By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Pretty soon you’re talking real money

I know, I know — $1 million is a lot of money, especially when it’s gone into the pocket of a special prosecutor who’s brought only one relatively minor criminal charge.

But when I saw the lead headline in today’s Boston Globe, “Cost of probe on Big Dig nearly $1m,” I thought of the time that Lorne Michaels offered a $3,000 reward if the Beatles would reunite. Or Austin Powers’ holding the planet ransom for, yes, $1 million.

The Big Dig, after all, has cost approximately 16,000 times those legal fees.

The headline in the Globe’s online edition is a more evocative “Big Dig tunnel collapse prosecutor’s tab is $30,000 a week.” So maybe someone at 135 Morrissey Boulevard agrees with me.

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  1. The Scoop

    Just because it’s a small fraction of the Big Dig’s overall costs doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of money that shouldn’t be spent carefully.

  2. Sean Roche

    I realize it’s only a blog post, but it seems a teensy bit unfair not to mention that Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff has already offered to pay $300 million to settle criminal charges. That means that there’s the very real possibility of a $300 million-plus settlement or criminal charges against the firm that might result, presumably, in a larger fine, substantial criminal liability, or both. If Ware and company manage to get such a large settlement, the fee’s going to look like a bargain.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Sean: I was commenting on the headline, not the story. Has nothing to do with it being “only a blog post.”

  4. Anonymous

    Recall that the quotation is reminiscent of Sen. Everett Dirkson, of the 1960s “Ev & Charlie show–Charlie was a Representative) who classically said “a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon we’re talking real money.”–raj

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Raj: Yes, you got the allusion.

  6. Anonymous

    I predict:1. We will some day have ugly hassles over payment of legal fees, a la the tobacco settlement and2. Fred Salvucci and Mike Dukakis, the fathers of this gift that keeps on giving, will continue to be coated with teflon that would make Reagan envious.

  7. Anonymous

    anonymous @ 3:04 PMFred Salvucci and Mike Dukakis, the fathers of this gift (the “Big Dig”) that keeps on givingJust to let you know, a few years ago the Scandinavians opened a 17 mile (or so) bridge-tunnel between Denmark and (I believe it was) Sweden. Half bridge, half tunnel. It came on budget at about US$4billion. As far as I can tell, the problem with the Big Dig was not in its conception, but in its execution. And the vast majority of the execution was under the Weld, Celluci, Swif and Romney administrations.–raj

  8. Neil

    The headline had it backwards and when I saw $1M I also thought of Dr. Evil’s ransom. $1M since March sounds like the kind of money Bechtel wipes its behind with. $30K a week sounds high, and $525 an hour sounds outrageous. Even though they’re all the same, the headline should have been about the hourly rate because that’s what reveals the scandalous overcharging most plainly.We don’t expect Goodwin Procter to do pro bono for the state, but they ought to do pro cheaper than goddam $525/hr. Instead they’ve latched on to the same bounteous teat that fattened Bechtel. Their lawyers can suck away together, rolling over occasionally to expose more bigshot miscreants like Powers Fasteners and making them pay hundreds of dollars in fines, till it’s time to retire with a few more millions in which to nestle, for their efforts. Thanks to you, taxpayers!The second page of the article exhibited actual investigation by Andrea Estes, comparing fees for similar work. Nice job.

  9. Anonymous

    Anon. 3:04 – it’s Weld’s privatization that doomed this project. Nobody blames Dukakis because it’s not his fault.

  10. Peter Porcupine

    Is ANYBODY going to point out that the entire shebang was under the control of the QUANGO-esque Turnpike Authority, and outside the reach of the Executive? And there is more than one lawsuit filed by different Governors to prove it.Why the Governor couldn’t even NAME the tunnel – and a fitter monument to Tip O’Neill I cannot imagine. Because the shortcomings of this project are rooted not in partisan divide but in the arrogance of our unassailable political class.

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