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Terror cash wasted on home movies: Funds used to video statie graduation ceremony
By Jack Meyers
Thursday, September 2, 2004 - BOSTON HERALD

State officials spent more than $14,000 in anti-terrorism funds to videotape the August 2002 graduation ceremonies for 122 new State Police troopers, according to public records.

Thousands of dollars more from a state anti-terrorism account was spent on a consultant to manage the event, buy decorations, hire musicians and distribute copies of the video to graduates, records show.

Using terrorism funds like this ``would certainly tend to make people cynical . . . if people who are supposed to be protecting us from terrorism are going on a spending spree,'' said Benjamin Friedman, a Ph.D. candidate at MIT who has studied Homeland Security spending.

Thomas Kiley, the lawyer for James Jajuga, who was secretary of public safety in 2002, said Jajuga strongly defends the expenditures.

``It's the first post-9/11 class and the training of that class focused on anti-terrorism,'' said Kiley. The graduation ceremony was a ``highly visible law enforcement event,'' he said.

Videotaping and running the festivities were paid out of the State Anti-Terrorism Unified Response Network, or SATURN, account.

Jajuga, a former trooper and state senator, created SATURN and billed it as ``the Commonwealth's First Line of Defense'' and its mission was ``to improve the readiness of the cities, towns and fire districts of the Commonwealth to manage incidents resulting from terrorist attacks.''

Jajuga was appointed secretary of public safety by acting Gov. Jane Swift in September 2001 and ousted by Gov. Mitt Romney [related, bio] early in 2003. Controversies over the use of federal grant money during his tenure have sparked a federal probe.

The Rendon Group, a public relations and communications firm, was paid $14,390 to videotape the graduation ceremonies and make 200 copies of the tape.

Amy Dominici, the consultant who managed the event, said she hired the Rendon Group without soliciting bids. She said each graduate was given a copy of the tape and some were sent to soldiers overseas.

Dominici billed the state for planning and running the event but the amount could not be determined yesterday. She submitted two invoices totaling $36,250 that covered organizing the graduation as well as other functions, but did not provide a breakdown of the time or costs.

The Herald reported earlier this year that more than one-third of SATURN funds were devoted to advertising, media consulting and public events rather than security efforts. The Herald also reported Jajuga used $17,000 in SATURN funds to buy a plasma screen television for his Beacon Hill office.

The current secretary of public safety, Edward A. Flynn, has called the SATURN program a ``glorified e-mail system'' and has completely overhauled the program.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I guess one should not throw rocks when they live in a glass house. All those attacks on NEMLEC and other LECs by the SP and now this. At least NEMLEC used the money to equip their members with workout gear with their respective logos for their training.
 
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