IT DEPENDS ON WHOM YOU ASK. The Herald today reports that the Democratic leadership on Beacon Hill is sticking up for Massachusetts Turnpike Authority chairman Matt Amorello, Governor Mitt Romney's designated fall guy for the Big Dig catastrophe.
The Herald's Ann Donlan and Noelle Straub write, "As the latest Big Dig controversy raged, Democratic leaders lined up behind Amorello," citing US Representative Steve Lynch and Attorney General Tom Reilly as powerful Democrats who oppose Amorello's removal.
Herald columnist Howie Carr is even more emphatic about Democratic support for Amorello (nominally a Republican, by the way), claiming (sub. req.), "The bloated boss of the Big Dig is still counting on all his old pals from the Legislature to back him up - Trav, Sal, Tony, Joey, Stevie. The hackos di tutti hacki are all still in his corner, as you could tell from the deafening silence emanating yesterday from the State House."
Deafening silence, huh? Carr ought to get the wax out of his ears. Because this Globe story, by Raphael Lewis and Sean Murphy, lists three influential Democrats who said yesterday that they either want to see Amorello go or are willing to consider it. To wit:
In a surprising development, however, several Democrats said they agreed with Romney that Lemley's statements raised serious concerns about Amorello's stewardship of the Turnpike Authority, and at least one, Secretary of State William F. Galvin, also called on Amorello to step down.
"This is now a public safety issue, and the only way to know the situation is to get access to these records," Galvin said. "The shell game has got to end. And Amorello is the person in charge."
Yesterday, Senator Steven A. Baddour, Democrat of Methuen and cochairman of the Joint Transportation Committee, criticized Amorello for denying Lemley access to records.
Baddour also said he was surprised and outraged that Amorello had failed to renew Lemley's contract in December, as well as that of tunnel- wall specialist George J. Tamaro.
Lemley was brought on in late 2003 to assist retired Judge Edward M. Ginsburg's efforts to recoup money lost to Big Dig construction defects and mismanagement. Tamaro was hired last fall after a massive leak in the tunnel wall.
"At the end of the day, the Turnpike Authority doesn't have the credibility to stand up before the public to say these tunnels are safe," Baddour said. "That's why we brought in Lemley and Tamaro."
Senator Mark C. Montigny, Democrat of New Bedford, said it now appears it is time to consider a bill filed by Romney that would merge the Turnpike Authority with the state Highway Department, which legislators have long resisted.
"The turnpike and Bechtel have grossly mismanaged this project, and the Pike has perhaps lived beyond its useful life," Montigny said. "If there's some way to put politics aside, we should reopen the discussion with the governor."
Uh, Howie, would "Stevie" be Steven Baddour? Just wondering. And how come Bill Galvin didn't tip you off? Granted, he's not a legislative leader, but isn't he one your best sources?