Disclosure

"If it doesn't pass the smell test we won't do it."

By Christy Mihos

In the early 1990s one of Governor Bill Weld's most senior appointments coined the administrations mantra that "if it doesn't pass the smell test we won't do it."

Secrecy only begets more problems for government.

Of course that person went on to run a state agency that hid whatever it could, whenever it could. And that is the issue today with disclosure of government documents. The secrecy only begets more problems for the government official, agency or entity. If more that $50 is spent on anything it should be fully disclosed. These secrets, and sophomoric games are degrading the democratic process and what should be the dignity of government.

I learned the hard way. As a duly constituted member of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority in August 2003, I filed suit against the then Chairman and our Chief Counsel because they would not release a group of documents that became known as "The Omnibus Global Settlement". The OGS effectively settled the contracts and all claims of eleven [11] major Big Dig contracts.

The terms of what exactly we were settling was important to me. The eleven contracts in question were the most troubled contracts that dealt with the water leaks in the tunnels and soldier joints, the problematic life support systems, funds to accelerate the project schedule and billions of dollars in contracts some still ongoing. These were the systemic problems we are now forced to deal with for many decades.

Two years and $200,000 later, and still no action or accountability

It took me over two years to fight my Turnpike Authority, and about $200,000 in personal legal fees to get these documents. When I finally prevailed the documents were immediately turned over to the Governor [Romney] and to the Feds---Department of Transportation Inspector General.

No one wanted the People
to see how their money
was being spent.

It was all there but no one wanted the People to see how their money was being spent nor the disgraceful actions taken by government and private interests. Mitt Romney did nothing with the documents until he wanted to remove certain people in August 2006 after the tunnel collapsed. The Inspector General at a Congressional hearing in April 2005 charged Bechtel with DEBARMENT--no government funded contracts if they did not fix the tunnels, but he retired within short order. Any document can be had if you spend enough money and time to procure it.

Locally we witness the goings-on at the Sheriff's Department and its dance with an investigation that could effectively settle what has become an ugly spectacle.

For the good of all, make the report public and be done with it.

No more smell test--just do it!

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