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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Where the sun starts to shine....

I know that everyone in the Boston area is supposed to feel comforted and safer now that Mitt Romney has managed to force the resignation of Massachusetts Turnpike Authority chair Matthew Amorello for the crime of being in the wrong position at the wrong time. But somehow I am not feeling any better. That is certainly one less person under the lamppost, but Romney and others are still committed to keeping their eyes focused on where the light shines better.

The only "sunray" of hope in all this is that the media and (one would assume) investigators seem finally to turning their spotlights on the private sector folks who seem to be at the center of the errors (see, for example, here and here for recent installments). One of the interesting things about the emergence of the "hollow state" that "steers" rather than "rows" is that officials sometimes get to point (or give) the finger to those contractors who actually did the mal-deed. Reading the developing story of gross negligence among the construction companies and their overseers -- the private companies like Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff (see here) hired by government to manage the Big Dig project on their behalf -- one has to wonder how anyone avoids the conclusion that the contracted, privatized state does not function well, especially when even the state's oversight functions have been contracted out.

But as Amorello found out - and as Romney is likely to discover in due time unless he is very careful -- the blameworthiness of government cannot be put out for bid. Ultimately the public (in the form of an indignant and self-righteous media) will come down hard on the government agencies and agents they think ought to have protected us from human errors and incompetencies.

The public is a fickle client indeed....

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