If you're a public official, how do you renovate your office when you've made hay of someone else doing the same thing?
If you're Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi, the answer is "very carefully." DiMasi (a Friend of Governing ) is redecorating the Speaker's office, but he's keenly aware of the jeers that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick faced when he redid his office earlier this year. In fact, DiMasi himself joined the chorus of criticism over items such as $10,000 drapes.
So DiMasi is taking charge of the PR. His office sent out a preemptive press release titled "House Speaker Begins First Renovation in 20 Years, DiMasi Committee Paying for Majority of Costs." As the release noted, DiMasi's campaign committee is shouldering the lion's share of the expenses.
The DiMasi camp also emailed reporters photos of somewhat shabby office, including images of the carpet, which is stained in several areas and, in one place, held together with duct tape.
It's a good lesson in the power of smooth media relations -- even if Massachusetts taxpayers still won't be keen on spending $13,000 for the office's new carpet.