The Cadillac of Governors
Questions About Fiscal Responsibility
Raised by Patrick's Free Spending
By Edward Shanahan
In some quarters, I’m told, the state’s newly minted governor, Deval Patrick is becoming known as DeVille, after the luxury sedan produced by Cadillac.
And why would that be? Well, despite his extremely low public profile in the first two months of his term (has he undertaken any initiatives or advanced any of the goals of his candicacy?), Patrick has managed to cause quite a sensation with his expensive tastes in furnishings for his corner State House office, the outlay of $72,000 of taxpayers’ money for an appointments secretary for his wife, and for leasing a top-of-the line Cadillac to zip him around town and across the state.
The transformation of Deval to DeVille was not long in coming and certainly not surprising given Patrick’s penchant for free spending, learned and nurtured in the private sector.
The darling of Liberal Democrats, Patrick offered a resume studded with high-paying experience in the corporate world, including stints as a lawyer for Texaco, Coca Cola, and the Ameriquest mortgage firm, which has a long history of predatory lending practices.
In fact, up until last July, on the eve of the fall election, Patrick was being paid $360,000 a year for attending six Ameriquest board meetings a year.
But none of this seemed had much of an impact on Massachusetts voters who saw in Patrick only a well-educated, high achiever with a history of public service as an attorney for the NCAAP legal defense fund and later as an assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Clinton Administration.
He lived in a large home (mansion) in the high-rent town of Milton, and was engaged at the time of his candidacy in building a 10,000 square foot country home on 75 acres in the exclusive Berkshire County town of Richmond.
What the heck, he earned lots of money in his lawyerly corporate tours so why quibble about how he spends it. It’s his money, as the saying goes. Anyway, his wife Diane is a lawyer for the prestigious Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray, probably pulling down a million dollars a year on her own.
But then, as I read a rather full financial report on Patrick reported and written by Frank Phillips in the Boston Globe, I began to become a little more skeptical about Patrick and his Democratic or democratic credentials.
At the time the report was published, the Patricks, in order to finance their real estate holdings, had outstanding (not in the sense of admirable) mortgages of $5.9 million, which, based on interest rates on loans at the time, might amount to monthly payments of $27,000.
That is a staggering some - almost $325,000 a year – for a homeowner, who, once he became governor, would be paid $135,000 a year, or $11, 250 a month, which clearly results in a gaping deficit.
At the time, I observed: “Huge debt is risky for an individual and even more so for a government, and one wonders, given Patrick’s corporate background and growing debt, if he really fits the definition of a progressive Democrat, other than the fact that as he has become progressively richer he appears to have become even more progressively underfinanced. Not good credentials for a political leader, and certainly not for a Democrat, who should present a more fiscally disciplined profile.”
So I went with Grace Ross, the Green candidate, but in the end, Patrick emerged the winner, but did the state and its citizens? We’ll be watching, but
in the early going DeVille is off to a poor start. (posted 2/25/07)
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