Governor Patrick heaped praise, some of it undeserved, upon his four departing secretaries last week. He also bristled at questioners wanting to know if Secretary of Health and Human Services JudyAnn Bigby was steered out of the administration following high-profile failures in her department.
“There’s going to be, in large organizations, things that go wrong,’’ said Patrick. That’s true enough. But there is a gulf separating the usual bureaucratic bumps from the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak traced to the New England Compounding Center or the tainting of thousands of criminal cases at a state drug lab. Both breakdowns occurred under Bigby’s watch. Beacon Hill Republicans had demanded her ouster. Meanwhile, outgoing Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan had been involved, when she was assistant secretary, in the hiring of Sheila Burgess, a woman with a long list of driving citations, as the state highway-safety director.