In DiMasi trial, a quiet indictment of how the state spends our money

Several people have asked why I have not written anything about the ongoing DiMasi trial.  Part of it is that I’ve been busy.  Another is that it is hard to dress up an ‘I told you so‘ to look like anything more interesting than an ‘I told you so.’  And it is difficult to add much to the straight news coverage of the trial, which is full of tasty little nuggets like,

Furthermore, Topazio said, DiMasi had him break the $25,000 payment into four checks that each were for less than $10,000.

When Topazio asked why, he said, speaker replied, “That’s the way I want it.”

“That’s the way I want it”

So here’s a little something I noticed today that maybe speaks to an issue larger than just the latest marcher in the Commonwealth’s indicted Speaker parade.

Rewind to this article that ran Monday:

On Friday, Quinter became the first person to testify. A former salesman, Quinter testified that Lally, a fellow salesman, was so confident of his pull with DiMasi that he fabricated an outrageously high price – $15 million – since he was sure DiMasi could make it happen.

“He said he made it up,” Quniter testified on Friday. “He said Speaker DiMasi would provide the funding for it.”

DiMasi delivered, according to federal prosecutors. The state eventually signed a $13 million contract for the software, after Cognos deducted $2 million in what it called a discount. A second deal was worth $4.5 million. Cognos came away with the largest contract it had ever won, more than twice what it had recently received for a far more complex project in Ohio.

Then jump to this, from today’s coverage:

Afterward, the jurors heard from the first State House player, former Representative Lida Harkins of Needham. She had served as co-chair of the Joint Committee on Education and was a top DiMasi lieutenant.

She testified that DiMasi asked her to approach former Education Commissioner David Driscoll and make a formal request for the Cognos software.

If Driscoll made the request, Harkins said, DiMasi “would make sure Bobby DeLeo put it in the budget.”

She referred to Robert DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat who, at the time, was chairman of the budget-setting House Ways and Means Committee. DeLeo subsequently replaced DiMasi as speaker and is now on the trial witness list.

Harkins told the jury she said to the commissioner, “This would be a good time to make a proposal for the data collection system,” citing DiMasi’s interest.

Under cross-examination, Harkins said she thought the software was a good idea for the department, regardless of DiMasi’s interest.

So here’s what bothers me (beyond the obvious): leave aside the apparently corrupt genesis of this software contract.  What we see here in this brief summary is an admission by the then-co-chair of the Joint Committee on Education that she “thought the software was a good idea for the department” of education, and that then-budget chair/now Speaker Bobby DeLeo apparently could be counted on to “put it in the budget” at the requested price.

Even accepting that these folks thought the software being purchased was “a good idea,” did none of them think to wonder if it was a good deal?  Or even a defensible one?… READ THE REST at CriticalMASS  

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