The governor#039;s expensive taste

by Beacon Staff • February 28, 2007

In the Oct. 19 issue of The Beacon, the editorial board praised Patrick as the candidate with the best platform for college students in Massachusetts. More than any other contender, Patrick emphasized the exorbitant price of higher education in the Bay State.,Gov. Deval Patrick has a way with words, but he must do a better job of leading by example.

In the Oct. 19 issue of The Beacon, the editorial board praised Patrick as the candidate with the best platform for college students in Massachusetts. More than any other contender, Patrick emphasized the exorbitant price of higher education in the Bay State. This, he said, needed to be fixed.

Last week, our man for the job, Gov. Patrick, found himself in a bit of a mess over items he purchased for his office, a car lease and a $72,000 a year personal assistant for his wife, all of it funded by taxpayers.

Patrick's mistake was rewarding himself before he actually accomplished anything. The governor promised the citizens of Massachusetts he'd fix a bloated budget, put 1,000 more police officers on the streets and cut property taxes for homeowners.

Justification for a $1,166 per month lease on a $46,000 Cadillac DTS and $27,387 in office furniture just isn't there yet. Patrick didn't consider the symbolic value of the items he purchased.

You can't preach thriftiness and live extravagantly.

The best option for the governor would have been to return the Cadillac and get something cheaper. Mitt Romney, Patrick's predecessor, spent $623 a month on a leased Crown Victoria-a far more reasonable price for what amounts to free personal transportation. He also paid for office furniture from his own pocket.

Patrick chose to apologize and offered to pay $543 per month for the Cadillac from himself. He also volunteered to pick up the tab for the office furniture, which included $12,306 for drapes.

"Oh, yeah, we screwed up," he said to reporters on Feb. 21.

But Patrick didn't go so far as to settle on a cheaper vehicle. He wanted to keep the whole package. He needed a Cadillac-the seats in the DTS are quite roomy and comfortable.

He wanted those drapes. They must really make the room.

The governor also used his powerful words against the media, although he was sly with his attack. He chided reporters for focusing on his personal spending instead of larger issues, like balancing the state budget.

"That is what the public needs to know about and what it is we are working on, and unless I get this off your screen," he said, "then I don't think we're going to be able to get that done."

But Patrick couldn't hide his desire for luxurious living by offering to pay for all the gifts himself. The king of the grassroots is alienating himself from his base.

Consider the grand balls he held in the wake of his inauguration. At $50, the people who supported him could attend. Critics argued such a fee alienated the same people Patrick wanted to be involved in his grassroots government.

He knew he could be the governor to save Massachusetts. His central opponent in the 2006 elections, Republican Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, stood on a platform of fear and accused him of being in line with accused rapists.

She failed to realize that people were sick of fear mongering and negative campaigning. Meanwhile, Patrick courted the voters by promising the sun, moon and stars.

He was the man for us. Together we could.

It was the only way for him to win. After all, the public in Massachusetts-and the whole country-wanted everything from the candidates in 2006.

With expectations so high, we were bound to be disappointed.