Maybe His Chopper is a Hybrid

1193669841Shortly after being sworn in, Gov. Deval Patrick got beaten up by the press for a number of things, not the least of which was his use of a state police helicopter to travel around the Commonwealth. Back in February, when the story was first reported, it was noted that Gov. Mitt Romney used the helicopter just once during his four years in office, while Patrick used it multiple times in his first few months as governor.

Thereafter, Patrick — who was dubbed “Air Deval” by Boston Daily’s favorite out-of-work radio host, Howie Carr — decided to ground himself until a formal policy on how best to use the helicopter could be created. You’ll be excited to know that such a policy now exists.

You’ll be even more excited to learn how the governor is using the chopper.

First, the policy itself, as it’s outlined in today’s Herald.

[It was] drafted by Patrick’s chief legal counsel and cleared by the state ethics commission Oct. 5.

The policy permits the use of a state police helicopter to transport the governor or lieutenant governor when it is “reasonably necessary” for the safe performance of their duties.

Huh. “Reasonably necessary” sounds a bit vague. The policy also states that the helicopter can’t be used for any “personal, campaign, or other non-governmental purposes.” Which is fine and all, but it’s the “reasonably necessary” language that gives us pause — sounds like a loophole big enough to, say, fly a helicopter through.

Speaking of — and this is where it gets really good, so pay attention — here’s how Gov. Patrick has used the helicopter since implementing the new policy: On Oct. 6, he flew to Hyannis to attend the funerals of two Massachusetts soldiers killed in Afghanistan. We have no problem with that. Seems “reasonably necessary.” But most recently, Patrick used the chopper to fly to Somerset.

Last we checked, Somerset is just 50 short miles away.

That doesn’t sound so reasonable. It doesn’t sound necessary, either. But wait, we haven’t told you the best part yet. The reason Patrick was in Somerset, the reason he flew to Somerset in a helicopter — and you really can’t make this stuff up — was to discuss his plans for clean energy research.

Let that marinate for a while. It gets better the more you think about it.