Thursday, 4:30 PM
Menino defends Amorello after Romney skips meeting
By Donovan Slack, Globe Staff
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino defended embattled Turnpike Authority chairman Matthew J. Amorello after a closed-door meeting at the Parkman House this afternoon where officials discussed how to handle what appears to be an extended closure of the Interstate 90 connector tunnel.
“I think Matt’s done a good job in the past,” Menino said. “These plans were made 16 years ago … everybody wants to blame one person.”
Governor Mitt Romney abruptly pulled out of the meeting because his spokesman said it would be “inappropriate” for him to sit with Amorello “given the legislation that stripped him of any authority over tunnel inspections and also given the legal proceedings to remove him.'
Romney signed a bill into law this morning that gave him authority over the investigation and the inspection of the Big Dig.
The mayor declined to comment on Romney’s decision to skip the afternoon meeting, which included Amorello, several representatives from the Big Dig and fire, police, public works and transportation officials.
On Monday, concrete ceiling tiles in the tunnel fell and crushed a car, killing a 38-year-old woman from Jamaica Plain. The tunnel has been closed since the incident.
According to one city official at the Parkman House meeting, political leaders are worried that the tunnel may be closed for months, not weeks, as city, state and federal officials sort out the aftermath of the fatal ceiling collapse.
Romney has intensified his calls for Amorello to leave his post since Monday and has begun legal proceedings to forcibly remove the chairman from the Turnpike Authority. Attorney General Thomas Reilly has joined the call for Amorello to step aside, a move echoed by legislative leaders who suggested Thursday that he take a lesser role at the agency.
Despite all the political infighting, the mayor is still hopeful that all the agencies will pull together to get the roadways open as soon as possible.
“There’s a lot at stake right now,” Menino said after the meeting.