevant enough that we have a right to know whether they're true. This isn't just a job for ombudsman Christine Chinlund, although she might like to weigh in on the matter of how much vetting an outside op-ed piece ought to get. Rather, this is something the Globe itself should report.
The leaking tunnel is already a huge story. One major incident, and it's fair to say that this could become one of the great scandals in American history. The story is already going national. Today it's on page A3 of the Washington Post.
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