The sudden, tragic and clearly unnecessary death of Milena Del Valle in a Big Dig tunnel may lead to some needed corrections. Meanwhile, every political clown in the arena is up to his tricks.
We each could have predicted POTUS-envying Williard Mitt Romney seeking a scapegoat and going after long-term nemesis Turnpike Authority head Matt Amorello. Romney is a media slut.
However, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Reilly is a bit more complicated. His apparent grandstanding in calling the tunnel a crime scene and promising a negligent homicide investigation bears observing now and watching for developments.
The key angle is that Reilly has a whole career of law enforcement, from the district attorney side through today. He has a single tool in his tool chest. It is the hammer of prosecution. We have noted how everything in his campaign has a criminal-justice spin.
On this death, various state and various federal agencies will investigate.
We might ask at this point why Reilly wants to take the case out of the hands of the Suffolk County DA Dan Conley. That DA has the charge to investigate and prosecute homicides here, not the commonwealth's AG. Unfortunately for the case, Reilly opens himself up to grandstanding charges by trying to lead on this. Perhaps he's that concerned, but...
It is also worth noting the Boston Herald piece by political bureau goddess Kimberly Atkins on Reilly's money connection to Big Dig contractors and lobbyists. It would be good and pure politics for Reilly to be self-righteous and indignant in his noble efforts to protect us, each and all. The same effort might serve as insulation from association with the same villains he and Romney want to blame.
On the investigation he promised, Reilly told the Herald in a separate article:
"This young woman was tragically killed . . . and responsibility needs to be allocated," state Attorney General Tom Reilly said in announcing the launch of a negligent-homicide probe into Monday night’s tragedy. "Was it the design company? Was it the construction company that installed (the panel)? Was it the manufacturer, or was it the testers? . . . We are going to get to the bottom of this."Along with his one-tool belt, Reilly tries to wear his figurative white hat. That is the wont of professional prosecutors. So, it is impossible to separate the campaign bluster from his bent. However, he must surely be aware how far behind he is in the PR war. In particular, gubernatorial rival Deval Patrick drops press releases like a molting swan does feathers. Because Reilly always has to have his crime peg, he is far behind in decorating the campaign field.
Back to the current issue, fortunately for the candidates, liability may not be even tentatively assigned until after the Democratic primary and maybe not until after the general election. The Globe piece on the difficulties of proving negligent homicide makes this clear. For example:
To bring a charge of manslaughter, Reilly would need evidence that showed more than gross negligence in the construction of the tunnel, the legal specialists said in interviews. He also would need to show that people acted with "wanton and reckless" disregard for the safety of those who used the tunnel.Reilly surely knows all these obstacles, but that has not stopped his fulminations. Even if he knows his strongest statements are jive, this is his best opportunity to show his stuff in many weeks.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, Milena Del Valle, Big Dig, Mitt Romney, Tom Reilly