Friday, July 21, 2006

What Took Him So Long?

The Globe is giving Romney high marks for his current response to the deadly collapse of the ceiling panel in the I-90 connector tunnel. They point out, in particular, how quickly he's mastered the engineering lingo and how eager he is to appear in front of the cameras. During all this, though, they neglect to mention something that the Phoenix's David Bernstein and Emily Rooney noted yesterday on Greater Boston. That is, if Romney could get up to speed so quickly on the Big Dig now, where was he earlier in his term? It's not as if this latest crisis was the first time during his term that we've been told of a deficiency with the project's construction. Before the ceiling tile fell, there were three other serious problems with the tunnels that were identified while Romney was governor: defective slurry wall panels, substandard concrete, and hundreds of leaks. After each was discovered, Romney did little other than to call for Turnpike Authority Chair Matt Amorello to resign -- as if that would have magically fixed those problems. No doubt, if Amorello had a shred of decency, he would resign and save the public the expense of having his removal fought out by lawyers, but that's a different item all together.

After each of those problems were found, we were told that the tunnels were safe. It took a tragedy to reveal that those reassurances were empty. Where was Romney then? Heck, where was anybody? It's sad that it took a death for people to start taking serious action to review the safety of the project.

This is why we need an independent investigation with a scope greater than what the criminal investigation or other audits can uncover. Yesterday's problem was the slurry wall, today's is the bolts and ceiling panels, what will tomorrow bring? Will anyone believe that there's not something even worse lurking around the corner until a thorough independent and public review is done?