April 3, 2008 — Vol. 43, No. 34
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For Patrick, a loss in Hub, a win in N.Y.

Glen Johnson

Gov. Deval Patrick was out of state when his casino gambling plan, a cornerstone of his economic program, went down to defeat. But the mystery of his whereabouts has been solved.

The state’s first black governor was in New York City, shopping an autobiography much like that of his kindred political spirit, Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama.

Obama wrote “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope,” and shares a similar story with Patrick in that they both graduated from Harvard Law School, have Chicago ties and ended up seeking elective office on the strength of their biographies.

The deal is worth $1.35 million and nine publishers competed for the book, currently untitled, according to agent Todd Shuster of the Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency. Patrick will donate some of his royalties to A Better Chance, a nonprofit educational organization that helped Patrick attend Milton Academy, south of Boston.

“Drawing upon his extraordinary journey from Chicago’s Wabash Avenue to the Massachusetts State House on Boston’s fabled Beacon Hill, Gov. Patrick will offer in his book a series of lessons and insights on life and leadership,” according to a statement released last Friday by Broadway Books, an imprint of Random House Inc.

“Among the subjects he will address are self-truth, grace, faith, courage and compassion, as well as the importance of forgiveness, and embracing optimism and hope to make good outcomes possible.”

An aide also said Patrick’s absence did not affect the outcome of the House debate.

“The governor worked tirelessly up to the day of the vote to persuade House members of the merits of the economic development potential of his casino initiative and to further encourage members to debate the legislation in full on the House floor,” said Joe Landolfi, Patrick’s communications director.

The Associated Press made numerous inquiries about Patrick’s whereabouts after he was out of the state on two workdays for what his schedule only described as “personal business” in New York. Patrick aides refused to be more forthcoming, except to say his absence was not related to a medical condition.

In subsequent conversations, the aides suggested the governor deserved private time — even during the workweek — without further elaboration to the public. Last year, his wife, Diane, was hospitalized for depression following Patrick’s gubernatorial campaign and the governor appealed to the media for privacy.

More recently, Patrick has made a practice out of traveling out of state or taking sizable periods of time off with minimal public notice.

Last summer, he spent most of six weeks at his second home in the Berkshire Mountains, a vacation revealed only in one-day increments as his daily schedule was released. Aides repeatedly said throughout August they expected him back in the coming days.

This year, Patrick has taken a vacation week in the Berkshires, as well as numerous weekend trips out of state to campaign for Obama. Again, the breaks were revealed in nothing more than one- or two-day increments, despite media requests for his whereabouts.

Patrick aides have defended the travel, saying it occurred only on weekends or to benefit Obama, but they had to backtrack earlier this month when Patrick preceded a weekend visit to Miami — for a meeting with gay and lesbian fundraisers he was courting — by making a work-week trip to Washington.

While Patrick was in the capital, he addressed a charter day ceremony at Howard University — and attended a fundraiser for Obama. And while he was in Florida, most of the state was under a flood watch due to heavy rains. Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray served as acting governor in his absence.

On all his trips, Patrick is escorted by a Massachusetts State Police detail whose salary, hotels, meals and airfare are paid by state taxpayers. The governor pays for his non-official travel with personal or campaign funds.

The timing of Patrick’s latest trip was noteworthy in that it started the same day the House held a pivotal debate on his proposal to build three gambling casinos in Massachusetts.

Coupled with a $1 billion life sciences initiative aimed a creating high-paying jobs, the governor cast the casino plan as a salve for middle-class workers with jobs in the $50,000 range. He also projected it would generate at least $600 million in licensing fees, 20,000 permanent jobs and $400 million in annual tax revenues.

Yet during a March 18 hearing, Patrick declared he expected the bill to go down to defeat because of opposition from House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi. The following day, after a committee recommended the full House defeat the bill, Patrick called reporters to his office and complained DiMasi had not given the legislation a fair hearing.

On March 20, when the bill was debated on the House floor, Patrick was not in the State House courting House members but in Manhattan, visiting publishing houses.

While Patrick has said repeatedly that he enjoys his job and has no plans to accept a position in Washington should his friend win the presidency, Obama laid the foundation for his Senate campaign and later his presidential race by writing his autobiography and a policy tome.

Patrick’s predecessor, former Gov. Mitt Romney, did the same before his failed run for the Republican presidential nomination this year.

(Associated Press)

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