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Deval's bad call

Will Deval Patrick make a call on my behalf next time I need to refinance my mortgage?

Does the governor really think a free pass comes with winning 56 percent of the vote? I don't remember the guy campaigning in a Cadillac. What I remember is Deval Patrick, the candidate, resigned from the board of the parent company of Ameriquest Mortgage Co. because it didn't look right to be on the payroll of a subprime lender with a sleazy past. Now Deval Patrick, the governor, calls his pal Bob Rubin at Citigroup to give Ameriquest his personal seal of approval in its hour of need with the subprime business in a tailspin?

The governor's office told the Globe's Frank Phillips that Patrick's Feb. 20 phone call supporting Citigroup's rescue of Ameriquest was OK because Patrick was calling as a private citizen and not as governor. Does that mean Patrick left the State House and found a pay phone on Beacon Street? Or did he call from the back seat of his Cadillac?

Suddenly a guy who had perfect pitch during the campaign has gone tone deaf in office. If Patrick wants all this stuff -- the Cadillac, the drapes, the inappropriate calls to his executive pals -- to stop getting in the way of what he wants to accomplish, then he has to stop making amateurish mistakes. The press is not the problem, governor. Simply put, your lack of judgment is the problem. And it is not helpful, to say the least, to have your judgment be the issue day after day. If we can't trust you to get the little stuff right, why should we trust you with the big stuff -- say, a $27 billion state budget? Should we trust your judgment that closing those corporate tax loopholes won't hurt the state's business climate? What did your buddy Bob Rubin have to say about that?

While our new governor has frittered away his honeymoon, New York's new governor, Eliot Spitzer, has come in ready to govern. The first thing he did was call the Legislature to task for its choice of one of its own for state comptroller. He came out squarely in favor of an Indian casino in the Catskills. And he broke a long impasse on a package of reforms for the state's expensive workers' compensation system. The Patrick administration spent yesterday explaining why he was running interference for a company the Commonwealth was investigating not long ago. Another day, another apology.

Appearances matter, governor. Your life has changed. Repeat after me, governor: I no longer work for Ameriquest Mortgage. I work for the people that Ameriquest ripped off. If the attorney general's office starts digging in again on Ameriquest, please refrain from calling Martha Coakley to offer your endorsement of the company -- personally or otherwise.

Neighborhood news. Former Gillette Co. chief executive James Kilts, among the biggest names in consumer branding, is raising his first buyout fund, this one aimed at buying and repairing underperforming consumer products companies. According to an offering document, Kilts and his partners at Centerview Partners in New York are seeking to raise a $1 billion fund that will be used to buy six to 10 companies over the life of the fund. The average equity investment would be $50 million to $200 million, and larger deals could be made with other private equity partners, the prospectus says.

According to the document, Kilts (who sits on the board of The New York Times Co., owner of the Globe) and the fund's other general partner, David Hooper (formerly managing director of Vestar Capital Partners), will invest $70 million in the fund, hardly chump change. The fees are relatively reasonable by private-equity standards: a management fee of 2 percent of assets and 20 percent of profits, which will be paid only after investors receive a preferred annual return of 8 percent. Centerview did not return my call.

Steve Bailey is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at bailey@globe.com or at 617-929-2902.

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 EILEEN MCNAMARA: Learning curves
 STEVE BAILEY: Deval's bad call
 GLOBE EDITORIAL: Patrick makes the wrong call
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