Globe Editorial

Patrick’s bad-news Fridays

October 9, 2009

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IT’S FRIDAY - and so we’re glancing nervously about, bracing for bad news. Perhaps today we’ll learn that a meteorite is headed toward Faneuil Hall. Or that a swarm of killer bees has crossed the border into Western Massachusetts.

Of course, when bad news waits until Friday - as it often does in Massachusetts, especially under the Patrick administration - it usually has a political or economic bent. Last Friday, reporters were told that state tax collections were way off projections, which will almost certainly mean more budget cuts. The previous Friday, there came word that Leslie Kirwan, the state’s highly regarded secretary of Administration and Finance, would be leaving to take a post at Harvard.

Releasing bad, unflattering, or embarrassing news on a Friday, and more particularly, on a Friday afternoon, has long been a way of minimizing political fallout. Bad tidings land with a diminished thud in weekend papers, news broadcasts, and websites.

So it’s no real surprise that the politically embarrassing revelation of Transportation Secretary James Aloisi’s impending departure came on a Friday. Similarly, the original word that the controversial Aloisi was being brought aboard last winter also came on a Friday. During a Friday blizzard, even.

Repeated too often, these Friday-afternoon announcements look less like a gentle exploitation of the news cycle than like an effort by Governor Patrick to distance himself from his own policy choices and personnel decisions.

For his part, Patrick has insisted that the spate of bleak Fridays is mere coincidence. “I work on Friday, don’t you?’’ the governor asked reporters when quizzed about the gloomy trend.

Of course they do - and a good thing, too, given all the news the administration makes on that day.

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