Dateline: Downtown

Dateline: Downtown

Dan Roche

Stephen Tocco was re-elected chairman of the UMass board of trustees last month, news that, combined with a widespread refutation of his attempt to sneak casinos into the state with minimal debate, has left Governor Patrick woozy. Negative newspaper headlines arose almost the second he took office, as he heeded that most dangerous of political sirens, the cool office perks you get on the people’s dime. The Herald immediately began calling him “Cadillac Deval,” and this may be apt. Patrick’s administration runs poorly, but looks nice.

Is it safe to say this? Has it been a year yet? He came with no warranty, so even if he is a clunker, we are stuck with him. He might not be, but still, we won’t know for a while yet. Patrick, however, now knows he is stuck with Tocco, at least for a while. Patrick’s attempted to stack the deck with his own people, by legislative fiat, and force Tocco out. Patrick’s five leg breakers, according to the Globe, “failed to muster enough support to sway the 19-member committee, which includes 12 holdovers appointed by Republican governors.”

Every Massachusetts Governor since Dukakis has been a Republican, and Tocco is a Romney guy. This paper, and this Commonwealth’s, opinion of Multiple Choice Mitt is choleric enough so that his old appointees are regarded warily. What helped Stephen Tocco survive? Let’s look.

His bio at Mintz Levin, the hotshot law firm where he serves as President and Chief Executive Officer, is full of the usual public-sector-to-private-sector stat sheet tics, but more intriguing yet is the accompanying picture. It looks like the face of a guy who waits for people to try to kick him out of chairmanships so he can knock them flat.

Last summer, I was walking around downtown. At Batterymarch and Franklin, an intersection that sees a lot of through-traffic, one of those dirigible-like SUV machines loomed along the tar. Suddenly, a youthful cyclist came zipping down Batterymarch, attempting to halt the fixed gear bike bucking under him. The kid splatted up against the car, leaving a considerable dent with an flying shoulder block. He collected himself quickly, hurled expletives, and rode off like a raider. The businessman driving the car and I exchanged mystified glances. Deval Patrick is now that kid, playing in traffic and losing.

The cradle-to-college schema for the state’s educational system, for one thing, may meet with critical challenge. I am glad that Tocco remains, for this reason: he will curb Patrick’s honeymoon spending. The remnants of past Republican administrations (Tocco isn’t the only one) will, along with the ongoing budget crunch, put a damper on promises laid out by Patrick in his campaign. Patrick making good on past sky pie promises would be tantamount to a groom ordering a $20,000 wedding and a fling in Bermuda on credit while working as a stock boy. And, evidently, Stephen Tocco was the wrong uncle to mess with. And, oh, also it should be noted that the bride’s family is considerably in the red from generations of mismanagement papered over by high flown hooey and doesn’t need any more.

Just work hard and put the pipe dreams on ice for now, Governor Patrick. Our sixth anniversary isn’t that far away, and we can talk then.

ADDENDADA: The bottom must be gotten to in the matter of who, precisely, is leaving the “Where is C.J. now?” messages around and about. I have a theory I dare not disclose…Getting to the Healey Library with the stairs closed is going to be fun this winter, yes?…It costs $762 a month (or so) to live in Harbor Point right now?!? Sources inform me it’s nice in there, though it looks like the old Point from the outside. I wonder if project people walk past, see the old haunts gutted and replaced with spacious rentals and mutter “agh, you believe what they’ve done to this place?”…The club move-around in the Campus Center has resulted in two Christian groups, the Catholic Association of St. Catherine of Alexandria (who I am fascinated by, please visit me, folks) and Real Life Christian Fellowship, who I think are Protestant, in the cubicle across from the Muslim Student Association. With apologies to my friends at the MSA, someone should rile up religious fervor amongst the two Christian groups. They can grow obsessed with a space in the MSA cubicle (say, a drawer) and insist the Holy Grail is there. The Muslims and the Christians can fight heartily, each side producing its martyrs and heroes. Then Real Life can nail an edict to the wall refuting St. Alexandria and spark a series of intense internecine wars…