Monday, July 17, 2006

Tunnel Crisis Interrupting Romney's Me Time

It looks like Governor Mitt Romney will be spending more time in Massachusetts now that he's taken responsibility for managing the aftermath of last week's Big Dig ceiling collapse. Could it be that his trips to Iowa, South Carolina, and other faraway presidential primary states are now on hold? Here's what the Herald had today:

As the man now in charge of deciding when the troubled Big Dig tunnels reopen, Romney vows he's staying put until the job is done: "Surely as long as these lanes are closed and (in) the early days and weeks here, my travel is going to have to be extremely limited," Romney said. "If it remains as such that I need to be here on the site, I will be. I anticipate that I'm going to be here pretty much consistently over this period of re-mediation."
This is the danger of putting Romney in charge of the Big Dig going forward. His priorities are not our priorities. He's already written the script for the next few weeks and months -- handsome governor takes the mismanaged project by the scruff of the neck and whips it into shape to make it safe for everybody. I'm not convinced that he won't alter the facts on the ground to fit that story, no matter what the actual condition of the tunnels is. If he were really interested in the Big Dig and the myriad of well-documented problems, why didn't he do anything sooner? Moreover, since he has no engineering backround, what exactly should we expect him to do now? It seems like the biggest thing he's done is call for Matt Amorello to resign, and he's already been doing that for a long time now.

What I'd like to see is an independent investigation by someone with an engineering background, not a political one. Someone who isn't beholden to either the politicians, the project managers, or South Carolina Primary voters. I'm hopeful that the NTSB investigation can shed some light on whether the tunnels are structurally sound, but I think a full investigation of the entire project -- cost overruns, leaks, skimming off the top, etc -- is long overdue.