BOSTON: When Andrew Natsios took over Boston’s ’Big Dig’ last month, he promised to start with a clean slate. One of his first targets was the massive highway project’s PR and lobbying efforts.
BOSTON: When Andrew Natsios took over Boston’s ’Big Dig’ last
month, he promised to start with a clean slate. One of his first targets
was the massive highway project’s PR and lobbying efforts.
Just weeks after dismissing the project manager and other top officials,
Natsios fired six PR and lobbying firms on May 5, including Regan
Communications and GPC/O’Neill (though Regan said it has received no
official word and in fact recently received an extension letter).
The six companies had contracts worth a combined dollars 449,000 a year,
a drop in the bucket of the Big Dig’s now dollars 13.6 billion price
tag. But the firings were front-page news in a city that is looking to
Natsios to get control of the decade-old attempt to sink Interstate 93
Publicity surrounding the Big Dig - once projected to cost dollars 2.6
billion and now slated for completion in 2004 - has gone from bad to
worse. In the last six weeks alone, the US Attorney’s office has begun
investigating the project’s self-insurance plan; the Boston Herald
reported that the project paid dollars 47 million for a site it never
used; and an audit, which cost Natsios predecessor James Kerasiotes his
job, said the federal government was misled about over a billion dollars
in cost overruns. All the while, Boston commuters continued to seethe
about construction-related traffic for a 10th straight year.
The firings left the project essentially without a lobbying or PR
effort, which some say it now needs more than ever.
’It seems like an odd time to get rid of everybody,’ said one PR exec
with ties to the project. ’But they just want a clean slate. I don’t
think (Natsios) knows enough yet to make any real determination of
whether he needs help in the statehouse, or in the media and in
But Massachusetts Turnpike Authority spokesman Bill Bliss said the
firings were necessary to restore public confidence. ’I think (Natsios)
wants to lead the PR effort,’ he said. ’Restoring credibility is one of
the goals he set.’