The Big Crumble (part III)

| July 20, 2006

UPDATED (07/21/06): The Washington Post has coverage of Romney’s response to the Big Crumble (hat tip to Tom Bevan at the RCP Blog), while the Boston Globe does the same (hat tip to Kathryn Lopez at NRO). ..bfw..

UPDATED (still 07/20/06): Gov. Romney has ordered the eastbound lanes of the Ted Williams Tunnel shut down, apparently due to discovery of bolt slippage. ..bfw..

UPDATED (07/20/06): I’ve added some links below and a few additional points. ..bfw..

Tom Bevan over at Real Clear Politics cites an op-ed piece by Adam Reilly at the Boston Phoenix, who in turn thinks that the Big Dig Crumble could be “Mitt [Romney]’s Katrina”. It’s a curious assertion, given Romney’s efforts to force the resignation of Amorello, the person actually in charge of the Big Crumble. Reilly’s logic:

Here’s Mitt’s big problem: the SJC didn’t tell Romney he couldn’t demote Amorello last year; instead, the court simply refused to give the governor the legal reassurance he was seeking. Consider the following remarks made by Romney at Tuesday’s press conference, after the Phoenix asked if firing Amorello could have worked at an earlier date: “I don’t think it’s within the realm of my experience to predict what a court would or would not do, and what kind of challenge might be made. We’ve read very carefully the decision that was handed down when [acting governor Jane] Swift took action to remove two board members” — Christy Mihos and Jordan Levy, in a 4-3 ruling issued in 2002 — “and we tried to follow that decision as well as we can. But there’s always uncertainty in assessing where a court would come out.”

In other words, Romney could have forced the matter. But this would have meant looking foolish if Amorello managed to keep his job. So the governor played it safe and protected his well-burnished image. But now comes the uncomfortable question: if Romney had acted differently, might Del Valle’s death have been prevented?

In short, Reilly thinks that Romney didn’t try hard enough to force Amorello’s resignation, and that, in turn will cause people to blame Romney for the Big Crumble’s collapse, which in turn will hurt Romney’s presidential asperations.

Sorry, but this doesn’t make much sense for several reasons:

In short, Reilly posits a long sequence of assumptions, tenuous connections and what-ifs in order to place the blame for Ms. Del Valle’s death at Romney’s feet, rather than where it belongs: with the MTA and the contractors and inspectors who built the Big Crumble.

My own opinion is that the Big Crumble will be at worst a wash for Romney. And if he can actually get Amorello out of the MTA and perform an actual independent inspection and turnaround, then Romney will likely be able to use this as a plus.

Here are my previous postings on the subject:

Hat tip to Katheryn Lopez at the Corner at National Review Online for the pointer to Bevan’s posting. ..bruce..

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Category: Main, Project Management, The Big Crumble

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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