Governor Mitt Romney ratcheted up his power struggle with Matthew Amorello, chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, announcing yesterday that he was appointing two loyalists to the agency's board of directors.
The announcement was made just hours before Amorello held a special meeting of the board, during which he planned to seek changes to ensure the chairman retains oversight of the Turnpike's day-to-day operations regardless of the board's composition.
Romney is slated to gain control of a majority of the five-member board on July 1, which would allow him to hold sway over an agency he has blasted for wasteful spending and lack of government oversight. The changes, scheduled for debate by the board at the end of its regularly scheduled meeting today, could nullify much of the power Romney is expected to gain next week.
During a news conference earlier yesterday, the governor appeared exasperated by Amorello's effort.
"I'm a little disappointed that a board that once had a reputation of wanting to see reform would be considering . . . chairman Amorello's proposal to remove the power of the majority of the board to set the policy of the Turnpike," the governor said.
Romney, a former corporate executive, added: "It would really be quite amazing, wouldn't it, to say, 'We're going to pass a bylaw that would mean that the majority of the board would not manage an enterprise, but instead its chairman would.' This is something which is beyond anything I've ever seen in any corporation or private enterprise."
The governor ensured the meeting would be a confrontational one, announcing he was appointing Thomas Trimarco, secretary of administration and finance, to the board immediately.
He will assume the seat resigned earlier in the day by Daniel Grabauskas, the state's former transportation secretary who is now general manager of the MBTA.
Romney also said he would appoint Beth Lindstrom, former director of Consumer Affairs. Because Lindstrom will not assume her seat until next week, Amorello will retain a three-person majority on the board for today's meeting:
Jordan Levy, the former Worcester mayor whose term expires July 1; attorney John Moscardelli, and Amorello. The final member of the board is Mary Connaughton, a Romney appointee.