Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New Rules: What an Incoming Governor Can and Can't Do

I'm so sick of this nonsense about Deval Patrick spending money on this or that... it all seems pretty routine and rational to me.

If Laura Bush can have her own plane & staff, surely the wife or husband of a governor - who wants to work on important public causes - deserves his or her own personal secretary. I think we can all agree that we don't want our Governors driving in a Honda Civic either, if only to spare their legs on long trips. A small remodelling of the Corner Office doesn't bother me either. Furthermore, a helicopter ride or two a month to important events held at remote areas of the state isn't going to kill our budget or create waste - it just provides Governors with the opportunity to actually show up in Great Barrington, Provincetown or Westfield. While we're at it, let's buy our Governors a fairly modest 3 bedroom Town House in Boston, that way future executives from Western Mass and Cape Cod aren't at a huge disadvantage when they're elected to office.

It's time for the public to come up with some guidelines for what's right - and wrong - for Governors to spend tax dollars on. Just what can they spend on cars? What cars are and are not okay for them to drive? What's an appropriate use of an helicopter? Would any of us consider cheesy 80s drapes in the Corner Office appropriate - or are they akin to airing outer space skinamax from a projector on the Golden Dome?

Deval Patrick was easy pickins because, to the Herald and Globe, there really were no guidelines on what was and wasn't okay to spend money on - the tabloids "print media" just made their own hit pieces rules as they went along. However, the questions are entirely valid and I really don't know the answer. I'm hoping for some great discussion in the comments. Just what is appropriate for an incoming Governor to use state money on? Keep in mind, not all Governors have been or will be as wealthy as Deval.


Maybe the line isn't really a particular amount, but the necessity of transparency. I have a hard time believing that the public would have a problem with new curtains and a caddy if the intentions to get them (and the rational behind them) were made in advance. One of the core goals of the progressive movement is transparency, so this seems like a very good answer to me.


Anonymous said...

It's funny how you may be the only sycophant to view Deval's hypocrisy as tabloid hit pieces. Deval chided KH to come off her high horse so he could "show her around and see how it works on the street." Here is a better idea. Why doesn't Deval step out of his caddy (or off the whirlybird, if you will), put down those fabulous crushed velvet drapery swatches, ask Diane's dayplanner to put her calls on hold, and we can show him how he can feed three working families with his lavish expenditures? Alas, the only transparency is the governor's rhetoric.

J said...

Your right, Ryan. In flush times there would be nothing wrong with buying some new drapes, or replacing some outdated furniture. However, Deval went way past that point, and he did it in a time of a $1 billion state budget deficit. I mean, come on, $27,000 for new furniture? Thats way up and beyond a couple new drapes. I'm sure the old ones would hold up until he left office.

In short, he "really screwed up."

Alan said...

Diane Patrick works for a prestigious lawfrim, does she not already have her own secretary? Does she really need an additional one that costs the taxpayers $72,ooo a year?

The Governor should drive something safe, reliable, and respectable. A Cadillac is a bit extravagant. As is $12,000 on freakin' drapes. Are you kidding me? All he's talked about since he's been in office is the budget crises, and he spends thousands on new furniture? And don't make it sound as if the Governor's Office was furnished by Building 19 before Patrick took office, I'm sure it was just fine. The symbolism of this guy spending thousands of tax payer dollars on extravagances for himself and his wife is just sick. He is all style and, so far at least, ZERO substance.

Jennifer said...

I agree. I think that Deval is so much better than this, and I'm willing to see what he does now to show us how great Massachusetts can be.

Ryan Adams said...

There would be serious ethical violations if Diane used a private secretary to organize her events that she'd run on behalf of Deval and the state of Massachusetts.

Wyoming, Utah, Florida, Alabama and many other conservative states all have MULTIPLE staffers for First Ladies. Out of all of this mess, that's one that no Republican can cast stones at.

Furthermore, he paid back the state for all the draperies, furnature and the Caddy. End of that story, period.

Anonymous said...

Lots of states do lots of stupid things, and waste lots of money. "The other kids were doing it, too!" didn't work when I was a kid, and it doesn't work for Deval now.

He only paid the state back for those things because he got caught. If no one had noticed we would have had to pay for them. The story doesn't end cuz you want it to.

Alan said...

Ryan, the story does not end b/c he paid the money back, nor should it. The above commenter is absolutely right, he paid it back b/c he got caught, not b/c it was the right thing to do.

All throughout the campaign I had a feeling that this guy was a phony, and that he was severely lacking in substance, while never short on style. The first month and a half of his term seem to be proving me right.

What is Diane Patrick doing that justifies a $72,000 a year staffer? We didn't elect her, we elected her husband, she should stay out of state business. What if Kerry Healey had been elected Governor and her husband Sean Healey had a $72,000 per year staffer, Ryan? Would you justify that? I wonder.

joe said...

How do you spend more money on drapes that what I spend in a year to go to college? Honest question.

I've been to Jo Ann Fabrics a few times in my day...doesn't seem so expensive.

Anonymous said...

The offices, cars etc should be mandated by the previous administration. I don't get to pick the furniture in my office the corporate buyer does it. It doesn't hamper someone's creativity to work in spartan surroundings and maybe some of the money saved can go to fixing the budget.

Ryan Adams said...

Alan, of course I would. Whether we like it or not, spouses have become a part of politics in America. Howard Dean's polls sank because people thought he was hiding his wife lol. Just because Sean Healey is a guy, doesn't mean I don't think he should be entitled to the same opportunity as Diane Patrick. To determine whether something is right or not, sometimes it's important to look at precedent. More than a dozen states have a staffer for the first spouse, many of those states have more than one. Furthermore, Massachusetts is the only state to not have a Governor's mansion, which would cost the state hundreds of thousands to maintain every year. Subsequently, our state is probably spending less on the Patrick administration than most states spend on their Govs.

Furthermore, Alan, we don't know why Deval gave the money back. However, he very easily could have said "screw you all" and not given the money back. That was within his parameter... and, just months after the election, will have been forgotten by the time next election rolls around.


Quite simply, he didn't shop at Joe Ann Fabrics. Furthermore, I wouldn't want drapes that I'd put on my windows on the windows of the Corner Office. I'm far from a spend thrift, but I think we can do better than that. Ultimately, the Corner Office doesn't belong to Deval Patrick - it belongs to us. I don't want no Joanne Fabric window curtains on my Corner Office walls.

Anon 5:22,

The State House is an historical landmark, not just some "spartan" workplace. With that attitude, we may as well sell the State House and get 10s of millions for its building and acreage, then sign a lease for all the empty space in the pru. If we're not going to keep up our historical landmarks, why bother keeping them at all?

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