DiMasi Demerits

Yeah, this doesn't look so good for Speaker Sal.  As with the stuff that's come before, it's not DiMasi actually pushing Cognos in his own words, but shows that others along the line certainly had the impression that Sal wanted the contract to go to Cognos, and was using pressure and promises -- real or implied -- to make it happen.

It also appears to show how people running government entities -- in this case, the Department of Education -- are willing to make decisions based not on what's best for getting their job done well for the people of the Commonwealth, but based on political considerations such as promises of bigger budgets.

The Dianne Wilkerson scandal has also opened a window into this phenomenon. Beyond the issue of a lawmaker taking bribes, we're seeing how others seem to have ended up making decisions because a powerful lawmaker was pushing for a result, not necessarily because it seemed right.

This is nothing new, and happens at all levels of government -- and it's not necessarily always wrong. It's not always a clear-cut, black-and-white situation. And most of the time, those folks taking the actions at the behest of the powerful believe that the powerful have legitimate reasons for wanting things to go that way.

But if it becomes too culturally ingrained, then everyone ends up doing things to please the powerful without asking questions and judging the merits of the reasons given. And sometimes, those reasons given aend up being covers for the shady motivations of the powerful -- or those with access to the powerful.

The more we learn about the Cognos deal -- and the more DiMasi insists on not being fully open about it -- the worse it looks. That doesn't mean it's necessarily dirty. But it does mean that Massachusetts citizens are increasingly concerned, legitimately, about whether the dealings on Beacon Hill and in City Hall are normal back-room political processes, or a culture of the powerful run amok.

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