SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Election

October 27, 2010

Harshbarger: Baker memo shows misdeeds in '98 race

(Continued)

BOSTON —

Official returns had Cellucci winning by 65,317 votes, just over 3 percentage points.

In an interview, Cellucci denied misleading Harshbarger or the voters.

"Both he and (Republican primary challenger) Joe Malone raised it, but I was relying on what I had been told, and I wasn't getting any different information from A&F or the state treasurer, who had to sign off on bond issuances," the former governor told the AP. "It wasn't until late 1999 or early 2000 that concerns were brought to me, and I acted on those concerns."

Menino's spokeswoman, Dot Joyce, said she couldn't comment on political issues but added: "That was several years and several administrations ago. The mayor is focused on moving the city forward."

Finneran, now a talk show host on WRKO-AM, said he wasn't campaigning for any particular candidate during the 1998 race, though he recalls two major rallies where he spoke for the entire Democratic ticket.

"I'm a state representative from Dorchester and Mattapan," he said, downplaying his stature at the time. "I have nothing to do with ballots at City Hall."

Cellucci was challenged in the 1998 GOP primary by Malone, then the state's treasurer. Malone complained during a Sept. 1, 1998, debate that spending on the Central Artery highway project, also known as the Big Dig, was out of control. Cellucci insisted it was "on budget, on time," prompting Malone to say, "Unbelievable."

Yet in an Aug. 26, 1998, memo, Baker said the rate of spending on the Big Dig was "simply amazing," would force "draconian" cuts for other state transportation projects and should be addressed Nov. 5, 1998 — two days after the general election. The memo was placed in state files rather than delivered to any specific person.

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