Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39 (2014)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

John Adams

John Adams

2nd President of the United States of America

“Today in History”

On October 30, 1735, the second president of the United States, John Adams, was born in Braintree, Massachusetts

Vast library, thoughts of John Adams displayed

By Brian MacQuarrie, Globe Staff

September 22, 2006

In the pantheon of Founding Fathers, John Adams is usually considered an also-ran. There is no memorial to him in Washington, no portrait of him on US currency, no singular achievement that is drilled into the heads of schoolchildren from Maine to California.

But opening today at the Boston Public Library is the first public exhibition of the second president's vast personal library, a priceless collection of 3,802 works whose breadth helps show why this Braintree farmer is gaining recognition as one of the true American giants.

Not only will the public be able to see the entire collection for the first time, but dozens of Adams's books have been laid open in glass cases to display the notes, musings, and commentaries he wrote in the margins of nearly everything he read. The free exhibit will continue until April, but the library already has embarked on a years-long project to digitize the books for public study on the Internet.

``God bless the man," said Beth Prindle, curator of the John Adams collection. ``It seems that a thought never trickled through his mind that he didn't write down."
Scholarly and scathing, catty and conversational, Adams's writings show strong opinions on many of the great events, leaders, and debates of his day.

``Not one of the Projects of the Sage of La Mancha was more absurd, ridiculous or delirious than this of a Revolution in France," Adams wrote in 1812 in the margins of Mary Wollstonecraft's ``Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution." In that book, whose author Adams alternately called ``a Lady of a masculine masterly Understanding" and ``this foolish Woman," the former president penned 10,000 words of analysis.

There's a forensic map, drawn by Paul Revere, that Adams used at trial in his defense of British soldiers in the Boston Massacre. And there's his personal atlas, published in Paris in 1778, that shows his native Massachusetts in careful, stunning detail.

David McCullough, the historian who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Adams, said the exhibit is of great national importance.

``John Adams was the most widely and deeply read American of his day, and there are his books!" said McCullough, who used the Boston Public Library, which has held the Adams collection since 1894, to research his biography. ``This is one of the most important Americans in our history, a man who was never wealthy, who believed in education, who was himself transformed by education, and who never lost his love of learning."

From his personal copy of the first printing of the US Constitution to the first Koran printed in the United States, the books show the staggering scope of Adams's intellectual interests and his impact on the nation's democratic experiment. The notes from Adams's pen are vivid evidence of that mind at work.

``His marginal notes are not the kinds of notes that most of us would make," McCullough said. ``They are conversations with the author, and there are some 50 different figures from the 18th century of huge consequence with whom he's having these conversations. . . . It's thrilling to sit there and listen to that conversation, to that effect."

Before this exhibit, the Adams library was kept largely out of public view in the rare books collection, accessible only to researchers willing to review individual books in near-seclusion. The researchers also had to know what to look for.

Now, with 30 volumes digitized from the Adams collection, an ambitious project has been launched to put as many of the president's books on the Internet as funding and technology will allow. The plans also include an electronic cross-referencing of Adams's reflections. .

Vivian Spiro, chairwoman of the board of directors of the Associates of the Boston Public Library, hopes the exhibit will kindle a love of learning for learning's sake in the public.

``I hope they will be inspired . . . by the fact that a man of modest origins, whose mother was illiterate and whose father was a laborer, went on to become one of the writers of the Constitution," Spiro said.

My thoughts on John Adams: A perspective of a good man in a new America
By Jonathan A. Melle on May 26th, 2006

John Adams’ life and faithful service to “Independence Forever”, which were his last written words to the American People, epitomized the humanitarian values of the late 18th Century. Like an “Oak Tree” in his will and spirit of Patriotism, our nation’s 2nd U.S. President was the strongest voice for the self-determination of the people’s will to have an Independent American Government free of British monarchy, colonialism and tyranny. However, as good of a man that John Adams truly was during these trying times for the causes of Independence and Liberty, all of the Founding Fathers also showed themselves to be flawed from the hypocrisies of the social injustices of the times. In many ways, both John Adams and the spirit of 1776 are symbols of both our nation’s finest ideals and worst inequities. But to understand this good man who led the cause for American Independence, the proper contexts of the time, history and events are needed to show that John Adams was indeed a good man with valuable contributions to our Republic of “Checks and Balances” within a written Constitution that protects our God given natural rights to Freedom.

John Adams loved to talk, give lengthy speeches, and stand for just political causes. Like many privileged men of his time, he owned land and farmed produce for subsistence and sale. Among the men he would meet with, books and writings were commonalities.

John Adams in one word was ambitious. He would choose public service before his family. He cherished his wife Abigail, with whom he would write romantic correspondences to on his voyages to Philadelphia and Western Europe, whom he inarguably loved dearly. Abigail Adams was among the many invaluable women and supporting cast members to the Founding Fathers’ causes for Liberty. But the sad truth in the short time we all have on this beautiful planet Earth is that John Adams chose important political causes before his wife Abigail and his children. Thank God for his decisions, but I feel that family is far more important to humanity than political ambition. John Adams traded off many of his personal interests for the good of the United States of America.

During the Revolutionary Era, many traditional citizens were land-rich farmers, but very few were estate owners and wealthy. Indeed, it was the wealthy citizens, such as John Hancock, that fared the worst under British Colonialism and led the cause for Rebellion and the Revolutionary War. While John Adams was a member of the elite in Massachusetts, he is still a good example of a farmer catching the fever of Patriotism pushed forth by the truly powerful protestors of British Colonial rule.

The cause of the Revolutionary leaders was to have a say in London’s Parliament before King George III concerning economic issues, especially taxation. The King of Great Britain would not consent to such demands, and enforced the laws of his nation’s Parliament against his Colonial subjects. This left the Colonial subjects of the British Crown with no representation in their Parliament in London, and British Monarchy became the enemy to be conquered by Independence. The irony of the Revolutionary Leaders’ protest of British Monarchy was that their real protests were with the public taxation policies of the English Parliament, which had nothing to do with the King except that he enforced their will over that of the Colonialists. In many ways, King George III was more of a scapegoat for the Revolutionary Leaders than he was the true villain he was made out to be. Nonetheless, American Democracy was the cause to overthrow British Monarchy, and so the Revolutionary War began with “the shot heard around the World” in Lexington, Massachusetts in the Spring of 1775.

Christian religion was ingrained in the thoughts and minds of our Founding Fathers. When Adams was a teen at Harvard University in the early 1750s, he had to start each day at 6:00 A.M. in Church. By 1776, John Adams was 40 and he and his colleagues were convinced that God blessed their cause of Independence and His Divine influence would lead us to victory.

The Massachusetts Constitution was written by John Adams in 1779 and has the distinction of being the oldest functioning document of its kind known to man. Initially, John Adams’ work, and his naming the newly independent state “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts”, excluded freedom of religion. Many years later, Adams supported this ideal of freedom of religion for the protection of the commonwealth’s Jewish citizens, but the measure was defeated and freedom of religion would not become a reality in Massachusetts until 1833, which was well after his death in 1826. If John Adams contribution to the structure of American government could be summed up in three words, they are: “Checks and Balances.”

The Founding Fathers were Christian men, but they also struggled with our nation’s most disgraceful symbols of shame: SLAVERY, the subordination of women to men in Government, the expulsion of the native Indians, and, to a lesser extent, some Anti-Semitism. During the Revolutionary War, Thomas Paine published many pamphlets urging the people to support the cause of American Independence and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In one case, the Continental Congress ordered Paine to edit out his claims of King George’s monarchial rule as being similar to the Jewish people’s betrayal of Jesus Christ at the Crucifixion. With the much-debated issue of Slavery, the Founding Fathers’ did not provide Freedom for all men. Indeed, only landowners, elite statesmen and wealthy merchants of white male European backgrounds were granted the blessings of Liberty. For the Founding Fathers, Slavery was a social injustice and was the decided outcome of the evils of British Colonialism and Monarchy in the states, but they were unresolved to abolish this cursed form of wickedness and iniquity. Moreover, the native Indians had no standing when it came to the practical tenets of Classical Liberalism. It was the belief of the Founding Fathers that native Indians must assimilate into their agrarian ways of life in order to survive under the new order. Lastly, but not least, John Adams, who disavowed Slavery, made no effort towards complying with the humorous demand of his wife Abigail to “Remember the Ladies” in the Declaration of Independence, or to include women as equals to men in American government. While William Shakespeare said there are many truths said in jest, John Adams jokingly replied to Abigail’s letter by saying that women already governed men in their homes.

A current historian whom I have come to admire is William M. Fowler, Jr. of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Fowler pointed out in a 12/5/05 “Boston Herald” Op-Ed Essay that in December of 1775 the citizens of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, which is my native hometown, wrote to the Provincial Congress to form a new government with a written Constitution for Massachusetts. The towns of Berkshire County, (which I helped to unsuccessfully defend against the abolition and centralized state takeover of her long-standing county government from 1996 – 2000 while my dad, Bob Melle, served as the last Chairman of the Berkshire County Commission), in 1775 –1779 argued to their Boston counterparts that the power of the government should be invested in the people. In September of 1779, John Adams of Braintree, which in part later became Quincy, answered the call from PITTSFIELD and BERKSHIRE COUNTY by writing the Constitution with such principles as the Declaration of Natural Rights that would be the framework of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, among many other valuable similarities.

DANIEL SHAYS’ contribution a decade after the Declaration of Independence was just as valuable to our Republic as those of our Founding Fathers. Shays’ Rebellion did not have the support of Eastern Massachusetts politicians, including John and Abigail Adams or their distant cousin Samuel Adams. The reason why Colonial Massachusetts rebelled over 10-years prior to Western Massachusetts (Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire,and Hampden Counties; and parts of Central Worcester County) under Daniel Shays’ Militia was because of the provincial colonial government’s high DEBTS. In the mid 1770’s, Revolutionary leaders such as Samuel and John Adams revolted against British Colonialism and Monarchy because London’s Parliament would not bail out Boston’s financial insolvency, but instead implemented unfair high taxes that further sent the Colonial Government into bankruptcy. This was not the policy of the vilified British King, except that King George III enforced the will of his Parliament instead of the will of the people in his British Colonies. The same themes that held true for the Boston political establishment in the mid-1770’s now were the very similar issues facing the Veteran Revolutionary Soldiers of Western Massachusetts in the mid-1780’s. In 1786, Western Massachusetts’ Farmers were petitioning their state government for financial relief from high taxes and poor business earnings from declining farming outputs. The Boston politicians of the time, including then State Senator Samuel Adams, gave the same unfair response they received from London’s Parliament, which were higher taxes for the already poor and destitute Western Massachusetts’ Farmers and Revolutionary War Veterans. Daniel Shays, who was a Captain in the Continental Army, and his Western Massachusetts militiamen were intent on burning the City of Boston and the State House to the ground for Boston’s betrayal and hypocrisy towards Western Massachusetts.

While Boston withstood the threat of Shays’ Rebellion by defeating his militias with mercenary militias of their own, our nation now had a call to national unity under a stronger and more powerful centralized Government. This calling led to the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention and the gathering of the most brilliant group of men ever assembled to draft the Charter of our Freedoms: The U.S. Constitution. This precious document was framed by John Adams’ penmanship of the Massachusetts Constitution that was drafted 7-years prior to the drafting of our U.S. Constitution. This great national document was left incomplete until 1791 when John Adams, as President of the U.S. Senate, would support the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution known as “The Bill of Rights.”

Under the U.S. Constitution, the nation’s central Government elected George Washington as her first President of the U.S.A. with John Adams as the Vice President. John Adams was not a true insider in President Washington’s cabinet, but he did show an unquestionable loyalty to his Chief that other members of the Washington Administration did not. Throughout time, from the late 18th through the early 21st Centuries, U.S. Presidents have had to struggle with betrayal by those that served in their administrations. John Adams strongest virtues were those of loyalty to his causes, newly formed Republic, and George Washington both as a military General and then U.S. President. As President of the U.S. Senate, John Adams always supported and voted for, in the case of a tie vote, more Executive Powers for the Presidency. Adams’ position in support of Presidential Power led to suspicions by his critics that he was both a monarchist and an Anglophile from his time in Great Britain as a U.S. Ambassador to the Royal Court. These aspersions were not so, but the truth was that John Adams wanted a stronger American President than the Constitution initially granted because he was next in the line of succession when George Washington stepped down. Adams was not a monarchist, nor was he pro-British in the Anglophile traditions of Government, but he was an elitist when it came to him making distinctions among the classes of the American People that the Constitution and newly formed Government served. The debates that Adams found himself in about the U.S. Constitution put in to practice are still being discussed and debated well over 200-year later from his time as Vice President in the 1790’s.

As our 2nd U.S. President, John Adams is the first to inhabit The White House in Washington, D.C. He is best known as the Father of the U.S. Navy and for remaining neutral in the volatile Affairs of Western Europe, especially in his successful policy of keeping peace with an ever changing and militaristic France. In hindsight, France’s threat to President John Adams was absurd. France basically told the U.S.A. that after it conquered Great Britain, a nation that has not been conquered at home since the 11th Century (and now stands undefeated for almost nearly 1,000 years in the year 2006), that we were next to be doomed by the then insanity of French control. Adams never had anything to fear because France would never defeat Great Britain in battle in the British homeland.
John Adams’ presidency was full of betrayal by his Cabinet and former-long-standing Revolutionary friend and current then Vice-President, Thomas Jefferson. Adams was the last of the Federalist Presidents and would see the national government become divided by factions or political parties. It was in these turbulent times and threats from France that John Adams, previously known both for his “Bill of Rights” in the Massachusetts Constitution and then his support for the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution, signed into law what is known as the modern day 2001 “Patriot Acts” of the Bush II Administration, which were the “Alien and Sedition Acts” of 1798. Because the Constitution of the United States of America is supposed to be more than just a piece of paper, John Adams is one of two U.S. Presidents who, to this point in U.S. History, will be known to have trampled the civil rights and liberties of American Citizens and Citizens of the World. John Adams signing of the Alien and Sedition Acts was the worst mistake of his Presidency. These unconstitutional laws, like the unconstitutional “Patriot Acts” laws President George W. Bush signed in 2001 and still supports in 2006, stood against everything John Adams had once stood for, which is an important distinction one should note when comparing him to our current U.S. President who never supported the civil rights and liberties measures John Adams had supported earlier in his political career. Later in his life, and after his four-year term as U.S. President, John Adams admitted his error in signing these unconstitutional acts in a written correspondence he would share with then former-President Thomas Jefferson after 1811. John Adams had integrity for admitting his errors, which is something I pray George W. Bush will do in his future old age after his 8-year term as our 43rd U.S. President. The one commonality I judge between Presidents John Adams and George W. Bush is that deep down in their hearts and souls, I see two good men who have served and now serves as President of the U.S.A. and who believe they have done and are now doing what is best for our great nation.

The election of 1800 was the first, last, and only time a sitting U.S. President was opposed by a sitting Vice President. In this election, like all others after, political factions, mud slinging and baseless accusation of slander and libel were deployed to discredit the opposing candidates. While Thomas Jefferson won out against John Adams, he ended up tied in the Electoral College vote count with Aaron Burr, who would not cede the race to Jefferson. What is a striking point of Adams’ integrity, President Adams did not use this event to help himself and/or either Jefferson or Burr, as the decision now rested with the U.S. House of Representatives where Jefferson ultimately prevailed as the Third U.S. President. With the passing of the Presidential Torch from Adams to Jefferson, this marked the first peaceful transition of power after a victory against a sitting U.S. President. In the end of his long and noteworthy political career, John Adams showed a respect for the institutions he helped build by allowing the American Democratic Experiment to run its course with his passing into his golden years of retirement from public life.

For the next 25-years, John Adams would be retired from politics in his Quincy home known as “Peace Field”. On May 15th, 2006, I was able to tour this site and see first hand the paintings and aesthetically pleasing land John Adams called home, making my readings and research feel physically real and personally reverential for our Second U.S. President. Retired in Quincy, John Adams would see his son become a U.S. Senator, and then later a Secretary of State who would author the Monroe Doctrine, and ultimately the 6th U.S. President. Nothing made old John Adams happier than the successes of his good son John Quincy Adams in both politics and life.

John Adams knew his place in history would not be a glorious as his past political contemporaries, such as and especially Thomas Jefferson, and also George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. This made Adams bitter in his old age because he believed he deserved the respect and historical celebrations that would befall his Revolutionary Brothers in the Founding of the greatest nation on Earth: The United States of America. In hindsight, Adams was right about his place in U.S. History, but he also knew that he would be long remembered for his valuable contributions as well.
Despite his bitterness, which afflicts the personalities of many elderly people even in today’s world, John Adams lived his golden years of old age with a sense of contentment, happiness and dignity. Sadly, Adams would outlive his wife, daughter and one of his troubled sons. Yet, he himself was blessed with good health and longevity, and would not pass away until the exact day of the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson lived until July 4th, 1826—a symbolic journey’s end to two very meaningful lives of two good and important men.

In closing, I believe John Adams was strong in character, reasoned with tempered passion in voice, a great leader in public service. To criticize his faults was much more the results of the context of history than the man himself. In hindsight, John Adams and our great nation all share the diminishing hypocrisies of the symbols of shame that come from our legacy of Government by self-determination, Freedom for all American Citizens and Citizens of the World, and the Natural Right to receive the Blessings of Liberty. In Adams’ life, he disavowed Slavery and came to fight for Freedom of Religion for his fellow Jewish Citizens. In many ways, John Adams symbolizes our nation’s long-standing struggle for Democracy for all Americans and peoples of the World.

In today’s political world, modern U.S. Presidents are more interested in building permanent partisan majorities instead of a Government for all Americans, catering to the wealthy multi-national corporations who do nothing more than outsource American jobs to faraway Continents like Asia in the name of a brave new world that prioritizes global capitalism over Natural Rights and Checks and Balances to Political Power, and dividing the World by using fear to lead instead of cultivating hope to empower. In the political world of John Adams, his distinction was to put America first instead of in a line for the benefit of military and corporate business interests.

John Adams’ leadership contributed to the Declaration of Independence and the ultimate defeat of British Colonialism and Monarchy on American Soil, the authoring of the Massachusetts Constitution with its democratic institutions of checks and balances, a “Bill of Rights” for the people in the commonwealth and then for the entire nation, and keeping America at peace and distant from European Politics. I strongly believe that if our modern U.S. Presidents went back to the classical leaders such as John Adams to reflect on their own public policies that is placing our great nation into strained alliances and colossal national debts that America would regain her true intent of serving the American People through self-determination, the rule of law, and a much greater prosperity for all American citizens than the great financial constraints we currently face as an aggregate. John Adams entrusted the governing of the American People to our democratic institutions, and put the American People first with good jobs and economic prosperity, which made our nation a symbol of greatness through Liberty, Freedom and Prosperity.

Monday, November 19, 2007
Letters of John and Abigail Adams - Tonight

Are you a history buff? Or maybe a politics buff? Tonight, there will be a little bit of both at Fanuil Hall. The Massachusetts Historical Society and Harvard University Press is hosting a reading of the letters of John and Abigail Adams by Senator and Mrs. Ted Kennedy, Governor and Mrs. Deval Patrick, and former Governor and Mrs. Michael Dukakis.

Celebration of the publication of a new book of the letters of John and Abigail Adams. This is the first collection of their letters that is selected from the entire forty years span of their correspondence (which coincides with the most important period in American history) and includes several letters never before published.

The event takes place in Fanuil Hall at 7pm tonight. Bundle up, because it's cold out there today.


In a tax revolt, Massachusetts farmers fought back during Shays' Rebellion in the mid-1780s after The American Revolutionary War.

Sheffield, Massachusetts
"Shays' Rebellion will get a Web site"
By Jessica Willis, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 08/26/2008

SHEFFIELD — How did rebel forces in Western Massachusetts shape the fledgling U.S.government? How does a bloody last stand in a snowy cornfield on Sheffield Road in 1787 connect to the present day? Why did Daniel Shays' and hundreds of other displaced Revolutionary War veterans rise up in insurrection against the lawmakers and landowner √©lite?

A new Web site called "Shays' Rebellion and the Making of a Nation: From Revolution to Constitution" will give a detailed account of the conflict and connect it to the writing and eventual ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

The site, hosted by Springfield Technical Community College, is scheduled to launch Sept. 12, and will act as a lead-in to the 221st anniversary of the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17.

According to one Sheffield-based historian, Shays' Rebellion did act as a spur for early reforms, and "established the need for strong government," instead of state-centered authority.

At the same time, the rebellion "was very much an economic event," said James R. Miller, whose 2002 book "Early Life in Sheffield" is an account of his town, up to the Civil War.

"Veterans were coming home (from the Revolutionary War), and they were disowned from their farms."

War debt and inflation had made the state's newly printed paper money worthless, and Massachusetts turned to heavy taxation to pay its debts.

As a result, many veterans had to liquidate their assets, and many ended up in debtors' prison.

One such veteran was the decorated Captain Daniel Shays of Pelham, described by Miller as a "reluctant leader" who was willing to take a stand because he felt he, and many others, had been "betrayed" by the government he fought for.

On Aug. 29, 1786, a group of "Shaysites" stormed the Northampton courthouse and stopped the imprisonment of debtors; insurgents closed the Great Barrington courthouse in Sept. 1786. In Jan. 1787, they clashed with militia at the Springfield Armory.

Other skirmishes ensued, but Shays' swan song took place in Sheffield, on Feb. 27, 1787, when four Shaysites were killed, and more than 30 were injured.

Shays fled to Vermont, and then to Canada, and then back to the states.

Two Berkshire County men named John Bly and Charles Rose were hanged; they were the only Shaysites to be executed for treason.

After his eventual pardon by Massachusetts Gov. John Hancock, Shays died, broke, in New York state in 1825.

To Great Barrington historian Bernard A. Drew, the morass of inflation, debt and property loss that sparked Shays' Rebellion has many parallels to modern American problems.

"The farmers were coming home and finding themselves in something not unlike (the current) subprime mortgage fiasco," Drew said.

Moreover, a Web site devoted to Shays Rebellion is valuable, particularly for those who live so close to where the battles took place.

"People learn more about history when they can attach it to something around them," he said.

The Shays Rebellion Web site address is
To reach Jessica Willis:, (413) 528-3660.

Bryant White's Paintings Illustrating Shays' Rebellion

Portrait of Daniel Shays.

Portrait of Mary Harvey.

Portrait of Henry McCulloch.

Portrait of Moses Sash.

"Minor impact of Shays' Rebellion"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Sunday, August 31, 2008

Jessica Willis' article on the forthcoming Shays' Rebellion Web site (August 26) mentions a few perceptions of that event which have been repeated over the years without much supporting evidence. The most commonly reported opinion is that the rebellion "established the need for strong government." Of course it did nothing of the kind and was only one of many spurs to that end — a minor one at that.

Shays' Rebellion had little influence on the framing of the U.S. Constitution. It was referred to briefly only seven times at the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787, five times in the Federalist Papers, with a call for a standing army. George Washington called it a "partial commotion" and felt that the country was not in great jeopardy.

John Adams wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1786: "Dont be allarmed at the late Turbulence in New England . . . all will be well, and this Commotion will terminate in additional Strength to Government." The contemporary historian of the rebellion, George Minot, does not mention any influence on the Constitution. There was some discussion of it in the state ratifying conventions, mostly on the dangers of such disorders.

But the obvious fact is that Massachusetts quickly put the rebellion down by itself with the creation of a temporary army and did not need the assistance of a federal force. Eldridge Gerry, Massachusetts delegate at the constitutional convention, argued, with some merit, that "more blood would have been spilt in Massachusetts . . . in the late insurrection, if the general authority had intermeddled."

It is next to impossible to pinpoint any phrases in the U.S. Constitution that can be traced to Shays' Rebellion. The Constitution was the result of years of effort to reform government, emanating long before the rebellion.

The chief reasons for the creation of a strong federal authority were the need to regulate taxation, commerce, suffrage, currency, and the courts — not the fear of local insurrections.

There were more armed skirmishes in Berkshire County than anywhere in Massachusetts. At the final clash in Sheffield only three rebels were killed (not four, the fourth being the Stockbridge schoolmaster) and 58 made prisoners. With great humanity, Massachusetts eventually pardoned every one of them. The two men hanged, John Bly of Tyringham and Charles Rose (Ross?), were executed for robbery as common criminals, not for their role in Shays' Rebellion. Neither of these men were Revolutionary War veterans.

Stockbridge, Massachusetts


The historic 54th Colored Infantry Regiment was re-formed as the honor guard for the Massachusetts National Guard at ceremonies at the State House yesterday. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

"'Glory' days revisited: State revives historic black 54th Regiment"
By John R. Ellement, Boston Globe Staff, November 22, 2008

As the generals talked, the soldiers marched, the band played, and the governor spoke, Carl Cruz sat quietly yesterday in Nurses Hall at the State House, holding a framed piece of family and Massachusetts history.

Cruz's great-uncle was a Civil War hero, one of the African-Americans from Massachusetts who were formed into the 54th Colored Infantry Regiment, the first regiment in American history to allow men of color to fight for their country.

Yesterday, prompted by Major General Joseph Carter, who is the first African-American to lead the Massachusetts National Guard, the 54th was reborn as the honor guard for the Massachusetts National Guard by Governor Deval Patrick, the first African-American commander in chief of the Guard.

"It's very, very humbling," Cruz said after the ceremony, as he held his glass frame with a photograph, news clip, and his relative's Medal of Honor in it. "It's a very proud day. It really shows when we work all together as one nation, under God, all things are possible."

Cruz's relative, Sergeant William H. Carney, was a member of the original 54th's honor guard and won the Medal of Honor when he rescued the Union flag during the battle for Fort Wagner in South Carolina in 1863.

But the history of the 54th was not the only military contribution honored at the State House. Patrick, as commander-in-chief, also bestowed battle streamers on 31 Guard units that have been activated and sent overseas in recent years. The units have served in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Members of the units marched into the State House through the front doors, used only when military groups return from battle or a new governor takes office.

Patrick told the audience of uniformed men and women from around the state that he was proud of their service for the country and proud of the role the 54th played in American history.

Carter, the former chief of the Transit Police, said he considers his role as leader of the Guard a special privilege, as was seeing the 54th resurrected.

He praised the "legacy of the great unit that helped, as did a number of patriots, to establish the freedom, democracy, and justice that we enjoy today. That's why it's so important to me."

In the audience were reenactors such as Benny White, who has spent the last 20 years learning the history of the unit and who wore a lieutenant's uniform yesterday. He said he was proud to see the rebirth of the unit.

A Marine Corps veteran, White quoted the actor Morgan Freeman, who played a member of the 54th in the movie, "Glory."

"He said it's a great, gettin' morning," White recalled. "And to me, that's what it is. It's a great time not just for African-Americans, but everybody in the state of Massachusetts."
John Ellement can be reached at

The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, WILLIAM FOWLER
"Memo to Geithner: Learn from Hamilton"
By William Fowler, March 27, 2009

WHEN IT comes to dealing with "toxic assets," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner might take a lesson from the first person to hold his office - Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton understood politics and "toxic assets." When he took office the new republic was drowning in a sea of wild financial speculation and crushing debt from the Revolution. To pay off these obligations the 13 states and the Continental and Confederation Congresses printed paper money to the point where it had become worthless. When the printing press could no longer suffice, they resorted to borrowing funds. Altogether by the time Hamilton took office the states and the federal government owed more than $77 million, a sum roughly equivalent to more than 10 times the government's budget. In a decade and a half of incessant printing and borrowing, these obligations had been sold, resold, bartered, and bundled so many times that no one understood their "real" value. Unless Hamilton could bring sense to this financial mess the republic might collapse.

Hamilton proposed that regardless of their "real" value the federal government should assume these debts at their face value. Southerners saw this as a power grab by northern bankers and merchants aimed at enhancing the power of the federal government over the states. Worse, they argued, it would reward greed and double dealing.

For years, speculators had been warning farmers and soldiers who had received these pieces of paper as payment for food and services during the war that these obligations were nearly worthless. Desperate for cash, many unwary owners panicked, selling them for a fraction of their face value.

Speculators stood to gain a fortune should the new government agree, as Hamilton suggested, to honor these obligations at their par value.

Congress was divided and paralyzed. Hamilton fell into a funk and despaired of the nation's future until June 1790 when he encountered Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson in the street. Jefferson's good friend and fellow Virginian James Madison was leading the opposition to Hamilton's plan. Jefferson proposed a private dinner where the three might discuss the issue.

It was a convivial evening and by the time the port reached the table they had struck a deal. Madison agreed that Hamilton's measure might be "brought before the House." Although "he would not vote for it, nor entirely withdraw from opposition, yet he would not be strenuous, but leave it to its fate." Even so, it would be a "bitter pill" for southerners, and so Madison suggested that something needed to be done "to soothe them."

Congress was also deeply split, north versus south, over the location of the capital. Article One of the Constitution authorized the body to establish a "District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of Government of the United States." A solution needed to be found, but neither the north nor south would yield. Each wanted the capital.

Here was the opportunity for Hamilton to secure southern votes for his plan. To "soothe" the southerners, and grab their votes, Hamilton offered to support "the removal of the seat of government to the Patowmac."

The bargain was struck. On July 9, 1790, the House passed the Residence Bill establishing the seat of government on the Potomac, leaving to President Washington to determine the precise location. The vote was 32 to 29. On July 26, Hamilton's finance bill came up. As he promised, Madison voted against it, but he did nothing to rally others to join him. The bill passed by nearly the same vote, 34 to 28.

This was one of the great compromises in American history. Like all political compromises it did not fully satisfy all the parties, nor did it reconcile fundamental differences between Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians. Those debates would continue. But at this moment of great crisis three of America's greatest political leaders pushed aside politics and ideology to embrace a national vision. Over dinner that evening in June 1790, Madison, Jefferson, and Hamilton saved the republic. Perhaps it is time for someone in Washington, our compromise capital, to arrange another dinner.
William Fowler is a professor of history at Northeastern University.

It's obvious, but who knows, really? The brewery we know just began in 1984, but ol' Sam Adams drank his own stuff -- and, apparently, whatever else was around.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Deval Patrick only serves The Corporate Elite


THE BOSTON GLOBE, Saturday, 12/15/2007, Quotes of Note-

"Special interest cash is like quicksand - it traps you and pretty soon it drowns you."

PAMELA WILMOT, executive director of Common Cause of Massachusetts, on the $1.4 million raised by Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray since they took office this year.

Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray have continued their strong fund-raising efforts, tapping special-interest groups. (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/file 2007)

"Patrick, Murray tap special interests: Groups they'd assailed add to campaign coffers"
By Frank Phillips, Boston Globe Staff, December 11, 2007

Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray have raised more than $1.4 million in combined campaign contributions since taking office, much of it by aggressively soliciting the same special interest groups that, as candidates last year, the Democrats denounced as wielding too much influence on Beacon Hill.

Patrick has collected $775,000, mostly from dozens of fund-raisers thrown for him by a wide array of interests that do business with state agencies and authorities under his control. High on the list of the governor's contributors are lawyers from Boston's elite firms, prominent developers, healthcare executives, and leaders of regulated utilities and insurance companies.

Murray, Patrick's fellow Democrat, has been just as aggressive, raising $650,000 in the same span, an uncommonly large haul for a lieutenant governor. His fund-raising has come with an added twist: He has turned to Robert M. Platt, a State House lobbyist and Republican fund-raiser, for help building a campaign finance network. Platt worked against Patrick last year and supported his opponent, Republican Kerry Healey. And this year he is supporting Republican former governor Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

Platt has joined Murray's inner political finance circle as the lieutenant governor, a former mayor of Worcester who has a low political profile statewide, tries to establish himself as a major political figure.

Many of the Murray contributors at a fund-raising event Platt organized at the Boston Marriott Newton in May were Platt's corporate clients at his lobbying firm, their staffs, and their family members - among them the billboard firm Clear Channel Outdoor and New England Kart Raceway. The event raised $60,000 for Murray.

Murray defended the fund- raising in an interview, saying it is conducted strictly within the law, including the restrictions placed on State House lobbyists such as Platt, and that he and the governor need to project strength to potential challengers.

"People elected us to get things done, and we are working hard on policies, initiatives, and legislative proposals," Murray said. "But part of being effective is to be politically strong and to be ready for any challenges that may come."

"It is a fine balance," he said. "The lion's share of our effort has been focused on moving the agenda ahead on a whole of range of initiatives. But you also have to pay attention to the political end. It is all part of the electoral process."

Patrick's aggressive fund- raising among special interests and Murray's decision to use a Republican lobbyist to build his campaign account follow oft-repeated pledges they made during the 2006 gubernatorial campaign. As a candidate, Patrick billed himself as someone who would break the connection between lobbyist and industry money and the highest office in state government.

"If you want the same old same old, the politics of money and connections, I'm not your guy," he said in a Sept. 7 debate with Democratic opponents. "But if what you want is the politics of hope and a change of culture on Beacon Hill, I am your guy, and I want your vote."

Told of Patrick's pattern of fund-raising, Pamela Wilmot, the executive director of Common Cause of Massachusetts, said she was not surprised.

"Special interest cash is like quicksand - it traps you and pretty soon it drowns you," Wilmot said.

If the governor were truly interested in changing the traditional flow of money, she added, he would have put campaign finance reform and public funding of elections at the top of his agenda.

The spokesman for Patrick's campaign committee, Stephen Crawford, said that political contributors for the most part are responding to the governor's work on issues that affect them. He cited contributions from agricultural interests to make his point.

"Governor Patrick heard from struggling family farmers at every one of his town meetings this year," Crawford said in a statement. "He responded with a program that saved farms from foreclosure. When elected officials tackle the problems of our state's citizens, people support them for their leadership."

Although its campaign finance laws are more restrictive than most states - particularly in setting a $500 annual limit for each donor - Massachusetts is nevertheless fertile ground for raising large sums of political money a review of several specific instances of Patrick's fund-raising shows.

From July to November, Patrick collected $65,000 from people involved in real estate development at four different fund-raising events, his campaign reports show. The contributions came from engineering firm executives, real estate lawyers from high- powered Boston firms, and unions representing carpenters. They also flowed from real estate developers such as John Drew, president of The Drew Company, and Arthur Gutierrez, chairman of the Burlington-based real estate construction and development company, The Gutierrez Co.

In October, as Patrick was making a final decision on whom to appoint commissioner of agriculture, the governor raised $20,000 at an event at which farmers, commercial growers, suburban gardening outlets, and a host of other agricultural interests wrote checks to his political committee. In the end, Patrick appointed a legislator whom many in the agricultural community opposed.

Law firms that often seek lucrative contracts with the state are also a major source of contributions. Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo, whose lobbying division ML Strategies has a strong presence at the State House, raised more than $16,000. Patrick did not appear to do ML Strategies any favors when he made a concerted effort to push the division's president, Stephen P. Tocco, out as University of Massachusetts chairman.

Platt's presence in Murray's campaign organization has generated grumbling among some Democrats. Since former US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II dropped out of the 1998 race for governor, Platt primarily raised money for Republican governors Paul Cellucci, Jane Swift, and Mitt Romney.

Platt also served as a fund- raiser for GOP gubernatorial nominee Healey in her race against Patrick. He has donated over $17,000 to the Massachusetts Republican Party in the last four years. Now, with Democrats holding the governor's office, Platt has given the state Democratic Party $4,500 in July.

"It's a big tent and we are looking forward," Murray said, asked why he brought in a Republican fund-raiser. "You need a cross-section of people to be around the table."



"Patrick fund-raising arrangement skirts law: Donations channeled through Democratic Party"
By Frank Phillips, Boston Globe Staff, January 23, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick has set up a novel political fund-raising system that allows him to skirt the state's campaign finance law by channeling big contributions through the state Democratic Party, which, in turn, has paid off hundreds of thousands of dollars of the governor's political expenses.

Under the unique arrangement, Patrick, who ran for election sharply criticizing the "politics of money and connections," is raising contributions far in excess of the individual limit of $500 for a political candidate. Now, in many cases he is getting as much as $5,500 from individual lobbyists, corporate executives, developers, and other supporters.

The money goes into a special pot of money called the Seventy-First Fund (after Patrick's standing as the 71st governor) which, under a written agreement between the Patrick campaign and the Democratic Party, serves as a conduit to divide up contributions.

Each donation is split between Patrick's own campaign committee, which receives the maximum allowed individual contribution of $500, and the state Democratic Party, which receives $5,000, the most an individual can contribute to a political party.

The party then uses most of the receipts to pay off the Patrick's campaign committee's bills; in 2007, the party paid $339,000 of governor's expenses, including bills for his media consultant, banquet halls, a ball room and buffets, website development, and more.

"They are gaming the system," said M.A. Swedlund, the co-chairwoman of Mass Voters for Fair Elections, a group that advocated for public financing elections. Swedlund, who supported Patrick's campaign last year, said she is disappointed in Patrick's new fund-raising techniques but not surprised. "It is taking fund-raising to another level," she said.

The setup is a hybrid blend of old and new techniques. Party money has been used to assist individual candidates up for election in the past, but Patrick is adding a new dimension as a sitting governor by using an additional fund to leverage sizable contributions from individuals, and then aggressively tapping party coffers to pay off his political bills.

The system has been deemed legal by state campaign finance regulators. But advocates of campaign finance reform and other analysts say Patrick and the Democratic Party are using loopholes that vastly increase the potential influence of special-interest campaign money on the governor.

"It is a bit unsavory because the money is getting channeled and washed through the party," said Jeffrey Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University. He said the operation demonstrates that the state finance campaign laws need to be revamped.

But Patrick's political aides and party officials defended the new system as playing within the existing rules.

Liz Morningstar, executive director of the Deval Patrick Committee, in a statement released by the campaign, did not respond to questions about the apparent circumvention of the state's $500 limit on individual campaign contributions. She said the fund-raising system is one of several tools at Patrick's disposal "to strengthen and grow the Democratic Party in Massachusetts."

"This program is just one of the ways we're establishing a strong Democratic infrastructure in every precinct across Massachusetts," she said in the statement.

John Walsh, the Democratic Party chairman, disputed any suggestion that using the Seventy-First Fund in this manner contradicts Patrick's promise to dispense with special-interest politics on Beacon Hill or circumvent individual campaign limits of $500.

"Those donors are people that the governor has asked to support the party, and the party is carrying out its mission of building its grassroots and supporting its elected officials," Walsh said. "We are doing it within the rules, and the rules in fact are designed to give the party that role."

Common Cause of Massachusetts, a watchdog group, found nothing about Patrick's strategy that prompted alarm, said its executive director, Pam Wilmot.

The way was cleared for the system four years ago, when state campaign regulators rewrote regulations that allowed governors and other elected officials to create special political funds to raise money for their political parties. Former governor Mitt Romney never set up the sort of operation that Patrick and his aides have created.

Patrick's aides created the Seventy-First Fund in March. Over the past seven months, Patrick raised $478,000 for the fund. If the party had not paid $339,000 to pay off Patrick's campaign committee bills, his committee's year-end balance in 2007 would have been $25,736, a relatively small amount for a sitting governor. Instead, he is currently sitting on a war chest of $365,000.

A review of campaign finance records shed light on how the party, with the donations from the Seventy-First Fund, supported the Deval Patrick Committee. It paid $18,000 to the committee's public relations consultant, Steve Crawford. It paid the $27,194 tab at the Fairmont Copley Plaza for a political bash last month. Other bills included fund-raising events the committee held last year.

The tools that Patrick is using to create the Seventy-First Fund and get around limits on individual campaign contributions have developed gradually. They had their roots in 1994, when the state passed reforms aimed at curbing the influence of wealthy donors and special interests on the political process with a $500 ceiling on annual donations - dropping it from $1,000 to one of the lowest limits in the country. Lobbyists are restricted to $200.

A special section in that 1994 law allowed for parties to create special political committees or funds that could raise money that would then go into the party accounts. Initially, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance restricted the donations to those funds to $500 per person.

But a suit by a Democratic legal team in 2003 prompted the office to change the regulations so that such funds could accept as much as $5,500. With the Seventy-First Fund, Patrick expanded that even further by setting up a written agreement between his campaign and the party that allows him to operate the fund.


"Patrick event focuses on poor: Attendees asked to donate clothing"
By Matt Viser, Globe Staff, December 21, 2007

Governor Deval Patrick held a glittering political fund-raiser last night at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel, expected to be his biggest campaign money event of the year.

A spokesman for his campaign said more than 600 people attended, but he would not say how much money the governor hoped to raise.

Tickets for the event were $100 and $250. Guests at the holiday-themed ball, who were asked to wear black ties and nice dresses, were also encouraged to bring "new or gently worn" children's winter coats and boots, to give a charitable spirit to the evening.

The Globe reported earlier this month that Patrick, along with Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, has raised more than $1.4 million in campaign contributions since taking office, much of it through aggressively soliciting special interest groups they denounced as candidates last year.

Patrick has collected $775,000, mostly through dozens of fund-raisers thrown for him by an array of interests that do business with state agencies and authorities under his control.

The entertainment roster for last night's party, which was closed to the press, included the Berklee School of Music's All-stars, Tony Vaughn's Jazz Trio, and the Mark Greel Band.

The donations of winter coats and boots will go to Cradles to Crayons, a Quincy-based nonprofit that helps low-income and homeless children.

Patrick made a similar request of his guests for his inauguration events in Worcester and Boston, asking all attendees to bring shoes, which also went to Cradles to Crayons.

The request followed criticism about the expense of his five-day inauguration festivities.

Those events brought in 12,000 pairs of shoes, socks, and boots, said Lynn Margherio, the founder of Cradles to Crayons.

"We have partnered with the governor and first lady as a way to get the word out about the need for these very basic essentials," she said.

"We think often this time of year about toys for children to open on the holidays, but they also need something to keep safe and warm. This ball is an avenue for people to make a concrete contribution."


"New life for Patrick fund raising: Aides defend use of lobbyist as campaign coffers grow"
By Frank Phillips, Boston Globe Staff, June 3, 2010

Governor Deval Patrick, trying to keep pace in a costly gubernatorial contest, is benefiting increasingly from the kind of fund-raiser whose influence he has vowed to curb: a special-interest State House lobbyist.

Sean Q. Curran, a strong Patrick supporter who promotes his lobbying business by boasting of his connections to state government, has emerged in recent months as cochairman of Patrick’s finance committee.

Curran, whose client list has included such blue-chip technology companies as IBM and Cisco Systems, has arranged gatherings at Patrick’s Milton home, where Democratic heavy hitters and corporate executives — for $5,000 a piece — get to shmooze with the governor. He has set up events at trendy Boston restaurants, where executives discussed public policy issues affecting their industries. And he is listed as a cosponsor of fund-raisers for Patrick in Atlanta and Washington.

Indeed, those who have worked with him say that Curran, a hard-charging, 39-year-old lobbyist who makes more than $300,000 each year in client fees, has played a pivotal role in putting Patrick’s finance operation into high gear after several years of relative neglect by the governor, who has said he has a strong distaste for asking for money.

In an e-mail, Curran said that he did not know exactly how much money he had raised, or how many events he has organized for Patrick, but he said he is “always honored to have a chance to help him and to bring other business people to a gathering to meet him and discuss issues of importance to the state.’’

Patrick’s campaign manager, Sydney Asbury, defended Curran’s involvement, saying in a statement that the campaign “has always been straightforward and transparent about the role all of our finance cochairs, including Sean Curran, have in helping to raise money, which ensures the public has a fair and accurate accounting of all our fund-raising efforts.’’

“Governor Patrick proposed and helped pass some of the strictest ethics and lobbying laws in the country, and these laws help to draw a bright line between the necessary raising of money for campaigns and the important work Governor Patrick does every day on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth,’’ she said.

At a Finance Committee meeting in late March, Curran, whose position with the campaign is unpaid, was singled out as Patrick’s top fund-raiser of 2010 — twice as much as the second-best fund-raiser, according to a person present at the meeting, who asked for anonymity to discuss a private event. Patrick’s fund-raising, though it still trails that of his Republican rival, has picked up. In January, the governor raised just $78,815, a paltry amount for an incumbent. In April, he raised $330,578. People close to Patrick attribute much of the surge to Curran’s more pronounced role, though it is unclear to what degree.

There is nothing illegal about lobbyists raising money for a governor, but Curran’s role as a top fund-raiser is notable because of Patrick’s self-styled political identity as a reformer who has curbed the clout of special interests. He celebrates, for example, his signing last year of tougher state ethics and lobbying laws, which his campaign website asserts makes it “harder for special interests to influence election officials.’’

“The governor is delivering real reforms that Republican predecessors only talked about,’’ his website says, asserting that Patrick has kept his commitment from the 2006 campaign to “change to the culture of Beacon Hill.’’

Curran said that he and the Patrick campaign have made no attempt to hide his role, nor his work as a lobbyist. He said he is motivated only by his belief in the governor, and does not use fund-raising to give clients access. “I specialize in the technology area because I understand the way state government procures these services, and I can help my clients prepare their bids and presentations, not because I have special access,’’ Curran said. “I don’t.’’

Still, some campaign finance reform advocates want to ban lobbyists from raising money for candidates. Common Cause Massachusetts has pushed legislation to prohibit the practice.

“Lobbyists shouldn’t be asking for favorable government action on one hand and giving or soliciting campaign contributions with the other,’’ said Pam Wilmot, the group’s executive director.

Patrick’s main rivals in the governor’s race, Republican Charles D. Baker and state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, an independent, have also relied on special-interest money to help finance their campaigns. Baker, a former chief executive of a health insurer, has raised tens of thousands of dollars from the health care industry; Cahill has drawn criticism for raising heavily from law firms and others with an interest in treasury business.

In promoting his company, Waterville Consulting, to potential clients, Curran trumpets his ability to open doors in state government, saying on his website that he will “guide you in reaching those who are critical to your business goals.’’

Even before he took on a more prominent role with the campaign, Curran had been helping Patrick raise money. He has not been shy about linking contributions to access to the governor.

In a solicitation to a small group of technology executives for a June 19, 2007, event, Curran offered “a setting intended to generate discussion about the issues facing the technology industry in Massachusetts.’’

“Join us and share a table with nine of your colleagues and Governor Deval Patrick,’’ the invitation reads. The intimate gathering took place at Stella, a South End restaurant. The cost was $5,000 a person, and it raised about $40,000 from the eight executives who attended.

The bulk of the funds went to the Patrick-controlled state Democratic Party, and a small portion — $500 each, the maximum allowed by law — went to Patrick’s campaign committee. The party never listed the $1,300 expense for the dinner. Asked about the omission, party chairman John Walsh said it was an “in kind’’ donation from the restaurant owner. He said it was “a totally inadvertent mistake’’ not to list it, and that the party would correct its public records filing.

At the table with Patrick were executives from three of Curran’s clients, including Paul Raymond, the Northeast president for CGI, and Susan McConathy, Cisco’s account coordinator, whose firms had business before state agencies at the time. Cisco Systems was part of a $42 million deal to provide a new phone system for the health and human services offices; CGI was a subcontractor on a $98.9 million contract, then under negotiations, to provide a new computer system for the revenue department.

In his publicly filed report on lobbying activities, Curran said he worked directly on those projects for his clients. Cisco did not respond to a request for comment; Raymond said the revenue department contract was never discussed at the dinner.

Curran strongly disputed the notion that the 2007 event could be seen as the Patrick campaign selling access to the governor, and he said he had specifically instructed guests that night not to raise their firms’ interest in specific projects or contracts.

“That is absolutely not a fair or accurate way to describe the event,’’ he said. “The event was a small gathering of business people who were interested in having a more in-depth conversation with Governor Patrick about the business climate in Massachusetts.’’
Frank Phillips can be reached at

"Governor Deval Patrick gives generously to 100G gang"
By Howie Carr, The Boston Herald, Sunday, December 9, 2007

One thing we can all agree on about Gov. Deval Patrick - he’s a very special guy.

What we didn’t know is that he presides over an equally special staff.

How special are they? Well, according to the Herald’s Find-a-Hack Web site, the globe-trotting governor has 16 “special assistants” on his payroll.

And yes, they are special. These specialists specialize in making between $65,000 and $115,000, with seven over $100,000. Call those in the six-figure club special, special assistants.

As you read in the Herald earlier this week, of the 70 people on the governor’s payroll, 11 are making more than $100,000.

By way of contrast, consider those at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, who basically get the job done. Of the Registry’s 831 employees, two make more than $100,000.

Then there’s the Lottery. It’s having major problems competing against casinos, but it still makes millions and, of its 431 employees, six make more than 100 large.

Which brings us back to Gov. Patrick. What exactly has the guy accomplished in his first year in office? Other than the Cadillac, I mean. Not that I’m complaining, you understand. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. First, do no harm.

Still, you have to wonder how much you have to pay people who basically sit around all day and do nothing except calling UMass trustees asking them to oust Steve Tocco six months early.

Let’s go down the payroll. First Deval, at $140,535, followed by Lt. Gov. Tim “Lefty” Murray at $124,920 - not too shabby for a former Worcester city councilor who once dreamed of becoming the next Ditto Dan Foley.

Next comes the chief legal counsel, one Ben Clements, at $120,000. Most people at the State House couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. Presumably he at least assisted in the nationwide search that ended with moonbat Margot Botsford on the Supreme Judicial Council after her spouse donated three times the legal limit to Deval’s 2006 campaign.

Batting cleanup is David Morales and, yes, he is a special assistant, acquired on waivers from Team Travaglini after his boss Bobby Trav resigned as Senate president.

Morales makes $115,000; ditto Charlotte Golar Richie, whose qualifications are impeccable. She used to be a state rep, from Dorchester. Then she made a decision that almost ended her career at the public trough: She went to work at City Hall for Mumbles. Now, sadder but wiser, she’s home for the holidays at the State House.

Next come a couple more special assistant newcomers at $105,000: Ron Marlow and Lily Mendez-Morgan. That hyphenated last name is a nice touch - whoever she is, Mendez-Morgan is going places in this ultra-PC administration.

Also at $105,000 is David Simas, who used to be Bristol County’s elected register of deeds in Taunton, which brings us to another interesting contrast. Most of the registers of deeds are now vassals of Secretary of State Bill Galvin. Galvin has 629 employees and only three make more than $100,000. He has at least three registers of deeds who are veteran hack pols, ex-Mayors Dick Howe and Gene Brune ($97,270 a year) and ex-Sen. Andrea Nuciforo ($86,092). That Galvin. What a cheapskate.

The next $100,000 “special assistant” is James Leary, another dim-bulb state rep hired by his fellow three-watter from Worcester, Lefty Murray. They could make a movie about those two flyweights. Alas, the title is already taken - “Dumb and Dumber.”

An assistant legal counsel is parked at $100,000, which is also how much Doug Rubin makes. Of course Rubin is a “special assistant,” but he’s also Deval’s chief of staff, presumably of all the staff who make less than 100 grand. Rubin was involved in Deval’s campaign, and before that he worked for Treasurer Tim Cahill. Ditto Michael Morris, still another “special assistant” at $95,000. Also at $95,000 is Ron Bell, who used to be a community activist of some sort before he became . . . special.

Bill Veeck, the late baseball executive, used to say that it wasn’t the high cost of talent that was destroying the game, it was the high cost of mediocrity.

As baseball goes, so goes state government.



CARL: Deval Patrick is one of the worst governors this state has ever seen. He is even making Dukakis look not so bad.

JOHN: These clowns wouldn't make it in the private sector. Same holds true for the police and fire departments. I mean where can you fall asleep on the job and still get a raise.

JACK: Remember, "together we can". Can what ??? So far, we are all getting it in the can. Thanks DuVal for ruining even more an already ruined state. Boy, I can't wait for that ballot question to get rid of the State income tax. Then we can all say "together we can" (get rid of them all).

TAN: Makes the $70K+ assistant for his wife look like a bargain, doesn't it?

MARY Hallwachs: Don't cry to me, keep electing these peoople (Kennedy, Kerry, Duval, etc.) to office.

"?": ....Howie earns his 1+ million per. Who else could make a column out of the state payroll database ... again ... and again ... and again ....

"Most of governor's board appointments donated to his campaign"
By Edward Mason, Staff writer, The Salem News Online

BOSTON — Earlier this year, as the public focused on the presidential race and the impending battle over casino gambling, Gov. Deval Patrick was busy filling open positions on state government boards. Although the boards were varied and the people he named from diverse backgrounds, the vast majority had one thing in common: They donated to his campaign.

Sixteen of the 19 positions open on the boards of the Massachusetts Port Authority, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, State Lottery Commission and Commonwealth Service Corps were filled by people who wrote checks to Patrick's campaign fund.

As a candidate for governor, Patrick ran as an outsider committed to change the political culture on Beacon Hill. However, as governor, Patrick has embraced one of the most criticized insider traditions: giving political supporters jobs.

To some, Patrick's actions represent a governor embracing a necessary fact of governing: Governors must tap people friendly to their agenda. But to others, it represents a departure from Patrick's promise.

"People really hoping for a different type of government will shake their heads," said Mary McHugh, a Merrimack College political scientist.

Ten of the appointees were to the new board of Commonwealth Service Corps, which will oversee the governor's statewide volunteer initiative. When Patrick announced his appointments in January, eight of the 10 had donated to the governor's campaign, including Andover resident and longtime Democratic Party activist Mary Jane Powell.

In mid-February, Patrick named James Aloisi to the Massport board. Aloisi, a former Turnpike Authority lawyer, and his wife donated a combined $5,000 over a three-year period. Individual's donations are capped at $500 a year.

Later that month, Patrick filled eight openings on the boards of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and State Lottery Commission. Seven of the eight contributed to his campaign fund, including Barbara Capuano, wife of Congressman Michael Capuano, an early Patrick booster.

All of those board positions were unpaid.

Lily Mendez-Morgan, an Andover resident, is the governor's senior appointments director, overseeing gubernatorial appointments throughout the executive branch and to boards and commissions. She declined to be interviewed.

Patrick spokeswoman Rebecca Deusser said the governor's actions are consistent with his promise as a candidate.

"Of course, the governor is going to appoint people who share his philosophy about the best way to move Massachusetts forward," Deusser said. "Tens of thousands of people contributed to his campaign, and that's neither a qualifier or a disqualifier to an appointment."

Deusser also went on to say Patrick hasn't turned to familiar faces to fill government slots.

"I can also say the governor has pushed ethnic and geographic diversity," Deusser said. "We've reached an unprecedented level."

While there are new faces, there are also familiar ones to Beacon Hill.

One is former Democratic state Sen. Cheryl Jacques. Patrick nominated Jacques to become a judge at the Department of Industrial Accidents, even though she'd never appeared before that body, which resolves workers' compensation disputes.

Jacques had donated $500 to Patrick's campaign, and as recently as November hosted a fundraiser for the governor. Lt. Gov. Tim Murray said she was chosen not for her fundraising ties, but for her experience as an attorney.

Patrick has reached out to area supporters, as well.

Nancy Harrington, the former Salem State president, was named in January to an unpaid position on the Board of Higher Education, which oversees the state's public colleges. She showed her support with a $200 donation in June 2007. Harrington declined to comment.

Contrasting Harrington's long career in higher education was Patrick's other appointment to the board that day, C. Bernard Fulp. He was a career banker who also served on the Lesley University Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Carol, donated more than $2,000 to Patrick over two years.

Marcos Devers, former Lawrence interim mayor and city councilor, was an early Patrick supporter. Devers, who lost a state representative race in 2006, contributed $150 to the governor's kitty and campaigned for the governor in 2006. He is now regional director of the Department of Industrial Accidents. Devers could not be reached for this story.

Patrick also appointed another early supporter, former Rep. Doug Petersen, D-Marblehead, to be commissioner of agriculture over the objections of the state's farmer's association.

Merrimack's McHugh said that there was an appearance that the governor's actions did not always square with his campaign pledge of change.

"There's a concern someone who promises a new way that within a year they're back to the same old way," McHugh said.

Republicans sense a double standard. Rep. Bradley Jones Jr., the House minority leader, said that had it been a Republican governor making politically connected appointments, Democrats would be crying foul.

"He's doing the same things that if a Republican did it, at some point the Democratic State Committee would send out a letter criticizing him," Jones said.

But Rep. Anthony J. Verga, D-Gloucester, said Patrick shouldn't be criticized for his choices.

"That's the way it happens," said Verga.

Verga, who had hoped to be named Patrick's veterans' affairs secretary, said governors have to appoint people in tune with their agenda.

"You've got to get somebody you feel can do the job," Verga said. "Second, is the guy going to be loyal to my goals."

Patrick's campaign was notable for the breadth of its donor base. Rep. Barbara A. L'Italien, D-Andover, said it's hard to find politically loyal people who haven't given to your campaign.

"I think there's the general understanding that people who are politically active, like it or not, donate money to campaigns," L'Italien said.


Photo by Patrick Whittemore
"Governor’s party funds: Little-known account accepts more than 10 times limit"
By Hillary Chabot, Saturday, February 7, 2009,, Local Coverage

The Democratic state party has shelled out nearly $600,000 for Gov. Deval Patrick’s consultants and galas using donations from a little-known campaign account funded largely by lobbyists and special-interest groups.

The Seventy First Fund - named because Patrick is the 71st governor - raises money on behalf of the governor and the state party. But it allows special-interest contributors to give a maximum $5,500 - 11 times the limit for typical campaign accounts per year.

The fund raised some $467,000 for the state party in 2008, nearly $300,000 of which went to pay Patrick’s campaign bills, such as a $9,000 rental tab at the State Room for a fund-raiser. It also raised $388,000 in 2007 - $339,000 of which went to Patrick.

The fund is raising eyebrows among some political observers.

“They’re resorting to subterfuge to build the party and advance candidates,” said Tufts University political professor Jeff Berry.

But John Walsh, chairman of the Massachusetts state Democratic Party, said the shared account is completely above-board. “It’s sort of a standard procedure,” Walsh said. “The party spends the money on all Democratic candidates.”

The $5,500 donations are split, giving the maximum allowable contribution of $500 to Patrick and passing on $5,000 to the state Democratic Party, the most an individual can donate to a party. But the party uses much of its share to pay off the governor’s campaign bills.

Several lobbyists, developers and executives write checks for the maximum $5,500 amount, but their donations only show up as $500 for Patrick.

Richard Lamb, a $5,500 contributor to the fund last year, is chairman of the Trustees of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Patrick approved a $54.5 million earmark for a science center at the school last August.

“(The contribution) is to show my support for the governor and has nothing to do with anything else,” said Lamb, adding that he expected no quid pro quo for his donation.
Article URL:
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick campaigned for Governor in 2006 on a grassroots, populist platform. However, his campaign proved to be waged on false pretenses. While Deval Patrick is an outsider to Beacon Hill power politics, he was and always is still a Corporate Elite Insider. Many of Deval Patrick's public policies have only served the Corporate Elite, not the People!
Boston Globe Political Columnist Joan Vennochi
Joan Vennochi is one of my favorite political columnists. What I like about her views on politics is that she always tells it like it is. However, I am also critical of her for not seeing the Agenda and how the media is manipulated by the Corporate Elite and the Pols that serve only them, not the People.


"Roadblocks on Beacon Hill"
By Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe Columnist, October 28, 2007

WHAT'S STOPPING Deval Patrick from advancing his agenda?

Deval Patrick.

From the start of his administration, the new governor failed to build strong coalitions, inside or outside the State House, to help push major initiatives. This made it easy for opponents to derail his proposals, from spending to revenue-raising.

Now nothing much is happening on Beacon Hill, at least nothing the governor really wants. One reason is Patrick's failure to take care of the behind-the-scenes politics before he does the public proposing.

During the first 10 months of his administration, the opposite occurred.

For example: Patrick announced his plan to auction off three casino licenses at a press conference with several administration officials beside him and nary a legislative supporter in sight. Afterward, I asked one of those administration officials whether there were enough votes in the House to approve the plan. "I don't think anyone knows," was the answer.

The administration's failure to do its homework continues to be excellent news for gambling opponents. So is the lack of enthusiasm from Patrick's liberal grass-roots supporters, who view gambling as a regressive tax. Meanwhile, the various gambling ventures lobbying for their own special interests are essentially working against one another.

Polls show people want casinos, although not necessarily in their own backyard. But Patrick's casino plan will go nowhere without a stronger lobbying strategy, which is fine with me.

Other Patrick proposals are also stalled, from a $1 billion biotech initiative to an education reform package. Indeed, killing Patrick's revenue-raising proposals makes it easier for legislators to kill his spending proposals.

Early on, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation joined forces with House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi to block the administration's efforts to close corporate tax loopholes and give cities and towns the option to increase the meals tax. Patrick tried to mobilize mayors and town managers behind his plan, but the opposition was stronger and better organized.

The governor's casino proposal is under similar attack from at least one segment of the business community. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said its just-released analysis of Patrick's casino legislation "is not meant to be the final word on this subject." But its basic theme, that casino revenues will fall short of Patrick's projections, helps DiMasi, a gambling opponent, withstand pressure to advance the measure.

Patrick is trying to turn up the heat on the Legislature by drawing attention to the lack of action on a range of key proposals. "I'm frustrated by the pace: I don't make any secret of that," he told the Globe. "I don't think it's simply because I'm from the private sector or, as they say in the South, 'not from around here.' It's because I got elected to make change. People are hungry for it, and I think a lot of people see the reasons for the delays as excuses for inaction. And sometimes I do, too."

The governor is now working to build support for his agenda beyond the usual business constituencies. On Friday, he attended a conference sponsored by a new business organization called the Progressive Business Leaders Network. It's a nonpartisan group and won't take positions on specific policy issues, such as taxation or gambling, according to founding president Thomas D. Dretler. "But some of our people may get involved," said Dretler, who is also president and chief executive of Eduventures, a research and consulting firm for the higher education market. He said some members met last week with Patrick to talk about "how they can engage not just with the administration, but with the Legislature."

Some business executives involved with the group include Democratic fund-raiser Steve Grossman; James Roosevelt Jr., chief executive of Tufts Health Plan; Phil Edmundson, cheif executive of William Gallagher; Christopher Gabrieli, a past gubernatorial candidate and chief executive of Mass2020; Gloria C. Larson, president of Bentley College; and Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter.

Patrick's approval rating is up to 56 percent, according to the latest Survey USA polling data. That means voters still like something about him. They are still looking to him to deliver on his promise to rebuild the broken roads and schools he spoke about during the campaign.

As Patrick is finding out, it takes more than popularity or even good ideas to get things done on Beacon Hill.

Joan Vennochi's e-mail address is


Mass. casino opponents join forces
The Associated Press
Monday, October 29, 2007

BOSTON (AP) — Opponents of Governor Deval Patrick's plan to bring casino gambling to Massachusetts are launching a public awareness campaign.

Casino Free Mass is made up of religious groups, mental health professionals and small business owners.

They've unveiled a Web site and plan to hold forums around the state to drum up support. The first session is Nov. 7 in New Bedford.

Patrick says three resort casinos would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue for the state.

The Reverend Jack Johnson of the Massachusetts Council of Churches says it's "morally reprehensible" to raise revenue from those who can least afford it.


Deval Patrick sheds always-cordial tone
By Lindsey Parietti/Daily News staff
The MetroWest Daily News
Mon Oct 29, 2007

BOSTON, Massachusetts -

The kid gloves are coming off.

Ten months into his first term, Gov. Deval Patrick is beginning to shed the polite and sometimes acquiescent rhetoric that has gotten him through numerous legislative delays and defeats.

Last week, after hearing pleas and accusations from the families of street violence victims, [Deval] Patrick criticized the Legislature for holding the "annual spectacle of another hearing on capital punishment" while ignoring his anti-crime initiatives.

And earlier this month, [Deval] Patrick questioned whether House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi would give his casino gambling bill the full consideration promised, at the same time dismissing vocal opponent Rep. Daniel Bosley, D-North Adams.

"I see absolutely nothing objective about what comes out of Chairman [Dan] Bosley's mouth on this subject, so I'm going to set that aside," [Deval] Patrick said during a television interview.

[Dan] Bosley, who is part of DiMasi's leadership team, heads the Joint Economic Development Committee that will hear Patrick's proposal to allow three Massachusetts casinos.

"Sometimes you gotta push (legislators) and sometimes you gotta use the carrot," said former governor and Hudson native Paul Cellucci, who believes Patrick must choose the strategy that works best for him.

"I was frustrated by the pace of the legislative process when I was in the Legislature for 14 years," he said, empathizing with Patrick. "It can be excruciatingly slow and it's designed that way because the framers of the Constitution wanted to get a proper balance."

Patrick hasn't minced words with the voters, telling them to "come and get" the property tax relief promised from a package of municipal bills, most of which have been stuck in committee since January.

But inside the State House, words like "compromise" and "balance" have become staples of the administration.

"It's balanced, it's responsible, it's a true collaboration with the Legislature and we haven't seen that in a long time," Patrick said after signing the Legislature's budget, which forced him to break campaign promises of new police officers and property tax relief.

Whether it is the result of frustration or a calculated strategy, lawmakers aren't surprised by recent changes in the governor's approach.

"We certainly expect the governor to advocate for his agenda and advocate forcefully and that's what he's been doing," said DiMasi press secretary David Guarino.

House Minority Leader Rep. Brad Jones, R-North Reading, says Patrick's impatience shows his lack of experience and appreciation for the legislative process.

"He expects that after he's had 10 months with an issue we're supposed to take instant action. I think that's an unreasonable and unrealistic expectation," Jones said. "The tune he's changed it to ... is probably going to be even more unproductive than things have already been."

But Sen. Michael Morrissey, D-Quincy, believes the governor is on the right track saying, "he's got to buckle down and put the pressure on."

GateHouse News staff writer Lindsey Parietti can be reached at


Leading on health isn't easy
January 29, 2007

WHILE President Bush floats a controversial proposal to erode employer-based health insurance, Massachusetts is offering new kinds of coverage to people who now do without this important protection. There will be many challenges ahead, and more federal assistance would be welcome. But so far, the Massachusetts authority in charge of the new insurance is performing its complex task well.

The Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector Authority expects that, by the end of the week, 45,000 people below the federal poverty line ($9,800 for a single person) will be enrolled in its Commonwealth Care program. Medicaid does not cover these people, though it should. People below the poverty line will not pay any premiums.

Now the connector has extended Commonwealth Care insurance to people earning up to 300 percent of the poverty limit, who will be expected to pay part of the cost. The creation of Commonwealth Care is a significant achievement in and of itself.

The connector is also seeking bids from private insurers for its Commonwealth Choice policies, which will be offered without subsidies to people earning more than 300 percent of poverty. The bids are confidential, but at least one of them was for $380 a month -- too high. Connector leaders last week properly told the insurers to do better.

At the same time, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization released a survey suggesting that many people making up to 500 percent of the poverty limit ($49,000 for an individual, $83,000 for a family of three) would have trouble paying for the new policies. The group proposes exempting these people from the law's mandate that everyone in the state get health insurance.

GBIO is doing good work by reminding the connector of the affordability problem. But it is premature to call for suspension of the individual mandate, the first of its kind in the nation, which will not have much impact until 2008. The connector needs time to work this problem out.

It would be helpful if the federal government provided money to close the gap. Bush made an offer in that direction last week with a proposed tax reduction to encourage individuals to buy insurance. But he structured the plan to erode the employer-based system and to benefit people with higher incomes.

The nation may eventually move beyond employer-based insurance, but it still provides coverage for 59 percent of the population, and the wealthy don't need a tax break for their health insurance. The president's proposal should be rejected by Congress.

A federal tax credit targeted to people making less than $50,000 or $60,000 would be a more appropriate incentive. Massachusetts, with the connector in the vanguard, would welcome the help as it strives to provide every resident with the security of health insurance.


Deval Patrick Signs Sudan Divestment Bill - November 02, 2007

BOSTON — Acknowledging the violence and human suffering plaguing the Sudanese people of Darfur, Gov. Deval Patrick today signed into law a bill ending the state's investment in certain companies that are complicit in genocide in Sudan. The law compliments the sanctions already in place under federal law.

"We want to send a clear signal that we, like so many people around the world, expect swift action to end the suffering of the Sudanese people," said Gov. Patrick. "The Sudanese government must take a strong stand against the genocide in their country, and bring real relief and progress to the people of the region."

"It is in our great tradition to fight for freedom and the dignity of all people," said Lt. Gov. Tim Murray. "Massachusetts is the cradle of the American Revolution; we led the charge for abolition; we played a major role in obtaining women's suffrage; and we stood at the forefront of the civil rights movement. This great history is no accident — it is our legacy and it defines our duty to act in the face of tyranny and genocide. I am so proud that we can join with the dozens of other states and countries choosing to stand up to the Sudanese government on behalf of all those who are suffering."

The legislation, strongly supported by legislative leadership and members, requires the state Pension Reserves and Investment Management board (PRIM) to hire a third party within 90 days to identify companies whose business activities supports the genocide in the Sudan. The law requires divestment from certain companies doing business in Sudan that provide supplies, services or military support to the Sudanese government, have 10 percent or more of their revenue coming from Sudanese oil or mining and are determined to be complicit in the Darfur genocide.

The board will then sell, divest, redeem or withdraw all publicly-traded securities from the identified countries, with benchmarks of 50 percent divestment in six months and full divestment in one year.

"The crisis in Sudan is an international concern, but we can act locally to make a difference in support of the people of Darfur," Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) said. "By enacting a targeted divestment law, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is doing the right thing and disassociating itself from genocide. Today is a day when we can all be proud that Massachusetts has stood up and taken a stand against genocide. I applaud Gov. Patrick and Lt. Gov. Murray for their leadership on this issue. Without their support from the beginning, we would have had a much more difficult time moving this bill forward."

"I am heartened to see this legislation be signed into law by the Governor," said Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington). "On both a personal and professional level, I am appalled that we are still faced with nation-states that practice genocide. Today, we are all sending a clear and strong message that the Commonwealth will no longer tolerate nor invest in regimes like the Sudan."

The law allows the Commonwealth to resume investing in the affected companies when U.S. sanctions are lifted.

After graduating from Harvard in 1978, Gov. Patrick worked for a period of time with a United Nations youth training project in the Darfur region of Sudan.



Re: "Governor weighing deal on pay hikes: Lawmakers' raises tied to support, sources say" (The Boston Globe, 1/28/2007): These Globe excerpts state the following facts:

(a) This is a time when the commonwealth is facing a budget deficit of more than $1 billion;

(b) Such a deal would fan public fears that one-party rule on Beacon Hill -- after 16 years of Republican leadership in the corner office -- could lead to uncontrolled spending.

(c) Lawmakers who lead committees or serve as top deputies to the House speaker and Senate president are paid $7,500 to $15,000 on top of their annual salaries of $55,569. The leaders of the two Ways and Means committees receive an additional $25,000.

(d) The deal under negotiation would allow DiMasi and Senate President Robert E. Travaglini to beef up the stipends and give them to more lawmakers, according to sources. In so doing, they can expand their influence, creating a stronger band of loyalists.

(e) Patrick's attempts to gain control of the authorities would run counter to the long standing legislative rationale for creating the independent authorities: that it insulates them from the state budget process and the volatility of state politics.

(f) Bondholders, along with many companies that deal with the agencies, may raise concerns over the upheaval that would ensue.

Why do I believe Governor Deval-uator Patrick is so WRONG to pursue these aforementioned methods to consolidate and strengthen the power of the Executive Branch in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' state government?

Here are the following reasons:

(a) The state Legislature(s), Governor Swift and Governor Romney, respectively together, balanced the state's fiscal books by dramatically cutting into state aid dollars to cities in towns, and the like political subdivision legal entities. From FY02 (The "Thanksgiving Budget" of 2001) through FY04, the state government faced huge state budget deficits and filled the gap by screwing the federally funded, state administered aid to public schools, police departments, roads and bridges, and the like. That was sleazy and unethical of Jane Swift, Willard "Mitt" Romney, and the Legislature(s).

(b) When the Deval-uator ran for Massachusetts Governor, he criticized the poor leadership of the past Governors, their administrations, and the hack Legislative leaders for their drastic cuts to state aid for cities and towns. Moreover, the Deval-uator said he was not only going to dramatically increase state aid to cities and towns, but he was also going to find ways to lower the regressive property tax increases of on average 33% that forced seniors and other low and/or fixed income citizens out of their homes. Then, earlier this month in his first week or two of being Governor, the Deval-uator rescinded his campaign promises by citing a billion dollar state budget deficit.

(c) The Deval-uator loves to play the race card. Well, Governor Devalu-uator Patrick: What is the content of your character, not just the color of your skin? The answer is that you, Deval-uator Laurdine Patrick, are an OPERATOR, LIAR, and another SLICK BOSTON POL that does not even come close to caring about and/or representing the poor urban public school student in the bankrupted City of Springfield, and/or the poor rural family in the beautiful Berkshire Hills that cannot afford their rising property tax rates in a region where there is little to no economic opportunities for getting and/or retaining living wage jobs and family self sufficiency.

(d) The consolidation and strengthening of Executive Power is a fascistic trend that is going on in every level of American Government. In the 21st Century, politicians from localities onto state capitals, and definitively at The White House all want more and more control, power, money and authority than ever before in our nation's history, barring the Civil War and other extenuating circumstances. I believe that the Founding Fathers and many successive generations of American Leaders have worked together through our democratic and constitutional system of checks and balances in order to make the American Enterprise one of growth and prosperity, fairness and justice, equality and tolerance, and freedom and liberty. Deval-uator Patrick: You are a Governor, not a tyrant (like our current U.S. President; George Walker Bush -- "The (not so) Great Usurper of democratic and constitutional powers"!

(e) The entire Massachusetts Legislature needs to be voted out of office in 2008, and you, Deval-uator Patrick, need to be voted out of office in 2010, too! All of the Legislative pay, benefits, compensations, pension plans, etc., need to be garnished by the City of Springfield so that the poor urban children will be able to use the money for quality public schools, safe neighborhoods via the increased state aid and police officers you once promised to communities like this sinking place that still holds so much potential. Any corrupt politicians and independent board members must be prosecuted for their illegal activities, starting with Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., who you are considering as your next Insurance Commissioner despite the fact that The Globe exposed his illegal activities and monies he both publicly and privately took from the insurance companies and the Boston Law Firm "Berman & Dowell" since he first chaired the legislative committees setting public policies for such large financial institution that are clustered in and around Boston.

(f) During the Legislature's 3 straight years of cuts to the cities and towns from FY02 - FY04, Legislative Hacks such as Dan Bosley, Stan Rosenberg and Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. either voted themselves or supported 3 straight legislative pay raises. When Springfield went bankrupt, Peter J. Larkin, a former state Rep. from Pittsfield, was the sole vote against the defeated informal legislative session's bail out package in the summer of 2003. Then in the Winter of 2005 -- 6 days after taking the oath of office -- Peter J. Larkin resigned his seat and left Pittsfield without state government political representation for about 3 months, but increased the amount of his future legislative pension while at the same time sticking city and state taxpayers with a bill estimated at about $25,000 in order for a special election to be held to anoint the Good Old Boy Network's Chris Speranzo against two competing women candidates in the Democratic Primary and then a Republican candidate in the general special election.

In conclusion and short, those "Son's of Bitches" state Legislative "Leaders" and their hack legislative underlings deserve to be voted out of office, not given anymore aristocratic buy outs via yet another meritless pay raise! Governor Deval-uator Patrick: You have Deval-ued the people of Massachusetts! I openly dissent against yet another demonstrable example of your poor leadership that you once criticized as a candidate for Governor last year, 2006.

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle


Governor weighing deal on pay hikes
Lawmakers' raises tied to support, sources say
By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff | January 28, 2007

Governor Deval Patrick, in a significant departure from former governor Mitt Romney, is contemplating a deal with Democratic legislative leaders that would grant significant pay raises to their top lieutenants in return for their support in implementing his plans for sweeping government changes, according to sources involved in the discussions.

No agreement has been struck, but in behind-the-scenes conversations, sources said, Patrick has signaled that he may be willing to take the inevitable public criticism about the pay raises, but he wants significant payback: broad cooperation on his proposals to overhaul the state's quasi-public authorities and boards.

House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, the driving force in the Legislature for pay raises, has not been persuaded that that is a fair deal, sources say. The pay raises would cost about $40,000 for each branch, while Patrick is asking for a far more expansive and complex change in government operations and philosophy.

"That's a quid pro quo?" asked one lawmaker who is aware of the proposed deal.

Patrick, on the other hand, is facing the potential political consequences of granting a legislative pay hike, an issue that often creates a public furor and can politically damage a governor -- especially at a time when the state is facing a budget deficit of more than $1 billion.

The negotiations provide a glimpse into the evolving relationship between legislative leaders and the new Democratic governor. One consequence that Patrick's advisers must consider is whether such a deal would fan public fears that one-party rule on Beacon Hill -- after 16 years of Republican leadership in the corner office -- could lead to uncontrolled spending.

The discussions also provide the first hint of how Patrick, a political newcomer, will try to negotiate in pursuit of legislative victories. Patrick has demonstrated a more engaged style than Romney, who rarely lobbied lawmakers to support his agenda.

During his first weeks in office, it has not been unusual to see Patrick roam the State House corridors, popping into legislative offices, even, as he did several weeks ago, at one point dropping unannounced into a Republican leader's office.

For now, Patrick and legislative leaders are at an impasse.

"They need to work it out," said one source, who asked to remain anonymous because negotiations are ongoing. "The governor is not going to roll. He feels he is going to take the heat for it, so he wants something for it." The source noted that Patrick took a political risk when he restored $383 million in emergency budget cuts that Romney made in his final days in office.

Lawmakers who lead committees or serve as top deputies to the House speaker and Senate president are paid $7,500 to $15,000 on top of their annual salaries of $55,569. The leaders of the two Ways and Means committees receive an additional $25,000.

The deal under negotiation would allow DiMasi and Senate President Robert E. Travaglini to beef up the stipends and give them to more lawmakers, according to sources. In so doing, they can expand their influence, creating a stronger band of loyalists.

The leaders argue that the stipends are the same as they were three decades ago -- when the legislative base salary was not much more than $20,000 a year. It is only right, they said, that those doing much of the committee's work are adequately compensated

"These committee chairs work very hard on very important and complicated issues," said one legislator who is aware of the effort.

An aide to DiMasi said the speaker will announce his committee assignments for the 2007-2008 legislative session tomorrow and that they would not include extra pay for leadership posts.

"There are absolutely no plans to increase stipends for chairmen," said Kimberly Haberlin, DiMasi's spokeswoman.

Aides to Travaglini and Patrick did not respond to requests for comment.

In a 2003 standoff with lawmakers, Romney used his veto powers to block an effort by then-House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran to pass a bill that would have stripped the governor of his role in approving the legislative salary perks. After a prolonged political battle between the new Republican governor and the powerful Democrat, the Legislature could not muster the needed two-thirds majority to override his veto.

Romney ultimately approved a bill that gave bonuses to top lawmakers, while retaining the right for the executive branch to review future requests.

Much is at stake for Patrick, who needs the cooperation of the Legislature to approve plans to streamline some of the quasi-public authorities and independent boards that control -- and often conflict -- with the policies that governors want to put in place. Patrick is said to be focused on education, transportation, and economic development. He has not released the details of his proposal.

On the target list are such high-profile agencies as the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, the MBTA's governing board of directors, the various boards that oversee the state's education policies, and the authorities that control and finance economic development projects for the state. Patrick is not expected to include the Massachusetts Port Authority on his initial list.

In his first full day in office this month, Patrick told reporters that control of the state's independent agencies would be key to creating an effective and streamlined administration. He said he needed the control in order to be able drive his agenda.

Like past governors, Patrick would have to wait until the end of his term before his appointees capture a majority on the boards that control the agencies, which operate some of the most important projects and operations in Massachusetts. The agencies are now controlled by Romney appointees.

Patrick's attempts to gain control of the authorities would run counter to the long standing legislative rationale for creating the independent authorities: that it insulates them from the state budget process and the volatility of state politics.

Patrick would need the strong backing of DiMasi and Travaglini if he hopes to accomplish his goal. A takeover would require complex legislation for each agency, requiring the governor and his legislative allies to work closely to keep a tight rein on the process.

Bondholders, along with many companies that deal with the agencies, may raise concerns over the upheaval that would ensue.


Patrick leaves door open for casinos, lawmaker leaders pay raises
By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press Writer
January 29, 2007

BOSTON --Gov. Deval Patrick said Monday he's continuing to explore casinos as a way to boost the state's revenues and would be open to agreeing to a hike in pay for members of House and Senate leadership teams, but would want something in return.

Patrick, leaving a 90-minute private meeting with House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Senate President Robert Travaglini, also said the state should be able to make it through the rest of the fiscal year without dipping into its rainy day fund.

The question of casinos has been a perennial issue on Beacon Hill with supporters saying it could bring in hundreds of millions in revenue lost to neighboring states while foes say the social ills associated with gambling aren't worth the price.

Patrick said Monday that he's still weighing the issue and won't add any potential casino revenues in his version of the state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. He said he's asking his secretary of housing and economic development to study the issue.

"We may well put together a study group so I can get some learning from other states as well, not just Connecticut, but Mississippi and Louisiana to get a more complete sense of what the experience of other states has been," he said.

Patrick also he's "sensitive" to leaders in the House and Senate wanting to boost the pay of committee chairman and other members of legislative leadership teams.

"It's not a pay raise, by the way, it's increases in the stipends for the committee chairs and some reorganization that they want to do and that's their side of the house and I understand that," Patrick said.

Travaglini and DiMasi decide who to appoint to the leadership positions and the higher pay is seen as one way to encourage loyalty.

Asked if he would want anything in return for agreeing to the higher pay, Patrick said, "I'm here to get stuff done so sure, you bet."

But Patrick also added that "we all feel that there's work to do yet on that issue and that to some extent circumstances may have overtaken the subject for the time being."

Travaglini on Monday announced Senate committee assignments and his leadership team. DiMasi was expected to announce his leadership team on Tuesday. The moves appeared to preclude a pay hike this year.

Kimberly Haberlin, a spokeswoman for DiMasi, declined comment. A spokeswoman for Travaglini did not immediately return a call.

By law, hikes in the base pay of lawmakers is tied to increases in the median household income for the state every two years.

The most recent increase came earlier this month when the base pay for a state lawmaker jumped from $55,569 to $58,236, a raise of $2,667 or 4.8 percent. Lawmakers who hold leadership positions earn more than the base pay.



Dear Joan Vennochi:

The answer to your question is "No!" Deval-uator Patrick is an OPERATOR who told the people what they wanted to hear to get elected Governor of Massachusetts. His attempt to BRIBE the state Legislature with the 2nd of two pay raises this year was terrible. Please answer my question: How come the Deval-uator has the $ to hand out more legislative pay raises, but does not have the money to fulfill his campaign promises of more police officers, better public schools, safer streets, more local aid, and property tax relief for seniors and other low income property owners?

Thank you,

Jonathan A. Melle


Can Patrick see his visibility problem?
By Joan Vennochi | February 15, 2007

GOVERNOR DEVAL PATRICK'S so-called "visibility problem" threatens to become an invisibility problem.

At critical times, he is choosing invisibility on important matters that cry out for gubernatorial attention and outrage.

It's great that Patrick is in his office, hard at work on the budget.

But when a 4-year-old girl dies and the state Department of Social Services is called to answer for it, the governor's voice should be loud and clear. So far, this governor's voice is low and equivocating when it comes to addressing the sorry story of Rebecca Riley's death. She died in December of an overdose of powerful drugs administered by troubled parents under DSS supervision. The parents are now charged with first-degree murder.

On WTKK-FM , Patrick called the child's death a "terrible, terrible case." But then he went on to say that DSS manages other tough cases well and "I want to be careful not to attack the agency." While it isn't necessary to attack the agency, or its commissioner, how about attacking the status quo that for so long marginalized their work? Will he make DSS a priority? Will he look at the needs of a system charged with protecting victims like this little girl with as much passion as he directs to his plan to limit employers' access to the criminal records of potential employees?

" The governor is very concerned about the tragic loss this young girl," said spokesman Kyle Sullivan, when asked what Patrick is doing about this case. "He is awaiting the results of an internal investigation and has also asked Secretary [JudyAnn] Bigby to report to him on what recommendations that were brought forward after the Haleigh Poutre case have actually been implemented. In addition, Secretary Bigby will shortly be appointing a physician to provide medical consultation to DSS as an interim strategy while the agency develops longer-term, comprehensive systems for medical review and oversight."

The answer is adequate from a strictly bureaucratic standpoint. But where's the urgency a governor brings when he chooses to speak directly to the people about Rebecca Riley's sad fate? Will he eventually address it via podcast? If he does, only a narrow audience will be listening, which is also part of Patrick's "visibility problem."

Is Patrick so determined to keep the dreaded mainstream media from setting the agenda, he is willing to ignore news, not to mention a desperate constituency -- children like Rebecca Riley?

In another matter, Patrick seems willing to look beholden to powerful interests, rather than let the media frame an issue. Patrick's people are scouring the budget for potential savings, but state policy allowing officers to collect tens of thousands of dollars each year to watch construction sites remains sacrosanct. "It's not at the top of my list, to be perfectly candid," the new governor said, when pressed about this money-wasting practice.

Meanwhile, Patrick is much too visible when it comes to a remarkably blatant effort to seal a deal with legislative leaders. The deal goes like this: You give me what I want -- control over state authorities, such as the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority -- and I give you want you want -- $80,000 worth of stipends. If there's anything new about this quid pro quo, it's the chutzpah.

During his first weeks in office, the new governor immersed himself in fiscal matters, and that's understandable. The fruits of those behind-the-scenes efforts will become clearer with his first budget submission.

In these first weeks, the Patrick administration looks like it's playing defense. It isn't getting its message out; it is responding to messages shaped by others. Is there any doubt that Patrick's proposed deal with legislative leaders was leaked to the press by a legislative leader, most likely the one who presides over the Senate? Once leaked, a key part of the deal got shaky. Yesterday, the Legislature rejected the governor's effort to gain more control of Big Dig oversight, striking language in Patrick's supplemental budget that would extend his authority to cost recovery, management, and project finances.

Massachusetts lived with a self-promoting, grandstanding governor for four years and doesn't need another.

But there's nothing wrong with wanting a governor who is eager to showcase what he was elected to do: speak up for the weak, take on the powerful and stand up to politics as usual -- as he puts together a budget.

Patrick won the bully pulpit. Use it or lose it.



Patrick won't name gambling policymakers

over 2 legs: Reports on budget cuts also withheld

By Hillary Chabot, Eagle Boston Bureau

The Berkshire Eagle

Saturday, February 24, 2007

BOSTON — Gov. Deval L. Patrick made a grand gesture of removing the velvet ropes outside his corner office last month, preaching a new, inclusive governance of transparency.

But recent decisions to keep government reports and members of a study group private have led critics to question whether Patrick is already backtracking on the promise.

"This is not in character with the expectations raised by the campaign," said Common Cause Executive Director Pamela Wilmot, who added that many new governors realize that being transparent is harder once they take office. "These things are always more difficult in practice, but there are laws on the books that need to be upheld and there are also principals which we believe in."

At issue is a Patrick-appointed study group looking into expanded gambling.

The 12-member group, made up of internal staffers, has been charged with studying the possibility of slots and casinos in Massachusetts and with reporting back to the governor.

Patrick spokeswoman Cyndi Roy, however, said that the only members who will be made public are Economic Development Director Daniel O'Connell, Health and Human Services Director Judy Anne Bigby and Public Safety head Kevin Burke.

"We're not naming the members because it's not our policy to name internal people working on policy for us," Roy said, adding that staff members are tapped to study all sorts of policy matters often.

The group has met once on Feb. 6 and is expected to hold public hearings, but Roy said the group has not been formalized.

Wilmot said it's "jaw-droppingly strange" that the names have been withheld.

"If you've already had a meeting, then by definition the group is working, and then it's incumbent on the administration to tell people who is meeting and why they are meeting," Wilmot said.

Another issue are the reports from Patrick's department heads detailing 5 to 10 percent cuts he asked them to make to help narrow the $1.3 billion deficit.

Patrick announced the requests publicly and said they'd be in at the end of January. He has refused several Freedom of Information Act requests filed to review the reports, saying the reports are internal documents not subject to the law.

Barbara Anderson, executive director for Citizens for Limited Taxation, filed one of the requests.

"What everyone has to understand is if the media isn't getting information, the people don't get information, and when you say, 'No' to media you're saying, 'No' to the voters," Anderson said. "That's bad for any governor, but for one who was preaching openness then the issue of hypocrisy comes in."



Dear Honorable Governor "Deval-uator" Patrick:

First, you wanted to buy off the Legislature with the second of two legislative pay raises if they would rubber stamp your legislative agenda and grant you direct control of independent agencies. Now, you call Robert E. Rubin of Citigroup to advocate for Ameriquest (Predatory) Mortgage company while knowing full well Rubin's Citigroup has billions upon billions of dollars of business interests before the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

My conclusion about you, Deval-uator Patrick, is that you are nothing more than an OPERATOR! You are a typical Pol who wheels and deals for his own agenda and special interests. I cannot believe that I ever supported your candidacy for governor after the September, 2006, primaries when you challenged Kerry Healey, Christy Mihos and Grace Ross in the November, 2006 general election. YOU -- DEVAL-UATOR PATRICK -- ARE THE WORST GOVERNOR EVER!


Jonathan A. Melle


Governor made call on behalf of lender
Troubled Ameriquest sought infusion of cash
By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff | March 6, 2007

Governor Deval Patrick, who was criticized during the gubernatorial campaign for his involvement with a controversial subprime mortgage lender, called a top official at Citigroup, former US Treasury secretary Robert E. Rubin, two weeks ago to intercede on behalf of the owners of Ameriquest Mortgage as they sought urgent financial assistance from the global financial giant.

In a statement to the Globe, Patrick said he made the Feb. 20 call to Citigroup not in his role as governor but after a personal request to him from a top official at ACC Capital Holdings, the firm that owns Ameriquest Mortgage, which has frequently been accused of predatory lending.

Citigroup, the world's largest financial company, has a host of business interests in Massachusetts, many of which are regulated by the state. A key Citigroup subsidiary handles lucrative bond work for state agencies. In addition, Ameriquest is licensed by the state Division of Banks.

In the conversation, Patrick vouched for the "current management and the character of the company," said Kyle Sullivan, his spokesman. Sullivan said Patrick told Rubin that he was serving as a personal reference for ACC as its owners pushed for the quick cash infusion from Citigroup that would stabilize their struggling lending firm.

"They had a very short phone conversation lasting only a couple of minutes," Sullivan said. "He did not advocate in any way for a deal between Citigroup and ACC Capital. He simply offered himself as a reference."

Sullivan would not elaborate further on what Patrick said. Patrick was asked to make the phone call by Adam Bass, senior executive and legal counsel to ACC Capital, Sullivan said.

Patrick resigned last year from the ACC board after serving nearly two years as a director, for which he was paid $360,000 a year. Sullivan said that Patrick received no compensation for making the call and that the governor has no financial interest in ACC Capital.

But the call to Rubin is highly unusual, in part because of the political sensitivity over his past involvement with the controversial mortgage lender. In addition, if a sitting governor reaches out personally to a top corporate executive, it is typically on behalf of state interests, such as a desire to preserve jobs in Massachusetts.

Pam Wilmot, executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause/Massachusetts, questioned what role Patrick was playing in placing such a call to a corporation with extensive interests before the state. The implied message of Patrick's call, Wilmot said, is that he wants Citigroup to go ahead with the deal.

Wilmot said the governor "must represent the Commonwealth and only the Commonwealth" in such circumstances, rather than private interests.

"When a governor calls a company, particularly one that does business with the state, and asks it to do something, the company is going to feel pressure to act," said Wilmot. "They are going to ask, 'If I do this, will I get a favor?' and, 'If I don't, will there be any penalty?' Those questions should not be on the table at all, and, regardless of the answer, the very questions themselves create an appearance of conflict of interest."

Wilmot said the call puts a company in an "uncomfortable and untenable position."

On Feb. 28, ACC Capital announced it had reached a deal with Citigroup, under which Citigroup would give a much needed cash infusion and credit line to the struggling mortgage firm, which provides high-interest mortgages to high-risk buyers.

In turn, the agreement gives Citigroup an option to buy companies owned by ACC Capital, but not Ameriquest. Patrick, who joined the five-member board in 2004, resigned from the board last July as his candidacy for governor gained momentum.

A spokesperson for Rubin, who is chairman of Citicorp's executive committee, confirmed that the short conversation took place, echoing Sullivan's statement that Patrick offered himself as a character reference for the company. ACC Capital did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the financial press that covered the negotiations, the deal with Citigroup, which has $1.8 trillion in assets, was critical for ACC owner Roland E. Arnall, as Ameriquest confronts dramatic declines in earnings because of increasingly difficult conditions in the subprime lending market.

Delinquencies and foreclosures have jumped in recent months after a hot housing boom, including in Massachusetts where many subprime borrowers, including those with loans from ACC capital's mortgage operations, are losing their homes. In the final quarter of last year, California-based Ameriquest launched foreclosure proceedings on 54 homes in Massachusetts, according to an analysis by Banker and Tradesman.

In making the call, Patrick drew on his ties to Rubin, which developed when both served in the Clinton administration. Patrick was assistant attorney general in charge of the US Justice Department's civil rights division. As treasury secretary, Rubin oversaw the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and worked with Patrick on the investigations into Southern church arson cases in the mid-1990s.

Citigroup, through its subsidiaries, is heavily involved in the state's very lucrative public financing system. For example, it was the lead manager for $4.9 billion in bond issuances in 2004 and 2005 in Massachusetts, much of it for work for some of the quasi-public authorities that Patrick now controls or will at some point during the course of his term.

Those agencies include the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, the MBTA, MassDevelopment, the Massachusetts Port Authority, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, and the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority.

The public authorities create a list of qualified private financing teams, which would include such firms as Citibank, to use when they issue bonds. It is the authorities' sole discretion to make the selection.

Citigroup's interests also are focused on Beacon Hill, where it employs a well-connected Democratic lobbying firm, Dewey Square Group, to look after its interests.

Citibank, with its huge credit card division, is particularly interested in identify-theft legislation that has been stalled at the State House. The proposal is opposed by the credit companies because, advocates say, it would undercut their efforts to sell identity-theft protection.

Primerica, Citigroup's life insurance company, is licensed and regulated by the state's Insurance Division. Citibank, its banking division, is aggressively expanding in Massachusetts in retail banking, for which the company will face additional state consumer laws and regulations. Citigroup also is competing to serve as a depository for state funds.

Patrick's close working relationship with Arnall, a conservative Republican and one of President Bush's major financial backers, and his former role as a well-paid board member for Arnall's lending company, has caused concern among his supporters and anger among those who have battled the mortgage giant. The firm faced allegations that it has defrauded minorities, the elderly, and low-income people.

Patrick has defended his service on the board of the mortgage company, saying he pushed through changes in the way the company operates. Patrick served as the board's representative to the Ameriquest legal team, as the lawyers negotiated a $325 million agreement with 49 states to settle allegations it had defrauded low-income borrowers.

In 2005, Patrick wrote the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as it considered Bush's nomination of Arnall to be the US ambassador to the Netherlands.

He described Arnal as a man of rectitude. He said Arnall has demonstrated leadership in moving to correct his company's practices and said the nominee would make a "fine ambassador."


Warming up to biofuels
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Thursday, November 08, 2007

The plan announced this week by Governor Patrick and the legislative leadership to promote the use of biofuels through a combination of mandates and incentives will enable the state to pioneer a new strategy for cutting down on carbon emissions and dependence on foreign oil. Not incidentally, it will give a major boost to the proposed Berkshire Biodiesel plant. We hope this bill will be put on a fast-track to becoming law.

Biofuels, which in the case of Berkshire Biodiesel would be soy-based but can also be based on cellulosic ethanol, wood chips and some grasses, emits less sulfur and nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide than does oil. Some Massachusetts heating oil dealers are offering a 90-10 blend of heating oil and soy oil to customers at an extra cost to customers of about 10 cents per gallon, but as more biofuel becomes available, and Pittsfield is one of three Massachusetts communities where biofuel refineries are being planned, the cost will come down along with the noxious pollutants introduced into the atmosphere.

The legislation introduced by the governor would hurry this process along by making Massachusetts the first state in the nation to require a blend of biofuels in all home heating oil and to set minimum biofuel standards for diesel fuel. The new law, if passed, would also exempt cellulosic ethanol from the state gas tax as a further incentive for production, which the governor hopes will also create new jobs.

This legislation increases the already considerable potential of the proposed $50 million Berkshire Biodiesel plant to be built at Ashuelot Park on Hubbard Avenue in Pittsfield. A rail access line is already being built at the site which, if all goes well, will begin producing biodiesel fuel by next fall. It is expected to produce 50 million gallons at full capacity and employ 30 workers, while creating 100 to 150 other jobs in the area.

The search for alternative fuel sources has political ramifications to go with the environmental, as a lessening of our dependence on Middle Eastern oil lessens the grip that unstable or authoritarian states have upon our country. The temptation to become involved in foreign misadventures involving the military will be reduced as well if cheap oil is no longer the motivation it is today.

This is the kind of ambitious effort that would traditionally come from Washington, but with the White House and much of Congress in the pocket of an oil industry opposed to alternative fuels, the states must take the initiative. The governor has done something along these lines in prodding the state's biotechnology industry, and the biodiesel plan is similar in nature. The involvement of House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray indicates the biofuel legislation should have an easy time of it on Beacon Hill, but we hope the biotech initiative gets fast-tracked as well. Massachusetts used to pride itself on its innovations, and we would like to see that pride return, along with the environmental, political and economic benefits that will come with that pride.


State pushes health plans
As the deadline to sign up looms, officials press to spread the word on the insurance mandate
By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Thursday, November 08, 2007

Do you have health insurance yet?

With thousands of residents still unenrolled in health plans, the state is mounting a final push to spread the word on the insurance mandate, worried that those who don't sign up in the next week will be unable to secure coverage in time to avoid a financial penalty.

The state is mailing a cautionary postcard to 3.3 million residents, warning them that if they don't apply for a health plan by Nov. 15, they will likely miss the Dec. 31 deadline to have health insurance. Any adult without coverage could lose his or her state income tax exemption — a $219 penalty.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector, which is overseeing the new health reform law, has launched a $600,000 ad campaign, said Richard Powers, the Connector's spokesman, using television, radio and newspapers as the deadline looms.

But there are signs of trouble.

Pat Duma, executive director of Advocacy for Access in Pittsfield, said confusion is rampant as her organization tries to help people find insurance.

Duma said the subsidized plans — called Commonwealth Care — for people making 300 percent or less of the federal poverty line have been a success. She estimated her office has signed up 300 people a month to these plans, which offer all the trappings of private insurance with a premium that peaks at $109 a month for someone making $30,630 a year (three times the federal poverty line), and slides downward with the individual's income. Statewide, 127,000 had enrolled in the Care plans as of Oct. 1.

But as demand has grown, so have the complications, Duma said. It has been harder to reach the Connector by phone, and the application process is still too confusing for people to do on their own. Meanwhile, small businesses and those who don't qualify for subsidized insurance have been left to fend for themselves, with little to no information being disseminated by the state.

"There are so many scenarios that, when they started this, they just didn't think about," Duma said. "Parts of it have been great, but I just think that this is not gong to be a fit for everyone. We are thinking everybody in Massachusetts is going to have health insurance, and that's just not the case."

Powers said the Connector has added operators to its phone banks and increased its outreach efforts to deal with the problems Duma cited. And he said that those who don't have insurance will be able to take advantage of a "robust waiver" program that will forgive the financial penalty for some people.

But even then, Duma said, there is little information available. Who will qualify for the waiver? How will they apply? When must they submit their application? Will they have the right to appeal?

"There is a very confused group of people out there who are just going to sit back and see where they fit," she said.

Many of them likely aren't offered health insurance at work and make too much for subsidized care. They would be eligible for the Commonwealth Choice program, which is brokered by the state and offers private health plans from companies including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim and Health New England.

While premiums for those plans have been cheaper than insurance sold on the private market, they are still out of reach of many residents.

Charles Joffe-Halpern, executive director of Ecu-Health Care in North Adams, said many people will be deemed to have no affordable health care options.

"A surprising number will probably get a waiver of the penalty, particularly in the first year as people transition. The important thing now is for people to receive education" about their options, he said.

The Connector said that 8,306 people have signed up for Choice plans as of Oct. 1, the most recent date for which data are available.

Now the question is how many uninsured people remain. At the beginning of the reform, estimates pegged that number at between 300,000 and 500,000. According to the Connector's numbers, about 200,000 people have obtained coverage since the reform's passage — either by signing on to existing plans offered by employers or taking advantage of the new plans — leaving anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 uninsured still out there.

For information on health care plans, residents can call:

Ecu-Health Care in North Adams: (413) 663-8711.

Advocacy for Access in Pittsfield and Great Barrington: (888) 822-2237.

Commonwealth Care (subsidized plans): (877) 623-6765.

Commonwealth Connector: (877) MA-ENROLL.


Op-Ed - The Berkshire Eagle Online
Why gamble when state has sure bet?
Compared to casinos, a proposition with associated downsides, closing tax loopholes is win-win
By Deirdre Cummings
Monday, November 05, 2007

Whatever you think about gambling, there's little disagreement that current proposals for casinos are driven by the desire for more state revenue. If new sources of revenue are necessary, then earlier proposals for closing corporate tax loopholes are a surer bet than the $450 million a year the Governor hopes can be generated from a new gambling industry. Compared to casinos, a proposition with associated downsides that proponents have described, closing tax loopholes is win-win — we generate more revenue, and level the playing field for in-state business at the same time.

The Patrick administration suggests that its plan for three casinos would generate $2 billion in annual economic activity, 20,000 jobs, and yearly state revenues of $400-450 million through licensing fees and revenue-sharing. The governor's revenue estimates come from a one-time payment of $600-900 million he expects for selling three 10-year licenses at an auction, plus the greater of $100 million or 27 percent of annual revenue from each of the three casinos, plus extra income he expects will be generated as a result of additional economic activity. The sure bet, based on the governor's plans, amounts to $60 million a year spread across 10 years plus $300 million in annual revenue sharing — or $360 million a year.

As far as revenue from additional economic activity and jobs, that is a long shot at best. Other communities that have introduced casinos around the country have not seen such economic development booms. A Harvard study done in conjunction with Professor Bruce Sacerdote at Dartmouth in 2005 found that communities introducing casinos saw increased population, but not an increased employment rate nor increased public revenues. On a per-capita basis, local governments near casinos actually saw slower revenue growth than comparable localities.

In sum, if Massachusetts can get casino owners to commit to the proposals as the governor has proposed, then the state could expect $360 million a year in revenues. And maybe there will be enough casino visitors to reach the $450 million in revenues the administration predicts. But the economic development benefits look like a bad bet.

Gov. Patrick was swept into office on a campaign of hope that was about what we could all accomplish together. While polls differ, few Bay Staters seem downright enthusiastic about casinos. Many citizens, however, are willing to support casinos in order to raise revenue for schools, roads, bridges, parks, public safety, and other necessities. Earlier this year, Gov. Patrick filed a bill to accomplish just that by closing eight corporate tax loopholes that would raise $500 million a year. It's time to look seriously at that idea.

Closing corporate tax loopholes will have other benefits beside revenue. Massachusetts businesses will best thrive when their success depends on efficiency and innovation, rather than finding accounting tricks to avoid taxes. The present flaws in the tax system put Massachusetts-based companies at a competitive disadvantage against multi-state companies which can use out-of-state subsidiaries to avoid taxes.

Another loophole unfairly disadvantages hotels who sell rooms in person or over the phone — and therefore can't exploit a loophole allowing Internet vendors to charge customers full price but pay taxes based on much lower prices. Whatever your perspective about the level of taxes, our taxes should be fair. Some taxpayers should not be required to pay more while others pay less through unintended, outdated or unreasonable tax breaks.

Fixing these quirks of the tax code makes sense for a modern economy. "Combined reporting," which would close out-of-state tax dodges, has been approved in other states representing 51 percent of the nation's commerce. Closing the "check the box" loophole would similarly bring Massachusetts into conformity with the other 45 states that forbid the same company from declaring different corporate ownership forms to state and federal tax authorities depending on the tax benefits. Likewise, closing the "telecom loophole" would finally end a 1915 tax exemption meant to help bring telephones into people's homes.

Policy-makers are grappling with difficult issues over how the negative effects of casinos could be minimized. It's good that legislators confront questions about traffic in nearby communities, increased bankruptcies and gambling addiction, opening the door to additional tribal casinos, and the like. But it's also worth remembering that there are other options. The Legislature should not be like a gambler anguishing over which Keno numbers are best to play while there is an alternative which doesn't rely on luck. Regardless of whether you support or oppose casinos as a way to boost state revenues, we should close loopholes before even beginning that conversation.

Deirdre Cummings is the budget and legislative director for MASSPIRG, a non-profit, non-partisan public interest watchdog group with members across the state.


Hot air in Wellesley, cool breeze in Savoy?
The North Adams Transcript Online - Letters
Friday, November 9, 2007

Double standards are surfacing in the debate over wind turbine siting.

Apparently, if you live in Wellesley, you need protection from neighbors who might build their houses too large — but you don't need protection if someone wishes to put up a 425-foot-high wind turbine as close as 640 feet from your house in Savoy.

So goes the thinking of Don McCauley, president of Minuteman Wind and resident/Planning Board member in Wellesley. At the same time he is promoting a bylaw where he lives to control large houses, he is promoting a bylaw to build massive wind turbines in Savoy, where his company has an option to build them.

Last week, he was quoted in the Wellesley Townsmen as saying, "That's what large house review is really all about — ensuring that large houses don't needlessly detract from abutters and the neighborhood — in other words, to require that consideration be given to the needs of neighbors. That seems, to us, a worthy goal."

In the same week, he proclaims, "The Malloy bylaw has many provisions to insure that adjoining properties and the town are protected" while attempting to get a wind turbine bylaw passed in Savoy that his company drafted.

So, how will wind turbines end up getting sited in Massachusetts? Just like we site landfills and prisons. Dangle a few dollars in front of communities where people can't look to their future because they are too busy trying to figure out how they will pay their taxes and put groceries on the table right now.

Certainly not in communities like Wellesley where "mansionization" is a household word.

Lloyd Crawford
Hawley, Massachusetts
Nov. 7, 2007


Internet gambling is a target of Patrick bill
Casino initiative makes it illegal
By Matt Viser, Globe Staff | November 10, 2007

Even as Governor Deval Patrick seeks to license three resort casinos in Massachusetts, he hopes to clamp down on the explosion in Internet gambling by making it illegal for state residents to place a bet on line. He has proposed jail terms of up to two years and $25,000 fines for violators.

The provision, buried deep in Patrick's bill to allow three casinos to the state, puts the governor at odds with a fellow Democrat: US Representative Barney Frank, the sponsor of federal legislation to license and regulate online gambling nationally. Yesterday Frank strongly criticized the governor's plan to punish online gamers while inviting casino operators to set up shop.

"Why is gambling in a casino OK and gambling on the Internet is not?" Frank said. "He's making a big mistake. He's giving opponents an argument against him."

A 46-year-old federal law prohibits betting using telephone lines, which the US Department of Justice has interpreted as prohibiting all online gambling. The government's policy has been to prosecute the operators of Internet gambling sites, but not the gamblers.

Patrick's provision takes aim at both and would levy the same penalties on either end of the transaction. Courts have been divided over the legality of placing bets on line, and state laws vary on the issue. Massachusetts currently has no prohibition, and if its ban is adopted. it would join such states as Utah, Nevada, and Washington.

Patrick officials declined yesterday to explain the governor's rationale for including the provision in the proposed legislation. They also would not respond to Frank's comments.

"Several of the provisions of the governor's proposed resort casinos bill seek to clarify the laws relating to gaming in Massachusetts, including online gaming," said Kofi Jones, spokeswoman for the governor's chief gambling adviser, Daniel O'Connell, secretary of economic development. Others suggested the provision was included to make casino licenses more lucrative by preventing competition from online operators.

"If you were cynical about it, you'd think that they're trying to set up a monopoly for the casinos," said David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Patrick's casino legislation, which has been introduced at the State House but is not expected to get a hearing until next year, would license three casinos in three regions of the state. Casino developers would bid on the licenses, and Patrick expects they would attract 10-year licensing fees of $200 million to $300 million for each casino.

Since the first Internet casino went live in 1995, online gambling has exploded nationwide. Users have flooded thousands of gambling sites, punching in credit card numbers for the rights to play cyberbingo and real-time poker from their homes. It still lags behind brick-and-mortar casinos, but online gambling has become a formidable industry, totaling $12 billion in 2005, according to Christiansen Capital Advisors, a Maine-based research firm.

Based on its reading of the 1961 Wire Act, which bans using telephone line to place bets, the US Department of Justice contends that operating online gambling sites is illegal, although most of the sites are operated offshore and do not fall under US laws. Last year, Congress approved a gambling bill that bars credit card companies from making payments to online gambling websites, making it more difficult to place bets. Frank's bill, which was filed earlier this year, would effectively overturn that law and license and regulate online gambling in the United States.

"I believe in personal liberty," Frank said. "Adults should be able to do what they want. I wish my fellow liberals would not be so inconsistent on this issue."

Patrick's provision, which is described in three paragraphs of the bill, applies to anyone in Massachusetts who places or receives a wager of any type using a telephone, cellphone, Internet, or local wireless networks. It also applies to anyone who knowingly installs equipment for transmitting wagers. The provision also specifically exempts the proposed casinos from the law.

It does not say specifically how the state would enforce the ban, but the bill would establish an independent Gaming Control Authority and a division of Gaming Investigation and Enforcement within the attorney general's office, which would have broad powers to enforce regulations and investigate crimes.

But in trying to ban online gambling while expanding casinos, the governor's administration appears to be alienating a constituency that might otherwise support his gambling expansion.

The Poker Players Alliance, a group that says it represents the interests of online gamblers, began a letter-writing campaign last week and has generated 1,700 letters to the governor and various state legislators. The Washington-based organization has 16,000 members in Massachusetts, which is a fraction of what the alliance estimates are the 250,000 online poker players in the state.

"I feel betrayed by the very existence of this legislation," the letter read. "It's especially aggravating that this language is contained in a larger bill to expand casino gambling in the Commonwealth. This contrast is utter hypocrisy."

The organization, which recently campaigned against Governor Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky for nixing a proposed casino referendum, supports the governor's proposal for three Massachusetts casinos, but plans to oppose the overall bill.

"It makes absolutely no sense to me," said Randy Castonguay, director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Poker Players Alliance. "It's actually kind of laughable if you think about it."

Laura Everett, spokeswoman for Casino Free Massachusetts, a coalition of anticasino advocates, said that while some in the group may oppose online gambling, the organization is focused on fighting brick-and-mortar casinos. "We think the whole bill is a problem," she said. "One provision is not going to make a difference."


News Article:
Patrick campaigns for Obama in N.H.
By Lisa Wangsness, (Boston) Globe Staff | November 11, 2007

NASHUA - Governor Deval Patrick stood in the driveway of a green-shingled house on a quiet cul-de-sac here, trying to persuade Robert Valade, a former police commissioner in his 70s, to support Barack Obama in the presidential primary.

Valade, a hunter, was skeptical about Obama's position on gun owners' rights.

Patrick discussed the issue, adding that he had hunted before.

"I've never done game," he said. "I've done birds, quail, and pheasant."

"So we share some things," Valade said with a nod.

Patrick told him that Obama is "not about a single issue."

Valade nodded. But he said, "You have to understand that the Second Amendment is a single issue for a lot of people."

New Hampshire voters can be a stubborn lot, as Patrick saw firsthand yesterday in his first trip to New Hampshire on Obama's behalf since endorsing the Illinois senator last month.

After joining more than 100 Obama supporters on a bus trip from Boston to Nashua, he knocked on the doors of five houses, most chosen by the Obama campaign, and talked - sometimes at length - with the residents inside.

Later, he gave a pep talk over lunch with a small group of volunteers considering taking on more responsibility in the campaign, and then traveled to a house party in Danville.

Patrick seemed to enjoy himself immensely, and his persuasive powers were on full display.

Valade may have been his toughest customer, but it wasn't long before he was inviting Patrick inside for some homemade blueberry wine, which Patrick declared "delicious."

Endorsements don't always amount to much in politics, but the support of a popular neighboring Democratic governor could help Obama in New Hampshire, the campaign said, particularly along the state's southern tier, where many work over the border or have family connections, and where most are plugged into the Boston media market.

One of the houses Patrick visited yesterday belonged to Ken Tarbell, 77, a Democrat leaning toward Obama. Tarbell has lived in Nashua for 30 years but considers Fitchburg, where he was born and raised, his true home.

He said he had followed Patrick's political career closely, and it made a "big difference" to him that Patrick had backed Obama - and that he'd showed up at his door. "I couldn't believe it was him!" he said.

Patrick's endorsement was coveted by both the Obama and the Hillary Clinton campaigns.

Both campaigns, in fact, were there to greet Patrick when the buses pulled up at Obama's Nashua headquarters just before noon. The Clinton crowd waved signs and chanted "H-I-L-L-A-R-Y."

After shaking hands with the Obama crowd, Patrick walked over to the Clinton folks.

"I love Democrats!" he told them with a wide smile, shaking hands with each of them.

Three members of Team Clinton, a bit sheepishly, asked the governor to pose for a picture.

He complied, though he first politely asked them to remove their Clinton campaign stickers.

Patrick indirectly acknowledged Obama's difficulty in the polls here when, at a rally in Charlestown, he compared his own upstart, come-from-behind campaign last year to the challenge now facing Obama.

"There are a whole lot of people who said we couldn't do what we did," Patrick told the crowd, many of whom had worked for his campaign.

"And they say that about candidates who reflect our best values time and time and time again. They say we can't have what we want. This or that one is not electable.

"If you're content to sit around and wait for the pundits to tell us who's going to win and, therefore, for whom we're going to vote, then we will get the government we deserve," he said.

"You and I believe that we deserve better, and we're willing to work for it."

In an interview on the bus, Patrick said he believes there is no simple secret recipe for Obama to pull ahead; he just has to keep on doing what he is doing.

"It's a regular slog," he said.

But while some pundits have opined Obama needs to become more aggressive in attacking Clinton, Patrick said, "Personally, I think that the other candidates are or ought to be irrelevant to Barack Obama's campaign," he said.

"It is not about them, it's not even about him, it's about our common vision for a stronger America."


News Article:
Deval Patrick taps a manager he had fired to run Pike
LeBovidge was revenue chief
By Steve Bailey and Noah Bierman, Globe Staff
November 19, 2007

Alan LeBovidge, replaced in June as commissioner of revenue by Governor Deval Patrick, is in line for an even higher-profile job: running the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

Both LeBovidge and a top administration official confirmed yesterday that Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen will forward LeBovidge's name today to the Turnpike board to become the agency's executive director, succeeding Mary Jane O'Meara, who has been interim director since the summer.

"I am doing it because they are committed to putting in place an efficient, cost-effective operation," LeBovidge, 65, said in a phone interview yesterday. As for his transportation experience, he said: "I drive a car. This is not a transportation job. This is a management job. The road is done."

"I just wanted to make sure I have the right to hire and fire," he added. "I am not going to be beholden to anyone."

If approved by the board, the appointment of LeBovidge would end a long search to find a permanent, day-to-day manager for the sprawling Turnpike Authority since Matthew J. Amorello was forced to resign last year following the Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapse. Amorello had been the authority's chairman and had overseen daily operations, but after the collapse, the chairmanship duties were permanently transferred to the transportation secretary.

The appointment comes as the Patrick administration, like the Romney administration before it, is considering merging the Turnpike Authority with the state highway department in the hope of saving money and creating a more efficient system. The Patrick official said yesterday that LeBovidge was chosen to pursue those goals before the administration explores ways to develop new revenues.

The Big Dig project is in its final stages, and the major task now is repairing old structures and fixing severe financial problems.

The Turnpike Authority has spent several months of grueling debate over how to pay off Big Dig debt and, at the same time, afford an estimated $50 million annual tab to refurbish tunnels and repair 16 structurally deficient bridges. Raising the money through tolls, which would mean doubling them, has proven politically difficult. The Turnpike board voted 3 to 2 last month for smaller increases - adding 25 cents to the fee for cars at the Allston-Brighton and Weston tolls, and adding 50 cents in the tunnels.

Cohen has said he will come back with larger toll hikes next year if legislators do not act on Patrick's plans to reorganize the transportation bureaucracy and approve gambling, two steps he believes will raise enough money to forestall more toll increases. That short-term plan has not satisfied the financial community. Moody's Investors Services downgraded the authority's outlook from stable to negative earlier this month, citing concerns about the revenue structure.

LeBovidge is an unconventional choice in that he was fired by Patrick as revenue commissioner, a job he had held since December 2001. He said yesterday he has "no idea" why he was replaced.

"You will have to ask the administration," he said. "I think they were happy with my work. No one ever said I did anything wrong."

When replacing LeBovidge, administration officials said only that they wanted to "go in another direction," but LeBovidge had a number of critics in the business community over the issue of corporate taxation, and some in the labor union that represented many of the 2,000 employees at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue didn't like his brusque management style.

In both the Romney and Patrick administrations, LeBovidge was the architect of plans to tighten the tax codes affecting business. Governor Mitt Romney pushed through two rounds of changes recommended by LeBovidge that were designed to close corporate tax loopholes. Other proposed changes were not carried through.

Earlier this year Patrick proposed changes favored by LeBovidge that would raise as much as $400 million in new revenue from business. Those changes have been stalled in the Legislature.

LeBovidge also ran afoul of the National Association of Government Employees, which represents many employees at the revenue department and whose leaders urged Patrick to fire LeBovidge. The union complained that LeBovidge and his top deputy ran an office that was micro-managed from the top and inflexible.

While LeBovidge has no experience in transportation, he does have strong credentials as a manager. Before moving to the public sector late in his career, LeBovidge spent three decades at PricewaterhouseCoopers and its earlier incarnations. In addition to running the revenue department for the Swift and Romney administrations, he also served as chairman of the Springfield Finance Control Board, the sometimes-controversial panel that was credited with bringing that city back from the edge of bankruptcy. Patrick replaced LeBovidge and the other Romney appointees on that board in May.

One issue that may have worked in LeBovidge's favor is financial.

Cohen, the transportation secretary, had said he was having trouble attracting good candidates for the turnpike job because the Legislature had set the pay at $140,000 a year, and he wanted to raise the salary to as much as $190,000. LeBovidge retired from PricewaterhouseCoopers wealthy enough to donate his $140,000 salary as revenue commissioner to charity.

O'Meara, the turnpike's acting director, is expected to return to her previous job running the Tobin Bridge.


Patrick assembles team to examine homelessness
The Associated Press
Monday, November 19, 2007

BOSTON (AP) — Governor Deval Patrick is asking his cabinet secretaries and several agency chiefs to help improve services and programs for homeless people.

The governor has signed an executive order reconstituting the Interagency Council on Homelessness and Housing.

The 11-member panel, heading by Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, will review existing policies and recommend improvements.

The council will help implement the recommendations by the Commission to End Homelessness, a 30-member panel of state and local officials.

That commission, which includes the mayors of Boston, Holyoke and Northampton, plans to make recommendations to Patrick next month.



How institutions are already planning to vie for Patrick-promised funds

The UMass Board of Trustees meeting was even more boring than you might think. Held in the state school's University Club downtown, the boardroom was packed with professors and presidents of the various satellite campuses, who sipped from impossibly small china coffee cups, and munched at the fancy hors d'oeuvre while watching a mind-numbing two-hour parade of slideshows.

Dr. Michael Collins, senior vice president for health sciences and interim chancellor at the Worchester campus, staged one of the PowerPoint presentations. "Our message to the legislature," he read from a slide, "is that there is no single entity that is better positioned to realize the potential created by continued investment in the life sciences and the economy of our state."

With such carefully constructed sentences in Collins' report, and progress reports from research officers at all five campuses, the meeting felt like one long sales pitch. UMass has been grappling with ways to sell itself to the state since Gov. Patrick filed a bill to expand the state's life sciences industry with $1 billion in funding.

The ten-year initiative, drafted by Patrick in July, would set aside $250 million for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Investment Fund, and $250 million for the creation of a Life Sciences Sector Investment Program, which would require eligible businesses to register as certified life sciences projects to be eligible for tax benefits. An additional $500 million would go to capital funding, and the bill would also create and maintain the world's largest bank of stem cell lines at UMass Medical School in Worcester.

When Patrick announced the bill in May at the BIO International Convention 2007, he was joined on the platform by Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, both of whom pledged their support of the plan. When the governor drafted the bill in July, DiMasi released a statement saying he supported the investment in life sciences, but "as with any proposal of this magnitude, we must always balance affordability with future economic growth." The bill stalled out in the House, and has stagnated in legislative debate since July.

But David Guarino, DiMasi's communications director, denies that the speaker is stalling the bill's passage. "The speaker is committed to doing something significant for the life sciences industry," he said. "He believes there are other industries we need to assist, like the medical device industry and information technology."

DiMasi tried to push a memorandum of understanding between the legislature and biotech companies last week, before this year's legislative session ended. Genzyme was planning to build a $260 million manufacturing plant in Framingham, but can't go ahead with the plan because the town doesn't have the water and sewage capacity needed for the plant. They either need a guarantee that the state will subsidize infrastructure improvements, or they will take the plant, and the 300 new jobs it would create, to a different state. DiMasi's memorandum would promise the funding to make a Framingham plant possible.

But Patrick turned down the memorandum.

Cyndi Roy, the governor's spokesperson explained, "The billing encompassed a series of initiatives that weren't included in what was being proposed." Among them was the educational funding discussed at the Trustees' meeting.

Everyone wants a piece of the pie, but UMass is hungry for a particularly large slice. Collins announced the university's plan to push for $375 million of the $500 million set aside for capital funding. "If we come forward to the Legislature and we are coordinated and we are organized," he said, "we'll have a better plan, better than anybody else. We can then go in and ask for half the money."

The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts has indicated private institutions will also vie for financial support, but B.D. Colen, Harvard's senior communications officer for university science, thinks it's too early to apply for hypothetical funding. "At the moment there isn't state money," he said a little irritably, as if he'd had to clarify this point before. "It's too early to talk about it. How can we go about asking for money that doesn't exist yet?"

With this year's legislative session over, the $1 billion bill will sit for several months. It will be discussed in hearings like the one that took place Monday at UMass-Amherst, headed by House chair of the joint committee on economic development and emerging technologies Daniel Bosley, who is also wary of the practicality of the proposed spending.

The bill could float in limbo forever. The question is whether it will be addressed when the next legislative session starts up in January, when legislators will be distracted by the six-month long arduous process of revising the state's annual budget.

Roy said, "The governor has worked on a number of projects successfully with the legislature this year; however, he's not particularly satisfied with the pace of the legislative process, particularly when it comes to life sciences."


Biotech, energy executives join Patrick's trip to China
By Todd Wallack, Globe Staff | November 29, 2007

Governor Deval L. Patrick plans to bring along more than a dozen life sciences and clean energy executives when he travels to China for a trade mission tomorrow.

During the weeklong trip, Patrick plans to hold a series of meetings with government, business, and academic officials in Beijing and Shanghai in an effort to help Massachusetts companies collaborate more with their Chinese counterparts.

"This is the first in a series of steps the governor wants to take to strengthen the relationship between Massachusetts and China," said spokeswoman Becky Deusser.

Genzyme Corp. spokesman Bo Piela said two company executives, one based in China and the other in Singapore, will participate in portions of the trip. Piela said the Cambridge biotech already has two small offices in China and is considering building a research or manufacturing facility in the country. Genzyme sells three drugs in China.

"The trip will allow us to build relationships and provide access to key officials," Piela said.

According to a schedule of the trip released yesterday, Patrick is slated to outline his vision for collaboration at a public keynote address on Monday in Beijing.

But most of the meetings in Beijing and Shanghai, including a tour of Shanghai Electric Co. and meetings with chief executives of Chinese companies, are closed to reporters.

Deusser said most of the events were closed at the request of the Chinese government. She said she wasn't sure whether Patrick would attend two cultural events on the agenda, a trip to Beijing's Forbidden City and a visit to a nearby section of the Great Wall.

The Patrick administration said the $200,000 cost of the trip will be paid by Massport, which operates Logan Airport, and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a quasi-government agency committed to boosting Massachusetts' life sciences and clean energy industries.

Timothy Wilkinson, an associate professor of marketing at Montana State University in Billings, Mont., said he was originally skeptical of the value of such foreign trade missions.

But after studying the issue, he found evidence they can lead to increased foreign investment in a state, though he couldn't confirm they led to increased exports.

"I have a much more positive viewpoint than when I first started looking at it," Wilkinson said. He said the trips are particularly useful when they include executives from emerging companies with little international trade experience that need help to get started.

"The fact is that a governor can open doors," Wilkinson said.

In addition to Genzyme, executives from several local life sciences companies, including Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., Novartis AG, Nypro Inc., ViaCell Inc., and Biogen Idec Inc., are scheduled to participate in the trip.

The clean energy industry will be represented by Wilson Turbopower Inc., Advanced Electron Beams, Satcon Corp., Cape Wind Associates LLC, and Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials LLC, among others.

Patrick will also be accompanied by a number of government and industry officials, including two Cabinet secretaries, University of Massachusetts president Jack Wilson, and UMass Medical School professor Craig Mello, who won a Nobel Prize for his research into a new way to silence genes called RNAi.

Todd Wallack can be reached at


News Article:
For Deval Patrick, lawmakers, toughest work awaits in new year
By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press Writer
November 23, 2007

BOSTON --In one of their final votes before heading out on holiday recess, lawmakers handed Deval Patrick a win, passing the first bill he filed as governor: legislation creating a volunteer "Commonwealth Corps."

Deval Patrick had hoped that the bill, which creates a corps of volunteers who devote at least a year working full-time or part-time with the needy, might spark a similar spirit of cooperation on Beacon Hill.

There's been some of that, but Patrick has also encountered his share of friction with the Democrat-controlled Legislature during his freshman year as the state's first Democratic governor in nearly two decades.

Action on many of Patrick's top initiatives have stalled or been put off until next year, including his sweeping 10-year, $1 billion life sciences initiative and his call for the creation of three "resort style" casinos dotted across the state.

Other initiatives, like his call for a "local options" tax plan for cash-strapped cities and towns, have been all but scuttled by lawmakers.

At times, Patrick has publicly chastised lawmakers for not acting swiftly enough.

"I was sent here to make change and it is frustrating the pace of change," he said in October, urging lawmakers to quickly schedule a public hearing for his life sciences bill. "If there are proposals pending, then I fully expect that they're going to get a hearing."

That prompted legislative leaders like Senate President Therese Murray to suggest that Patrick was still thinking like a corporate executive instead of a governor forced to share power.

But there have also been some meetings of the minds in the past year.

After 11 months of negotiations, Patrick, Murray and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi agreed on a bill designed to increase the state's reliance on cleaner, renewable energy. The House approved the bill earlier last week.

DiMasi, who has found himself at odds with Patrick on issues such as casinos, said those occasional differences haven't gotten in the way of successes like the energy bill or Commonwealth Corps proposals.

"Gov. Patrick and Sen. President Murray are true partners and I am pleased with what we have been able to accomplish already," DiMasi said as the House's formal sessions for the year wrapped up this week.

DiMasi said he expected an "even more impressive list of accomplishments at this time next year" as lawmakers pick up their pace as they near the end of their two-year session.

Patrick, DiMasi and Senate leaders were all smiles again this week when Patrick signed a bill appropriating $15 million in fuel assistance for low income families and the elderly.

As proof of the cooperation between Patrick and the Legislature, House lawmakers pointed to the 170 bills Patrick has already signed into law, more than had become law by this point in 2005 or 2003.

But the House and Senate were also quick to note their own accomplishments. Leaders in each branch issued a legislative report card on Tuesday, tallying up their successes.

Those include bills to:

-- Extend the 18 foot buffer zone to a 35 foot fixed buffer zone around all entrances and driveways of all abortion clinics;

-- Expand tax incentives for the film industry to lure more movie productions to Massachusetts;

-- Change the date of the Massachusetts presidential primary from March 4 to February 5;

-- Assist homeowners caught up in the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

Lawmakers also met in a joint session this year to debate whether to put a question on the ballot designed to ban gay marriage in Massachusetts. The measure was blocked from the ballot.

Not everyone was impressed with the Legislature's efforts.

House Republicans sent out satirical Thanksgiving cards mocking Democrats for failing to come up with property tax relief or doing more to fix roads and bridges.

The true test of the ability of Patrick and the Legislature to reach a middle ground will come next year.

That's when Patrick's biggest and more controversial proposals, including the casino initiatives, could come up for votes.

In the meantime, Patrick can celebrate his early victories, like the Commonwealth Corps bill.

"The Gov. looks forward to signing this legislation, and to the participation of those across the Commonwealth who will provide service and help find solutions to our unmet needs," said Patrick aide Rebecca Deusser.


News Article:
Legislature joins 21 states, moves primary to Feb. 5
Wraps up session derided by some as unremarkable
By Lisa Wangsness, (Boston) Globe Staff
November 21, 2007

The Legislature concluded its 2007 session yesterday with a whimper, not a bang, pushing off until 2008 consideration of the cornerstones of Governor Deval Patrick's agenda: casino gambling, biotech incentives, and property tax relief.

On the last day of formal debate and voting of the year, lawmakers' main focus was politics. The most important measure they took up was legislation moving up the state's presidential primary by a month to Feb. 5, adding Massachusetts to the list of 21 other states that will hold their primaries on that "Super Duper Tuesday." Patrick has said he will sign the bill.

"Feb. 5 will be the deciding day for the Democratic and Republican nominations in all likelihood," said Representative Garrett J. Bradley, a Democrat from Hingham and chairman of the House Committee on Election Laws. "Massachusetts has an opportunity by moving this day to be relevant once again."

It was an unremarkable conclusion to a year that many hoped would be action-packed: For the first time since 1990, Democrats held the corner office and huge majorities in both legislative chambers, and many voters thought they would work quickly together on major legislation.

Richard Tisei, the Senate minority leader, said, "I think the Legislature has been in a funk all year."

House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi yesterday e-mailed reporters a six-page list of the House's accomplishments, which included establishing a film tax credit, requiring cities and towns with underperforming pension systems to join the state's, and allowing municipalities to buy health insurance for their employees through the state. Lawmakers also enacted one of the governor's pet initiatives, creating an organization called Commonwealth Corps to encourage community engagement and volunteerism.

But DiMasi's list also included such routine achievements as passing the annual state budget, approving an August sales-tax holiday for the fourth year in a row, and placing a moratorium on Internet hunting, which lets people shoot live, penned-in animals with the click of a mouse.

Therese Murray, Senate president, provided an eight-page list of the Senate's accomplishments. She included what was perhaps the most dramatic and substantive event of the session: the Legislature's rejection in June of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

It was among the few moments when all three top Beacon Hill leaders worked closely together on a major undertaking.

Patrick has proposed a litany of ideas, such as licensing three casinos, approving an array of measures to reduce local communities' dependence on the property tax, and a sweeping package of tax breaks, incentives, and investments to nourish the biotech industry. But they have languished in the Legislature.

Some lawmakers have criticized the governor, saying he has failed to whip up sufficient support in the Legislature to push through his initiatives; others have said the governor has tried to do too much, too fast, and that has resulted in little action.

But the Legislature has not only been slow to act upon the governor's initiatives; even the speaker's energy bill passed in the House only last week, nearly a year after he first floated the idea.

Still, DiMasi pronounced the year a success.

"The members of the House have built an impressive record of success this year, and we have much to show for our hard work," DiMasi said in a written statement.

Republicans, numbering just 19 of the 160 House members and five of the 40 senators, see it differently. They tweaked the Democratic leaders about the pace of lawmaking.

The office of the House minority leader, Bradley H. Jones Jr., handed the press Thanksgiving cards from "the Massachusetts Taxpayer" addressed "To Those in Charge" at the State House. The cards featured a print of Norman Rockwell's famous painting, "Freedom from Want," showing a large, happy family sitting down to a big turkey dinner.

"Thanks for Nothing!" the card said inside. "Where is my property tax relief? What are you going to do to reduce crime and improve our schools?"

Jones said in an interview that moving the primary date is one of the Legislature's few accomplishments this year.

"It used to be that the excuse for why things weren't getting done was that there was a Republican in the corner office," he said. "Well, they're not there."

A number of lawmakers and State House workers attributed the Legislature's production to the fact that this is the first year of the two-year legislative session, which means lawmakers have until July 31, 2008, to act on bills filed in 2007 and 2008.

The number of bills passed in odd-numbered years, therefore, tends to be significantly lower than in even-numbered years.

Before yesterday, 168 laws had been enacted in 2007, according to records listed on the Legislature's website, equaling or exceeding the total for every odd-numbered year since 1999.


News Article:
Biotechnology incentives bill called unlikely to move in '07
By Lisa Wangsness, (Boston) Globe Staff
November 20, 2007

House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi said yesterday that Governor Deval Patrick's life science bill is unlikely to advance tomorrow, the last day of the legislative session in this calendar year, despite the administration's eleventh-hour hopes that at least small provisions of the bill would pass.

DiMasi said he would continue working on the governor's bill but offered a different idea to nurture the state's biotechnology industry in the near term: granting lucrative incentives to a handful of biotech companies that are now making pivotal decisions about their future in Massachusetts.

DiMasi said he asked the governor and Senate President Therese Murray during their weekly meeting yesterday to consider offering as much as $40 million in tax breaks and infrastructure investments to a half-dozen life science companies that are now deciding whether to expand in the state.

DiMasi said the deal would not immediately require legislation because the details could be laid out in a letter signed by the legislative leaders and the governor.

"I think that the governor was receptive to the idea as I outlined it today to him," DiMasi said in an interview yesterday. "He's going back to his people to discuss that."

DiMasi floated the idea of targeted incentives to Shire Pharmaceuticals, Genzyme Inc., and several other unidentified companies to reporters last week, but the administration expressed little enthusiasm about the plan.

In an interview yesterday afternoon, as Patrick was listening to DiMasi's pitch, Patrick's economic secretary said the governor did not want to use the political process to hand out economic development money for biotech companies. Instead, he said, a special panel of scientists and other specialists should award incentives, as Patrick's biotech bill proposes.

"To maintain the integrity of this process, we need to have scientists making decisions about science," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Daniel O'Connell.

"We can't substitute our opinions for theirs, or we won't get the kind of results for this initiative that we want."

Patrick's spokesman, Joseph Landolfi, said last night that he could not confirm whether the governor had agreed to consider DiMasi's proposal.

"The one thing we have said at every talking point is that we run the risk of missing an opportunity," he said. "There are companies out there who have said to us that they're watching legislation very carefully as they make plans for economic development in the state going forward. We have expressed a certain sense of urgency around the legislation because we did not want to lose companies who were either thinking of locating here or staying here or expanding here."

Patrick introduced the life sciences measure in May, with Murray and DiMasi at his side, which made it seem a shoo-in for passage. Over its 10-year life, the legislation included $25 million a year for research grants, $50 million a year for facilities and equipment grants, and $25 million a year for targeted tax incentives for biotech companies.

But six months later, the Legislature provided more than $20 million for the first round of the research grants, but the rest of the initiative has languished. The Patrick administration did not file the bill until July; the House did not assign it to a committee until the end of the summer; and disagreements have emerged between the administration and DiMasi over who should be eligible for the money and how it should be distributed.

Administration officials said that they are frustrated with DiMasi's targeted approach, which they said is much narrower in scope than the broad vision the three leaders had in mind when they unveiled the bill, a vision of creating a sweeping plan to nurture one of the state's most promising industries.

While targeting a handful of companies might be important, the administration sources said, many more companies would have benefited from the biotech legislation, and that would have had a much larger impact on the Massachusetts economy.

DiMasi, however, is not entirely happy with the Patrick administration.

He said he also expressed concern to Patrick in yesterday's meeting that O'Connell had not notified legislative leaders about the six or so companies weighing their future in Massachusetts, even though O'Connell's staff had been working with those companies.

"I think we need to communicate better about what's going on with respect to these companies," DiMasi said. "I think we need to react if we're going to let people know that we're serious about it. These companies are willing to create these jobs, and I want to be there to assist them."

DiMasi added that he, Murray, and Patrick agreed that the heads of four legislative committees handling the bill should immediately begin meeting on a regular basis with administration officials to hammer out the details.

"While we're clearly disappointed and a bit frustrated that the pace of the legislative process does not always mirror the pace that decisions in the business world are made," Landolfi said, "we remain committed to this very important piece of legislation."


A $4.8B boost for roads, rails
By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 11/30/2007 09:48:15 AM EST
Friday, November 30, 2007

BOSTON — Gov. Deval L. Patrick unveiled a plan yesterday to pump $4.8 billion into the state's crumbling transportation infrastructure.

The bill requires the state to borrow $2.9 billion. The rest of the money would come from federal funds.

The measure includes $500 million for road and bridge repairs and $100 million for rail projects, including the early planning for a commuter rail line to Fall River and New Bedford.

"It's critically important, especially in Western Massachusetts where public transportation is not an option," said state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield.

It also sets aside about $700 million to pay for a series of public transit projects the state agreed to build as part of the Big Dig, including an extension of the MBTA Green Line to Somerville and planning for a Red Line-Blue Line connection in Boston.

The money also will help create 10,000 construction jobs, he said.

Patrick conceded that the bill is "a lot of money" but noted that the state can afford the three-year investment, which he says will help reduce an estimated $15 billion to $19 billion transportation funding gap over the next 20 years.

"We have thought about what the commonwealth can afford," he said. "We can no longer ignore the need to invest in our transportation system."

The bill also includes:

— $75 million for the state's share of a project to improve safety and reduce commute times on the Fitchburg commuter rail line.

— $40 million for improvements at regional airports.

— $20 million for grants to cities and towns to encourage the development of affordable housing near public transit.

— $15 million for transportation grants for small communities of 7,000 or less.

"It's good to see the governor coming out with a bond bill," Downing said. "The one thing everyone on Beacon Hill can agree on is we need to find ways to make up for a stunning shortfall for maintenance of our roads and bridges. You can see that across Berkshire County."

Carrie Russell, a staff attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation, said the environmental group was pleased that the bill includes funding for the Big Dig-related projects, but that the state must put even more money into public transit.

"While the Patrick administration has done a good job given current funding constraints, it is clear that new and bold revenue-generating solutions are needed to meet the challenge of maintaining a safe, functional transportation system," Russell said.

Patrick opposes any increase in the gas tax. The Transportation Finance Commission, which first identified the $15 billion $19 billion spending gap, recommended an 11.5 cent hike in the state gas tax.

Instead, he wants to dedicate a portion of revenues from his proposed casinos to transportation.

The bill also includes money for the planning stages of the MBTA Blue Line extension to Lynn and the Urban Ring project, designed to help improve public transportation in Boston's neighborhoods.

Lawmakers plan to hold public hearings on the bill next year.

Rep. Byron Rushing, D-Boston, a member of House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi's leadership team, said that a sound transportation system is vital to the state's economic future.

"You can't have an economy that grows if people can't get around," he said.


"Override Patrick's veto of court funds"
July 21, 2007

WE WERE dismayed to learn of Governor Deval Patrick's $11.9 million reduction in court funding for fiscal 2008 ("Patrick vetoes $41m in budget," City & Region, July 13), particularly when the total trial court budget represents only 2.2 percent of the annual state budget.

It appears that the trial courts are being unduly burdened with 28 percent of the $41.4 million vetoed by the governor. Underfunding the Massachusetts court system makes no sense when people depend on the courts to hear their cases promptly and to administer justice fairly and efficiently. These cuts would impair the tremendous gains that have been made in recent years as a result of the cooperative efforts of the judiciary, court administrators, legislators, and the bar to improve the court system.

If the governor's vetoes are not overridden by the Legislature, the wheels of justice will slow, and the public will be the loser.

Springfield, Massachusetts
Mason is president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, and Cinquegrana is president of the Boston Bar Association.


"State to launch $68m solar panel program"
By Peter J. Howe, Globe Staff | December 14, 2007

Governor Deval Patrick's administration is launching a $68 million program today to increase the number of solar electric panels on Massachusetts homes, businesses, and schools by 600 percent over the next four years.

Patrick's plan, which does not involve new taxes or fees, seeks to greatly simplify the process for people and businesses to get funding for promoting green power, including solar.

The plan includes special incentives for buying Massachusetts-made solar panels and extra aid targeted at lower-income homeowners.

Instead of the system that now requires filling out complicated grant applications and getting an approval that can take months or years, homeowners and businesses following new state rules will be able to get the equivalent of mail-in rebates covering as much as half to two-thirds of what they spent installing solar panels.

Patrick's plan, which is backed by Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, relies substantially on a roughly 25-cent-a-month tax levied on Bay State homeowners' electric bills for the last decade.

A typical home solar system producing 2,500 watts of electricity, about one-third to one-half the electricity an average homeowner would otherwise buy from a utility, costs around $20,000 to $25,000 installed. With the state rebates, homeowners and businesses could save enough on their electric bills to pay off the net cost of solar panels within five to eight years, then reap thousands of dollars in savings after that.

Patrick also wants to create a stronger local market for solar-energy companies that he is pushing to expand in Massachusetts, including Evergreen Solar Inc. of Marlborough.

After getting pledges of state aid from Patrick, Evergreen agreed earlier this year to build a 400-job factory here instead of in Germany, where it gets many of its sales because of strong government subsidies.

"This is a really big deal," said Paul Gromer, executive director of the Solar Energy Business Association of New England, a trade group that represents dozens of area equipment makers and installers. "This program will give us a world-class solar market right here in Massachusetts."

Ian A. Bowles, state secretary of energy and environmental affairs, said Patrick hopes to boost the collective capacity of solar panels installed in Massachusetts from 4 megawatts today to 27 megawatts by 2012 and as much as 250 megawatts by 2017.

That's the equivalent of increasing the number of homes in Massachusetts powered by solar energy from roughly 3,000 now to 20,000 in 2012 and to 190,000 in a decade.

Funding for the program will come from two sources: a $10 million annual commitment from the state Renewable Energy Trust, which collects the 25-cent monthly electric bill tax, and $28 million paid to the state in recent years by NStar and National Grid as compensation for failing to buy enough wind, hydro, and other renewable power to meet state mandates for green energy.

The trust, which is run by the quasi-public Massachusetts Technology Collaborative of Westborough, has funded more than 700 solar installations around the state since it was launched in 2001.

But state officials are eager to streamline its funding process for homeowners and businesses by replacing grant applications of up to 75 pages with a system offering the same kinds of mail-in rebates people can get when buying a television or cellphone.

Officials expect to further adjust details, but currently envision that the program would fund residential projects of up to 5,000 watts and commercial projects of at least 100,000 watts, with a maximum commercial rebate of $1 million per system.

About $16 million of the $68 million will be earmarked for solar installations at public schools and state and local government buildings.

NStar has 1 million electric customers in Boston and 80 Eastern Massachusetts cities, of which just 345 have solar panels installed.

Utility officials are promising to help Patrick's solar push by training call-center workers to answer customers' questions about where to find a solar installer and having energy-efficiency specialists visiting customers' homes identify those that may be especially good for solar.

NStar chief executive Thomas J. May, in remarks prepared for an announcement ceremony today, said, "This rebate program is exactly the kind of shot in the arm that's needed to get more solar panels on homes and businesses throughout the Commonwealth."

Peter J. Howe can be reached at


"A Look at Mass. Health Care Law"
Associated Press, December 7, 2007

As Massachusetts' landmark health care law nears another crucial deadline, its ripple effects continue to spread across the state and country.

This week those charged with overseeing the law toasted what they said has been its single most dramatic success: the addition of about 300,000 Massachusetts residents to the ranks of the insured.

They also said the law's success in Massachusetts _ with its goal on near-universal coverage _ should offer inspiration to other states.

"Massachusetts is proving that health care reform can work on a state level," Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray said.

Murray said the initial success is even more remarkable given the fact the state had ventured into largely uncharted territory when it drafted a plan that required the cooperation of state government, private business, health insurers and the public.

"There has been no model for Massachusetts to follow," he said.

The law may face its toughest test after Jan. 1. That's the deadline by which virtually everyone in Massachusetts will be required to have health insurance or face the loss of their personal exemption when they file their state taxes in April _ a loss of $219.

Those penalties will increase dramatically in future years.

How many people may be subject to those penalties is anyone's guess. Even as they touted the 300,000 newly insured in Massachusetts, officials were unable to give a good estimate of how many people remain without health care.

Leslie Kirwan, Gov. Deval Patrick's top budget chief and chairwoman of the board overseeing the health care law, said estimates of the number of uninsured in Massachusetts before the law took effect ranged from 370,000 to well more than half a million.

Rather than coming up with an entirely new health care infrastructure for the state, Massachusetts' plan seeks to plug holes in the existing system.

The poorest receive free care. Those making between one and three times the federal poverty level can apply for subsidized plans, which require they pay an increasing percentage of premiums based on their income.

Those not eligible for subsidized plans are required to obtain insurance privately, although under the law, insurers were encouraged to come up with lower cost plans.

It's a complex model, and it isn't cheap. Although much of the money comes from an existing pool of state money used to reimburse hospitals for providing free care, the very success of the plan could drive up costs.

Even with its complexity and costs, the Massachusetts experiment has caught the attention of states from Rhode Island to California and entered the public debate in the race for president.

In Rhode Island, top officials have been meeting every other week to study the Massachusetts law and see what parts could work there.

And in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is urging people to start thinking about health insurance the way they do auto insurance _ as a responsibility everyone must shoulder. The so-called "individual mandate" is a key element of the Massachusetts law.

All the attention hasn't escaped notice in Massachusetts.

"In this national debate for the presidency of the United States, what do they talk about? Modeling their plan after the Massachusetts health care reform law," said House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, D-Boston.

The law has become part of the lexicon of the presidential debate in large part because of the candidacy of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Romney helped push for the law, although he vetoed a section that would penalize larger companies that don't provide access to health care plans. Lawmakers overrode the veto.

On the campaign trail, most of the candidates from both parties have floated their own health care plans, many of which echo key parts of the Massachusetts law, including the individual mandate. At the same time Romney has distanced himself from the mandate, saying as president he would leave it up to the states to devise their own plans.

Max and Amy Newell say that without the law, they're not sure they could afford health care for themselves and their two young children. The two were paying $1,200 a month and said they were able to find an acceptable plan for $640 under the law.

Max Newell said the plan allows the two to work independently and spend more time with their children.

"We feel we could not have this configuration ... without this law," Newell said.


"Deval Patrick reflects on 2007: The governor counts his wins and losses as his first year in office comes to a close"
By Hillary Chabot, Eagle Boston Bureau
Monday, December 17, 2007

BOSTON — If a vote were held today, legislators would pass an effort to bring three resort-style casinos to Massachusetts, said Gov. Deval L. Patrick.

"It's just a question of the Legislature doing what they want to do, and what they will do if they are told," Patrick said, referring to House Speaker Sal DiMasi. DiMasi has loudly opposed any move to bring expanded gambling to the Bay State.

Patrick discussed the proposal, along with other initiatives that have been more successful, during a recent discussion about his first year in office.

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, said the vote may be close in the Senate, but Patrick doesn't have enough support in the House.

"The votes are getting closer, but they are not close enough," Pignatelli said. "I bet he would be 25 to 30 votes short."

Patrick said the resorts could bring $500 million a year in revenues to the state, but Pignatelli cautions the money won't come until three years after the project is approved.

The initiative is just one of many that Patrick's seen stall during his first year in office.

The freshman governor has also failed to deliver on his campaign pledge to lower property taxes.

Homeowners are still waiting for their costs to go down.

"That's something we have not moved on," Patrick said with regret. "We made a couple of proposals, and they haven't moved in the Legislature."

However, he pointed to a balanced budget, a film tax credit that should bring more movie production to the state, and the fact that gay marriage is still legal in Massachusetts as big accomplishments.

As Patrick moves forward, he hopes to release the life science bill to spark job growth, and he will soon release details about changes he plans on making to education governance. He also touted a concerted effort to maintain a presence in the Berkshires and all over the state.

Patrick said the changes shouldn't effect the new Education commissioner's job, which the Board of Education is currently searching for. Patrick also plans on campaigning for presidential candidate Barack Obama in the next few months, taking trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to show his support for the Senator from Illinois.

The slow pace of the Legislature was one of Patrick's chief complaints, but Sen. Ben Downing, D-Pittsfield, said lawmakers want to do the right thing.

"I think many of the proposals the governor has made when it comes to revenue, life sciences and the broadband bond bill all have the votes to pass. That doesn't mean we in the Legislature should not do our due diligence," Downing said.


"One year in the books"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

For all of its ups and downs, Governor Deval L. Patrick's first year in office has brought a shift in tone on Beacon Hill. Proposals still become mired in the muddy trenches of political warfare, but this governor is an active, effective participant, not one watching from the rear while the Legislature runs the state.

By that measure alone, Mr. Patrick's first year in office could be considered a success, although a somewhat modest one. He has brought an energy and vitality to the governor's office that his predecessor, Mitt Romney, did not. Unlike Mr. Romney, Mr. Patrick seems genuinely interested in running the state and to believe that government intervention can better the lives of Massachusetts residents.

His proposal to spend $1 billion over 10 years on life sciences is a fitting example, a sound investment of state dollars in a burgeoning industry that already has a strong foothold in Massachusetts. To be sure, $1 billion is a staggering sum, but there is every likelihood it will be repaid with private investment, keeping the state at the forefront of biotechnology and stem-cell research.

The governor's proposals to close corporate tax loopholes, allow cities and towns to raise the local meals tax, and his efforts to increase the state's reliance on renewable energy are all praiseworthy. Likewise his support of the state's health care reform and his efforts to secure lower insurance premiums. His stance on all of these issues bodes well for the next three years as level-headed approaches to Massachusetts' problems.

More quietly, Mr. Patrick has made wise appointments to state agencies and the Supreme Judicial Court. His picks appear to share his enthusiasm for government and his belief that it can accomplish good. In nominating Judge Margot Botsford to the Supreme Judicial Court, the governor chose a jurist known for her intelligence, evenhanded approach and calm demeanor on the bench.

The governor endured several minor controversies during his first 100 days in office that, in hindsight, seem remarkably trivial. He was criticized for choosing a more expensive car as his official vehicle, for redecorating his office and for hiring an assistant to handle his wife's schedule. These were errors of tone, rather than deed. Mr. Patrick likely didn't realize how quickly knives are drawn in Beacon Hill alleys, and how eager his colleagues in the Legislature would be to damage the new governor's golden reputation. More worrisome was his phone call on behalf of a mortgage lender to Citigroup. The governor acknowledged the mistake and was later cleared by the Ethics Commission.

Mr. Patrick's proposal to raise revenues by building three large "resort style" casinos is an error in deed, however, and risks damaging the commonwealth for the sake of a few dollars. While the governor believes he has the support in the Legislature if a vote were taken today, legislative members say otherwise, and his proposal seems destined for battle.

It has been a mostly up year for the governor, but there are many challenges ahead, beginning with a possible deficit next year, and he will face the same Legislature that has been an unwilling dance partner on most of his proposals. If the two are to face the problems that lie ahead, they will need to find a better rhythm.


"Closing loopholes"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Massachusetts' elected officials have worked hard in recent years to address the state's reputation as a bad place to do business. While there is more than can be done, it is unfair to define Governor Patrick's effort to close corporate tax loopholes as a step backwards. Raising taxes could be defined as anti-business, but closing loopholes that deprive the state of tax money is simply responsible governing.

The Massachusetts Special Commission on Corporate Taxes has recommended the closing of two loopholes that are difficult to defend. Businesses would be required to file state and federal taxes under the same corporate status, rather than choose one that is most advantageous in terms of tax payments. Massachusetts is one of only five states that permit corporations to play this juggling act. The other loophole allows corporations to record some of the profits made in Massachusetts in subsidiaries located in other states with more favorable tax rates. Massachusetts would be the 23rd state to ban this practice.

Governor Patrick estimates that closing these loopholes would raise $400 million in badly needed revenue. The opposition of House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi will make it difficult for the necessary legislation to become law, but the governor has expressed a willingness to consider lowering the corporate tax rate as part of a deal in which the loopholes are closed. This would eat into the revenues gained, obviously, but if a compromise is needed to seal off loopholes draining the state of funds, it should be considered.

Moody's currently rates Massachusetts 25th in state business costs, placing it squarely in the middle of the nation, and state and local taxes paid are slightly below the national average. Businesses have other burdens in Massachusetts, such as high energy costs, but the state's nickname of "Taxachusetts" is no longer applicable. Town, city and state officials know that accommodations must be made to keep and attract business, and communities like Pittsfield have provided generous tax breaks specifically for that purpose.

Mr. DiMasi argues that the state tax code should be revisited in whole, not on a piecemeal basis, but such a project could take years to get through Beacon Hill and the state needs revenue now. Closing corporate loopholes that are used to avoid taxes is hardly unfair to business. That aside, the state should explore a variety of ways, from tax breaks to investments in fields such as biotechnology, to boost business.


December 18, 2007

"Governor Patrick testifies on casinos"

Text of governor's speech

Governor Deval L. Patrick

Testimony to the Joint Legislative Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets

As Prepared for Delivery

December 18, 2007

Chairman Montigny, Chairman Flynn and the members of the joint committee Good morning, and thank you for convening today. We appreciate your allowing me and the members of my administration this first opportunity to present our views for your consideration.

As we are all aware, Massachusetts faces significant structural budget challenges. The budget for the current fiscal year relies heavily on one-time, non-recurring resources.

Projections for the coming year show shortfalls in lottery funds so vital for local services.

And the forecast is for slower overall revenue growth.

At the same time, costs to meet essential programs and to fulfill commitments such as to health care reform continue to rise. For example, in the current fiscal year, health service costs comprise nearly 45% of our state budget. Those costs have continued to grow at three times the rate of inflation. Maintaining our health care commitments in the next budget cycle could occupy fully half of our available resources. Combine this with the softening revenue picture and you begin to appreciate why a serious discussion about new revenue sources is so timely.

And they have begun to yield positive returns. This year alone -- in the face of national economic unease -- the Massachusetts economy has created over 25,000 new jobs. We have moved from 49th in the country in job creation last year to 15th this year. We need to keep that momentum going.

At the same time, we have put forward a variety of measures both to generate new revenue and to reduce spending. We have submitted measures for cutting health care and pension costs at municipal levels, and we submitted a budget last year that reflected some $700 million in efficiencies in state government. We have further proposals to capture efficiencies in state health care and transportation.

We have also proposed measures to close unintended corporate tax loopholes and to give cities and towns the option to decide, as they see fit, whether a 1- or 2-penny levy on restaurant meals or hotel bills would reduce reliance on the property tax. I continue to believe those proposals are important and helpful to our overall economic strategy. In that spirit, and the spirit of this hearing, I would like to formally resubmit my previous testimony on the Municipal Partnership Act. I will look forward to giving testimony on the loopholes proposal in due course.

Though not the centerpiece of our economic strategy, our proposal to authorize three resort casinos is a piece of that whole. Today, I want to focus on that piece, and I thank the committee for giving us this first opportunity to do so. Several senior members of my administration, and many other stakeholders, are here to address the specific aspects of our proposals. I would like to make a few general points to introduce the subject.

As you know, we proposed to authorize up to three resorts with casinos in the Commonwealth. They would be destinations for tourists, business travelers and conventioneers as well as residents. They would be dispersed in different regions of the state to take advantage of differences in the tourist market. They would not be limited to gaming halls, but consist of meeting and entertainment facilities, restaurants and shopping, hotels and recreation facilities, so that they would be attractive to a range of interests and tastes.

Local communities would decide whether such a resort was right for them. Resort developers -- not taxpayers -- would bear the cost for road and other infrastructure improvements and expansions necessary to make the new facilities work (which would, of course, promote other economic activity). And the resort would thereafter guarantee a regular annual revenue stream to the host and surrounding communities -- before any proceeds to the state -- to cover the cost of public safety and other ongoing impacts.

Our proposal incorporates the best practices learned from other jurisdictions with real experience with casinos. With the assistance of independent, expert financial advisors, the proposed Massachusetts Gaming Authority will conduct a competitive auction process to award up to three operating licenses. With competitive bids in each of three regions, a minimum fee of $200 million per license, and annual operating license fees of at least 27% of gaming revenues, requiring applicants to compete for a license from the Authority assures both the maximum capital investment and maximum value to Massachusetts.

We have included provisions to accommodate any potential short-term impact on the lottery. In fact, our proposal provides security to cities and towns against drops in lottery proceeds -- security they do not enjoy today and that would make a big difference in times like these when we must close a projected lottery gap of $124 million in next year’s budget. The payments to make up for lottery shortfalls would be distributed before payment of any proceeds into the General Fund.

To ensure the integrity of legalized gaming, a thorough and professional regulatory scheme is essential. Our approach features separate investigatory and enforcement functions, and puts in place rigorous reporting requirements and monitoring functions as well as tough new criminal and civil penalties.

The full cost of regulation and enforcement will be assessed against the casinos through licensing and other fees. We are not creating any new public financial obligations to perform this critical oversight role. To make sure that the Authority remains independent, it will have ethics rules more stringent than what currently exist in Massachusetts for any similar authority or agency.

For a few unfortunate individuals gaming is more than recreation, and we have provided for them as well. We have proposed to dedicate 2.5% of state gaming revenues to prevent and treat compulsive gambling, as well as drug and alcohol abuse and other related public health concerns, the largest such allocation in the country.

When you consider that hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents travel across the border to casinos right now and bring back issues of gambling addiction and substance abuse, we are proposing to commit more than 50 times what we commit today for prevention and treatment programs. Here again, these programs get paid for first, before any proceeds to the General Fund.

The resort casino plan we have proposed would generate, by our conservative estimates, over $2 billion annually in new economic activity, primarily by enhancing our already strong tourist, leisure and entertainment sectors. We have (again conservatively) estimated that licensing fees will generate $600 million in new revenue.

We value the net operating revenue to the state at over $400 million each year. While some commentators have questioned these estimates, financial analysts with experience in the industry have projected even higher returns. Certain investment banks have valued these licenses alone as high as $800 million.

We have also put measures in place to support resort casino jobs with a living wage, benefits and opportunities for training and advancement. According to newspaper reports about the recent Foxwoods union drive, casino employees make on average $45,000 to $50,000 per year.

This is a chance to open up a broader spectrum of economic opportunities throughout the Commonwealth adding jobs in industries like hospitality and construction to our growth in clean energy, high tech and the life sciences. In addition, 20,000 new jobs in that salary range will generate another $50-80 million in new tax revenue.

I would also like to address the concern that bringing resort casinos to Massachusetts might alter the character of our state. For a very long time now, gaming has been in practice in Massachusetts and gaming revenues have been used to support public projects. In 1762 John Hancock raised lottery money to rebuild Faneuil Hall after a fire.

Lottery funds were used to finance the Revolution. The dorm I lived in during my freshman year in college was built in the 1800s entirely on lottery funds, as were most of the other dorms in Harvard Yard. The current state lottery has for years helped us provide a steady infusion of support for local aid.

My late mother used to ask me to take her to Foxwoods. And if she were alive today,my mother would be like the many adults I meet from all across the state who tell me that they have been making their own decisions their whole lives and that it’s not up to the state to tell them how they should and shouldn’t spend their entertainment dollars.

Indeed, our residents spend between $900 million and $1.1 billion dollars a year at Connecticut casinos.1 Hundreds of thousands of our residents visit Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun regularly and 1 in 4 Massachusetts residents says they make an annual trip to the casinos. The point is: Massachusetts gambles today. For over 90% of those who do, it is harmless entertainment. Not only are we losing that revenue by not engaging this market, but we are forfeiting the opportunity to create those jobs here.

The communities around the Connecticut casinos are functioning. In fact, you may have seen in the news recently that in response to our proposal, economic leaders in Connecticut are suggesting that their state authorize the construction of another casino.They see the upside that we do.

I understand that this is a revenue hearing, but our casino bill is first and foremost a jobs proposal. As you consider alternative revenue sources, as we hope you will, please remember that there is no tax loophole we can close that will create 20,000 permanent jobs. No gas tax will spur the need for 30,000 construction workers. Any other industry proposing a steady stream of new revenue, tens of thousands of construction jobs, and tens of thousands of good permanent jobs for our communities deserves serious consideration. So does this one.

We have struck a careful balance between maximizing economic and revenue growth and minimizing negative community and personal impact. Ours is like no other proposal you have considered at any time in the recent past.

I think you will find – much as I did – that the reality of the matter is far removed from the emotionally charged back-and-forth around gaming in Massachusetts. Let’s have a robust debate, but let’s be sure that we are debating facts based on actual experience.

Resort casinos can bring significant economic benefits to the Commonwealth, boost state revenues, and play a role in our overall plan for long-term success. Done the right way, they can join the many reasons why Massachusetts is an international destination for travelers and tourists and a wonderful place to live. I welcome your partnership on this and other measures, and look forward to working with all of you.

Thank you.


"Governor is open to corporate tax-rate cut: Would reduce impact of closing loopholes"
By Andrea Estes and Robert Gavin, (Boston) Globe Staff, December 18, 2007

Governor Deval Patrick's administration said yesterday the governor is willing to trim the state's corporate income tax rate from its current 9.5 percent, a bid to forge a compromise over his hotly contested proposal to tighten corporate tax codes.

It is a major concession to political realities for the governor. Patrick has made closing what he calls tax loopholes a major initiative of his administration, saying it could produce more than $400 million in new revenues for the state and make the tax codes fairer.

But Massachusetts business leaders and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi have strongly opposed the move. They contend it would send a bad message about Massachusetts as a place to do business.

Now, Patrick's administration is saying that by reducing the rate by an unspecified amount, it could soften the blow of tightening regulations on businesses and make the changes more politically palat able, while still winning some new tax revenues.

The governor's willingness to reduce the tax rate was signaled in a draft report for a special corporate tax study commission that will be voting today on the final recommendations it will make to the Legislature.

The advisory commission has been closely divided all year on whether to stop corporations from avoiding certain Massachusetts taxes by recording profits in other states. Equally controversial has been a proposal to require companies to file state and federal taxes using the same corporate status.

Henry Dormitzer, the state's revenue commissioner, said in an interview yesterday that the governor does not want to lose the entire $400 million in new revenues that would result from tightening regulations.

Dormitzer did not give a target reduction, but said that reducing the tax rate by one percentage point, to 8.5 percent, would cut the impact of closing loopholes to about $200 million.

"After a year of working with the tax commission, it's come out that it is the right way to go," said Dormitzer. "There is plenty of room to lower the rate and still restore some fiscal stability."

How low the tax rate goes should be "part of a debate in the Legislature that the governor participates in," Dormitzer said. "The decision would balance the need for competitiveness with the need to fund everything we do in the state budget."

The Legislature would have to approve any recommendations before they became law. It was unclear last night whether the governor's willingness to compromise, a possibility he first broached in May, would kick-start his plan with the advisory commission or the Legislature.

According to a draft of the commission's final report prepared by the administration, there is broad support among commission members for cutting the tax rate from 9.5 percent. Commission members appointed by DiMasi are expected to oppose any tax rule tightening unless it is offset by a lower corporate tax rate.

DiMasi has said the tax code should be reviewed in its entirety, not piecemeal. The governor's plan, he has contends, overburdens businesses.

"He always says we need to make the tax code simpler, fairer, and more predictable," said DiMasi's spokesman David Guarino. "Businesses are looking at five- or 10-year business plans and if we keep changing the tax code on them they'll decide to grow jobs elsewhere."

Guarino said DiMasi would not comment on the commission's recommendations until they are issued today.

A motion to make the changes in the tax code "revenue neutral" will be offered today before the commission by one of its members, House minority leader Bradley H. Jones Jr.

"The governor's point may be to generate revenue, but that would be a terrible message to be sending to businesses," said Jones, who predicted the Legislature would not consider the package if it doesn't cut the corporate tax rate enough to cancel tax increases.

Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and another DiMasi appointee on the commission, said he would back the governor's plan only if there were a major cut in the corporate tax rate to about 6.5 percent.

"Would I be open to some compromise?" said Widmer. "Absolutely. If it's significant reduction, yes. If it's a token reduction, no."

Patrick initially proposed closing seven loopholes when he unveiled his tax initiatives early this year, which he estimated would have raised $295 million next year and $500 million annually thereafter.

Dormitzer said revamping the corporate tax system to make it fairer would not hurt competitiveness.

Over the past five years, he noted, corporate profits have risen 158 percent, but business tax collections just 114 percent.

But in anticipation of today's vote, Associated Industries of Massachusetts yesterday released a study showing that the combined state and local tax bill of business has increased 45 percent, or $4.2 billion, over the last five years. Personal tax collections, meanwhile, grew 33 percent. The result: Business's share of the state and local tax burden rose to nearly 40 percent from just less than 38 percent in 2002.

The study "should help to clear up any questions as to whether business is paying its fair share," said AIM president Richard Lord in a statement. "Legislators should evaluate the overall system of state and local business taxation, and not focus on any one state and local tax in isolation."

AIM contends that the state's economy cannot afford higher taxes that would come by closing loopholes, noting that with some of the highest business costs in the nation, the state has had one of the lowest rates of job growth.

"Business pays a significant amount of taxes and that amount is on the rise," said Eileen McAnneny, an AIM senior vice president.

"We need to look at business tax code to simplify, modernize, and make it more globally competitive, and I don't think we've looked at it comprehensively enough," she said.

Massachusetts business taxes, however, are relatively modest compared with other states. In its most recent analysis of state business costs, Moody's ranked Massachusetts 25th, with state and local tax costs slightly below the national average.

Frank Phillips of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


At top right, Sheldon Adelson, the nation's third-richest man and a prospective Bay State casino developer. In center of middle photo, Charles Sarkis, Wonderland Greyhound Park owner and another potential casino developer. At bottom left, Gary Loveman, president of Harrah's Entertainment. (PHOTO BY DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF, 12/18/2007).

"Governor just keeps on giving"
By Richard R. Tisei, December 19, 2007

'TIS THE SEASON of giving, and Governor Deval Patrick is celebrating his first year in office by making sure there's something under the tree for everyone this Christmas.

If you think your holiday shopping list is expensive, consider the governor's: He has put together a wish list containing more than $20 billion in new spending. This includes everything from $1 billion in subsidies to biotech companies and a $2 billion public higher education bond bill to $12 billion in capital spending and $4.8 billion in proposed new transportation projects and improvements.

By the administration's own estimates, Massachusetts will again face a structural deficit of more than $1 billion. If that figure is accurate, the Commonwealth needs to take a fiscally responsible approach to state spending and do some serious belt-tightening, rather than going on a spending spree.

Fortunately, the Legislature has put the brakes on much of Patrick's proposed new spending. Still, the governor's gifts just keep on coming:

For college students, free tuition to attend a community college. For New Bedford residents, a new, $1.4 billion commuter rail line to ride on (just cross your fingers and pray that it doesn't have to travel over one of the state's crumbling bridges). For bank executives, a $50 million bailout plan for all the bad loans they wrote during the past 10 years.

Big-shot Hollywood producers already received their gift last summer when Patrick signed into law expanded tax breaks for the motion picture industry. Isn't it nice to know your hard-earned tax dollars are being used to support the multi-billion-dollar film industry, at a time when local businesses are struggling under the weight of high taxes and regulatory red tape?

Massachusetts lost 200,000 jobs after the attacks on Sept. 11. 2001, and the economy has yet to fully recover. According to a report by MassINC, the state ranks an second-to-last in job creation, ahead of only Michigan, which at least has a struggling US auto industry to blame. To put it in perspective: Louisiana, a state devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, has already rebounded from that natural disaster and is creating new jobs at a faster rate.

So what is Patrick's solution to this problem? Raise taxes, of course. Local businesses already face high taxes. With added costs under the new universal healthcare law, an unemployment insurance rate increase, and a host of other expenses, the cost of doing business in Massachusetts is higher than ever, and now Patrick is pushing hard to close phantom corporate tax "loopholes." That's one gift the state's business community would like to get a receipt for -- so they can return it.

Businesses aren't the only group to end up on the governor's naughty list this year. Despite Patrick's free-spending ways, there are many who are receiving the proverbial coal in their stocking this Christmas.

Consider the state's taxpayers. If you've been waiting for Patrick to make sure the state fulfills its commitment to roll back the income tax rate to 5 percent, you'll have to wait some more. But hey, Massachusetts residents have been waiting 18 years to see the "temporary" tax increase rescinded, so what's a little longer?

If you're a homeowner, you're probably wondering what happened to the property tax relief Patrick promised over and over during his election campaign. You certainly won't find it under the tree this year, but what you will find is proposals for higher taxes on meals and higher taxes on hotel rooms. Taxes: the gift that keeps on giving.

Many people are concerned about the state's rising crime rate, but they're not going to find an additional 1,000 police officers on the street. That's another one of Patrick's campaign promises that was quickly abandoned when he took office and never made it onto his Christmas list.

Strong leadership is needed to improve the existing transportation infrastructure and to grow the economy. Only through fiscal discipline will we achieve those goals.

I'm sure the governor is making his list and checking it twice for 2008 already - one question, though: How much will those "presents" cost the taxpayers of the Commonwealth?


Richard R. Tisei, a Republican from Wakefield, is the minority leader of the Massachusetts Senate.


"What state government needs"
December 20, 2007

GOVERNOR PATRICK tried to persuade the Legislature Tuesday to approve casino gambling in Massachusetts - on the same day that a special commission recommended changes in the state corporate tax code. These were not unrelated events; both were driven by the state's need to raise more money to finance essential government activities.

Patrick bills his gambling plan as one of his economic development initiatives, but it would also be a revenue producer for the state. The notion of ending the longstanding ban on casinos enjoys significant public support, not least because millions of dollars in tax revenue are heading down the highway to Connecticut and Rhode Island. Why not keep it in Massachusetts to help finance the education, transportation, healthcare, and public safety services that residents expect from their state and local governments?

Meanwhile, the tax commission was right to recommend closing loopholes that allowed companies to shift profits to out-of-state subsidiaries and to claim a different tax status on federal and state returns. The governor pointed to these flaws in the tax code earlier this year and proposed to correct them in the interest of generating revenue.

Voters have signaled no desire to do without services and, indeed, have elected a governor and Legislature committed to an active government. Yet voters have declined to support a sufficient level of sales or income tax revenue, the two main sources of tax money, to pay for it. So the governor and the Legislature have to nibble around the edges every budget cycle to cut programs and find new money to balance the budget. They'll begin this annual fandango again next month.

Revenue from casino gambling ought to be part of those calculations. The Legislature should also embrace the recommendations of the tax commission, including its call for a modest cut in the corporate income-tax rate to compensate companies partially for the impact of the loophole closings.

The costs of government will overwhelm these limited sources of money unless the Legislature makes government, both state and local, more efficient. Lawmakers took two steps forward this year: They mandated that cities and towns join the state pension system if their own plans are doing poorly, and they encouraged communities to offer their employees health coverage through the cost-saving Group Insurance Commission.

Next year, the governor and legislators need to go beyond these limited efficiencies. Could, for instance, more services be privatized? Could state and local workers' benefits be more closely aligned with those in the private sector? Voters will be more receptive to increases in broad-based taxes if they know the money that goes to the state - from casinos, the closing of loopholes, or wherever - is spent in the most cost-effective way.




Dear Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!

I read your editorial today on Massachusetts State Government, which I have followed very closely for over a decade now - since my dad was elected Berkshire County Commissioner in 1996. I have watched Governor Bill Weld mismanage the "Big Dig" and give away the public's discretionary monies to private profiteers. I have watched Governor Paul Cellucci also mismanage the "Big Dig" with his infamous $2 Billion cost overrun in the Spring of 2000. I have watched Governor Jane Swift financially cut local governments down to the bone and also hurt the poor via state fiscal cuts to social programs. I have watched Governor WILLARD Mitt Romney put in place a mandatory health insurance program that is a giveaway to the state's insurance companies...

5 Massachusetts insurers control about 90 percent of the healthcare insurance market in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
#1 - Blue Cross Blue Shield
#2 - Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
#3 - Fallon Community Health Plan
#4 - Health New England
#5 - Tufts Health Plan

...and with no real funding source!

The Massachusetts' plan relies largely on two sources: federal funds that are committed only through June 30, 2008, and the state's free-care pool, now used to pay for charity care at hospitals and health centers.

I have watched Governor Deval Patrick hypocritically run a populist campaign for Governor and then place casino gambling on the top of his legislative/executive agenda. Deval Patrick has a corporate background, and has proven himself to be a servant of his corporate masters by selling out the people he lied to in 2006!

Now, Boston Globe Editorial Idiots!, you point out that the state has a "need to raise more money to finance essential government activities."

Well, what about the "Big Dig"? How has this single most expensive publics works project in U.S. History that has come to nationally symbolize pork barrel politics impacted that state's financial solvency?

Well, what about local governments? Governor Jane Swift's cuts to cities and towns have had a terrible impact on affordable housing throughout Massachusetts. The average young person cannot afford the high overhead of starting out in the state because home prices have escalated compounded with huge increases in property taxes because that state government chose to balance its own books by making dramatic fiscal cuts to its political subdivisions? Where is the next generation of state taxpayers going to come from if they all had to move away to avoid personal bankruptcy?

Well, what about this new mandatory healthcare insurance program? The state's own financial forecasts were initially lower than they are now due to the skyrocketing costs of the state subsidizing its top 5 healthcare insurance companies to cover the working class who had no choice but to remain in Massachusetts do to low mobility, families and other obligations. Moreover, the state has NO real funding mechanism over the long-term to cover this mandatory healthcare insurance program!

In closing, like the Boston Globe Editors, Deval Patrick is an IDIOT to think that (a) casino gambling's cut of revenues to the state government, and (b) closing corporate tax loopholes is going to solve Massachusetts' long-term economic and financial problems. If next year, Governor Deval Patrick and the State Legislature succeeds in these two policy initiatives, the state will at best take in an extra $1 Billion in revenues, which will not be nearly enough to bridge its ever-growing gap between its promises versus its obligations.

In Dissent!
Jonathan Alan Melle


Note: All other newspapers, please publish my letter too!



"Deval Patrick to create a child advocate: Will track cases of abuse, neglect"
By Andrea Estes, Globe Staff, December 20, 2007

Governor Deval Patrick today will create the state's first Office of the Child Advocate, a watchdog with power to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect and to monitor state agencies that provide services to children, state officials said yesterday.

The Office of the Child Advocate, which Patrick will create by executive order, will have authority to scrutinize individual cases, report its findings publicly, and recommend policy changes, said JudyAnn Bigby, the state secretary of health and human services.

The office will not have the broad powers of child advocates in some other states, who can issue subpoenas, hold public hearings, and even sue state agencies.

Nonetheless, Massachusetts child welfare advocates said it was an important move after a spate of high-profile abuse and neglect cases in recent years.

"Finally," said MaryLou Sudders, president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. "You need someone who can ask tough questions and has the backing of the governor. The office of child advocate is in response to a series of tragedies and legislative oversight hearings. There's no question about it."

The state agency that handles foster care, the Department of Social Services, has come under fire for several high-profile tragedies in recent years. In 2005, 4-year-old Dontel Jeffers died at the hands of his foster mother. Haleigh Poutre was left comatose in 2005 after a beating by her adoptive mother, who was under DSS supervision. And 4-year-old Rebecca Riley of Hull died after being given an overdose of psychotropic medications in 2006 by her parents, who had been monitored by DSS.

Bigby said the appointment of an independent advocate should not be viewed as criticism of the agencies she oversees. "This is in no way a suggestion I don't have confidence in my commissioners," she said. "This is just another set of eyes to look over issues where children are in the care and protection of the state."

Angelo McClain, DSS commissioner, said he welcomes the scrutiny of an independent monitor.

"We're looking for opportunities to improve and strengthen the work that we do," he said. "To the extent the child advocate can come in with a different lens and help us identify opportunities to improve, we would welcome it."

Besides DSS, the advocate will be empowered to review the Department of Youth Services, the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Mental Retardation, and the Department of Public Health.

It was unclear yesterday whether the appointment of an advocate would preempt a move by House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi to require appointment of a Cabinet-level secretary of child welfare, who would not have the same independence as Patrick's child advocate. DiMasi's proposal is contained in a comprehensive bill strengthening child abuse and neglect laws that was passed by the House last month. Bigby has opposed that measure, saying the advocate would play a unique watchdog role.

DiMasi did not embrace the governor's move yesterday, but said he would consider it.

"The speaker's top priority in this is protecting the most vulnerable children in the Commonwealth," said David Guarino, DiMasi's spokesman. "We passed a strong bill that creates a secretary to put that issue in the top levels of state government. If the governor believes that can be accomplished through a child advocate and can show that it will work, he will welcome that. But he'll have to take a look at the proposal."

Senate President Therese Murray said that with the appointment of a child advocate, the Senate will probably reject moves to create the Cabinet-level position. The Senate, however, will approve other provisions of the House bill, she predicted.

"It's a great idea, as long as the person is independent," she said of the governor's initiative.

A panel of specialists will screen applicants and by the end of February forward three names to the governor, who will make the final choice. The child advocate will remain in office until the governor's term expires. Officials could not say how much the advocate will earn, how many employees will work in the office, or how large the budget would be.

Jetta Bernier - executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children, a statewide advocacy group - applauded the move. She said the state needs an unbiased agency to keep track of abuse cases and make recommendations for reform.

"Our organization fully supports independent review of complex cases where there's an indication a state agency could have performed more effectively on behalf of the child," she said. "The office must share with the public and these agencies how the case unfolded and what could have been done to prevent injury."


"For children, a new champion"
December 24, 2007

GOVERNOR PATRICK is creating a new voice for children, a child advocate who can campaign against flawed state policies or inadequate practices that harm children. It's a wise step, especially given the heartbreaking deaths of children in state care in recent years.

But the position, created by executive order rather than an act of the Legislature, will have limited powers, compared with similar posts in other states. So it's vital that the person who gets this watchdog job has both a fearsome bark that commands attention and a commitment to improving children's lives. Otherwise the child advocate could end up being a useless office.

The need is evident. The names of Dontel Jeffers and Rebecca Riley echo tragically in the State House. They lost their lives while under the supervision of the Department of Social Services. Other children can't get adequate psychological care or nutrition. Other young people founder when they age out of foster care.

A successful advocate will put children on a pedestal and ensure that agencies conform to their needs. As an outsider looking across the state agencies that serve children, the advocate should see new ways to cut through red tape and improve services.

But power limits are an issue. The advocate will be able to investigate individual cases, report findings, and press for policy changes. This should shine a needed spotlight on egregious cases of abuse of system failure. Unfortunately, the advocate won't be able to issue subpoenas or call public hearings - powers that other states do grant.

The Patrick administration chose this course because it wanted to move quickly, according to a spokeswoman. But Patrick plans to work with the Legislature to expand the advocate's power.

Even with limited powers, a savvy advocate could still call on other state offices to help out, appealing to, say, the inspector general and auditor to dig into the inner workings of children's services.

One of the first things that the new advocate should do is set priorities. "If you try to do everything, you'll end up doing nothing," warns Marylou Sudders, president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the state's former mental health commissioner.

Among the issues that need attention are inadequate mental health services and foster care, poor outcomes for children in the juvenile justice system, and the difficulties some parents of troubled children face when they go to court for help.

Ultimately, the office of the child advocate or a similar role should be written into state law. Children's needs get lost amid bureaucratic complexity and the political clamor. The advocate should help ensure that this state's youngsters get a fair hearing.


Rachel Adomat logs samples for analysis at Shire in Cambridge. The life sciences firm is considering a major expansion in Lexington. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/FILE)

"State leaders vow aid to Shire: $40.5m in incentives pledged to keep drug firm's plans on track"
By Todd Wallack, (Boston) Globe Staff, December 21, 2007

Governor Deval L. Patrick and legislative leaders have quietly pledged to give Shire PLC $40.5 million in incentives to persuade the British drug company to push forward with an expansion project in Lexington that would create hundreds of high-paid jobs, The Boston Globe has learned.

In a letter to Shire drafted earlier this month, Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi said they were committed to approving legislation by February that would provide tax incentives and other assistance to life sciences companies, including Shire.

"Shire is one of the top life sciences companies in the world and we strongly welcome and encourage its expansion," Patrick wrote in a draft of the letter obtained by the Globe.

Since last summer, Patrick has been lobbying hard for passage of a $1 billion life sciences bill that would include incentives for life sciences companies like Shire. In the meantime, some life sciences companies have pressed the state to make commitments immediately, so they can go forward with construction projects.

Last month, DiMasi suggested the state approve $40 million in interim help for Shire, Genzyme Corp., and a handful of other life sciences companies while Patrick's bill wends its way through the State House. Patrick rejected that idea, saying it's important for lawmakers to approve the entire life sciences bill quickly. Since then, however, DiMasi and Murray have agreed to pass the legislation in some form by mid-February. And state leaders have labored to reach agreements to appease companies that say they can't wait that long.

"Governor Patrick is dedicated to keeping and growing companies like Shire right here in the Commonwealth," said Kofi Jones, a spokeswoman for the governor. "Our commitment to working with Shire is clear and ongoing. We have been in continuous contact with Shire to design a proposal that will ensure their ability to expand in Massachusetts, creating good jobs at good wages."

Murray and DeMasi's offices declined to comment.

The letter to Shire drew fire from a business group that opposes the life sciences legislation.

"It's a precedent we should be very careful with," said John Regan, executive vice president of government affairs for the Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

Regan said he understands Massachusetts faces competition from other states offering incentive packages of their own. But he warned that giving tax breaks to specific companies or industries is "a dangerous road," because it could prompt other companies to wonder why they have not been promised similar help.

"Rather than getting into a bidding war, make the climate such that companies are willing to invest here," Regan said.

Earlier this year, Shire proposed spending $350 million to add 540,000 square feet to its Lexington space. The project would create 680 new jobs, paying an average $100,000 a year, over the next eight years. Shire has already said it is committed to going forward with part of the expansion. But in August, the company publicly threatened to cancel the rest of the project and build elsewhere, unless the state offered a rich enough incentive package. At the time, Shire said it was considering expanding in Maryland, North Carolina, or Rhode Island instead of Massachusetts.

Shire spokesman Matt Cabrey declined to comment on whether the company was satisfied with the state's latest offer. Susan Yanofsky, Lexington's economic development officer, said Shire has continued the process of securing permits for two new buildings - suggesting it plans to go ahead with the $210 million project - but hasn't told the town anything definitive. The town of Lexington already has agreed to give the company $7.6 million in tax breaks over 20 years, which presumably would count toward the $40.5 million. In addition to tax incentives, the state has also promised funding for public roads or other infrastructure related to the project, according to the letter.

Shire became a major force in Massachusetts when it acquired Cambridge-based Transkaryotic Therapies Inc. for $1.6 billion two years ago. As of June, it had 550 employees in Cambridge, up from 390 in 2005. Shire makes several drugs, including Elaprase for Hunter syndrome and Replagal for Fabry disease. As part of the expansion project, the company would move most of its Cambridge operations to Lexington.


"A new leader for better schools"
December 22, 2007

SELECTING A new state education commissioner might prove easier if the Board of Education could wait until spring, when the Patrick administration is scheduled to unveil a 10-year strategic plan to improve public education. But Governor Patrick wants a permanent commissioner appointed in January. Now the board's challenge is to identify the state's educational priorities and decide which of the three finalists is the closest match - and the best equipped to build upon past reforms.

All three candidates enjoy solid reputations for leadership. Richard Laine, education director of the Wallace Foundation in New York, comes closest to a nontraditional candidate. He has never taught in the classroom, but knows education reform from his funding work. He is also considered politically astute. Karla Brooks Baehr, the only local candidate, has served as a school superintendent both in tony Wellesley and in Lowell, the state's fourth-largest city. Mitchell Dan Chester worked his way from classroom teacher to senior associate state superintendent in Ohio. He has a strong policy background, especially in the areas of assessment and accountability.

Many tests await the next commissioner. The most important will be to close the achievement gap between minority students in the cities and their white suburban counterparts. To prevent the persistent failure that leads to dropping out, the next commissioner must be prepared to make a mainstream urban movement out of promising experiments with an extended school day. And education must start early. Numerous studies point to the benefits of education for 3- and 4-year-olds. But the state's good intentions in this area have yet to materialize fully.

School superintendents across the state spend inordinate time and effort trying to protect their budgets by undermining the state's effective charter school movement. Massachusetts needs a commissioner who recognizes the need for more charter schools or in-district alternatives where student achievement trumps union work rules. Much of the state's progress, especially in poorer school districts, is linked to the MCAS graduation requirement test. The next commissioner needs the courage to persevere on MCAS regardless of complaints from short-sighted school boards or educators.

The state Department of Education struggles when it comes to designing effective strategies for failing schools. Structural and staff changes in the department itself may be needed before schools can be saved.

Wisely, the Board of Education has arranged for at least 25 representatives from business, nonprofit organizations, students, parents, educators, and the clergy to participate in public interviews of the finalists on Jan. 7. Additional priorities should emerge. And so should the state's next education chief.


"Deval Patrick seeks boost in fuel aid for needy veterans: Funding plan falls short of Senate's"
By Peter J. Howe and Matthew Viser, (Boston) Globe Staff, December 23, 2007

Governor Deval Patrick is asking legislators to approve a $104-a-month boost in state heating fuel assistance for qualified military veterans, which is only a fraction of the increase state senators approved in November.

In an emergency budget bill Patrick is sending to legislators this coming week, the governor asks for $800,000 to increase monthly state aid, from $146 a month to $250, for about 1,500 low-income veterans and their families this winter, Patrick aides said. With home heating oil prices having more than doubled in the last three years and the state facing an unusually cold and snowy December, Patrick said the state should make special efforts to help the neediest veterans.

But the governor's move falls far short of the $3.9 million annual increase in state fuel aid the state Senate approved Nov. 20.

Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray acknowledged that the funding he and Patrick seek is well short of what senators approved, but said, "The important thing is to get people relief and assistance now. This will allow the allotment to go up starting Jan. 1."

Murray added, "There's no doubt we're going to have to build some additional money in next year's budget, and we will."

But as Patrick budget aides wrestle with a $1.3 billion-plus budget shortfall for the fiscal year starting next July, Murray said they cannot say how much more the state may be able to offer low-income veterans for fuel aid.

The state House of Representatives did not act on the measure the Senate approved in November, which was sponsored by Democrats Jack Hart of South Boston and Stephen M. Brewer of Barre, before adjourning last month.

Unlike Patrick's one-time boost in aid, which isn't guaranteed to continue beyond this winter, the Hart-Brewer bill would set a new permanent statutory minimum level of monthly fuel aid, of anywhere from $250 to $600 monthly based on what kinds of benefits Bay State veterans receive.

Senate President Therese Murray, a Democrat from Plymouth, said last month at the time of Senate passage that over the past seven years, while heating oil prices have increased 117 percent, veterans benefit allowances for fuel increased 12 percent.

"We cannot leave our veterans out in the cold," she said then. "Our veterans have served our country and protected our freedoms. They should certainly have the ability to heat their homes."

State Representative Robert DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, said the House did not have enough time to take up the Senate veterans assistance measure last month, but he said he was "very enthusiastic and excited to support" Patrick's request for short-term aid.

The state's secretary of Veterans Services, Thomas G. Kelley, said that about 476,000 military veterans live in Massachusetts. How much if any fuel assistance they can receive is subject to a complicated formula that includes their income, housing expenses, number of dependents, and other factors, Kelley said. Fuel aid is distributed through city and town veterans agents.

Veterans and other homeowners who use heating oil faced the biggest cost increases this fall. As of Dec. 18, heating oil was averaging $3.27 per gallon, according to the state Division of Energy Resources. That compares with $2.42 a year earlier and $1.47 in 2003. About 2 in 5 Massachusetts homes are heated with oil.

Compared with the 35 percent jump from last year in heating oil, propane - used mostly in rural areas that don't have gas utility service - is up 24 percent from last year, at $2.77 per gallon, the state survey shows. It was $1.55 in 2003.

Natural gas prices, in contrast, have dropped at many Massachusetts utilities because 2006 price levels reflected the disruptions caused by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita ravaging gas rigs and pipeline networks in the Gulf Coast in September 2005.

Customers of NStar Gas, for example, this winter are paying 98 cents per therm - the standard billing unit, equal to 100 cubic feet of gas - compared with $1.20 a year earlier. About 45 percent of Massachusetts homeowners heat with gas.

State officials are also looking to Congress and President Bush to increase home heating aid for low-income households, including veterans. Last week the House and Senate approved year-end budget bills separately allocating $409 million more for low-income heating assistance than previously approved, or $2.6 billion.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy said the measure, if signed by Bush, would provide $82 million to help 95,000 Bay State families struggling to cover their heating bills.



"Deval Patrick says eliminating income tax would be ruinous: Repairs planned on infrastructure"
By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press, December 24, 2007

Governor Deval Patrick says a proposed ballot question that would end the state income tax is "just a dumb idea" that would set the state on a road to fiscal ruin.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Patrick said he has lived in places with no taxes, including the time he spent in Darfur 30 years ago. He says there were also no bridges, no good roads, and no public safety there.

"Civilization costs something," he said. "If we could have something for nothing, which is the fiction that has been sold by the right for some time now, then we wouldn't have a $19 billion upkeep backlog for the roads and bridges."

Patrick might have to get used to making that argument over the next year. Supporters of the ballot question gathered enough signatures to clear a major hurdle to getting it on the 2008 ballot.

Carla Howell of the Committee For Small Government says there is plenty to cut in the state budget and the ballot question would give lawmakers an incentive to make reductions.

"They need to spend the money they have right and cut all the waste and the damaging and destructive programs out of the state government that do more harm than good," she said. "If they do that, we will have 20 times more than we need for roads and bridges."

Asked to name a damaging or destructive program that should be cut, Howell declined to answer, saying the burden is on lawmakers to justify each program.

Patrick said that while it is important to "demand that government be responsible and efficient and accountable" with tax dollars, it is unrealistic to think that the state can absorb the loss of $11 billion in annual income taxes - about 40 percent of its revenue - without dire consequences.

Patrick said the loss of revenue would also come at a time when the state is trying to find an estimated $15 to $19 billion the next two decades to fix the state's aging roads and crumbling bridges.

He also said he won't be pushing for a cut in the state income tax to 5 percent. Voters overwhelming approve the cut in 2000, but lawmakers froze it at 5.3 percent.

"Unless people are prepared to say they will do without public transportation, or they will do without an airport, or they are content to have the homeless population increase . . . or they are prepared frankly to have their property taxes shoot up even faster than they have, then we can't responsibly move toward lowering the rate of the income tax now," Patrick said.

"People talk about it being their money. They're right," he added. "But it's also their broken bridge and their broken road and their broken neighborhood and broken school."

In 2002, Howell and other supporters gathered enough signatures to put the income tax question on the ballot. They did little to promote the question and opponents did less to fight it, assuming voters would handily reject it.

Of the 2.2 million who cast votes that year, 40 percent voted in favor, 48 percent voted against, and 12 percent left the question blank. That was close enough to rattle opponents, who have vowed to mount a vigorous campaign against the question if it goes before voters on the 2008 ballot.

Patrick was more circumspect about two other questions that could be headed for the ballot. One would ban greyhound dog racing. Another would decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.

Patrick said he will consult with Kevin M. Burke, secretary of public safety, and Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, secretary of health and human services, about the marijuana question. "I think they are both skeptical," he said.

Seven years ago, a ballot question to ban greyhound racing was defeated by a margin of 48.6 percent to 46.7 percent.

The questions now head to the Legislature, where lawmakers have the option of adopting them. If they opt not to take action, activists have to gather another 11,099 signatures by the middle of next year to get the proposals on the 2008 ballot.


New England in brief
"Patrick picks Superior Court nominee"
December 29, 2007

A Boston lawyer who helped found one of the city's first all-women law practices has been nominated by Governor Deval Patrick to a vacancy on the Massachusetts Superior Court. Christine Roach, 53, is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former law clerk for the United States District Court. Patrick said Roach has an "impeccable reputation" as a diligent and ethical lawyer within the legal community. Her private practice focuses on business litigation with an emphasis in employment defense, banking, and real estate litigation. Roach also serves as special outside counsel to the City of Boston. If confirmed, she'll fill the vacancy left by Nonnie Burnes, who stepped down to become the state's insurance commissioner. (AP)


"After soaring entry, a mixed first year for Patrick: Tally shows victories, but most of agenda stalled in Legislature"
By Frank Phillips, (Boston) Globe Staff, December 31, 2007

As Governor Mitt Romney made his final exit from the State House, he paused to shake hands with Deval Patrick at the door of the governor's office. "We are looking forward to a great administration," the ever-polite Romney told the incoming Democrat.

"You can count on it," Patrick said, with a self-assurance that reflected his extraordinary journey from political obscurity to a landslide victory.

But Patrick's first year in office has been marked by initial high-profile missteps, political frustrations, and a senior staff shakeup. He scored some victories and produced sweeping policy initiatives, but most of his agenda remains stalled in the Legislature. And he faces a challenge in the months ahead with his proposal to license three resort casinos that has ignited controversy, upset some members of the coalition that elected him, and is being held up by a deeply skeptical House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who has opposed gambling expansions in Massachusetts.

It is a decidedly mixed record for a governor who rolled into office with huge popular support and a clutch of big, fresh ideas.

After a year watching him, even some of his allies feel that Patrick, whose professional experience is mostly rooted in the corporate boardrooms of Coca-Cola and Texaco, is still finding Beacon Hill politics the toughest part of the job to master. His most difficult hurdle has been figuring out how to honor campaign pledges to change the culture of Massachusetts politics, while also operating within that culture to get things done.

John Sasso, chief of staff to former governor Michael Dukakis who is credited with guiding his reform-minded boss through the political thickets in his second term, said that he believes Patrick retains the "aura of independence" that helped elect him and is "working hard to gain an effective working relationship with the Legislature."

"Public independence and legislative teamwork is a winning formula for any successful governor. He understands that," said Sasso.

Patrick's decision to raise large political donations from lobbyists and executives of state-regulated industries - the heart of the very culture he pledged to reform - is one sign that he is willing to set aside his "agenda for change" to deal with the political realities. In a recent interview as his first year in office drew to a close, Patrick said he recognized the difficulty of working within the system without becoming captive to insiders.

"We have our rituals in this building, we have our protocols, much of it unspoken," he said. "It is enormously important to understand that, and the staff and I have learned that."

"But I don't want to be about just that," he quickly added. "We do have a change agenda. Just as I am having to get used to some of those rituals, my colleagues down the hall, the legislative leadership and some of the members . . . are having to get used to some of the ways we want to do things."

Indeed, as the first black governor in the state's history and the first Democrat to hold the office in 16 years, Patrick seemed to embody a new era in Massachusetts politics at his inauguration on Jan. 4. "It's time for a change," he told the crowd who came to the steps of the State House to hear his inaugural address. "And we are that change."

After four years of Romney - who was perceived as aloof on state issues and embarking on his own quest for the US presidency - Massachusetts has a governor who rejects the GOP's dim view of government and is embracing an ambitious Democratic agenda. He has rolled out broad and expensive proposals on economic development, education, the environment, transportation, and public safety.

Relations between the governor and the Legislature, while at times testy since the early 1990s, are free of partisan posturing. Yet it was not until recent months that Patrick appeared to hit a comfortable stride with his fellow Democrats. He has lined up some potential victories for 2008. He won a commitment from legislative leaders to get action by February on his $1 billion initiative to boost the state's life sciences industry. After he expressed a willingness to compromise on his goal of closing corporate tax loopholes, he won the support of a special commission and could break a logjam in the Legislature over the issue.

At the same time, Patrick showed he could play political hardball with entrenched powers. This fall, he muscled Stephen Tocco, a Romney appointee with strong ties to powerful Democrats, out as chairman of the University of Massachusetts board of trustees and replaced him with an investment banker. He has been making similar attempts to gain control of commissions and authorities dominated by GOP appointees.

The face of state government has become more diverse under Patrick. Of the management hires in the administration, 19 percent are minorities, more than double the Romney administration's numbers. Patrick has hired a staff that is made up of 27 percent of people of color and more than half have been women.

Patrick has grappled in other ways with the unique expectations thrust upon him because of his race. He came to office at a time when urban violence was on the rise and has faced criticism from some in the black community for not providing stronger leadership on issues of gangs. When 13-year old Steven Odom was killed in a gang-related crossfire, the governor was stung by criticism from Odom's mother that he had not reached out to her. But he went to her house and later to the boy's services.

"If a 13-year-old gets in the way of a stray bullet, we are not doing enough," he said at the funeral. "I accept my responsibility."

Patrick and his staff express confidence now about their prospects in 2008, contrasting with the first few months of his term - which were marked by negative news stories that snuffed any honeymoon period he could have hoped for.

He generated headlines for upgrading his official car to a Cadillac, refurbishing his State House office with expensive furnishings, and placing a call to a national banking institution on behalf of a controversial subprime lender that he once was closely connected to. At the same time, his wife, Diane, struggled with depression. He refers to that period as "the darkest of days."

"I think he underestimated the difficulty of a transition from nonpolitical to a political situation," said US Representative Barney Frank, one of his early supporters who gives him good grades for the first year. "It is a common problem when people have not been on the political side."

At times prickly and thin-skinned, Patrick can bristle at the media when it is aggressive and he expresses frustration when confronting an unwieldy political system that he can't control. Shortly after his election, he lectured a gathering of newspaper publishers that the media's cynicism blinded it to the significance of his election.

Two months into his term, he appeared before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and alienated its business leaders with what many in the audience felt was his supercilious tone as he pitched his plan to close corporate tax loopholes.

The blunders of the early weeks in office prompted increasing anxiety among Democratic supporters. By late March, he was getting some strong advice from the likes of Dukakis, outgoing state Democratic Party chairman Philip W. Johnston, and his early band of supporters in the Legislature, among others. The urgency of their message: clear out his senior staff - none of whom had experience or background in handling a rambunctious press and the sharp-elbowed politics in the State House - and get some political hands on board to run his operations.

By early April, a new team was in place, led by his chief political consultant, Doug Rubin as chief of staff, deputy chief of staff David Morales, who was a top aide to the Senate president, and Joseph Landolfi, a veteran media relations specialist for government agencies, as his director of communications.

While overhauling his staff was clearly a pivotal moment in his first year, Patrick downplays its significance. In an interview, he brushed aside suggestions that it was a mistake to initially pick a senior staff with no experience in the public sector or in state politics. He also would not discuss what his closest advisers and supporters feel were critical events that helped inform him how to govern.

"I'm not looking back" he said, when asked if he had any regrets on his early months in office.

Patrick insisted the departure of his first chief of staff, Joan Wallace-Benjamin, was voluntary. He said she had "set up" his office and much of the administration. He implied that after three months on the job, her work was done and she was ready to return to her old job as president of The Home for Little Wanderers.

"That wasn't spin," he said. "She was ready to go."

With a new political team in place, Patrick scored a major victory in June when he helped defeat a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage. Patrick, using the powers of his office and his persuasive charm, worked closely with DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray to kill the proposed amendment that had diverted attention from other issues.

That June victory helped stabilize a wobbly administration and allowed Patrick to gain some credibility as an effective political player on Beacon Hill. Now the administration is looking with optimism to the challenges of 2008, when the Legislature will take up his proposal to license three resort casinos, close a potentially large budget gap, and consider a reorganization of transportation agencies, among other things.

"It has been a huge learning curve for everyone," said State Representative Corey Atkins, a Concord Democrat and one of the first lawmakers to endorse Patrick's candidacy. She remains optimistic about his potential. "He came from a rational world into an irrational world and he has to figure that out. He still has to learn to get along with the Legislature and the Legislature has to work with him."


Beyond his regular guy from Worcester image, Lieutenant Governor Tmothy P. Murray, after nearly a year in office, is starting to solidify a statewide profile of his own. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)

"As No. 2, Murray's profile is rising: Seen as steadying presence for state"
By Stephanie Ebbert, (Boston) Globe Staff, December 30, 2007

As Governor Deval Patrick was dealing with the snowstorm that paralyzed Boston this month, his trusty lieutenant was inching through gridlock to yet another unheralded speaking engagement, this time to a crowd of union stewards, the vast majority of whom had left before he arrived.

Thirty minutes late, but what an entrance! The remaining crowd of about 65 applauded appreciatively, and Michael Grunko, president of SEIU Local 509, gushed a welcome.

"I want to introduce," Grunko said proudly, "the number two man in the Commonwealth, Lieutenant Governor Murray!"

Such is the life of number two, and this one is quite prepared for it. Timothy P. Murray spent nine years as city councilor and then as mayor of the state's second city. (That would be Worcester.)

But the week before his union speech, Murray was enjoying the number one spot himself when the governor left the state for a trade mission to China. A crisis erupted when a gasoline tanker crashed in Everett, igniting a streetscape and giving Murray what he jokingly called his "Al Haig moment." He became the face of state government, touring the scene of devastation and presiding as a credible and capable, if unremarkable, leader.

Nearly a year into office, this regular guy from Worcester is starting to solidify a statewide profile of his own, raising money at an unusual clip for a lieutenant governor and tapping a Republican fund-raiser for help in building a campaign finance network.

Patrick calls him a "terrific partner." And some see him as a steadying, grounding, seasoned presence in an administration that initially appeared to be too lofty, too heady, too in love with the poetry of campaigning to master the difficult prose of governing.

"He was sort of the voice of experience; it gave them a little balance," said state Representative Daniel E. Bosley, a North Adams Democrat. "You have a governor who's learning the political process but was not a creature of Massachusetts politics, whereas Tim Murray had been around politics for a while."

In many ways, Murray seems an unlikely sidekick for Patrick, whose soaring rhetoric and uncommon charisma inspired voters across the state to enlist in his grass-roots campaign.

Murray does not soar. His no-nonsense speaking style is described, even by aides, as merely direct. While Patrick made history as the state's first African-American governor, Murray's profile is anything but groundbreaking: the Irish-American grandson of a labor organizer and the son of a teacher and nurse who grew up to be a lawyer, city councilor, mayor, and Democratic statewide office-holder.

While the governor is known for his genteel manner and expensive tastes in drapery and cars, Murray appears unconcerned with fashion. He once ducked into a Foxborough barber for a quick haircut between campaign events, to the dismay of an aide worried about that night's television debate; the youthful-looking 39-year-old looks downright boyish when freshly shorn. The oft-used description of Murray as "down to earth" does not fully capture his no-airs demeanor. Last summer, before his appearance at a parks conference in Worcester, he could not stop talking to a janitor he knew, one attendee recalled.

If Murray and Patrick have different profiles, they share a similar appeal. In Worcester, the unassuming Murray became something of a rock star for championing the city's fortunes, inspiring hope, and silencing the naysayers.

"Worcester has suffered an inferiority complex for a long time," said Jordan Levy, a previous mayor. "I always said that the city should have in its employ a team of psychiatrists. When Murray was able to put on a successful statewide run, I think it opened up a lot of people's eyes about the potential of Central Massachusetts. It really uplifted Worcester."

When he came to Beacon Hill, Murray brought so much Worcester memorabilia to decorate his office that the governor had to remind him: You're not just the mayor of Worcester anymore. But in many ways, he still is. His schedule is packed with local, ceremonial events, many of them in Central Massachusetts. He commutes back almost every night to the home he shares with his wife and two adopted daughters, and he is a dutiful promoter of all things Worcester.

But by all accounts, he has real influence on the Patrick administration. Patrick and Murray share a combined staff, a shared respect, and an easy camaraderie. Patrick listens to Murray and, the governor says, sometimes changes his mind based on Murray's input. Murray persuaded the governor to let cities and towns seek changes to their property classifications, an arcane but important issue to cities like Boston.

Patrick has made Murray his liaison with legislators and local officials and given him oversight of councils on domestic violence, homelessness, and veterans' affairs.

If that sounds suspiciously similar to the role of his predecessor, Kerry Healey, aides quickly dismiss the comparison. Healey was viewed as outsider looking in on the administration of the politically ambitious Mitt Romney. Murray is considered, if not a cogovernor, at least an integral player.

"He has a great political feel," Patrick said in an interview. "We complement each other. Every once in a while, you have to do the good-cop-bad-cop thing, and we are able to do that."

Murray's bad cop has come out in meetings with legislative leaders, whom he has prodded to take action, rather than drag their feet.

"We're here to make decisions; that's the executive role," Patrick said. "He's had that role in Worcester, and our frustration is the Legislature sometimes is looking to avoid decisions."

Others agree Murray's nice guy persona has its limits. Recall that early in last year's campaign, he was the strategic political thinker who ruffled feathers by griping publicly about gubernatorial candidate Thomas F. Reilly's decision to pick a running mate after saying he would not, assuming the status of the rightful front-runner. Earlier this year, he also swiped back at critics of Patrick's helicopter ride to the Berkshires by asking Boston business leaders when they last made the long drive from North Adams to Boston. He still gets worked up recounting it.

US Representative James P. McGovern, a Worcester Democrat and longtime friend, said Murray's choice of a pet, a bulldog named Smash, is no accident. "He is somebody who is absolutely determined to get things done, a fighter, somebody who's tough, somebody who is persistent," said McGovern. "Part of the way you get things done is not always holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya.' Sometimes you've got to smash some heads together. He's capable of both."

Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at


"Patrick may boost casino pressure: Considers including revenue in budget proposal"
By Matt Viser, (Boston) Globe Staff, January 3, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick is considering including projected casino licensing revenues in his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, a risky political maneuver designed to increase pressure on the House to approve his plan for three resort casinos in the state.

In pushing his gaming plan into the realm of the state budget, Patrick is dangling before the Legislature the prospect of an $800 million infusion of licensing fees paid by casino developers as the state faces a deficit of as much as $1.45 billion.

House leaders, though, said the governor would be met with stiff resistance if he puts such revenue in the budget before his casino bill has even received a formal hearing, much less been approved by lawmakers.

"I don't think it's wise at all," said Representative Robert A. DeLeo, who, as chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, is the House's chief budget official. "That is such a contentious issue. It's going to require extensive hearings, and in an era where we're calling for transparency in the budget, for us to rely on that money would be a misstep."

House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi's spokesman, David Guarino, called any move to put gaming revenues in the budget premature.

"You should put revenue in the budget that you know is going to be there, not revenue you hope is going to be there," Guarino said.

With a big budget gap, including casino licensing money would put pressure on lawmakers to pass the governor's proposal or find other ways to balance the budget as required by state law. When the governor introduces his budget, within three weeks, legislators will spend months reshaping it.

"He's putting a stake in the ground, which is completely appropriate," said Stephen Crosby, dean of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and a former top aide to Republican governors Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift. "It's also completely legit if the Legislature decides to take that stake out of the ground."

In the gambling legislation that he filed in October, the governor called for a competitive bidding process to license three casinos in separate regions of Massachusetts. Bidding for each 10-year license would start at $200 million, but could go much higher, say administration officials and potential investors.

Those funds would be available immediately, but it is unclear how Patrick would use the money if he put it in the budget and whether he would use it for one-time spending or spread it over the 10-year life of the license.

His casino bill calls for the bulk of the proceeds to be split between property tax relief for homeowners and transportation infrastructure improvements. It would also be used to help host communities pay for additional police and other services, for public health programs, and operating a new state gambling oversight agency.

In addition to the licensing fees, Patrick is also counting on another $400 million a year in the state's share of gambling proceeds, but those revenues would have no affect on the current budget and would not start flowing until the casinos are built.

Administration officials first indicated two weeks ago that they were considering using casino revenues in the upcoming budget. Administration and Finance Secretary Leslie Kirwan said at a legislative hearing on Dec. 18 that casino revenues could help combat a fiscal year 2009 deficit, which she projected was between $1.2 billion and $1.45 billion.

"We may," Kirwan said when asked specifically about using the revenues in the upcoming budget. "We have not made a decision as to whether gaming revenues would be included, but it is under consideration."

Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray said yesterday that the casino revenue was still on the table.

Patrick and his supporters are facing a friendlier atmosphere in the Senate, which has voted in favor of expanded gaming proposals in the past and will review the budget after the House.

"I would say that any proposal that's not a broad-based tax increase needs to be seriously entertained," said Senator Steven C. Panagiotakos, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the Senate, who said he would not object if Patrick put casino money in the budget. "The bottom line is we should have a full debate on this measure because it's one that would create jobs, as well as new revenue, and nothing does that like this gaming proposal does."

Senate President Therese Murray has supported casino gambling. But even some who are receptive to the governor's plan said forcing the question too soon could hurt Patrick's case.

"By doing that, he would be playing more into the hands of people who are critical of his proposal than those in support," said Representative Bradley Jones, the House minority leader and a supporter of expanded gaming. "I don't think it helps his cause."

Specialists who follow the state budget said yesterday that governors in the past have sought to include money in budgets for programs that have needed legislative approval, but not typically on issues of such great significance.

Last year, Patrick's $26.7 billion budget proposal relied on closing so-called corporate tax loopholes that would have raised up to $500 million a year, but the Legislature set aside the proposal after DiMasi criticized it as destructive to the state economy. In 2003, Governor Mitt Romney sought budget savings of $180 million by transferring state property to the pension fund and $191 million by merging the Turnpike Authority and the Highway Department, proposals that were rejected by the Legislature.

The outcome of the casino debate may hinge on how the Legislature decides to balance the immediate demand for revenue against the demands of scrutinizing a complex proposal of historic proportions.

"It basically passes the buck to the Legislature," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "It says, 'Well, if you're scoffing at this, you find other money or find ways to cut.' They're facing an enormous problem in the '09 budget, so there will be a temptation to find additional revenues without raising taxes."

Matt Viser can be reached at


"Governor Patrick's first year"
January 4, 2008

DEVAL PATRICK'S 2006 campaign speeches often included a powerful windup that answered the old Republican bromide against taxes: "It's not the government's money; it's your money." True, Patrick would say. "But it's also your broken roads, and your broken school, and your broken neighborhood or broken neighbor." The appeal was to a shared commitment to uplift the whole community, and voters responded, electing Patrick in a 20-point landslide. But Patrick's inability to translate his victory into a new politics of generosity for Massachusetts is the single biggest disappointment of his first year, because it undergirds all the others.

Patrick has not been able to convince a mulish legislative leadership to approve even modest revenue enhancements, such as closing corporate loopholes or giving cities and towns more autonomy to raise local taxes - to say nothing of revenue from casino gambling. As a result, many of his visionary ideas for the state are in limbo. His proposal for universal pre-kindergarten has been reduced to a few pilot programs. His plan to make community colleges free, as part of a comprehensive overhaul of public education, is still in the "special advisory commission" stage. The promised, and still sorely needed, property tax relief has not materialized.

Patrick has expressed understandable frustration with the personal and sometimes petty gamesmanship that makes the trains run on Beacon Hill - and that he has been reluctant to master. But neither has he sparked the popular mobilization that might help advance his agenda. After a strong transition period of grassroots involvement, he lost momentum with rookie mistakes, some petty, some not, and nobody rallied his supporters to provide the wind at his back. "Some thought the size of the vote would be enough to get the legislature's attention," Patrick said yesterday in an interview. "It turns out we're going to have to fight for everything we want."

Gains in the economy

As governor, Patrick has said his first priority is economic development, with a special focus on life sciences and clean energy. Here he has made some progress and set the table for more. The state created 26,000 new jobs in 2007, and improved its economic competitiveness rating. Patrick persuaded Evergreen Solar (with the help of $23 million in state grants) to build a manufacturing plant in Westborough, a boon to the state's economic diversity because it involves making something exportable.

Patrick also lobbied the federal government for a new wind turbine blade test center to be built in Charlestown, positioning the state to be a leader in the fastest-growing alternative energy technology - wind. A 25-percent tax credit for film producers has clearly stimulated activity in that industry as well. The jobs generated alone may not bring in more revenue than the grants and tax breaks cost, but the ripple effects of economic activity in select clusters should catalyze more growth and, eventually, more revenue.

Another bright spot has been the state's environmental programs, especially the long-neglected Department of Conservation and Recreation. Regulatory laws and permit requirements have been streamlined, and the state has proposed $50 million for land preservation, the largest commitment ever to the protection of open space.

Many of Patrick's other accomplishments are reversals of baleful policies of his predecessor. These include joining the regional greenhouse gas initiative, which Mitt Romney jettisoned as his presidential ambitions grew; repealing restrictive regulations on stem cell research; and vetoing abstinence-only education requirements. Patrick's clear opposition to the constitutional gay marriage ban helped end what surely would have been an ugly, distracting campaign, and gave him a rare victory to share with the House speaker and Senate president.

Winning friends

When it comes to relations with the Legislature, Patrick laughs and says "Every job involves a learning curve." He insists he's "not a purist" about political compromise, though it clearly hasn't come naturally to him. Too many of his natural allies on Beacon Hill feel he is aloof, and too many recall his description of Massachusetts politics as "gotcha games, partisan blood-sport, and personal point scoring." It's difficult to reconcile a commitment to political reform with the imperative of moving an agenda, and Patrick is still seeking the right balance.

One promising development is the resurrection of his proposal to close corporate loopholes - a reasonable idea that nonetheless blindsided the business community and was going nowhere. Then Patrick signaled he is willing to combine the loophole closings with a "meaningful" reduction in the corporate tax rate. He and the House and Senate leaders appointed a study commission on corporate taxation, which will provide some cover. It issued a report last week supporting the two biggest changes by a 9-6 vote. Although not free of dissent, the commission's report is a big step forward.

The face of change

When Patrick took the oath of office one year ago today, his hand was on a Bible that had been given to John Quincy Adams by freed captives on the slave ship Amistad. Patrick's status as the first black governor of Massachusetts is quietly remaking the state's reputation as insular and unwelcoming. Twenty-seven percent of positions in the governor's office are minorities and 52 percent are women. The halls of the State House, and the Beacon Hill power lunch spots, just look different, itself a signal of change. Although some of Patrick's early political appointments lacked experience, his policy appointments, from cabinet secretaries down through the state agencies, have been first-rate.

It's early to render judgment on a new administration, especially one with such large ambitions for change. But as Patrick himself says, there is much at stake. "I won't give up my sense of urgency," he says, even for the sake of political comity. The state is too expensive. People need health insurance. Violence, drugs, and poverty are still ruining too many lives. "I'm learning fast," Patrick says. Good, because graduate school is over.



"Why America needs Obama"
By Deval Patrick, January 5, 2008

I AM proud to be a Democrat, but sometimes Democratic politics can be tiresome.

For years, candidates have appealed to voters by arguing how they can win or why any Democrat would be better than any Republican. They miss the fact that voters are more interested in why Democrats should win than how we will. They mistakenly believe that discontent with Republicans will assure a Democratic victory, when in truth most of us aren't buying 100 percent of what either party is selling. So, election after election, we end up with the same old debate and commentary about competing electoral tactics rather than a vision for the future.

We have a chance this time to choose a different kind of candidate, a different kind of president.

Barack Obama is the only candidate in the field who has demonstrated the ability to unite people across differences around common cause.

From his work in Chicago neighborhoods, to the Illinois Senate, to the US Senate, to his success in campaigning for other candidates in so-called red states like Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Virginia, Obama has shown an uncommon ability to work across differences and get meaningful results. Applying that talent to a vision for a better, safer, more just, and more prosperous American future could not come a moment too soon.

We face profound challenges. The Bush administration has been ineffective in foreign policy and absent in domestic policy. While our troops are performing well abroad, their mission was poorly conceived and their exit strategy nonexistent. At home, the poor are in terrible shape and the middle class are one month away from being poor. Healthcare and college costs are getting further and further out of reach, roads and bridges are in disrepair, and a lot of the people in power have spent more time denying climate change than trying to defeat it. Everyday people are anxious, and their anxiety knows no party.

America needs Obama.

He has comprehensive plans to end the war in Iraq, provide universal healthcare, lift up schools, and to save the planet. I like many of his ideas. But frankly most candidates in the race - Democrat and Republican - have a couple of good ideas. What I want, and what I sense the American people want, is more than good policy. We want great leadership.

This is where Barack Obama rises above the field. Instead of calculation or connections, he has risen on convictions. Instead of stoking partisan anger, he calls on our common aspirations. Instead of the right and the left, he is focused on right and wrong. At a time when so many of us - Democrats, Republicans, and independents - are tired of petty division and desperate for change, Obama makes a claim on all of us to join in restoring the American dream. His leadership is about articulating a vision and motivating others to reach for it.

That is why Obama consistently polls higher with independents and Republicans than any other Democrat. That is why he is greeted by crowds made up of every kind of person, from all kinds of backgrounds. That is why he won the Iowa caucuses on Thursday. That is why he has received more than 750,000 donations, mostly from small donors, and signed up a half-million supporters from all age groups, states, races, and political affiliations - many of them involved in the process for the first time. When people try to imagine the kind of leadership they want and know we need, the image that comes to many minds is Obama.

And here is where the wise guys and gals come in. The political commentators and self-appointed experts start telling us that we can't have what we want. I heard that throughout my own campaign. I ask the people of America to do now what I asked the people of Massachusetts to do: take a chance not so much on a candidate, but on your own aspirations. If we do, then Obama wins - and so do we.

Once in a generation, a candidate comes along who is committed to more than succeeding at the partisan food fight in Washington. Once in a generation, a candidate comes along who is both book smart and street smart, who is equally at ease with the meek and the mighty - and perhaps most especially with himself. Once in a generation, we get the opportunity to take a quantum leap forward in our politics. Barack Obama is that candidate and this is our opportunity. I don't care if it's not his turn, because I know in my head and in my heart that it is his time.

Deval Patrick is governor of Massachusetts.


"Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick asks local leaders to push lawmakers on revenue proposals"
The Associated Press
Friday, January 11, 2008

BOSTON (AP) — Governor Deval Patrick is increasing pressure on legislative leaders to pass some of his revenue-generating proposals.

Patrick urged municipal officials today to lobby Beacon Hill power brokers on behalf of his idea. He said the state must find ways to close a looming $1 billion budget deficit.

The governor spoke to hundreds of selectmen, city councilors and others at the annual convention of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

Patrick's ideas include allowing cities and towns to decide whether to raise taxes on meals and lodging.

Another proposal would close what the governor described as a century-old loophole that benefits telecom companies.

He said passage of those bills would provide millions of dollars in new revenue for cash-strapped cities and towns.


"Patrick's education overhaul"
January 11, 2008

GOVERNOR PATRICK stood before state leaders and the press yesterday and joked as he began outlining his education reorganization plan: "I can see some of you trying your best not to roll your eyes," he said. Patrick knows that moving boxes around on a flow chart won't improve education. The reorganization plan, including the new Cabinet-level secretariat, is only useful to the extent that it helps Patrick achieve his ambitious goals for the next chapter of education reform. And that requires a difficult political trick: making the taxpayers care about other people's children.

Actually, "ambitious" may be an understatement. Although Patrick is still waiting on a report from his Readiness Project for specifics (expected in March or April), his 10-year vision includes universal early education for 3- and 4-year-olds; all-day kindergarten; smaller class sizes, especially in the younger grades; extended school days with time for music, art, exercise, and community service; at least three years of mandatory math and science in all high schools; better teacher training; and the opportunity to earn an associate's degree or apprenticeship in a trade - at the Commonwealth's expense. No wonder people wanted to know about the price tag.

Patrick knows first-hand the value of a good education; his life was transformed by a lucky opportunity to leave a poor school in Chicago for leafy Milton Academy. He is adept at outlining the competition Massachusetts faces from an educated workforce in other states, and other countries. China - where Patrick just visited - plans to build a university the size of UCLA every year for the next 10 years.

But the Readiness Project shouldn't produce a kitchen sink report, with a little something for each of the constituencies represented on the panel. If Patrick gets his reorganization plan and the seamless authority to manage education from preschool through college - and we think he should be given the chance - his new secretary's first task should be to identify a few priorities that can be achieved fairly quickly and find the money for them.

The public is tapped out when it comes to paying for so many needs, including education, through the property tax. (See below.) Patrick himself describes school systems where parents must pay out of pocket so their kids can play sports or be in the band or the math team. Residents are weary of the record number of property tax overrides. Every young family that chooses private school or moves out of state to find lower housing prices in communities with good schools is another education constituent lost.

Patrick says he has over 1,000 volunteer "readiness reps" prepared to build support for his education agenda. Let's hope they can help the taxpayers understand the cost of not spending on education - from crime to economic stagnation. Because the investment really is in everybody's children.


"Governor condemns legislative inaction"
Saturday, January 12, 2008

BOSTON - Pleading for help from municipal leaders, Gov. Deval L. Patrick assailed state legislators yesterday for failing to vote on any of his bills to generate new tax revenue for cities and towns.

During the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Municipal Association in Boston, Patrick's voice rose as he condemned legislators for holding up his bills, filed 11 months ago.

"That is not acceptable," he told about 600 municipal leaders. "It ought not to be acceptable to you. Show up and make that point."

Patrick, a Democrat elected in 2006, also made another pitch for his bill to legalize up to three resort casinos in Massachusetts. He is pledging to dedicate $400 million a year in casino revenue to road and bridge improvements and relief from property taxes.

After his speech, Patrick took no questions from the audience and left through a back door.

He received mixed reviews from municipal leaders after he urged them to lobby at the Statehouse for his proposals.

North Adams Mayor John Barrett III said that Patrick needs a new strategy and should stop trying to embarrass legislators in public.

"He bashed them again," he said after the speech. "It's just not going to work."

Michael A. Szlosek, the Ludlow town administrator, said the town has a good relationship with its state senator and state representative.

"I don't think we need the governor to tell us what to do in this case," he said.

Patrick provided no estimates of the aid to municipalities he will include in the state's estimated $27 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts on July 1.

"That's very difficult for us," Szlosek said. "We really need to know what is going to happen."

At the same event last year, Patrick promised a modest increase in aid.

He must unveil his budget by Jan. 23.

Patrick indicated that he would not balance the budget by cutting aid for cities and towns.

"That time is over," he said to the cheers of municipal officials. "It's over, and it's not coming back."

The Patrick administration is projecting a deficit of between $1.2 billion and $1.45 billion for the state budget for fiscal 2009.

House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, D-Boston, is bottling up Patrick's bills to allow communities to impose a tax of up to 2 percent on restaurant meals, and up to an additional 1 percent on the 4-percent local tax on hotel and motel rooms.

Another bill that has to yet to surface for a vote would levy new property taxes on telecommunications companies, raising about $78 million statewide.

That bill alone would mean an extra $2.7 million for Springfield, $794,000 for Westfield, $262,000 for Palmer, $107,000 for Greenfield, and $142,000 for Northampton.

West Springfield Mayor Edward J. Gibson said that Patrick may need to turn up the heat on legislators. He said the community could raise $700,000 a year with a 1-percent tax on meals.

"I think it's necessary to take that tack," Gibson said. "If you've got something you really want to accomplish, you've got to challenge them to step up and at least deal with the issue."

Gretchen E. Neggers, the town administrator in Monson, said local officials are not hearing any solutions from the Legislature.

"I think the governor is expressing some frustration with the Legislature's inaction," she said. "People of the commonwealth are bearing the costs of that inaction."

Sen. Stephen J. Buoniconti, D-West Springfield, said he was not offended by Patrick's comments. He said legislators should be voting on the bills to raise new revenue for cities and towns.

"The issue has been fully vetted," Buoniconti said in a phone interview. "You're either in favor of it or you're not."

Selectmen, city councilors, mayors, and other local officials who gathered in Boston yesterday said they are facing some gloomy fiscal times.

"They are bleak everywhere," said Northampton Mayor Mary Clare Higgins. "We are not unique."

Northampton is projecting a $1.7 million deficit in its budget for the next fiscal year, assuming no increases in state aid.

Geoffrey C. Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, said there is widespread fiscal distress, and the situation could grow into a crisis unless municipalities receive new tools to raise revenue.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation issued a report on Thursday that predicted no relief in sight in the form of increased state aid.

Patrick held up casinos as a solution. But several municipal leaders were skeptical of his casino bill.

Patrick said casinos are a piece of his comprehensive strategy to boost the economy. If approved, he said, they would create 20,000 permanent jobs at salaries between $45,000 and $50,000, with good benefits.

South Hadley Selectman Richard A. Constant disagrees with Patrick on casinos. He said he was worried about the spread of compulsive gambling.

"I don't think the state should be involved in promoting a vice," he said.


"Benefits take hit in Patrick budget: State staff to pay higher premiums"
By Matt Viser, (Boston) Globe Staff, January 13, 2008

Looking for ways to trim a looming $1.3 billion state budget gap, Governor Deval Patrick will propose shifting more of the cost of health insurance premiums onto tens of thousands of state employees.

Under his plan, about 37,000 employees would see their monthly premiums increase by 10 percent.

The governor also plans to require the purchase of more generic drugs in the state Medicaid program, and wants to cut Medicaid reimbursements to some hospitals and doctors for additional savings, according to administration officials familiar with the budget.

The early targets of Patrick's budget-cutting will be included when he files his budget proposal on Jan. 23, kicking off a monthslong debate in the Legislature that will highlight the governor's priorities as he enters his second year in office. The budget, for fiscal 2009, will take effect July 1.

The aspect likely to generate the most objection will be a plan to raise the monthly health premiums for 58,000 of 80,000 state employees and their families. The savings would be $51 million.

Right now, most employees pay 15 percent, and the state covers 85 percent. But under the governor's proposal, a three-tier system would be set up with a sliding scale based on annual salaries, according to a draft letter explaining the changes that was scheduled to go out to employees last night.

Employees making less than $35,000 would continue to contribute 15 percent; employees making $35,000 to $50,000 would pay 20 percent; and those making more than $50,000 would pay 25 percent.

For the 37,000 employees who would face the 10 percent increase, that would mean additional monthly costs of $51 for an individual plan and $120 for a family plan. About 21,000 employees would see the premiums increase by 5 percent, while 16,000 would see no change, and 6,000 employees would have a 5 percent reduction. That would be the case for employees who currently pay 20 percent but earn less than $35,000.

The new rate increases would not affect retirees and would bring state employees closer to what private employees pay for healthcare, according to administration officials.

"We will continue to be very aggressive when it comes to ensuring that our members have affordable, quality healthcare coverage," said Jim Durkin, spokesman for the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

He declined to comment further until union officials have seen the full details of the plan.

Larger savings would come from restructuring portions of Medicaid, which covers the poor and disabled and is split between state and federal governments. The governor's proposals would save the state $155 million by purchasing more generic prescription drugs and eliminating legislative earmarks that provide additional funding to healthcare providers. The officials would not disclose the details of those cuts. Patrick proposed several of the initiatives last year, but the Legislature removed them.

"This happens every single year," said John McDonough, executive director of the advocacy group Health Care For All. "They come up with these things. Some of them are real, some of them are fiction."

All told, the proposed Medicaid changes would reduce the level of spending by $303 million, but because the program is also supported by federal dollars, it would save the state about half of that, $155 million.

Under the healthcare overhaul package approved in 2006 by the Legislature, hospitals received large increases in Medicaid reimbursements. The hospitals, which have long argued that they are shortchanged under Medicaid, got boosts of $90 million last year and $180 million this year. They are scheduled to get $270 million next year.

"There was a commitment by all stakeholders involved to bring Medicaid rates closer to the actual costs of hospital care," said Rich Copp, spokesman for the Massachusetts Hospital Association. "Any kind of postponement or elimination of Medicaid rate adjustments I think hospitals would really view as state government reneging on their commitment to that part of the reform law."

Patrick also plans to restructure the sheriff's offices in seven counties. Those offices, which have 3,000 employees and are funded by counties through fees paid to the registry of deeds, would become part of the state's Executive Office of Public Safety. The maneuver would do little to boost the state's bottom line next year, but would save about $10 million annually for the counties where the sheriffs serve - Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Suffolk. It would also give the state control over the budgets, which could save money in future years.

In his proposed budget, Patrick is facing the choice of either trimming costs in politically sensitive areas - such as local aid and education - or raising revenue through politically unpopular avenues such as closing corporate tax loopholes.

"This is going to be a very difficult budget year where there are going to be no good and popular options," said Noah Berger, executive director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

Patrick last year proposed legislation that would have raised $500 million by closing so-called corporate tax loopholes and $78 million by ending a property tax exemption for telecommunications companies. He also proposed that cities and towns be allowed to boost their budgets by raising local meals and hotel taxes, which could have brought in more than $250 million. None of those were acted upon by the Legislature.

"The cost of inaction is too high," Patrick said Friday at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, which represents the state's 351 cities and towns. "We are proposing solutions. If our solutions are flawed, fix them. If our ideas are wrong, bring different ones."

The governor kept about one-fifth of the budget items at their current spending levels, according to administration officials.

Patrick is also weighing whether to include projected casino licensing revenues in his budget proposal, despite warnings from key legislators who say it would be unwise, given that the issue hasn't received a formal hearing, much less been approved by the Legislature.

State lawmakers and Patrick administration officials agreed last week that state revenues would grow to $20.987 billion next year, a 3.8 percent increase over this year. Rises in healthcare costs, which make up nearly half of the budget, will more than offset the revenue increases.

Matt Viser can be reached at


A Boston GLOBE EDITORIAL, January 13, 2008

"Better choices for the budget"

AS GOVERNOR Patrick prepares to release his second budget later this month, he and legislative leaders have agreed on revenue estimates that portend grim news for the state and its local governments. He has a duty to present an austere budget proposal, but he also ought to lay out more optimistic scenarios to show what would be possible if the Legislature were to authorize his proposals for more revenue to pay for essential governmental services.

The consensus revenue estimate for fiscal 2009, which begins July 1, is $21 billion, an impressive amount that would represent a $762 million increase over the current year. The state, however, has collective-bargaining, Medicaid, health reform, local aid, and debt-service commitments that will increase by at least $1.5 billion next year. Filling that gap, without starving parks, early-childhood education, public health, and other important programs, will be a huge challenge.

But the state does have reasonable, if controversial, options to avoid a crunch. Last year, for example, Patrick wanted to close corporate tax loopholes worth perhaps $300 million. The Legislature refused to go along. The governor should make clear just how beneficial the extra money would be. While Patrick's formal budget bill should be cautious, he should offer two alternative plans.

One would illustrate the benefits of closing the tax loopholes. An extra $300 million would go a long way. For example, it could provide early education for 30,000 additional 3- and 4-year-olds, offer $1,000 in property tax relief to 300,000 homeowners, or provide Commonwealth Care health coverage to 70,000 previously uninsured people.

Patrick should present a second alternative that reflects the fiscal benefits of his destination casino plan. The governor is already thinking of including money from this revenue source in his budget bill even though the Legislature is far from approving casino gambling in the state. In fact, Massachusetts could reap perhaps $800 million in upcoming years in casino licensing fees and continuing revenues subsequently. The governor would be unwise to assume the money is available without legislative approval, but he ought to show legislators just how much the state could do if the money were available.

Without new revenues, the governor and Legislature will be tempted to dip into the rainy day fund, which stands at $2.3 billion. A modest drawdown is appropriate. But most of the money ought to be reserved for a full-blown recession - a real possibility next year.

No matter what, next year's budget will not be overflowing with largesse. Yet it could better protect the healthcare, education, local aid, and other programs that make Massachusetts livable if the Legislature raised revenues to a sustainable figure.























"The Mis-Education of Deval Patrick: His election united the state in ways nobody had dreamed possible. Now, looking back on his first year, everybody is reminded that even outsiders have to come inside to play eventually"
By Charles P. Pierce, January 13, 2008

Once upon a time, Shrewsbury Street in Worcester was a long stretch of transplanted Italy, a vibrant warren of small bars, dark cafes, and an odd lot of butcher's shops, greengrocers, and restaurants owned by members of the Governor's Council. It was a place where you could place a bet in a lamp shop, or get the daily number with your six-pack of Narragansett Lager Beer. The largest businesses on the street were a couple of car dealerships and a low brick plant where they bottled Coca-Cola. Today, the bars and cafes that shared a building are merged into upscale steakhouses, and an old Cadillac dealership is a nouveau-Worcester bistro with a dining room the size of an aircraft hangar and a bar so thickly festooned with television screens that it looks like the war room at NORAD.

Deval Patrick, the governor of the Commonwealth for almost an entire year, has come to Worcester this night to raise money for the local state senator, a man named Ed Augustus. There's a bounce to Patrick as he works the crowd, which envelops him the way the crowds always used to envelop him on the campaign trail, the way the crowd looked when he was inaugurated in front of the State House in January. The faces shining, the eyes upraised. The energy of that improbable campaign, out in the world, away from The Building, is still alive. This virulently contagious optimist would be exactly the guy to elect as our next governor, except that we already did that. And now he is the governor, and the heedless optimism of the campaign seems less drained than outdated, as overtaken by events as the old poulterers and gin mills have been overtaken by all the chrome-and-glass promise of the new Shrewsbury Street. It's as hard to locate the optimism as it is to remember where the lamp shop was where you could get something down on the ponies. You have to know where to look for it. Against considerable odds, he still seems to know.

"It's a funny question, because it's like people are asking you what your legacy is before you really have a legacy," Patrick says in the car on the way out to Worcester. "I feel like I'm a better governor now than I was six months ago. And I think I'll be a better governor in six months than I am now. I've stopped worrying about what I said at the outset - trying to build my legacy before it is built."

It is not unfair to say that Deval Patrick ran for governor as an idea as much as he ran as a human politician. A vibrant liberal base found itself willing to ignore his long record on a variety of corporate boards because he talked so sincerely about "civic engagement." Many people - black and white - invested a great deal in the idea of the state's first African-American governor, even though Patrick himself spent a career in and out of government resisting anything he thought smacked of tokenism or threatened to make of him a symbol for anything except his own competence. All of this explains why, over the first year of his term, the actual Governor Deval Patrick has been struggling hardest against everyone else's idea of Governor Deval Patrick.

"I'm an English major," Patrick says with a laugh, "so I have an aversion to cliches. All through the campaign - forget the campaign, all through my life - people have been trying to wedge me into a box. And I don't fit into a box. What I want to do is just get the job done, and sometimes we're going to have to do deals and negotiate, and sometimes we're going to have to stand on principle and fight to the death. We're trying to choose those battles."

Because of the nature of the campaign he ran. Patrick has spent his entire first year walking a thin line between two cliches of the established political narrative. There is the reformer who spends all of his time at loggerheads with the culture of The Building, watching his cherished proposals vanish in the Legislature like a bowling ball dropped into a vat of oatmeal. And then there is the reformer who "sells out" to the established power against which he ran, thereby disillusioning the primary base of his support. In the context of the first narrative, he was criticized for trying to do too much. In the context of the second, he was criticized for not having done enough. Insider governors don't have these problems. Only people from outside The Building do.

HIS SUCCESS WAS sudden and unexpected: A black man with no experience in Massachusetts politics wrenched the Democratic nomination away from Tom Reilly, as clearly an Establishment Democrat as anyone ever was, and then beat the incumbent Republican lieutenant governor, ending a 16-year run for the GOP in the governor's office. Patrick's campaign unnerved people inside The Building, as well as some outside The Building whom the people inside The Building talked to regularly. The energy of the campaign placed upon the new governor an acceleration of expectations just as that energy was colliding with the fundamental inertia of representative democracy, and out of that collision was fashioned an unusually febrile first year.

"The question always has been whether he can take that base from the campaign and turn it into new policy," says Steve Crosby, the former chief of staff to Acting Governor Jane Swift and the dean of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at UMass-Boston. "That's a profoundly important question, and he's still in that learning curve of how to translate initiatives into new policies and how to work with the Legislature, and that's a dance that most people never learn." Patrick began his first year with an unfortunate tin ear for the politics of perception. Patrick was roasted for leasing a luxury automobile for $1,100 a month, for hiring a $72,000-a-year assistant for his wife, and for expensively redecorating the governor's office. For almost a month, he found himself hanging higher than his expensive drapes did. He was testy and short with the media, and his staff full of rookies seemed unable to save him from his own mistakes. He's still a bit stiff-necked about it.

"I think some of that is about not feeding the beast," Patrick muses. "I don't mean to trivialize something that some people don't think is trivial. I tried to stay focused. There was a lot of stuff in the news that nobody wanted to have in the news."

Then, in a truly clumsy move - a mistake even he admits "wasn't trivial" - he called a bank that did significant business with the state on behalf of Ameriquest, a controversial mortgage company. There are politicians who could have survived all of these things. But because changing what he relentlessly referred to on the stump as the "Big Dig culture" on Beacon Hill was so central to the energy that had elected him, Patrick found these things biting deep.

He was tangled up in all of this just as his wife, Diane, was going public about her battle with depression and just as he was experiencing his first collision with the Legislature. Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi pounded him over his attempts to close corporate-tax loopholes, and Patrick looked outmaneuvered. By the summer, though, things had turned around. Patrick had decapitated his personal staff, dismissing several veterans of his campaign and installing in their place some Beacon Hill veterans. There were the beginnings of real relationships with the legislative leadership. In June, he and the leadership worked together to defeat an attempt to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, a victory that probably took that volatile issue off the table for good. In July, the state budget that finally passed contained a number of Patrick items that had seemed seriously endangered when he'd presented his first proposed budget to a skeptical Legislature several months earlier. He appeared to have recaptured his momentum.

He lives within the unusually accelerated expectations that his campaign created and that have survived its success. In October, as Boston erupted in gun violence, Patrick was criticized for being insufficiently involved in the problems of the city's black community. The parents of 13-year-old Steven Odom, who was shot and killed in Dorchester, called a press conference specifically to get Patrick's attention. He met with the Odom family shortly thereafter, and he still sounds shaken by the experience.

Steven's mother, Kim Odom, said, "'You know, I never meant to call you out,'" Patrick recalls. "And I said, 'Mrs. Odom, that's the grief talking, and grief gets to say what it wants to say.' But secondly, you're supposed to make a claim on your government, and that was the point of the campaign."

In every sense, personal and political, he will be haunted by the doppelganger of the candidate he was. He will never be an ordinary governor. Because of this, his agenda continues to be ambitious - from an education-reform program to a $1 billion proposed investment in the life sciences. In late summer, he came out with the loudest and noisiest project of all. Patrick proposed the establishment of four resort casinos in the state, a fundamentally transformative proposal for which he seemed the most unlikely of advocates. Whatever was being discussed in The Building now, it was originating, again, in the Corner Office.

"He has made the dominant question on Beacon Hill what new revenue sources there will be," explains Crosby of UMass. "Not whether they'll be new revenue sources, but which ones. That is a colossal paradigm change up there. He's put on the table a huge set of very big issues, and all of those are going to be dominating conversation within various constituent groups. It's an extraordinarily ambitious agenda."

This runs counter to the conventional wisdom that Patrick would have been better off focusing on one big issue on which he could concentrate his efforts in order to get a victory to hang on his wall. It is fundamental to his evolving relationship with the Legislature that Patrick doesn't think in those terms. "We don't have the luxury of leisure," he says. "We don't have the time, and that's not just me being impatient. There's a market out there. There's a globalized interaction happening in every one of these fields, and either we're going to play or we're not. We are not trying to lead in everything, but the fact is that if we actually want to move Massachusetts forward, we're going to have to perform brilliantly on several fronts at the same time.

"There are very capable, informed members of the Legislature on each of these points, and on others. Structurally, it's hard for people to move things. I will say that, one of the bigger surprises of the job for me is the number of conversations I witness among the leadership, and I use that term broadly, about how not to bring things forward, for fear that other members' legislative initiatives will be amended to them."

He continues: "So, I mean, there is all this effort to avoid bringing issues to the floor for debate. Now that's part of what's structurally challenging about the House and the Senate, I think. But, you know, we can't say, 'OK, the first term is all about affordable housing stock,' and not deal with how you get to and from that stock - transportation. Or what the impact on the local school system and school finance will be. It's connected. And that doesn't mean we have to pass every proposal we make the way it went in all of the time. But we do have to start raising consciousness about the interconnectedness of these issues. Or, otherwise, we're just not going to keep up.

"You know, the Commonwealth is out of practice. This is not just the Legislature. It's the media's ability to distill all that at a time when they're under stress in terms of resources. It's the public's ability to absorb the interconnectedness of all this when their lives are more crowded than they ever were. The Legislature is quite capable of doing more than one thing at a time."

It all comes back to The Building, with time running as quickly as the clouds across the winter moon. Everything seems now to be a fight against an obsolescence that can come too swiftly and too soon.

THERE ARE TWO things you have to know about The Building. First, it's a wreck. The dome atop it may gleam golden in the sun, but the Massachusetts State House remains one of the oldest continuously operated government building in the United States. John Hancock is buried on the lawn, and he's likely in better shape than The Building is. The ceilings leak. The plumbing's balky. The electrical system is vague and occasionally little more than a rumor. The other thing to know about The Building is that nobody ever wants to leave it.

State legislators elsewhere meet for a week or two a year and then vanish back into their real lives as actuaries and feed salesmen. Here, nobody ever really goes home. Within the Massachusetts State House, there is a permanent culture of politics. When people on Beacon Hill talk about The Building it is as much a concept as it is the aging, tattered corral full of free-range rodents, four-footed and otherwise. The Building is something that does nothing better than that it survives.

Four of the last five elected governors - Michael Dukakis, William Weld, Mitt Romney, and Deval Patrick - were elected at least in part because they came from outside the permanent culture of The Building. In all of their campaigns, but especially in Patrick's underdog run, they ran their campaigns less against corruption than they did against stasis. The corruption was always a subtext, a byproduct of the sense that The Building's culture was stagnant and unproductive. None of them, but particularly not Patrick, ran as classic "reformers," the way that Attorney General Eliot Spitzer ran for governor of New York in the same election cycle that produced Patrick. Spitzer actually had prosecuted members of the New York Legislature. Patrick ran less against a culture that was crooked than he did against a culture that was lazy.

"I was in the Legislature for eight years," says Dukakis, now a professor of political science at Northeastern. "I should have known better, right?" Instead, Dukakis ruffled so many feathers that he was abandoned by liberal and conservative Democrats and was beaten in the 1978 primary by Ed King, whom Dukakis came back to beat in 1982, wiser and tougher than he'd been before.

"Deval's got to learn like the rest of us did," Dukakis says. "The problem with rookie governors, especially rookie outsider governors, is that they set very lofty goals. They want to get a lot of things done. It was much better for me the second time around for reasons that had to do with the fact that I had learned some things. I was just so much better at reaching out and bringing people into the process, working with them and so forth. And I had to learn that the hard way. Here is Deval, now, who's an outsider, and he's running from the outside, and then, OK, all of a sudden, here you are. How do you maintain that edge, in the best sense of the word, that got you there in the first place, while working with a very interesting group of people who, by the way, on the whole are damn good?"

As Patrick stumbled through his first few months in office, tripping over his car and entangling himself in his drapes, Joe Landolfi watched it happen from his post in the governor's office of administration and finance. Landolfi is a lifer in The Building. He came into government with Dukakis and stayed on through Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci. "Clearly," Landolfi says, "there were some missteps in the beginning. Taken individually, none of it was very significant, but they started to snowball."

The governor recognized the need for some experienced folks who could navigate in The Building, handling the media and so forth. Doug Rubin, the senior strategist of Patrick's campaign, was installed as the new chief of staff, and Landolfi was brought in to coordinate the message. In essence, Landolfi was appointed to be Patrick's ambassador to The Building. It is not an accident that Patrick's image, and the perception of his performance, turned around almost immediately. Landolfi was one of their own.

The shake-up came as the administration was confronting problems that were more serious than anyone had anticipated. There was a huge gap in revenues. Moreover, Mitt Romney essentially had checked out of his job two years before he'd left the Corner Office. The powers of the governor vis-a-vis the Legislature largely had atrophied. In most states, that confrontation would be more partisan than institutional. However, given the near-monopoly control of the Democratic Party in the Massachusetts Legislature, the first Democratic governor in 16 years found himself ensnared in a perfect paradox of a civics lesson. This was a pure contest between the branches of government, each asserting its own check on the other, unalloyed by partisan rancor. James Madison would have been proud.

"Here you had the first Democratic governor in 16 years after a historic election, the first African-American elected governor, his popularity in the 60s," says Bradley Jones, the minority leader of the House, who watched as powerful Democrats butted heads. "There was no reason why the honeymoon shouldn't have gone on and been more challenging for the (legislative leadership). And I think there were misjudgments and missteps that made the governor a mere mortal politician. It brought him back to earth, and it cut the honeymoon short."

Patrick's primary antagonist was Sal DiMasi, a veteran legislator from Boston who'd come into office as a reformist ally of Dukakis when the latter returned to the governorship in 1983. The House speaker carefully guarded the Legislature's institutional prerogatives against what he perceived to be an overly enthusiastic rookie governor, even though he and Patrick were of the same party. "I think what you had," DiMasi says, "was a lack of understanding of what the Legislature does. It's a new skill, and they don't understand it."

It was DiMasi who handed Patrick his first major defeat, rejecting a proposal to close corporate-tax loopholes that had been central to the governor's campaign. Moreover, the ambition of the administration's legislative agenda caused DiMasi to dig in his heels. Since the shake-up on the governor's staff, the relationship between Patrick and the speaker has thawed. They came together to help defeat the anti-gay-marriage amendment and to move an energy package. Just before the first of the year, the administration touted a deal it had struck that would ensure that the $1 billion life-sciences package would be acted upon by February. In other words, it was something of a victory for a Democratic governor that a Democratic speaker of an overwhelmingly Democratic House of Representatives would bring one of the governor's key programs to a committee. He no longer looked like the frustrated outsider, railing against the inertial power of The Building. However, in the fall, he and DiMasi clashed again on an issue that threatens to put Patrick squarely in the middle of another huge, noisy issue, flashing neon, on which he has gambled the very forces that made him governor. He risks being accused of selling out, one chip at a time.

DAVID KRAVITZ IS a lawyer and an opera singer from Medford. Shortly after the 2004 elections, Kravitz and his friends started Blue Mass. Group, a political blog aimed at making then-incumbent Governor Mitt Romney's reelection as unpleasant as possible. But Romney had bigger plans, and in April of 2005, Kravitz went to hear Deval Patrick speak before a corporal's guard in a local library. Kravitz was intrigued. "We started following him as best we could," he says. Patrick's campaign was well suited to the emerging dynamic of politics on the Internet. Its workers were young and cyber-literate, and a lot of Internet politics prides itself on the same kind of outsider panache that was central to Patrick's campaign. By July, Blue Mass. Group was participating in a conference call with a candidate who was only then truly gaining momentum. The success of Kravitz's blog was tied to the success of the Patrick campaign.

Consequently, this September, when Patrick announced his proposal to build three resort casinos in Massachusetts, Kravitz was uniquely sensitive to the dissonance present when this particular governor got behind this particular issue. "The reaction we got was overwhelmingly negative," Kravitz says. "The folks who were with him early on and worked hard for him are just really opposed to casinos. They had the 'bad numbers' [of Patrick's sunny casino-revenues estimates] objection. They had the unfair-regressive-tax objection. A lot of people just didn't think this was a good way to underwrite serious economic expansion. A lot of people were surprised, and unpleasantly so."

It is this issue on which the reality of Governor Deval Patrick clashes most garishly with the idea of Governor Deval Patrick.

Patrick admits that casinos were not even on his radar during the campaign. But the federal recognition of the Mashpee Wampanoags forced his hand. Casinos seemed to be coming to Massachusetts one way or the other. The governor explains: "I said, 'OK, fine. End of the summer.' And that turned into my homework for the summer, and I went through it. I will tell you honestly, I didn't expect to land where I landed. When I started looking at the data, I really began to think about it differently."

Patrick has insisted that casinos are simply a matter of revenues and of jobs. His proposal argues that the casinos would generate $2 billion worth of economic activity and that part of that would be somewhere near $400 million for property tax relief and for the state's crumbling infrastructure, including, perhaps, the State House. He says that the casinos would create 20,000 permanent jobs. Ultimately, his administration argues, the state is in such perilous fiscal shape it can't afford to turn up its blue nose at any economic engine it can muster. He is not alone in that regard. When Steve Crosby was secretary of administration and finance for Jane Swift, he began by opposing casino gambling.

"I changed my mind for the reasons he did," Crosby says today. "I mean, I loved it on fiscal grounds. The people who would run the casinos were so anxious to do it that they'd put almost any amount of money on the table. But it just didn't feel right to me. It's an incredibly regressive tax. It's no way to fund public services, and it's a crappy way to raise money. But, then, so is the lottery. Who are we to be holier-than-thou-ing-it about casino gambling when we have the regressive lottery? Who are you taxing there?"

The one thing that both Patrick and the opponents of casinos in the Legislature agree on is that "the media" are almost guaranteed to make so much out of the casino proposal that Patrick's other policy initiatives get drowned out by the din of the slot machines. "It counts as a big initiative," Crosby explains, "because if he had not pushed it, it wouldn't have had a snowball's chance in hell. It was dominating conversation before the bill was even filed. It's an unfortunate issue in that sense. Because it is a huge cultural change, and, as such, it will suck up all the oxygen in the room."

If Patrick insists on pushing casinos merely as vehicles for economic development, he runs the risk of a very noisy failure inside The Building that will not be cushioned outside The Building by the formidable base he maintains from the campaign. Talking about them purely as an economic engine, and insisting they are, he sounds breathtakingly naive to people inside The Building and unacceptably arrogant to those outside. Casinos are not a life-sciences package or an education proposal. They would be a massively transformative cultural event in the history of the Commonwealth. They touch on every serious issue from state finances to traffic control to public health. They are far from business as usual.

THE TRIP TO Worcester ends in a banquet hall built on the grounds of what used to be a state mental hospital. It is the annual meeting of the Worcester Economic Club, a crowd that on a chilly evening looks very much like a meeting of the Kiwanis, except less spontaneously rowdy. Patrick is talking about the trip to China on which he will leave early the next morning. For all the talk in the campaign about Together-We-Can and the derision by some of his "moonbat" armies, this is where he seems the most comfortable, here with small gatherings of the corporate class, trying to persuade them that civic engagement is for them, too. There is in his appeal a kind of optimism, still. Even when he talks about casinos, which are nothing more than places where some people go to take other people's money, it may be what keeps him from falling into one of those two political narratives within which he could become paralyzed by cliches. It's what has kept him moving forward through an interesting first year, inside The Building and out. "We have been coasting a long time," he'd said earlier, in the car on the way to Worcester. "It is incumbent on all our leaders at all levels to make that claim for service and sacrifice, and to show what it means if we don't.

"That's not a paean for any particular program or initiative. But it does mean we've got to ask people: 'Look around. Consider where you are and where your neighbor is and where you wish you were and who we are as a society.'"

And the first year ends, in every way, with a gamble. The one we took on him. And the one he took on us.

Charles P. Pierce is a Globe Magazine staff writer. E-mail him at


"Patrick may hike school spending by $368m"
By Matt Viser, (Boston) Globe Staff, January 15, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick plans to unveil a budget next week that would increase spending on education by $368 million, the largest targeted increase in the proposal, according to administration officials familiar with the budget.

Despite the $1.3 billion gap in a roughly $28 billion budget, Patrick is seeking to make education his administration's top priority by making several targeted investments. His plan, which makes education advocates giddy and budget observers question whether it can be done, would include an additional $223 million for local communities to use for education, a 6 percent increase over this year, as part of the overall increase.

His proposal will also call for:

Doubling for the second year in a row the amount spent on extended school day programs, to $26 million.

Spending $15 million more to fund an additional 892 prekindergarten classrooms and $8 million to help 440 of the state's half-day kindergarten classrooms expand to a full day.

Spending another $2 million on tutoring students with low MCAS test scores, $4.5 million on helping underperforming schools, and $1.5 million more for the Metco program.

"It's very encouraging," said Paul Reville, president of the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, whom Patrick in August appointed chairman of the state Board of Education. "This is a budget we can work with in the education sector."

The bulk of the spending increases would go toward early education, and elementary, middle, and high schools. The budget for higher education will increase by $34 million, most of which would fund previously approved collective bargaining agreements.

The proposals will be included when the governor files his budget proposal on Jan. 23, kicking off a monthslong debate in the Legislature. The budget, for fiscal 2009, will take effect July 1.

"Under the very difficult circumstances, this represents a significant commitment on the state's part," said Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "But there's an important caveat here: How are they going to pay for it, given the state's fiscal realities? It's not clear to me how the state can make that investment without cuts in other programs."

The state is facing a $1.3 billion budget deficit, which will force Patrick to either make cuts in other areas or find new sources of revenue. He is weighing whether to include in his budget proposals the closing of so-called corporate tax loopholes, which could bring in up to $500 million, and up to $800 million in projected casino licensing revenues.

Both ideas are deeply unpopular among legislators.

The Globe reported Sunday that Patrick is also planning to propose increasing health insurance premiums for 58,000 state employees, which would save $51 million. He also wants to implement changes in Medicaid that would save the state $155 million

In his budget proposal last year, Patrick included a $200 million boost in so-called Chapter 70 funds, which the state provides to local communities as one of their main sources for public education funding. The Legislature later increased that to $220 million, and the state gave out $3.7 billion statewide.

Patrick this year is proposing $223 million, a figure that could increase if the financial picture improves.

"On one hand, it's not nearly enough," said Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, which plans to lobby the Legislature for more money. "But on the other hand, there is a limited amount of dollars and a reluctance to raise revenues. We have to take some gratitude that we're not taking a cut."

Patrick has increasingly highlighted education reform as a priority for his administration, boosting funding on things like early childhood education and expanding the school day.

"Unless the state catalyzes it, these are not things that are going ot happen on their own," said Chris Gabrieli, chairman of Massachusetts 2020, an educational nonprofit that worked with the state Department of Education on extended schoolday initiatives, which add time for things like music, exercise, and community service. "The governor is saying and the Legislature has been saying that there has to be some room in budgets for new things that make a difference. We can't say the status quo is sufficient."

Patrick also launched the Commonwealth Readiness Project, in which 200 business and community leaders are developing a 10-year strategy that is expected to be unveiled this spring.

He also filed legislation last week to establish an Executive Office of Education, which would include a Cabinet-level secretary to coordinate policies across early childhood education, elementary and secondary schools, and college.

That new structure will be included in his budget proposal, but administration officials declined to say how much the new bureaucracy would cost.

A forthcoming report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a Boston think tank, estimates that implementing all of Patrick's long-term education proposals would require the state to annually invest between $969 million and $2.4 billion.

The report, which is the first formal cost projection of Patrick's long-term plans, calculated that providing universal early education and care would cost between $458 million and $693 million in additional state funding; free community college education would cost between $125 million and $543 million; universal full-day kindergarten would cost between $46 million and $130 million; and a longer school day would cost between $301 million and $616 million.

The report pointed out that estimates are imprecise because the administration has not released details of the plan. It also said Massachusetts spends proportionately less on education than most states.

Peter Schworm of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Matt Viser can be reached at


"Patrick to seek tax cut for firms: Budget proposal offers trim while closing 'loopholes'"
By Matt Viser, (Boston) Globe Staff, January 17, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick will propose a gradual reduction in the state's corporate tax rate from 9.5 percent to 8.3 percent when he unveils his budget next week, a bid to win business support and jumpstart his stalled plan to tighten what he calls corporate tax loopholes, administration sources said.

The plan is an olive branch of sorts that Patrick is hoping will help revive a cornerstone of his legislative agenda that has failed to move in the face of strong opposition from the business community and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi.

In a further bid to win corporate support, Patrick may also propose a freeze on an increase in unemployment insurance rates that is due to take effect in March, the sources said.

Patrick will unveil the budget provisions this morning at a Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

The compromise may not be enough to win over business leaders. While the corporate tax codes would be tightened in January 2009, Patrick wants to delay his corporate tax rate reduction until 2010, and it would be phased in over three years.

Closing what the governor describes as loopholes would generate $297 million in the next fiscal year and $490 million a year after that.

But that would be offset by about $210 million a year in lost revenue, once the tax rate reductions for businesses took full effect. The net increase in new taxes for the state would be $280 million.

Some Patrick allies in the Legislature applauded the move. But other lawmakers have urged deeper corporate rate cuts, to as low as 5.3 percent, the same as the state's personal income tax.

One business leader said Patrick's plan does not offer enough relief.

"This isn't any meaningful reduction," Paul Guzzi, president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday. "We need to do things that are pro-competitive. In our view, this package doesn't fall under that category."

For years, governors in Massachusetts have sought to tighten corporate tax rules as a way of providing a financial boost to the state during tough financial times.

During his first year in office in 2007, Patrick tried to generate new revenue of $500 million per year by preventing corporations from declaring some profits in other states and by making sure that companies used the same filing status on both state and federal tax forms.

The plan was hotly opposed by the business community, and DiMasi and other lawmakers also objected, contending that it would send the wrong message about the determination by political leaders in Massachusetts, which has the fourth highest corporate tax rate in the country, to become more business friendly.

Patrick and legislative leaders formed a special tax study commission that last month urged that the tax law be made more restrictive, but only if corporate taxes are reduced.

Several legislators and business leaders said yesterday that the size of Patrick's proposed corporate tax changes make the proposal unpalatable.

"That is not a substantial reduction," said Representative John Binienda, House chairman of the Joint Committee on Revenue. "As I've often said, you're better off to build jobs, build economic development than to try, and chop it off to the knees."

DiMasi declined to comment last night.

Administration officials also say they are considering freezing the state's unemployment insurance rates, a maneuver that would not affect the state budget but would save businesses about $150 million annually. It is also likely to anger labor unions, who have fought for an increase that is scheduled to take effect in March.

Revenues from tax code tightening in the first year would be about $297 million, short of the $490 million a year, because it would take effect halfway through the fiscal year, on Jan. 1, 2009, according to administration officials.

Patrick officials said the money would not be earmarked for any spending items, but would be used to help offset a $1.3 billion gap in his upcoming budget proposal, which totals about $28 billion.

The Globe has previously reported that Patrick is planning to increase health insurance premiums for state employees and implement changes in Medicaid that would save more than $200 million. But he is also planning to increase spending on education by $368 million.

He is still weighing whether to include in his budget proposals up to $800 million in projected casino licensing revenue.

Closing the loopholes would target the largest businesses, say administration officials, who estimate that 2,000 to 3,000 businesses would pay more in taxes as a result.

The corporate tax rate reductions would be phased in over the next four years: In 2010, they would pay 9.1 percent; in 2011, they would pay 8.7 percent; and in 2012 they would pay 8.3 percent. Each year the tax rate is reduced, businesses would save another $70 million for each incremental decline, and between 15,000 and 20,000 businesses would see a reduction, the administration estimates.

Some applauded the governor's proposal. "We are in a year where it's clear there's no easy way to solve the budget crisis," said Noah Berger, executive director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. "And the idea that we continue to leave open half a billion dollars in corporate loopholes when there's a danger of cutting education or local aid or healthcare is increasingly difficult to defend."

"There's a lot of support," said Representative James Eldridge, Democrat of Acton. "It's an election year, and there's a fair amount of legislators that will support [closing] the loopholes as a way of raising revenues."

Matt Viser can be reached at

His plan would increase the number of rangers at state parks by 50 percent, from 21 to 31, and restore staff at a number of visitors centers at urban heritage parks, officials said.

"Patrick to seek $100.6m to manage state parks, forests, beaches: Budget would boost spending 8.3 percent over current year"
By Peter J. Howe, (Boston) Globe Staff, January 18, 2008

Even as officials cut and scrimp to close a billion-dollar budget shortfall, Governor Deval Patrick will seek an 8.3 percent funding boost for the long-neglected state Department of Conservation and Recreation to increase staff and revitalize the 450,000 acres of state parks, forests, and beaches.

Senior administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said yesterday Patrick will seek a $100.6 million overall budget for the agency. After subtracting funds that pass through the agency for projects such as local environmental cleanups, that would represent an 8.3 percent increase in funding for core department operations and a 19.6 percent increase since Patrick took office.

Besides a previously announced new team of 60 maintenance workers and supervisors set to go to work this summer to improve ocean and fresh-water beaches, the new funding would increase the number of rangers in state parks by nearly 50 percent, from 21 to 31.

Those figures don't count rangers assigned exclusively to the State House and the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs.

The increased funds Patrick seeks would also restore staff at visitors centers in several urban heritage parks around the state and pay for two new full-time, year-round crews of arborists focused on caring for the 10,000 trees that line parkways and parks in metropolitan Boston.

Overall, if approved by the House and Senate, Patrick's plan would increase staff at the department by 100 people, to just under 1,200, compared to the day he took office in January 2007.

Frank Gorke - director of Environment Massachusetts, a group that has pushed to improve state parks - said advocates were thrilled by Patrick's move.

"Our parks sorely need the help, as anyone who visits these places can tell you," Gorke said. "This kind of reinvestment is exactly what we need to get back on track to a world-class park system. This governor is making clear he's serious about restoring our parks."

Patrick vowed on the campaign trail to make revitalizing the state's parks, forests, and beaches a priority for his administration. In 2003, Governor Mitt Romney persuaded the Legislature to combine the Metropolitan District Commission and the Department of Environmental Management into a new Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Romney promised the merger would save millions of dollars in overhead costs that could fund "a world-class park system" for the state.

But as he moved to close a large budget gap in 2004, Romney slashed department spending, and legislators - annoyed by what they called an unresponsive, ineffectual Romney team at the agency - refused to restore funds.

By the middle of this decade, studies showed Massachusetts ranked 48th among the 50 states in spending per capita on parks.


"Patrick pushes his agenda early"
By Matt Murphy, (Berkshire) Eagle Boston Bureau
Friday, January 18, 2008

BOSTON — Gov. Deval L. Patrick, now with less than a week until he unveils his second budget, has taken several steps recently to advance an agenda that could force a showdown between the sophomore governor and an often independent-minded Legislature.

The flurry of announcements from Patrick has been interpreted by some on Beacon Hill as an attempt by the governor to demonstrate to the public that he is trying to make good on campaign promises, even if the Legislature has been slow to act on many of his proposals.

Since turning over the calendar to a new year, Patrick has floated a dramatic restructuring of the state's education hierarchy and significant reforms to laws governing criminal records information.

More recently, a steady trickle of details about next week's budget proposal has been seeping from his office, including a call to increase education spending by $368 million.

Although it is not unusual for a governor to highlight priorities of his budget in advance, Patrick appears to be setting the foundation for a strong push to advance some of his less popular agenda items.

Some of the tougher budget calls, including increasing health insurance premiums for 58,000 state employees and closing a number of "unintended" corporate tax loopholes, also have been made public in advance of the budget.

He has done all this while painting a bleak financial picture for next year, when serious decisions about spending and revenue sources will have be made by his office and the Legislature in light of a $1.3 billion spending deficit.

"I think he's trying to pressure us into doing something with casino gambling," said state Rep. Kevin Murphy, a Lowell Democrat and chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education.

The governor's plan, which calls for three casinos in Massachusetts, could generate up to $800 million in new licensing revenue for the state. The governor has been weighing the possible casino revenue in his budget, although the idea is deeply unpopular with legislators.

Closing corporate tax loopholes also has been a lightning rod for lawmakers, who, despite receiving a positive report from the commission charged with studying the tax code, view the "loophole" closings as a new tax on business at a time when the state needs to encourage business growth and job creation.

Patrick intends to file the corporate tax change legislation along with his budget, generating a projected $297 million next year and $490 million the year after. As a compromise, he also will ask for a modest decrease in the corporate tax rate, from 9.5 percent to 8.3 percent, to be phased in over three years starting in 2010.

"The governor has put forth an ambitious agenda intended to make lasting and meaningful changes in the lives of the people of the commonwealth, and he continues to look forward to working with legislators in a cooperative manner to see that through," said Kyle Sullivan, a Patrick spokesman.

House Minority Leader Brad Jones, R-North Reading, called the governor's tax proposal "laughable."

"He wants to pass a plan that sucker-punches the economy when it's already staggering, and he offers crumbs back in return," he said.

Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, said he does not believe that Patrick is trying to strong-arm the Legislature.

"I think the governor, as any governor would, is making a case for his priorities. But the governor is mistaken if he thinks we don't hear from the same people, the same constituents with the same needs, that he does. He isn't the only one who got elected, and we all have priorities we need to address," Downing said.

Still, Downing believes that what often gets lost in the discussion is the 80 percent to 90 percent of public policy on which the Legislature and administration agree.

"As much as the governor might be frustrated sometimes, I think he understands the only way we get things done is when we work together," Downing said.

New education commish hired
By Hillary Chabot, Eagle Boston Bureau
Friday, January 18, 2008

BOSTON — The Board of Education unanimously tapped Ohio Assistant Superintendent Mitchell Chester to become the next commissioner of education yesterday, saying his broad experience and passion to advance education in Massachusetts put him over the top.

Chester beat out Lowell Superintendent Karla Brooks Baehr, the only in-state candidate, and Wallace Foundation Education Director Richard Laine. The decision brings the five-month process to replace former Commissioner David Driscoll to a close during a pivotal time for education in Massachusetts, said Board of Education Chairman Paul Reville.

"The fact that he said he's not coming to manage the status quo is important to me," Reville said. "He has shown me that he has the leadership capacity to take this to the next step." Chester, 55, worked as a teacher and administrator in Connecticut for nearly 20 years before he went to work in Ohio. He plans on tackling two main issues as soon as he starts, which could be in a few months.

"There is no question Massachusetts is capable of closing the achievement gap," Chester said. "The second is to make sure that a high school education ensures every student is prepared for opportunities ahead."

The last out-of-state candidate selected to become education commissioner was Harold Raynolds Jr., who worked in Alaska before coming to Massachusetts in the early 1980s.

Chester's appointment was met with applause from one county education official.

"I think it's good for us to fill that position," said Marianne Young, superintendent of Lenox Public Schools. "I'm excited to see what a new commissioner will bring."

As the only in-state candidate, Baehr was focused on her next step.

"I wish I had had the opportunity to serve as commissioner, but the board has chosen someone with really solid policy and national experience. I've contacted Mitch to congratulate him and pledge my support," she said, adding she will not stay on as superintendent in Lowell. "I look forward to the opportunity to explore other options."

Chester joins the department during a time of upheaval. Many education officials feel that the 15-year-old education reform plan needs freshening, and Gov. Deval L. Patrick has filed legislation that will weaken the commissioner's position and create an education secretary overseeing early education, higher education, and elementary and secondary education.

"It's not going to be easy," said Sen. Robert Antonioni, D-Leominster, co-chairman of the legislative committee on education.

He pointed to changes on the horizon, including the way schools receive state funding.

The unanimous vote from the board members bodes well for Chester, Reville said.

Chester managed to please both Ruth Kaplan, who has been critical of MCAS, and Sandra Stotsky, who supports teacher accountability. He also touched many on the board when he mentioned his personal experiences helping his 10-year-old adopted son with special needs.

Chester's ability to work professionally with all people in education also impressed members.

"There is a quote on his application which I think says it all," said Ann Reale, board member and head of the Early Education Department. "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go forward, go together."

Eagle reporter Jenn Smith contributed to this story.


Deval Patrick unveiled his budget yesterday. The plan relies on casino licensing money and closing corporate tax loopholes. (JONATHAN WIGGS/GLOBE STAFF)

"Governor files $28.2b budget plan: Proposal may face resistance in House"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, January 24, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick filed a $28.2 billion budget yesterday that avoids major cuts while directly challenging the Legislature to adopt his most controversial ideas for raising new money. His proposal sets up the possibility of a lengthy debate that will further test his strained relationship with the House leadership.

To plug a $1.3 billion budget gap created mostly by rising healthcare costs and declining revenues, the governor has tied together a patchwork of proposals. His budget relies heavily on politically contentious plans to raise $124 million in casino licensing money and $297 million by tightening what he calls corporate tax loopholes, proposals that fared poorly on Beacon Hill last year.

In a budget that increases 5 percent over this year, the governor also wants to use $370 million from the state's rainy day fund and would raise $166 million by increasing enforcement on tobacco taxes and increasing penalties on tax delinquents.

At the same time, Patrick included nearly $500 million in new spending, arguing that the state cannot abandon its goals of improving education, public safety, and the environment. He wants to add nearly 900 prekindergarten classrooms, expand full-day kindergarten, and provide $13 million for extended school day programs. He also wants to add 100 new police officers, reduce homelessness, and clean up state parks.

The plan highlights the governor's priorities as he enters his second year in office, but he is facing hurdles like those he dealt with last year. Patrick, who was elected on a platform of making broad changes, has faced fiscal constraints that have made it difficult to achieve the ambitious agenda that helped gain his 2006 campaign victory.

"Sometime around here, we are going to have to focus on the cost of inaction," Patrick said yesterday, his voice showing exasperation after taking questions on the political struggles his budget faces. "Let's get on with it."

Over the next several months, the House will debate the fiscal 2009 budget. The Senate will follow House deliberations, and then there will be compromises among the different plans before the budget takes effect July 1.

"We have put our ideas on the table," Patrick said. "It takes three of us to do this tango, and we look forward to dancing this tango with the Legislature in the months to come."

Local officials hailed the budget proposal for providing much-needed revenue for education and public safety. But amid the worst fiscal crisis the state has seen in at least five years - and with increasingly ominous warning signs in the national economy - budget observers say it may be unwise to focus on new revenue sources like casinos and bigger corporate tax collections that may not be adopted in time for the next fiscal year.

"The governor has every right to propose ideas, but he does have to make sure the Legislature has enough information and time to make a wise decision," said Noah Berger, executive director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

The Legislature has yet to pass Patrick's plan to license three casinos across the state, which he says would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in up-front licensing fees and then annual revenues as a share of gaming proceeds. It also has balked at his proposal to tighten corporate tax rules to prevent businesses from declaring profits out of state and filing state and federal taxes using different filing status, two common corporate tax maneuvers.

Nonetheless, Patrick included money from both plans in his budget, leaving lawmakers with the tough choices of either agreeing with policy initiatives they have previously been reluctant to adopt or finding their own new sources of revenue or making substantial cuts.

"There's a political negotiation going on here," said Stephen P. Crosby, dean of McCormack Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. "The administration is learning how to use the budget as a negotiating tool and saying to everyone else, 'It's put up or shut up time.' "

The $370 million Patrick proposes using from the state's rainy day fund is about half the $780 million the state used from the fund this fiscal year. The fund would still have about $1.9 billion.

Republicans in the Legislature were quick to criticize Patrick's plan as failing to make enough hard choices.

"At a time when our economy demands fiscal responsibility, Governor Patrick's budget fails to deliver," said House minority leader Bradley Jones, criticizing his spending decisions and crackdown on corporate taxes.

Democratic House leaders would not discuss details of the governor's proposal, but House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi and Robert A. DeLeo, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, issued a joint statement that raised a warning about the current fiscal climate and whether the state can afford the governor's plans.

"Recent news from Wall Street and fears of a serious, national recession tell us we must tighten our belts, restrain spending and, very likely, make painful cuts," the statement said. "We must be concerned about placing additional new burdens on our taxpayers and businesses amid this economic uncertainty."

Senate leaders, who have been more supportive of the governor's revenue proposals, applauded the move.

"I don't fault him for bringing up these issues; these are our options," said Senator Steven C. Panagiotakos, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. "Quite frankly, I feel like these two issues should be on the table for debate."

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the budget is the governor's proposal to include money from auctioning three casino licenses, which Patrick estimates would bring in about $800 million. Expecting declining projections in lottery revenues, lifeblood for municipal budgets, Patrick wants to fill the gap by immediately using a portion of casino licensing revenues.

About $935 million in lottery revenues will be distributed this year to cities and towns. Next year, funds from the lottery are projected to decline to $811 million. Patrick wants to use an initial infusion of $124 million in casino money to make up the difference. With another infusion of casino money that the administration is not including as part of the budget, he would also distribute $88 million in casino revenue for property tax relief and $88 million to allow communities to fund transportation projects.

Administration officials said they would use the remaining $500 million from licensing fees over fiscal 2010, 2011, and 2012 until casinos opened and slot machine proceeds started coming in.

Opponents argue that his plan is excessively speculative. DeLeo, who has supported expanded gaming in the past, said in a recent interview that he would refrain from putting them in his proposal.

"I wouldn't intend to include it as part of my facts and figures," he said. "It's wrong, and I'd be relying on money that I don't have. You just can't do that."

Administration officials defended the move, and said that if legislators disagreed, they should come up with an alternative.

"We don't think [the revenue generators] are speculative," said Leslie Kirwan, secretary of administration and finance. "They're real revenues that we could see enacted and available for the fiscal '09 budget."

Matt Viser can be reached at

"Budget highlights: Governor Deval Patrick has proposed a number of ways to close a $1.3 billion projected gap in the fiscal 2009 budget."

The Boston Globe, January 24, 2008

Top savings and revenue generators:

$124 million generated in casino licensing revenue.

$297 million generated through corporate tax changes.

$370 million used from rainy day funds.

$166 million generated by increasing enforcement on tobacco taxes and escalating penalties against tax delinquents.

$151 million saved through Medicaid changes.

$51 million saved through employee healthcare changes.

$40 million saved through cuts to legislative earmarks.

Here are several areas the governor has identified where he wants to increase spending:

Top areas for new spending:

$100 million increase in public safety, to hire 100 more police officers, combat gang violence, and improve the chief medical examiner's office.

$368 million increase in education spending.

$10 million to help end homelessness.

$7.7 million to allow the Department of Conservation and Recreation to increase staff and revitalize state parkland.



Governor Deval Patrick entered the House chambers before giving his State of the State address last night. Among the measures he called upon legislators to approve was his plan to license three resort casinos. (Evan Richman/Globe Staff)

"Patrick uses annual speech to prod Legislature: He expresses impatience as measures linger"

By Frank Phillips and Andrea Estes, Globe Staff, January 25, 2008

Saying the cost of inaction is too high and declaring himself an "impatient man," Governor Deval Patrick used his first State of the State address last night to press the Legislature to act on his ambitious initiatives, which have lingered before lawmakers for months.

To drive home his case for improvements in education and other social programs, Patrick returned to themes that defined his 2006 campaign for governor: his own rags-to-riches experience, from the housing projects of Chicago's South Side to a professional life among the nation's elite and powerful.

The governor, whose first year in office was marked by an often strained relationship with the Legislature, expressed frustration with the pace of the political process. But he couched that frustration in terms of the impact of inaction.

"I admit that I am an impatient man," Patrick told a House chamber crowded with legislators, the state's constitutional officers, and his Cabinet members.

In addition to his $28.2 billion budget, Patrick called on the lawmakers to approve his plan to license three resort casinos; a measure to close what he calls corporate tax loopholes; a complex energy bill; a higher-education bond bill; and his $1 billion, 10-year life science initiative.

He also asked lawmakers to put in place his anticrime package and approve a plan to expand broadband service to the central and western parts of the state.

Patrick's appearance in the House chambers was a markedly different strategy from a year ago when he held such events outside the State House in order to promote his theme of challenging the arcane mores and politics of Beacon Hill.

He related his own life story to struggles that Senate President Therese Murray, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, and other lawmakers have faced. His impatience, he said, "has to do with the fact that for every one of us who has had the blessing of living the American Story . . . countless others still wait for their chances.

"My impatience comes from knowing all the other eager, ambitious, capable, and idealistic young boys and girls just like me and you left behind in the places you and I come from," he said, as DiMasi and Murray, both sitting behind him on the dais, looked on. "My impatience comes from knowing up close the costs of inaction.

"The people don't expect us to agree on everything," Patrick said. "But . . . they expect us to work together toward the best solution. They expect action. And they deserve it."

His speech found him on familiar ground. He reverted to the themes that played such a powerful role in electing him governor, a long two-year journey begun as a political unknown that ended in a historic landslide.

As Patrick entered the room, he blew a kiss to his wife, Diane, who was seated in the gallery. He received a polite reception from the legislators in the crowd, although DiMasi, who has been his political rival on Beacon Hill, received rousing applause from his colleagues. After the address DiMasi praised it, telling reporters he thought the governor had given a "very powerful speech, a very compelling speech."

"He basically called people to action here." DiMasi said. "What I was very happy about is that he focused mostly on the similarities we have, not the differences. He focused on the commonality of issues that the Legislature and he envision as being core issues for Massachusetts."

But Republicans said the event highlighted the tensions between Patrick, the first Democrat to win the office in 16 years, and the Democrat-controlled House and Senate.

"I was a bit taken aback by the amount of time members of his party sat on their hands during his speech," said Republican minority leader Brad Jones, a Republican from North Reading.

"It is the first time in the chamber that a Democratic governor has given a State of the State in about 18 years, and I was a bit taken aback by that. One of their own. I think that may be symbolic of the amount of separation there is on a number of issues."

Patrick also used the speech to deflect critics who question his plans for $500 million in new spending next year in the face of a potential recession.

He announced that he is creating a special advisory council of economists, headed by Cathy Minehan, former Federal Reserve Bank of Boston president and CEO, to advise him on how best to invest the funds.

"Now is not the time to lose our nerve or our focus," he said.

Also in the crowd were Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston, judges, and members of the state's congressional delegation. In addition, hundreds of his supporters filled the State House to view the speech on monitors.

Patrick outlined a list of accomplishments he said marked his first year in office: making investments in housing, bringing managed competition to auto insurance, pushing a $1.4 billion bond bill through the Legislature to repair roads and bridges, and defeating attempts to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

"Massachusetts is on the move," he declared.

But he also outlined what he said are the challenges facing the state: rising unemployment, struggling small-business owners, and escalating property taxes. He also pointed to economic strains on the middle class.

"The poor are in terrible shape," Patrick said. "And the middle class are one month away from being poor and deeply anxious about it. I understand that."


"Text of Gov. Patrick's State of the State speech"
The Associated Press
Friday, January 25, 2008

BOSTON (AP) — Text of Gov. Deval Patrick's State of the State address yesterday, as prepared for delivery:

Lieutenant Governor and Constitutional Officers, Madame President, Mr. Speaker and Members of the Legislature, Chief Justice and Members of the Judiciary, Members of the Cabinet, Elected Officials, Reverend Clergy, Distinguished guests, People of the Commonwealth

Thank you all for being with us tonight.

At the outset, and on behalf of the People of the Commonwealth, let us all thank the members of the military from Massachusetts serving so honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan. Were proud of you and humbled by your service and sacrifice.

On a personal note, Diane and I want to thank the People of Massachusetts for the many kindnesses and support you have shown us this year. It is an honor to serve you.

Our youngest daughter graduated from high school this past spring. When I sat at her graduation, swollen with pride like every other parent, I couldnt help but reflect on the difference between her journey to that point in her life, and my own to the same milestone more than 30 years before.

You know my story. I grew up in poverty on the south side of Chicago. I went to broken and over-crowded schools. I cant think of a time when I didnt enjoy reading, but I dont ever remember owning a book. I got my own bed for the first time in my life when I came east on a scholarship to boarding school in 1970. In that and so many other ways, it felt like landing on a different planet.

Katherine, by contrast, has always had her own room. By the time she got to high school, she had already traveled on three continents, knew how to pronounce and use a "concierge," and had shaken hands in the White House with the President of the United States.

Diane and I talked knowledgeably with our kids about college and organized visits for them to campuses all over the country. When I called home 35 years ago to tell my family I was admitted to Harvard, my grandmother asked, "Where is that, anyway?"

One generation. One generation and the circumstances of my life and family were completely transformed. That story is not unlike many of yours in this room and elsewhere in this Commonwealth. And though that story is still not told often enough, it is told more often in this country than any other place on earth. That is the American Story.

For most of us, that story was made possible by a good education, great opportunities to work and develop our skills, and adults who involved themselves in our lives in key moments and ways.

That is our agenda: schools, jobs and civic engagement. Thats what will make the American Story real again in this Commonwealth.

So, in 2007, we started to connect those aspirations to actions, and our actions to people. We are off to a very strong start. Massachusetts is on the move.

Last year we increased support for local schools by the highest amount in history. Because we also invested in pre-K, all-day kindergarten and longer school days, over 43 thousand children got the lifelong benefit of a strong academic start, and 9 thousand students had more time with teachers for both core studies and enrichment programs. We added millions for science, technology, engineering and math grants, too, to start giving our kids the skills they need to excel in todays global economy.

And our students are responding. Last year Massachusetts students took top scores in all four categories measured on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the so-called "national report card." Massachusetts is on the move.

We improved the conditions for robust economic growth as well.

We cut approval time for state permits from two to three years to just six months for most new development projects.

We joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and launched new biofuels and green building standards. We won the national wind blade test facility, and supported Cape Wind and other clean power projects. As a result, the clean technology sector has become one of the strongest growth industries in the Commonwealth and one of the most promising in the world.

Ten new movies were produced here last year, thanks to the new Film Tax Credit, and cultural facilities are being restored, providing new jobs for workers in our creative economy and bringing over $200 million in new economic activity to the Commonwealth.

Our China mission produced sales agreements for life sciences and medical device companies; research exchanges between UMass and Chinas premier universities; and new nonstop air service between Boston and Beijing next year.

And the Massachusetts economy is responding: creating 22,000 new jobs in 2007, out-performing the national average for job creation, and moving from 48th under previous administrations to 15th in the nation last year. We now rank first in one national survey and second in another in economic competitiveness. Massachusetts is on the move.

Strong economies need strong communities. So, we made the largest investment in housing in 20 years, including expanding the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and doubling the SoftSecond program, two proven strategies to put home ownership within reach of low- and moderate-income homebuyers.

300,000 adults and children who were uninsured a year ago now have health insurance and reliable, affordable access to primary care.

We distributed over $50 million in grants to support law enforcement and crime prevention, and nearly doubled funding for new police officers on the street.

We introduced "managed competition," so that good drivers — whether in Longmeadow or in Roxbury — will see a more than 10 percent drop in their auto insurance rates and far more choices.

From Burgin Parkway in Quincy and Route 12 in Worcester to the Great River Bridge in Westfield, long-awaited repair and public works projects are finally underway. Massachusetts is on the move.

And last June we joined together to keep discrimination out of our Constitution, and leave consenting adults free to marry whom they choose.

The state of our Commonwealth is strong, and the evidence of that strength is tangible. (Even the Red Sox, the Celtics and the Patriots are hot this year!)

For all we have accomplished together, I thank the Lieutenant Governor and other constitutional colleagues; Senate President Murray, Speaker DiMasi and all the members of the Legislature; the mayors and other local officials; the community leaders and everyday citizens, who have involved themselves in unprecedented numbers; and the members of my exceptional team. Because of you, whether in schools, jobs or civic engagement, Massachusetts is on the move.

But there is much more to do. Because the state of our Commonwealth is far better for some than for others.

Parents in many communities still face the painful choice of passing overrides or losing school programs. High drop out rates and achievement gaps persist.

There are 125,000 people looking for work in Massachusetts and over 90,000 vacancies jobs that go unfilled because the people who need that work dont have the skills to do it.

Small business owners are worried about making the payroll or making a living because the cost of insurance or taxes or space is high.

Too much talent and too many bright futures were lost last year to gun and gang violence.

Too many young families and seniors are still being pushed out of their homes by escalating property taxes, or by extreme adjustments in mortgage rates.

Parents in cities find it hard to dream about college for their kids, and parents in suburbs have nightmares about how to pay for college for theirs.

The poor are in terrible shape. And the middle class are one month away from being poor, and deeply anxious about it. I understand that.

And overshadowing all of this is widespread unease about the national economy, because credit and housing markets are especially fragile right now.

Now is not the time to lose our nerve or our focus. Government cannot solve every problem in everybodys life. But government — as an expression of the common interest and the common good — has a role to play in helping people help themselves. And I believe that an agenda based on schools, jobs and civic engagement is not only the way through todays economic uncertainty, but the way to write tomorrows chapter in the American Story. I ask you to join with me in partnership to accelerate that agenda in 2008.

So, lets start with education and invest in strategies that work. The budget we submitted yesterday commits a record $223 million more to support public schools. We also propose significant increases in early education grants, all-day kindergarten programs, and extended learning time. Lets give the 275,000 students and faculty in our public colleges and universities the quality labs, lecture halls and dormitories they deserve.

Support these budget initiatives, pass the higher ed bond bill, and lets make the American Story their story, too.

On the jobs front, lets both advance human healing and add another 250,000 jobs over the next decade by passing the Life Sciences Bill next month.

Lets start promoting efficiency, renewables, cheaper electricity, and new jobs in a hot new growth sector by passing the Energy Bill.

Lets connect the whole state to the world of ideas and commerce, and jumpstart the economies in western and central Massachusetts, by passing the Broadband Bill.

And with 20 thousand good permanent jobs, 30 thousand construction jobs, a $2 billion boost to our tourism industry, property tax relief for 1 million households, and a steady new revenue stream for cities, towns and the state within our grasp, lets work together to pass the Resort Casinos bill.

For working people at every level, lets make the American Story their story, too.

Last year, this Legislature created a commission to recommend a practical strategy to end homelessness. The Commission has delivered, and my budget funds their recommendations in full. Join us and lets set ourselves on a course to end homelessness in Massachusetts once and for all.

Lets be both tough and smart on crime:

— Tough by limiting illegal access to firearms and keeping high-threat gun offenders off the streets;

— Smart by supervising and supporting the 97% of inmates who eventually return to society, and by using CORI information wisely instead of haphazardly.

Lets work together to pass an effective Anti-Crime Package this spring.

And finally, lets give cities and towns the tools they need to keep property taxes down and to provide the services our neighbors want by passing the Municipal Partnership Act in full.

For all of our communities, lets make the American Story their story, too.

Rest assured: We can afford everything we have proposed. Between the savings and spending limits we have imposed, the revenue from closing a few gaps in our tax code, a responsible portion of new casino licensing fees, and some restraint in the use of earmarks, we can afford the high-impact investments we have outlined as well as a 13 percent cut in the corporate tax rate and property tax relief for nearly half a million households. Even with these investments, our budget holds total spending growth to 3.5 percent, less than the growth in consensus revenues.

Our economic fortunes are linked, of course, to national and international economic trends and events. In order to assure that we have the benefit of the best economic perspectives, I am announcing tonight the formation of the nonpartisan Governors Council of Economic Advisors, to be chaired by former President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Cathy Minehan, and consisting of prominent economists and other leaders from local, national and international commerce. They will help us assure that the American Story thrives in Massachusetts.

But invest we must — to keep Massachusetts on the move. Thats the most effective hedge against economic stagnation. With fears of recession looming, how can any of us sit idly by and fail to act? With the future of the American Story at stake, how can any of us refuse to sacrifice?

For a year now, I have attended the funerals of Massachusetts servicemen and women killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Each occasion is profoundly moving. Most of the time the lost soldier, sailor or marine is young. In some cases there is a girlfriend; or a young widow, on one or two occasions with a baby the fallen soldier has never even held. You cannot escape the youth: the disbelief of childhood buddies that their friend could be gone so soon; the utter tragedy of parents having to bury a child just entering his or her prime. Still, there is a remarkable lack of bitterness among the families. Only loss and grief and an understanding that service and sacrifice is sometimes necessary.

We cannot ask these exceptional young people to give what Lincoln called "the last full measure of devotion" to strengthen our community and secure the American Story for our future, and yet balk at making a far less profound sacrifice ourselves to achieve the same ends.

I know that the willingness to serve and to sacrifice is out there.

I see it in the new leadership of Commonwealth Corps, our initiative to enlist a broad army of citizens young, old and in-between offering to give back to their communities.

I see it in the Readi Reps, the nearly one thousand grassroots organizers committed to advancing the Readiness Project, our next chapter in education reform.

I see it in the willingness of private funders to support crime prevention in urban hot spots or in the young people who are helping me form a Statewide Youth Council, so that their voices can be heard in developing policies that affect their lives.

Everyone must do his or her part — because everyone has a stake.

We must do our part as elected officials by managing government responsibly. That includes being willing to curb spending in other areas. Last year I cut some $500 million from state spending, and held spending increases to the lowest level in three years. This year my budget offers another $475 million in cuts. And later this year, through a concept we call MassTrans, I will ask for your support in streamlining our transportation bureaucracy, which will yield further significant savings.

State employees, whose public service I honor and appreciate, must help by sharing a greater burden of their health insurance benefits.

Large, multi-state companies, who create opportunity for so many, must help by learning to live in Massachusetts by the same tax rules they live by in other states.

Even the telephone company must help by paying its fair share of local property taxes so that communities can ease the property tax burden on seniors and others on limited incomes.

And as you consider our proposals, and how to support this agenda for schools, jobs and civic engagement, consider also the cost of inaction.

A poor child in high-quality early ed is 40% less likely to need special ed services or to be held back a grade, 30% more likely to graduate high school, and twice as likely to go to college. The cost of inaction is too high.

Just as every new life sciences job creates 3 to 4 others in related fields, every lost life sciences job costs us in similar measure. The cost of inaction is too high.

When high tech and clean energy firms leave, or gaming firms shun this market, because we are unwilling to play to our strengths and address barriers to growth, they take thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of investment elsewhere. The cost of inaction is too high.

Failure to support cities and towns has led to both cuts in services and hikes in local property taxes. When our communities decline, our economy declines. The cost of inaction is too high.

Failure to maintain our roads, rails and bridges has left us with a $15 to $20 billion tab over the next 20 years. The cost of inaction is too high.

The people dont expect us to agree on everything. But they do expect us to engage. They expect us to work together toward the best solution. They expect action. And they deserve it.

I admit that I am an impatient man. People say it is because I am from the business world, where things tend to move more quickly once a course is set. Others say it is because I am a newcomer to Beacon Hill.

No, my impatience has nothing to do with any of that. It has to do with the fact that for every one of us from the South Side of Chicago or Worcester or from the North End of Boston, Mr. Speaker, or from Plymouth, Madame President, or from Mattapan or Southie or Springfield or Holyoke or New Bedford or Brockton or Haverhill — for every one of us who has had the blessing of living that American Story, that "one generation" transformation — countless others still wait for their chance. My impatience comes from knowing all the other eager, ambitious, capable and idealistic young boys and girls just like me and you left behind in the places you and I come from. My impatience comes from knowing up close the costs of inaction.

I went out to visit the Holland School in Dorchester last spring. A few weeks before, a young woman who was visiting her family from out of town was shot and killed. And a couple of weeks after that, an 11-year-old boy found a .44 caliber pistol in the neighborhood and brought it into his classroom. The neighborhood was understandably in an uproar. And so we called a meeting of adults, so that Mayor Menino and I could listen to some of their ideas about ways we could help, and share some of our own.

The meeting convened at the end of the school day, as the kids were leaving the building, heading to their buses or the walk home. I had a minute or two alone in the principals office to look over my notes and collect my thoughts before the meeting began. You know sometimes you get that feeling that youre being watched? When I looked up, there outside the window were a dozen or more little Black boys and girls, about this size, backpacks on, beaming, waving, excited.

When I look into their eyes, the excitement I see is not for the history we made last year, but for the history they have yet to make; not my chance, but theirs.

And I see that look of anticipation and hope in the eyes of kids in communities all across this Commonwealth.

There is a whole generation watching and waiting — like some tonight perhaps — to see whether we see our stake in their future and will act on that. I say let them look to us to you and to me and let us affirm their hope for tomorrow in the actions we take today.

Thank you. God bless you all, and God bless the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


"The people don't expect us to agree on everything. . . . But they do expect us to work together toward the best solution. They expect action."

Governor DEVAL PATRICK, in his State of the State address


"The governor's a bit tone deaf. This isn't the year for new spending initiatives and new programs."

State Senator RICHARD TISEI, the minority leader, on Patrick's address


The Boston Globe, "Quotes of Note", January 26, 2008


"Job growth prediction raises eyebrows: Patrick sees 250,000 added in life sciences"
By Todd Wallack, Boston Globe Staff, January 26, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick raised some eyebrows during his State of the State address Thursday by saying his $1 billion life-sciences initiative would create 250,000 jobs over the next decade - twice as many jobs as the state added from all sources over the past decade.

"On the face of it, it looks huge," said Alan Clayton-Matthews, a University of Massachusetts at Boston associate professor who helps track the state's economy. "I have no idea how these numbers were arrived at."

The state has about 3.2 million workers; 250,000 new jobs would represent an 8 percent increase - on top of any natural growth expected without legislation.

"It sounds very ambitious," said John Bitner, chief economist for Eastern Investment Advisors in Boston, noting the state has traditionally had a hard time attracting workers because of its high cost of living and harsh winters.

Damon Barglow, a healthcare analyst at Eastern Investment Advisors, said it's possible legislation could create as many as 100,000 jobs, assuming the investment is well-targeted and every new life-sciences job spawns several more in other sectors.

But Barglow said even that projection is ambitious. Of Patrick's 250,000 estimate he said: "I don't see how he gets there."

Kofi Jones, spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, said the Patrick administration is confident it can achieve the 250,000 new jobs in even less time - by 2015 - if the Legislature approves the proposal without major changes.

"It's a comprehensive piece of legislation that seeks to strengthen the industry on several levels," from academic research to tax incentives for companies, she said.

The administration calculates one-third of the new jobs would be in the life-sciences sector. The sector currently employs 60,000 to 75,000 people. The rest of the new jobs would come in other areas, including retail and construction, as the life-sciences sector grows.

Jones said the agency assumed that for every job created in life sciences, two more would be created in other sectors, a multiple it obtained from Boston Consulting Group. State officials said other studies used significantly higher multiples to calculate the economic benefit of adding life-sciences jobs.

Jones said the administration examined current growth projections and estimated the rates would significantly increase with additional investment. Although Patrick's proposal calls for spending an average of $100 million a year over 10 years, state officials say companies and universities could leverage much of that money to bring in even more dollars.

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and the Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council said Patrick's legislation would create jobs, but they aren't sure how many. "We have no projections," said Peter Abair, director of economic development for the biotech council.

There is also debate about whether the $1 billion is calibrated for maximum impact.

Many industry officials predict life sciences will grow with or without legislation. A recent report by Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies projected the biopharmaceutical industry will generate more than 12,000 jobs from 2004 to 2014.

The drug industry sponsored the study.

Todd Wallack can be reached at



"Patrick sticking to his plans"
By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Friday, February 01, 2008

PITTSFIELD — Facing a possible recession and still fighting to increase revenues through casino gambling and revisions to the corporate tax code, Gov. Deval L. Patrick said yesterday that he remains committed to the state's health care reform, despite its increasing costs.

"We are working hard to make it sustainable," Patrick said. "But there is a whole lot that we have still to do."

Patrick made a brief visit to Berkshire County yesterday, appearing at a breakfast in Great Barrington and then at Allendale Elementary School in Pittsfield before meeting with editors and reporters at The Eagle. Patrick discussed health care and his efforts to persuade the Legislature to back his plans to bring three resort casinos to Massachusetts and to change the corporate tax code, reducing the excise tax paid by businesses while increasing revenues through the elimination of loopholes.

While those proposals haven't moved in the Legislature, the state has plowed ahead with its sweeping health insurance reform, adding 300,000 people to the rolls of the insured last year.

The majority of that number — 225,000 — are enrolled in Commonwealth Care, the state-subsidized health insurance program that pays most of the premiums for anyone making 300 percent or less of the federal poverty level.

With the increased enrollment comes increased cost, and Patrick's budget seeks $869 million for Commonwealth Care in the fiscal year that begins on July 1, an 84 percent increase over the current spending.

Patrick said the peculiar economics of health reform defy traditional models; while the state is spending more to provide coverage to residents, it expects to recoup some of those funds as costs for emergency care and treatment of the uninsured decline. And as more people have access to preventative treatments, the total spent on health care should decrease.

"The traditional modeling that says, 'Here are all the factors as they are right now, here is the trajectory, and here is where we crash,' doesn't work," Patrick said. "This is adjusted as we go. That is in some ways the best part — and the unwritten part — of health care reform: A broad coalition of groups ... came together to write the law, and they have stayed together to write the law and make adjustments."

Still in the early stages of reform, costs are not decreasing as fast as they are increasing. The Health Safety Net Trust Fund, which is used to pay for the uninsured's medical care, decreased 24 percent, from $592.2 million to a projected $453 million in the coming fiscal year, not sharp enough to match the surge in spending.

State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, said in an interview that the Legislature appears as committed to supporting health care reform as the governor, and "to seeing it through as far as this step of reform will take us."

"It is important to realize that, despite the financial challenges that we face, while other states have seen their uninsured populations boom, Massachusetts has seen 300,000 people who didn't have health insurance added to the rolls," Downing said.

While Patrick's $28.2 billion budget proposes some revenue increases to balance costs, it remains to be seen whether the Legislature will go along; $400 million of the governor's budget depends upon casino license fees and closing corporate tax loopholes.

Visited with students

While visiting Allendale Elementary yesterday morning, Patrick plopped down on a bean-bag floor cushion to participate in a literacy circle with Nancy Knauth's kindergarten class.

They took turns reading and practiced spelling words like, "bad," "bat" and "bet."

"Hm, that's very timely," said Patrick to the latter word.

But the rest of his visit was spent practicing the positive politics of goodwill toward the community.

The governor, followed by an entourage of about 20 school administrators, dignitaries and members of the media, dropped in on a fourth-grade math lesson and heard a third-grade presentation about the state. He also entertained some student requests for an autograph and photos, as well as several high-fives. His visit concluded with a brief press conference.

Fourth-grade math teacher Sue Dapson, asked what impressions she hoped Patrick and his entourage would take from the visit, said, "I would like them to see how hard the children are working, to see what goes on day-to-day in class. When he said he was coming he said he didn't want us to do anything special. This is what we do every day. I hope they get that."

Eagle reporter Jenn Smith contributed to this report.
To reach Jack Dew: (413) 496-6241

"Patrick: Still optimistic"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Friday, February 01, 2008

Governor Patrick has been in office for a year now and there is no indication that he has lost any of the optimism or can-do spirit that blew through the state like a refreshing breeze in 2006. This year will test that, as his admirably ambitious agenda will confront a justifiably skeptical Legislature and some harsh economic realities that are out of the state's control.

At an Eagle editorial board meeting Thursday, the governor wisely warned of the danger of "talking ourselves into a recession." The economy is largely built on perception, and fear of recession can create a self-fulfilling prophesy if consumers stop buying and business and industry retrenches. Mr. Patrick is correct that government can't stand still because of a perception that times are bad or will be bad economically, but the governor's expansion of programs, most noticeably and admirably education, is contingent on dollars that may not be available to him.

Mr. Patrick included anticipated revenue from the sale of three casino licenses in his budget as an obvious prod to a Legislature leadership skeptical of his plan. The Legislature should definitely give the governor's proposal a fair hearing, which would also mean hearing all sides of the casino story. Connecticut, which had no idea of the revenue potential of casinos when it signed off on two tribal casinos in the state's southeastern corner, sold itself short, and Mr. Patrick is confident the state can do better. We don't believe it will be enough to combat crime and other social costs, and while the governor maintains that the discussion of other casino plans in the region is an argument to act quickly in Massachusetts, we would suggest that it means that casino revenues in the state will never be high enough to justify their negatives.

The Legislature should support Mr. Patrick's plan to close the corporate tax loopholes that are costing the state millions of dollars, especially in light of his willingness to reduce corporate excise taxes as a compromise. The governor made the good point Thursday that because the tax loopholes aren't significant enough to attract new business to the state there is no justification for maintaining them.

Mr. Patrick spoke of the "cost of not taking action," and while this was in reference to his ambitious life sciences initiative currently before the Legislature, it applies to state initiatives in general. While a state government operating in sluggish economic times must be responsible, it cannot stop investing in its people and in its business, whether that means higher education or tax breaks. The life science initiative, by building on the state's strength, will create jobs, but as the governor noted, not investing in the initiative will result in a loss of jobs to other states and countries. There is no protecting the status quo, as the state is either going to move forward or slip backward.

The Legislature can't move as quickly as can a governor, and its job is to carefully vet a governor's programs. While we share leadership's skepticism about casinos, we hope it will join the governor in taking a fresh look at old issues, from corporate tax loopholes to state police manning construction details to finding ways of cross-funding transportation programs, so dollars can be shared among road and rail projects. New ideas can breed optimism.


JANE LYONS, Op-Ed, The Boston Globe
"Mass. disparity in social services for children"
By Jane Lyons, February 4, 2008

THERE IS something that Governor Deval Patrick's newly minted - and desperately needed - Office of the Child Advocate needs to add to a lengthy "to do" list: Find out why the children of Western Massachusetts don't get the same social service options as children in other parts of the state and how that can be fixed.

When it comes to care for vulnerable children, the inequities between eastern and western Massachusetts include the availability of psychiatric treatment, of group homes and especially, of alternatives to foster care. The state's poorest counties are the counties with the highest rates of child abuse and neglect, and they are west of Worcester. But in those same counties, the evidence shows that children are far more likely to be placed in foster care rather than treatment. And the reason seems to be cost, not what is best for the children.

Simply put: It is cheaper for the state to place children in foster homes in a region of the state where the $17 per day foster care reimbursement goes further for low-income families. So, in Hampden and Franklin counties, families will take in three or four or more foster children and use the daily payment as a secondary or even primary source of household income.

This is not to say that the foster parents are not good - there are incredibly dedicated and gifted foster parents who are increasingly called upon to provide for extremely troubled children. However, in far too many cases, this has led to inappropriate placements where young, vulnerable children, for example, are housed with troubled and sometimes dangerous teens in a home where monitoring is insufficient or sporadic.

How bad has this become? In some foster homes, the state has taken to affixing "alarms" to the bedroom doors of older children known to prey sexually on younger children in hopes of at least alerting foster parents that the troubled child is out of bed and younger children are at risk. There is no stronger sign that a system is overstrained to the point of breaking than knowingly placing dangerous children with vulnerable children. But in underserved Western Massachusetts, there are simply too few choices.

The facts speak for themselves: In Western Massachusetts more than eight out of 10 children removed by the state from their homes are placed in foster care. In the eastern end of the state, the number is closer to six out of 10. Children who should be receiving a higher level of care than being placed in a foster home are getting it in the communities around Boston. They are being placed in group homes or residential treatment programs with trained staff. They are being seen in a psychiatric setting. They are receiving their education in the place they live rather than being shuttled from home to home and school to school.

The numbers are stark. In the area immediately surrounding Boston, a third of the children - 32 percent - are in residential care. In Boston itself, a quarter of the children are in residential care. But in Western Massachusetts, only 13 percent of children are in residential treatment - and that is often in a facility on the other side of the state or in different counties, miles away from whatever family or support system they may have. It is not that these children don't need the help that such a setting would offer; it is that the facilities do not exist. To be blunt: It is cheaper to stick them in foster care than to provide the kinds of settings that may actually help these kids and are readily available in the eastern part of the state.

All of us struggling daily to help battered and neglected children are thankful that the new Office of the Child Advocate finally gives us a place to turn and be heard. Now we hope that advocate listens to the children of Western Massachusetts.

Jane Lyons is the executive director of Friends of Children, an independent, nonprofit child advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in Western Massachusetts.


"Governor opposes casino land request: Urges US to deny tribe's petition in effort to maintain state control"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, February 7, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick asked the federal government yesterday to reject efforts by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to place its planned casino site in Middleborough in a federal trust, an attempt by Patrick to steer the tribe toward a state-issued casino license that would garner far more money for Massachusetts.

With billions of dollars at stake, Patrick's move was part of a brewing dispute over what form expanded gambling could take in Massachusetts and whether it will be controlled by the state or by the tribe and the federal government.

If the tribe is able to win federal trust status for the land, the property effectively becomes sovereign territory, and the state risks being shut out of a share of gambling proceeds. State regulators would not have any sway over details like zoning, traffic, environmental impacts, and public safety. The value of any future state-licensed casinos would also be diluted.

By filing his 125-page objection with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the governor officially planted his flag in the Middleborough casino debate for the first time. While the subtext was clear - a fight over money - the administration hinged its arguments yesterday on jurisdiction, saying that trust status would deny the state any control over a host of issues.

Patrick supports tribal gambling, but on the state's terms. He has proposed a state licensing system for three resort casinos in the state and would give a bidding preference to Indian tribes in Massachusetts. Administration officials have been meeting with Wampanoag representatives to discuss the possibility of the tribe bidding on a state gambling license.

While Patrick's move could help him gain negotiating leverage, it is unlikely to persuade the federal government to deny the Wampanoag trust application, specialists say. States have little influence over whether Indian tribes are able to place lands in federal trust, even for the purpose of building casinos.

"The governor has no voice in the matter," said Dennis Whittlesey, a Washington-based lawyer specializing in Indian law. Last year, he represented the town of Middleborough in negotiating a deal that requires the tribe to pay the town $7 million a year if a casino is built.

"The governor can complain all he wants, but it does not matter," Whittlesey said. "He has no input."

The governor's filing yesterday questioned the actions of former tribal chairman Glenn Marshall, who resigned in August after news surfaced of a past rape conviction and his misrepresentation of his military record. The state's document states that Marshall, who was involved in negotiating the contract between the tribe and its outside partners, is a subject of a federal investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department.

It also says that the financial deal between the tribe and its outside investors has not been disclosed to the state and that, without details, there is no evidence that the tribe would receive the most benefit from a casino.

"We have significant concerns about the initial proposal," Daniel O'Connell, Patrick's economic development secretary and chief gaming adviser, said in an interview yesterday. "We don't think it has enough information provided. Not enough work has been done to make the case for land [to go] into trust."

Administration officials have met with tribal leaders three times and have another meeting planned later this month, to discuss both the tribe's plans for the land and the administration's concerns.

"The tribe continues to have productive discussions with the Patrick Administration," tribal council chairman Shawn Hendricks Sr. said in a written statement yesterday. "We have clearly stated our reasons for sovereign land, and the governor has clearly stated his questions and concerns for the Commonwealth. We look forward to working through the issues raised with him, and I am confident we can do so."

The tribe won federal recognition last year, which set it on course to build a resort casino with 4,000 slot machines, table games, a 1,500-room hotel, and a host of amenities, including a golf course. The next critical step for the tribe is getting federal approval to place its land in trust, a process that can often take years.

When the tribe won recognition, Patrick telephoned the tribal council to extend his congratulations, and they agreed to further talks about taking land into trust.

Tribal leaders have said they would pursue a casino license under the governor's proposed legislation, which would legalize three casinos in Massachusetts. But given the political uncertainty of the proposal, which has not yet been taken up in the House, the tribe is also pursuing a plan to put the 539 acres in Middleborough into federal trust, which would effectively make it part of the tribe's reservation.

Other states have handled the situation similarly, opposing initial applications on a legal or technical basis with the hope of gaining political leverage and negotiating power.

"Very few governors from the get-go come out in support of those applications," said Steven Light, codirector of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota. "It's a political thicket. It's a sticky issue for them."

What is unusual is that, in Massachusetts, the governor is simultaneously pushing for legalization of casinos under a proposed state law.

Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin opposed applications in the 1990s. In Oregon, Governor Ted Kulongoski in 2005 came out in support for an Indian casino in the Columbia River Gorge. Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota initially opposed casinos, but then embarked on a failed bid to develop a joint partnership between the state and the tribes.

Sean Murphy of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Christine Wallgren contributed to this report. Matt Viser can be reached at



"Slow Calif. science plan a lesson for Mass.: Fast results rare in state-funded research programs"
By Todd Wallack, Boston Globe Staff, February 11, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - The same day that President Bush won a second term, California voters approved a bold plan to pour $3 billion of taxpayers' money into stem cell research over the next decade. Supporters argued the investment would save millions of lives through new medical therapies, generate millions of dollars in added tax revenue, cut healthcare costs by billions, and create thousands of high-paying jobs.

Three years later, Californians are still waiting for some results. Until recently, most of the money was tied up in lawsuits. And even now that the tap is flowing, proponents acknowledge it could take years, if not decades, for the grants to pay off.

"It's too early," said Alan Trounson, president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the agency charged with administering the stem cell funds. "There are very few substantial developments [in medical science] that have happened in less than 25 years. There have been some, but they tend to be rare."

The slow rate of progress serves as a reality check for Massachusetts and other states that have followed California's lead by placing big bets on medical research. Texas voters approved a $3 billion commitment to cancer research in November. New York has set aside $600 million for stem cell work. And later this month, Massachusetts lawmakers are expected to vote on Governor Deval Patrick's $1 billion life sciences initiative, which is primarily targeted for research.

Patrick said his plan will create 250,000 jobs within 10 years, an ambitious figure that has generated some skepticism. Massachusetts currently has about 60,000 to 75,000 life sciences jobs.

To be sure, Patrick's proposal differs in some key ways from California's. For instance, it sets aside $250 million in tax incentives to encourage companies to expand, something that could yield immediate results. It also allocates money for workforce training. And unlike California, the Massachusetts research funding is not restricted to stem cell research.

"This is not a stem cell bill," said Kofi Jones, a spokeswoman for the state's economic development agency. But, as in other states, the bulk of the bill is related to life sciences research, which typically takes time to generate results. Specifically, $250 million is reserved for grants for research, fellowships, or workforce training. Another $500 million would support public research and education facilities, including a stem cell bank to be housed at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and a research center focused on RNA interference, an area pioneered by UMass researcher Craig Mello.

Unlike the Massachusetts proposal, California's stem cell plan didn't come from politicians. It was the brainchild of Robert Klein, a well-connected California lawyer and low-income housing developer. Klein said he got involved as a patient advocate: His son has diabetes, and his mother has Alzheimer's disease. When federal officials decided to limit funding for embryonic research, Klein thought California could help fill the gap. Embryonic stem cell research holds immense promise because stem cells can potentially morph into any other kind of cell, making it possible for them to replace other cells that have been damaged.

Instead of going through the Legislature, Klein organized a ballot initiative, taking the proposal directly to voters. The initiative drew opposition from fiscal conservatives, who worried California could not afford it, and religious conservatives, who oppose stem cell research on the grounds that it often involves destroying human embryos. But the plan also drew support from venture capitalists, scientists, and patient advocates. In the end, 59 percent of voters approved the measure.

A few months later, however, conservative opponents filed a lawsuit arguing the initiative was unconstitutional, effectively blocking the state from floating the $3 billion in bonds for two years. The litigation ended in May 2007 after opponents lost several early rounds and the California Supreme Court declined to hear their appeals. Before the case was settled, the new stem cell agency got started with other funding. Philanthropists donated $45 million. And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger authorized $150 million in loans.

In April 2006, the agency dispersed its first grants - $12 million to train stem cell researchers at 16 nonprofits. A steady stream of other grants has followed. To date, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has approved 156 research grants totaling $260 million, which the institute says is the largest source of funding for embryonic stem cell research in the world. The agency plans to award another $227 million in grants this year for the construction of laboratories at academic and nonprofit research institutions.

The grants have not been without controversy. Critics have repeatedly complained that the process is vulnerable to conflicts of interest. California state controller John Chiang ordered an audit last year after an institute board member, John Reed, allegedly pushed the agency to reconsider a grant to a nonprofit research center Reed oversees. The stem cell agency rejected several applications for grants because they contained letters of support from board members.

Regardless, proponents say the initiative has inspired dozens of top stem cell researchers from around the world to move to California in the past two years, including some from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The University of California, Los Angeles alone says it has been able to recruit a half-dozen researchers.

"It's bringing scientists from all over the world," said Steven Peckman, associate director of UCLA's stem cell research center. But some Massachusetts officials downplay the impact of the academic defections, saying researchers routinely move from one school to another, including some who have recently left California. For instance, Kenneth Chien left the University of California, San Diego in July 2005 to take posts at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

"I do not see a migration" to California, said Brock Reeve, executive director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

And some of the stars that the California institute says have migrated to California have only partially committed to the West Coast. For instance, the institute says James Thomson, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara. But Thomson simply opened a satellite lab in Santa Barbara, school officials said.

"Dr. Thomson remains at the University of Wisconsin as a full-time faculty member," said the university's spokesman, Terry Devitt.

California officials also point out that a handful of for-profit companies have expanded in the state since the stem cell plan was approved. One of the country's best known stem cell companies, Advanced Cell Technology Inc., moved its corporate headquarters from Worcester to California in 2005 to qualify for stem cell grants. But it still has 30 employees in Massachusetts, compared with 10 in California.

"From a legal standpoint, we're from California. But a predominance of our employees are in Massachusetts," said William Caldwell, Advanced Cell Technology's chief executive.

Tracy Lefteroff, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers who coauthored a report on California's biomedical industry, said the $3 billion stem cell initiative still has potential to create thousands of jobs. But he said it will probably take at least another five years.

"I don't think it has had that much of an impact yet," Lefteroff said.

Trounson said he is hopeful that some promising treatments will be in clinical trials within a decade, but will probably take several years beyond that to be approved by regulators.

"The money is not going to have immediate results," said Zach Hall, the California institute's former president. "That's just not the way science goes."

Todd Wallack can be reached at


"Gov. Wants Funds to Bring Hi-Speed 'Net to Mass Masses"
Posted: February 15, 2008, 11:31 AM EST

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick wants lawmakers to pass a bill so thousands of people across the state have access to high speed internet.

The bill would spend $25 million to help link up the 32 communities in Massachusetts with no broadband access. All but one of those communities are located in Western Massachusetts.

The Governor says internet access is no longer a luxury for students, rather, a necessity for everyone.


Re: Isn't Massachusetts facing a Billion-Dollar budget deficit?

It is nice to see a new state bureaucrat make such good money! While the poor get poorer, the state pines for casino regressive taxation revenues, and campaign promises get shattered, at least Massachusetts' new Education Commissioner, Mitchell Chester, is going get his. That is government at its WORST!

-Jonathan A. Melle


"Education Board approves $206K salary for new commissioner"
The Associated Press
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

BOSTON (AP) — The state Board of Education has approved a $206,000 annual salary for the state's new Education Commissioner.

The board appointed Mitchell Chester last month and approved his salary at a meeting today. Chester will start his new job on May 19.

Chester comes to Massachusetts from Ohio, where he is Senior Associate State Superintendent.

Board of Education chair Paul Reville said the board is eager to welcome Chester, saying he has the right mix of national, state and local experience.

He said the board has already been working with Chester to bring him up to speed on key state issues.

Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Nellhaus will continue serving as Acting Commissioner until Chester takes over.


"Patrick pushes kids' health bill"
By Evan Lehmann, Eagle Boston Bureau
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WASHINGTON — Gov. Deval L. Patrick warned Congress yesterday that Massachusetts' year-old health initiative is imperiled by the Bush administration's plan to tighten eligibility requirements for a children's insurance program.

The plan enraged a host of governors seeking to expand health insurance to uncovered children, at a time when some 46 million Americans lack coverage.

Several Democratic lawmakers said yesterday it would be "cruel" to limit the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

The move follows a sharp clash between Congress and President Bush, who recently vetoed a proposal to increase taxes on tobacco to expand the program to include an additional 4 million children. It's currently offered to about 6 million children.

Patrick, meanwhile, said the tightened rules would block children from joining the state's landmark health program, causing "a giant step backward" in the nation's only example of a system mandating coverage.

"I want to be as clear as I can," Patrick told the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "Without continued federal support for, and flexibility within, the SCHIP program, health care reform in Massachusetts and elsewhere is in jeopardy."

Federal assistance

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services permitted Massachusetts to offer the subsidized insurance program to families earning three times the federal poverty level, about $62,000 for a family of four.

But one of the most contentious rules issued in August — and poised to take effect this summer — would require states to enroll 95 percent of eligible children whose families earn less than twice the poverty level, about $41,000 for family of four, before offering it to anyone in higher brackets.

Negotiations under way

Patrick and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., are trying to negotiate an extension of the current agreement, a move that could temporarily sustain the state's universal health initiative.

Otherwise, Massachusetts might have to comply with the proposed rule changes to SCHIP as well as others focused on Medicaid, if Congress fails to suspend their enactment.

Altogether, the changes could shift up to $15 billion from the federal government to states.

"We simply cannot afford it in Massachusetts," Patrick said.


"Patrick backs bill to protect rights of transgendered: Antibias statutes would be amended"
By Megan Woolhouse, Globe Staff, March 5, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick said yesterday he supports a bill protecting transgendered people from discrimination, legislation similar to laws already enacted in more than a dozen states.

"Massachusetts has a rich history of protecting the civil rights of all its citizens," Patrick said in a letter that was read to a legislative committee at a State House hearing. Yet "transgendered people continue to face serious discrimination in the workplace, in schools, and in public accommodations."

"The proposed legislation represents another step forward in achieving fair and equal treatment for all," he said.

The bill proposed by state Representative Carl Sciortino, a Somerville Democrat, would add the terms "gender identity and gender expression" to existing antidiscrimination and hate crime laws in Massachusetts. Transgendered people are people transitioning to a sex different than the one they had at birth. Some wear clothes of the other sex, while others have undergone hormone replacement therapy or sex-change surgery.

House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi was still reviewing the bill, spokesman David Guarino said. Senate President Therese Murray could not be reached for comment last night.

The bill has been backed by MassEquality, a nonprofit organization that coalesced in 2003 after a ruling by the state Supreme Judicial Court legalizing same-sex marriage. The group's leadership had intensely debated whether to broaden its mission and take on this issue and others.

"The position that strongly prevailed was that we should use our political clout up here on Beacon Hill, as well as in the field, . . . to advocate for equality across the board," MassEquality campaign director Marc Solomon said yesterday. "Today was an important first step in that."

More than 300 people attended the hearing on the bill, held by the Legislature's Joint Commitee on the Judiciary.

Jennifer Levi, a senior staff attorney for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, said her organization routinely receives calls on its hot line from transgendered people experiencing discrimination. In one recent instance, she said, a woman working at a hardware store was fired shortly after it was disclosed that she was born a man.

The woman had little legal recourse, Levi said. "This law would clarify both who is protected . . . and who is subject to liability under the law," she said.

The Massachusetts Family Institute, a group opposed to same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, has called the bill radical and asked members to express their opposition at yesterday's hearing.

"Sex change operations and hormone treatments would be topics in sex education classes," the group wrote on its website. "Women and children would be put at risk since anyone, regardless of their biological sex, would be allowed access to sensitive areas such as single-sex bathrooms and locker rooms, as well as college dormitories. Nothing would prevent a male sexual predator from pretending that he is confused about his sex to gain access to a woman's bathroom or to join a female-only fitness club."

Kris Mineau, the organization's president, and others in the group could not be reached for comment.

Testimony on the bill as well as on other legislation before the Judiciary Committee was expected to continue into the night.

MassEquality's Solomon said that about 100 businesses across the state have already adopted bans on discrimination based on a person's gender identity, including Raytheon, Staples, and Bank of America. According to the Transgender Law & Policy Institute, based in Brooklyn, at least 18 higher education institutions in Massachusetts also have nondiscrimination policies.

"These suggestions are nothing more than scare tactics," Solomon said of the Massachusetts Family Institute comments. ". . . In practice, it just doesn't ever become an issue."


"Murray cuts political ties to lobbyist: Joins Patrick, party in returning funds"
By Frank Phillips, Boston Globe Staff, March 7, 2008

Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray is severing his political ties to a Beacon Hill lobbyist and key campaign fund-raiser, Robert M. Platt, amid questions about Platt's past business dealings and concerns within the Patrick administration about the relationship.

Murray, Governor Deval Patrick, and the state Democratic Party are returning thousands of dollars in campaign contributions they received from Platt last year. Patrick also has forced Platt to step down from the Falmouth Housing Authority, a post the governor named him to last year at the behest of Murray.

The moves by Patrick and Murray to distance themselves from Platt - who was an influential Republican fund-raiser for years and established a strong foothold with the current Democratic administration last year - are the result of Globe inquiries into Platt's turbulent business career.

During the 1990s, Platt faced fraud allegations in a civil proceeding by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development that stemmed from his operation of nursing homes in Agawam, Canton, Leicester, Wareham, and Newton.

The regional HUD office said Platt had improperly diverted federal funds from his nursing home facilities to himself and failed to pay taxes on the funds. "These disbursements give rise to claims based on federal common law theories of unjust enrichment, breach of contract, and/or fraud," HUD said.

Platt strongly denied the allegations but ultimately settled with HUD in early 2000, agreeing to pay $3.8 million to the government. In exchange, the government agreed not to pursue civil or criminal cases against him. In August 2001, Platt filed for bankruptcy, saying he was facing $6.1 million in debt. Terms of his HUD settlement required him to pay the $3.8 million, regardless of bankruptcy.

Murray declined to comment on his decision to jettison Platt. Michael Cohen, a spokesman for Murray's political committee, said the lieutenant governor was cutting ties with Platt because of his controversial business background. He said Murray had not been aware of the HUD allegations and settlement and Platt's subsequent bankruptcy until the Globe asked about it.

"We were not aware of any of this information in terms of his past business disputes," Cohen said. "Now that we are aware of that, it is in the best interest to move forward. Mr. Platt will not be involved in fund-raising in the future."

Aides to Patrick said he would have no comment. The issue has not created any rift between the lieutenant governor and the governor, said Patrick aides who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Nonetheless, one source involved in the discussions about creating a firewall between the administration and Platt said Murray agreed to the governor's suggestions that he remove Platt from his political finance team.

Platt appeared unruffled this week by his forced departure.

"I have been pleased to help Tim Murray on the fund-raising front, and I will remain a strong supporter of Tim and the Patrick-Murray administration, whether I am actively involved in fund-raising or not," he said in e-mail. "I value Tim's friendship and the fine job that he and the administration are doing for the Commonwealth."

When Murray tapped Platt to help fill his campaign coffers last year, the decision chafed some Democrats, because Platt has a history of involvement with Massachusetts Republicans, including his work for Mitt Romney's presidential and gubernatorial campaigns and Kerry Healy's 2006 gubernatorial race against Patrick. Platt also played a prominent campaign finance role in the GOP gubernatorial campaigns of Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift.

In giving Platt the unpaid housing post in Falmouth, the governor had replaced a local Democratic activist, Peter Kirwin, who had supported Patrick's candidacy in 2006. Kirwin had been seeking a second term with the support of the local Democratic legislative delegation, including Senate President Therese Murray.

The Globe reported in December that Platt's increasing presence in Murray's operations reflected how Patrick and Murray were turning to special interests and State House lobbyists who want to gain access at the highest level of state government. As a candidate advocating a change in the Beacon Hill culture, Patrick had denounced the flow of special interest campaign donations into the political coffers of legislators and state leaders.

Platt organized a fund-raising event last May that raised more than $60,000 for Murray. Many donors to the event were Platt's corporate clients (the billboard firm Clear Channel Outdoor and New England Kart Raceway), his Beacon Hill lobbying firm, their staff, and family members.

Now, spokesmen for Murray, Patrick, and the state Democratic Party say they are returning $4,500 Platt donated to a special campaign fund operated jointly by Patrick's campaign and the party. Murray is returning $1,200 he received from Platt and his family members.



"Governor faces big test in jobs plan: Analysts say it's unlikely a state can dodge a recession"
By Robert Gavin, Boston Globe Staff, March 7, 2008

The Massachusetts economy is on track to fulfill Governor Deval Patrick's goal of increasing employment by 100,000 jobs before the end of his term. But, with a national recession looming, the coming year will provide a stern test for Patrick and his policies, analysts and business leaders said.

Revised data released last week by the state Department of Workforce Development show the economy generated about 26,000 new jobs during Patrick's first year in office, even though his major initiatives have yet to become law. Last year's job growth, led by the healthcare and technology sectors, was above the 25,000-a-year average needed to meet Patrick's goal, but still below the 38,000 gained in 2006, the last year of the Romney administration.

Economists, meanwhile, expect job growth here to slow further as the national economy slides toward recession. A national recession almost certainly means recession for Massachusetts, which sells much of its products in national markets.

Analysts say governors can do little to shelter state economies from national forces, although some policies might marginally soften a downturn. Among them: a well-managed budget with a so-called rainy day reserve, allowing states to avoid tax increases and spending cuts that can worsen downturns, said Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics at Moody's in West Chester, Pa.

Over the longer term, Faucher said, policies that lower business costs, expand international markets, and diversify the economy so states don't depend on one or two industries might also blunt a recession's impact.

Patrick's economic policies have aimed to tackle these issues, business leaders said, but so far with mixed success. He's moved to cut business costs by approving a freeze in unemployment insurance premiums and speeding the process for getting permits to build and expand. But he's also proposed closing so-called corporate loopholes, which would increase business taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars.

His energy policies, which support conservation, alternative fuels, and new technologies, have boosted the alternative energy industry, which is attracting vast amounts of capital and adding jobs.

But he has also supported environmental measures that boost already high electricity costs, which have contributed to the shutdown of several manufacturers and the loss of several hundred jobs.

His most ambitious proposal would spend $1 billion to help maintain Massachusetts' leadership in biotechnology and other life sciences. His most controversial would bring a new industry, casino gambling. But, asked Brian Gilmore, spokesman for Associated Industries of Massachusetts, "What about financial services? What about the 300,000 people who work in manufacturing?"

"The state should not be in the position of picking winners and losers," Gilmore said. "We need a comprehensive strategic plan that outlines the economic potential of the entire Commonwealth, not just a particular segment of industry."

Daniel O'Connell, secretary of housing and economic development, said the administration has emphasized life sciences because "it's the area that's creating jobs."

Last month, for example, the state added jobs even as national employment declined, largely because of life sciences. In addition, O'Connell said, the sector is broad, covering biotechnology, medical devices, and healthcare while involving other industries, including plastics, precision machining, and information technology.

"We're a leader in life sciences," O'Connell said, "and we're drawing a line in the sand that we will not lose our preeminence in that field."

The House has already approved a life sciences bill, and the Senate is expected to follow. But the administration's other big initiative, casino gambling, has run into tough opposition, particularly House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Democrat of Boston. The number of jobs casinos might generate is in dispute, and many would not be realized until after Patrick's first term ends.

Some business officials worry that casinos will distract Patrick from other economic needs, such as revitalizing the state's struggling cities.

"There's danger a lot of good political capital will be squandered that could be spent on more productive, long-term investments," said David Tibbets, general counsel of the Merrimack Valley Economic Development Council, a nonprofit in Lawrence.

O'Connell said casinos remain just one component of a broad agenda, which the administration is pursuing across the state. So far, regional economic development officials said, Patrick has been responsive to their efforts.

For example, said Allan Blair, president of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts in Springfield, Patrick backed local efforts to get direct air service to Europe, even though the airport, Bradley International, is in Windsor Locks, Conn. The administration also awarded $75,000 to promote Western Massachusetts via the Hartford-Amsterdam route to European tourists, showing an "enlightened understanding" that regional economies sometimes cross state lines, Blair said.

"This administration believes the state's economy is a compilation of regional economies," Blair said. "One of the more remarkable things they've done is pay attention to this region."

The administration also has to pay attention to business costs, which are among the highest in the nation, business officials said. Among their chief concerns: taxes.

Patrick's proposal to plug corporate loopholes would cost businesses about $300 million a year - even after a modest corporate tax-rate cut proposed by the governor. With state revenues likely to slip with the economy, and Patrick looking to finance a big agenda, business leaders worry other tax increases could land on businesses.

"We have to be very careful about overcommitting state resources," said Paul Guzzi, president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. "We have to stay focused on the issue of the cost of doing business, and that includes the resolution of the corporate tax issue."

The resolution will come later this year, when the Legislature adopts a state budget. DiMasi has proposed a deeper cut in corporate tax rates to offset higher payments from closing the so-called loopholes.

O'Connell said the administration understands that high business costs affect economic competitiveness, and is working with the Legislature to come up with fair tax plan.

"We know we're not going to tax our way," he said, "We need to grow our way."
Robert Gavin can be reached at


"Software contract called improper: State report says bid rules violated"
By Andrea Estes, Boston Globe Staff, March 10, 2008

The state inspector general has found that a Canadian software company was improperly awarded a $13 million contract last year in an unusually rushed deal in which House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi had an active interest.

At almost every turn, DiMasi, his aides, or his friends played a role in either creating a demand for Cognos ULC's computer software or in pushing Cognos to the head of the bidding field.

DiMasi personally met with the state's chief information officer to push for the kind of software that Cognos produces. A middleman in the deal, Joseph Lally, portrayed himself to key state officials as DiMasi's friend. A longtime DiMasi friend, Richard McDonough, was hired as a lobbyist for Cognos and was paid $100,000 by the company.

The result of the process was a contract award that violated basic state bidding rules.

In a five-page letter sent to Administration and Finance Secretary Leslie Kirwan on Thursday, Inspector General Gregory Sullivan recommended that the contract be voided and that the state seek a refund.

Governor Deval Patrick's administration asked Sullivan to look into the contract in December after the newly appointed head of the state's Information Technology division, Anne Margulies, raised concerns about "discrepancies" in the bids. The request also was made amid grumbling among state employees and rival bidders about possible political interference in the contract process, said a former employee of the division.

Margulies's predecessor, Bethann Pepoli, spearheaded the bidding process last year. Pepoli, who was a holdover from the administration of former governor Mitt Romney, has told investigators that Lally set up a meeting between her and DiMasi in the speaker's office where DiMasi expressed his interest in "performance management software," the type of computer program that was eventually purchased from Cognos, according to two sources with firsthand knowledge of her statements.

Pepoli, who was acting chief information officer, told investigators that Lally said DiMasi wanted the state to buy the software and was specifically interested in Cognos, according to the two sources.

In an e-mail obtained through a public records request, Pepoli wrote Kirwan that the push for performance management software "started as a requirement from the legislature" and that DiMasi's chief of staff, Maryann Calia, was "the lead on this."

While she would not discuss the extent of her contact with DiMasi, Pepoli denied she was swayed by the speaker or political factors.

"The speaker and I never had a conversation about a vendor," Pepoli told the Globe. "I don't feel like my recommendation was influenced by any outside sources."

A spokesman for DiMasi said the speaker had "absolutely no involvement" in the administration's bidding process but declined to describe his relationship with Lally or say whether he had met with Pepoli to discuss the contract. The spokesman, David Guarino, said DiMasi spent years encouraging state officials to buy the type of "performance management" software that Cognos and other companies produce.

Such programs allow government officials to keep track of reams of data, from tax revenues to prison populations, all at once. Two other companies, Oracle and SAS, submitted bids that were lower than that of Cognos, but the state was not required to accept the lowest bid under this type of contract. The funds for the purchase were approved by the Legislature in a special bill.

"The awarding of the contract was handled entirely by the Patrick administration under the terms of the bill, which specifically called for an "open and fair competitive process," said Guarino.

"The speaker's only interest was in bringing a performance management program to state government, not which company provided it."

Lally, who Pepoli told investigators asserted he was DiMasi's friend, was a former vice president of sales at Cognos, an Ottawa-based company with US headquarters in Burlington, which was recently bought by IBM.

He is now a principal of Montvale Solutions, a local company that sells Cognos and other software.

Lally would not discuss the transaction or his relationship to DiMasi.

"I don't discuss anything that has to do with my clients," he said on Thursday.

He was not the only friend of DiMasi who had an interest in the deal.

Richard McDonough, a lobbyist and longtime friend of DiMasi, registered as a lobbyist for Cognos just as funding for the software was approved. McDonough reported earning $100,000 from Cognos in 2007. He had lobbied for the company before, but not since 2003, according to records of the secretary of state's office.

McDonough did not return phone calls seeking comment.

In a statement, Steve Milmore, Cognos spokesman, said "Cognos fully complied with the process required by the Commonwealth for bidding this transaction."

Because of the cloud surrounding the process, the software was never widely distributed, even though Cognos received the entire $13 million payment last year. The software was distributed to only one state agency, Administration and Finance.

Language authorizing the purchase was tucked into an "immediate needs" bond bill, which was filed in the House on March 14, 2007. It flew through the House and Senate in one week and was signed by Patrick on March 23, 2007. By contrast, there are several bond bills filed last year that are still languishing in the Legislature.

According to the inspector general's sharply critical report, the bidding and review process was fundamentally flawed.

It was not only rushed, - taking weeks instead of the several months typically taken to analyze such deals - but the process didn't conform to state bidding rules or bid requirements that were contained in the special bond bill authorizing the purchase, the inspector general found.

Cognos was recommended as the winning bidder in May. But the procedures for picking a contractor - including establishing selection criteria, advertising for bidders on the Internet, and determining how the state would use the software - were not even certified by the state comptroller until July.

The inspector general also found that:

Instead of placing an advertisement for the contract on the state's procurement website soliciting bidders, four companies were notified by e-mail. "That is the opposite of an open process," Sullivan wrote.

The three competing bids, which were evaluated in May on a point system, were incorrectly scored. Points earned in more than half of the evaluation categories were ignored because of a typographical error, Sullivan found.

When the six-person team evaluating bids recommended the process be suspended until state officials could determine how they would actually use the software, Pepoli ignored their conclusion, telling superiors that Cognos "was the best choice" and should be given the contract.

Kirwan yesterday would not say what the state will do next.

She issued a written statement saying: "This administration takes the integrity of the procurement process very seriously."
Andrea Estes can be reached at

March 10, 2008

Massachusetts Cities & Towns are now going to tax telephone poles & wires over public ways. All the property tax really is is a form of regressive taxation. Who really wins? The wealthy. I am surprised NH isn't following suit, despite the tax being borne by business. After all, NH is the most fiscally conservative state in the Union of 50.

In Dissent!
Jonathan A. Melle


"Property tax OK'd for Mass. telephone poles"
The NH Union Leader, Business, Staff and Wire Reports
March 10, 2008

BOSTON – A Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board ruling last week said it's OK for cities and towns to tax telephone poles and wires over public ways.

The decision allows Bay State communities to tap a new source of revenue, in some cases dating back to 2003, and could support taxation of cable television and other utility lines.

In New Hampshire, utility poles and wires are not subject to property taxes.

The state Legislature has rebuffed repeated efforts to end their tax exempt status.

The most recent attempt came in 2006 in the Granite State, when a House bill was killed without debate. A similar effort died in the Senate in 2005.

Those who opposed the tax argued that repealing the exemption would raise rates for telephone customers, since companies would add the tax expense to rates as a cost of business.

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue says it intends to begin allowing the taxes immediately, but it also warned cities and towns not to count on spending the money because of the likelihood of an appeal.

Cities and towns in Massachusetts already tax wires and poles on private property.

Gov. Deval Patrick has said closing a loophole exempting equipment over public ways would give cash-starved communities up to $78 million annually.

The exemption was established in 1915, when the government was trying to bring telephones to homes.

The Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group previously said in a statement that the 1915 loophole should be closed.

"It serves no modern public purpose, prevents more efficient use of public space and forces local assessors to waste taxpayer dollars chasing after questionable claims by companies who are both utilities and telecoms," MPIRG said in a statement.Verizon New England Inc., which had been targeted in an array of appeals by cities and towns, said it was analyzing the ruling, as well as its financial impact.

"We'll be weighing all of our options, including an appeal," said Verizon spokesman Phil Santoro.

Patrick's so-called Municipal Partnership Act proposes taxing utility owners for all underground conduits, wires and pipes, including poles and wires over public ways. Besides telephone and cable TV, the provision would apply to companies providing Internet, data or other similar services.


Paul Reville is well respected in state education circles.

"Governor to name education secretary: Selection to guide long-term goals"
By Peter Schworm, Boston Globe Staff, March 11, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick is expected today to name Paul Reville, chairman of the state Board of Education and an architect of the state's education reform plan in the 1990s, as education secretary, a Cabinet-level post that cements Patrick's sweeping overhaul of the state's education leadership.

Reville, a proponent of raising academic standards and holding schools that struggle accountable, will lead a new office designed to coordinate public education policy from preschool through college.

Patrick will announce Reville's appointment as the head of the Executive Office of Education at a press conference this morning at Monument High School in South Boston, said State House sources briefed on the announcement. Under Patrick's changes, the office will oversee the state's two education departments and three boards when it starts working in July.

Reville is widely respected in education circles, and the new position is a major step for Patrick as he tries to consolidate control of the state's education system to advance his proposals.

Patrick has outlined a host of ambitious initiatives for education, such as establishing universal preschool and full-day kindergarten, extending the school day and year, and providing tuition-free community college.

As governor, Patrick has appointed new leaders of the state boards of early education, education, and higher education. A new commissioner for the state Department of Education is slated to take office in May.

In January, the Legislature overwhelmingly approved the position of education secretary, giving the post limited powers over long-range plans, hiring, and budgets. Supporters say the new office will help unite a fragmented public education system to tackle broad problems, but critics argue that it adds a needless level of bureaucracy that threatens the political independence of the education boards.

Reville has previously expressed doubts about the post, testifying to legislators in 2003 that education policy should be insulated from the "ebb and flow of politics."

"No matter how well constituted, an education secretariat creates a competing center of power that vies with and against the state's" education commissioner and the Department of Education, he testified.

But Reville told the Globe in January he supported the new plan because it is "respectful of keeping some distance between the political process and the education policy-making process."

Reville will assume the post July 1, when he will resign as chairman of the Board of Education. Today, Patrick will nominate three new members to the expanded board, including Dana Mohler-Faria, president of Bridgewater State College and the governor's chief education advisor, the sources said. Reville will be a voting member of all three state education boards.

Patrick will also name two new members to vacant positions on the Board of Early Education and Care, said the sources, who requested anonymity to avoid deflecting attention from the official announcement.

Reville will be asked to usher recommendations from his so-called Readiness Project, a group of 200 business and community leaders developing a long-term plan for the state's education system, into concrete legislative proposals, sources said.

Narrowing the achievement gap between low-income, urban students and their wealthier suburban counterparts will also be a chief priority.

Many students are also graduating from high school without the academic skills needed for college. A recent Board of Higher Education report that found that more than one-third of public high school graduates enrolled in at least one remedial course in their first semester in college.

Through a spokesman, Patrick declined to comment pending the official announcement.

But in appointing Reville last August, Patrick described him as "a leader with a broad perspective on local, national, and international education issues and solutions." The governor chose Reville for his expertise, ability to forge consensus, and his ideas about education, the source added.

A well-known education policy researcher, Reville heads the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy in Cambridge and directs the education policy and management program at Harvard's Graduate School of Education.

State Representative Patricia Haddad, chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Education, praised the selection, calling Reville a thoughtful intellectual who could garner support for potentially divisive plans.

"His reputation is that of someone who brings people to the table," she said. "It's the person that will really make this [secretary position] work, and Paul has the ability to bring people together and look at the big picture."

Anne Wass, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said Reville's collaborative approach was well suited for a position designed to promote cooperation.

"He's totally committed to children and improving their education," she said. "The more I know him, the more that's evident. He likes to use a collaborative approach and is always willing to listen before he makes decisions."

Patrick's budget, filed in January, would increase education spending by $368 million and earmark additional funding for kindergarten classes, extended school day programs, tutoring for students with low standardized test scores, and helping low-performing schools.

Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, said Reville's diplomacy will help knit together a system that has "been uneager to collaborate."

"Reville has probably the best perspective of anyone on what has to be done and how it has to be done," he said.
Peter Schworm can be reached at

"Region silent in education: New appointments draw ire"
By Hillary Chabot, Berkshire Eagle Boston Bureau
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

BOSTON — Despite promises to include Western Massachusetts voices in state government, Gov. Deval L. Patrick yesterday appointed three Board of Education members from east of Worcester.

The appointments were part of several changes Patrick announced in the State Education Department, including the appointment of Paul Reville as new education secretary.

Education and political officials bristled at the regional oversight, which leaves the 11-member education board without a single Western Massachusetts resident.

"This is nothing but a slap in the face to the people of Western Mass. who supported him so strongly," said North Adams Mayor John Barrett III. "He didn't keep his word to the people in Berkshire County, he didn't keep his word to the people in Western Mass., and I'm terribly disappointed."

Rep. Denis Guyer, D-Dalton, plans on sending a strongly worded complaint to Patrick.

"I'm not happy about this," Guyer said. "My fear is that policies, regulations and programs are going to once again have an Eastern Mass. flavor and regional schools in Western Mass won't be thought of when these things are considered."

Patrick appointed Bridgewater State College President Dana Mohler-Faria, Patrick's top education adviser; Gerald Chertavian, CEO of the youth program Year Up; and Efficacy Institute founder Jeffrey Howard to the newly named Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The last Board of Education member from Western Massachusetts was Henry Thompson, of Springfield, who resigned last year.

Patrick defended his selections to the board, saying he has tried to include the whole state.

Patrick spokesman Cyndi Roy pointed out a Northampton resident sits on the Board of Early Education, and said the governor will have other appointments on the board soon.

The new education secretary, will start on July 1.

Reville would be the first education secretary, a cabinet-level post created by Patrick to encourage a seamless transition from early education to public higher education.


"We have schools, too"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Thursday, March 13, 2008

Governor Patrick, who in his first year in office showed an interest in and understanding of the needs of Berkshire County and Western Massachusetts, fumbled the ball in failing to appoint a single western representative to the state Board of Education. As the governor seeks to revamp the state's educational system, this oversight is troubling.

While a Patrick spokesman pointed out that a Northampton resident sits on the Board of Early Education, that board is not the state board and Northampton is not the Berkshires. It's impossible to believe that there are no Berkshire residents qualified for the high echelons of the state's educational system.

The governor has been admirably ambitious in offering new educational proposals, among them extending the school day and year, establishing universal full-day kindergarten, and increasing funding for financially strapped community colleges, which he would like to make tuition free. He lobbied successfully for the creation of the position of education secretary, which he filled Tuesday with the appointment of Paul Reveille, chairman of the state Board of Education and one of the architects of the education reform law. We're not convinced that adding a position to the cumbersome education bureaucracy represents the path to improvement, but Mr. Reveille has indicated a desire to find ways of closing the achievement gap between low-income urban schools and suburban schools, which is of specific importance to Pittsfield and North Adams.

The magnitude of these changes and goals makes it all the more important for the Berkshires and its Western Massachusetts neighbors to be represented on the state board, where voice can be given to specific concerns. Berkshire legislators have expressed their unhappiness with the governor's newest appointees and we are confident they will keep the heat on the administration until this situation is rectified at the first available opportunity.


(Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)

"Patrick and DiMasi try to put good face on a rocky relationship"
March 27, 2008, 1:22 PM, The Boston Globe Online
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff

Governor Deval Patrick and his political nemesis, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, did their best today to put a good public face on their fractured and increasingly acrimonious relationship.

Patrick referred to the speaker as "my friend and partner" this morning at a press conference about a transportation reform that marked the first time the two men had appeared together publicly since DiMasi orchestrated a crushing defeat of the governor’s casino proposal. They stood together in the Senate Reading Room on a day that Patrick called the speaker undemocratic and blamed him for his political losses in a front page story in the New York Times.

Patrick deflected a question from a reporter about the Times story and listed a series of projects that he said he and DiMasi has accomplished together, which included a $1 billion life sciences initiative and tax credits for filmmakers. As Patrick spoke, DiMasi avoided eye contact with the governor, nodded, and licked his lips.

"Obviously the papers are used to put a twist or bend on something," DiMasi said with a smirk when it was his turn to talk about the Times story.

The host of the press conference, Senate President Therese Murray, tried to get reporters back on subject and halted questions about the tiff between DiMasi and Patrick.

"We're here today to talk about transportation," Murray said.


Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, is working with a Democratic Legislature but has been at odds with Salvatore DiMasi, the speaker of the House, and suffered a nasty defeat on a casino plan.

The New York Times Online
"Early Dazzle, Then Tough Path for a Governor"
By ABBY GOODNOUGH, March 27, 2008

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick has lately addressed doting crowds around the country as a surrogate for Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, his friend and fellow gifted orator. Last month, Mr. Obama even acknowledged borrowing language from Mr. Patrick’s stump speeches, casting a flattering light on a novice politician barely known outside Massachusetts.

But there is no such glow at home for Mr. Patrick, the first Democrat to lead his state in 16 years and the nation’s second elected black governor.

Mr. Patrick, who easily won office in 2006 after dazzling voters with a message of hope and change, suffered a nasty defeat last week at the hands of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, which quashed his proposal to increase revenues by allowing three resort casinos in the state. None of the governor’s major policy proposals have cleared the Legislature, in fact, and he and Salvatore DiMasi, the speaker of the House, have taken to trading barbs publicly.

Mr. Patrick is faring better than a year ago, when he was under siege for spending more than $10,000 on drapes for his State House office and upgrading his state car from a Ford Crown Victoria to a Cadillac. (He later agreed to reimburse the state for the drapes and part of the car lease.) By his third month in office, Mr. Patrick had announced that his wife was being treated for depression, and by his fourth, he had overhauled his staff.

But even now, governing is not coming easily for Mr. Patrick, 51, a former civil rights lawyer and corporate executive who came to Massachusetts on a prep school scholarship in the ’70s.

So why has he struggled for traction in a heavily Democratic state with a Legislature that should be on his side?

He blames Speaker DiMasi, a veteran of Beacon Hill who embraces old-school ways of doing business and holds far more sway than the governor over his members. Mr. Patrick believes his casino bill could have passed if Mr. DiMasi, who said gambling would be a scourge on the state, had not pressured lawmakers to oppose it.

“It’s part of what we ran against, and it needs to be called out,” Mr. Patrick said in an interview last week on the day before the House overwhelmingly killed the bill. “We’re going to keep working on it until we get a Democratic process that’s functioning.”

In addition to the gambling plan, which would have allowed up to three resort casinos here, Mr. DiMasi has rejected Mr. Patrick’s proposals to let towns raise certain taxes and to eliminate a century-old property tax exemption for telecommunications companies. But the casino plan drew the most attention and is Mr. Patrick’s highest-profile defeat to date.

“He’s got to score some major successes to prove he is relevant,” said Paul Watanabe, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. “One thing you don’t want to be is irrelevant, especially with the kind of appeal that he had as a candidate and is similar to that of Barack Obama.”

Mr. DiMasi, who supports Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York for president, has openly tried to link Mr. Obama to Mr. Patrick’s difficulties, suggesting, along with other critics, that the two are alike in their lack of executive experience. Before the Massachusetts primary in February, Mr. DiMasi said that he did not want a president “in there on a learning process” during his first year in office. (Despite endorsements from Mr. Patrick and Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts, Mr. Obama lost to Mrs. Clinton here by a wide margin.)

But Mr. Patrick dismissed the comparison, saying Mr. Obama had far more political experience than he, and defended his own record.

“I don’t accept that we can’t get anything done because we lose one issue,” he said in the interview. “Come on. People around here act like the only thing that happened last year was picking these drapes and buying a car. There’s a whole lot more.”

In particular, Mr. Patrick said the state had increased spending on education, housing and public safety; that 300,000 residents had acquired health insurance under its universal care system; and that with the legislative leadership, he had killed a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

He and his aides played down the significance of the casino plan as it foundered last week, saying that other economic development proposals — including a $1 billion plan to expand the life sciences industry here and another to generate more business tax revenue by closing loopholes — are far more important. Versions of both bills are moving through the Legislature.

“Even the speaker doesn’t want to be in the position of saying no to everything the governor brings forward,” Mr. Patrick said. “Even he appreciates that there are consequences to his members that come from that.”

Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Patrick went to law school at Harvard and rose in politics by casting himself as an outsider and an agent of change. Both men used powerful, inspiring language to win broad grass-roots support.

Mr. Patrick took a different path to power, however, serving as assistant United States attorney general for civil rights during President Bill Clinton’s first term, then as a top executive at Texaco, where he helped carry out a race discrimination settlement, and at Coca-Cola.

He declared his candidacy for governor in 2005 and was thought to have no chance against his Democratic primary opponents, both seasoned politicians whom he beat soundly. He connected with voters, using his outsider status to build excitement and grass-roots support.

“I came here to change politics as usual,” Mr. Patrick said at the state Democratic convention in 2006. “Because what’s missing from politics as usual is hope. We have been governed for too long by fear and low aim and salesmanship.”

Even some of Mr. Patrick’s strongest supporters have lost a little faith, including liberal Democrats who oppose casinos. (“Has Patrick become a lesson in the limitation of words?” a local radio host, David Boeri, asked at the start of a show on the subject last month.)

Others say it is far too soon to judge the governor, and that in fact, he is changing the paradigm on Beacon Hill, where a string of Republican governors cut taxes and the Legislature, eager to shake the “Taxachusetts” clich√©, often went along.

“He put on the table the presumption that we are going to need new revenue,” said Stephen Crosby, dean of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at the University of Massachusetts, who served on Mr. Patrick’s transition team. “In that sense he changed the conversation totally from where it’s been for 16 years.”

It is also too soon to predict whether Mr. Patrick will ascend beyond state politics, as so many other Massachusetts lawmakers have done. He will continue campaigning for Mr. Obama, his aides said, though they stressed he would do so only on personal time. He has ruled out cutting his term short to join an Obama administration, telling reporters in Washington last month, “I love this job.”

Mr. Crosby said Mr. Patrick’s failed bid for casinos did not portend trouble so much as the recent “bomb tossing” between him and the speaker.

“This feels like there might be some serious personal antipathy,” Mr. Crosby said. “If it’s true, that’s a problem.”

The state is also facing a $1.3 billion shortfall in its $28 billion budget, making the prospect of gridlock all the more troubling.

Regardless, Mr. Patrick said he felt new momentum this year, partly because he has realized the importance of building support for his proposals inside the State House and out. “The other thing I would say is I have a better idea this year about who to trust and who not to,” he said. “And you better believe that’s helped.”

On Deval Patrick:
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Governor Deval Patrick plans to write on nights and weekends.

"Long slog predicted for Patrick the author: No collaborator in $1.35m book deal"
By Keith O'Brien, Boston Globe Staff, March 29, 2008

Governor William F. Weld preferred to write on the weekends, holed up in New Hampshire or the Adirondack Mountains. Governor Mitt Romney, a businessman by nature, preferred typing away in mornings before work. Now comes the latest Beacon Hill politico-turned-scribe, sitting Governor Deval Patrick, who signed a $1.35 million book deal yesterday to write his life story.

Governor's book deal also carries political risk. B1.

That story - according to the publisher - will touch on such topics as "self-truth, grace, faith, courage, and compassion." And Weld, for one, believes the process will help Patrick. Thinking about where one has come from, and where one is going, can't be a bad thing for anyone, Weld said yesterday, especially a governor. And, anyway, who can argue with "self-truth" and "grace"?

But shelve for a moment romantic visions of Ernest Hemingway or Eugene O'Neill clattering away on keyboards deep into the dark night. The political memoir these days is as much a book as it is a prerequisite for running for higher office. See Obama, Barack; Clinton, Hillary Rodham; and McCain, John, just to name a few. And some wonder how the governor will have time to finish this book while leading a complex, sprawling state government with a proposed $28.2 billion-a-year budget.

"It's hard to believe that a person who's governor of a state - with all that implies - would have the time, focus, and energy - assuming he has the talent," said William Novak, a writer in Boston's western suburbs who has collaborated with Nancy Reagan, Lee Iacocca, Magic Johnson, Oliver North, and Tip O'Neill on their memoirs. "That's what my concern would be as a citizen."

"Nights and weekends," Patrick said, when asked at an event yesterday when he would find the time to write his book. He made his remarks after Broadway Books issued a statement announcing this "major work of nonfiction," and after Patrick's Boston-based literary agent, Todd Shuster, said the contract was worth $1.35 million - a stunning figure for a political memoir by a relative unknown, according to those in publishing circles.

Novak said that people are entitled to use their free time as they wish. The 2010 publication date should give Patrick plenty of time to finish the book, literary agents and authors said. Even Weld, a Republican, believes Patrick can write his memoir without interfering with state business.

"I've discovered recently that writing nonfiction is a lot less draining because you're writing stuff that you remember instead of stuff you're making up," said Weld, an author of three novels with political themes and Massachusetts roots who declined to say exactly what sort of nonfiction he's writing now.

Still, Patrick could be in for a long slog, particularly given his assertion that he will be writing his book without a ghostwriter or collaborator. Literary agents and authors believe he has a story to tell. Who can resist a tale of a poor boy raised on the South Side of Chicago going on to become the first black governor of Massachusetts? But telling that story, in a way that someone else might want to read it, is something else altogether, said Ipswich author William Patrick, who is of no relation to the governor.

"He can dictate," said Patrick, who collaborated with Sidney Poitier on his 2001 memoir, "The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography. "He can bang on his laptop while riding on a plane. So you can amass 100,000 words - not too hard. A thousand a day, easy. The trouble is, then what?"

The writing, as William Patrick sees it, is the easy part. What usually trips up the aspiring memoirist, he said, "is the rewriting, the honing. It's the architecture. It's knowing how to write a book."

Helen Rees, a Boston literary agent for almost three decades, said most politicians tabbed to spill their life stories typically don't have this skill. For this reason, she said, most of them have ghostwriters or collaborators who craft the narrative, build a story through interviews with the subject, and then let the subject review the work and make suggestions.

According to Eric Fehrnstrom, a Romney spokesman, Romney's nephew collaborated with the former governor on his 2004 book, "Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games," a 416-page account of Romney's work to salvage the scandal-plagued 2002 Olympics. Both the books that Rees did with Senator John F. Kerry included collaborators, she said. "And that was smart," Rees explained. "He's a full-time senator." A book, she pointed out, doesn't write itself. "It's intense," Rees said. "You're talking about one dimension. You're talking about someone's eyes looking at a page. And if those first five sentences don't grab you - if you're not hooked - you're in trouble."

The good news for Patrick is, the publisher was impressed with his writing. The governor said yesterday that he plans to write at night and on the weekends in the months ahead. A recent first-time author, Nick Trout, who shares the same publisher as Patrick, believes the governor can pull it off.

Trout, a veterinary surgeon at Angell Animal Medical Center in Jamaica Plain, had a book published this month about his life amid animals. Called "Tell Me Where It Hurts," it took several months to write and edit, he said.

But he finished it, Trout said, and he expects Patrick can do the same - especially if he knows how to type.

"I'm a two-finger typer," Trout said, "and useless."
Keith O'Brien can be reached at
Firms that went elsewhere


"The ones that got away: State not always a winner in stiff competition for businesses"
By Todd Wallack, Boston Globe Staff, April 1, 2008

When Genzyme Corp. started expansion of its plant in Allston in September, the biotech company attracted a crowd of dignitaries, including Governor Deval Patrick. Days later, Patrick turned up in Andover to publicize the promise by biotech firm Wyeth to add 100 jobs at its center. And earlier this year, he traveled to Springfield for an event detailing Liberty Mutual Group's plans to add 300 jobs.

But for every major corporate expansion heralded by the governor, other firms considering Massachusetts have quietly decided to go elsewhere instead. For example, in recent months, two makers of solar panels, XsunX Inc. and Schott Solar Inc., and a healthcare company, Athenahealth Inc., have all picked other states to build operations involving hundreds of jobs.

While local officials are quick to highlight Massachusetts' assets - including a cadre of elite universities, an educated workforce, and large industry clusters in finance, high tech, and life sciences - the lost opportunities illustrate the challenges it faces from other states considered more welcoming to businesses.

Indeed, as a place to do business, Massachusetts has consistently ranked below average in national surveys. Forbes magazine last summer put it 36th among the 50 states. The Tax Foundation, a nonprofit Washington research group, pegged Massachusetts at 37th based on its "business tax climate." And Chief Executive magazine ranked the state as the 4th worst for business, based on its survey of chief executives.

Securing new business is competitive, said Patrick Cloney, who runs the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, which is charged with trying to persuade companies to come here. While Cloney said the state fights hard for every project, he said Texas, North Carolina, and some other states typically spend more money on recruiting - including advertising, attending trade shows, and contacting companies directly. In that respect, Cloney said, 'We are laggards."

Beyond recruiting, Cloney's agency is working on a host of programs to make the state more attractive.

Lawmakers are close to giving final approval for Patrick's $1 billion life-sciences initiative, which includes $25 million a year in tax incentives for biotech companies and other firms. House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi has pitched a $50 million plan to buoy the clean energy industry. The state is considering further expanding subsidies to the film industry. And it is teaming up with local towns to pre-approve large tracts of land for construction, so companies can count on being able to build immediately.

Massachusetts is currently chasing two significant projects, code-named Project Sunshine and Project Blue Moon. In both cases, the unidentified companies are working through site-selection consultants to conceal their identities.

But economic-development officials have learned that Project Sunshine is another solar-panel company, which could ultimately create as many as 1,000 jobs. The company is scouting for 40 to 50 acres and is believed to be eyeing several states in addition to Massachusetts.

Blue Moon is reportedly a large high-tech manufacturer interested in building a technology-development center and a headquarters of up to 600,000 square feet, employing more than 2,000 people. It is looking for 5 to 15 acres in Bedford or Burlington.

Development officials say they are also competing daily for an array of smaller projects that won't make headlines.

"We don't get up every morning and go elephant hunting," said Cloney, noting that most economic development opportunities are modest endeavors - he calls them "squirrels."

Overall, state economic officials say they are vying for projects totaling more than 31,000 new jobs and $7.7 billion in potential investments.

But some executives and business consultants say Massachusetts can't always compete for larger projects - the "elephants," as Cloney calls them - because of the relatively high cost of doing business here and the larger tax breaks offered in other states.

"The state is fairly responsive," said Jack Troast, managing director of T3 Advisors LLC, a site-selection-consulting company in Waltham. "My impression is they want to make these deals. The question is whether they have the tools," he said, referring to help such as tax incentives that encourage companies to expand.

Companies cited several reasons for going elsewhere. For instance, XsunX, a solar energy startup based in Southern California, considered Massachusetts, but decided to build its new $100 million manufacturing complex near Portland, Ore. The facilities, which will make solar panels for utilities and large companies, are expected to employ as many as 320 workers by late 2010. XsunX chief executive Tom Djokovich said Massachusetts was lacking in two areas: energy prices and tax credits. He said Massachusetts' electricity rates, among the highest in the country, would have added as much as $7 million a year to operating costs. Also, he said, Oregon offered tax incentives for green-energy companies that Massachusetts could not match.

"We were looking for more support" from the state, Djokovich said.

Schott Solar, a solar company that already has about 150 employees in Billerica, initially considered 15 sites across North America, including Massachusetts, for a new factory. The plant is expected to cost $100 million and create 350 jobs. But Schott eventually hopes to invest $500 million and hire 1,500 workers.

Schott Solar, a unit of German-based Schott AG, toured sites in Westfield and Westminster under the code name "Ajax," according to economic development officials. But it ultimately chose Albuquerque, where it broke ground for the plant last month.

Schott spokesman Brian Lynch said the company wanted something Massachusetts couldn't offer: a 100-acre site that was flat and "devoid of trees" to speed construction.

Athenahealth, which has nearly 600 employees at its Watertown headquarters, considered several nearby sites for a new operations center, including Western Massachusetts, upstate New York, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, where the cost of living is lower than the Boston area. The company, which helps manage electronic records for medical groups, quickly narrowed the list to Maine and Vermont because they offered better tax incentives and other assistance, said Carl Byers, the company's chief financial officer.

"The incentives were very important to us," Byers said. He said the company ultimately picked Belfast, Maine, after finding a real estate deal too good to pass up. He said the company was able to buy a building for just $6.1 million that MBNA Corp. spent $30 million to build. In addition, Byers said, MBNA (now part of Bank of America) had trained many workers to do similar work before shutting down its call and service center two years ago, leaving a large pool of skilled workers in the area. Athenahealth said its operations center, slated to open April 7, will initially have 100 workers by the end of this year, but could employ as many as 600 to 700 within five years. Byers said the company will also continue to add more workers at its Watertown headquarters, where it employs programmers, executives, and other higher-paid professionals.

But Cloney, who worked as a private-equity executive before joining the state economic development agency, said he doesn't dwell on the losses. "There are some deals that no matter what we do we are not going to win," he said. "What I want to do is fight for every one of them."
Todd Wallack can be reached at

"[Deval] Patrick: Resist panic: Governor outlines his plans for these 'anxious economic times'"
By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Tuesday, April 01, 2008

PITTSFIELD — Gov. Deval L. Patrick, preparing to outline his administration's response to the slumping national economy, assured the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce that Massachusetts has so far not been battered by the economic storm.

Addressing a breakfast gathering at the Crowne Plaza yesterday, Patrick said Massachusetts' unemployment rate of 4.5 percent has been below the national average for nine months, the housing market has not dropped as dramatically as in other regions, and the state is adding jobs in key sectors such as education and health services.

Still, the governor struck a pragmatic tone, describing national conditions that inevitably will carry consequences for Massachusetts.

"We gather in anxious economic times," he said. "On the national level, the causes for concern are plain enough. The bubble has burst in overheated real estate markets all over the country. Financial markets and institutions are in disarray in the wake of the credit meltdown, and the virtual collapse of Bear Stearns — one of the nation's largest investment banks — shows just how far the mighty can fall."

Oil prices and jobless claims are up, Patrick said, and leading economic indicators are down. "Call it recession or whatever you want, things are not going well right now in the U.S. economy. In an economy based on consumption, consumers are not feeling confident."

He warned that "what we must resist above all is panic. The hyperbole of much of the media and the political class sometimes causes us to see things in starker or more dire terms than is warranted. ... In an economy based on consumption and consumer confidence, we can talk ourselves into hard times."

Patrick is planning this month to make a major address on the economy, and his staff billed yesterday's speech as a prelude to that appearance.

He largely described actions the state has taken, including major bond bills to support the life sciences sector and to increase broadband Internet access, efforts to streamline the permitting process, and the ongoing pursuit of alternative energy and increased energy efficiency.

In an interview afterward, Patrick said the state is pursuing a number of "direct investment and capital investment" plans that are in various stages of development. In the coming weeks, he said, his administration will be outlining "how to move some resources available right now into communities to encourage investment and growth."

Addressing about 400 members of the chamber, he said the state's ability to stay afloat as the national economy has gone down is different from the past three recessions, which hit Massachusetts earlier and lasted longer.

"No economy is recession-proof, let alone that of a single state," Patrick said, "but Massachusetts is better armed against economic upheaval today than it has been in the past."

But members of the middle class are "one paycheck away, one serious illness away, one layoff away from being poor, and are deeply anxious about it."

Although state government is too small to "ride to the rescue ... it must do what it can," he said, adding that his administration's economic agenda over the past 15 months has been designed to build on the state's strengths while targeting some of its shortfalls, including the physical needs of the state's highways, and public colleges and universities.

That infrastructure money includes investment in broadband that would span the state, including unserved and underserved Berkshire communities.

"We have been waiting for years for private industry to expand broadband service to the underserved communities in our state. Opportunities in education, economic growth and health care are being missed. So we have put before the Legislature a proposal to expand broadband service to every underserved city or town in Massachusetts by 2010, working in partnership with private industry," the governor said.

"Count on me to be not just your governor, but your partner," Patrick told the chamber. "State government can work with our partners in business, the nonprofit world and local government to find ways to create the conditions that enable economic opportunities. And then we must act."
To reach Jack Dew: (413) 496-6241

"Patrick's moonlighting"
April 1, 2008

GOVERNOR PATRICK has a compelling personal story to tell, and he says he will be telling it on his own time. But the $1.35-million memoir Patrick has contracted to write over the next two or three years still presents conflicts with his day job - the job 1.23 million Massachusetts voters elected him to do.

Patrick says he will be writing the book "at nights and on weekends," as if he stops being governor after 5 p.m. His wan assurances bring to mind a similar miscalculation he made in his first months as governor, when he made a call to former US Treasury secretary Robert Rubin vouching for ACC Capital Holdings, a company where Patrick had been a board member. Patrick tried to mitigate the furor by saying he had not made the call "in his capacity as governor." No one begrudges Patrick a personal life or free time. But then, as now, he seems not to appreciate that he is never off the clock.

The tension between the state's claim on Patrick's time and his own was only heightened by his clandestine trip to New York to ink the book deal while his casino gambling proposal was going down in flames. The proposal's defeat was a foregone conclusion, but many of Patrick's hard-working allies felt abandoned by his retreat. "It's hard to imagine a more inept act," said one of Patrick's State House supporters.

Also worrisome are the speaking engagements Patrick may be expected to make. The book will be published in 2010, in the heat of Patrick's reelection campaign, assuming he seeks reelection. To maximize reader interest, he will almost surely embark on a book tour. He has said he will donate a portion of his speaking fees to A Better Chance, the nonprofit group that helped get him a scholarship to Milton Academy. Patrick will have to choose his sponsors carefully to make sure speaking fees are not unregulated campaign contributions in another guise.

It is true that former governor Weld spent the last six or seven months of his tenure writing a first novel, "Mackerel by Moonlight," but Weld had already checked out mentally from the job. We expect more from Patrick, whose promise has so far not been met.

All good expository writing aims to answer a question. Patrick will have many to choose from. Is becoming the second black elected governor in US history a grand enough achievement for him, or will he seek higher office still? Will he ever feel at home in the political fray, or continue to hold himself aloof from the mess of democracy? Is he a one-term governor? What really makes him tick? Massachusetts residents shouldn't have to buy the book to learn the end of that story.


"Chief Executive Optimistic of State's Economic Outlook"
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff,, March 31, 2008

Gov. Deval Patrick

PITTSFIELD - Gov. Deval Patrick assured Berkshire Chamber of Commerce members that the state economy could weather the current economic crisis and hinted at local investments that could begin within the next three months.

"Things are not going well right now in the U.S. economy. In an economy built on consumption, consumers are feeling uncomfortable," the governor told a packed room at the Crowne Plaza on Monday morning. "Massachusetts is holding its own, and I want you to know that."

Some 400 representatives of business, finance, education and publishing filled the tables at the chamber breakfast to hear the governor speak to their concerns about manufacturing and the economy. So many showed up that more tables had to be brought into the hall to accommodate the overflow.

March has been declared "Manufacturing Month" in Massachusetts and the administration of Patrick and Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray has been holding forums across the state to gather input on the needs of local manufacturers. After Patrick's address, a forum, lead by Gregory Bialecki, undersecretary of business development, with Labor Secretary Suzanne Bump, Philip Giudice, commissioner of the Division of Energy Resources, and Jack Healey of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership was attended by about three dozen people.

Healey, speaking later at the forum, said while manufacturing jobs have been shed, production and exports are up and manufacturing co ntinues to be No. 2 in the state with a $25 billion payroll.

The governor said job growth is up in health, education and technology sectors, and that unemployment is lower than a year ago, and lower than the national rate.

While the "bubble has burst in the overheated real estate," oil remains high and gasoline may approach $4 a gallon, the state continues to perform better than the national economy on all fronts, he said.

Soft Landing

The state isn't recession-proof, Patrick said, but is better armed to stave off an economic downturn than in the past, when the last three recessions hit hard and lasted long.

The governor spoke of efforts to capitalize on the creative economy on both the cultural and technological fronts, and the bond bills he is urging the Legislature to approve as investments to stimulate the business climate.

"We'll working with local leadership to identify the kinds of investments we can make in the next 90 days that will make a difference in inspiring economic activity," Patrick said.

Taking a shot at the previous Republican administrations, the Democrat said the state's economy has improved "considerably over the four years of the preceding administration."

"We were left a legacy of chronic neglect and find ourselves with a crumbling infrastructure and a backlog of capital needs."

Patrick said that infrastructure needs billions, pointing to the $4.8 billion transportation bond bill that the Legislature took up last week. He said he was prepared to sign his $1 billion, 10-year life science bill and a higher education bill that would revamp state college and university campuses.

He also touted efforts to ramp up the state's tourism sector, partly by promoting ethnic fairs across the state and attracting overseas tourists. Direct flights from Boston's Logan Airport to China will be a reality within the next year.

Those initiatives will create both temporary and permanent jobs, but it's the state's investment in life sciences and education that will really pay off, he said.

One job in the health field means 3.6 jobs in indirect services - suppliers, vendors etc. - or, according to a Northeastern University study, a multiplication of five, said Patrick.

He also touted the state's efforts to streamline permitting, cut excise taxes for smaller businesses, provide health care for all, freezing unemployment rates and restructuring the education department.

But for middle-class taxpayers "one paycheck away, one serious illness away, one layoff away" from distress, the future is fearful; the state government must do what it can, he said, through partnerships, education and collaborative efforts.

"It is the agenda of this administration to create a broad culture of opportunity, that is our charge," said Patrick.


Gregory P. Bialecki is Undersecretary for Business Development of the Department of Business and Technology. Prior to his current role, Mr. Bialecki worked for over twenty years as a real estate development and environmental lawyer at the law firms of Hill & Barlow and DLA Piper Rudnick, focusing on the major urban redevelopment projects in the Greater Boston area. He also worked extensively with public agencies, non-profit organizations and private landowners on land conservation and open space protection matters throughout the Commonwealth. Mr. Bialecki is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.



Suzanne M. Bump was appointed Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development in January 2007, bringing more than two decades of leadership experience in government, non-profits and business to the position. She is a member of the Governor’s Cabinet, and is also one of the five members of Governor Deval Patrick’s “development cabinet,” which works across agency and department lines to spur economic and job growth.

Bump represented Braintree from 1985 to 1993 in the House of Representatives, and co-chaired the Committee on Commerce and Labor. Responsible for passing laws on a variety of labor and economic issues, Chairman Bump sponsored many bills on wages, hours, working conditions and job creation. Her most notable success there was the reform of the state’s industrial accidents program with the Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 1991, of which she was the principal legislative author. She held other leadership positions, chairing the Caucus of Women Legislators and serving as Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Transportation. She also served on the MassJobs Council, the principal advisory board to the governor on workforce investment.

Since then, Bump has served on the boards of a wide range of non-profit and civic organizations, from the South Shore Chamber of Commerce to the St. Francis House in Boston. She has also served as an advisory member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s government relations committee and as treasurer of EMH Recovery, a residential program for women recovering from drug and alcohol dependencies in Brockton. She was also the president of a non-profit providing language and skills training to workers in the hotel industry for a labor-management trust fund.

In her business career, Bump served as Assistant Vice President for law and government relations at the American Insurance Association. More recently, she was a regional Vice President and General Counsel at Citigroup. Prior to her appointment as Director, she was a partner in the law firm of McDevitt & Bump, P.C., providing legal services to small businesses and non-profits.

Bump has also received numerous honors for her work from labor and business organizations. A native of Whitman, she earned an A.B. in English from Boston College and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. She lives in Great Barrington with her husband, Paul McDevitt.



The Boston Globe's Columnist: SCOT LEHIGH
"The triumphs, blunders of Deval Patrick"
By Scot Lehigh, (Boston) Globe Columnist, April 4, 2008

AFTER A tough couple of weeks, Doug Rubin, chief of staff for Deval Patrick, is determinedly pushing this message: Good things have occurred on his boss's watch - and more are coming.

Here's my question, however: what about the bad things that have just happened?

Like, say, the drubbing Patrick took on his casino legislation. Or his trip to New York City on the day the casino bill went down in flames, where, we later learned, he scored a megabucks book deal - one that has caused people to question his commitment to his day job.

Or sharply calling out House Speaker Sal DiMasi in a New York Times story, one that ended up appearing just as Beacon Hill Democrats were trying to put the casino battle behind them and demonstrate that they can work together on other issues.

All that has left some once-enthusiastic Patrick supporters dismayed.

"People are just shaking their heads and saying, 'What the hell?' " says one.

Rubin concedes it's been a difficult period.

"I think that we made a mistake," he says of the New York trip, though he refuses to divulge whether he advised Patrick against it. "We are going to make mistakes from time to time. We are not perfect."

As I see it, the issue isn't about making the occasional mistake, it's about not making such stupid mistakes.

"OK, I agree with you," Rubin says. "But since the first few months, this is the only one you can point to that is in that category, as you categorize it."

During his rocky early months, Patrick's blunders - the Cadillac, the drapes, the in-hopelessly-over-their-heads top staffers, the phone call to Citigroup on behalf of ACC Capital Holdings, the parent company of Ameriquest - were attributed to inexperience. I've since come to suspect that a certain self-absorption makes the governor dismissive of political niceties and disdainful of his critics.

That's why I also wonder this: Does Patrick himself, who last week said he had no regrets about the trip's timing, now think he made a mistake?

A second question: Does the governor, who with his wife has more than $5 million in mortgages, need the $1.35 million book deal to help meet his financial obligations? The public has a right to know more, which is why Patrick should release his income tax returns.

Although the book deal has triggered speculation Patrick will leave before his term ends, particularly if Barack Obama becomes president, Rubin denies that. "I am 100 percent certain that the governor will serve out his first term," the chief of staff says, adding that he expects Patrick to seek reelection.

One thrust of Rubin's damage-control effort reduces to this: In the time between Patrick's early blunders and this one, the administration had had a pretty good run. He cites defeating the proposed constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, instituting managed competition in automobile insurance, upping the film tax credit, establishing the Commonwealth Corps, reaching tentative agreement on the closing of some corporate tax loopholes, creating a state secretary of education, and streamlining the state's permitting process, among other things.

Gay marriage, certainly, was big, though DiMasi deserves as much credit there as Patrick. But the other items are either relatively minor matters or areas where the jury is out. For example, restructuring the education bureaucracy yet again is much less important than moving purposefully ahead with education reform - but there, the report of the governor's Readiness Project, long in preparation, is now not expected until May.

But let's grant Rubin this: the legislative pipeline does contain some significant items.

Prominent among them are the governor's smart, well-designed life sciences initiative, a measure developed in cooperation with DiMasi to promote clean and renewable energy and conservation, legislation to establish a first-in-the-nation ocean-management plan, and several noteworthy bond bills. So by year's end, the administration's record may well look better - if, that is, the governor can quit pulling the rug out from under himself.

Still, right now, if I were Harvard Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker, acknowledged star of the Weld administration and an aspiring Republican gubernatorial candidate, I'd be watching Patrick and licking my chops.
Scot Lehigh's e-mail address is

"Patrick's book pitch didn't tell the whole story: Obama helped swell crowd at Common event"
By Matt Viser, (Boston) Globe Staff, April 5, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick said in his book proposal that he was able to "fill the Boston Common recently with ten thousand people," a boast intended to prove to publishers that his message of hope and optimism generates enthusiasm and will translate into sales.

But Patrick left out a key fact about the Oct. 23 Boston Common rally.

It was held to celebrate Patrick's endorsement of Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, who stood by Patrick's side at the event. Obama has filled sports stadiums around the country and caused onlookers to faint during his speeches, and he was almost certainly the bigger draw on the Common that day.

Critics suggested yesterday that Patrick's assertion was like an opening band saying it filled Madison Square Garden without mentioning that the Rolling Stones later took the stage.

"That's a bit of a hyperbole, I think," said Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei. "People who went to that event were more interested in hearing Obama than hearing the governor."

In the proposal for the book, to be called "A Reason To Believe: Lessons on Leadership and Life," Patrick tried to demonstrate to publishers that he could be a big draw and sell at least 150,000 hardcover copies.

"I was able to fill the Boston Common recently with 10,000 people eager to hear my dreams for the future," Patrick wrote toward the end of the proposal. "I believe that I can partner with my publisher to develop widely followed book signing events that will generate the sorts of crowds at readings or lines at book signings that translate into a book's ascent to the top of bestseller lists."

Obama's campaign said the October rally drew 9,500 people to the Common. Patrick did get rave reviews for his speech, and his campaign network helped promote and draw people to the event. A 2:23-minute clip posted on Obama's site shows Patrick speaking to a large crowd.

Two spokesmen in Patrick's administration confirmed this week that Patrick was referring to the Obama rally, but they declined to comment. To bolster their case that Patrick generated the crowd, Patrick's aides yesterday distributed a blog post on the website of MSNBC with the headline, "Patrick Endorses Obama, Steals the Show."

"Several thousand people gathered on Boston Common to hear Obama speak, but it was Patrick who seemingly stole the show," wrote Aswini Anburajan, a reporter for NBC and National Journal, in the blog post distributed by Patrick's aides.

"He zealously delivered Obama's message of national reconciliation, while slamming Senator [Hillary] Clinton without once mentioning her by name," the post said. ". . . Patrick took Obama's message of the need for political change in this election and turned it into a referendum on character and values."

Patrick's administration also had the Obama campaign contact the Globe with a comment. "Deval Patrick is governor today because he built a powerful, grass-roots movement for change," said Amy Brundage, Obama campaign spokeswoman. "We were grateful for the essential help he gave in putting together the endorsement event in Boston last fall, at which thousands of the Governor's supporters appeared."

Patrick has delivered speeches at several other events at Boston Common, although none drew as many as 10,000 people. During a speech on Boston Common in the final weeks of the 2006 gubernatorial race, Patrick aides estimated the crowd to be more than 5,000.

Crowd estimates varied widely for his inauguration ceremony, which took place on the steps of the State House with overflowing crowds on Boston Common. Patrick's aides told the Globe there were 13,000 people, even though an official at the state Department of Conservation and Recreation estimated it at a couple of thousand.

The Globe reported details yesterday from a 65-page pitch letter that led to his $1.35 million advance last week from a Random House imprint. When the book is published in 2010, Patrick is planning a "vigorous media campaign," a nationwide book-signing tour, multiple speaking engagements, and efforts to persuade big corporations to buy the book in bulk.

The document describes an unusual business arrangement in which A Better Chance, the charity that lifted Patrick out of the South Side of Chicago and sent him to Milton Academy, will play an integral role in promoting and marketing the book through a ready-made network of national leaders, corporate supporters, and pre-scheduled events.

In return for its help, Patrick is planning to give the charity a portion of his royalties and speaking fees. Patrick and his aides have refused to disclose his arrangements with A Better Chance. Asked by a reporter at an event at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell yesterday if he would discuss the percentage of book proceeds that will be paid to the charity, the governor replied, "No," and walked away.

The State Republican Party pounced yesterday on his assertion that he drew 10,000 to the Boston Common for an event at which Obama was speaking.

"Is this book fiction or nonfiction?" said Barney Keller, spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Party. "Governor Patrick couldn't get 81 legislators to vote for his casinos. Why does he think that 10,000 people would come to hear him speak? Next thing you know he'll throw out the first pitch at Fenway and claim 30,000 people came to see him do it."
David Abel of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Matt Viser can be reached at

THE BOSTON GLOBE, Saturday, (April)-04/05/2008, Quotes of Note-

"In shaping my vision for 'A Reason to Believe,' I think of such models as John Kennedy's 'Profiles in Courage,' Barack Obama's 'The Audacity of Hope,' or Nelson Mandela's 'Long Walk to Freedom.' "

-- Governor DEVAL PATRICK, in his pitch for his proposed memoirs


"Deval’s book deal reeks of Wright stuff"
By Howie Carr, April 6, 2008,, Columnists

Why is everyone so shocked about Gov. Deval Patrick’s latest scam . . . I mean, score?

This whole $1.35 million book deal, relying on “bulk corporate buys” to bolster what would otherwise be anemic sales, falls squarely into the grand traditions of the .

Does anyone remember ex-U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright? Back in the 1980s, the Texas hack also wrote a little book, “Reflections of a Public Man.” His supporters openly admitted they had bought thousands of copies as a way of funneling cash to their pal, Mr. Speaker. Reflections of a Public Man, indeed. After the public reflected awhile, Wright was no longer a public man. Here is how The New York Times [NYT] described Wright’s book in 1988, and I’m sure it will sum up Deval’s as well:

“A modest-sized book written by the Democratic leader and bought in bulk by longtime supporters to benefit him financially.”

The more things change . . .

The problem for Fort Worth Jim was that the book deal became a symbol of his slippery ethics. Ditto, Deval. All of a sudden, even the bow-tied bumkissers of Morrissey Boulevard feel free to raise questions that had previously been ignored by the Politically Correct mainstream media. Like, does Deval have a big-time money problem? How is he making that $30,000-a-month payment on his mansion’s mortgage?

Hope and opportunity, that’s what Deval is all about. Now he’s hoping the controversy about his sleazy book deal goes away, so he’ll have an opportunity to cash that first $450,000 check (presumably minus a taste to his agent).

On Thursday, the governor refused to take calls on his radio show about the sweetheart deal. On Friday, he walked away from a reporter in Lowell who tried to ask him what percentage of the money will be going to “charity.”

Now it turns out in his pitch to publishers, he talked about the crowd of 10,000 he attracted to the Common last fall. Only it turns out it wasn’t him they were coming to see, it was Barack Obama. But this, too, is a familiar phenomenon in publishing: A genre becomes popular and obscure players cash in with memoirs. The Rolling Stones are always hot, so their drug supplier gets a book deal. People want to read about Whitey Bulger, so maybe they’re gullible enough to buy rehashed court testimony by Whitey’s tubby gravedigger.

In this context, you might say Deval is playing Kevin Weeks to Barack’s Whitey Bulger.

The difference, of course, is that, as governor, Deval will have a lot more opportunities for “bulk sales” than Kevin “Two” Weeks ever did. The Massachusetts Teachers Association should be good for 5,000 or so. The cop unions owe him at least 10,000 sales, after his craven cave-in this week on police details.

It goes without saying that no one ever reads any books bought in “bulk sales.” How do I know this? It just so happens that I once owned several copies of “Reflections of a Public Man.” One of Speaker Wright’s old friends from Texas was Boston University President John Silber. Herr Doktor had a huge oversupply and some of them ended up in the Herald newsroom. To our regret, we quickly discovered that they weren’t thick enough to make proper door-stoppers. I grabbed a few, thinking they’d make good gag gifts. I was wrong.

So now we are to have a “Reflections of a Public Man” for the 21st century. I’m sure Random House is very excited. I’m also reasonably certain the thrill will be long gone by the time Deval delivers the “manuscript,” after which he can collect his second $450,000, with the balance due on publication day, when the trucks from Buck a Book back up to the warehouses.

By then, Random House will have realized the error of its ways. They’re expecting “I Have a Dream.” What they’re going to get is “I Have a Scheme.” Buyers’ remorse, thy name is Deval - from the Clinton administration to Texaco to Coke and now the moonbats of Massachusetts. He talks a good game going in, but he’s never done a damn thing. That’s what happens, I suppose, when you’ve always had a free ride.

Somewhere, Fort Worth Jim is smiling.


"Typical governor"
The Boston Globe, Letters, April 7, 2008

RE "FOR book, it's Patrick as motivator, marketer" (Page A1, April 4): When I voted for Deval Patrick, I believed we would be rid of the eras of the entitled elite exemplified by William Weld or the transparent personal opportunism of Mitt Romney - not so! Patrick's apparent view that his job as governor is a part-time affair affords him plenty of time for all kinds of personal ambitions. That he has lost my trust is not the least of it. That I now think of him in the same breath as Weld and Romney is what should really sound the alarm.

Arlington, Massachusetts

"Governor seeks $3.8b to fix bridges: Says bond plan would bring 23,000 jobs"
By Matt Viser, (Boston) Globe Staff, April 9, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick plans today to unveil a $3.8 billion bond proposal to repair 411 deteriorating bridges throughout the state over the next eight years, a project he will argue not only improves road safety but also pumps cash into the economy to buffer Massachusetts from a recession.

The massive repair and reconstruction of bridges in virtually every corner of the state would create 23,000 direct construction jobs, according to a preliminary draft of the governor's plan, which is significantly higher than the 5,000 employed at the height of the Big Dig.

The proposal will be introduced at a major speech this morning at MIT's Sloan School of Management, the first economic outline Patrick will present since the Legislature defeated his plan to create tens of thousands of jobs by licensing three casinos around the state. Those briefed on the plans say the bridge-repair blueprint will be the centerpiece of today's speech.

"He will talk about the need to invest in our infrastructure in order to maintain our competitiveness and grow our economy," said Cyndi Roy, a Patrick spokeswoman who declined to comment further.

The move could prove controversial. It would add to a state debt burden that is already the highest per capita in the country. Patrick plans to pay for the projects by floating bonds in the next eight years, which would need legislative approval and would renew debate over how deeply the state should go into debt, and how vital the bridge repairs are.

There are already several other major bond projects before the Legislature, including $2 billion targeted for higher education and $1.4 billion for environmental projects. In addition, a $3.5 billion transportation bond bill that the House approved yesterday would help fund 397 additional bridges.

Lawmakers, reacting with caution yesterday in advance of Patrick's speech, said they will closely scrutinize the proposed debt plan - but the idea of spreading money in legislative districts around the state for safety projects is sure to have a certain political appeal.

"My initial reaction is actually very favorable," said Senator Mark C. Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat and chairman of the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, who normally opposes similar bonding plans. "It's dealing with a public safety issue where there could be great peril if we don't deal with it."

The administration plans to argue that embarking on the projects now will save money in the long run, because construction costs are escalating. The borrowing plan would front-load state indebtedness, resulting in an accelerated schedule for new debt that would restrict the ability of future state leaders to borrow, according to sources briefed on the proposal by administration officials.

"The governor has put forward a thoughtful proposal to help finance a reconstruction of the state's bridges," said David Guarino, spokesman for House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who was briefed on the proposal yesterday. But, he added, DiMasi will "fully analyze it and look at the financial impact it may have on our bond rating and future capital projects."

Fixing bridges has been a perennial problem in Massachusetts, which has one of the oldest transportation infrastructures in the nation, with 200 bridges that were built in the 19th century.

The Globe reported in August that approximately 10 percent of the 5,500 bridges in Massachusetts are classified under federal standards as "structurally deficient," including 65 well-traveled bridges with such serious defects that they may need to be replaced. The Longfellow Bridge over the Charles River is among the most high-profile of the spans, as well as the Merrimack River bridge in Haverhill and the bridge that carries the Fitchburg commuter rail over Route 62 in Concord.

The Pioneer Institute last year released a report titled "Our Legacy of Neglect," documenting a lack of funding for transportation infrastructure in Massachusetts.

There are 608 structurally deficient bridges right now, according to state officials, but that figure grows each year. Under the governor's proposal, and current spending plans, 808 bridges would be repaired over the next eight years, bringing the number of structurally deficient bridges down to 450. If no work were done over the next eight years, there would be 1,264 problem bridges.

Patrick this morning will also announce the creation of regional districts throughout the state where the state will help streamline new developments, a plan based on the redevelopment of Fort Devens in Ayer.

The debate over fixing bridges will come at a time when the state has been struggling to find enough sources of new revenue to keep existing services and fund several ambitious spending programs. The state is facing a budget gap of $1.3 billion. DiMasi yesterday postponed a much-anticipated debate on Beacon Hill over several tax proposals that are intended to help balance the budget.

Amid a flurry of last-minute lobbying and uncertainty over vote counts, DiMasi put debate off until tomorrow on whether to implement $379 million in tax increases on smokers and the state's largest corporations. The House was expected to vote on the plan yesterday, but business leaders and a cadre of Republicans offered a preemptive strike in the debate around noon, charging that the plan would hurt businesses amid a looming recession.

"We have a fundamental problem with the timing, scope, and nature of the bill," said the House minority leader, Bradley H. Jones, a North Reading Republican. "This tax package will be nothing but the death knell for the state's economy."

The proposals would tighten corporate tax laws - bringing in $204 million next year - and would raise $152 million by increasing the state's cigarette tax by $1 per pack. The cigarette hike would give Massachusetts the second highest cigarette tax behind New Jersey, although New York is planning to trump both states with a $2.75-per-pack increase.

DiMasi outlined the proposals two months ago in an effort to compromise with Patrick, who since taking office last year has called for closing so-called corporate tax loopholes.

Patrick and DiMasi have both backed a plan to tighten the corporate tax codes, but they have significant differences over how deep corresponding reductions in corporate tax rates should be.

Overall, DiMasi's plan would mean that businesses would pay about $204 million more next year, but by 2011 would be back to what they pay now. Because Patrick's plan does not lower the tax rate as quickly or dramatically, businesses would still end up paying $280 million more once his plan is fully implemented in 2012.
Matt Viser can be reached at

"Patrick to tour state to announce 16 'growth districts'"
By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, April 09, 2008

BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick will announce plans today to set off on a tour of the state in coming weeks to reveal the location of 16 regional "growth districts" designed to be magnets for new business development.

Patrick will make the announcement as part of major speech on the state of the Massachusetts economy during which he will unveil a multi-pronged plan to buffer the state from a looming national recession.

Patrick will also outline a series of infrastructure investments he plans to make over the next three months and detail ways to strengthen the economic safety net for individuals, small businesses and nonprofit groups.

The speech — to be delivered this morning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — will stress "short-term and long-term stimulus proposals paired with a plan to restrain spending," a member of his administration who has seen a copy of the speech told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the text had not been made public.

As part of his long-term economic stimulus strategy, Patrick is relying on the success of the so-called "regional growth districts."

The districts — one of which Patrick will name on today — are typically designated in older mill towns or cities near highways or other transportation. The state helps the city or town clear land, secure needed permits and improve infrastructure in the hopes of luring businesses.

An attempt to create such a district at the former Fort Devens helped convince the New York-based pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. to build plan for a $750 million biotechnology plant that could create 350 jobs by the time the facility is up and running in 2010.

Earlier this year Patrick announced another growth district at a 81.5-acre parcel in Worcester.

"By identifying these districts we are creating conditions for businesses to grow," the administration official said. "It's like you're on a fast track for groundbreaking."

While the districts can help, any benefits can take years to reap, according to Michael Widmer, president of the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

"These wouldn't be off and running quickly enough to jump-start the economy in any significant way," he said. "It's not a quick fix."

The governor also planned to seek a $3.8 billion bond issue to fund repairs for hundreds of crumbling bridges around the state, The Boston Globe reported.

The Patrick administration believes the proposal, which would be detailed during the speech today, would create about 23,000 construction jobs.

Last month House lawmakers shot down one of Patrick's key economic stimulus proposals — a plan to allow three resort-style casinos in Massachusetts that he said would have created $600 million in licensing fees, $400 million in annual tax revenues and 20,000 permanent jobs.

In his speech, Patrick will also caution that there is a limit to what government can do to cushion the effects of a fiscal slump.

Still, Patrick has remained largely upbeat about the Massachusetts economy, even as the country slips into an apparent recession.

When he announced he would be delivering a major speech on the state of the economy, Patrick said Massachusetts is in better shape than other states to weather any economic downturn.

"We are talking about how we can position ourselves to not just weather ... but take advantage of some opportunities presented by the economic downturn," Patrick said last week.

There are plenty of skeptics.

Business leaders have complained that Patrick's portrait of the Massachusetts' economy is too rosy. Massachusetts is one of a handful of states yet to recover the jobs lost during the last economic downturn. The state's population growth has also been stagnant.

In the speech, Patrick will also say he's prepared to cut spending too.

On Friday, Patrick asked executive branch department heads to identify at least $150 million in budget cuts in case state tax revenues do not remain at anticipated levels.

He also called on a limit to discretionary spending and new hiring as the state grapples with spiraling costs as a result of the success of the landmark health care law.

"Overall the Massachusetts economy has been holding its own as the national economy has softened but prudence advises that we plan and that's what we're trying to do," Patrick told reporters on Monday.

Republicans have said that the state's economic outlook isn't so dire. They point out that monthly tax revenues have been coming in higher than anticipated and that new taxes aren't needed to close a predicted $1.3 billion budget gap.

Yesterday, leaders in the Massachusetts House opted to postpone until Thursday a vote on package of tax hikes, including a dollar increase on a pack of cigarettes and a series of business "tax loopholes."

Patrick first proposed the tax loopholes closing and has expressed support for the cigarette tax hike.


"Nonprofit builders can tap new fund: Goal is to help soften effect of foreclosures on neighborhoods"
By Binyamin Appelbaum, (Boston) Globe Staff, April 10, 2008

Nonprofit developers can borrow from a new $20 million pool to buy foreclosed properties in Massachusetts neighborhoods most plagued by foreclosures, Governor Deval L. Patrick said yesterday.

Community housing groups have pushed Patrick to create such a program, arguing that vacant buildings are eyesores, havens for crime, and a downward force on the values of surrounding homes.

The loan pool will allow those groups to buy properties that might otherwise sit vacant indefinitely. Most of the properties are likely to be rented as affordable housing, to subsidized tenants, at least until the real estate market improves.

"This will give nonprofit agencies the resources they need to secure properties quickly, make vacant buildings homes again, and help stabilize neighborhoods," Patrick said.

In general, nonprofits apply for funding to buy a property. The process can take months. Ann Houston, executive director of Chelsea Neighborhood Housing Services, said her group has been trying to buy several foreclosed properties, but it lacks the flexibility to negotiate effectively with mortgage companies.

"You have to be prepared to acquire immediately, so there is not time to make an offer and then round up funding," she said. The new funding, available on short notice, "would be enormously helpful," Houston said.

The $20 million will come from the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, a nonprofit funded by state-mandated contributions from banks, and the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, a nonprofit funded by voluntary contributions from many of the same banks. No state money will be used.

But the program is unlikely to yield immediate results. Many mortgage companies that own foreclosed homes have proved difficult to reach or to work with, sometimes because they are in various stages of collapse. Also, the program will not fund the major renovations needed on many foreclosed properties. And it will not pay for rental subsidies.

In addition, $20 million is a modest sum. At $200,000 per home, it would fund the purchase of 100 homes - about 6 percent of the homes foreclosed in Massachusetts in January and February.

The Department of Housing and Community Development, which will manage the loan pool, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Those involved in shaping the program said it should be viewed as a first step, and that discussions were ongoing about providing additional funding.

"This is a critical piece, but I think you won't see a lot of activity for two to four months, until some of the other pieces of the puzzle are put into place," said Joe Kriesberg, president of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations.

He also said the nonprofits would likely share the reluctance of other potential buyers to take a loan and buy a property before it was clear whether local real estate prices were starting to stabilize.
Binyamin Appelbaum can be reached at

"Patrick signs booster seat law: Legislation requires the car safety device for children under 8"
By James Vaznis, (Boston) Globe Staff, April 12, 2008

Children will have to ride in either car seats or booster seats until they turn 8 years old under a new law signed yesterday by Governor Deval Patrick that brings the Bay State into line with federal motor vehicle safety standards.

"This is a common-sense piece of legislation that will go a long way in ensuring more children will be protected on the road," said Cyndi Roy, a Patrick spokeswoman.

The purpose of a booster seat is to position the safety belt across the child's waist and shoulder, rather than halfway up his or her midsection or neck. Children at least 4 feet 9 inches tall would be exempt from the child-seat requirement.

"Because adult safety belts ride too high up on children's neck or waist without the use of a booster seat, a minor car accident can cause a major injury to a child," said state Senator Steven Baddour, a Methuen Democrat, who sponsored the legislation. "This new law is great news for children's safety going forward in the Commonwealth."

The new law, which carries a $25 fine, will go into effect in mid-July.

Under the current law, children are required to be in car seats until they turn 5 or weigh at least 40 pounds. The new law replaces the weight requirement with a height requirement.

While some safety-cautious parents have been buying booster seats for children between the ages of 5 and 8, many parents don't use them, completely unaware of their benefits, said Arthur Kinsman, director of government affairs for AAA Southern New England, who has been advocating for the booster-seat law for the past seven years.

Kinsman said the use of booster seats reduces the risk of injury for children by 38 percent compared with children using an adult seat belt and by 59 percent compared with children who don't wear a seat belt.

Installing a booster seat is easy, Kinsman said. "It's like sticking a glorified phone book underneath a kid," he said.

The booster seats, he said, can cost as little as $15 at some major department stores, although more extensive ones can cost much more.

Thirty-eight states have booster seat laws, up from four just seven years ago. Massachusetts will be the only state in the Northeast to have such a law.

The new regulation will bring some financial perks to the state. The federal government is providing $25 million over the next four years to states that adopt enhanced booster seat laws, and the new law would make Massachusetts eligible for up to $750,000 in federal funds.
James Vaznis can be reached at

"Deval Patrick’s wife on the case: Firm may win with wage rules"
By Jay Fitzgerald, April 25, 2008,, Business & Markets

Gov. Deval Patrick’s household could financially benefit from a controversial wage bill he allowed to slip into law - even though he criticized the legislation’s potential unfairness to businesses.

The high-powered law firm of Patrick’s wife, Diane, sent out an “alert” earlier this month warning that the new so-called “treble-damages” state law could end up harming companies and urged people to contact members of the firm’s labor and employment unit.

Among the six Ropes & Gray lawyers listed to be contacted was Diane Patrick, a longtime attorney within the firm’s labor unit.

The “alert” was issued the day after the new law - which requires mandatory triple damages if an employer loses a wage dispute with a worker - took effect because the governor refused to sign or veto the bill.

Kyle Sullivan, a spokesman for the governor, said it was “preposterous” to even suggest “Mrs. Patrick should somehow be precluded from advising clients regarding general laws enacted (during) Gov. Patrick’s tenure.”

Sullivan and a Ropes & Gray spokesman added that law firms, including Ropes & Gray, routinely issue “alerts” about new legislation that can impact clients.

Diane Patrick could not be reached for comment.

A number of other firms did issue quick alerts about the “treble-damages” law that some say could dramatically increase claims against employers and perhaps lead to a rash of new class-action lawsuits against businesses.

But some business executives, who generally opposed the legislation, have expressed bitterness that lawyers, including Diane Patrick, could benefit from what they fear will be an explosion in wage-dispute litigation due to the new law.

“It’s the irony of it,” said one business leader of Diane Patrick’s name on the Ropes & Gray “contact” letter.

Sen. Michael Knapick (R-Westfield), who fought the legislation on Beacon Hill, said he doesn’t question the motives of the governor.

“He took a stand against it,” said Knapick of Patrick’s reservations about the wage bill that was passed earlier this month by an overwhelming majority of the Democratic-led Legislature. “But he should have vetoed it.”

Another lawmaker, who asked not to be named, said the governor was caught in a tough spot on a bill he “clearly” didn’t like and probably couldn’t have stopped even with a veto.

The Legislature passed the same measure in 2006, only to see it vetoed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney when lawmakers weren’t in session.

This year, lawmakers approved the bill again - only to have the Democratic governor send it back with a suggested revision.

Patrick asked for no mandatory triple damages if employers acted in “good faith” when in wage disputes with workers.

But the Legislature sent the bill back unaltered to Patrick - who decided not to take any action and thus let it become law. He said he allowed the bill to become law because he wanted to help workers, even though it was “unfairly punitive” to hit employers with triple damages if they didn’t mean to harm workers.
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"Gov.'s approval at an all-time low"
By Matt Murphy, Statehouse (North Adams) Transcript Bureau
Saturday, April 26, 2008

BOSTON -- Gov. Deval Patrick rode into office 16 months ago on a wave of hope and optimism, but the public's patience for change in the politics of Beacon Hill appears to waning.

A new poll released yesterday shows that Patrick's approval rating is at an all-time low, with just 41 percent of adults over 18 saying they approve of the job Patrick is doing as governor.

Another 56 percent of responders said they disapprove, just a month after those numbers were reversed with 53 percent approving of Patrick's work from the corner office.

The poll, sponsored by WBZ-TV and conducted by Survey USA, surveyed 600 adults earlier this month and has a margin of error of 4.1 percent.

While Democrats still have faith in the governor, the poll shows that 60 percent of Independent voters are unhappy with the results they are seeing from the Patrick administration and even self-identified liberals are evenly split on the governor's job performance.

"Gov. Patrick is sinking under the weight of failed campaign promises that he clearly had no intention of fulfilling. Candidate Deval promised us the moon, but Gov. Deval has shown us that the Democrat party is the party of higher taxes, less transparency, and bigger government," said Rob Willington, executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party.

Doug Rubin, the governor's chief of staff, said he reviewed the results of the poll, but was hesitant to put too much stock in the numbers.

"I am also aware of other recent surveys that show different, and better, approval ratings for Governor Patrick. Unfortunately, these polls are not public," Rubin wrote on the liberal-leaning blog Blue Mass. Group.

Rubin acknowledged that his comments might be viewed with skepticism since he could not release any contradicting internal numbers, but urged supporters not to jump to any quick conclusions.

"I think the best way to view the SurveyUSA result is to see it as one data point. I would recommend reserving final judgment until other public polls either confirm or contradict the SurveyUSA poll," Rubin wrote.

The poll, conducted the weekend of April 11 through April 13, came just two days after Patrick delivered a closely-watched public address on the state of the economy at M.I.T. Since that time, the governor has made a concerted effort to reconnect with his most ardent supporters, touring cities and towns in many regions of the state announcing plans to spur economic growth.

"He's got to firm up his base and remind people why they liked him in the first place, but he's also got to achieve some victories," said Michael Shea, a Democratic political consultant. "He's got a good agenda on the table and what seems to be more cooperation, and I think he can turn it around."

Patrick suffered early in his term from personal political gaffs surrounding his office decorations and choice in cars. His recent decision to head to New York to shop his autobiography to publishers while House lawmakers back in Massachusetts were crushing his resort-casino plan brought back many unpopular memories for voters.

Shea said the perceived feud going on at the Statehouse between Patrick and House Speaker Sal DiMasi has also probably hurt the governor's image who promised an end to politics as usual.

"I think there was probably unreasonably high expectations, not just because of the campaign of hope, but also having a Democrat for the first time in 16 years," Shea said.

The governor has racked up some recent wins, including a vote in the House to close several corporate tax loopholes and a well-received plan to expedite the state's deficient bridge repair program in order to improve infrastructure and create jobs.


"Mass. foreclosures up 140% in a year: Multifamily homes in urban areas have been hit hardest"
By Binyamin Appelbaum, (Boston) Globe Staff, April 25, 2008

Almost 1,200 Massachusetts properties were seized by mortgage companies in March, an increase of more than 140 percent from the number of foreclosures in March 2007, according to data from Warren Group.

Foreclosures during the first three months of the year topped 2,800, also up about 140 percent over the same period last year. Massachusetts is on pace to shatter the previous record for the most foreclosures in a year, set in 1992.

The foreclosed properties disproportionately are multifamily homes in urban areas such as Lawrence, Dorchester, and Brockton. Many sit vacant and deteriorating. They are eyesores, havens for criminal activity, and a drag on neighborhood property values.

In Lawrence, at the current pace, 4 percent of the city's residential properties will be seized by lenders this year.

"It's Katrina without the water," said Nadine Cohen of Greater Boston Legal Services, referring to the hurricane that devastated New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Warren Group reported that mortgage companies seized 1,167 Massachusetts properties in March, compared with 486 properties during the same month last year. The total surpassed the most recent high-water mark, set last August, when 1,018 properties were foreclosed.

There are indications that worse is yet to come: The number of petitions to foreclose, an indicator of future foreclosures, climbed by 33 percent to 2,918 in March, compared with 2,189 filed in March 2007.

"Massachusetts' foreclosure problems continue to worsen," said Timothy Warren Jr., chief executive of Warren Group. "With steady increases in petitions, I don't see this problem going away anytime soon."

The problem continues to plague some communities more than others. Ninety-five Massachusetts cities and towns have yet to record a foreclosure this year. Brookline is the largest town on that list, followed by Lexington. By contrast, the cities hit hardest, including Lawrence and Brockton, are amassing foreclosures twice as fast as last year.

Boston remains relatively unscathed. The city leads the state in the number of foreclosures, but it ranks well down the density list. At the current pace, about 1 percent of the city's residential properties will be foreclosed this year.

The city's foreclosures are concentrated in Dorchester, where more homes have been seized than in the rest of the city's neighborhoods combined.

If Dorchester were a separate city, it would lead the state in foreclosures.
Binyamin Appelbaum can be reached at

"'Doom and gloom' for school aid"
By Cara Hogan, (North Adams) Transcript Statehouse Bureau
Wednesday, April 30, 2008

BOSTON -- A local lawmaker gave a gathering of school committee members a somber view of future state aid to education on Tuesday, saying that there was a bleak prospect for more school funding in the near future.

"I hate to be the bearer of doom and gloom, but the next two years are going to be a difficult financial time for all of us," Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, the Senate Ways and Means chairman, told members of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. "Hopefully we can continue our commitment to Chapter 70. But if we continue to lose revenue all bets will be off, even something as sacred to us as Chapter 70."

Panagiotakos, a former Lowell school committee member, offered his pessimistic counterpoint following Gov. Deval Patrick's more upbeat assessment of what the state's schools will need in the coming years.

A packed Statehouse auditorium applauded the governor for his $223 million increase in Chapter 70 funding for schools during fiscal year 2009 before the governor hinted at future costs of the Readiness Project, his administration's forthcoming plan for Massachusetts students that will likely include mandatory pre-kindergarten through free community college.

"There are some fundamental questions about what high quality public education actually costs," Patrick said. "That is really part of the work of the Readiness Project."

Patrick said the Project has set goals for smaller class sizes, extended learning time and a greater emphasis on math and science in high school. He also said education officials needed to connect with the needs of the state's employers.

Patrick cautioned it will be a slow process.

"We can't do it all at once. We do plan to implement it over many years time," said Patrick. "I'm looking forward to working with all of you to develop the methods to pay for this plan. We have to work as partners."

Panagiotakos, D-Lowell, said he sympathizes with the school districts' funding woes.

"I know the struggles almost all of you are facing with next year's budget," said Panagiotakos. "I understand what you're going through, but you do have an understanding partner in the Legislature. The state is trying to balance the budget just like you at home."

Association President Ellen Furtado said she is grateful the governor and the Legislature are focused on education during a tough year.

"The governor and the lieutenant governor are not only listening, but acting," Furtado said. "You should see how much of last year's agenda went from a wish list to a summary of what the Legislature has done."

Furtado said that even with the recession, cuts in programs, increases in class sizes and rising fees, Massachusetts schools have maintained their quality. But funding is still tight.

"We still need $1.4 billion for Chapter 70," said Furtado to the crowd. "When you visit your legislators today ask them to give us the resources we need."


"Patrick offers $3b plan for bridge repairs: Work would occur over next 8 years"
By Matt Viser and John C. Drake, (Boston) Globe Staff, May 14, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick yesterday announced a $3 billion bond proposal to repair deteriorating bridges throughout the state over the next eight years, a scaled-back version of an initiative he announced last month.

"It's a very robust program that will enable us to get to somewhere between 250 and 300 bridges over the next several years and create an awful lot of very good jobs along the way," Patrick said.

The announcement is the culmination of weeks of negotiations between Patrick and state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, who was skeptical of the governor's original plan, saying it was too costly. Last month, the governor floated a $3.8 billion bond proposal to repair 411 bridges.

Patrick said he reduced the scope of bridge repairs "because there's less money."

"The more we do fast, the more of them we can do," Patrick said. "We'll still be ahead of where we are today and where we would be if we did nothing."

Fixing bridges has been a perennial problem in Massachusetts, which has one of the oldest transportation infrastructures in the nation, with 200 bridges that were built in the 19th century.

The Globe reported in August that approximately 10 percent of the 5,500 bridges in Massachusetts are classified under federal standards as "structurally deficient," including 65 well-traveled ones with such serious defects that they may need to be replaced. The Longfellow Bridge over the Charles River is among the most high-profile of the spans, as well as the Merrimack River bridges in Haverhill and the bridge that carries the Fitchburg commuter rail over Route 62 in Concord.

The Pioneer Institute last year released a report titled "Our Legacy of Neglect," documenting a lack of funding for transportation infrastructure in Massachusetts.

There are 543 structurally deficient bridges right now, according to state officials, but that figure grows each year.

To lower the cost of the bridge project, Patrick cut out repairs on bridges owned by the MBTA and the Massachusetts Turnpike. Bernard Cohen, secretary of transportation, said those bridges were excluded under the new plan because the T and the Pike have other sources of money. But he acknowledged that both agencies "are groaning under the weight of their debt burden."

Though the bill has not yet passed, highway officials will immediately begin preparing to put the work out to bid so the advertising can begin as soon as it passes and construction can start this summer, said Luisa Paiewonsky, commissioner of the Massachusetts Highway Department.
Noah Bierman of the Globe staff contributed to this report

"State agrees to fix bridges: After cutting the bond bill by $800 million, Gov. Patrick's $3 billion plan gains approval"
By Matt Murphy, Eagle Boston Bureau
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

BOSTON — Gov. Deval L. Patrick's plan to put people to work by fixing the state's deteriorating bridges got the green light yesterday from legislative leaders and Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, who agreed on a smaller borrowing plan that will reduce the number of deficient bridges over the next eight years.

The restoration of McNerey Road bridge over Shaker Mill Brook in Becket, estimated to cost about $750,000, has been included in the initial list of bridges to be targeted in the first year.

Patrick filed legislation yesterday to borrow $3 billion to fund an accelerated bridge repair program that he said will create thousands of new jobs and reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state from an anticipated 697 to 450 in eight years.

The compromise proposal reduces Patrick's initial borrowing plan by $800 million, the product of weeks of negotiations among top officials after Cahill expressed concern that $3.8 billion would be too costly for the state. Patrick first announced the bridge repair program at a speech at MIT in April.

"It's a very robust program that should enable us to get to 250 to 300 bridges over the next eight years and create a number of good jobs," Patrick said yesterday.

The governor's initial plan would have repaired about 411 bridges and created an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 new jobs. Patrick's administration yesterday did not have an exact job creation estimate for the new proposal.

"The whole point is infusing money immediately to create new jobs and keep the economy buzzing," said Rebecca Deusser, Patrick's deputy press secretary.

The governor's plan, intended to stimulate the economy and address the need for work on the state's aging infrastructure, dips into the state's future bonding capacity on the assumption that speeding up the construction and repair schedule will save the state money.

Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen said Massachusetts should save $1.5 billion over the life of the project by not waiting for inflation and further deterioration of state bridges to drive up construction costs.

A recent report from the Federal Highway Administration estimated that road and bridge construction costs increase between 9 percent and 15 percent each year.

The reduction in spending from Patrick's initial proposal was achieved by eliminating any bridges from the repair schedule owned by the Turnpike Authority or the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, both of which have their own funding resources from tolls and other fares.

The bridges on the state's target list are mostly those that can be preserved, as opposed to torn down and rebuilt, and are owned and controlled by MassHighway and the Department of Recreation and Conservation.

With support from both House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray, the bonding bill filed by the governor is expected to sail through the Legislature and the transportation agencies are already taking steps to prepare for work to begin on some sites this summer.


"Gov. Patrick participates in state park cleanup"
Updated: 5/19/2008, By: Web Staff

LEE, MA. -- More than 1,500 volunteers turned out across Massachusetts to take part in a statewide park cleanup. The event, called "Park Serve Day," saw the removal of more than 17 tons of trash from state parks and beaches.

Locally, Governor Deval Patrick participated at the October Mountain State Forest in Lee. Patrick was joined by 100 other volunteers, including musician James Taylor, who helped to build picnic tables, mulch gardens and remove illegally dumped trash.

Patrick said the event reaffirms the commitment and support for natural and recreational resources.




"Tuition aid to illegal immigrants falters: Patrick declines to act on behalf of graduates"
By Maria Sacchetti, (Boston) Globe Staff, May 22, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick has decided against taking action to allow illegal immigrants to pay resident tuition and fees at state colleges and universities this fall, an administration official said yesterday, crushing advocates who were counting on the governor to deliver on a pledge to support the students.

Earlier this year, Patrick said he was considering ways to offer illegal immigrants in-state rates, such as issuing a regulation, adding that it would be "the right thing to do."

The governor declined to comment yesterday, but an administration source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Patrick decided that there were "significant legal impediments" to that approach. The governor will still support legislation on the matter, but on Beacon Hill the issue is widely viewed as dead this session.

The decision is a blow to church pastors, school counselors, and advocates from Lawrence to Springfield, who had pressured Patrick to act before high school graduations in the next few weeks. Now several hundred seniors are again facing college tuition and fees that are more than double the resident rates, as high as $21,900 a year.

"This would be slamming the door on hundreds of students who are graduating this year," said Loren McArthur, staff director of the Merrimack Valley Project, a group of churches, labor unions, and others who sent Patrick 300 letters this month urging him to act now. "If this is his decision, it's unfortunate. But we will be urging him to reconsider."

Advocates had hoped that Patrick, who often touts his own background as a civil rights advocate whose life was transformed by education, would build support for a relatively small group of students. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimated that if students could pay in-state rates, as many as 600 illegal immigrants would enroll in college a year, out of 160,000 in the public system, bringing in about $2.5 million in tuition and fees. The group estimated that only about 100 such students were enrolled in 2006.

"We had hoped that the governor would honor his commitments and his promises to make education access fair for all Massachusetts students," said Shuya Ohno, spokesman for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. "He understood that it was a question of fairness. What he couldn't articulate is that it actually makes money for the state."

In recent weeks, hundreds of supporters were intensifying pressure on Patrick, peppering him with calls and letters on behalf of the students. Some wanted Patrick to sign an executive order allowing students to pay in-state rates. Others urged the Board of Higher Education to change its regulations to allow it. Patrick considered that option, but the board said it did not have that authority, said Eileen O'Connor, a board spokeswoman.

The push resurrected a debate that erupted on Beacon Hill two years ago and mirrored a national tug-of-war on the issue. Opponents say the state should not make concessions for illegal immigrants, while advocates say charging them prohibitive rates for college wastes the money that the state and communities have spent on their schooling. A 1982 Supreme Court ruling mandates that public schools educate all children through high school, but did not address what to do about college.

Nationally, 10 states have passed laws allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition, including California, Texas, and Utah.

In 2005, the state Senate passed a measure that would have granted resident tuition and fees to illegal immigrants who have been here for at least three years, but it failed in the House.

Today, lawmakers and others say, the legislation faces even higher hurdles. The state Republican Party has vowed to oppose it; yesterday party spokesman Barney Keller called the plan ridiculous and discriminatory against US citizens from other states who are forced to pay out-of-state rates.

Representative Marie P. St. Fleur, Democrat of Boston and a key sponsor, said that even supportive lawmakers are reluctant to pass any legislation until Congress decides what to do with the 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. She had hoped that Patrick and the Board of Higher Education would find a temporary solution for students who are about to graduate.

"I'm disappointed in learning that it could not be done," said St. Fleur, adding that she and other lawmakers have asked to meet with the governor on this issue. "I know that at this time there is insufficient support in the House in order to move the agenda forward, particularly in this session."

In living rooms across Massachusetts in recent weeks, illegal immigrants who are high school seniors have been opening college acceptance letters with mixed feelings. Many have been here for years, are fluent in English, and consider themselves American, even if they are not.

Laura, a 17-year-old student from Colombia who spoke on condition that her last name be withheld, beamed at the word congratulations on her acceptance letter from Salem State in her family's apartment in an East Boston three-decker this week. Her parents brought her here five years ago after their business went bankrupt and to flee scenes of war.

In school, she quickly learned English, took Advanced Placement classes, and earned A's and B's on her report card. But non-resident tuition and fees at Salem State cost $12,410 a year, double the in-state rate and more than she can afford.

"It's really sad and really discouraging," Laura said.

Priscilla, a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant from Brazil who is also graduating this year, was accepted to a private college, but it will cost her $24,000 a year. She is considering community college, but that is a stretch, too. Nonresidents pay an average of $10,380 a year, more than double the cost for residents.

"I know people are very disappointed," she said of the inaction so far. "I understand that it's hard for [Patrick], but I didn't choose to come here."
Maria Sacchetti can be reached at

"’What is this guy doing?’: Deval Patrick’s 80% office budget hike blasted"
By Casey Ross, Friday, May 23, 2008,, Local Politics

Despite a slumping economy and looming budget crunch, Gov. Deval Patrick has hiked his office budget by an astonishing 80 percent, adding questionable new staff positions like “director of grassroots governance” and pumping millions into an extravagant “civic engagement” program.

“We know the governor had a goal of creating 100,000 new jobs in his first term, we just didn’t know he was going to create them all in the Corner Office,” said Sen. Michael Knapik (R-Westfield).

Added State Sen. Scott Brown (R-Wrentham): “People in my district are asking, ‘What is this guy doing?’ They get 1 to 2 percent increases for their schools, and he gets almost 80 percent? How do you explain that?”

Patrick’s office budget has skyrocketed to $9 million this fiscal year, a boost of nearly $4 million from fiscal 2007, Republican lawmakers said. Much of the increase is due to a $3 million appropriation for Patrick’s new Commonwealth Corps, a volunteerism program aimed at promoting “civic engagement” across the state.

Patrick has also increased spending by hundreds of thousands of dollars on internal staff.

Among the new positions and their salaries:

Director of grassroots governance: $50,000

Grassroots goverance liaison: $39,000

Director of new media and online strategy: $68,000.

What’s more, Patrick is spending more than $450,000 on an office in Washington, D.C., to help lure federal dollars to fund Medicaid, transportation, housing and other priorities.

During the Senate budget debate, Minority Leader Richard Tisei raised questions about the additional spending and suggested Patrick’s Washington office is unnecessary.

“We have Democratic delegation who’s in the majority in Congress, we have Democratic state Legislature and we have a Democratic governor, so why is all this money necessary for the Washington, D.C., office?” asked Tisei(R-Wakefield). “It seems extravagant to me.”

Aides to the governor defended the additional spending, saying it is meant to improve operations in the governor’s office after Romney cut the number of employees into the 60s. Patrick has increased the staff to 76 full-time positions.

“Unlike some previous administrations, this administration is serious about moving the commonwealth forward,” Patrick spokeswoman Cyndi Roy said.

She also sought to portray money to increase staffing in the Washington office as an important investment. “The office is critical to maintaining a strong partnership with our legislative delegation, especially when billons of dollars in federal funds for Massachsuetts are at stake,” she said.

Roy defended the internal office hires for new media and grassroots coordination, saying, “The people of Massachusetts deserve to have their voices heard.”

Still, Republicans succeeded in winning approval of a measure in the overwhelmingly Democratic Senate that would force Patrick to post online the job titles and duties of all employees in his office.
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"Senate wants full disclosure of Deval’s new $taff positions"

By Casey Ross, Saturday, May 24, 2008,, Local Politics

The state Senate is cracking down on skyrocketing office spending by Gov. Deval Patrick by demanding that he explain the purpose of cushy-sounding staff positions that have fueled charges of overspending in the Corner Office.

During budget deliberations this week, the Senate unanimously passed a GOP-backed measure that requires the governor to post an online organization chart by July 31 to explain the rationale for his hiring decisions.

The governor has padded his staff with exotic new positions such as “director of grassroots governance” and “director of new media and online strategy,” part of a hiring push that raised eyebrows among senators battling with tight financial margins next year.

“The spending seems out of control,” said House Minority Leader Richard Tisei (R-Wakefield), who decried $4 million in new funding for the governor’s office this year, a nearly 80 percent hike from fiscal year 2007.

Aides to the governor said that figure is misleading because $3 million of the additional funding pays for Commonwealth Corps, the governor’s signature civic engagement program.

Money appropriated for the program pays for stipends for community service volunteers - not salaries for the governor’s administrative staff, officials said.

“Through Commonwealth Corps, citizens from all walks of life, all ages, economic and ethnic backgrounds will have the ability to alter lives and communities by engaging in direct service,” Patrick spokesman Kyle Sullivan said.

Still, Democratic and Republican senators raised concerns about hundreds of thousands of dollars for new staff positions. Patrick has increased staffing to 76 full-time positions after former Gov. Mitt Romney trimmed the number to about 65.

And the governor has also reopened an administrative office in Springfield and increased funding by at least $150,000 for a branch office in Washington, D.C.

The Senate measure on Patrick’s organization chart would force the governor to post it in a “conspicuous” position on his official Web site. If approved by the House, Patrick aides said he would not resist the measure.

Despite their demands of Patrick, senators do not post their office organization charts online, but officials said they would be open to doing so. “We would support any endeavor that ensures transparency of Senate operations,” said Samantha Dallaire, spokeswoman for Senate President Therese Murray.
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A police officer worked a construction detail on West Broadway in South Boston. Police have said they provide the best protection for the public and for road workers. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/file 2000)

"Officials punt on police details: Political will once again fades; Unions resist shift to flagmen"
By Matt Viser, (Boston) Globe Staff, May 25, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick and the state's top legislative leaders stood united in March and made a bold proclamation: They would use their combined political muscle to take on powerful police unions and their sacred perk - construction details.

They grabbed headlines and plenty of airtime as they touted the $100 million the state could save by replacing police officers at low-risk construction sites with civilians in bright vests with flags.

Two months later, political will has faded.

Patrick was the first to publicly back off the tough stance when, just a week after the highly orchestrated news conference, the governor said on WTKK-FM's monthly "Ask the Governor" radio show, "The more I think about it, the less certain I am that we can fix this top down."

Confronted with a withering lobbying blitz by police officers, meanwhile, key lawmakers inserted legislative language in a transportation bill that would protect municipal union contracts and, with those contracts, the construction details that boost police salaries by thousands of dollars.

The result?

"This thing has been hobbled," said David G. Tuerck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank at Suffolk University. "The politicians seem to be totally unwilling to take this issue on in a serious way."

The performance by the state's politicians - quickly retreating from a plan that is popular with fiscal watchdogs and reformers - once again demonstrates the political might of police unions and the inability of elected leaders to make significant changes in a practice embedded in police contracts across the state.

It is a not a retreat the officials are eager to discuss. Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Kyle Sullivan, Patrick spokesman, said the governor, who in November first proposed the idea for detail reforms, "has been consistent since then in his desire to address this issue in a manner that is fiscally responsible and places public safety first."

The administration is scheduled to release a set of draft regulations in the next two weeks - and at a minimum is expected to include a recommendation that flaggers replace police at a limited number of state road and bridge construction zones where it can be done safely.

A final version of the recommendations is expected to be produced by mid-July and sent back to the Legislature for further debate. If adopted, it would mark the first time flaggers have appeared on state roads.

But critics said the mandatory union contract protections approved by the House and Senate have doomed much of the reforms, almost ensuring they will have little impact on municipal police on local roads.

They say Massachusetts will remain the only state that uses police officers, rather than less-expensive flaggers, on almost all work sites.

"Given the limitations of the legislation, it can't be anything dramatic," said Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "By tossing it to the local level, they've essentially passed the buck."

Although there are no statewide regulations requiring the use of police details for state or local road projects or utility jobs, state and local officials have used them for decades at construction sites anyway, in deference to politically powerful unions.

Police have argued that the presence of a cruiser and a uniformed officer slows traffic and provides the best protection for the public and for road workers.

"There are some serious safety issues if we go from police officers to flagmen," Richard Brown, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, said last week at a public hearing on the issue. "I've almost been killed more working details than working as a police officer."

Municipalities would save $36.5 million to $66.5 million a year by replacing most police details with less expensive flaggers, according to a 2004 study by the Beacon Hill Institute. The study estimated that cities and towns spent $93.3 million in police details in 2003.

In 1992, Governor William F. Weld proposed legislation to replace police details with civilian flaggers. After 800 police officers picketed the State House, Weld gave up and few have tried to revive the issue.

That appeared to change in March, when the state's top politicians appeared together in the Senate Reading Room to unveil a broad transportation reform package, which included streamlining construction projects, cracking down on retirement and pension plans at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and changing police details.

"We are going to roll up our sleeves," said DiMasi.

"This is a necessary step," said Murray.

"This is one of a host of areas where the Senate president, the speaker, and I . . . are working very closely in partnership," Patrick said.

It was a striking announcement from the state's top Democrats, who typically count public safety unions among their key political allies.

But they didn't release details of how they would do it, and then just a week later, Patrick indicated it wasn't going to be so easy.

"It feels simple," the governor said on the radio show, "but there are public safety issues, and that has to come first."

Police union officials were swarming the hallways of the State House.

Local police officers were calling legislators on their cellphones - even showing up at their homes - pleading with them to soften the initiative.

"I now understand why reform sometimes doesn't rise to the surface," said Senator Steven A. Baddour, a Methuen Democrat who was chief sponsor of the legislation and remains optimistic that it will bring about reforms. "It was the most difficult two weeks I've had in the Legislature."

It is still unclear how the state will encourage cities and towns to follow voluntary guidelines, although one idea is to tie state transportation funding to whether a municipality adopts the state recommendations.

With the protections for existing union contracts, however, local officials do not expect much change under a voluntary system.

"There ultimately will need to be change so that communities won't have to negotiate changes to use civilian flaggers," said Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. "Otherwise, what happens is the unions ask for other concessions like pay increases or additional benefits in exchange."
Matt Viser can be reached at


"Voters’ costliest error is Deval Patrick"
By Michael Graham, Tuesday, May 27, 2008,, Op-Ed

Here’s your economic quiz question of the day: What’s gone up more in the past year, the cost of gas, or the cost of the governor’s office?

If you guessed Gov. Patrick - you’re right! Or at least you’ve been paying attention.

There’s something almost admirable about Cadillac Deval’s dogged determination to bring the good life to the governor’s office. First it was the $12,000 drapes, then the Cadillac DTS (Deval Transportation System) and then the tax-funded secretary for his wife (soon dismissed).

Now the Herald’s Casey Ross reports that Patrick has boosted his own office’s budget by a whopping 78 percent in the past year. (Gas is up 25 percent since last Memorial Day.)

It now costs Massachusetts taxpayers $9 million a year for the privilege of being governed by the Man Behind the Curtain. All $12,000 worth of it.

Where is the money going? Well, you can’t expect the Cadillac of Governors to operate with a Chevrolet pit crew. So he’s bumped the paid staff up above 70, including jobs like “director of grassroots governance,” a “grassroots governance liaison” (hey, you don’t expect the director to do the “liazing” himself, do ya?) and director of online strategy.

The governor’s spokesperson, Cyndi Roy defended these new jobs by insisting “the people of Massachusetts deserve to have their voices heard.”

As long as they’re not voting on income-tax rollbacks or same-sex marriage, that is.

Another $3 million or so is being used to pay for the volunteers in Patrick’s self-aggrandizing “Commonwealth Corps” community service program. What kind of volunteers have to be paid for community service? Why, Devalunteers, of course!

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) claims that his constituents are asking “What is this guy doing?” With all due respect to the senator, I bet the people of Wrentham - not to mention Wareham, Westborough and Watertown - know exactly what Patrick is doing. Because it’s the same thing he’s done since he hit Beacon Hill. He’s grabbing every dollar that’s not nailed down.

We’re talking about a guy who, when his vitally important, fiscally-mandatory state-saving economic initiative (also known as “casinos”) was being shot down, was taking a lunch in New York City to finalize his $1.35 million book deal. This is the governor who supports a massive $175 million tax increase on smokers, but can’t seem to kick his own habits on spending.

And there is something particularly unseemly about the governor’s utter lack of leadership at this moment when so many of his citizens are struggling financially. Doesn’t Dollar Bill Deval realize that while he’s livin’ large in the Corner Office, for many working taxpayers in Massachusetts, the good life means supersizing the kids’ fries on their Value Meals?

Wouldn’t this be the time - with citizens struggling to pay $4 per gallon gas, rising food costs and higher tolls - for the governor to show some frugality? Even a cynically symbolic measure would be an improvement.

Patrick isn’t alone either. Beacon Hill is in the process of passing a $28 billion budget. How many of the taxpayers footing that bill have gotten a 10 percent pay raise this year? Or, with the current state of the economy, are likely to get one next year?

Bay State government: If you think you can’t afford it now, wait ’til next year!

Alas, this is the current state of Massachusetts politics and its one-party politburo. Not only is the political class shoving our money in its pockets as fast as it can, it does so with impugnity. “Whaddaya gonna do about it,” DiMasi & Co. ask, “vote Republican? Ha! Just go try to find one.”

Patrick promised that if we elected him, we wouldn’t get the same old status quo government. He was right.

It’s worse.
Article URL:

"Patrick signs bill to manage ocean resources: Law requires plan to unify oversight of coastal projects"
By Beth Daley, (Boston) Globe Staff, May 29, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick yesterday signed the nation's first comprehensive ocean planning law to guide where pipelines should be laid, areas should be protected, and energy projects built.

A 17-member advisory commission will help state officials craft a management plan by the end of 2009, and all development within 3 miles of the state's coastline will have to abide by its rules. The law is designed to help reduce tensions among maritime users and guide energy development, and also could impose stricter safety measures to help prevent accidents such as the 2003 oil spill in Buzzards Bay.

"If we neglect or abuse our ocean resources we do so at our peril," Patrick said as he stood outside the New England Aquarium yesterday morning before signing the Oceans Act. "This law will help protect our vital natural resources and balance traditional with new ones, such as renewable energy, that are also important to our future."

Public attention in New England has been riveted in recent years on a 130-turbine wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound. But there is increasing demand for the state's offshore resources, with a variety of lower-profile proposals that collectively could have far more impact on the region, environmentalists and state officials say.

The plan will not affect the Nantucket wind farm, nor the new liquefied natural gas port off Gloucester, both of which are in federal waters.

There are many competing needs for state waters, which help drive a $117 billion coastal economy. Dozens of pipelines, gas lines, sewage pipes, and electrical cables already crisscross coastal waters. A handful of companies have announced plans to build wind farms, liquefied natural gas terminals, and projects designed to capture energy from the tides. Businesses and communities also regularly propose aquaculture projects and sand mining along prime fishing areas to shore up beaches.

Authority for regulating such projects is now spread among numerous state agencies that do not share the same vision for the coastline - frustrating both environmentalists and business leaders.

"We need to figure out the right activities in the right place and what places we should leave alone," said Susan Farady, regional director of the Ocean Conservancy and a member of, a consortium of environmental groups dedicated to protecting Massachusetts waters.

The new law does not give any special consideration to a wind farm proposed for a state sanctuary in Buzzards Bay. That project became a lightning rod for controversy last year after House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi failed in a bid to weaken the ocean sanctuary act to allow the project to be developed by his friend Jay Cashman.

Under the new law, renewable energy projects, such as wind farms, cannot be built in the state's vast ocean sanctuaries - virtually the entire coastline - until the management plan is completed. The law also prohibits renewable energy projects from ever being built in the Cape Cod Ocean Sanctuary, which includes the Cape Cod National Seashore.

It will not regulate commercial fishing; the state Division of Marine Fisheries will continue oversight of that industry.

"We have a lot of work to do," said Ian A. Bowles, the state's Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, who will develop the plan with input from the public and the 17-member advisory commission. "When we make best use of our state waters, we will all be better off."

Concern over competing ocean uses is growing nationwide, and some states, including California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Florida, and North Carolina, have created ocean authorities or announced plans to better manage state waters.

Massachusetts has gone the furthest in creating a law - and an ambitious timeline to develop a plan.

"With this bill, Massachusetts has become a leader in ocean policy in this country," said Leon E. Panetta, former White House chief of staff and the chairman of the Pew Oceans Commission, a national group that has called for federal ocean management reform.

In Massachusetts, politicians have been talking about the need for a state ocean management plan for more than 15 years. But efforts repeatedly fell apart as administrations changed or interest waned. This year, everything fell into place, with strong legislative support.

Fishermen and other groups that use state waters said they are largely happy with the new law, but want to make sure the final plan respects their needs.

"We feel good that these projects are going to be more scrutinized," said Bernie Feeney, president of the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association. But "we have mixed feelings."
Beth Daley can be reached at

"Mortgage lenders face stricter rules"
By Matt Murphy, Eagle Boston Bureau
Saturday, May 31, 2008

BOSTON — Gov. Deval L. Patrick moved yesterday to pressure mortgage lenders into modifying risky sub-prime loans for borrowers in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure, an attempt to slow the national foreclosure upheaval that has hit Massachusetts particularly hard this year.

The governor said he asked the Division of Banks to begin evaluating all state-licensed mortgage lenders based on the speed and number of loan modifications they complete to help delinquent homeowners make their payments and stay in their homes.

If adopted, the new regulations would make Massachusetts the only state in the nation to grade non-bank mortgage lenders based on their efforts to help at-risk borrowers when determining whether to issue state lending licenses.

"More can be done and must be done to help those homeowners who are most at risk of losing their homes," Patrick said. "It is important that all lenders do their part by being responsive to those who face the threat of foreclosure."

Sub-prime loans written often with little to no down payment have been driving foreclosures as the housing market has slumped because of the high interest rates that kick in sometimes two years after the mortgage was arranged.

The new push comes a day after the Warren Group announced that the number of foreclosure deeds processed in Massachusetts had grown 152 percent over the first four months of 2007.

Legislation signed by the governor in November took a number of steps to ease the foreclosure crisis by requiring, among other reforms, a 90-day grace period for borrowers to catch up on delinquent payments and forcing all mortgage loan originators to be licensed.

The new regulations proposed yesterday would go a step further by establishing loan modification as one of the criteria for which lenders are evaluated under the Community Reinvestment Act. Lenders are currently graded on a five-point scale under CRA that could effect their lending license status, though officials said it has been about 15 years since a bank merger or license was denied based on a CRA score.

"I can understand what the governor is trying to do. I think his efforts are well intentioned, but it's not as simple as just being expedient," said Robert McDonald, president-elect of the Massachusetts Mortgage Association.

McDonald said that in many cases mortgage companies bundle and secure loans and sell them in the secondary market to large firms.

"I don't think there's a lender out there that wants foreclosed mortgages on their books. But what if you're servicing the mortgage, but you sold it and the buyer doesn't want to modify?" McDonald said.

Patrick and Banking Commissioner Steven Antonakes acknowledged the complexity of the problem and said they would be looking for "a commitment working toward loan modifications" but could not specifically identify benchmarks.

Antonakes said there is not "one single solution" to the problem, but thought this could help in up to 30 percent of cases. In order to quicken the pace of loan modification to help at-risk homeowners before it's too late, Patrick also intends to bring lenders and homeowners together in a series of community workshops to restructure problem mortgages.


"Governor pitches $3B bond plan to lawmakers"
June 4, 2008, 12:54 PM
By Christopher Baxter, (Boston) Globe Correspondent

A $3 billion bond plan to fix up the state's crumbling bridges would ensure public safety and be a boon to the economy, Governor Deval Patrick told a legislative committee today.

"Consider the cost to our economy when businesses fail to expand when infrastructure is inadequate," Patrick told the Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures, and State Assets.

The project would fund rehabilitation and prevention projects at about 250 bridges throughout the state over the next eight years. Patrick said it would create thousands of jobs.

Senator Mark C. Montigny, the New Bedford Democrat who is chairman of the committee, said he wanted to ensure that the money is spent wisely, raising the specter of Boston's Big Dig project, which ended up being billions of dollars over budget.

"I want to make sure that we learn from our mistakes," Montigny said.

The committee took the bill under advisement.



"Patrick discusses supporter for post: Appointment would mark shift for governor"
By Frank Phillips, Boston Globe Staff, June 4, 2008

The Patrick administration has been discussing whether to name an early campaign supporter as head of a state bonding agency, a job that pays as much as $225,000 a year, according to an e-mail written by a Walsh political adviser that outlines the plan.

By installing state Senator Marian Walsh, a West Roxbury Democrat and early supporter of Governor Deval Patrick's 2006 campaign, as executive director of the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority, the administration would be trading down in expertise.

A former Suffolk County prosecutor and longtime legislator, Walsh has no detailed job experience in public bonds and nonprofit debt. The current executive director, Benson T. Caswell, has an extensive background in the field.

A switch also could be expensive, creating a major hurdle for Walsh to get the job: Firing Caswell would cost the state $450,000, according to terms of his severance package.

If Patrick moves ahead with the plan, it would mark a shift for the governor, who declared after his campaign that lawmakers need not apply for administration jobs. At the time, Patrick's statement was in keeping with his campaign promises to reform Beacon Hill culture and reduce political patronage hiring.

There seemed to be little predisposition to that reformist impulse in the e-mail by a Walsh political consultant, Michael Goldman, to Patrick's chief of staff, Doug Rubin. A copy of the May 28 e-mail was obtained by the Globe.

"This is the job she is excited about doing for the governor," Goldman wrote in the e-mail.

Goldman, who also serves as an unpaid political adviser to the governor, described the outlines of a plan that he said was discussed with Rubin: Stack the authority's board with fresh Patrick appointees. Install a new chairman. Orchestrate Caswell's firing. Announce, at the end of July, that Walsh would be the new executive director, starting Sept. 1.

"Is this still the game plan? If so, great!" Goldman wrote.

If Walsh received the same salary as Caswell's $225,000 a year, it would pay Walsh $151,000 more than she currently makes as the Senate's assistant majority leader. Walsh, a state senator since 1993 and a House member from 1989 to 1992, now makes $73,273 a year.

A Patrick spokesman did not deny that the plan was under consideration, but would not discuss specifics.

"While we would be proud to have her as part of the administration, there are no current plans to make such an announcement," said Patrick's press secretary, Kyle Sullivan.

A spokesman for Walsh likewise did not rule out such a move, but said she is currently focused on her November reelection bid, which is uncontested.

Late yesterday, Rubin issued a statement describing the content of Goldman's e-mail as inaccurate, but did not elaborate.

"The e-mail was presumptuous, and I let Michael know that it did not accurately reflect our conversation," Rubin said.

Walsh declined to comment.

"All she is doing is running for reelection," Goldman said in an interview, acting as Walsh's spokesman. "Down the road, there may be other opportunities. Her focus is to win reelection."

Goldman said he has never received a response from Rubin to his e-mail.

With Walsh as the only Democrat whose name is printed on the September primary ballot in her district, local party officials will have the upper hand in choosing her successor if she were to leave. No Republican has filed for the seat.

Caswell, who has a long experience as a financial expert at Chicago firms advising nonprofit clients in tax-exempt capital financing, was recruited to take over the authority after a national search in 2002. He was hired by a board dominated by Republican gubernatorial appointees.

Caswell took over from Robert Ciolek, who also had a strong background in municipal and state financing, including a stint as director of administrative services for the City of Boston.

Last month, the Health and Educational Facilities Authority board voted Caswell a $25,000 a year raise, increasing his annual salary to its current $225,000. Firing him to make way for Walsh would cost the agency heavily in severance pay. His contract states that if he is dismissed without cause, he is guaranteed a year's pay, as well as two months of salary for each year served. It is not clear what salary Walsh, 53, would be paid in the post.

Patrick's chief appointment secretary recently contacted the Health and Educational Facilities Authority to notify it that the governor intended to move shortly to fill three vacancies.

Within days of his landslide election, Patrick took a tough stand against patronage, warning legislators they would be wasting their time pressuring him to hire their cronies or supporters. He did say he would not exclude lawmakers or their supporters from taking jobs in his administration, but said he would seek only the most qualified for the jobs that he fills.

"There is patronage and waste and inefficiency in all kinds of quarters of our government, and one of the jobs I am taking on is to get at that," Patrick said then.

But he has recently shown a willingness to bend on that point. Last month, he appointed state Representative Rachel Kaprielian, a Watertown Democrat and another of Patrick's early supporters in 2006, as registrar of motor vehicles, although she has no experience running large public agencies. He also appointed another legislative supporter, Representative Michael Festa, a Democrat from Melrose, as secretary of elder affairs, and Doublas W. Petersen of Marblehead as agricultural commissioner.

The Health and Educational Facilities Authority, which has a staff of 20, has issued more than $2 billion in tax-exempt bonds to finance construction for nonprofit health and education facilities around the state.

With three current vacancies to fill, Patrick will soon control the nine-member board of the authority. He is also expected to reappoint the chairman, Allen R. Larson, a Cape Cod lawyer whose wife Gloria Larson, president of Bentley College, was a state Republican insider who endorsed Patrick's candidacy in 2006. Allen Larson's seven-year term expired in July, and he is now serving as a holdover.

Walsh holds a theological degree from Harvard Divinity School and a law degree from Suffolk University. She has broad exposure to state finances and financial regulation. She served as Senate chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Joint Committee on Banks and Banking. She also led efforts in the Senate to force private, nonprofit organizations to open their books to the public.

Walsh, who has been seeking to leave the Senate, had applied to Patrick's judicial nominating commission to become a district court judge. But she withdrew her name this spring. The governor recently appointed her husband - Paul V. Buckley, a retired district court judge - to the state's Industrial Accident Board, a post that pays $113,000 a year.


"Patrick plans new kind of public school: Charter-type program could upset unions"
By Tania deLuzuriaga and Matt Viser, (Boston) Globe Staff, June 11, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick, in a potential break with the teachers unions that helped elect him, is set to propose a new form of public school that would assume unprecedented control over matters ranging from curriculum and hiring decisions to policies on school uniforms and the length of the school year.

The governor's proposal for "readiness schools," a key element of his sweeping 10-year education plan to be unveiled later this month, aims to combine features of the state's charter schools and Boston's experimental pilot schools. Governed by local boards and freed from many constraints imposed by unions, school districts, and the state, the readiness schools would adapt to community needs and offer new alternatives in school systems across the state, administration officials said yesterday.

"We need to radically transform the existing system," said one official briefed on the plan who talked on condition of anonymity.

The plan is likely to be embraced by suburban parents, who have clamored for more choices, and several education groups yesterday signaled their approval.

But it could meet stiff resistance from teachers unions that have fiercely protected their influence over issues such as hiring policies and could represent a significant roadblock as Patrick tries to win political support.

Additionally, school districts in the past have argued against charter-type schools, saying that they suck money from regular public schools and steal the best students from the systems.

"I told the governor I thought it was a breakthrough to put this on the table," said Paul Grogan, president of the Boston Foundation, which has advocated for pilot schools in Boston. "But there's got to be a receptivity on all parties."

Patrick plans to file legislation on the readiness schools in January. If approved by the Legislature, the state could have its first such schools by the start of the 2009-2010 school year. Administration officials have an initial goal of 40 readiness schools within four years, but hope to create more after that. There are currently 1,870 public schools statewide.

Like charter schools, which have been operating in Massachusetts since 1993, readiness schools would be allowed to deviate from state curriculum guidelines and experiment with teaching practices. Unlike most charter schools, which are governed by the state, they would report to local school committees. Also unlike charter schools, readiness schools could be created from existing public schools, according to the plan.

The readiness schools would be similar to Boston's pilot schools, created in 1993 when the city struck a deal with the teachers' union to create the charter-type schools that are free from School Department and collective bargaining rules.

Both pilots and charters have been hailed by advocates for offering more innovative teaching styles and curriculum. The schools typically admit students through a lottery system, and many have long waiting lists. Administration officials said readiness schools would be open to all students in a district and would have no admissions criteria.

Teachers unions have long criticized charter and pilot schools, which typically hire nonunion teachers. Union officials, who wield influence in the Legislature and with local school districts, said yesterday that they like the governor's program as a concept but want more assurances that their members' contracts are protected.

"We are open to other ways of doing things," said Anne Wass, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which has nearly 108,000 members. "Certainly we're not negative. We're willing to work with the administration on this."

One area that may prove controversial is an aspect of the plan that would limit collective bargaining to salary and benefits and due-process dismissals.

"We're open to new ideas, but we're interested in protecting collective bargaining rights," said Thomas Gosnell, president of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, which has 27,000 members. He declined to comment further until the administration puts out more details.

Under the plan, there are four ways a readiness school could open: A group of educators could form a collaborative and present the local school committee with a plan to operate a school; a district could convert a school with teacher consent; a School Committee could contract with outside operators, such as charter school management companies; or the state Board of Education could convert a school deemed chronically underperforming.

The schools would be held accountable through performance contracts; if student achievement lagged, the School Committee could vote to take the school back.

"As a concept, we're really intrigued," said Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, a state advocacy group.

"After years of not being included in discussions on education reform, we now feel there is going to be a really healthy dialogue."
Matt Viser can be reached at

"Patrick hopes to lure L.A. industries: Bay State sights set on star bucks"
By John J. Monahan, (Worcester) TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF,
June 11, 2008

BOSTON— Gov. Deval L. Patrick will be going Hollywood next week — and actually visiting Tinseltown as well — as part of a West Coast economic development swing in which he will try to lure moviemakers and biotechnology and life sciences firms to the Bay State.

Mr. Patrick, who also is co-chairman of the Barack Obama campaign, also intends to squeeze in a visit to his hometown of Chicago to meet with Mr. Obama and fellow Democratic governors for a strategy session and “unity dinner” June 19. From there, he takes off for Washington the next day to discuss the state’s Medicare waiver funding that is critical to meeting the costs of the state’s mandatory health care program.

The visit to Hollywood is billed by his staff as a side trip to the moviemaking capital after he attends an international biotechnology conference where Mr. Patrick plans to trumpet the final approval of the state’s billion dollar life-sciences initiative.

A legislative committee yesterday approved final language changes to the life sciences investment bill, which includes funding for a major genetic therapy research facility in Worcester. State Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, said last night that the House-Senate conference committee worked out differences between the two chambers’ versions of the measure. That agreement clears the way for final passage by the House and Senate over the next two days.

The governor is joining a coterie of state officials and lawmakers who intend to promote the tax breaks, infrastructure funding, research grants and other investments authorized by the life sciences bill at the 2008 BIO international conference that opens next week in San Diego.

The Massachusetts bill would put up $100 million in tax breaks, investments and research grants annually over the next 10 years to promote life sciences research and manufacturing development in the state.

It also would provide $90 million for a genetics research facility at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester for research based on the pioneering gene therapy work of Nobel laureate Dr. Craig Mello. The facility, which would cost more than $300 million in state, federal and private funds, also is expected to also house a state stem cell bank, registry and related research, already under development at the school.

A large group of legislators, staff from the state’s life sciences and economic development agencies, area life sciences industry representatives and a contingent from the University of Massachusetts are among those from the state attending the conference. It is the largest such conference of its kind, attracting representatives from biomedical and pharmaceutical companies and institutions from around the world.

Plans for the state’s life-sciences initiative were unveiled by the governor last year when the conference was held in Boston.

Mr. Patrick plans a side trip to Hollywood to promote movie-making in the Bay State and its state tax breaks and incentives that were approved last year in hopes of expanding the production of movies. He is expected to travel to Los Angeles the night of June 18 and meet with movie executives the following day.

The governor is scheduled to participate in a keynote luncheon presentation at the San Diego Convention Center on Tuesday, plugging the state’s life sciences initiative. He also is to appear with former Florida Gov. John E. “Jeb” Bush to discuss “the role of government in facilitating research and discovery in 2009 and beyond.”

The BioWorcester group will have a booth in the main exhibition hall, hoping to draw interest in the growing biotechnology industry in the city. The exhibit will highlight the Gateway Park partnership between WPI and the Worcester Business Development Corporation, Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, Choose Worcester Inc. and the city of Worcester in developing biomedical and life sciences research and industry in Central Massachusetts. The exhibit describes the city as “a hot spot for biotech development” and will be one of more than a dozen Massachusetts exhibits at the expo.

UMass Medical School will also be sending a delegation to the convention led by Michael Collins, the school’s interim chancellor.


The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, SCOT LEHIGH
"Patrick's cop-out on the charter cap"
By Scot Lehigh, June 13, 2008

DURING THE 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Deval Patrick said he favored raising the cap on charter schools once the funding formula was reworked to ease tensions between traditional schools and charters.

Here's how candidate Patrick explained his stand in an Oct. 19, 2006, gubernatorial debate: "I think we can lift the cap . . . when we fix the funding formula, and it's broken right now . . . [T]he state has to step up and provide the kind of funding that makes both charter schools and district schools flourish."

Given that the state reimburses the traditional public schools for some share of educational costs for three years after a student leaves for a charter - and that the funding formula was retooled to address district concerns in 2004 - Patrick's assertion that the formula was broken was always more political than analytical.

Still, the public had a right to expect that, if elected, Patrick would propose a new formula and support more Commonwealth charters. But it has now become crystal clear that the governor, elected with the support of the teachers unions, has put that campaign stand into suspended animation.

This week, administration officials are touting Patrick's plan for "readiness schools." But here's an equally telling headline: The governor's signature education initiative - the so-called Readiness Project - will not include any attempt to address the charter-school stalemate.

"What the governor is recognizing is there's not an obvious, immediate resolution to that problem of how we pay for charter schools," says Paul Reville, the incoming secretary of education.

He adds, "Right now our focus is on making readiness schools available . . ."

So when, if ever, will the charter cap be addressed? There is no timetable for that, administration officials say.

Wait, there's more: "In briefing me, Paul Reville said that he is floating the idea of offering a freeze on charter activity for districts that participate in readiness schools activity," reports Marc Kenen, executive director of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association. Although Reville says nothing has been decided, he confirms that's one of several incentives being considered.

So not only will there be no effort to lift the overall cap on charters, the administration may even impose a freeze that wouldn't otherwise be there in some districts.

Consider the irony: As administration officials tell it, the readiness school effort is Patrick's attempt to apply the lessons of charter schools - autonomy, innovation, choice, responsiveness, and a longer school day, among others - to the state's traditional public schools. And yet Patrick is currently punting on expanding the very model that has produced those lessons.

Now, though the devil is in the details, many of which aren't yet worked out, there's a lot to like about the concept of readiness schools. If the administration really can get districts to embrace a sweeping restructuring of scores of traditional public schools, it will have accomplished something significant.

Yet in Boston we've watched determined union opposition hobble an effort to expand innovative pilot schools. Why won't the same happen with readiness schools? Because, a senior administration official insists, Patrick will challenge the education establishment to embrace his reforms - and warn that a failure to do so will validate claims that the system can only be reformed from the outside.

"If we went five years and we had no movement [on the readiness schools], I think you'd have a governor who would speak out in that case, and with his sense of urgency, require us to move in a different direction altogether," this person says.

His sense of urgency? A governor with a true sense of urgency would at least call for lifting the charter cap in those cities where kids are stuck in repeatedly failing schools. Certainly if the state's first African-American governor were to advocate that, his would be a powerful and important statement.

Instead, Patrick has left the field before the first real shot in the battle over the charter cap has even been fired. And that cautious cop-out makes it even harder to believe that the prospect of possible gubernatorial impatience half a decade hence will be enough to spark real educational improvement.
Scot Lehigh can be reached at

"Patrick keeps a promise to the biotech industry: Governor set to sign $1b benefit plan"
By Todd Wallack, (Boston) Globe Staff, June 16, 2008

When the world's biggest biotechnology trade show opened in Boston last year, Governor Deval L. Patrick unveiled a bold proposal to pump $1 billion into the state's growing life sciences industry over the next decade.

Today, Patrick is headed to this year's convention in San Diego to tell biotech executives he is finally delivering on that promise.

After months of tweaking the plan, both the Senate and House ratified the final version of the bill last week. Patrick is slated to sign the legislation this morning at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston before jetting off to the annual BIO show, run by the Biotechnology Industry Organization trade group. The bill includes $250 million in tax incentives for companies, $250 million in grants, and $500 million for infrastructure, much of which is earmarked for the state university system. Several local biotech companies, including Shire PLC, Genzyme Corp., Wyeth, and Organogenesis Inc., stand to directly benefit from the legislation.

Patrick said the legislation gives him a powerful platform to sell Massachusetts to biotech leaders - encouraging more companies to expand or set up shop here.

"We've got an awful lot to offer," Patrick said in an interview. "We are all about selling it."

The governor isn't heading to California alone. Roughly four dozen state and local officials are also going, including House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray, in an effort to promote the state's growing biotech industry. Massachusetts, along with San Diego and the San Francisco Bay area, is widely considered one of the top biotech clusters in the world.

Though biotech still only accounts for a little more than 1 percent of the state's workforce, Patrick has focused on nurturing the life sciences industry because of its growth potential, high salaries, and ability to pump money into the economy.

Tomorrow and Wednesday, he and other Massachusetts leaders plan meetings and receptions with business executives, including a party at Petco Park, the baseball stadium where the San Diego Padres play. Patrick and former Florida governor Jeb Bush are also headlining a keynote discussion on government's role in fostering biotech research. At the event tomorrow, BIO is expected to honor Patrick as its "Governor of the Year."

At least five other state lawmakers are expected to attend BIO, in addition to Murray and DiMasi. Representative Michael Rodrigues, Democrat of Westport, said he was excited about meeting with biotech executives to pitch the state.

"I hope to meet as many biotech executive as I can to build up what I started last year," said Rodrigues, who will also be on a panel at the convention.

Meanwhile, Representative Cory Atkins, Democrat of Concord, said she was excited about learning ways that Massachusetts can help team up with industry to better prepare students for careers in life sciences and technology. "I'm looking to meet academics and others in the industry," Atkins said.

Cyndi Roy, a Patrick spokeswoman, estimated the state is spending more than $250,000 on the convention, for travel, marketing materials, sponsorship of the Massachusetts pavilion at the show, and hosting parties for biotech executives. The cost of sending each employee is about $1,700. But taxpayers won't be picking up the tab for everything. Some legislators, for instance, are paying for the trip with campaign funds. And some quasi-public agencies may also use private money.

More than 50 Massachusetts companies are planning to send representatives, among them: Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. chief executive Joshua Boger (who is also the chair of the Biotechnology Industry Organization), Genzyme chief executive Henri Termeer, and Jeff Elton, chief operating officer of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Cambridge.

"Bio is very important," said Robert Coughlin, head of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, which represents the state's biotech industry.

While in California, Patrick also plans to attend three hours of meetings Thursday morning with Hollywood executives interested in building film studios or other facilities in Massachusetts.
Todd Wallack can be reached at

"Petri dish for economic growth"
June 17, 2008

THE BIOTECHNOLOGY Industry Organization convention in San Diego this week has turned into a victory party for Governor Patrick. Accompanied by economic-development officials and legislative leaders and staffers, the governor is using the annual confab to tout the state's $1 billion life sciences bill, which he signed yesterday. And for his efforts to promote biotech in Massachusetts, Patrick himself will be honored today as the industry group's governor of the year.

The initiative's price tag alone shows that the Commonwealth wants to stay competitive in a dynamic industry. But its success isn't yet guaranteed; it will depend upon how that money is distributed in the next 10 years. When the convention ends, the burden will fall on the fledgling Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to steer money toward high-impact research and other projects - without getting caught in red tape or political maneuvering.

So far, the signs are good. The bill commits $500 million for research facilities, infrastructure improvements, and other capital projects; $250 million for tax credits; and $250 million for research grants. The plan is flexible enough to support research at private institutions while making major investments at public universities. Patrick and legislators fended off the most flagrant attempts to divert money into political pet projects with little direct relevance to the biotech industry, such as $49.5 million for a science building at a state college with no graduate science programs.

Fortunately, the life sciences center will have significant discretion over what to fund. But the agency will need a strong rudder. In an interview at the Globe last week, the center's new director, Susan Windham-Bannister, said its decisions will be based on well-defined metrics. The success of the agency will also depend on the integrity and wisdom of the experts and staffers who review grant applications.

The life sciences center has an impressive scientific advisory board, but its members necessarily have ties to prominent universities and biotech firms. The agency will quickly have to find the balance between getting advice from seasoned experts in biotech and making sure institutional ties don't influence which projects get funding.

Ideally, the mere presence of Harvard, MIT, and top-notch hospitals would be enough to keep the local biotech business vibrant forever. But because other jurisdictions are courting the industry, Massachusetts needs to work - and spend - to maintain its lead. Enacting Patrick's life sciences bill was an important step. The real test comes over the next 10 years.



"Competing for biotechs' attention: States, nations chase prospect of high-paying jobs, revenue"
By Todd Wallack, (Boston) Globe Staff, June 19, 2008

SAN DIEGO - Georgia hosted biotechnology executives aboard an aircraft carrier. Nebraska plied them with Omaha Steaks. And Hawaii offered tropical drinks, island music, and hula lessons.

Everywhere you look at the world's biggest biotech show here this week, politicians and economic development officials are fighting for the attention of industry executives. At least a dozen governors planned to attend the Biotechnology Industry Organization show. The convention floor is crowded with more than 60 pavilions run by states, nations, and regions, ranging from Oklahoma to Spain.

"They want what we've got," said Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, who is leading a brigade of four dozen state and local officials at BIO in an attempt to persuade biotech executives to expand in Massachusetts.

The scene at the convention - organizers call it the "Olympics" of the biotech industry - underscores the growing competition that Massachusetts faces to remain a leader in the industry. Once regarded as an obscure niche, biotech has gradually become big business, prompting economic boosters worldwide to salivate over its high-paying jobs, growth potential, and promise to inject new money into a local economy.

"Biotech is one of the hot industries that every economic development board pays attention to," said Glen Giovannetti, who runs Ernst & Young's biotech center in Boston.

Indeed, Florida estimated it has invested at least a half billion dollars in the life sciences industry in the past few years, mostly to help set up top research institutions, like the Max Planck Institute of Bio-Imaging. Maryland unveiled its $1.1 billion life sciences proposal Monday, hours after Patrick signed Massachusetts $1 billion life sciences plan into law. And Georgia, home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several respected universities, has set aside millions of dollars for loans to life sciences companies and funding for start-ups.

"We intend to put Georgia on the [biotech] map," said Ken Stewart, commissioner of Georgia's Department of Economic Development.

But it is difficult for other states to compete with Cambridge's Kendall Square and San Francisco's Bay Area, especially if they are trying to build an industry from scratch. Both areas have deep roots in the industry. The commercial biotech revolution arguably began in 1976 with the founding of Genentech Inc., a south San Francisco biotech giant. Cambridge-based Biogen (now Biogen Idec Inc.) launched just two years later.

Today, the Bay Area has 77 publicly traded biotech companies, more than any other region, according to a recent study by Ernst & Young. Massachusetts is close behind with 62.

But other areas are gaining ground. San Diego now has 42 publicly traded companies, up 50 percent from just five years ago. In fact, San Diego biotech companies actually raised more venture capital money than those in Massachusetts last year. Venture funding for San Diego companies leaped 135 percent to $966 million from 2002 to 2007, compared to a respectable 66 percent for Silicon Valley, and 47 percent for New England, according to data collected by Thomson Financial, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the National Venture Capital Association.

"San Diego is up and coming," said James Connolly, who leads PricewaterhouseCooper's life sciences practice in Boston. "It may be the fastest growing of the largest biotech clusters."

All three also face competition from abroad, including Ireland, Singapore, and China. Swiss drug maker Novartis AG, for instance, decided late last year to build a drug manufacturing plant in Singapore, after initially considering Massachusetts as one of several potential sites.

"I think our ability to attract and retain the best and brightest talent in the world is being challenged by other parts of the world," said Matthew Gardner, president of BayBio, which represents Northern California's life sciences industry.

California and Massachusetts are also battling with each other. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger talked up the state's biotech industry during yesterday's keynote speech at BIO, boasting about top research centers, tax credits, that state's existing base of biotech companies, and a $3 billion investment in stem cell research. "This is more than any nation in the world is doing," Schwarzenegger said.

But Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi said Patrick "blocked Schwarzenegger's jump shot" with his $1 billion initiative, which provides money for a broader range of life sciences research and companies than does California.

Despite the increased competition, Massachusetts' bio cluster has continued to grow. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study released last week estimated life sciences employment in the state climbed 8 percent from 2001 to 2006, to 77,000 workers, even as other industries shrank. The report also said Massachusetts generates more life sciences patents and doctorates per resident than any other state. In addition, it received more funding from the National Institutes of Health per capita than any other state. The report was sponsored by the New England HealthCare Institute, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.
Todd Wallack can be reached at

"Biotech bill will help firm grow"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Friday, June 20, 2008

I am writing in response to the article in the Berkshire Eagle ("Dangling biotech carrot," June 14). I applaud lawmakers for passing Governor Deval Patrick's life science biotech bill. The governor's life sciences bill is one of the most important issues that has ever come before the Massachusetts state government concerning economic development and intellectual property creation. If successful, this could be a long-lasting legacy for Gov. Patrick in his economic development efforts. Our own state representatives, Daniel Bosley of North Adams and Christopher Speranzo of Pittsfield, and Senator Ben Downing of Pittsfield, were influential in the success of the bill.

Massachusetts has incredible resources to develop, support and attract biotech and pharmaceutical companies. State universities (including the University of Massachusetts, Harvard Medical, Clark University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have the ability to generate cutting edge, marketable developments utilized by the biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

Nuclea Biomarkers, LLC, whose headquarters are located in Pittsfield, is currently the only biotech company west of the Pioneer Valley. We have invested in the economic development of the city by developing and filling 40 high-paying jobs within a three year period, and we have contributed to the intellectual property base in the Berkshires. Nuclea has a payroll of well over $1 million per year and has to date received more than $5 million in investment funds dedicated to the development of the company. Nuclea has recently completed its Pittsfield expansion project, obtaining 2,500 additional square feet of space to bring our total space to approximately 6,000 square feet, and has spent more than $250,000 to upgrade its server computational power.

Nuclea has been active across the state. We have negotiated and signed a monumental collaboration with Clark University in Worcester including the leasing of approximately 3,500 square feet of prime, newly developed laboratory space. With over $1 million invested in state-of-the-art equipment for analyzing the human genome and the hire of five key employees, Nuclea has positioned itself as a major player in the world of "personalized medicine."

Nuclea would like to be of assistance in developing education in life sciences at Berkshire Community College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. We have many opportunities to support interns, as we have done successfully with students from Clark University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Since we are quickly expanding, we are always willing to discuss Nuclea's emerging economically viable business with Pittsfield's city officials. The city officials, including the mayor, economic development director and city councilors should be interested in doing so. Our employees would be happy to host a forum to discuss their needs, as well as the company's needs. Hopefully, Pittsfield will be competitive so we can continue our commitment to growth within the city.

With the approval of the life science bill, competition across the state to attract companies will be fierce. You would think the city of Pittsfield would like to point to one of this administration's few viable business successes as they work to attract new technology based companies. However, we never know what Pittsfield politicians will do, do we?

Pittsfield, Massachusetts
The author is president and CEO of Nuclea Biomarkers LLC of Pittsfield.


"Patrick unveils sweeping plan for education reform"
June 25, 2008, 11:36 AM, By Tania deLuzuriaga, (Boston) Globe Staff

Saying that "today is a new day," Governor Deval Patrick unveiled his sweeping education reform initiative today, a 55-point action plan he hopes will act as a blueprint for legislative and administrative action for the next decade.

With proposals that touch on everything from early-childhood education to the state’s university system, the 44-page report makes the case that Massachusetts’ education system must change dramatically in order to prepare all children for a global economy.

"Today is the day to ask ourselves what we are prepared to do to bring a system designed for the 20th century into the 21st," Patrick said.

Many of the governor’s proposals, such as those aimed at closing achievement gaps, better preparing teachers, and reducing the number of school districts in the state, have been unveiled over the past two days. Patrick has talked a lot this week about his ideas for pre-kindergarten to Grade 12.

However, the report issued this morning provides fresh details and outlines a few initiatives that had yet to be unveiled.

For example, the plan contains a host of recommendations for higher education. They include: closing the pay gap between faculty at Massachusetts colleges and universities and those at peer institutions in other states; increasing needs-based financial aid in the 2010 budget; guaranteeing that credits will be transferrable between the state’s public higher-education institutions; and supporting legislation that would allow undocumented children to pay in-state rates at public colleges and universities.

The report also lists a series of concrete goals for the state by 2020. The goals include: having a high-quality education and care system for children, beginning at birth, that will enable a smooth transition to school; reducing the high school dropout rate to less than 10 percent; and having 90 percent of high school graduates go on to college without needing to take remedial classes.


The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, JOAN VENNOCHI
"The education reform gamble"
By Joan Vennochi, June 26, 2008

ENDURING speeches and miscellaneous hoopla, the children at the Dorchester Boys & Girls Club were remarkably patient in their role as props.

Governor Deval Patrick, who used the site to launch a "new era of education reform," was not. Asked how he planned to foot the bill - new taxes? casinos? - Patrick answered tersely, "Everything is on the table."

To his credit, the governor has a vision. When it comes to paying for it, he's rolling the dice.

"We're building a house," he said. "You design it first and then cost it out."

Tom Birmingham, the former Senate president who coauthored the Education Reform Act of 1993, costs out the governor's education dreamhouse at "over $1 billion."

Back in 1993, Birmingham wanted to pay for his landmark plan by increasing the sales tax. After losing that argument to Republican Governor William F. Weld, he and the Legislature cut other state programs in order to fund ed reform with its first $175 million appropriation.

Given the continued phase-in of costly healthcare reforms and a questionable economy, it would be "exceedingly difficult," said Birmingham, to fund Patrick's ambitious plan simply by cutting the budget elsewhere.

That leaves new taxes - or casinos.

Patrick was a big loser after his proposal to license three casinos went down to crushing defeat last winter. But that was then.

Not long afterward, the governor told a Brookline Chamber of Commerce audience that a similar plan could resurface. He cited the continued need for property tax relief, the possibility of slot machines at the state's racetracks and ongoing efforts by the Wampanoag Indians to build their own casino.

But the biggest reason gambling could resurface is political.

House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi was gambling's - and Patrick's - most powerful foe. However, since beating Patrick on casinos, the speaker has been the subject of numerous news stories alleging ethical lapses. For a while, fellow legislators vied openly to replace him. While talk of successors has quieted down, DiMasi is chastened. And a chastened DiMasi strengthens Patrick and his agenda, as the governor's recent string of political successes demonstrates.

Obviously, the governor needs continued legislative support to accomplish future goals. Putting aside the funding component, Patrick has a tough job ahead when it comes to selling certain elements of his education agenda, especially to charter school advocates and teachers unions. Given the expected pushback on policy, how does he get legislators behind him?

In 1993, education reform was propelled by a court case brought by students in certain poor communities who alleged that the school funding system violated the education clause of the Massachusetts Constitution. The case, McDuffy v. Secretary of the Executive Office of Education, ultimately ended up before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. In its decision, the SJC established the state constitutional standards against which education reform efforts in Massachusetts would be judged.

"There is not that Damocles sword hanging over the Legislature now," said Birmingham. "It will take an active collective will to make the kind of commitment the governor is talking about."

Fifteen years ago, Massachusetts made a commitment to funding and standards. There may, indeed, be a collective will to take it to the next level. There is no court suit this time, just the urgency of people knowing public education is still in need of reform. But is there an appetite to raise taxes to do it?

Rather than make the call himself at the outset, Patrick is passing the buck to a new commission. It has until Nov. 15 to report back to him about short-term cost savings and potential new revenue sources.

It will fall to this commission to cost out the governor's dream house. If everything is on the table, as the governor said, it will also fall to this commission to weigh the pain of new taxes against the glitter of casinos.

The bottom line? Patrick could be gambling on gambling to fund his ambitious education agenda, along with the dreams of those quiet, hopeful children sitting before him in Dorchester.
Joan Vennochi can be reached at

"Readiness Project: Patrick targets tuition"
The Berkshire Eagle - Berkshire County
Thursday, June 26, 2008

BOSTON — Gov. Deval L. Patrick rolled out the final recommendations of his expansive Readiness Project yesterday, hoping the massive report will help usher Massachusetts to the forefront of public education by closing the achievement gaps between rich and poor and preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow.

The latest details included in the report call for free access to community colleges, for making community college credits easily transferable to all state colleges and universities, and for support in offering the children of illegal immigrants living in Massachusetts lower in-state college tuition rates.

Those students would have to have completed high school, passed the MCAS exam and be on a path to citizenship to qualify for the in-state tuition rate, a politically sensitive topic not just in Massachusetts but around the country.

"It makes good sense for us economically and, for me, it's about simple justice," Patrick said. "We don't tell these kids they can't go. We just tell them that they'll have to pay more than the kids that have been sitting across from them in school all these years."

The Readiness Project, more than a year in the making, marks the first time that Massachusetts has endeavored to completely overhaul public education since the Education Reform Act of 1993 that ushered in the MCAS exam and benchmark funding for public schools.

Patrick expects this latest effort, which includes 55 specific proposals to remake the education system, to take the better part of the next decade to implement as the state grapples with choosing which reforms to adopt and how to pay for many of the costly initiatives.

"We're very enthused that there is a renewed focus on education and that it's getting the attention it needs. What jumps out at us is the overall acknowledgment that the system as a whole needs to be restructured," said Linda Noonan, managing director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education.

She said the alliance is particularly intrigued by certain goals that call for addressing teacher compensation such as the statewide contract proposal and increased pay for teachers in at-risk schools.

Only time will tell, however, what comes of these proposals.

"There are too few details to be anything but optimistic at this point," Noonan said. "I don't think anyone can argue with the goals." The Readiness Project did not come with a price tag attached, but a separate Readiness Finance Commission has been formed to study the costs associated with each proposal and possible funding sources.

That report is due in November.

The governor has indicated casino gambling might be one way to pay for some of the reforms, but would not commit to refiling his defeated bill that called for three resort-style casinos in Massachusetts.

"Everything is on the table. Everything except property taxes," Patrick told reporters yesterday at a roundtable lunch discussion.

Both the governor and incoming Education Secretary Paul Reville dismissed criticism that the administration has called for sweeping reform without providing a way to pay it, arguing that it was a choice to first identify everything needed for students to succeed before trying to decide what the state could afford.

"The largest enemy of school reform is complacence," Reville said.

Over the past three days, Patrick has rolled out a laundry list of reforms he will try to tackle in the months ahead, some likely easy to achieve, while others undoubtedly will prove to be politically difficult.

Among the proposals: universal prekindergarten; longer school days and year; combining schools districts with less than 4,000 students; a statewide teachers' contract with higher pay for those who teach in cities and high-needs districts; competitive salaries for college-level instructors; and early high school graduation for students who pass an international exam.

The governor also is looking to reduce class sizes, to reduce the dropout rate to less than 10 percent and boost graduation rates in inner cities, to put counselors in schools to help children cope with outside stresses that impact learning, and to reduce the achievement gap for low-income and minority students.

His plan to create locally controlled Readiness schools also has ruffled some feathers in the charter school community with fears that a move toward these new schools will de-emphasize the role of traditional charter schools.

"It's too early to say," said Noonan, who said the Business Alliance generally does support lifting the cap on charter schools in the state.


"Sweeping Energy Legislation Heads to Governor's Desk" - June 26, 2008

BOSTON — The House unanimously passed a sweeping energy act, 154-0, on Thursday that will expand energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts.

The Senate passed the legislation on Tuesday; the bill now goes to Gov. Deval Patrick for his signature.

"This legislation promotes the critical need for energy efficiency while expanding the development of alternative fuels, other emerging technologies and alternative methods of energy service," said state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, in a press release. "In addition to broadening our state's energy policy, this measure creates a long-term plan to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and is critical to economic development and environmental stewardship."

The measure, called the Green Communities Act, was spearheaded by Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and was supported by Senate President Therese Murray, the governor and leading lawmakers on the energy committee.

In a statement praising the bill's passage, Environment Northeast, a non-profit research and policy organization addressing climate change, said it makes the state a national leader in energy policy.

"With this bill, Massachusetts has hitched its wagon to the energy efficiency express," said Daniel Sosland, executive director. "A move that will save consumers billions of dollars, combat the climate crisis, and grow a clean, green energy economy."

One of the bill's key provisions is a requirement for the state's electric and gas utilities to invest first in energy efficiency before turning to more costly power plant generation. This provision will greatly expand state energy efficiency programs, allowing more homeowners and businesses to take advantage of incentives for lighting upgrades, additional insulation and more efficient appliances and equipment, reducing their bills in a time of ever rising prices.

Specifically for cities and towns, the legislation directs the Department of Energy Resources' new Division of Green Communities to establish a green communities program. This will give municipalities the opportunity to take advantage of loans and grants provided by the state to finance the cost of energy efficiency improvements and renewable and alternative energy projects.

By maximizing investments in efficiency, Massachusetts could save consumers billions of dollars over the next decade, while keeping those dollars in the local economy, helping businesses grow, and creating new jobs for workers on all rungs of the job ladder. The Division of Energy Resources estimates that every $125 million invested in efficiency programs yields $500 million in savings, creates 2,000 non-utility jobs, and generates hundreds of million of dollars in economic growth.

Massachusetts currently spends around $6 billion on conventional electric supply — about 40 times more than it spends on efficiency resources even though supply costs nearly four times as much, according to Environment Northeast. To help right this imbalance, the bill allocates at least 80 percent of auction revenues from the sale of emissions allowances under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to help fund increased investments in energy efficiency programs.

The Green Communities Act also:

. Directs the state to replace state-owned and operated vehicles with more fuel-efficient vehicles.
. Directs the secretary of energy and environmental Affairs to establish a program whereby homeowners or tenants can purchase renewable energy products for the home with no up-front payment, and pay them off monthly on their utility bill.
. Establishes a five-year pilot program, requiring distribution companies to enter into cost-effective renewable energy contracts, over 10 to 15 years.
. Codifies the Office of the Ratepayer Advocate under the attorney general to intervene in proceedings on behalf of Massachusetts ratepayers.
. Encourages net metering to promote on-site generation through financial incentives.
. Establishes a commission to examine the environmental and economic impact of instituting a green building plan for the state.
. A detailed summary of the energy bill compiled by Environment Northeast can be found here.


Readers' Comments:

IT'S TIME TO TAKE STRONG ACTION ON FUEL. Email your representative in congress and push the issue:

The best thing we can do is get the government off their drug trip and grow a crop that works. Don't let them lie to you, there is plenty of farm land. We have over 100 million total farm acres in the USA and only use about half. The half that's not being planted is more than enough to grow ALL our fuel. Not only that but the government is still paying farmers not to plant. Watch the video titled "HEMP FUEL Can Supply All Our Energy Needs" and read the article titled "Marijuana Facts The Government Does Not Want You To Know" on the website referenced at the bottom of this post.

Hemp requires no pesticides, no herbicides, and only moderate amounts of fertilizer.

Hemp can produce several different kinds of fuel. In the 1800's and 1900's hempseed oil was the primary source of fuel in the United States and was commonly used for lamps and other oil energy needs. The diesel engine was originally designed to run on hemp oil because Rudolf Diesel assumed that it would be the most common fuel. Hemp is also the most efficient plant for the production of methanol. It is estimated that, in one form or another, hemp grown in the United States could provide up to ninety percent of the nation's entire energy needs.
Source: Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Hemp is 4 times more efficient than corn as biofuel. Hemp pellets can be used to produce clean electricity.
... so powerful it could replace every type of fossil fuel energy product (oil, coal, and natural gas).
... This plant is the earth's number one biomass resource or fastest growing annual plant for agriculture on a worldwide basis, producing up to 14 tons per acre. This is the only biomass source available that is capable of producing all the energy needs of the U.S. and the world...
Hemp will produce cleaner air and reduce greenhouse gases. When biomass fuel burns, it produces CO2 (the major cause of the greenhouse effect), the same as fossil fuel; but during the growth cycle of the plant, photosynthesis removes as much CO2 from the air as burning the biomass adds, so hemp actually cleans the atmosphere. After the first cycle there is no further loading to the atmosphere...
Source: USA Hemp Museum

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from: jsknow on: 06-27-2008


The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, DEVAL L. PATRICK
"A clean break from the fossil fuel age"
By Deval L. Patrick, July 2, 2008

EVERYWHERE WE turn, Massachusetts residents are feeling the sting of high energy costs. With crude oil more than $140 a barrel and gasoline more than $4 a gallon, the price of fossil fuels strains household budgets and the Massachusetts economy as a whole. Oil and gas are taking a toll on the environment, too. Greenhouse gases emitted from these fuel sources are disrupting the climate and endangering the Massachusetts coastline.

By choice and necessity, the fossil fuel age is coming to an end. Think of this as a shift in an "age," not merely a shift in resource. The Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stone, but because humankind had a better idea. Clean energy is today's better idea - better for people's pocketbooks, the economy, and the planet. And in this clean energy age, Massachusetts is poised to lead.

Today, I sign into law a comprehensive energy bill that takes a major step toward addressing this challenge and taking advantage of this opportunity. This legislation remakes the electricity market to reduce energy consumption through a dramatic increase in energy efficiency technology installed in our homes, offices, and factories. It gives clean power sources a practical leg up by requiring utility companies to enter into long-term supply contracts with clean power producers, which in turn helps those companies get financing to grow and produce more. It allows utilities to put solar panels that they own on their customers' roofs, capturing the sun's power to generate electricity for all of us. Finally, it gives the Commonwealth a new building code to require new structures to consume as little energy as possible.

This bill is just one piece of a clean energy vision for Massachusetts that I share with House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray. Our vision capitalizes on the Commonwealth's natural advantages in technology and entrepreneurship to combat rising energy costs and satisfy the need for new, clean, affordable ways to meet energy needs - creating a whole new industry along the way.

We are pursuing this vision in a variety of ways, and on a variety of fronts. My administration brought the seven-year-long environmental review process for Cape Wind to an end, allowing the project to file for its permits and move toward construction. I look forward to the day when those wind turbines in the waters off Cape Cod - the first offshore wind farm in the country - stand as a testament to our commitment to renewable energy.

Last year, we won a nationwide US Department of Energy competition to host one of just two Wind Blade Technology Centers in the country. In this new facility, to be located in Charlestown, wind turbine blades almost a football field long will be tested for strength and durability, turning Massachusetts into a hub of research and development in the fastest-growing power source in the world.

Massachusetts is already home to a number of leading firms in the growing clean energy industry that will lead us toward independence from fossil fuels, and the state is doing all it can to encourage them to grow and bring their products to market in the Commonwealth.

Here are a few examples: A123 Systems in Watertown, which is developing batteries for plug-in hybrid cars to enable them to get up to 150 miles per gallon; Evergreen Solar, which is set to open a new solar-panel manufacturing facility in Devens, encouraged in part by the state's new rebate program for solar electricity installations, Commonwealth Solar; Mascoma in Cambridge and Sun Ethanol in Amherst, two leaders in cellulosic biofuel, the non-petroleum, non-food-based fuel of the future, which will get a boost from a gas-tax exemption now pending in the Legislature, the first of its kind in the country; and GreatPoint Energy, a Cambridge firm now demonstrating its innovative technology for turning coal and biomass into clean-burning natural gas at the Brayton Point power plant in Somerset.

The age of clean energy is ours for the taking - and for the good of the Commonwealth, we are taking it.
Deval L. Patrick is governor of Massachusetts.

"It’s a clear budget victory — for the ‘Santa Train’"
By Jim O’Sullivan/State House News Service, Monday, July 07, 2008, 7:37 AM EDT

Wakefield -

It’s an exciting time to be a Massachusetts legislator, a job that now comes with a midsummer picnic at the governor’s place in the Berkshires.

Last week, for instance, concluded with a headlong rush for the highways on Thursday afternoon, the week’s business completed. Moments earlier, the Legislature sent to Gov. Deval Patrick — also exciting — their version of the $28.223 billion budget for the fiscal year that started July 1.

In the House, 133 liked it and 19 didn’t, and in the Senate it went 29 to 5, party lines in both. The House-Senate budget duel was not as compelling as in past years, in part because everyone agreed that this was a year for measured austerity, which is what they said they practiced.

And thus was $10,000 allocated for the “Santa Train” at the Palmer Winter Festival, which had been sidelined last year because festival planners could not afford the liability insurance. In a statement, Senate Ways and Means vice chair Stephen Brewer exulted, “I was very upset when I learned the Santa Train was to be cancelled last year. This train is often the first introduction to Santa that area children have … It is my hope that with this money, the [organizers] will be able to secure the proper insurance in time to run the Santa Train.”

To make about $500 million worth of the spending plan possible, lawmakers agreed July 1 to a corporate tax hike that Republicans proclaimed the largest in state history, culminating a protracted debate over tax policy that dates back to the long-ago days when Patrick wasn’t describing House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi as a “hero,” as he did July 2, and when DiMasi had a different threshold for the “fair share” of the tax burden borne by businesses.

The sops to businesses were explanations from Democrats that the bill was really about tax “fairness” and Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei tried to wager a dinner with Revenue Committee co-chairwoman Cindy Creem that the Legislature wouldn’t adhere to its promise to lower the overall corporate excise rate in 2010.

Earlier in the week, the Legislature hot-potatoed to Patrick the $1-per-pack increase on cigarette taxes pegged at $175 million this year. Anyone who ever fetched Gram her Kent IIIs knows this is not a tax hike that will land soundlessly. The reason for the speed was to maximize revenue but it also served to provoke great confusion about when, exactly, retailers should start charging the extra buck. The governor signed the bill July 2.

Total tax increase for the week, which included an array of smaller measures, was about $800 million, not bad when you consider that Friday, July 4, is a holiday. Republicans were splutteringly mad with the conference report, which confusingly exceeded what either branch had agreed upon just a few months earlier, even as the economy atrophied.

And Senate budget leaders conceded, even while recommending their colleagues vote on the budget, that unilateral spending cuts by the governor could be necessary.

Also July 2, the Legislature settled on a proposal to curb child abuse, a legislative effort inspired by Haleigh Poutre and a spate of other troubling stories of children repeatedly tormented. A new child advocate reporting directly to the governor would have subpoena power, the penalties for not reporting child abuse would grow stiffer, and those required to relay information about such abuse would have to undergo training to recognize symptoms.

So it went: butts, businesses, budget, a tidy tax-tax-spend triptych leading into the Fourth. In all, it was a busy week for a state government that has not alarmed the public this session with its rapid processing of policy matters — aside from the tax bump on smokes, which went from conference committee to law in a neck-wrenching 24 hours.

Patrick was asked early July 2 about his impressions of the Legislature’s machinations during this, his maiden passage through the end of a two-year legislative cycle.

“Well,” he replied, “a lot of our initiatives have been passing, so I’m pleased.”

Out of gratitude or bonhomie, this week he invited legislators to a bash in the Berkshires on Aug. 2, billed as a “legislative picnic.” The earnest public policy debates and bocce are anticipated in equal doses. The Fox-25 helicopter, maybe not so much.

Perhaps in solicitation of a croquet partner or a good grill man, Patrick was effusive July 2 at the Museum of Science about the gentleman from the North End as “today’s hero” during the induction into law of an energy policy restructuring that DiMasi launched in December 2006.

At that time, a DiMasi press release declared the bill would “take center stage at the start of the new legislative session." It did not, and was instead subjected to the same oft-subterranean reworking that Patrick’s corporate tax suggestions underwent.

Nevertheless, Patrick’s signature on the bill was a punctuation mark on the Hill’s ongoing three-headed bid for efficiency, conservation, and renewables. Long last, everyone got on more or less the same page, and there was much rejoicing.

The lead conferees, Sen. Michael Morrissey and Rep. Brian Dempsey, shared a smilingly awkward lateral hug type of moment on the stage. Environmentalists sat down with energy executives. Congressman William Delahunt lauded Patrick for appointing as energy and environment secretary a “young man from Cape Cod,” Delahunt’s one-time opponent Ian Bowles, and Bowles in turn resisted suggesting that Delahunt retire.

Of course, while the bill-signing was exciting — the whole week was exciting – it’ll take a while for the whole “conservation movement” to catch on. The previous week, House leaders had explained the decision not to include hybrid vehicle tax incentives in the bill as tied to gas prices.

“If you’re not looking at hybrids right now, you have way too much money,” said one.
Illustrative of just how much of a change these policy innovators are seeking to effectuate was the small fleet that had brought them the two miles or so from the State House. Outside the Museum of Science were parked a Cadillac DeVille, Jeep Grand Cherokee (with a Hemi), and Lincoln Navigator — belonging to the governor, Senate president and speaker, respectively.

Story of the Week
A land rush of policy-dense legislation streaked to the finish or near the finish, including the granddaddy of ’em all, the record-breaking state budget.

Number of the Week
38. That’s the number of votes in the Senate to launch an Ethics Committee investigation into Sen. James Marzilli, indicted July 1 for allegedly accosting four women in Lowell last month. Not voting in favor: Sen. Pamela Resor, absent, and Marzilli himself, who hasn’t returned to the Senate.

Quote of the week
"By selling the World Series tickets to [Pittsfield Mayor James] Ruberto at face value, where the general public could only obtain such tickets at prices more than $50 over face value, [former Red Sox General Manager Daniel] Duquette provided something of substantial value to Ruberto for or because of official acts to be performed by Ruberto as mayor.” — State Ethics Commission, 6/30/08, explaining the details of a case in which Duquette allegedly offered the mayor bargain tickets to the 2004 World Series. The alleged incident raised a number of questions. Among them: Did Duquette actually attend the game? If not, and in light of the fact that he was the guy who signed Jose Offerman, did we need more proof that Dan Duquette didn’t want to go to the World Series?


From the publisher: "The unlimited dreams of a child with autism"
By David Yas
Published: July 23, 2008

When my son Adrian was about two-and-a-half, he toddled over to my wife and me, pounded his chest and said, "I want cop-ee."

He was eyeing my cup of coffee. My wife and I were thrilled. Amazed. We were screaming as we excitedly let him have a sip. We would have poured him a whole pot of coffee that day, if he liked.

Adrian has autism. When he requested coffee, in his own lovable manner, it was the first time he had ever asked for anything in such a definitive way. He was actually communicating with us. It was the result of five months of early-intervention therapy.

Raising a child with autism is like hiking through dense woods without a map. You need to be cautious at every turn, and you don't really know what's ahead.

Autism is an elusive foe. It cannot be pinpointed in a precise clinical way like mental retardation. It lies in subtle symptoms, such as lack of eye contact, and in innocuous behavior like the flapping of arms.

Children with autism fall across a wide spectrum. The ones with severe cases will never speak. The ones with mild cases are what most of us would call "slightly off" in a social sense.

We estimate that Adrian, who turned 10 this summer, is somewhere in the middle. He speaks, sometimes quite loquaciously, but cannot really have meaningful conversations. He tends to repeat himself a lot. He talks about road directions to restaurants and of dialogue from movies such as "Alvin and the Chipmunks."

He's also a beautiful kid, good-natured and well behaved.

So I had to restrain a burning sense of rage when I heard that talk-radio host Michael Savage recently called autism "a fraud, a racket."

Savage shouted: "I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. ... What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. ... Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.'"

Well, I'm that father, Michael. And fathers of autistic children, like me, have been the ones patiently tending to our children's unusual needs; desperately trying to understand kids who can't communicate; quelling tantrums; cleaning up bathroom accidents.

Sorry, Michael, but I've found that grabbing my autistic son by the neck and telling him to shape up hasn't been the best remedy. But thanks for the thoughtful advice.

In truth, Savage is less a dangerous voice than an uncreative bomb-thrower. I debated leaving his name out of this column altogether in the spirit of ignoring his drivel. His pride only seemed to swell as it was revealed how large a dolt he is. Call it intentional ignorance; he's curiously proud of his lack of information. Remind me: Who's the idiot, Michael? Who's the moron?

Meanwhile, here in Massachusetts, there is a smaller controversy bubbling over autism.

Gov. Deval Patrick has vetoed $1 million for a program that allows low-income families to obtain Medicaid funding for in-home autism services. The much-needed therapies help autistic children make noticeable changes in their social behavior.

The program was able to provide 80 families with services this year. The idea was to expand it to twice as many families in 2009. But the upshot of Patrick's veto means that only 120 families, not 160, will get help.

For a program looking to take a humble step forward, that sends a disconcerting message.

You see, when open enrollment for the program launched last fall, an 11-day stretch saw 1,110 families apply. There is a vast need here; this program should be expanding vigorously.

Cyndi Roy, a spokesperson for Patrick, said that the governor is pleased to be able to approve a plan that does offer an increase over the number of families that received help under the program last year. (The governor's final budget essentially represented a compromise between the Legislature's conference-committee report and his original budget.)

According to Ann Guay, a lawyer with the Massachusetts Advocates for Children, "the autism community faces many challenges. But here was one that really made sense in terms of research and treatment."

Guay has a 14-year-old son with autism, and with treatment "he's doing better than we ever prayed," she says. "But there are so many parents with really young children with autism that can't imagine things can get better."

Judith Ursitti, the chapter advocacy chair for Autism Speaks, is also sounding off against the governor's veto. She, too, has a child with autism, a 5-year-old who she fears may never speak.

The veto "takes away hope for families," she says. "This is an area that we really shouldn't cut. We've only been able to serve 80 families so far. That's just a drop in the bucket."

The Legislature can override Patrick's veto and restore the money to the budget. It would be the right thing to do and a nice message to send to people like Michael Savage who haven't the slightest clue what the challenges of autism are like.

Do autistic children respond to therapy? Can they become more than the "brats" Savage described?

My son used to carry around an apple with him as a security thing. He would throw tantrums in confined spaces and "melt down" in restaurants and other places that were unusually loud and hectic.

There was the heart-stopping day when Adrian wandered off at a park, and my wife had to call the police to track him down. And the day I had to hold Adrian down as he sobbed uncontrollably when doctors forced anesthesia in his mouth so that he could be sedated just to treat a simple cavity.

But with years of therapy, Adrian has made major strides.

He now goes to the movies, parks and just about any public place like any other child. He writes and reads near grade level. And on one glorious day a few years back, he planted a real kiss on my wife's cheek, something he had never been able to do before. We're still beaming over that one.

Earlier this year, we toyed with what would have been unthinkable in years past: taking Adrian (and his wonderfully supportive little brother, Griffin) to Disney World.

With years of "practice" getting used to the idea of planes and crowds and new places, we gave it a shot.

Within a few hours we were calling Adrian the King of Disney. Smiling the whole time, he bounded from ride to ride, soaking in the fun just as any kid would.

And one morning at breakfast, we sat and watched as the costumed character of Mickey Mouse appeared, a sight that normally would be a little scary and grotesque to a child like Adrian.

Adrian tentatively stepped toward Mickey, making sure he was comfortable with the whole thing. Then he smiled and gave the big mouse a hug. I frantically snapped a picture. And as our kids nonchalantly continued their meal, I gazed down at what I had captured on the digital camera in my hands. There was our son, with a look of unbridled joy on his face, hugging the one and only Mickey Mouse. He had made it. Made it through the constricting metal detectors, the frightening confines of an airplane and the unfamiliar challenges of a strange place. There he was. Grinning from ear to ear. Hugging Mickey.

It was almost too much for me to take. The tears started rolling down my cheeks.

My wife gently rubbed my back. She was tearing up, too. "Look at how far he's come," she said. "Look how far."

And who knows how far he and all the other kids in similar predicaments might make it some day. Who knows.

"Patrick signs 'Jessica's Law'"
By Matt Murphy, Transcript Statehouse Bureau
Friday, July 25, 2008

BOSTON -- Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law new criminal penalties for child rapists Thursday, establishing a set of mandatory minimum sentences in Massachusetts that child advocates hope will discourage sexual predators.

The law, modeled after Jessica's Law in Florida, did not go as far as some advocates wanted, but was still hailed as a victory for child protection.

Attorney General Martha Coakley crafted the bill with input from the state's 11 district attorneys, creating a set of charges that carry mandatory sentences of 10 to 15 years for a first offense and 20 years for repeat offenders.

"This new law provides prosecutors with crucial tools to hold accountable predators who take advantage of innocent and vulnerable children and ensures that the most serious offenders face significant prison sentences," Coakley said. "Enactment of this law is yet another positive step toward keeping children safe."

Patrick signed the bill Thursday morning, putting an end to worries that he might send it back to the Legislature for changes at a time when lawmakers are already up against the clock to push through a number of bills and budget items before the end of the session next week.

"It's very good news. I didn't think he was going to do it," said Laurie Myers, founder of the child advocacy group CommunityVOICES.

Myers was an outspoken critic of the bill, suggesting it did not go far enough to discourage child predators because it gave prosecutors too much leeway to plea bargain with criminals. She and others preferred to see a law closer to Jessica's Law in Florida, which established a 25-year mandatory sentence for rape of a child under any circumstance.

As many as 40 other states have adopted Jessica's Law in various forms. Thursday, however, Myers called the law a step in the right direction and a first step toward better protecting children in Massachusetts.

"You try for what you want and end up getting a little less, but it's more than what we have now, so it is a success," Myers said. "I think a lot came out of this bill. There was a lot of discussion and an acknowledgment from everybody that there is a problem in Massachusetts."

The Massachusetts law establishes mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years for those convicted of aggravated rape by force of a child under 16, 10 years for aggravated statutory rape of child under 16 and 10 years for aggravated indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. Repeat offenders could face a minimum of 20 years for certain offenses.

The bill does not set minimum sentences for child rape without aggravating circumstances, such as kidnapping, but does expand the definition of aggravated or forced rape to include the use of weapons, alcohol or drugs or by a person in a position of authority, such as a family member, coach or teacher.

Advocates,includingMyers, were also happy to see language in the bill granting administrative authority to subpoena Internet records similar to the authority for obtaining telephone records.

The father of the slain Florida girl who inspired the original law visited the Statehouse to urge lawmakers to strengthen the bill and show "zero tolerance" toward child predators.

"Only the Massachusetts Legislature knows what they can get through," said Mark Lunsford, whose daughter Jessica was killed three years ago by a repeat sexual offender. "This is Massachusetts, so you do what you can. But if you're going to do less, are you honoring my daughter?"

The Senate considered amending the bill and sending it back to the House to deal with some of the concerns, but some senators sympathetic to the criticism elected to pass the bill as written to avoid running out of time this session.

SEEKING A BALANCE The governor had been largely supportive of the pension boosts but also wanted a plan that would be more affordable for the state.
"Patrick rejects pension increase: Benefit could have cost state billions"
By Matt Viser, (Boston) Globe Staff, August 12, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick last week quietly vetoed a pension increase for retired teachers and state workers that would have boosted benefits by $120 per year, a major stand for a governor to take against unions that helped elect him.

Fiscal watchdogs had warned that the benefit could cost the state more than $3 billion over the next 20 years, but retirees argued that they desperately need a cost-of-living increase as costs for everything from groceries to gas are on the rise.

"I recognize that people across the Commonwealth, particularly retirees on a fixed income, are facing difficult economic times," Patrick wrote in his message informing the Legislature that he had vetoed the bill Friday. "However, I returned an earlier version of this legislation, expressing concern about adding significant costs to the Commonwealth's already large unfunded retirement liability."

The governor had been largely supportive of the pension boosts - and was expected to sign the legislation - but requested that the cost-of-living increases be restricted to workers with pensions less than $40,000. He argued that would make the plan more affordable for the state, while providing pension boosts for those who need it most.

"He was trying to strike a balance between helping the retirees on the truly fixed incomes while also helping the affordability of the Commonwealth," said Leslie Kirwan, secretary of administration and finance.

But supporters of the legislation, who had unanimous backing from the House and Senate, decided not to go along with the governor's plan and gambled that he would not use his veto.

"We rolled the dice and came up empty," said Ralph White, president of the Retired State, County and Municipal Employees Association of Massachusetts. "We were taking a certain amount of risk. Hindsight being 20-20, we underestimated the priority the governor placed on his amendment."

State pensions in Massachusetts are adjusted annually by the Legislature, which since 2000 has given a 3 percent increase on the first $12,000 of retirement pay, or $360 each year.

Under legislation approved by the House and the Senate, the base amount would be raised from $12,000 to $16,000, in effect raising the pension for every retiree by $120, a 33 percent increase.

The governor objected to that plan and sent an amendment back asking for the bump to apply only to the 87 percent of retirees with pensions under $40,000.

Lawmakers, in approving legislation in the final hours of their session, agreed to that approach, but only in the first year. The following year, the remaining retirees also would have received the $120 yearly bump.

The measure sailed through the House and Senate on voice votes July 31 and received final approval just hours before the end of formal sessions at 1:30 a.m.

There was no opposition until it reached the governor's desk.

The individual numbers are seemingly small, a boost of about $120 a year more for every retiree, which advocates say is well deserved. But multiplied by over 100,000 former teachers and state workers in the state's pension system, it would add up fast, critics say.

The cost could reach between $2.7 billion and $3.5 billion by 2026, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-backed fiscal watchdog group.

"It was an act of political courage," Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said of the governor's veto. "The easy decision would have been to sign it and give an added benefit to 100,000 employees.

"But the state didn't have any money to pay for it," Widmer said. "This is clearly the responsible course."

Representative Frank M. Hynes, a Marshfield Democrat and the chief sponsor of the legislation, is out of the country on vacation and could not be reached for comment. Senator Marian Walsh, a Boston Democrat who championed the issue in the Senate, did not return calls.

A study commission has been established and is scheduled to hold a preliminary meeting before the end of the month. Advocates are hoping that changes can be made through the commission, which has until next year to complete its report.

"I truly believe the governor wants to do something," said White, who represents retirees. "He was not prepared to handle this legislation at this time, but I believe he wants to do something to improve the [cost of living adjustments] for retirees."
Matt Viser can be reached at

The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial, August 13, 2008

"Veto on pension bump"

Massachusetts has been trying to pay off its unfunded pension liability for a decade, and the best estimate for when it will succeed is 2023, when the baby-boomers will finally have all gone into retirement. In the near future, skyrocketing medical costs will make it difficult for the financially strapped state to make its payments on retiree benefits. Given these harsh realities, and the problems the state faces in funding educational and social programs, Governor Patrick was justified in vetoing a bill that would have raised the benefits for retired teachers and state employees by $120 a year. This will create some hardships for retirees, but not unlike those suffered by many retirees in the private sector.


Re: Berkshire Eagle: Myopic defense of Gov. Patrick!


Dear Berkshire Eagle, et al:

Your editorial today defending Governor Patrick's veto of a pension boost for state retirees was MYOPIC. Governor Patrick has gone against EVERY campaign promise since his FALSE populist promises in 2006. Moreover, Massachusetts has never been in worst financial shape since our "Founders" declared a revolution against King George III. This terrible fiscal reality for Massachusetts has occurred during Governor Patrick's ineffective tenure!

Please read my Blog pages on the "Deval-uator"!

Thank you,
Jonathan Melle






On "Healthcare Reform"


The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, SCOT LEHIGH
"Working out the details locally"
By Scot Lehigh, August 15, 2008

KUDOS TO Governor Deval Patrick, who has now ventured where Bill Weld and Mitt Romney both feared to tread.

In a commendable act of political courage, the administration this week took aim at the multimillion-dollar boondoggle of police details.

The proposed regulations that Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen announced on Wednesday would establish a presumption for using civilian flagmen instead of police details at construction sites on state roads where the speed limit is less than 45 miles an hour. A presumption in favor of flaggers would also govern state projects on similar local roads, unless those municipalities already have police contracts specifying details. Civilian flagmen could also be used on higher speed, but lower traffic, state roads.

Even under the proposed regulations, Massachusetts state roads will still rely more heavily on police details than most other states do. But let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good. All in all, this is a significant change.

"Nobody, including his Republican predecessors, has had the guts to take this on," notes David Tuerck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute and an important voice for reform of the detail system.

With that past as prologue, Patrick's carefully crafted policy represents a crucial first step.

Now, many details occur on local projects on local roads, and the new state regulations won't compel a change of practice there.

But the new policy will offer a strong example to municipalities - as well as a rallying standard for those fed up with wasteful, costly details.

And there are legions of those fed-up folks. A recent Suffolk University poll found that 86 percent of state voters favored letting flaggers direct traffic at worksites. Certainly if everyone who has e-mailed me on this subject started demanding that their local officials follow the governor's lead, the reform effort would quickly pick up steam.

It's a battle that will have to be fought on several fronts, however. Some cities and towns have a requirement for details written into their ordinances or bylaws. A similar requirement is also sometimes included in police contracts.

Boston has both - and that can create an elaborate exercise in buck-passing, as I discovered when I called a number of Boston's elected leaders.

"The City Council would have to change the ordinance for us to be able to benefit from this," said Dot Joyce, spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas Menino.

"Even if we were to change the ordinance, it would have zero impact" because the detail system is written into the police contract, maintains City Council President Maureen Feeney; the real way for detail reform to come about, Feeney says, would be for the mayor to negotiate those reforms in the next police contract.

"The city ordinance has to be changed before we can collectively bargain it," counters Joyce.

So who's right?

"It is clearly the ordinance that drives the contract," says Sam Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau.

But let's be clear: The mayor isn't calling for the council to alter the ordinance. Nor would he have any appetite for changing the detail system if the council did. His view is that details add police officers to the street at someone else's expense, Joyce says.

That overlooks this economic reality: "The gas, electric, and phone companies simply pass the costs of details on to their customers," notes Tyler.

Like Menino, citywide councilors Michael Flaherty and Stephen Murphy support the current detail system.

John Connolly bobbed and weaved.

However, it was a refreshing surprise to talk to second-term councilor Sam Yoon. Yoon, who chairs the council's postaudit and oversight committee, says that in the wake of the Patrick administration's action, he intends to hold a hearing to examine the effectiveness and efficiency of the city's detail ordinance.

"We as a city council should absolutely look at this," Yoon said. "There should be no sacred cows that get in the way of deciding how best to use taxpayer money."

Why, there's a councilor acting the way a mayor should. That is, like a leader who puts taxpayers and ratepayers first.
Scot Lehigh can be reached at

The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, DAVID G. TUERCK
"Next target: the prevailing wage law"
By David G. Tuerck, August 20, 2008

GOVERNOR DEVAL PATRICK'S announcement that the state will substitute civilian flaggers for police details on public-works projects represents a watershed in Massachusetts politics. A Democratic, pro-labor governor taking on one of the state's most powerful unions - who knows where this could lead?

Skeptics characterize the action as more form than substance. The Legislature put locally authorized construction projects (as opposed to state projects) temporarily off limits for civilian flaggers. And the unions ceaselessly argue that the state prevailing wage law will prevent any real savings from being captured.

In fact, the governor has shaken up the status quo. Intentionally or not, he also exposed the much deeper flaws that run through state labor policy.

Consider the unions' argument about the prevailing wage. They point out that the prevailing wage for civilian flaggers is about the same as the cost of hiring police details - an amount approaching $40 per hour. Because contractors have to pay the prevailing wage on public works projects, the state won't save any money by substituting civilian flaggers for police details - or so they argue.

By making this argument, the unions have done us a service. If a law compels the state to spend the equivalent of $80,000 a year for someone to flag down oncoming traffic, then it's time to rethink the law.

You would think, from its name, that the prevailing wage law is merely intended to make sure that construction workers get a fair wage. In fact, there is nothing fair about it. The law originated in Depression-era legislation aimed at keeping poor Southern black workers from competing for construction jobs in the North. To this day, it perpetuates a system that favors big contractors and big labor at the expense of everyone else.

There is not one prevailing wage, but three. There is the wage that actually prevails in a particular trade - that is, the average wage paid to all workers, union and nonunion alike. Then there is the prevailing wage that the federal government calculates, using methods that are weighted toward the union wage. And then there is the state prevailing wage, which, in Massachusetts, is simply the union wage. This wage is generally the highest of the three. And it's the wage that Massachusetts construction workers get on public works projects.

The state prevailing wage law is a boon to both union contractors and the union trades. The contractors don't have to compete on labor costs. They just pass those costs on to the hapless taxpayer. And the unions are happy because the contactors are willing to pay whatever the unions demand. In effect, the state serves as the enforcement arm of the union monopoly from which it is compelled to buy construction services.

How much does this cozy arrangement cost? At the Beacon Hill Institute, we computed the three prevailing wages for a group of nine construction trades in the Boston area. For the nine trades, the average wage for all workers is $27.09 per hour. The federal prevailing wage is $37.45, and the state prevailing wage $58.84. Thus union workers on Massachusetts public-works projects make more than double what construction workers in the state make on average.

How much would state construction costs fall if we repealed the state prevailing wage? The Beacon Hill Institute estimates that the cost savings would have been $177 million in fiscal 2008 - during which the state spent about $1 billion on public works projects. The legislation that paved the way for civilian flaggers authorizes $3.5 billion in new spending on road and bridge projects. Repeal of the state prevailing wage would cut this cost by more than $600 million.

Twenty years ago, voters had a chance to repeal the state prevailing wage and voted no. But now only 13 percent of state workers belong to unions, and we have since learned a great deal from the Big Dig about the consequences of our labor policies for construction costs.

So, yes, the governor did himself proud on the police detail issue. Now he should take the next logical step. The unions have challenged him to consider what the prevailing wage law means for labor costs. He should take them up on it.
David G. Tuerck is executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute and professor of economics at Suffolk University.

The Boston Globe - Letters
"A prevailing wage, by definition"
August 22, 2008

I AM writing in response to David Tuerck's annual attack on building trades workers ("Next target: the prevailing wage law," Op-ed, Aug. 20). While Tuerck implies that only 13 percent of construction workers belong to unions, the facts are quite different. The state Division of Unemployment Assistance shows 136,000 workers in our industry. Approximately 10 percent of those are non-trades workers, leaving about 123,000 trades people. The 74 unions of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council represent 75,000 trades workers. Where I went to school, that's about 61 percent, not 13 percent.

The US Department of Labor backs up these numbers. The federal prevailing wage in the Boston area for all trades is the same as the union wage. The reason? Federal wage surveys showed that union workers do more than 50 percent of the work. In other words, the union wage truly represents the wage that prevails in the area.

When presented with the facts, Massachusetts' voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot question to repeal the prevailing wage.

Despite all this, Tuerck has the audacity to demand that Governor Patrick reject the will of the voters and eliminate the law. Who does he think he is?

President, Massachusetts Building Trades Council
Dorchester, Massachusetts


"Number of state workers on the rise", 08/25/2008

BOSTON (AP) - The state has added about 1,900 new workers in the past year even as Gov. Deval Patrick warns of possible budget cuts to help deal with a $1 billion deficit.

The Boston Herald reports that since July 2007, the agencies that oversee state prisons and highways have had the most new hires.

Spokespeople for the Correction Department and the Highway Department defended the hires as necessary.

Paul Dietl, head of the state's Human Resources Department, says the current $5.3 billion payroll "is consistent with previous years."

But Michael Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation says the flurry of new hires is "very troubling" given economic uncertainties.

Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute says the state's budget-funded work force has risen over the past five years by more than 5,500.


(A Boston) GLOBE EDITORIAL: "More than a pittance for kids", September 13, 2008

THE LEGISLATURE has allocated a total of $23.8 million in the last three fiscal years for the state's pre-kindergarten pilot program - a miserly amount compared with the $600 million a year that preschool advocates say is needed for quality universal access. Yet there is evidence that even a miser's dime can reap a dollar's rewards.

An Abt Associates evaluation commissioned by the Department of Early Education and Care and released this week found that at 126 program sites, the funds are allowing preschool directors to bolster staff salaries, allow for more professional development, lower classroom child-teacher ratios, buy classroom materials, and deliver more comprehensive services.

Some local programs clearly have benefited from the infusion of the miser's dime. Though it would be of no surprise to anyone familiar with the thankless toil of teachers of young children, the Abt evaluation confirmed "staff are a critical, if not the most important feature in determining the quality of a program" - so important that staff needs require long-term planning and "cannot be met on a one-time basis."

Also not a surprise was that these low levels of funding sparked "a noticeable effect on morale and job satisfaction as well as staff retention of current teachers and providers." Some programs hand out a few thousand dollars in bonuses to teachers with bachelor's degrees. Sure enough, program directors are reporting that the bonuses inspire teachers with only associate's degrees to pursue a four-year diploma.

The evaluation said the vast majority of the state's universal pre-K pilot program grant recipients reported quality improvements across the board. There is no telling how quality would improve with anything remotely near $600 million a year. Quality standards for teachers and facilities need to be in place first, but with 4,400 children on waiting lists, the Universal Pre-Kindergarten bill that Governor Patrick signed in July has a long way to go to get to "universal."

Two weeks ago, British researchers in the journal Science reported that high-quality preschools, along with healthy home environments and effective primary schools, boost math achievement at age 10. The study of 2,558 children said the positive effects of both quality primary schools and preschools "were sufficiently large enough to be important for any government wishing to maximize education achievement."

That ought to make the rapid expansion of pre-K a high enough priority for Massachusetts to make universal access a reality. It should be the state's goal to see maximum results when these boys and girls turn 10.


"Local aid a 'sacred cow'? Sacred, yes"
The Boston Globe, Letters, September 27, 2008

YOUR ARTICLE on legislative resistance to giving Governor Patrick unilateral power to cut the state budget ("Expansion of budget powers is unlikely," City & Region, Sept. 23) included a rather unfortunate choice of words. Local aid to cities and towns in Massachusetts was referred to as a "sacred cow" for many legislators.

Sacred cow? State aid is vital to the provision of local services, particularly public education, which in many cases receives half of its funding from the state. Cuts in school aid not only undermine the state's education goals, but produce great pressure for property tax increases. The resulting local budget battles are deeply divisive - for example, pitting parents with children in the schools against the elderly on fixed incomes.

We are not talking, here, about boondoggles or "bridges to nowhere."

The writer serves on the town's finance committee.


"Expansion of budget powers is unlikely: Patrick seeking leeway on cuts"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, September 23, 2008

Senior state lawmakers remained reluctant yesterday to grant Governor Deval Patrick the broad powers he wants to make emergency budget cuts in all corners of state government, even as the faltering economy is drying up tax collections and causing potentially significant shortfalls.

Granting the governor such special authority would probably require the Legislature to return to Beacon Hill and vote. While such a move was a major topic of discussion in the State House, lawmakers did not commit.

"Those are things we'll discuss in the future," said Senate President Therese Murray. "There's been no decision made. We'll wait and see what the October numbers show."

But the ailing economy, worries about declining stock prices, and the crisis in credit markets that are rattling Wall Street and Washington also gripped the State House yesterday. Lawmakers carefully calibrated their comments and sought to project a united front, describing a collaborative effort with Patrick to keep the budget balanced.

But lurking in the background is a complex set of issues - ranging from federal reimbursements to capital gains taxes - that could at any moment deepen the state's fiscal problems. The administration said last week that tax collections for September are running $200 million less than September 2007; and no one knows yet how much more revenues could tumble.

Some officials declared "things are horrible," while others said "it's still up in the air."

"Things are changing every day," State Treasurer Timothy Cahill said as he emerged from a meeting with top administration, House, and Senate leaders. "We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow."

Patrick, whose unilateral budget-cutting powers extend to about two-thirds of the budget, needs Legislative approval to make any cuts to accounts outside the executive branch - including money for the judiciary and state aid for cities and towns.

That power has not been granted since 2003, when Mitt Romney, then governor, implemented sweeping midyear reductions in the face of a spiraling deficit. At the time, the Democratic-controlled Legislature was happy to give a Republican governor the powers, so he would take the blame for the cuts.

This time, the possibility of a budget crisis is unfolding in an election year. And lawmakers are trying to protect the $5.3 billion in education and other categories of local aid the state pays to cities and towns, a sacred cow in their districts and a prime target when Romney made his cuts.

Patrick said yesterday that "my hope is to hold local aid and education support harmless," but then added, "frankly, until we see how deep the fiscal challenges will be we ought to be careful about categorical pledges."

With forecasts grim even last summer, Patrick asked for the expanded budget-cutting authority when the fiscal 2009 budget was approved in July. But the Legislature balked, saying it would wait to see whether economic conditions worsened. Questioned by reporters, Murray and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi would not say yesterday whether lawmakers would come back to vote to give Patrick those powers.

Early fall is historically a strong time for collecting revenues, in part because of a mid-October deadline for taxpayers who deferred payments in April. DiMasi and other lawmakers are hopeful that actions by Congress will help the national economy, and help states avoid a financial crisis.

"It's pretty fluid right now," DiMasi said.

In addition to declining tax revenues, a potential pitfall is a shortfall in federal reimbursements for state healthcare programs, especially for the landmark program to extend health insurance coverage to all Massachusetts residents. The state had planned to receive $3.5 billion for this fiscal year, but negotiations with federal Medicaid officials have dragged on past a June 30 deadline. If federal aid falls short, that could force more budget cuts.

"Things are horrible," said Representative John Binienda, a Worcester Democrat and House chairman of the Joint Committee on Revenue. "Things are going down, down, down. . . . It's our obligation as elected officials to put forth a balanced budget. The figures we're seeing now have some real holes in it."

Patrick has been planning for the possibility of budget cuts for several months by asking managers in all executive agencies to identify areas to trim. He has also implemented restrictions on hiring and has cut spending on salaries and benefits for employees.

Leslie Kirwan, Patrick's secretary of administration and finance, said the state was readying up to "several hundred million dollars" in budget cuts, but she said it would not be clear for several weeks how deep the cuts would be, or what areas would be hit the hardest.

After meeting with DiMasi and Murray yesterday, Patrick said he was confident he would be able to gain the authority if the state's economic conditions worsen.

"They're going to work with us. These are our partners and I think if we need it, and ask for it, we'll get it," Patrick said. But, he added, "I'd rather have that authority now than not because it would mean I would have to go back and ask for it again."

Even those who are most optimistic say the state will end up having to cut the budget. The only question is how deeply.

"It's starting to get a little bit scary," said Representative Brian Wallace, a South Boston Democrat. "It's creeping in everyone's conversations about what we do from here. The numbers aren't adding up and the numbers aren't looking good. There's a lot of indecision."

Budget officials are keeping an eye on capital gains taxes, which are expected to drop dramatically. Residents had to file their estimated payments on Sept. 15, but state officials are still compiling the figures.

Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, estimates the budget gap could grow to $1.5 billion, in large part because of losses in capital gains taxes.

"The battle has just begun," Widmer said. "I don't know when it officially becomes a crisis. But we're getting close to that, where it's not just adjustments but a full-blown crisis. . . . We're going to be on a wild roller coaster ride for a while."
Matt Viser can be reached at

Governor Deval Patrick, with Leslie Kirwan, administration and finance secretary, announces the Legislature's budget cuts of $9.1 million and his own office cuts of $600,000 at the State House yesterday. (GEORGE RIZER/GLOBE STAFF) 10/2/2008.

"Lawmakers, governor to slice own budgets: Deeper cuts, layoffs loom in next round"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, October 3, 2008

Top lawmakers pledged to snip 10 percent from the budget for the Legislature yesterday while Governor Deval Patrick vowed to trim his office budget by 7 percent, politically significant but relatively small gestures that served as a harbinger of far greater cuts.

The Legislature's budget will be reduced by $9.1 million, and the governor's office budget will shrink by just $600,000 - minor trims compared to the "hundreds of millions" of dollars in layoffs and budget chopping that Patrick said yesterday he expects to impose before Oct. 15.

"They are symbolic cuts," said State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, who planned to meet with his staff today to determine how to trim 7 percent from his own budget. "They're important to make. But at the end of the day, people want to see us balance the budget. We're not going to spin our way out of this."

Meanwhile, neither Patrick nor House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi was ruling out a return to the debate over licensing casinos, which Patrick has said could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the state.

Beacon Hill leaders are responding to the damage inflicted on state coffers by the national financial crisis, which is shrinking tax revenues and has hobbled credit markets, making it very difficult for the state to borrow. A new Wall Street bill in the US House is expected to ease credit markets - if it passes.

Cahill earlier this week delayed floating a $750 million revenue bond until next week, when he is hoping markets will calm. "We're treading water," he said. "I want next week to be normal."

The Department of Revenue reported yesterday that revenue for the first quarter had come in $223 million below expectations without counting nonrecurring payments. Counting those one-time payments, revenues were lagging $143 million behind what was expected. September was the worst of the three months, with revenues dropping $188 million.

Nearly every type of state tax collection is down - including corporate, sales and excise

While he did not provide details of where he would make the bigger cuts, Patrick warned yesterday that the "road ahead will be rough."

"I know that what I have outlined will not be easy," he told reporters and television cameras in a packed room.

Patrick acknowledged that some of his other long-term spending initiatives and campaign promises lingering from 2006 might have to be curtailed. And tellingly, he did not rule out reviving his casino gambling legislation to raise money. Patrick had projected licensing three casinos would generate at least $600 million in one-time fees and huge sums in ongoing gaming taxes.

"We'll have to see," Patrick said, when asked whether he'll refile the proposal to license three resort casinos. "You know, it's a new legislative session coming up in January, and we're developing that agenda now."

DiMasi, who led the effort to kill Patrick's casino initiative last spring, blanched when the topic of legalized casino gambling came up later in the day - but he did not quash the idea.

"The casino issue is an issue I don't think will go away, and it depends whether the governor wants to reintroduce it or not," he told reporters in his office. "If he reintroduces it, I'll have to deal with it."

When told by a reporter that it appears that the fiscal downturn might make his arguments against casinos harder to make, he said, "Thank you for reminding me about that."

As expected, Patrick announced his plan to shut down the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and merge its operation with other state agencies - a move that would not produce any near-term financial benefits but could save money in coming years.

When former Governor Mitt Romney sought to abolish the authority, he was thwarted by a host of legal, financial, and political barriers. But lawmakers yesterday appeared more amenable to a plan put forward by a fellow Democrat.

"The circumstances have changed," DiMasi said, when asked why the plan could succeed this time. "With a Democratic governor it's a lot easier for us to agree with him on the fact that he has to change these things. It's out of necessity."

Republicans yesterday criticized the governor - as well as the Democrat-controlled Legislature - for not passing a smaller budget in July.

"Governor Patrick signed a budget increasing spending by $1.4 billion, authorized $16 billion in new borrowing, and has hiked taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars this year," Barney Keller, spokesman for the state Republican Party, said in a statement.

"The immediate pickle we're in is because we didn't tighten our belts earlier in the year," Senate minority leader Richard Tisei said in an interview.
Matt Viser can be reached at

"Local officers disrupt civilian flaggers"
The Associated Press, Wednesday, October 08, 2008

WOBURN (AP) — Dozens of police officers disrupted the work of a road maintenance crew yesterday when they heckled civilian flaggers who have replaced law enforcement officers at construction sites under new rules issued by Gov. Deval L. Patrick.

Woburn Police Chief Philip Mahoney and on-duty officers had to restore order, telling the roughly 50 protesters — off-duty officers from Woburn and surrounding communities — to stay out of the way of the crews clearing catch basins. Yesterday was the first day the new rules affected Massachusetts Highway Department projects.

Highway Commissioner Luisa Paiewonsky said the protesters parked on a state highway and entered a posted work zone, both of which are illegal. One off-duty officer also drove down the street against the flow of traffic, saying he had been misdirected by a flagger.

Flaggers for at least five other sites worked unimpeded, said Paiewonsky, who was at the Woburn site with Mayor Thomas McLaughlin.

"We're going to keep doing this," the commissioner said. "It's the law. We have the right under the law to use flaggers under certain conditions, and we're going to do that and we're going to continue to use police details when the conditions warrant."

Off-duty officers also challenged a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority crew that tried to work in Everett and Revere without a police detail last week. No flaggers were present at either site.

They were protesting changes in the construction detail system that has long paid them a minimum of four hours of overtime for providing security and traffic direction.

Patrick said the old system unnecessarily increased costs, and protection from officers was not needed at all construction sites. Other critics have pointed to officers who pass the time sitting in their cars or double their pay working details, raising questions about whether they are mentally or physically tired during their regular shifts.

The administration's new rules set up a three-tiered system for classifying work sites. Roads with speed limits of less than 45 miles per hour are the most likely to have civilian flaggers assigned to them.

The Highway Department sent six workers to the Woburn site, four to clean the basins and two flaggers to stop traffic. The work shut down one lane of the two-lane road, and the flaggers stopped cars and let them alternate passing on the open lane.

Flaggers are paid $15-$26 per hour, while police officers receive $30-$42 per hour. Most flaggers used yesterday were paid between $15 and $19 per hour, Paiewonsky said.


"Budget shortfall at $1.4B"
By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press, Thursday, October 16, 2008

BOSTON — Gov. Deval L. Patrick, struggling to close a $1.4 billion budget hole brought on by plunging tax revenues, said yesterday he would eliminate up to 1,000 jobs and order state agencies to make more than $1 billion in cuts and spending controls.

Patrick is also asking lawmakers to dip into the state's rainy-day fund for another $200 million.

The bulk of the $1 billion in cuts and spending controls comes through $755 million in budget cuts that Patrick ordered the heads of state agencies to make during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

That's on top of another $52 million in voluntary cuts already being made by the courts, district attorneys and other constitutional offices including the attorney general and state auditor.

"Just like families all across the commonwealth, state government is feeling the pinch," the governor said during a late-afternoon news conference at the Statehouse.

He warned residents to expect longer lines at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, fewer community policing patrols, slower permitting processes, and less frequent maintenance of parks and open spaces.

Jack Wilson, president of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system, said he has been asked to make a 5 percent cut, which he will achieve with a "workforce reduction" and by moving the bulk of his office from downtown Boston to less expensive quarters in Shrewsbury.

"The university will not request mid-year fee increases, nor will it make cuts to student financial aid," Wilson said in a statement.

Patrick said he tried to make the least severe cuts to services critical for the future, such as health care and education. He said the "sacrifice must be shared."

"I understand that behind the numbers is often somebody's first chance or only chance at a better life," he said. "I have tried to be mindful of that in making decisions, and for that reason have not made cuts in equal measure across the board."

'Serious nature of situation'

Senate President Therese Murray, whose members would have to join with the House to approve $341 million of Patrick's actions, said the plan is "indicative of the serious nature of our budget situation in context of the global market crisis."

Neither she nor House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi committed to any of the requested changes, but Murray said in a statment, "During this necessary and difficult process, we must remain calm and take proactive steps to do what is best for our commonwealth."

State Republicans, a minority in the Statehouse, called for up to 2,000 job cuts to reduce the workforce to levels before Patrick took office. All GOP members of the House and Senate voted against the budget approved in July.

"It's unfortunate the governor now has to resort to layoffs and other drastic measures to balance the budget," said Sen. Richard Tisei of Wakefield, the Senate Republican leader.

The action is being taken as Patrick faces the biggest fiscal crisis of his time in office.

The $1.4 billion hole opened up for two reasons: a $1.1 billion anticipated drop in tax revenues due to plummeting capital tax returns and a $300 spike in unavoidable expenses, including soaring caseloads, the increase in the cost of debt and snow and ice removal costs not originally included in the existing budget.

Pension payment rate slowed

Patrick's plan also saves $100 million by slowing the rate of pension fund payments. Under the existing schedule, the state would fully fund the pension fund by 2023. Extending that by two years would save the extra $100 million.

Another key part of Patrick's plan is to force agencies that typically come back to the state midyear to ask for additional funds to instead live within their existing budgets. That is expected to save about $146 million.


"A test of leadership for Patrick"
The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, By Scot Lehigh, October 17, 2008

IT'S EASY to be a good governor in good times.

And, of course, it's not hard to be a bad governor in bad times.

What's truly difficult is being a good governor in bad times.

That's the challenge Deval Patrick now faces.

Certainly rough economic periods have undone some able Massachusetts politicians in the past.

Affable Republican governor Frank Sargent attributed his loss in 1974 to "the price of hamburg."

Four years later, Mike Dukakis, the man who ousted Sarge, was bounced out in the Democratic primary, abandoned by liberals incensed over his deep budget cuts and disdained by conservatives for hiking taxes.

Bill Weld, however, stands as a counter-example, a governor who fared well tackling difficult tasks in troubled times. Taking office in recessionary 1991, the Republican CEO struggled to bring the budget back into balance. Despite forcing substantial spending cuts, once the economy improved Weld won reelection in a landslide.

After a rocky first year, Deval Patrick now seems more comfortable in the state's top job. But with the economy tanking, he faces far bigger problems than anything he's confronted to date.

So here's the question: Will Patrick be gutsy enough to meet the challenges ahead?

Important parts of his agenda are now endangered. He came to office hoping to put 1,000 new police officers on the street, to bring about property tax relief, and to expand early education.

But on Wednesday, in unveiling measures to plug a $1.4 billion budget gap, Patrick said he was eliminating the money for the new cops. By protecting local aid from cuts, for now he's simply hoping to prevent property tax hikes. Spending will slow for early education programs, he said. And he'll now have to focus on the cheaper aspects of the Readiness Project, an education wish list that still lacks a price tag.

Still, frustrations notwithstanding, the tough times also present opportunities to do brave and difficult things.

Credit where it's due: Patrick has done some already. He deserves kudos for wading in on police details, an area where other governors quickly deemed discretion the better part of valor. And it's encouraging to hear that he wants to reform the state's public pension system. That's long overdue.

Further, he's dusting off his plan to increase the contribution better-paid state employees make toward their healthcare coverage. The House collapsed like a cheap lawn chair on that idea during the last budget debate. But the proposal, which could save the state $57 million a year, is worth fighting for.

Yet there are bigger things that could be done to ease the pressure on public budgets.

To save cities and towns tens of millions, it's time to give local elected leaders the unhampered authority to enroll their communities in the Group Insurance Commission, the well-regarded state agency that provides quality health insurance plans at reasonable cost for state workers. That, however, means abandoning the current consensus approach, which essentially grants local unions a veto over whether a municipality signs up with the GIC.

Doing so is not currently on the governor's agenda, says Secretary of Administration and Finance Leslie Kirwan.

It should be. And if MBTA employees also got their healthcare coverage through the GIC, it would help that cash-strapped agency as well.

"There would be enormous savings for local communities and the MBTA by going into the GIC," says Mike Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

Second, it's time to revisit the so-called Pacheco Bill, the law that's kept the state from pursuing savings by contracting with private firms for services now provided by public employees.

Finally, what better time for Patrick to revisit his ill-considered decision not to push for more charter schools. Those innovative public schools have delivered real bang for the buck. Increasing charters is a way to expand opportunity and choice - and, in most cases, get a longer school day - for short money.

Politics is often the art of making the best of bad circumstances. That's now Patrick's challenge.

It's time to be bold, governor.
Scot Lehigh can be reached at

"Deval Patrick headed to Chicago for Obama election night"
By Associated Press, Monday, November 3, 2008

BOSTON - Gov. Deval Patrick will be in Chicago for what he hopes is Barack Obama’s victory party.

The Massachusetts Democrat plans to vote Tuesday morning in Milton. Then he’s making a midday stop at a massive Obama phone bank near South Station.

Then, his political committee says he’s traveling to his native Chicago to attend Obama’s election-night festivities in Grant Park.

Patrick has denied any interest in serving in an Obama administration and last week vowed to seek re-election in 2010.


"Governor Deval Patrick wants 2d term, not a job in Obama administration"
November 5, 2008, 3:39 PM, By Matt Viser and Andrew Ryan, Boston Globe Staff

A beaming Governor Deval Patrick met with reporters today after his return from Chicago and reiterated that he has no interest in a post in President-elect Barack Obama's administration.

After speaking about being "enormously moved and excited and proud" of Obama's electoral landslide, Patrick said definitively that he did not want to return to the White House.

"Are you asking me if I am going to Washington again?" Patrick asked, rephrasing a reporter's question. "No I am not. We have an ambitious agenda and a lot of work to do here. Frankly if the people will have me, I'd be interested in a second term."

Patrick did say, however, that he expected the ranks of his own administration to thin because of Obama appointments.

After witnessing the record turnout Tuesday morning in Massachusetts, Patrick flew to his hometown of Chicago for Obama's victory rally. In a speech to hundreds of thousands in Grant Park, Obama echoed a refrain that Patrick employed in his 2006 gubernatorial run.

"It turns out that 'Yes we can' is more than a political slogan," Patrick said today. "In fact, many of us believe that 'Yes we can' is an assertion of American character. That was affirmed yesterday."

Patrick and his wife, Diane, listened to the speech under a tent reserved for politicians and other luminaries, such as the actor Brad Pitt. "Diane kept saying, would you just go over and introduce yourself," Patrick said with a laugh about Pitt.

The governor did not say hello to the actor, however, because he "just wanted to absorb" the victory of Obama, whom he spoke with briefly. Patrick told Obama he was "proud of him as a candidate" because he "spoke without apology about hope."

When asked by a reporter, Patrick said he was "not pushing a change" in state law so he could appoint someone to fill a vacant US Senate seat instead of holding a special election. When Senator John F. Kerry was running for president in 2004, the Democratic state Legislature changed the law to require a special election rather than allow Republican Governor Mitt Romney to appoint a possible successor. Kerry's name has recently been mentioned as a candidate for Secretary of State in Obama's administration.

Patrick said he was "relieved" that voters decided overwhelmingly to reject a ballot initiative that would have repealed the state income tax. The governor also said his administration was reaching out to district attorneys and law enforcement officials about the "implementation" of a ballot initiative that decriminalized possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. Patrick's answer seemed to indicate that he did not plan to fight the measure.

The state secretary of Labor and Workforce Development will work with employees from two of the state's tracks after voters banned dog racing in Massachusetts, Patrick said.
Reader's Comment:
1. Is he completely insane? After almost 2 years of failing to deliver on every promise he made to get elected, he wants to be re-elected? I"m curious to see if Obama follows through on any of his promises too. I sure hope so. Only time will tell.
Posted by TBone November 5, 2008, 3:57 PM

Governor Deval Patrick called an increase in Massachusetts Turnpike tolls unavoidable. (BILL GREENE/BOSTON GLOBE STAFF)

"Patrick calls for timeout on gas-tax rise: Murray agrees, opposes toll increase"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, November 21, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray rejected House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi's call for a speedy debate on a gas-tax increase, saying yesterday that such a volatile issue requires months of study and should only be included in a broader transportation reform plan.

As they gave the thumbs-down to DiMasi, what also became clear was how divided Beacon Hill power players have become over how to juggle Big Dig debts, fix crumbling roads, and build for the future.

Patrick wants to raise Massachusetts Turnpike and Boston Harbor tunnel tolls early next year to meet debt payments that threaten to bankrupt the Turnpike Authority. DiMasi says that toll hikes are unfair and that the gas-tax should instead be raised quickly to spread transportation costs among all motorists.

Murray, meanwhile, wants to delay all action that would increase costs for drivers until the state develops a comprehensive strategy. She said she might consider legislation that would derail the Turnpike Authority's planned toll increases.

As the competing visions swirled, the governor sent a rare letter to all the members of the Legislature last night, hoping to avoid political gridlock. In the letter, he called a toll increase unavoidable.

"The whole question of gas taxes versus toll increases is not quite where the choice is right now," Patrick said earlier in the day at a press conference downtown. "It will take time to have a comprehensive debate about the gas tax."

Murray also disagreed with DiMasi's push for the gas tax and raised the ante further. "I don't see the need to immediately raise the tolls or the gas tax," Murray said in an interview yesterday. "There are opportunities here that we should look at before we should go say, 'Give us more money.' I don't think the public trusts us to use the money wisely."

DiMasi stuck to his guns, meanwhile, telling reporters in Waltham that a gas tax increase "is probably the fairer way to address this issue."

The 23.5-cent gas tax has not been raised since 1991, other than a special 2.5-cent underground storage fee. A state commission that looked at the state's funding problems last year recommended raising the tax 11.5 cents and then tying it to inflation. Nearly 8 of 10 residents oppose raising the gas tax, according to a Survey USA poll of 500 residents done Monday night for WBZ-TV. Patrick and Murray have not ruled out raising the gas tax in the future.

The debate promises to dominate the Legislature's agenda when it reconvenes in January. At stake is how to raise and spend billions of taxpayer dollars to pay off huge Big Dig debts and fix the state's crumbling roads and bridges.

Patrick has proposed eliminating the Turnpike Authority, which operates the Big Dig, and merging its responsibilities into MassPort. Another idea on the table, although no politician has embraced it, is collecting new tolls on Interstate 93 and elsewhere. There is also a growing chorus pushing to privatize some of the state's roads to bring in additional revenue.

All the politically thorny issues would make it difficult for the Legislature to respond to DiMasi's call for a gas-tax increase before the toll hikes are scheduled to go into effect in April.

"It's going to be extremely difficult with an issue this complicated, politically and substantively, to pass something in the first 60 days of the Legislature," said Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and a member of the blue-ribbon transportation finance commission. "The speaker's pronouncement is the first chapter, but I'd say we've got 50, if not 100 more. This will play out over many weeks and months. I don't see how it can be short-circuited."

Lawmakers are sorting through the options.

"Everything and anything has to be on the table, including privatization and including raising the gas tax," said Representative Robert A. DeLeo, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who has been jockeying to become the next House speaker.

"The present system that was made relative to tolls is just too single-minded," DeLeo said. "I think we have to think outside the box a bit."

Some lawmakers criticized the governor for not acting sooner to begin fixing the state's transportation networks.

"Part of the problem is for the last 18 months we've all been waiting for a comprehensive plan," said Senator Steven A. Baddour, a Methuen Democrat and chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation.

"We haven't received one, and then we wake up one day and are told tolls are going up to $7," Baddour said. "I understand shock and awe, but it's a little too dramatic."

Republicans seized on the debate over gas taxes to portray the Democratic governor and legislative leaders as engaging in post-election revenue raising.

"The election was only two weeks ago and already in record time, the Democrats want to increase taxes first instead of instituting long overdue reforms and decreasing state spending," said House minority leader Bradley H. Jones Jr.

The Turnpike Authority, which gave preliminary approval to toll hikes last week, released a schedule for hearings on its toll increases yesterday.

The board would have to vote a second time after the hearings before toll increases could go into effect in early April.

Alan LeBovidge, executive director of the Turnpike Authority, said he needs $100 million a year to keep roads repaired and pay off the debt.

But he said he does not care whether it comes from new gas taxes, or the toll hikes passed tentatively last week.

"Give [us] enough money on the gas tax, you can stop it," he said, referring to the toll collection. "And I don't think the board would have any problem doing that. We need money."
Noah Bierman of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Matt Viser can be reached at

"Greedy hackerama has gone too far this time"
By Howie Carr, Friday, November 21, 2008,, Columnists

No gasoline tax increases unless and until the tollbooths are torn down - all the tollbooths, including the ones at the tunnels and at the Tobin Bridge.

No “moratorium” on toll hikes. No more toll hikes. No more “modest” tolls either. No more tolls, period.

Deval Patrick and his hackerama are blackmailing us with these toll increases to force us into agreeing to a hike in the gas tax.

It’s extortion, plain and simple, like in an old movie. The blackmailer - always played by Richard Widmark - shows the hero - some upstanding citizen like Frederic March - the incriminating photos. March is shocked and says to the leering Widmark, “I’m not paying you off until I get the negatives. If I don’t get the negatives, you’ll just keep printing more pictures and coming back for more.”

The tollbooths are the Turnpike’s negatives. Unless the tollbooths go, and with them the hack toll takers, then you know damn well there will be another crisis down the road, or should I say pike. And Richard Widmark - I mean, Deval Patrick - will be shaking us down again and again, threatening higher tolls unless . . .

If we allow them to “freeze” the tolls this time, then sooner or later this state is going to end up with not only the highest tolls in the nation, but the highest gas tax too.

The anti-tax hardliners say you can’t choose between two odious taxes. My feeling is that this argument was settled, at least for the time being, on Nov. 4, with the defeat of Question 1.

The taxpayers got 30 percent of the vote. At this point, beggars can’t be choosers, and $7 tolls will beggar those of us who don’t live in toll-free land.

Fortunately, in their glee over the defeat of Question 1, the hacks have overplayed their hand. They threatened to do away with the toll discounts for Boston residents.

Bad play. They already had more than enough hostages. They didn’t need the constituents of the House speaker, who’s been desperately looking for a popular issue as he tries to shake all those crewcut guys in wingtips who’ve been tailing him for months.

As they try to halt the toll increases, even the solons from Metrowest are at least talking a good game. Wednesday night, I asked Rep. David Linsky of Natick if he agreed with me that removal of the tollbooths should be the sine qua non for any gas tax increase.

“I agree,” he said. They’ve been rolled before, but this time the greedy hack blackmailers have gone too far.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking of having a new T-shirt printed up: “My governor promised me a property tax cut and all I got was this lousy $7 toll.”
Article URL:

Supreme Judicial Court: "Patrick nominates judge for vacancy"
The Associated Press, Tuesday, December 02, 2008

BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday nominated Suffolk Superior Court Judge Ralph Gants to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Judicial Court, citing the jurist's "intellectual horsepower" and "reverence for justice" as reasons to add him to the state's highest bench.

If confirmed by the Governor's Council, Gants would replace retired Justice John Greaney. Gants is Patrick's second appointment to the SJC.

Gants, a 54-year-old graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, has been a Superior Court judge for more than 10 years, working most recently as administrative justice to the court's business litigation section.

Praising his "powerful combination of intellect and real-world understanding, the governor said: "I have no doubt that Judge Gants will bring to the Supreme Judicial Court the same intellectual horsepower, analytical rigor, reverence for justice and compassion that has marked his career in the Superior Court."

Patrick denied any litmus test for his appointee, but reiterated his belief that judges must consider any constitution a "living document" that adapts in some regard with the times — a departure from the strict constructionist model embraced by some of the Republican governors who recently preceded him, most notably former Gov. Mitt Romney.


The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, SCOT LEHIGH
"A strong case for more charter schools"
By Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe Columnist, January 7, 2009

THE SINGLE most regrettable policy decison Governor Deval Patrick has made is to let the state's charter school movement languish - and now a compelling new study of Boston schools illustrates why.

Compared with students in traditional schools, charter school students are doing significantly better in math and English, according to the analysis by researchers from Harvard and MIT.

In some grades, the results of the study - which compares pupils who won a charter school spot in the student-selection lotteries used by oversubscribed charters with those who lost out - are dramatic.

The magnitude of improvement jumps out when students who got a lottery slot for the sixth grade are compared with those who did not. Both groups began at the same performance point, slightly above the Boston public school average.

"By eighth grade, though, the lottery winners on average were scoring very close to the Brookline public school average performance in math," says study leader Thomas Kane, professor of education and economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. "But the lottery losers, who mostly went back to the traditional public schools in Boston, were still only slightly above the Boston public school average."

The charter results weren't as pronounced at all grade levels, but they were consistently strong.

The research team also compared students in the traditional public schools with those of similar backgrounds who went to charters, an observational method that showed significant gains as well.

"[W]e generally find large positive effects for Charter Schools, at both the middle school and high school levels," the authors write.

But the lottery study is particularly powerful because that kind of evaluation controls for background variables. Results from such a comparison, for example, debunk the notion that the real reason charter students do better is that they have motivated parents who care more about their education.

The findings for pilot schools were more ambiguous. There were some positive effects in the elementary grades, but the observational study found underperformance at the middle school level. The observational results were stronger for pilot high schools, but the lottery study showed no difference.

Now, if data mattered more than dogma in education policy, this research, which was front-page news yesterday, would be a debate changer. Certainly the study drew a veritable who's who in Massachusetts education to the Boston Foundation for its formal release yesterday.

Commenting afterward, Mitchell Chester, the state's education commissioner, and Carol Johnson, superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, both talked of learning from charter schools, but skirted the real issue the report should raise: the need to lift the charter school cap, which at least one community has exceeded and a number of others are close to.

Paul Grogan, president of the Boston Foundation, which funded the research, was more direct. "There is no justification for keeping a charter cap in place that is denying urban, mostly black and brown children the opportunity for a demonstrably better result," Grogan said.

Added Tom Birmingham, co-author of the state's landmark education reform law: "If it's a good idea, why not replicate it as often as we can?"

So let's review the situation. The nation has a Democratic president-elect who is a strong supporter of charter schools and a federal secretary of education-designate who, as CEO of the Chicago school system, embraced charters wholeheartedly.

Here, however, we have a Democratic governor who has essentially put peace with the teachers unions over the proven potential of charters. Boston, meanwhile, has an incrementalist mayor who has long opposed charters. This new study shows the real costs to students of those counterproductive stands.

Patrick's reluctance to support more charters could hurt the state in other ways as well. Obama has proposed doubling, to $400 million, the annual federal funding for charter schools. If this state isn't creating more charters or expanding existing ones, it may risk leaving significant federal dollars on the table.

This is a leadership moment. It's time for the governor and the mayor to get on the students' side.
Scot Lehigh can be reached at

"Patrick targets ethics lapses: Bill will seek new subpoena, wiretap powers"
By Andrea Estes, Boston Globe Staff, January 7, 2009

Governor Deval Patrick yesterday proposed a sweeping overhaul of the state's ethics and lobbying laws that would give an array of state authorities unprecedented powers to tap phones, subpoena records, and punish corrupt officials.

Following the recommendations of a 12-member panel formed after a series of scandals roiled the State House, Patrick proposed giving subpoena power to the secretary of state's office and wiretapping authority to the state attorney general. And he would make it easier for the attorney general to win public corruption convictions.

"No one can legislate morality, we all know that," Patrick said at a news conference. "But we can assure ourselves and the public that the consequences for breaching the public trust will be serious, swift, and certain."

Patrick said he plans to file a bill today, the first day of a new legislative session, giving the issue a prominent place in the public debate. Patrick urged lawmakers to act within 30 days and said he was optimistic the measure would be approved.

The governor formed the task force in November after state Senator Dianne Wilkerson was arrested on federal bribery charges. In addition, a series of Globe stories sparked investigations by state and federal agencies into large payments made to friends and business associates of House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi. One of those friends - Richard Vitale, the speaker's longtime accountant and former campaign treasurer - was indicted last month on charges of violating lobbying and campaign laws.

"Several recent charges of illegal or unethical conduct by public officials have rocked the State House," said Patrick. "People who work in state government are overwhelmingly honest, fair, and aboveboard. The actions of a few have cast a cloud over all."

For all its sweep, many of the measures proposed also were intended to plug gaps in existing laws, such as the lack of subpoena power for the secretary of state, who is responsible for regulating lobbyists. Critics have said the loopholes have prevented the agency from aggressively enforcing lobbying disclosure laws.

Regulators hailed the proposed reforms, calling them important first steps in restoring public confidence in government.

"I never thought I'd see this day," said Inspector General Gregory Sullivan, who called the recommendations historic and extraordinary. If this passes, I think it will be the most significant legislation since I've been inspector general by far."

Secretary of State William F. Galvin called the measure "a good faith effort on the part of the governor to fight public corruption and to increase transparency so that average citizens can find out who is paying to influence government decisions and why."

Had the recommendations been law last year, Galvin said, he would not have had to spend months trying to force Vitale to explain his involvement with an association of ticket brokers, which led Attorney General Martha Coakley to secure an indictment against him.

Galvin also spent several months trying to get information about payments made by Burlington software company Cognos ULC to lobbyist and DiMasi friend Richard McDonough and to DiMasi's law associate, Steven Topazio.

"If I had the subpoena and enforcement power, I would have been able to get answers immediately," said Galvin, "instead of having to go through this protracted extraction of information that was never really complete. "

Galvin said he has filed similar legislation annually, but it has always died in committee.

"The big question is what will happen to it," he said.

Whether the Legislature will approve the proposal was unclear yesterday. Senate President Therese Murray was unavailable for comment. Her spokesman, David Falcone, said in an e-mail: "The Senate intends to give the plan full consideration in the new legislative session. Many of the measures are already in place in the Senate's ethics training for new members, and we remain open to any meaningful suggestions."

DiMasi issued a terse statement that said "some common sense ethics reforms should be considered," but suggested passing the bill was not a top priority.

"Massachusetts faces serious challenges in the coming year - from finding ways to balance our budget amid a crushing fiscal crisis to reforming our transportation system to make it fairer for all," he said. "The best way to maintain and build upon the public's trust is by tackling these problems directly, leveling with people, and engaging them in our solutions."

One state official said he had already heard from defense lawyers, who said that giving the attorney general wiretapping power would go too far. Several lawyers contacted by the Globe declined to comment.

In its 60-page report, the task force said that, while state laws are "generally strong and broad," there are significant gaps in the areas of enforcement, penalties, and education.

It recommended increasing fines for violating the state's conflict-of-interest law from $2,000 to $10,000, extending from three to five years the time the Ethics Commission has to investigate complaints, giving the commission the authority to enforce summonses without having to go to court, and prohibiting most gifts to public officials. It would eliminate the current requirement that, to prove a violation, the commission must show that a public official did something in exchange for a gift.

The bill would also crack down on lobbyists who fail to register with the secretary of state and would require them to file even if they work as a lobbyist for only a few hours a week.

In addition, the legislation would broaden the definition of lobbying to include "strategizing" or "planning." Vitale had refused to report $60,000 he received from the ticket brokers group, saying he was a "strategist," not a lobbyist. He also said he had not worked long enough on legislative issues to meet the minimum lobbying threshold.

Under the proposal, the penalty for a bribery conviction, last changed in 1962, would go from a $5,000 fine or three years in prison - the lowest of all 50 states - to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.


"Monday morning briefing"
By Hillary Chabot, Monday, January 12, 2009,, Local Politics

Lawmakers are expected to hand local aid slashing power to Gov. Deval Patrick shortly after the state announces how much dwindling tax revenues have shrunk. Former Big Dig consultant Jim Aloisi will have his first day at the office today as transportation secretary. The Governor’s Council must vote Wednesday on Patrick’s second Supreme Judicial Court pick, Ralph Gants.

Chapters of Deval

Patrick gives his second State of the State Thursday, a grim message expected to touch on the state’s ailing transportation system, which may prompt massive toll hikes, a dwindling revenue stream, and ethical hijinks on Beacon Hill. He must file a bare-bones budget by Jan. 28, and has already said he’ll have to cut up to $1 billion from the current budget.

The lone Republican with Holly Robichaud

Gov. Patrick, stop worrying about my French fries and weighing in school children. While our economy is in freefall, the number one priority should be to trim the fat out of the state budget such as $1 billion for the biotech industry, the paid volunteer program, and state pensions. Instead of measuring children, send legislative leaders back to school to see if they are smarter than a fifth-grader. Only the ones that pass can get their pay raise. Let’s post those scores instead of calorie counts at McDonald’s.

Last week’s question: Should Speaker of the House Salvatore DiMasi punish lawmakers who jockeyed for his job if he is re-elected?

Yes: 35 percent No: 65 percent “Gee, if they spent as much time on the ‘people’s business’ as they do on political intrigue and maneuvering maybe Massachusetts wouldn’t be in the sad, decrepit state that it is seems we are always in,” one reader opined.

Dish under the dome

DiMasi’s former accountant Richard Vitale is set to be arraigned today, but who will be doing the arraigning is anyone’s guess. DiMasi’s ties to many in the Suffolk court have made finding an impartial judge difficult. Lawmakers must file their bills by Wednesday, and temporary committees assigned by DiMasi will start meeting on ethics issues and the budget cuts.

Obama in transition

Bay Staters may be singing “Sweet Caroline” for many reasons at Obama’s upcoming inauguration. In addition to the Senate-wannabe’s attendance, the locals also will have a party at the National Stadium ballpark Sunday night.
Article URL:

A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL: "Short Fuse" - January 14, 2009

"Charter schools: Patrick's fishy logic"

Speaking on WTKK last week, Governor Deval Patrick called the issue of raising the charter school cap "a total red herring" because "we're not at the cap." Maybe so for the statewide cap of 120 charters, but the cap's local-spending restriction already effectively rules out some communities. For example, the Department of Education notes on its application form that it won't accept proposals for charters including Boston students because the Hub is now so close to its cap. Meanwhile, places like Cambridge, Everett, Greenfield, Holyoke, Hull, Malden, North Adams, Randolph, and Somerville have fewer than 200 slots left. Since most charters need at least 250 students to be financially viable, the cap makes new charters impractical there as well. Conclusion: The issue is real, not a red herring.


"Patrick aides detail plans for growth: Zoning changes, better use of subsidies among legislative proposals"
By Casey Ross, Boston Globe Staff, January 17, 2009

Governor Deval L. Patrick's top economic aides are pushing new legislation to reform the state's "arcane" zoning laws, eliminate misuse of tax subsidies on small private developments, and create more housing to serve middle-class residents.

The initiatives were rolled out yesterday in a report laying out the administration's strategy for spurring economic growth in urban centers from Boston to Lowell to Pittsfield. Patrick's aides said the proposals are urgently needed to help take advantage of anticipated federal stimulus money and generate tens of thousands of new jobs.

"We're really talking about spending the money we have in a very targeted way," said Stanley McGee, Patrick's assistant secretary for policy and planning. "We're going to be working with our partners to determine where we can get the biggest bang for the buck."

To ensure the money results in sustained growth, the administration is seeking a handful of legislative changes. One proposal calls for significant reform of the state's 40A zoning law, which governs how communities regulate land use. The law has not been significantly altered in 35 years.

Officials said current law squeezes business growth into narrow pockets within communities and limits the ability of local officials to approve construction of high-density housing developments. The administration is supporting legislation filed in the state Senate this month to enhance local control and allow for clusters of development linked to public transportation and other key resources.

In the report yesterday, Patrick aides also called for reforms to state tax incentive programs aimed at encouraging large development projects that generate a significant number of jobs. The programs have been misused in communities that have granted public subsidies for much smaller projects, such as local restaurants and retail shops, critics say.

"What we want to do is use state tax dollars in a more focused manner to support manufacturing" and other industries such as life sciences and renewable energy, said Eric Nakajima, a senior economic adviser to Patrick.

Business leaders said the administration must act swiftly to jump-start the moribund construction industry and seize on limited pockets of business growth in the state. "Right now, the state is on its back economically, as is the rest of the nation," said Michael Widmer, president of the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "Anything we can do to encourage new development is critical."

During the next few months, Patrick officials said they are seeking to bolster housing production that has all but stopped because of the frozen credit markets. Tina Brooks, undersecretary of housing and community development, said the $825 billion federal stimulus plan working through Congress appears to hold considerable funds for Massachusetts, although she could not provide a precise estimate.

Brooks said the state's priority is to help fund construction of 1,400 low-income units that have not been developed because of the lack of investors in that category. "We want to create a warehouse fund that will allow those projects to move forward until the equity investors reemerge," she said.

In addition to those efforts, yesterday's report called for:

Increased investment in a $40 million effort to expand broadband access to communities in Berkshire County, on Cape Cod, and other underserved areas. The current version of the federal stimulus bill provides $6 billion for broadband upgrades across the country.

Creation of a program to encourage development of market-rate housing in urban communities. The program would offer development tax credits and expand efforts to provide grants to businesses that offer housing assistance to attract new employees.

Advancing transportation upgrades including construction of a commuter rail line to Fall River and New Bedford, extension of the Green Line to Somerville and Medford, and devising a plan to establish high-speed rail service between Boston, Worcester, and Springfield.
Casey Ross can be reached at

"Governor won't cut state aid for schools: Local meals tax debate heats up"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, January 23, 2009

Governor Deval Patrick is planning to tell a large gathering of municipal officials this morning that he will not cut local school aid to cities and towns this year, but will be targeting other forms of local aid.

The announcement will add to the swirl of debate over how to protect Massachusetts cities and towns from devastating cuts in local aid as Patrick and the Legislature try to balance the damage caused by the economic downturn.

In a sign that the scope of problems locally is growing quickly, cities and towns have swamped the state with proposed infrastructure projects, 4,000 by one count, which the state could fund from an expected federal stimulus package.

Restaurants across Massachusetts are preparing a major lobbying effort to stave off another bid on Beacon Hill to let cities and towns levy local meals taxes, saying they are worried lawmakers will hurt their businesses in their rush to find more money.

In an address to the Massachusetts Municipal Association this morning, the governor plans to detail to local officials his approach to the cuts he plans to make next week to cover a midyear $1.1 billion budget gap. His plan is expected to include dramatic cuts to the $5.3 billion the state provides to communities in local aid.

But he will pledge that those cuts will not touch the $3.9 billion of that pool that goes to communities for public schools, said an administration official who insisted on anonymity.

Eliminating school funding from the cuts preserves one of the governor's top priorities, but it does not mean all public education spending by the state will be spared, because communities use other sources of funding for local education.

The commitment the governor will make is only for midyear budget cuts and does not include next year's budget, which Patrick plans to unveil next week.

In 2003, during the last round of midyear budget cuts to local aid, Governor Mitt Romney also avoided cutting Chapter 70 education funds. But Romney was roundly criticized for the $114 million he sliced in other state aid.

With cuts on the table, local and state officials are watching progress on a federal stimulus package that would include relief to state governments. Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray has been compiling a list of municipal projects that could begin almost immediately after federal money arrives. But the list has grown excessively large as local officials contemplate the possibility of new money injected into their communities.

There's no way "we're going to get all that money," said Mayor John Barrett III of North Adams. "Too many people are going to the trough here. They've really got to streamline them down."

Barrett said he put in only one request: the restoration of the Mohawk Theater, which would use $7 million from public funding and $10 million from private developers.

Inevitably, the tough times are pitting major constituencies against one another. Local cities and towns, led by Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston, want to be able to impose local meals taxes to ease the burden on property taxes.

The state currently assesses a 5 percent charge on meals, which is the same percentage as the statewide sales tax.

The proposal that lawmakers are looking at would give local communities the option of adding a surcharge of up to 3 percent on meals sold in that community.

But restaurants say that they are getting crushed by the recession and that this would be the worst possible time to let cities impose a new tax on the bills that diners pay.

"Why single us out?" said Peter G. Christie, president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. "Don't single out one industry, particularly an industry that is really reeling right now. I don't think many people in the Patrick administration realize that."

"They can tell you a lot about biotech, why it's important, and why we need to give them $1 billion," he added. "But they want to tax your hamburger."

The restaurant association is planning to launch a campaign next week against the meals tax increase, sending letters and asking its network of restaurateurs to make phone calls to their local legislators.

Lawmakers are continuing to examine the issue and have not decided how to disburse the money so that all communities benefit.

"When you go to Lawrence, Lowell, Worcester, Fall River, and Boston, you've got hundreds of restaurants," said Representative Paul J. Donato, a Medford Democrat and a cochairman of a legislative commission studying a municipal relief package.

"You go to Gardner, Orange, and small towns like Acton; they may only have three or four coffee shops," Donato said. "We're trying to figure out the fairest way" to distribute the money.

A Globe survey of communities in 2007, for example, showed that North Adams would have received about $150,000 from about 15 restaurants in the city.

But in Fall River, which has about 60 restaurants, the meals tax could bring in about $2 million. Boston would get the biggest boon of all, with about $40 million in additional revenue.

"We'll fight it," said Joseph Pignato, owner of Joseph's Winter Street Cafe in Newburyport, which has 58 employees.

"It's selective taxation, total selective taxation," Pignato said. "It falls on the back of the most needy people, the single mom who works four nights for me. Her 18 percent gratuity is going to become a 15 percent gratuity."
Matt Viser can be reached at

New year, new sales taxes
"Gov. Deval Patrick is looking to balance out this year's fiscal budget by implementing new fees."
By Matt Murphy, Berkshire Eagle Boston Bureau
Friday, January 30, 2009

BOSTON — A nickel here and a dime there might not seem like much, but over time it can add up.

Gov. Deval Patrick's attempt to find creative solutions to balance this year's budget and next year's led him a series of new taxes and fees, from a 5 percent tax on soda, candy and alcohol to a nickel deposit on water, juice and sports drinks.

For the average taxpayers, that means a $10 six-pack of beer will now cost $10. 50; a $1 candy bar will cost $1. 05 and $2 bottle of Poland Spring water will cost $2. 05. A $50 tab at a local restaurant could send diners digging in their pockets for an extra 50 cents.

The cost of renewing a driver's license will increase $10 dollars to $50, paid every five years, and the cost of renewing a vehicle registration jumps $9 dollars to $50, paid every two years.

The strategy is not dissimilar to what former Gov. Mitt Romney did during the state's last economic crisis, avoiding broad-based tax hikes or workers and businesses in favor of smaller fee increases.

"If we don't do this, we're just going to have to layoff more firefighters, teachers and police," said Michael Widmer, president on the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

Patrick hopes to raise $566 million a year through these new taxes and fees.

"I have looked at what the impact would be if we went deeper in terms of cutting services," said Patrick, suggesting the negative effect would be too high.

New House Speaker Robert DeLeo has not yet offered an opinion on the plan, while Senate President Therese Murray spent much of yesterday analyzing Patrick's proposals in a caucus with fellow Senators.

"Given our economic situation, everything is up for consideration," said Murray spokesman David Falcone.

Patrick's includes raking in an additional $121. 5 million by lifting the 5 percent sales tax exemption on alcohol, candy and sweetened beverages. State residents currently pay no sales tax on food under a certain cost like normal groceries.

Another $20 million will come from expanding the 5-cent refundable recycling deposit to include water, flavored water, coffee-based drinks, juices and sports drinks.

"This sales tax will only drive business across the state borders, while driving down tax collections in Massachusetts. Rather than taking aim at the same old targets, the Legislature should seek more innovative ways to solve this fiscal crisis," said Frank Anzalotti, executive director of the Massachusetts Package Store Association.

The border issues is one that has particularly resonated with lawmakers in districts close to the New Hampshire border who worry that added taxes in a bad economy will simply push business north.

"I'm not a tax person. This is going to further make us non-competitive.

It's going to hurt our mom-and-pop stores when customer can be in New Hampshire in five minutes," said Rep. Robert Hargraves, R-Groton.

The local option taxes could mean as much $793,112 for a city like Pittsfield, and $290,213 for a city like North Adams. The tax, however, has drawn the ire of local restaurant owners who say they can't afford to lose more business.


"Cuts devastating to Mass. courts"
The North Adams Transcript, Letters, Wednesday, February 4, 2009

To the Editor:

The Massachusetts Bar Association, a nonprofit organization that serves the legal profession and the public, finds Gov. Deval Patrick's deep cuts to the state Trial Court budget both disappointing and disheartening.

The governor's decision to slash $20 million from the fiscal 2010 budget is detrimental to the fair administration of justice for all citizens of Massachusetts. The MBA urges Gov. Patrick to reconsider his decision. Requiring the Trial Court to further trim down its 2010 budget to $560.3 million -- from its $583 million appeal -- will ultimately mean massive layoffs.

In October, the Trial Court volunteered to trim $22 million off its $605 million fiscal 2009 budget, substantially more than other government departments. Reducing the remaining $583 million budget yet again is devastating to all courts in the commonwealth.

All Massachusetts citizens are entitled to an efficient, responsive court system. These material cuts to the Trial Court's budget imperil the core functions of the courts. They impede access to timely justice while jeopardizing the significant innovations the courts have made in the last six years.

The harsh reality is that these cuts come when so many of our citizens, finding themselves in dire financial straits, resort to the courts for relief and refuge. It's simply unrealistic to expect the courts to service so many more citizens with a drastically reduced budget.

Edward W. McIntyre
Boston, Massachusetts
Jan. 31, 2009
The writer is president of the Massachusetts Bar Association.


"Patrick wants to name firms getting tax credits"
By Todd Wallack,, February 14, 2009

Massachusetts would start revealing the names of companies that receive lucrative tax credits, under a budget proposal by Governor Deval Patrick.

If approved by lawmakers, 2010 budget legislation would require state agencies to issue an annual report that includes the names of taxpayers that receive tax credits and the value of the credits under a number of state economic development programs, including one designed to encourage Hollywood directors to film movies here and another to help the dairy industry.

The law would also require businesses that receive tax incentives to report how many workers they employ, along with their average salaries.

Under current law, the Department of Revenue says it is generally not permitted to release the names of companies that receive tax credits. But some state lawmakers and government watchdogs argue more information should be made public to make it easier to determine how well the programs are working.



Plympton, Massachusetts with news from the Halifax-Plympton Reporter and Enterprise, via

"Here is the point: The failures of Governor Deval Patrick"
By Richard Greeley, 2/13/2009

Halifax - “The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.”
-George Washington

The above quote leads me to believe that if George Washington were alive today, and were asked to survey the Federal, State, and local governments’ fiscal situations and the proposed, pork-laden and bureaucratic “stimulus packages” used to fix them, he would probably shake his head wondering why he bothered to lead the Revolution in the first place.

It is also difficult to believe that the first Governor of Massachusetts, John Hancock, would have asked the Governor of New Hampshire to collect sales tax from Massachusetts residents who chose to purchase goods on New Hampshire soil, and then send the money to Massachusetts. Such is the embarrassing state of affairs of Massachusetts politics today.

During the last gubernatorial campaign, Deval Patrick wooed the electorate on promises of lower property tax rates, better schools, and less spending, all delivered with soaring rhetoric such as “service over self” and “principal over party” because “together we can.” But when the bill to this lavish dinner came to the table, Governor Patrick didn’t have any idea of how to pay for it.

‘Together, we can’” see just how much of a disaster this Governor has been thus far. It is easy to point out how a populist Democrat would be brazenly hypocritical by immediately spending $12,000 on drapes for his office and ordering himself a Cadillac Coupe Deville instead of a standard issue, yet still fully loaded, Ford Crown Victoria. These gaffes, although not damaging public policy errors, certainly speak for themselves. His lack of planning and complete inability to adapt to changing political conditions has morphed him from an enlightened strategist to a clumsy man stabbing in the dark. Let’s look at how this is so.

For example, Patrick campaigned on lowering property taxes in Massachusetts. Yet when he was asked how he was going to, say, lower property taxes in Massachusetts, he was completely befuddled. He had no plan then and has no plan now because property taxes are levied and collected at the local level, not the state level. The best guess as to how he thought he was going to accomplish this feat was that he and the Legislature would spend so much money on absolutely everything at the state level, there would be nothing left for local governments to do. Therefore, beware of Democrats talking of tax cuts.

The Massachusetts public school system, particularly in Boston, is a mess. Test scores are down. Drop out rates are up. Spending in the public school system is steadily climbing despite the rough economy. And now the teachers’ union president, Richard Stutman, is complaining about a proposed salary cap to save teachers jobs, saying, “This is a revenue problem. It is not a spending problem.” Translation: “Tax their paychecks more so you can spend it on mine.”

Charter schools relieve the stress of the public school system by reducing class size; foster competition between teachers to vie for the better positions; create a better learning environment for the students; and (gasp!) produce better students. In response to the charter school successes, Gov. Patrick implemented a “pilot school” program, which is intended to be similar to a charter school but is still run by the teachers union and the Department of Education. And how did these schools perform? They performed worse than the public schools. How did he respond to the poor performances? He implemented more pilot schools. Go figure.

These are just but a couple of the many bad ideas proposed by the Patrick Administration. Proposing drivers licenses and in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, endorsing Dianne Wilkerson, supporting an increase in tolls on the Mass Pike, recommending a $121 million sugar tax, increasing the gasoline tax… The list goes on and on. Now he’s chasing people into New Hampshire for $10 tax on a couple of tires and a pack of cigarettes?

Here’s the point: If Patrick, in order to make ends meet, is reduced to asking other states to collect taxes from Massachusetts residents who flee their state to avoid paying increasingly high taxes, then he is simply incapable of keeping the lofty promises that he himself said he would keep during the campaign.
Richard Greeley is Chairman of the Halifax Republican Town Committee

Joe Ciaramitaro of Gloucester calculated that the tax plan could cost him an extra $5 when filling up. (Bill Greene/Boston Globe Staff)

"Motorists cringe at gas tax plans: Proposed 19-cent increase carries political risk for Patrick"
By Noah Bierman and Eric Moskowitz, Boston Globe Staff, February 21, 2009

Massachusetts motorists yesterday greeted the prospect of paying the highest gas tax in the country with a mixture of anger, wincing resignation, and measured support as a way to help fix the state's dilapidated transportation system.

Governor Deval Patrick, who formally unveiled the proposal to raise the tax by 19 cents a gallon, seemed conflicted himself as he abandoned previous statements opposing the gas tax hike or calling it ill-timed as families struggle through a recession. Now, his proposal would not only raise the gas tax, but continue to increase it yearly with the rate of inflation.

Patrick, the first governor in two decades to propose a broad-based tax increase placed much of the blame on his predecessors, saying that their poor decisions and the "Big Dig culture" had left him and Massachusetts residents with a painful choice: paying up or living with deteriorating bridges, high subway fares, and $7 tunnel tolls.

"The days of avoiding the truth and the consequences must end and end now," he said. "Don't just criticize from the sidelines and watch the situation get worse, as those before us have."

If approved by the Legislature, the increase would push the state's gas tax to 42.5 cents a gallon, just slightly more than New York's 41.3 cents, now the highest in the country. With the 18.4 cent federal tax added in, Massachusetts drivers may soon pay 61.9 cents a gallon in taxes.

The decision comes with political risk for Patrick, who has said he will seek reelection next year. Proposing tax increases creates a broad opening for a potential opponent, leaving him with an important sales job in coming months.

"Look, this is not where Deval Patrick wanted to be in the third year of his term," said Paul Watanabe, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. "Assuredly, there will be a considerable amount of distress raised by his proposal but . . . I think there are plenty of people who recognize that in some ways the sky is falling and something has to be done about it."

Patrick went to lengths yesterday to emphasize that his plan is about more than raising taxes. He said he would not sign an increase unless legislators pass the vast reorganization plan that goes with it, which includes future reductions in MBTA fringe benefits and other changes proposed two years ago by a government commission.

The plan also gives the administration more control over the state's transportation agencies, by, for example, replacing the MBTA board with a three-member committee that reports directly to the governor's transportation secretary.

A bill has yet to be submitted to the Legislature laying out details, but what administration officials have revealed - in bits and pieces to various news outlets and interest groups - appears to include a wide range of environmental, financial, and structural changes to attract or offend nearly every constituency in the state.

For example, after the press conference yesterday, officials revealed that they would reduce the toll discount that some Boston neighborhoods get at the Harbor tunnels or the Tobin Bridge.

The tolls would cost at least $2 for those residents instead of the current 40-cent fee at the tunnels and 30-cent fee on the bridge. At the same time, Patrick would add Winthrop residents to the discount program, which should help garner support from new House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, who represents that town in the Legislature.

The plan also includes a provision floated earlier this week to charge higher vehicle registration fees for gas-guzzling cars and give discounts to fuel-efficient vehicles.

But other previously announced plans to eliminate tolls on the western portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike have been abandoned, as have plans to shift the turnpike authority's debt to the agency that runs Logan Airport.

Patrick explained some of the changes as tradeoffs in a tough environment, where needs still outstrip the $500 million he hopes to raise from the tax.

"All of it is tough," Patrick said. "There is nothing here that isn't a heavy lift."

Legislators have been cautious but open to the bill, saying they were eager to read details and begin debate.

DeLeo called it a "great beginning" while Republicans chided Patrick for shifting his position.

Patrick put pressure on lawmakers to act soon. The turnpike authority board is scheduled to vote on a hefty toll increase Tuesday that could raise tolls in steps beginning March 29. Patrick said lawmakers could act before that to avoid the hike or repeal the tolls increase later if the bill does not meet the deadline.

Commuters, though unaware of the details, were beginning to take sides, mostly depending on where they live.

"I mean, jeez, we just caught a break on the gas prices," said Kevin Moore, a 48-year-old Cambridge resident, as he stopped for $10 worth of regular at the Shell station on Memorial Drive. "I don't think it's a good plan at all."

But over on the Massachusetts Turnpike, Eileen MacKenzie had a different opinion: "I think the gas tax hike is a better idea, because from what I've heard about the toll hike, it was really going to be very high for the people that use it on an everyday basis. This is a little more equal."

A Globe poll in December showed that a gas tax hike did not have majority support, but was more politically palatable than toll hikes and other possible sources of new revenue.

To sell the increase, Patrick has to keep making the case, standing next to potholes around the state to demonstrate the need, said Jeffrey M. Berry, a political scientist from Tufts University.

"I think that he's vulnerable now of the charge of being a tax and spend liberal," Berry said, "whereas before he was just a liberal."

On the Pike, Joe Ciaramitaro did a quick calculation as he pumped 24.8 gallons into his wife's Lincoln Navigator. An extra 19 cents a gallon would be nearly $5.

With three children and a job as a buyer for a seafood company, the 41-year-old Gloucester resident logs a lot of miles. The hike could cost him $500 a year, he said.

"Between feeding, housing, clothing, and schooling, all I need is another increase in my taxes," he said. "You just can't keep taxing people to death."


February 22, 2009

"Patrick: Transparency for tax breaks"

Giving out tax breaks to lure businesses is a common economic development tool in Massachusetts. Yet, up to now, residents have received no accounting of who's getting the breaks. Governor Patrick wisely wants to rectify that. His plan would require state agencies that administer refundable tax credits - credits that function as grants, because they are available even to firms with no tax liability in Massachusetts - to report annually the names of recipients, the size of the credits, and the number of jobs produced. The information hasn't been disclosed in the past because of laws intended to keep individual taxpayers' information private. But the programs covered by the governor's plan give out $200 million a year; a filmmaking tax credit alone costs the state $100 million. The public deserves to know where the money is going.


"Patrick taps Baker aide for liaison post"
By Jim O’Sullivan/State House News Service, Monday February 23, 2009, 4:23 P.M. EST

Boston, Massachusetts - A longtime top aide to Harvard Pilgrim CEO and prospective gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker is leaving the insurance company to join Gov. Deval Patrick’s staff, a high-level personnel move that comes as Baker eyes a challenge to Patrick.

Lora Pellegrini, a veteran lobbyist and executive at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, is joining the governor’s office as a senior intergovernmental liaison. The move focuses attention on the potential rivalry between the Democrat Patrick, who has vowed to run for reelection, and the Republican Baker, who has been noncommittal even as he spends increasing time with GOP activists.

“I hope they did it because they think she’s as talented as I think she is,” Baker told the News Service Monday.

The governor is also bringing in his own longtime top political hand, Elizabeth Morningstar, as a senior aide to fill much of the central coordinating role held until last month by David Simas, now a deputy to President Barack Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod. Morningstar stepped down last month as chief of Patrick’s political committee.

Patrick’s willingness to raid Baker’s team also comes as he retools his own administration, marked by several high-level departures in recent months, which are customary as an administration enters the second half of a four-year term. Patrick is waiting for lawmakers to address his bill to tighten the state’s lobbying laws, including his plan to restrict lobbying abilities of former executive branch officials.

Pellegrini, who worked as an assistant legislative director under Gov. Michael Dukakis, will lead an office depleted when Charlotte Golar Richie took Morningstar’s job at Patrick’s political committee, and as Michael Morris transitions to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

At Harvard Pilgrim for 13 years, Pellegrini was promoted from director of state and federal government relations, where she oversaw legislative efforts in three states, to vice president last year. Last month, she was elected president of the non-partisan Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, after a stint as vice president. She declined to comment Monday.

“I’m very sorry to see her leave,” Baker said. “She’s done a terrific job for us, but she’s been at Harvard Pilgrim for 13 years and she’s expressed on more than one occasion the desire to get back into the public sector.”

In hiring an aide to a potential political rival, Patrick is hewing to a practice that has also seen him poach staffers from Treasurer Timothy Cahill’s office, including Morris and chief of staff Doug Rubin. During his transition into office, Patrick also tried to hire Rep. Daniel Bosley, then House chairman of the Economic Development Committee and one of the Legislature’s leading anti-casino forces.

Asked about Patrick plucking talent from his ranks, Baker laughed. “That’s OK. Since I’ve got a ton of old state government people working for me, I’m probably due to get somebody poached back,” he said.

Interest in Baker’s intentions has perked up in recent weeks, as he has circulated among party gatherings more frequently. Senior Republicans call him a lonely bright spot in the party’s diminished list of potential statewide candidates.

Patrick has told associates he wanted to hire Morningstar since she decided to leave the political organization last year. Morningstar has been at Patrick’s side since he started exploring a 2006 campaign, and is regarded as a prodigious fundraiser and well-connected to Patrick’s liberal base.

Morningstar declined comment.

Baker will participate in a March 12 panel discussion, hosted by CommonWealth magazine, on the challenges of running for office in Massachusetts and how the state can cultivate more electoral competition.


(George Rizer/Globe Staff)

"GOP gas tax protest draws dozens"
By Andrew Ryan, Boston Globe Staff, February 25, 2009, 11:47 A.M.

A few dozen activists clutching posters and red gasoline cans attended a Republican rally this morning on the steps of the State House to protest the governor's plan to raise the gas tax by 19 cents.

The protesters urged drivers on Beacon Hill to honk to object to Governor Deval Patrick's transportation bill, which would increase the gas tax instead of tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

"Everybody who drives to work was honking their horn," said Barney Keller, spokesman for the state Republican Party. "It went excellent. We had people braving the cold."

The Associated Press reported that the protest drew about 25 people. A Globe photographer had the same headcount. Keller said that over the course of the morning, there were "several dozen people."

"We're pretty excited about it," Keller continued. "We are calling on the governor to implement reform first before even talking about [new] revenue."

A spokesman for the governor did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Keller acknowledged that not all drivers showed support for the protest.

"We did get one heckler in a Prius," he said.

Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman John Walsh blasted the GOP for wanting to "do nothing to deal with the debt and road neglect that's built up over the previous 16 years when they were in the Governor's office."

"It's a good time for the Republicans to get off the sidelines and the sidewalks and offer real solutions to the challenges we face with our transportation system," Walsh said in a statement in response to the protest "We are not interested in assigning blame only finding a solution and we are open to anyone's good solutions. If the Republicans have good ideas to solve these issues, let's hear them.”


"Mass. tax equals N.H. profits: Proposed gas hike could help local stations"
By Joshua Clark,, February 27, 2009

SEABROOK — With a proposed gas tax increase looming in the Bay State, border gas stations may begin to see an influx of Massachusetts drivers pulling up to the local pumps.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has put before his legislature a proposal that would increase the state's gasoline tax, which is currently below the national average, by 19 cents.

The increase would raise the tax from 23.5 cents to 42.5 cents per gallon, thereby saddling state residents with the highest gas tax in the nation. In New Hampshire, the gasoline tax currently stands at 19.6 cents per gallon.

Adding the federal tax of 18.4 cents, Massachusetts drivers would be paying just below 61 cents in taxes for every gallon of fuel they put into their tanks. In New Hampshire that same gallon of gas would carry a tax of just 38 cents.

Representatives of Seabrook fueling stations are anticipating an increase in business should Patrick's proposal be put into effect because they can provide fuel at a lower cost.

"Being on Route 1, we're first in line coming into the state," said Tim Harden, assistant manager of Seacoast One Stop. "We're the first station on the strip, and I would expect an increase (in business from Bay State residents)."

Morzia Kahn, owner of Richdale Convenience Store, said if the tax hike goes through, she would also expect a slight increase in the number of Massachusetts patrons.

Mark Fay, of Seabrook Plaza Prime, said he would similarly expect an increase in out-of-state customers. "We get quite a few now as it is," said Fay.

"Consumers are geared towards finding the best deal," said Tai Freligh, communications manager for the N.H. Department of Travel and Tourism. "If that means going a few minutes across the border, they probably will."

Approximately $500 million would be raised annually by implementing the tax increase in Massachusetts, unidentified members of the Patrick administration told The Boston Globe. This move would allow the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to hold off on increasing fares and cutting services, while providing the state with funds to pay for basic road and bridge operations, The Globe reported.

This would be the second gas tax increase in Massachusetts since 1991.


Photo by Boston Herald file

"Monday morning briefing"
By Hillary Chabot, Monday, March 2, 2009,, Local Politics

An electricians’ union hoping to convince Gov. Deval Patrick to stop funneling taxpayer dollars into local biotechnology companies might want to rethink the man they’ve chosen to head up their organization. Ray Rogers, a top labor activist championing the opposition, was also behind the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. The group mercilessly tore into Gov. Patrick because of his work as the classic soda company’s lawyer. Not exactly someone in a position to nab the governor’s ear.

Chapters of Deval

Patrick will be touring the state this week to sell his transportation plan to municipal leaders. The controversial proposal has been met with tough opposition in places like the Merrimac Valley, where commuters who don’t depend on the Massachusetts Turnpike have bristled at a 19-cent gas-tax hike.

The lone Republican with Holly Robichaud

Are you suffering from PMSS - Post Massive Spending Stress? Sorry to tell you, but it is going to last longer than a few days. In fact, we will be passing this syndrome on to the next generation if President Obama’s budget is not drastically reduced and his housing bailout program derailed. Help fight for the cure by taking two aspirin and calling your congressional representative to protest. Don’t suffer in silence.

Question of the week:

Should the Turnpike Authority refund FastLane users who have been overcharged because of the agency’s faulty equipment?

Last week’s question:

Should the gas tax be tied to the consumer price index as Gov. Patrick suggests in his transportation reform plan?

Yes: 14 percent, No: 86 percent

“The Clueless Leadership in the State House should be cutting spending and not hitting up the taxpayers for more money. We all have to live within our means, state government is no different,” one reader opined.

Dish under the dome

Lawmakers have a load of work in front of them, including bills to close the budget deficit, reform ethics, and shake up the state’s transportation system. A roiling battle to appoint new House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) set the Legislature back, however, and all of the proposals are still waiting for review.

Obama in office

President Obama plans to meet with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week to discuss the global economic crisis while the Republican congressional delegation continues to tear into his $3.6 trillion budget unveiled last week.
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Photo by Mike Adaskaveg
Gov. Deval Patrick’s ratings appear to have taken a serious nosedive following months of tax hike announcements.

"Governor Deval Patrick ratings sink like a stone"
By Hillary Chabot, March 7, 2009,, Local Politics

Gov. Deval Patrick’s ratings appear to have taken a serious nosedive following months of tax hike announcements, but one politico said the new SurveyUSA poll might not be reliable.

Roughly 68 percent of the 600 people questioned in the poll say they are dissatisfied with Patrick’s job as governor. That’s up 21 points from a poll in January.

“I think the poll vastly exaggerates the level of dissatisfaction with Gov. Patrick,” said Tufts political professor Jeff Berry. “SurveyUSA polls are very primitive and you’d have to do a lot more searching questions to really accurately access the level of support.”

The automated voice “robo-poll” method is considered less accurate than live polling. A SurveyUSA representative could not be reached for comment.

The poll found women in particular soured on the governor, with 31 percent rating him favorably, down from a 54 percent favorable rating in January.

Democratic consultant Michael Shea said the high unemployment and the number of taxes unveiled by Patrick also must have hurt his favorability. “It’s never popular to ask people to reach into their pockets, regardless of how necessary it is,” he said.
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(Jason Lee for The Boston Globe)

"Together we won't: The governor plans to improve education by merging school districts. But other states have tried it - and it doesn't work."
By Elaine McArdle, The Boston Globe, Ideas, March 8, 2009

IN THE ONGOING effort to fix America's ailing schools, one of the most popular ideas is to shrink the number of school districts.

The country once had more than 130,000 independent districts managed by local communities. Merging them into larger units, advocates said, would lead to a more efficient system, reducing costs while offering students more opportunities and producing better academic results. This approach, part of a larger movement to standardize schools, reduced the number of districts by 90 percent between 1930 and 1970.

With budgets under fire, consolidation is again gaining traction as a way to save money. Today, more than a dozen states - including Maine and Vermont - have seriously considered or already implemented plans for fewer, larger districts. And last June, when Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts announced his comprehensive education reform agenda, he made consolidation a top priority. Reducing the number of districts will improve the quality of education, he has said. Virtually every district in the state is a candidate for consolidation if it's determined that merging with another district would benefit its academic performance, according to J.D. LaRock, chief policy adviser for the state education office.

But a wave of research from around the country shows that consolidation does not improve schools or lead to better academic results. Spending on education does not go down; indeed, budgets often balloon with increased transportation costs and more administrators to run enlarged districts. Consolidation leads to schools closing and to bigger schools, with less parental involvement and community participation. And, in many parts of the United States, it has led to children on unconscionable bus rides lasting several hours a day.

"There is either no advantage or actually a disadvantage to making these enormous uber-districts," says Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., who has conducted two major studies on consolidation. "They just don't help kids."

As a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University several years ago, Christopher R. Berry became intrigued with the idea that district consolidation was, in his words, "arguably the most profound reform movement in 20th-century education." Yet almost no one had studied its effects on students.

Now an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago, Berry set out to fill that vacuum. Focusing on 1930 to 1970, the most intense period of consolidation in the United States, he found that consolidation of districts inevitably resulted in the consolidation of schools - closing schools and moving to bigger schools. With regard to student achievement, consolidation was "generally negative," he says, because dropout rates and wages earned by graduates got worse following mergers. (There was no standardized testing of student performance at the time.) His study, "Growing Pains: The School Consolidation Movement and Student Outcomes," co-authored with Martin R. West and published in 2008 in the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, also concluded that spending on education did not decrease following consolidation.

These findings challenged the entire consolidation movement, which was spearheaded with almost no critical inquiry by state officials and educational administrators, says Berry. "They seem to be convinced, almost as a matter of professional ideology, that bigger must be better," he says.

Several years ago, when Michigan began promoting consolidation, the Cato Institute's Coulson undertook a study there and in three other states and reached the same conclusion as Berry. If the goal is to improve academics, there is "no advantage whatsoever to either breaking up districts or consolidating districts," says Coulson. A 2007 study by Indiana University researchers found student achievement is not improved by consolidation; a 2008 study in Iowa found dropout rates did not decline after district mergers.

Proponents insist that larger districts are cheaper. In theory, big districts can achieve efficiencies of scale with lower per-pupil costs because fixed expenses are spread among a larger student body, and bigger districts have the power to negotiate better prices for supplies and utilities. But studies show the anticipated savings usually don't materialize. Like Berry's research, the Iowa study, by Brian Knight at Brown University and Nora Gordon at the University of California, San Diego, found per-pupil spending did not decrease after consolidation. It is true that very small districts - with fewer than 500 students, say - are the most expensive on a per-pupil basis, and merging them has the potential to significantly reduce per-pupil costs. But these districts represent a tiny fraction of any state's educational budget, so combining them has minimal effect on total costs, says John Yinger of Syracuse University, who in 2001 published with William Duncombe a study of district consolidation in New York State.

Moreover, there's no guarantee that consolidating even tiny districts will save money, Yinger emphasizes: The very process of consolidation is expensive, including new buildings and the often-substantial financial incentives states give to local communities to encourage mergers. Transportation costs can skyrocket with hauling kids to schools farther away. If there are cost savings, they often don't show up for a decade or more, according to Yinger, whose study was published as a working paper for the Center for Policy Research at Syracuse. Moreover, there was no indication that any money saved was funneled back into schools to improve academics, he says.

Meanwhile, Coulson has data that should give consolidation proponents real pause. If states are truly serious about cost savings, they should be focusing on breaking up big districts rather than combining smaller ones, he says. In Michigan, breaking up districts larger than 3,000 students would save the state 12 times as much as merging small ones: $363 million a year versus $31 million a year, he found. Yet there's rarely any discussion of this option, in Massachusetts or elsewhere.

Governor Patrick is on an ambitious schedule. He wants a substantial reduction in the Commonwealth's 329 districts, although he hasn't settled on the ideal number and district size, and legislation to that end will be introduced in the next year to 18 months, according to Secretary of Education Paul Reville. The governor and his administration are convinced that fewer districts will translate into better academics: each district will be larger, and larger districts perform better, they say.

In December, the governor's office released a study that found that larger districts in Massachusetts were academically outpacing smaller ones. Specifically, it found that on a continuum, districts closer to 5,000 pupils were more likely to have eighth-graders who perform better on the MCAS than smaller districts, as well as lower rates of student absenteeism.

"It's not all on one side, but there are some key indicators on which it does appear large districts have an advantage," says LaRock, primary author of the report. (The national studies on consolidation and research from other states are not particularly relevant, he argues, saying each state has a different educational structure.)

But a competing report in Massachusetts has found that small districts achieve better academic results. Last September, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents' Small and Rural School District Task Force completed a yearlong study that examined student performance in the Commonwealth. It found that the graduation rates in small districts were 6.5 percent higher than the state average, and small districts had a lower dropout rate and better attendance rates. Only 6 percent of small districts were considered "underperforming," compared with 20 percent statewide, according to standards set by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The 10th-grade MCAS is a more important indicator than the eighth-grade scores, the task force believes, and here smaller districts have an advantage. "On the 10th-grade MCAS, the small districts outperformed the midsized and large," says Nicholas Young, superintendent in Hadley and a vocal opponent of forced consolidation. "Some of the highest-performing districts are at or under 1,000 students."

If saving money is the goal, says Young, there are many studies that support effective but less-drastic approaches that keep schools in local hands, such as purchasing collaboratives, in which independent districts join together to buy supplies or utilities, or share certain teachers or administrators. In Maine, consolidation opponents are pushing this option. Reville says he is open to this approach but says it doesn't substitute for consolidation because fewer districts will lead to better schools through streamlined administration and centralized control over education.

"When we talk about thinking and acting like a school system instead of system of schools, I think of places like Maryland, where [the state superintendent of schools] can get 24 superintendents around a table a couple of times a month if she needs to talk about educational policy . . . to get everyone on the same page, to connect it with a system of higher education," Reville says. "There are operational advantages."

For more than 80 years, well-intentioned people have been trying to make schools better this way. And it seems logical.

It just doesn't work.
Elaine McArdle is a writer in Cambridge.

"Governor Deval Patrick asks utilities to delay shutoffs"
by The Republican Newsroom, Wednesday March 11, 2009

BOSTON - Citing the poor economy and high energy costs, Gov. Deval L. Patrick is asking electrical and natural gas companies to extend until May 1 the current ban on shutting off services for low income, elderly and disabled residents.

Under regulations by the state Department of Public Utilities, the existing ban on utilities for terminating service for nonpayments for the vulnerable extends until March 15, the Patrick administration said in a press release.



"Deval Patrick awards state senator a $175,000 job"
March 12, 2009, 1:13 P.M., By Frank Phillips, Boston Globe Staff

Governor Deval Patrick has awarded one of his earliest political supporters, State Senator Marian Walsh, a $175,000 job as an assistant director at a state bonding authority, despite declaring in the past that he would not honor patronage appointment requests from lawmakers.

The board of the Massachusetts Health and Education Facilities Authority, which is dominated by Patrick appointees, will approve the appointment at its meeting this afternoon, a senior administration official confirmed today. Walsh's office confirmed the appointment after an inquiry from the Globe.

Walsh, a 54-year-old Democrat from West Roxbury, had originally been slated to take over as executive director but a Globe story, written after the newspaper obtained an internal e-mail from a Walsh adviser to Patrick's chief of staff, forced the administration to back down. The plan at the time was for her to replace the current director, Benson T. Caswell, who has extensive experience in public bonding and nonprofit debt.

Last May, Walsh's adviser, Michael Goldman, had emailed Patrick's chief of staff Doug Rubin, outlining an apparent agreement to appoint her to Caswell's $225,000 job by September. ''Is this still the game plan? If so great!'' wrote Goldman.

Walsh, the Senate majority whip, is currently paid $76,000 a year. She had been looking to give up her seat for a state job for several years. Senate sources have said her relationship with Senate President Therese Murray has been strained. She has served in the Senate since her election in 1992. She had served two terms in the House.

Walsh holds a theological degree from Harvard Divinity School and a law degree from Suffolk University. She has broad exposure to state finances and financial regulation. She served as Senate chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Joint Committee on Banks and Banking. She also led efforts in the Senate to force private, nonprofit organizations to open their books to the public.

Walsh had applied to Patrick's Judicial Nominating Commission to become a District Court judge. But she withdrew her name a year ago. The governor appointed her husband -- Paul V. Buckley, a retired District Court judge -- to the state's Industrial Accident Board, a post that pays $113,000 a year.

The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, ADRIAN WALKER
"A pledge forgotten"
By Adrian Walker, Boston Globe Columnist, March 17, 2009

Deval Patrick has neatly adapted to the culture of the State House, the one he said he planned to overhaul.

That's the only conclusion to be drawn from his decision to give state Senator Marian Walsh a $175,000 job to help run a state bonding authority.

Walsh, a veteran lawmaker from West Roxbury who has been out of favor with leadership for several years, is supposedly being assigned to usher in a new era of transparency at the state Health and Education Facilities Authority. Given that Walsh declined to speak to the Globe about her new job last week, it seems fair to say the transparency movement is off to a rocky start.

This is a job that has been vacant for 12 years, which is pretty much the definition of a nonessential job.

This deal was cut by Walsh's longtime Svengali, political consultant Michael Goldman. Any doubt about that was put to rest long ago.

Last June, the Globe reported on a detailed memo from Goldman to Patrick's chief of staff, outlining a plan to install Walsh as chairwoman of the agency, replacing the incumbent, Benson Caswell.

Under Goldman's vision, the governor would pack the agency's board with members who "share the governor's values." These highly principled souls would then remove Caswell and replace him with Walsh.

That plan fell apart after becoming public, partly because Caswell would have been due a huge payout if he were removed before the end of his term. So the backup plan is going into effect, installing Walsh in a long-vacant deputy's job with the understanding that she is really in charge.

Walsh, unlike Caswell, has no experience in the bond business. Her qualifications, supposedly, are that she chaired the taxation and banking committees in the Senate. To be fair, she has been an effective and occasionally brave lawmaker. But, like most politicians, this would-be reformer has, in fact, never run anything. The closest she has come is an administrative job in the Suffolk district attorney's office, years ago. She wouldn't be a finalist in a real search.

Patrick administration officials stress that HEFA is self-funded, and that her years there will not boost her state pension. That doesn't change the fact that she is being handed a $99,000 raise for a job lots of other people are probably more qualified to do.

But Walsh supported Patrick in 2006 when nearly all of the Legislature was committed elsewhere. Apparently his gratitude knows no bounds.

It is no secret that Walsh has been trying to bail out of the Senate ever since her bid to become its president was rebuffed. Somehow, actually leaving government doesn't seem to have ever occurred to her.

Patrick must have long since regretted his pledge not to hire any legislators, since he abandoned it. I have no problem with that - frankly, it was a silly, pandering pledge. There is no reason why legislators should be automatically disqualified from the executive branch. But this is ridiculous. At a time of rising fees, tolls, and taxes and constant complaints of poverty from the State House, you don't suddenly stick your pal into a job at $175,000 a year.

Over the weekend, I heard a lot of people express surprise that Patrick seems so "tone-deaf" about how something like this would be received. But this is not just a perception problem, it is a reality problem. The idea that fixing the way we do our bond business is the most pressing problem facing state government, and that Marian Walsh is just the person to fix it, would be laughable if it weren't so depressing.

But we should know by now what politicians mean when they talk about reform: nothing. Taking care of the people who took care of you is the essence of political business as usual. Reform is for suckers.
Adrian Walker is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

"Parents ring Deval Patrick’s bell over school cuts: Rally to protest lack of federal funds"
By Richard Weir, Tuesday, March 24, 2009,, Local Politics

“Patrick to Boston: Drop dead!”

That’s the message that will appear on a banner to be hoisted in the State House Thursday as hundreds of furious Boston parents rally to protest Gov. Deval Patrick’s move to cut the Hub out of $168 million in state stabilization funds to school districts.

“People are so angry. The Patrick administration, by these decisions, is crippling the Boston public schools system,” said Karina Meiri, a Tufts cell biology professor who is one of the founding organizers of BPS Parents, a volunteer advocacy group that is taking on the governor.

The group was launched in January when parents of Boston Latin School students grew alarmed the school was facing a 17 percent budget cut, and has since grown to 1,000 members from schools citywide.

Meiri, mother of a junior at Boston Latin, and other parents are incensed that Patrick, in divvying up the state’s share of federal stabilization funds, gave wealthy districts such as Wellesley and Belmont a combined $2.6 million while Boston got nothing. Boston is facing as many as 550 school layoffs.

“You can’t just freeze us out like that. We are the biggest school system in the state. And we are one of the most needy school systems in the state,” Meiri said. “I don’t think that’s what Obama had in mind . . . I think he had wanted to prevent as many layoffs as he could, not giving people money to make fabulous schools more fabulous.”

State education officials said federal law required the state to give cities and towns their portions of the $168 million in stabilization funds based on “foundation levels” that use a formula that takes into account changes in a district’s enrollment, demographics and low-income status.

Boston is expected to receive some federal stimulus - apart from the stabilization funds - that can be used in part for general education expenses, including $10.2 million in IDEA grants for special education and another $17 million for lowincome students.

Of the $994 million in federal stabilization funds headed to the state over the next two years, the federal government is mandating that nearly 82 percent, or $813 million, must be devoted to education funding, leaving another $645 million to be allotted.

State Education Secretary Paul Reville yesterday said Boston could still receive more federal stimulus funds. “We are trying to be conservative in what we announced out front,” he said. “It would be a mistake to take that figure as a set final figure.”
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"Are we being punked, Deval?"
By Howie Carr, Friday, March 27, 2009,, Columnists

The hack du jour is Steve Crosby, a career coatholder currently collecting $172,000 a year at the public trough.

I’ve been keeping an eye on this 63-year-old hack’s hack since 2001, when he attended some thumb-sucking conference and said:

“The Howie Carrs of the world, in my view, should go to jail.”

Because, you see, nobody should write anything bad about payroll patriots like, well, Steve Crosby.

“There is a predisposition that - if you’re in this business, you’re a slimeball.”

God forbid somebody should criticize the likes of, say, Sen. Marian Walsh. She’s a fine person, probably would have become a nun, except she couldn’t handle the vow of poverty.

I mention Crosby today only because he has just been handed yet another big assignment. Gov. Free-fall Deval Patrick has asked him to conduct a review of the salaries and benefits at those quasi-public authorities like Massport and the Pike, and all the alphabet-soup acronym agencies like MHEFA.

Surely, this is a gag, an early April Fools’ Day joke. How else can you explain Deval ordering up a review of the hackerama from a hack who has publicly opined that anyone who attempts to ferret out waste, fraud and abuse in the public sector should be locked up?

I’m sure in his probe Crosby will leave no stone unturned, except of course the ones that Sen. Walsh, the Aloisi siblings, Tom Kinton and all the rest are hiding under.

Crosby is perfect for this job. See, he’s a Republican - a house Republican. Think David Gergen, only smarmier. Crosby is so desperate to please his Democrat masters that sometimes he goes overboard. Last year, they put him on another one of their blue-ribbon commissions, to grease the skids for some pay raises for hack judges and their political patrons.

The chairman of that panel was Paul Guzzi, the $429,600-a-year head of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Guzzi was most recently seen demanding an even higher increase in the gas tax than Deval wants - 25 cents. Providing cover, you might say.

Anyway, last year Guzzi and Crosby suggested jacking up the salaries of the speaker and the Senate president to $160,000 - a 70 percent increase. Even Sal DiMasi was embarrassed.

Crosby’s current job is “dean” of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at UMass, whatever that is. Crosby is basically serving time to get himself a state pension. See, Crosby cashed out his 2000-03 contributions that he made when he was working for Jane Swift. He’s been chowing down at UMass since June 2006, but he still needs another five-plus years, and he’ll have to buy back those three earlier years.

So by God he’s got to keep this job - his kiss in the mail is at stake. You couldn’t pry him out of the trough with the Jaws of Life. And so he’ll provide them the report they need - that our public servants in the public authorities are woefully underpaid.

Hey, Deval, are you sure this isn’t an April Fools’ joke?
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The Boston Globe, Op-Ed
"Governor, the ball's in your court"
By Joan Vennochi, Globe Columnist, March 29, 2009

CALL IT the curse of high expectations. Governor Deval Patrick is finding out what happens when hope meets the reality.

Only 34 percent of voters surveyed in a recent Suffolk University poll believe the governor deserves reelection. That vote of no confidence reflects the gap between what voters hoped Patrick would accomplish and their current view of his achievements.

Patrick ran an inspirational campaign as a political outsider who relished taking on entrenched Beacon Hill interests.

Hope over fear. Together we can. A different kind of politics.

Those phrases propelled him to victory as the state's first African-American governor and the first Democratic governor in 16 years. Yet two-plus years into his first term, it's hard to imagine another Massachusetts candidate winning state office solely on the basis of such sweet-sounding slogans.

His high-minded rhetoric started losing altitude soon after his election.

What Patrick viewed as trivial decisions to lease a Cadillac and put up new office drapes led to serious questions about just how different a politician he would be. His first year agenda was stifled by a speaker of the House with an agenda of his own. Patrick squandered time and energy on a push for casinos that disappointed progressive supporters and failed in the face of opposition from then-Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi.

Only after DiMasi was weakened by ethics-related investigations was Patrick able to muscle through some initiatives of his own. Then, DiMasi resigned, leaving Patrick to work out a relationship with a new House speaker at a time of fiscal crisis. Massive budget cuts are necessary and new taxes are on the table.

This year, Patrick is promising major ethics, transportation, and pension reform. Meanwhile, what Patrick first viewed as "trivial" disclosures - for example, a high-paying job given to a state senator who is also a Patrick supporter - undercut his reformer image and took on the same negative symbolism as the Cadillac and curtains.

As a candidate, he reveled in words and symbols. As governor, he often finds them beneath his dignity.

Voters are disappointed, as a result. Unfortunately, Patrick interprets disappointment as cynicism.

But disappointment is what happens when people let down their guard and believe, even for one election cycle, that a politician can be different, as advertised. If it turns out to be business as usual, why shouldn't they feel betrayed?

It is Patrick's responsibility to give Massachusetts voters a reason to keep the faith. From the big picture to the small, he should engage in a daily battle of message and massage with as much zest as he did as a candidate.

Patrick can't lower property taxes, as he promised during the governor's race. Indeed, he wants to increase the gas tax. It's not a popular cause. But there should be some respect for a governor who is willing to tell people the unpleasant fiscal truth. For years, a succession of governors declined to do that and state lawmakers gladly kept on their blinders.

Patrick is starting to explain why he believes state Senator Marian Walsh is needed at the Health and Educational Facilities Authority. His explanation, that this is an out-of-control authority led by an antireform holdover from the Romney administration, comes much too late to defuse the criticism. But during a Thursday night town hall meeting broadcast by New England Cable News, Patrick made an eloquent case for giving Walsh a chance.

Thanks to Patrick's close relationship with President Obama, Massachusetts is receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus money. In just the past week, Patrick announced $764 million for healthcare, $168 million for Massachusetts schools, $280 million for special education funding, and $162 million for higher education, which allowed UMass to roll back increases in student fees. The Patrick administration also announced eight infrastructure projects, and broke ground on the Chelsea Street Bridge, which will immediately produce 150 construction jobs.

With that money comes a duty to spend it responsibly. Patrick should do everything to avoid a Big Dig fiasco of his own.

Hope alone won't cut it anymore. This governor needs results.
Joan Vennochi can be reached at

State Senator Marian Walsh

"Walsh won't take state job" - March 31, 2009, 3:43 P.M., By Frank Phillips, Boston Globe Staff

Ending 10 days of political turmoil for Governor Deval Patrick, state Senator Marian Walsh announced today she will not accept a $120,000-a-year position at a state authority, saying the public outrage over her appointment has created a ''tsunami'' that has forced her to change her mind.

''I feel I have become the issue,'' said Walsh, who appeared with Patrick at a quickly convened media availability at the State House.

She denied that Patrick, who has been politically damaged by controversy, or his aides, had prevailed upon her to step aside from taking the position at The Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority.

The Globe, citing internal emails, reported on Saturday that Patrick aides, despite attempts by the governor's staff and allies to portray the hiring as HEFA's decision, engineered Walsh's appointment. She was initially offered $175,000 a year salary. But she asked for a $55,000 reduction following the initial public outcry.

Patrick said he was ''relieved'' at Walsh decision because of the public anger that had been aimed at Walsh.

''We've been hammered,'' he said. But he also said he regrets that Walsh will not take the job as the agency's assistant director because she would have been a ''change agent'' at the agency.

''I wish we had handled it different,'' said Patrick, who put his arm around Walsh at one point to demonstrate his support for her. ''It's been very painful.''


The Boston Globe, Op-Ed
"Patrick's political pit"
By Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe Columnist, April 1, 2009

THE First Rule of Holes goes this way: When you're in one, stop digging.

Yesterday, Governor Patrick finally put his shovel down.

He and state Senator Marian Walsh met the press outside his office, where Walsh announced that she wouldn't take the job as assistant executive director at the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority (HEFA).

Her withdrawal, the second exercise in damage control in recent days over the controversial, administration-engineered appointment, was done with the usual thank-yous and regrets and attempts at face-saving.

Still, the political pit Patrick dug for himself on this one reaches halfway to China.

Certainly this episode demolishes the notion that the governor has finally acquired a working political antenna. If this farce had a title, it would be: The Gang That Couldn't Keep Its Story Straight.

When I interviewed Walsh on March 13 about her selection for the then-$175,000 position, I noted that it looked as though Patrick was merely rewarding an early political ally with a patronage post. "I can appreciate how someone who is cynical and not informed of this particular dynamic may think that," said Walsh.

But more information about this particular dynamic only made people more cynical.

Back then, Walsh asserted that her qualifications had carried the day. "The governor was impressed with a number of things in my skill set," she said.

Ah, "skill set." It sounds so fresh. So clean. So smart. So very meritocratic. Perhaps that's why the term was on the tip of HEFA's tongue as well.

"Is she the best person in the world? That is for others to decide," HEFA board chairman Allen Larson told me on the same day. "But . . . she is very responsive to the skill set we wanted to add to our mix."

Alas for the party line, the Globe's Frank Phillips reported on Saturday that Doug Rubin, Patrick's chief of staff, had rewritten the job description HEFA had provided, shrinking the authority's expansive two-pager to one paragraph, and thereby transforming a job that required some expertise in tax-exempt capital financing into a post fit for a politico.

No doubt that retrofitting makes perfect sense in the world of patronage politics. Still, it's not how things are generally done in the private sector. There, oddly enough, the thinking is that a new hire should increase the value of the enterprise, and not vice versa.

But at least now we have an answer to Larson's rhetorical question. Since the descriptive bar had to be lowered for Walsh, I think we can definitively say, no, she was not the best person in the world.

Or even the second, third, fourth, or 4,444th best. Not even with the $55,000 salary reduction the administration had announced in an attempt to make Walsh's installation in the long-vacant job more palatable.

In my interview with Larson, I said that Walsh's hiring looked like it had been orchestrated by the governor's office.

"I would deny that," he said. "We have been looking for the additional staff expertise since I got on the board. We have been working with the administration to figure that out. But I do not consider this an orchestrated matter."

Certainly not. Not unless by orchestrate, one means "to arrange or control the elements of, as to achieve a desired overall effect." Which is how one dictionary defines the term.

Even Beacon Hill's other Democrats had shied away from specifically endorsing this appointment.

"She'll be a good addition wherever she goes," was Senate President Therese Murray's wary answer on Monday.

Speaker Robert DeLeo took refuge in a cloud of octopus-ink English. "I can only answer in terms of people that are responsible for my hiring or salary structure," said he.


Luckily, I'm learning to speak DeLenglish, so I can translate: You're not dragging me into this.

So now, with Walsh having retreated back to the Senate, the governor is left to climb back out of the hole he's dug for himself.

Why do I find myself wondering whether doing so is in his . . . skill set?
Scot Lehigh can be reached at

The Boston Globe, Op-Ed
"Walsh isn't the real problem"
By Joan Vennochi, April 2, 2009

NOW THAT we don't have Marian Walsh to kick around anymore, how about kicking around the larger issue of secretive state agencies stocked with richly paid executives who answer to practically no one?

Politically speaking, Walsh sleeps with the fishes. After two tumultuous weeks, the state senator from West Roxbury abandoned her appointment to what was originally a $175,000 position at the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority. Now, she must rebuild her reputation with constituents, as well as her relationship with Senate President Therese Murray, who supposedly wanted her out of the Senate after beating her for the top leadership post.

In backing Walsh, Governor Deval Patrick said the agency known as "HEFA" needed reform. But he never explained what was wrong with it, or why she is the best person to fix it. Absent evidence to the contrary, the public concluded this was simply a case of a governor slipping a political supporter into a make-believe job as assistant executive director. The position had gone unfilled for 12 years, undercutting the urgency argument.

From the start, it was the wrong way to address a legitimate concern - what to do about the patchwork of more than 50 quasi-independent agencies in Massachusetts that oversee funding and infrastructure.

How many does Massachusetts need? How much overlap is there? What's the correct balance between political independence and political accountability?

After Walsh gave up her appointment, the HEFA board released a statement describing itself as "a true model of efficiency" and "the largest issuer of tax-exempt bonds in the state and the sixth largest in the nation." Translation: HEFA is fine with the status quo.

Patrick wants to merge HEFA with the Massachusetts Development Finance Authority, another secretive body in the Bay State's quasi-public galaxy. The administration argues that they compete with each other for business. As a result, they offer discounted fees to institutions that benefit from their financing services. The administration estimates the competition adds up to lost revenue fees of about $6 million.

In a recent op-ed published on this page, Marvin Gordon, HEFA's vice chairman, and Robert J. Ciolek, a former executive director of the authority, argued against the merger. They described it as a mere power and revenue grab by Patrick.

Maybe it's a bad idea, maybe it isn't. Who knows for sure? A public debate on the merits would be welcome. At the moment, all that's clear is that each entity has a vested interest in maintaining its empire, the better to remain a comfortable repository for the politically connected of any given gubernatorial era.

Allen R. Larson, HEFA's current chairman, was appointed to the board in 2002 and served on it during the Romney years. Larson, who took over as chairman during Patrick's term, is married to Gloria Larson, president of Bentley University and a one-time Republican who switched her party affiliation to unenrolled when she backed Patrick.

Benson Caswell, HEFA's current executive director, is another holdover from the Romney administration. His base salary is $225,000 a year. Additional benefits, approved by the HEFA board, include a car allowance, free health club membership, T pass, cellphone, and parking spot. If he is terminated, he qualifies for a nearly $500,000 severance package. Caswell oversees 16 full-time employees, who out-source all the actual bond work.

Caswell's salary is not a public appropriation; it comes out of transactional fees generated by HEFA. But that doesn't eliminate questions about the Bay State's plethora of quasi-public agencies, and the wide range of compensation from one to another.

Patrick is trying to gain control of agencies like HEFA. If his efforts are painted as control for the sake of patronage versus control for the sake of reform, he loses a big political battle.

So far, he's losing the political battle. He needs charts, graphs, and an overarching narrative to explain what he's trying to accomplish and why the public should support him after the Walsh debacle.

Walsh is right about one thing. The ill-fated plan to send her to political nirvana - a high-paying post at a quasi-independent state agency - diverted attention from the real issue: How much political nirvana is too much for Massachusetts?
Joan Vennochi can be reached at

"Deval Patrick’s hackapalooza: Four Patrick administration staffers land in big-bucks gigs"
By Hillary Chabot, Thursday, April 2, 2009,, Local Politics

Gov. Deval Patrick has stashed four staffers in big-bucks jobs at several of the quasi-public agencies he is now vowing to reform - including one post worth a jaw-dropping $190,000 a year, the Herald has learned.

Patrick ordered up a probe of salaries at quasi-public agencies last week as taxpayer outrage peaked over his tapping of Sen. Marian Walsh for a long-vacant $175,000-a-year post with the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority.

But four Patrick administration staffers have landed at quasi-public agencies:

Pat Cloney, a former director under Patrick’s administration at the Massachusetts office of business development, as the $190,000-a-year interim executive director at a newly created agency called the Clean Energy Center.

Michael Morris, Patrick’s legislative liaison, as the $119,000a-year public relations director at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

Edwin Carr, former chief of staff at the economic development department, as the $110,000-a-year executive director at the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment.

Chuck Anderson, who served as Patrick’s policy director, as a $95,000-a-year senior adviser with the Massachusetts Technology Collaboration.

“I guess the dirty little secret in Massachusetts is that these quasis aren’t independent at all. They are very much taking their cues from the governor’s office,” said Sen. Richard R. Tisei (R-Wakefield). “These are plum patronage positions that the governor has at his disposal.”

Walsh, a Patrick political backer, abandoned her post Tuesday.

Administration officials defended the other appointments.

Cloney was appointed to his post at the Clean Energy Center in December. Created as part of the Green Jobs Act in 2008, the agency authorizes state grants for non-profits working on clean-energy technology.

There were no other candidates for the position, said Robert Keough, a spokesman for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and Cloney was selected by a board including key Patrick Cabinet members.

Cloney’s position was created by the Legislature, but the statute, which Patrick signed in 2008, did not specify the salary.

Cloney worked previously as vice president at Susquehanna Capital Management, where he managed four portfolio companies, and as a partner at Clear Power Ventures, where he focused on early stage energy.

At the MWRA, administration officials noted that Morris is paid thousands less than the previous public relations director. Officials called Carr’s business development appointment a lateral move. The salary is equal to Carr’s former post.

At MassTech, spokeswoman Emily Dahl said the agency received “zero pressure from the governor’s office to hire Mr. Anderson. He has a unique combination of state policy experience and expertise in international law. He was perfect for this job and we are lucky to have him.”
Article URL:

"Deval Patrick’s Green Team on gravy train"
By Dave Wedge / Pols & Politics, Sunday, April 5, 2009, - Local Politics

Gov. Deval Patrick has been taking a beating for steering a string of cronies into government gigs.

But an agency headed by a Patrick pal, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, has been quietly building an army of six-figure civil servants.

EOEA secretary Ian Bowles, who’s known around the Golden Dome as Patrick’s squash partner, has padded his payroll with 10 workers making $100,000-plus and another 10 making $90,000-plus. That’s double the six-figure earners in the gov’s own office.

Plus Bowles makes $150,000, which is more than Attorney General Martha Coakley ($133,000) and Treasurer Tim Cahill ($130,000).

Among the top paid EOEA officials are Jane Corr, a former member of Patrick’s campaign finance committee who is now Bowles’ $115,000-a-year chief of staff, and former environmental lobbyist Dorothy Pizzella, who has donated $1,700 to the governor’s campaign and is now the agency’s $90,000-a-year “technical director.”

The rest of the six-figure squad:

- Deputy Secretary Ann Berwick, $118,000;

- Deputy Secretary Phillip Griffiths, $118,000;

- General Counsel Kenneth Kimmell, $115,000;

- Administrator Christian Scorzoni, $115,000;

- Assistant Secretary of Federal Affairs William White, $105,000;

- Director of Policy David Cash, $105,000;

- Environmental Law Director James Hanlon Jr., $101,877;

- Ex-Plymouth Town Manager Mark Sylvia, who recently became the agency’s $117,000-a-year “director of Green Communities.”

Sal’s hot seat

The battle to fill former Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi’s House seat is heating up and one candidate is blogging directly to voters.

Brian Ross, a former star basketball player for Boston College who played pro ball in Italy, has filed a handful of postings since launching his blog two weeks ago. The site includes entries on campaign events and explanations of stances on issues.

The 29-year-old financial executive is vying in a crowded field that includes one-time DiMasi aide Aaron Michlewitz, South End activist Susan Passoni, Suffolk University human resources exec Ryan Higginson, attorney Lucy Rivera and real estate broker John Keith, who’s running as an independent.

Cheryl in action

Becoming an administrative judge apparently hasn’t halted former state Sen. Cheryl Jacques’ work as a gay rights activist.

Jacques, who makes $94,000 in her judicial post at the Department of Industrial Accidents, spoke about same-sex marriage and civil rights at a University of Pennsylvania Law School event this week sponsored by a gay rights group.
Listen to “Pols & Politics” with Dave Wedge Mondays at 7 p.m. on “Monday Night Talk” with Sen. Bob Hedlund on 95.9 FM WATD. Send tips to

The tools Governor Deval L. Patrick may use to affect the economy tend to be unpopular. Most poll respondents are concerned state budget cuts would hurt schools, police, and fire services. (George Rizer/Globe Staff/File 2008)

"Governors limited in economic fight: Working with few options, state leaders see approval ratings suffer as recession spreads"
By Robert Gavin, Boston Globe Staff, April 7, 2009

Like many governors, Deval L. Patrick campaigned on the promise of economic growth and job creation. But now, in the midst of a historic national recession, Patrick and other governors are learning how little control they have over their state economies.

As the impact of the national downturn has spread through Massachusetts, driving the state unemployment rate to its highest level since the early 1990s, Patrick has had few options but to slash programs, lay off workers, and consider tax increases to keep the state's budget in balance, a constitutional requirement. Contrast that to President Obama, who, through the nearly $800 billion stimulus package and deficit spending projected to top $1 trillion a year, is offering middle class tax cuts and public works projects to create jobs in a bid to revive the economy.

The limits of gubernatorial power are reflected in a recent Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll that found starkly different perceptions of Patrick's and Obama's handling of the economy. While two-thirds, or 65 percent, of Massachusetts residents approved of Obama's efforts to fix the national economy, nearly as many, 58 percent, disapproved of Patrick's stewardship of the state's economy.

Other governors are suffering similar drops in approval ratings, particularly in states hard hit by the recession. In both California and Michigan, for example, only about one in three residents give positive ratings to their governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jennifer Granholm respectively, according to recent polls.

"The first lesson for any governor is to get yourself your own Federal Reserve Board," said Ralph Whitehead, a University of Massachusetts journalism professor who follows state politics. "The fiscal and monetary tools that a president has just dwarfs anything that a governor can do."

Some of Patrick's perception problems are of his own making. Residents surveyed in the recent poll cited political missteps as factors in their unfavorable view of Patrick's handling of the economy. Among them: the failed effort to appoint a political ally, state Senator Marian Walsh of West Roxbury, to a state job with a six-figure salary.

Where Obama is "giving the impression that he's battling the big CEOs," said Dana Schneider, 38, of Brookline, Patrick seems headed back "to the same old cronyism."

"It seems there's more waste and not really any change," said Schneider, an assistant retail manager. "It's still who you know."

Kyle Sullivan, Patrick's spokesman said, "The governor understands the significance of the recent issues and appreciates the concerns raised by citizens facing this difficult and uncertain economic environment."

Meanwhile, whatever tools Patrick may have to affect the economy tend to be unpopular. Three out of four surveyed in the Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll said they were concerned that state budget cuts to close the deficit would hurt local services, such as schools, police, and fire. Only 7 percent said they supported a gas tax increase of 19 cents a gallon, which Patrick recently proposed, compared to 41 percent who said they would only go as high as 5 cents a gallon and 28 percent who said they opposed any increase.

In many ways, analysts said, a governor's perceived economic performance depends on timing. In the 1990s, Republican governors William Weld and A. Paul Cellucci entered office in the midst of a US expansion, which helped carry both to reelection. In 1974, another Republican governor, Francis W. Sargent, sought reelection as the Arab oil embargo sent gasoline and other consumer prices soaring.

After his lost reelection bid to Michael S. Dukakis, Sargent blamed "the price of hamburg," said Michael Widmer, the president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a nonpartisan research group.

"When the economy is booming, governors get more credit than they deserve," Widmer said. "When it turns down, they get more blame than they deserve."

Even though the state is limited in how it can respond to the recession, Patrick is using state and federal resources, including stimulus money, to create jobs, help the unemployed, and position the state for growth once the recovery begins, said Sullivan. "The governor understands that he is governing during a time of international economic upheaval and that it is his job to help see the state through this crisis and position Massachusetts for growth when the inevitable recovery begins," he said. "He and his team are working nonstop coordinating our efforts with federal and local governments, to provide relief for struggling families in this difficult economy."

In many ways, analysts said, Obama has an advantage over Patrick in terms of timing. Because he's been in office for less than three months, citizens are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as he tackles an economic mess he didn't create. Patrick, however, is in the third year of a four-year term, and Massachusetts residents are far less willing to cut him some slack, even though the state's economic woes are the result of the national recession. "Obama is still fresh," said Paul Guzzi, president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, "but Patrick is no longer viewed as the new governor. The state's problems are his problems."

The perception of how political leaders handle the economy can encompass questions of character and leadership, said Richard Parker, a lecturer at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Patrick, like Obama, campaigned on the theme of change, Parker said, but now seems perceived as "enmeshed in the political system."

"Obama is going to get caught in the same vise if things don't improve," said Parker. "His moment of judgment will come in the late summer, early fall if we don't see some slowdown in unemployment and uptick in confidence."
Robert Gavin can be reached at

"Save government from hackery"
April 29, 2009

GOVERNOR PATRICK probably could have used more tact in issuing his surprise threat to veto the sales tax increase House members were voting on Monday. But he is right on the substance and the politics. Voters are too worried about their jobs and futures, and too furious about the ceaseless evidence of self-dealing on Beacon Hill, to willingly pay more taxes if they think it is just going to fund the same old corrupt game.

"We had better have a record of change that we can show the public," Patrick said in an interview yesterday. "Otherwise there will be political consequences, and there should be political consequences."

If Patrick sounds a bit angry, he has reason. Legislative leaders talk about "reform before revenue," but bills to close loopholes and toughen fines are stalled in committee. The House claims to have "done" pension reform, but its version of the bill protects the status quo for everyone currently employed. The Senate hasn't even taken up an ethics bill that raises criminal penalties for bribery - legislation galvanized by the alleged actions of one of its own former members, Dianne Wilkerson.

The bills to fix the state pension, ethics, and transportation systems that Patrick wants to see passed before he will entertain a sales tax hike are not just some dry "reform." They include provisions that would stop dead many of the practices that have properly enraged voters - for example, the absurd rule that allows MBTA workers to retire after 23 years with their full pensions, regardless of age.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo is also right that vulnerable people will be harmed by a $3.6 billion revenue shortfall without new taxes. And a sales tax increase that could generate $900 million has much to recommend it. But there is evidence that legislators still don't get the public's mood.

The House yesterday began adding back in to its budget programs and services that the 1.25-cent sales tax increase could cover. But along with critical programs, such as local aid, emergency rent subsidies, or drug and alcohol treatment, House members were planning to add $50 million to the so-called Quinn bill, which gives salary premiums to police officers who get criminal justice degrees, and to increase the share of healthcare premiums for state workers from 70 percent to the status-quo 80 percent.

We hope Patrick shows more of his campaign-era fire and can reengage the many disappointed residents who hoped for change when they voted for him. Like him, we believe that government can be a beneficial force in people's lives. Its mission is too important - to the struggling mother with a disabled child, to the striving first-generation college student - to let it be discredited by a few grasping special interests and a complacent legislature.


Leslie A. Kirwan is Governor Deval Patrick's secretary of administration and finance.

"Scandal raises issues for Patrick: Team's dealings with DiMasi are criticized"
By Andrea Estes and Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, June 4, 2009

The corruption indictment of former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi contains what critics are calling an unflattering behind-the-scenes look at Governor Deval Patrick's administration, depicting its officials as bowing to political pressure to award a $13 million computer software contract that was allegedly rigged.

No Patrick officials have been implicated in criminal wrongdoing. Yet the scandal, one of the biggest to roil Beacon Hill in decades, has the potential to create political problems for the governor as he pushes forward on ethics law changes and lays the groundwork for a reelection campaign.

Yesterday, critics seized on the impression that the Patrick administration, which awarded one of two Cognos ULC contracts cited in the indictment, failed to respond to a series of red flags indicating that DiMasi and others were exerting heavy influence.

"What the speaker is accused of doing is absolutely wrong - and he should be held accountable - but it takes two to tango," said House minority leader Bradley H. Jones Jr., a North Reading Republican. "Somebody in the administration knew it was important to the speaker, and somebody made the decision to go forward with it."

DiMasi is accused by federal authorities of reaping $57,000 from the software company even as his associates pushed state officials to award contracts to the firm. Three friends were also indicted. No further indictments are expected.

"There was a lot of insider baseball going on, and you wonder how the contract got approved in the first place," said Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei, a Wakefield Republican. "Was awarding that contract in the best interest of the people in Massachusetts, or was it done to placate the speaker? That's really the question."

Yesterday Patrick's office acknowledged that the administration could have acted sooner to scuttle the project. But administration officials said Patrick and his staff were unaware that DiMasi was pushing for a contract award to Cognos, and they denied any deal-making with the speaker.

"There have been absolutely no allegations by the investigators of misconduct of any kind by any senior Patrick administration official," said spokesman Joe Landolfi. "We are confident that senior administration officials acted appropriately at all times."

Landolfi declined to discuss specific allegations in the indictment, citing the ongoing federal investigation.

In the indictment, prosecutors cite at least three instances when DiMasi is alleged to have approached Leslie A. Kirwan, Patrick's secretary of administration and finance, to discuss "performance management software," the kind of software manufactured by Cognos. Prosecutors also refer to other unidentified administration officials who were in contact with DiMasi or his chief of staff, Maryann Calia.

In May 2007, the indictment says, Richard McDonough, who was a Cognos lobbyist and close friend of DiMasi's, told an unnamed "executive official" that DiMasi was keenly interested in the contract and "wanted to make sure it went to the right vendor." Sources briefed on the investigation have identified the official as David Morales, Patrick's deputy chief of staff.

Kirwan awarded the contract to Cognos in August 2007.

The administration has refused repeated requests to make Kirwan and Morales available for interviews and continued to refuse interview requests this week in the wake of Tuesday's indictments. In addition, Patrick declined an interview request yesterday.

DiMasi was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on a charge of participating in a scheme that allowed him to pocket $57,000 in payments from Cognos while making sure the company won state contracts.

Three close DiMasi associates - Cognos lobbyist McDonough, its sales agent Joseph Lally, and DiMasi's former accountant Richard Vitale - also were indicted. They each collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for their alleged help in winning multimillion-dollar Cognos contracts from the state.

The multiple corruption counts carry maximum prison terms of up to 20 years each, although federal sentencing guidelines would trim those sentences by half or more. Acting US Attorney Michael Loucks announced the indictments at a press conference Tuesday.

In the 33-page indictment, prosecutors cited numerous instances in which Kirwan or officials of the Office of Administration and Finance were alerted to DiMasi's interest in the software contract:

. Within a month after taking office in 2007, Kirwan held a meeting with acting state chief information officer Bethann Pepoli and DiMasi during which "performance management" software was discussed. Administration officials had not previously publicly acknowledged such a meeting. Cognos, according to records, donated $10,000 to Patrick's inaugural committee.

. In a March 2007 e-mail to Office of Administration and Finance officials, Pepoli wrote: "I know that Speaker DiMasi really really wants the performance management project in the emergency bond bill and will add it if we don't include it."

. Aides to the governor were involved enough to be exchanging e-mails about DiMasi's desire to have funding for the contract included in the bond bill. "I just spoke with [the speaker's chief of staff]," read an e-mail, sent on March 12, 2007. "I told her that we were including the speaker's request in the bill. She was very appreciative."

. In April or May 2007, DiMasi "contacted the Secretary of A&F and inquired how the procurement for business intelligence was going," referring to the software.

. On May 22, at a function attended by both, DiMasi told Kirwan "he wanted to call or meet with her about performance management."

Despite the repeated contact, administration officials pointed blame for the award at a holdover from the Romney administration, Pepoli. Pepoli selected the winning bidder and recommended approval to higher-level officials in a bid process that has since been found to be improper. Pepoli has since left state government and did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment.

The governor and his staff have said Patrick officials, as soon as they discovered something was amiss, referred the matter for investigation, canceled the Cognos contract, and recovered the $13 million.

In December 2007, just four months after she awarded the contract to Cognos, Kirwan asked Inspector General Gregory Sullivan to investigate. Her letter left the impression that it was the administration's decisive action that prompted Sullivan's probe. She wrote that the Patrick administration notified Sullivan as soon as it was made aware of any "possible irregularities."

Officials said yesterday that they did not know that the inspector general had already launched a probe before they contacted the office.

House Democrats made an overwhelming show of support for DiMasi in a reelection vote less than five months ago, just before he resigned in January. Yesterday, less then 24 hours after indictment of their former speaker, House Democrats retreated to a closed-door caucus, where DiMasi's successor, Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, told members he "felt like he was punched in the stomach," according to House members in attendance.

Leading Democrats, including DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray, declined to discuss the impact the indictment could have on the Patrick administration.

Patrick, Murray, and DeLeo released a joint statement calling the charges against DiMasi "deeply disturbing."

"In light of the recent developments, we believe it is critical that we stand united in our shared commitment to restoring the public trust," the statement read. "Therefore, we have agreed that ethics reform legislation will be passed and signed into law swiftly that includes the best provisions from all three of our proposals. We owe the people of Massachusetts nothing less."


The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, JOAN VENNOCHI
"The band of enablers on Beacon Hill"
By Joan Vennochi, June 4, 2009

SALVATORE F. DiMasi is an alleged crook with a slew of enablers, from fellow lawmakers to the Deval Patrick administration.

The former House speaker, and three friends, were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on fraud and conspiracy charges. DiMasi allegedly orchestrated a scheme that allowed him to pocket tens of thousands of dollars from a software company that won two state contracts with his help. Tracing an incriminating trail of checks and e-mail, the indictment lays out a sordid story.

An indictment always presents the strongest case against a defendant, who is innocent until proven guilty. This indictment reveals in devastating detail how a powerful speaker manipulated lawmakers and bullied the executive branch into delivering for himself and his friends.

There is no suggestion that lawmakers or administration aides knew DiMasi was allegedly making money off the software deal. They just knew DiMasi wanted the deal done. And that was enough.

As one of the speaker's co-indicted pals wrote in an e-mail to an executive with Cognos ULC, the software company that was working to nail the contract, "Sal said when he wants something done within his domain he is ultimately going to get what he wants."

DiMasi, alias "Coach," easily got what he wanted from the Legislature, via a $15 million provision tucked into an emergency bond bill. The speaker asked a lawmaker to file an amendment. The lawmaker did and the rest of the House and Senate went along, no questions asked.

The outcome is not surprising, given the concentration of power in the speaker's office and the concentration of power in one party. Of 160 House members, 140 are Democrats; of 40 state senators, 35 are Democrats.

Last January, as serious allegations of ethical violations swirled around DiMasi, 135 Democrats still voted to reelect him as speaker. The current House speaker, Robert DeLeo, oversaw the legislative committee that ushered through the Cognos legislation. Now DeLeo is "saddened and disappointed" by the DiMasi indictment and said it underscores "the pressing need to restore faith and trust in government."

Who has the credibility to do it? Not state lawmakers, who have a track record for doing what the leader of their respective chamber wants.

Patrick took office with a promise to change the Beacon Hill culture. Instead, his top aides were swiftly sucked into it.

Once the Legislature authorized funding for the software, the decision to procure it rested with the Patrick administration. It was up to Secretary of Administration and Finance Leslie Kirwan to approve it, and for a while she resisted. But DiMasi pushed hard and found top Patrick aides as eager to please him as his own House members.

As one of DiMasi's friends wrote, via e-mail, to a Cognos official, "We have a rogue Secretary that has some issues on how (the software) should be purchased and implemented. We are dealing with her boss and he is coaching us on how to handle the situation. Our consensus is to ride it out with her management for now and trust that they will come through."

The "boss" is a reference to David Morales, Patrick's deputy chief of staff, who isn't talking. Kirwan, who appears to be the only person who tried to stop the Cognos deal, isn't talking either.

Doug Rubin, the governor's chief of staff, said Kirwan's objections were based on price, not suspicions over DiMasi's involvement. He said she ultimately signed off on it in August 2007, only after Cognos dropped its bid by $1 million. Then, in December 2007, when concerns were raised about the procurement process, the administration referred the matter to the state inspector general. After the IG's review determined it "did not conform to relevant state laws and regulations," it was rescinded.

"I feel administration officials acted appropriately in this matter," said Rubin, who, with Morales, was called to testify before a grand jury.

The US attorney's office said no other officials will face charges in this case. So, the criminal matter ends with DiMasi and his three friends.

But Beacon Hill's enabling culture extends far beyond them.
Joan Vennochi can be reached at

"Governor says DiMasi spoke to him about software"
By Martin Finucane, Boston Globe Staff, June 4, 2009

Governor Deval Patrick said today he had talked with former House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi's about performance software, but downplayed the suggestion that DiMasi had discussed with him a particular company, Cognos ULC, that provided such software and was seeking a state contract.

"Not so much Cognos," Patrick said in an interview on WTKK-FM. "I certainly knew he was interested in this software."

DiMasi, who resigned in January, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on a charge of participating in a scheme while he was speaker that allowed him to pocket $57,000 in payments from Cognos while making sure the company won state contracts.

After his appearance on the "Ask the Governor with Jim and Margery" radio show, Patrick was more vague about his interactions with DiMasi, saying, "What I know – and I don't think this is news, either – we knew of his interest in performance management."

Patrick also defended his administration's actions in awarding one state computer contract that was allegedly rigged with DiMasi's help.

"First of all, we're the ones who called in the [Inspector General] when our team first got wind of cause for concern and I have absolute confidence that our team in every respect performed professionally and with integrity," Patrick said in the interview.

"We have been investigated by both the Inspector General and the US attorney's office because we asked them to come in and have a look at it," he said on the radio show.

Braude asked Patrick, "Did he at any point have a conversation with you, he -- DiMasi -- about his interest in Cognos getting the contract?"

Patrick: "Not so much Cognos, but I certainly knew he was interested in this software."

Braude: "From him?"

Patrick: "Oh, yeah."

Braude: "Directly?"

Patrick: "Yeah, sure."

Critics have seized on the impression that the Patrick administration, which awarded one of two Cognos contracts cited in the indictment, failed to respond to a series of red flags indicating that DiMasi and others were exerting heavy influence, the Globe reports today (6/4/2009).


The governor has hired David Plouffe as a strategic adviser as his bid for reelection next year builds momentum.

"Patrick picks Obama aide for his 2010 campaign"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, June 5, 2009

Governor Deval Patrick is tapping the architect of Barack Obama's presidential campaign to help run his bid for reelection next year, an indication of the type of political star power the governor may be able to utilize as he seeks another four-year term.

David Plouffe, who was Obama's campaign manager and is widely credited with Obama's successful run, will work as a campaign consultant focusing on Patrick's message and strategy.

"What I'm excited about is bringing about change," Plouffe said by phone yesterday. "And doing longer-term things is hard in politics. But I think he's trying to bring about a lot of reforms and has been successful about them already."

The announcement of Plouffe's role in Patrick's campaign is a sign the governor is beginning to build his campaign network and trying to put to rest doubts political insiders have raised about whether he is committed to running again.

"David Plouffe's credentials speak for themselves," said Steve Crawford, spokesman for the Patrick campaign. "It's great to have him back as part of the campaign team."

Plouffe is credited with keeping Obama's campaign a tightly run ship, building a national grass-roots network and a fund-raising powerhouse, and running the mechanics of the race. He was the quieter, behind-the-scenes operator, while campaign strategist David Axelrod, who is now in the White House as an Obama senior adviser, was more of a public face for the campaign.

Plouffe did not take a position in the Obama administration and has maintained a low profile since the conclusion of the presidential campaign. He has been doing corporate consulting work, writing a book about the campaign called "The Audacity to Win," and spending time with his family, who now live in Washington.

Plouffe is scheduled to be in Boston tonight for a fund-raiser, and is also delivering a keynote address at the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention tomorrow in Springfield.

"I feel a lot of loyalty to him," he said of Patrick. "This will be the one race I spend a lot of time on."

Plouffe's involvement could also be an indication that Obama will campaign for Patrick and help raise funds for him, as he did in 2006, when he was a rising national political star.

"We're not at that stage yet," Plouffe said. "[Obama is] obviously focused on the problems in front of the country. But the president and governor have a deep friendship, a deep amount of respect for one another."

"Deval Patrick is family to those of us in Obama world, and we're going to do all we can to help him," Plouffe added.

Plouffe and Axelrod both worked on Patrick's 2006 campaign through their Chicago-based consulting firm AKPD Message and Media. Plouffe is now a senior adviser to the firm.

The firm's current staff, which will also work on Patrick's 2010 campaign, includes John Del Cecato, who produced many of Obama's national ads during the campaign, and Larry Grisolano, who helped provide the strategic roadmap for the campaign.

Some details of Plouffe's involvement, including the cost of the contract, have not yet been worked out, according to Plouffe.

Patrick's first term has been rocky at times, and several other potential candidates are considering jumping into the race.

Christy Mihos, the only Republican who has said he plans to run, recently hired Dick Morris, a well-known conservative political consultant and commentator who was involved in campaigns for former Massachusetts governor William F. Weld.

"Good luck. Congratulations to them," said Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, who is weighing whether to run for governor next year, either as an independent or a challenger to Patrick in the Democratic primary. "I haven't thought about it beyond that. [Plouffe] seems to know what he's doing. But you have to take into account that he's not a Massachusetts guy. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't."

"I won't be discouraged or encouraged by what the governor is doing from political point of view," Cahill added. "I won't be scared out of it. If the governor runs again, which I'm sure he will, I'm sure he's going to pull out all the stops and bring in the Washington heavy-hitters."

Plouffe said strategic planning for the campaign has not yet been worked out.

But he highlighted several themes, including positioning Patrick as a change agent and a reformer.

"He's the kind of person that I think ought to be in politics," Plouffe said. "There's too few people like him, and we're going to do everything we can to help him."
Matt Viser can be reached at

"Deval Patrick should take page out of own $1.35M book"
By Howie Carr, Saturday, June 6, 2009, - Columnists

Shhhhh - keep it under your hat, because nobody’s supposed to know. But Deval Patrick grabbed an extra $382,500 last year on top of his governor’s salary of $140,535.

And Deval didn’t even report the mega-score on his annual sworn statement of financial interests to the State Ethics Commission. Surely the governor plans to close such unconscionable loopholes in his “landmark” ethics reform package.

Deval pocketed a $450,000 book advance (minus a 15 percent cut to his literary agent). But nothing was reported because a book advance apparently isn’t covered under “employment and other associations with businesses.”

Actually, Deval’s advance is $1.35 million, pretty damn good for a first-time author who’s never been on “American Idol” or tested positive for steroids. Deval will get another third of the money - $450,000 - when his (or some ghostwriter’s) manuscript is accepted, and a final $450,000 when it’s published.

So the governor continues his moonlighting - or should I say moonbatlighting. Working title: “Up From Texaco.”

No doubt he’ll be working hard on the tome this weekend out at his mansion in Richmond, after he delivers his not-at-all-anticipated speech to the Democratic state convention in Springfield.

Attending today’s dreary convention is proof that Deval is running for re-election. More evidence: the fact that his operatives, when they’re not testifying before the Sal DiMasi grand jury, continue trying to put a rocket in the pocket of Tim Cahill.

Before addressing the moonbats, Deval will attend a breakfast this morning with Rep. Mike Capuano, who seems to be running for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat against Attorney General Martha Coakley. The feds indicted another crooked House speaker this week. Martha devoted much of her week to making sure lots of moonbat delegates today are wearing her T-shirts.

Imagine Deval drafting the chapter in his book about this wonderful weekend:

“The rain had stopped. It was a beautiful spring Saturday morning - it always is for the convention. But here I was, stuck inside Hampden’s Halitosis Hall. Tim Murray, my tubby lieutenant governor, was supposed to introduce me. He was slathering butter on a blueberry muffin - by my count at least his third of the morning. ‘Tim,’ I said, ‘do you know how many calories are in those things?’ ”

Sal DiMasi gets lugged for $57,000 in payoffs. Deval is going to end up with $1.35 million for a book absolutely nobody will ever read, and he doesn’t even report the income. Where’s the justice here, Mistah Speakah?


"Blacks rally to support governor in Dorchester"
By Nandini Jayakrishna, Boston Globe Correspondent, June 19, 2009

Seeking to rebut a well-known minister’s scathing critique of Governor Deval Patrick, about 30 black citizens gathered on a Dorchester street corner yesterday to express support for Patrick’s leadership, praising his work on behalf of the state’s African-Americans.

“We’re here to support the governor and specifically to show a united front,’’ said Daniel E. Rivers, president of a Boston-based group of black male professionals who helped organize the event. “Instead of castigating the governor, we need to congregate and realize that he’s going to need our support.’’

The group, which included many members of the clergy, came together in part to respond to pointed criticism of Patrick, the state’s first black governor, by the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III, pastor of the Azusa Christian Community in Dorchester and cofounder of the Boston TenPoint Coalition. Rivers hand-delivered a 1,300-word letter to the governor’s office last week, accusing him of not doing enough to help African-American communities in Massachusetts.

“Your campaign promised the black community more opportunity and inclusion in general,’’ Rivers wrote. “Where is the promised opportunity for poor, urban blacks?’’

Yesterday, the Rev. Thomas V. Cross, a Boston-based overseer of the Church of God in Christ, dismissed Rivers’s criticism.

“He comes to town as a lone wolf, creating problems where there are no problems,’’ Cross said. “We have more access to this governor than we had access to any governor, Democrat or Republican.’’

Lawrence E. Dugan Sr., another participant in yesterday’s gathering, said Rivers was trying to further a personal agenda.

“Rev. Rivers is playing politics with the black community to try to gain some prestige,’’ Dugan said. “You can’t use the black community to play politics.’’

Yesterday, Rivers said he stood by his critique of Patrick.

“It still falls upon the governor to justify or explain his failure to provide for public safety or to elevate black justices to the bench or his rationale for the development of casinos as a resource for taxes,’’ he said in an interview.

Daniel Rivers, who is not related to Eugene Rivers, said many criticize the governor because they want instantaneous reforms.

He lauded Patrick’s efforts to invest in green technology, pointing out that such initiatives will make the state competitive nationally and globally in the long run.

Though Daniel Rivers said some might think it is too early to judge whether Patrick has “done a good job,’’ he said he would support the governor in his reelection bid next year.

“I owe it to my children to make sure he is in office,’’ he said.
Globe correspondent Stewart Bishop contributed to this report. Jayakrishna can be reached at

The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, JOAN VENNOCHI
"The Patrick approach to politics"
By Joan Vennochi, July 2, 2009

GOVERNOR Deval Patrick hired Barack Obama’s campaign manager to help run his 2010 reelection bid.

But Patrick is no Obama, as their mutual strategist, David Plouffe, must understand.

Forget the shared rhetoric, the quest for hope and change, and the similarities in their life stories. Patrick’s approach to politics and the media is the opposite of Obama’s. Politically speaking, the contrast is killing the Massachusetts governor.

The past few weeks have been relatively good ones for Patrick. He stared down Massachusetts lawmakers, who eventually came through on three critical “reform’’ packages the governor demanded - pension, ethics, and transportation.

Now the question is whether Patrick reaps any political benefit, or squanders it.

Despite grim-sounding poll numbers, Patrick still holds the advantage. He’s a Democrat in Massachusetts, and his potential challengers face an assortment of political hurdles.

State Treasurer Timothy Cahill, a fellow Democrat, is positioning himself as a fiscal conservative. But it’s hard to see how Cahill wins a Democratic primary, or, first, gets on the ballot at a state convention controlled by Patrick supporters. That forces a run as an independent.

Republican Christy Mihos ran as an independent in 2006. His campaign then was undisciplined, although Mihos might be more effective with Dick Morris, a nationally known consultant, behind him. Republican Charles Baker, the head of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, has stature in political and business circles, but is unknown beyond that.

If voters are really angry with Patrick and stay that way, anything can happen. The increase in the state sales tax could stoke an anti-Patrick movement. But, today, Massachusetts seems more disappointed than mad.

The disappointment goes back to those first weeks after Patrick’s feel-good victory as the state’s first African-American governor and the first Democrat in 16 years to win back the corner office.

Promising a different kind of politics as a candidate and delivering on it as a public official is a delicate task. The now-worn narrative about Patrick’s early missteps includes his choice of state vehicle - a Cadillac - and the expensive new drapes he ordered for his office. He ran as an outsider, then quickly started losing the inside ballgame to legislative leaders. He alienated his liberal base by pushing for casinos. He alienated the general public by backing a state senator for a $175,000-a-year job without explaining why and then leaving her to twist in the wild political winds that followed.

Communication is Obama’s great strength and Patrick’s great weakness. The Massachusetts governor is effective one-on-one. But, unlike Obama, he has trouble driving a cohesive political message and doesn’t seem to enjoy the mission.

Obama hired seasoned insiders from the start - and took the criticism that went with it - to launch a smooth transition from presidential candidate to president. His experience as a community organizer and state senator prepared him for Washington’s give and take, which he seems to relish. He began his presidency with a big agenda that runs the risk of being viewed as too much, too soon. Agree with it or not, Americans know exactly where Obama is headed. That’s because he knows how to use the media to tell them. The press helps Obama achieve his goals, and not by accident. He courts the media brilliantly.

From the day he won election, Patrick did the opposite. In one of his first public addresses following the election, Patrick told a gathering of New England newspaper editors and publishers that they missed the story of his triumph because they didn’t understand his campaign. He periodically complains about media cynics; such critiques don’t win any media champions.

Now, he must try to craft a story that wins reelection. What is it? Given a national recession, he can’t deliver on campaign promises to reduce property taxes or add more police officers. He’s increasing taxes and cutting services, generally. “Reform’’ means little unless Patrick can explain what changed in a way that means something to voters.

That sounds like a job for his friend, the president.
Joan Vennochi can be reached at

"Patrick declines comment -- mostly -- on possible Cahill challenge"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, 7/7/2009

Governor Deval Patrick reacted diplomatically today to news that Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill is planning to leave the Democratic Party and become an independent, a move that could eventually lead to Cahill challenging Patrick in the 2010 election.

Patrick said he was working hard to manage the state during the recession and the time for verbal jousting would come later.

“My focus continues to be managing us through this extraordinary challenging economic time, trying to do what we can to get the economy going again, and implement these new reforms," he said. “There will come a time when the campaign is for real, and we’ll engage then. But for the time being, that’s my focus. I wish him well, as I do all the candidates -- real and would-be.”

When asked about Cahill's criticism that Democrats have espoused too much of a "tax-and-spend" philosophy, Patrick told the Globe, “Look, all those old slogans are for yesterday. We’re governing for tomorrow.”

Patrick was a bit more feisty in his language with other reporters, saying, "If he’s going to be a candidate, then fine. We’ll talk about all that during the course of the campaign. He should bring his A game.”

He also brushed off Cahill’s "tax-and-spend" criticism, saying it was a "canard," State House News Service reported.


"Fixing schools requires new ideas"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters to the Editor, Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Governor Deval Patrick's idea of the commonwealth taking over 30 failing schools may not be the answer. There is a common fear that state involvement and extra money allocated to these schools will not yield a positive result, not unlike other state funded programs in the past. Regardless, both Massachusetts and the federal government hold a responsibility to educate children. Some action should be taken to address the problem, but I'm not convinced that the individual towns, cities or school districts will be willing to give up their administration of individual schools.

Perhaps state monitored additional funding could be one solution. This should be done with caution, and with much needed levels of attention, communication, and creativity. Current special education laws are not always enforced by the state; would all education policies and new programs be enforced with this new legislation? It would take organization and lot of common sense not displayed in the past, but, is possible.

A change of thinking may be needed. The 30 failing schools are in the poorest sections of Massachusetts, with families already milking the system who will continue to have children who will do the same. The average American taxpayer doesn't believe in bettering all of society, just those who proved to be successful in the past or are closely related to the taxpayers themselves. Many of these children in failing schools live in environments that make it difficult to learn, where flying bullets and drug sales are not unheard of on a walk to school. Once these students make it to school, hopefully with the help of their parents, it is the responsibility of the state and government to teach them.

As someone working on the periphery of school programs for at risk youth and those with disabilities, I see that sometimes it takes the right program to turn a student on to school when times are tough. Sometimes they just need to know that their teachers care or the opportunity for a program that taps into their style of learning.

The 30 schools in question should be monitored closely by the state, in collaboration with cities and towns to make these programs successful. The students must do the work to succeed, but they can't provide the money, teaching or oversight. Whatever happens, every penny and option should be weighed for the best outcome.



"Gov. Deval Patrick to unveil new funding bills for charter schools"
By Hillary Chabot, Thursday, July 16, 2009, - Local Politics

Gov. Deval Patrick hopes to double charter school funding for under-performing districts under new legislation to be announced today, a source said.

The charter school funding bump - from 9 percent of state school funding to 18 percent - is part of a two-pronged plan to increase the Bay State’s chances for a chunk of the $5 billion “Race to the Top” federal funding program.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will join Patrick at the Museum of Science as he announces the bills today. The funding increase could mean 37,000 seats at qualified charter schools would be available, up from the current 10,000.

Patrick will also file the framework for his “readiness schools,” which combine aspects of pilot and charter schools.

Federal officials have asked states to ease charter school caps, create innovative teaching programs, and make progress with underperforming schools.


(Mark Wilson/ Boston Globe Staff)

"Patrick needs an agenda, not political skirmishes"
August 11, 2009

ON THE surface, the question of how much state funding should go to two Massachusetts zoos has little in common with who should run the MBTA. But Governor Patrick’s handling of these matters illustrates a larger problem: a failure to articulate a comprehensive agenda in which these tempests could be seen as serving a larger goal.

Patrick didn’t make a strong, cohesive case to the public before he slashed millions in funding for Zoo New England or before he forced MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas into resigning.

While the zoo cuts raised the legitimate issue of whether the state should subsidize two animal parks, the public outcry caught the governor off guard. Taxpayers might prefer to spend their money on baby giraffes instead of healthcare for legal immigrants. But if Patrick stated his goal clearly from the outset, people would at least understand his priority. Instead, this showdown with legislators looks like petty, personal politics.

The governor’s decision to oust Grabauskas is even harder to explain. The T’s failures go back years. If Patrick expected the public to hold this general manager accountable for them, he needed to make that case long before last week’s push to get rid of him. Because Patrick didn’t do that, Grabauskas’ removal and the $327,487 severance package that goes with him look mainly like an expensive political power play.

An inability to communicate, particularly on economic issues, frequently trips up a governor who was much better at explaining himself when he was running for office.

To his credit, Patrick holds frequent town hall sessions. Every month, he takes questions from callers to WTKK’s Eagan & Braude show. But he still has trouble driving headlines in a way that lets Massachusetts understand what he is doing and why. If he doesn’t supply the narrative, opponents will.

Over time, that narrative has not been flattering, as Patrick’s sinking poll numbers demonstrate. A national recession forced him to make billions in budget cuts. He’s getting the blame for a sales tax increase, from 5 percent to 6.25 percent, that was driven by the dramatic drop in state revenue. The governor doesn’t even get much credit for the $8.7 billion in federal economic stimulus aid that Massachusetts is receiving to offset that, even though it’s clear Patrick’s friendship with President Obama is helping this state weather a fiscal storm.

Now, Patrick is talking about organizing an economic summit for the fall. It would be good to have a serious discussion of the Massachusetts economy. It would also be good to have a better understanding of the governor’s spending priorities.

The governor needs to communicate forcefully on all those subjects. The same, old failure to do so, will yield the same, old results: First, confusion. Then, the conclusion that Patrick is focused on the politics of re-election instead of the merits of policy.


"Patrick’s team in over its head"
By Michael Graham, Thursday, August 20, 2009, - Op-Ed

Let’s say you’re a member at the local Y - or maybe even a country club. You head to the pool on a hot August day, only to discover that it’s closed - in the middle of a heat wave.

You call the manager and he says that, for some inexplicable reason, it’s policy to close during the hottest part of the summer. When you ask why he can’t at least re-open until the worst is over, he says he can’t find any lifeguards, and they’re out of chlorine.

If you’re a typical person with a shred of common sense, you’d call this guy the dumbest pool manager in the history of amateur aquatics. But if you’re Gov. Deval Patrick, you call him “Commissioner.”

If Massachusetts had a real governor, Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Rick Sullivan would be standing in an unemployment line today. For even by the subterranean standards of state government, he has set a new low for public servant stupidity.

Sullivan says DCR had to close most of its pools in mid-August because they set the schedule months ago and had no idea it would be so hot. In August.

His actual quote was “If only someone had given me the weather from a crystal ball, we would have been able to adjust.”

Nostradamus, where are you when we need you!

Having failed to get the “it’s hot in the summer” forecast, Sullivan proceeded to close most of the DCR-run pools. Kids stood crying outside the locked gates. Frustrated parents groused about the idiocy of having multi-million-dollar tax-funded facilities closed when they’re needed most.

So Sullivan sprang into action. As the Herald reported, he “summoned local media to a hastily called press conference in Chelsea, only to say that there was nothing the state could do.”

It’s one thing to be this incompetent. Holding a press conference to announce it takes a real government genius.

Folks, we’re not talking about launching a satellite or fixing health care. We’re talking about opening a swimming pool. And Sullivan’s answer is there’s nothing the state can do.

Hey, maybe he’s right. After all, it’s not like he runs a state agency with a multimillion dollar budget and hundreds of employees at his beck and call.

Oh, wait.

Sullivan - hand-picked by Patrick for the DCR job - blames his lifeguards. Too many students who’ve abandoned their posts and headed back to college. Clearly an insurmountable problem in Boston, where college kids are so hard to find.

Curse our lack of colleges and universities in the metro Boston area!

And getting chlorine? That’s all but impossible. You’d need access to some exclusive retailer in pool supplies like a Walmart or Building 19. And where are you going to find one of those?

And so pools and waterparks sit empty, taxpayers sit and sweat, and Rick Sullivan sits behind his desk without a care in the world.

You could probably pick off the first guy you see with a “Will Work for Food” sign, give him Sullivan’s job, and he’d have the pools open in 24 hours.

The DCR swimming pool fiasco is not a crisis. For one thing, there are hundreds of pools in the area not run by the Patrick administration and, therefore, filled with happy swimmers. But before we turn our health care system over to the government, what a perfect reminder that no task is so simple that a well-paid government bureaucrat can’t screw it up.


"It’s your administration, governor, so take control"
September 27, 2009

THE FLAP over Education Secretary Paul Reville’s ill-considered e-mail about a Gloucester charter school, like that over Transportation Secretary Jim Aloisi’s messy firing of MBTA chief Dan Grabauskas last month, revealed something lacking in Governor Patrick.

In both instances, the state’s chief executive expressed muted support for his appointees, while keeping his distance from their actions. As Aloisi pushed Grabauskas out on a vague pretext, the governor stayed mum. And then last week, while Reville and other education officials were defending the integrity of the approval of the Gloucester charter school, Patrick was calling for the decision to be reviewed. By disassociating himself from his own administration, the reform-minded governor seemed eager to convey that he represents the people of Massachusetts, not the political establishment.

In some contexts, this sense of detachment would be admirable. But Patrick’s failure to take more forceful ownership of his own team helps explain why an administration with an ambitious agenda in education, energy, and transportation remains more associated with disarray than achievement. Patrick has fallen into a familiar trap for political outsiders - failing to realize that he is now the insider, and that people expect him to set priorities and deliver on them, not stand apart and critique the performance of his appointees. He was elected governor, not inspector general.

Patrick’s posture is self-defeating because the dust-ups over Reville and Aloisi, who has since announced his resignation, were only prolonged by the governor’s aloof stance, and both were the kinds of purely political tempests that can drag down an otherwise enlightened administration.

Patrick has some good instincts, many good policies, and has made some good appointments. But he hasn’t gotten the hang of his job yet. There’s still time before the next election for him to improve. His modesty - his best political trait - should enable him to look in the mirror and vow to make changes. It’s time for the governor to take command of his team, and lead.


Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall (left) addressed the Massachusetts Bar Association last night. (John Blanding/ Globe Staff)

"Chief justice warns cuts put courts at risk"
By Peter Schworm, Boston Globe Staff, October 22, 2009

With another round of state budget cuts looming, Margaret H. Marshall, chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, warned yesterday that financial troubles are clogging the courts, pulling probate officers from Boston schools, and decimating the ranks of court-appointed guardians.

Problems could range from long delays for hearings to get protective orders in family court to less court oversight of troubled youth to routine business taking months rather than weeks as courthouses are forced to eliminate workers.

“In my judgment, justice is in jeopardy in Massachusetts,’’ she said at her annual address to the legal community in downtown Boston. “These are strong words, and I use them with care.’’

For the first time in Marshall’s decade as chief justice, she focused her talk on a single topic and struck an unusually foreboding and political tone.

In sharply worded remarks before about 150 lawyers, Marshall said a $50 million budget cut over the past year had left the system understaffed and increasingly unable to provide “prompt, effective justice.’’

“The delivery of justice is, of necessity, people-intensive, and the need for justice does not diminish with a shrinking economy,’’ she said. “Courts do not have the luxury of taking a breather while the financial markets sort themselves out.’’

Marshall’s address followed Governor Deval Patrick’s recent announcement that as many as 2,000 state jobs could be eliminated to help close a $600 million budget shortfall. In the first quarter of the fiscal year, tax revenues came in $212 million below projections, the fourth time in a year they have come in lower than expected.

Cyndi Roy, a spokeswoman for the state’s budget office, said additional cuts were inevitable, given slumping tax collections. Patrick will provide more details about spending reductions next week, she said, after determining the best way to save money.

“No cut he is reviewing is an easy cut,’’ she said.

The administration reduced the state budget by more than $1 billion in the past fiscal year, she said.

Last October, the judiciary’s budget declined by $22 million, forcing a hiring freeze, shelving raises to low-pay administrative employees, and reducing the use of independent contract workers such as court-appointed guardians.

Marshall said the budget reductions were disproportionate to those at other state agencies and urged the legal community to lobby state lawmakers for relief.

“The question now is whether, under further severe constraints, our courts can operate effectively at all,’’ she said.

It was not the first time Marshall brought herself into the budget process. In April, she aggressively lobbied against Patrick’s plan to cut the trial courts budget by 4 percent, saying it would result in large-scale layoffs that would hobble the court system.

Since July, the trial court system has lost 570 employees, reducing the total to under 7,000.

“When it takes six to eight weeks longer to appear before a Probate and Family Court judge with a complaint for nonpayment of child support, families teeter on the edge of disaster,’’ she said. “When Juvenile Court probation officers are pulled from the Boston public schools because staff reductions require them to be elsewhere, we lose a deterrent to delinquency and crime, and we are all less safe.

“I cannot, I shall not, ignore that our courts are at a moment of peril,’’ she added.

The state will be forced to close more courthouses without more generous funding, she said.

In February, a Boston Bar Association task force concluded that last fall’s budget cuts had frozen hiring for key positions, reduced services for needy residents, and adversely affected the efficiency of court proceedings.

Further budget cuts, the report stated, would seriously threaten the delivery of justice in Massachusetts. It also said: “The burdens of inadequate funding have fallen and will continue to fall disproportionately upon the Commonwealth’s most disadvantaged residents and upon court employees who already bear the weight of understaffing.’’

Cutting the trial courts budget threatens to reverse gains in processing cases, the association found.

The judiciary accounts for just over 2 percent of total state spending.


"Hint of hypocrisy in Patrick’s layoff warning"
The Boston Globe, Letters, October 22, 2009

NOW THAT the governor has announced that he plans to lay off significant numbers of government workers and to outsource jobs, I wonder whether he now feels any greater sympathy toward the management at the Hyatt (“Patrick warns of 2,000 job cuts,’’ Page A1, Oct. 16). The hotel company made a similar decision weeks ago, but at that time Governor Patrick called for a boycott of the Hyatt for its alleged heartlessness toward those workers whose jobs the company had planned to outsource. Does Patrick not see his hypocrisy? Perhaps we should boycott the governor’s press conference the next time he purports to instruct industry regarding the morality of layoffs in a down economy.

Christopher T. Vrountas
Andover, Massachusetts


"Transportation payroll soared under Patrick"
By Andrea Estes, Boston Globe Staff, November 8, 2009

As Governor Deval Patrick merges the state’s transportation agencies in an attempt to reduce duplication and waste, a review of payroll records shows that his own administration presided over much of the growth in spending he must now rein in.

The two major transportation agencies more than doubled the number of six-figure jobs since Patrick won the governorship in 2006. Transportation secretaries under Patrick have been paid 25 percent more than in the prior administration. New appointees have been simply layered over old ones, with the displaced workers given new titles.

The result: The Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works and the Massachusetts Highway Department together saw a 20 percent surge in their payrolls under Patrick, according to state comptroller records obtained under open records laws. The boost in personnel costs came as the administration, which had pledged early on to reform the transportation system, was facing an increasingly difficult financial picture.

The current secretary of transportation, Jeffrey B. Mullan, said he is reviewing “every seat in the house,’’ evaluating each employee’s role within the new Department of Transportation, to make sure that “everybody in the new DOT will have a job that lines up with the mission.’’

“I’ve been involved in transportation for a long time,’’ he said. “I don’t think it’s ever been done before.’’

While former governor Mitt Romney’s last transportation secretary, John Cogliano, had three deputies. Patrick’s first transportation secretary, Bernard Cohen, had six, and Cohen’s successor, James A. Aloisi Jr., had eight. While Cogliano earned $120,000 a year, Cohen and Aloisi each made $150,000, as does Mullan.

Since Romney’s last year in office, the number of officials in the Executive Office of Transportation and MassHighway earning at least $100,000 a year more than doubled, from 16 to 37, records show.

In several cases, Patrick allowed a new manager to bring in his own staff without getting rid of the predecessor’s key aides.

Aloisi, after taking office in January, chose his own chief of staff, Karen Charles, while the previous chief of staff, Amy Branger, continued to collect her $100,000-a-year salary. Branger was given several different titles, including “assistant secretary for environmental coordination,’’ and now holds the position of “director of the office of transition management.’’

Lily Mendez-Morgan, who had been a special assistant to the governor, became one of Aloisi’s eight deputies in January , taking on the responsibilities of Susan Quinones, who had been the director of interagency affairs. Quinones, as of July, continued to collect her $93,000-a-year salary and is now responsible for “tracking federal funding and policy,’’ a spokesman said; Mendez-Morgan, who is now “deputy secretary for interagency management and reform,’’ saw her pay bumped from $108,000 to $125,000 a year, records show.

Aloisi also brought in his own communications director, Colin Durrant, who was appointed to a $115,000-a-year deputy secretary position. Durrant’s predecessor, Klark Jessen, remains on the payroll, handling internal communications and blogging.

Among the highest-paid employees of either agency are hires that came with a political pedigree. Albert Shaw, a retiree who served on Patrick’s inaugural committee, was given a $115,000-a-year job as “director of intergovernmental affairs.’’ The fourth-highest-paid employee at MassHighway, Shaw was head of the Massachusetts Minority Business Roundtable and a former MBTA board member.

Mullan acknowledged there have been multiple people with the same or similar duties. “This is one of the things we’re working on,’’ he said.

Cohen did not return a phone message; Aloisi could not be reached for comment.

Administration officials say many employees were hired at MassHighway to handle the governor’s new Accelerated Bridge Program, a $3.8 billion blueprint to repair more than 400 deteriorating bridges over eight years.

Durrant said that when Patrick became governor, the highway department was “so severely understaffed’’ it could not handle urgent construction projects and was cited for the deficiency by federal highway officials.

“Since that time, we’ve had an unprecedented investment in the statewide road and bridge program and the Accelerated Bridge Program and over $400 million in [federal] stimulus money, all to repair our roads and bridges and undo decades of neglect,’’ he said. “The vast majority of people who have come on board have been professional engineers, inspectors, and maintenance personnel who are critical to moving projects quickly and ensuring the sort of oversight of taxpayer-funded projects that is necessary.’’

Some critics say the administration has added layers of managers without regard to the state’s financial condition.

Senator Mark C. Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat who chairs the Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, said Patrick should have imposed a hiring freeze.

“For a year now many of us in both parties have said we need a complete hiring freeze, but we haven’t seen it yet,’’ said Montigny, who opposed creating a new transportation agency. “Anyone who’s come on recently - those positions need to be scrutinized. If we got along fine without them before, we can get along fine without them now.’’

Still, Montigny said he had “full faith in this governor,’’ adding: “He wants to do the right thing. But transportation is such a big monster, it’s really difficult for even a very smart guy to get his arms around. It’s like turning around a tanker in the middle of a pond.’’

Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei, a Republican and a top supporter of Patrick’s chief GOP rival in next year’s governor’s race, Charles D. Baker, said the administration has been irresponsible in its hiring.

“A lot of the jobs that have been created haven’t been on the ground level, where services are being provided. They’re at the top of the organization charts,’’ Tisei said. “Now that we’re in a fiscal crisis, all these positions are adding up and dragging down the whole state budget.’’

Late last month, with state tax revenues missing expectations, Patrick said he would close an estimated $600 million budget gap this fiscal year in part by eliminating nearly 1,000 jobs. The Department of Transportation’s budget will be cut by $13.5 million, Durrant said, with reductions in the snow and ice removal and overtime budgets. Managers will be asked to take furloughs.

Patrick’s handling of the budget has become a central issue in the nascent 2010 gubernatorial campaign: His three challengers - Baker; another Republican, Christy Mihos; and state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, running as an independent - have all sought to capitalize politically on the state’s budget woes.

Two weeks ago, Cahill said he had warned Patrick and legislative leaders in 2008 to keep spending down, but was ignored. And while the administration says it has eliminated jobs and reduced spending, Cahill said he saw no evidence of that.

Administration officials disputed Cahill’s assertion, saying more than 1,600 jobs had been cut and 761 people laid off. They also said the number of executive branch employees had decreased over the past two years.

The payroll records also show that more than 80 percent of MassHighway’s nearly 2,000 employees are paid out of the state’s capital budget and funded through bonds. In a parting letter Aloisi wrote to Patrick last month, he called this method “a wasteful and duplicitous practice designed to hide the real cost of our workforce while seriously shortchanging our statewide road and bridge programs.’’ He blamed the Legislature for failing to transfer the payroll costs to the regular operating budget.


New England in brief: "Patrick to sign education bill on Monday"
The Boston Globe, January 16, 2010

Governor Deval Patrick will sign a much-anticipated education bill at a ceremony on Martin Luther King Day at the Children’s Museum. The bill will double the number of charter school seats in the state’s lowest-performing districts and would give superintendents extraordinary power to overhaul failing schools. The hope is that those actions and others in the bill will close a persistent achievement gap among students of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Joining the governor at the 11 a.m. bill signing will be Mayor Thomas M. Menino, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Therese Murray.


"Shining moment for ed reform"
January 16, 2010

AS LEGISLATORS worked in recent weeks to forge a major education reform bill, they could have succumbed to outside pressures to weaken the bill. But in the end, they insisted on passing a bill that gives school officials promising opportunities to improve failing classrooms. And that can only help Massachusetts - and not just because the bill will help in the state’s quest for $250 million in federal education funding.

Education reformers couldn’t ask for more, including an opportunity to double the number of charter school seats in underperforming school districts. It’s nearly incredible that pro-labor legislators under the glare of teachers unions would agree to dramatic changes in collective bargaining contracts. But in some cases, nothing short of extending the school day or removing ineffective teachers can save a failed school.

The bill is sound due in large measure to the work of Representative Martha Walz and Senator Robert O’Leary, the co-chairs of the education committee. Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo took great efforts to fashion a compromise. Other legislators showed skill and courage in the crafting or passing of this bill, including Representative Ronald Mariano and Senate Ways and Means Chair Steven Panagiotakos.

The governor will sign the bill Monday. Superintendents in underperforming districts will then receive unprecedented power and flexibility to bring their staffs and students up to standards. It’s a great gift, and a greater challenge.


"Patrick: Turn anger in 'positive direction'"
By Jim O'Sullivan, State House News Service, January 21, 2010

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON -- Addressing a state shaken up by an electoral stunner and drained by sustained economic woes, Gov. Deval Patrick acknowledged missteps but vowed to stay focused on struggling citizens’ needs, using his annual speech to lay out a limited policy agenda for the final 11 months of his term.

Describing himself as “unsatisfied” and “determined,” Patrick called for residents to convert their dissatisfaction into progress.

“Be angry, but channel it in a positive direction,” Patrick said, in a clear nod to Tuesday’s Senate election, where Republican Sen. Scott Brown upset Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley. “It's easy to be against things. It takes tough-mindedness and political courage to be for something.”

At Patrick’s urging, the chamber delivered a standing ovation to the candidates in Tuesday’s Senate election, including Coakley, seated near the rostrum. Auditor Joseph DeNucci raised her hand in a victory gesture.

Acknowledging he had brought hardships upon his own administration, Patrick, who has watched his approval ratings slide, leaned heavily on themes of perseverance and did not unfurl any significant policy changes. He said he would maintain funding for a budget account that provides key education aid to cities and towns in the fiscal 2011 budget he is expected to file next week.

Patrick said he wanted to consolidate state government agencies and reduce property taxes, a campaign promise from 2006 that has gone unfulfilled, lower health insurance costs and enact criminal justice policy changes.

The governor’s speech arrives in an uproarious political climate and amid bad economic news, Brown’s long-shot victory in Tuesday’s special Senate election driving panic into Democrats both here and nationally, and data out Thursday showing a leap in the state’s unemployment rate. Patrick aides pointed out Thursday afternoon that the jobless rate was still below the national average.

Republicans faulted Patrick for not laying out an economic recovery strategy, criticizing his speech as empty rhetoric.

House Minority Leader Bradley Jones said, “No plan announced at all, no details about how he’s going to get there, no specifics. No amount of hope or happy talk in tonight’s speech is going to help you deal with the real problems that we face, either fiscally or beyond.”

Legislative Democrats cheered the speech, holding off on a sometimes hostile tone between the Legislature and Executive Branch to say Patrick had found the right note.

“I thought the governor hit it on the head,” said Speaker Robert DeLeo.

“I think he put into perspective all that was done this past year – in particular the way that the economic conditions were handled,” DeLeo said.

“I think it’s difficult when you have, what, a $3 billion shortfall to talk about new programs, and I think that’s a catch the governor has,” said Rep. Theodore Speliotis (D-Danvers). “Any incumbent in office at this time, it’s not a good time to go into a reelection cycle. But I think he handled it well.”

Patrick’s gubernatorial rivals said the address lacked evidence of an economic recovery strategy.

“There doesn’t seem to be anything really new or bold as far as how we’re going to address this economic crisis we’re in,” said Treasurer Timothy Cahill, running against Patrick as a political independent. “And I was hoping and expected a more focused speech on the economy, given the unemployment numbers that came in today.”

“I think the focus has to be less on how we’re going to manage government spending and [more on] how we’re going to address people’s anger and anxiety about the economy,” said Cahill, who did not attend the speech because, he said, he had two campaign-related fundraisers previously scheduled.

Jones challenged Patrick over his claim of balanced budgets, saying, “I’m surprised you could even try to say that with a straight face.”

Budget writers have consistently overestimated revenues and relied heavily on non-recurring revenues like federal aid and state reserves to fill gaps the last two fiscal years, and likely will again for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Jones pointed to empty seats in the House Chamber, calling it “sparse attendance.”

“That’s a reflection of, I think, the governor’s standing,” Jones said.

Some of the policy intentions Patrick laid out face mixed odds. Making fundamental changes to the state’s criminal record system and sentencing guidelines, for instance, faces little appetite in the evolving political atmosphere, legislative Democrats said after the speech. Lawmakers say local aid, a key funding stream cities and towns use to offset property taxes, could also go under the knife further next fiscal year.

“These are tough issues, I know,” Patrick said, according to a written copy of his remarks. “But by now you should know, my friends, not to doubt my resolve or my determination. I hear the detractors who fiercely or passively defend the status quo. I hear the challengers pressing to return to old, familiar ways, even policies that failed us in the past. But I also hear a public deeply frustrated with the pace of change, who need a little help from us right now so they can help themselves.”

The governor is facing a strong field of challenges, including Cahill, and Republicans Charles Baker and Christy Mihos. In the speech, he gives a preemptive defense of his administration’s performance, accepting some blame and pointing to inherited mistakes and broader economic problems.

“Our task was made harder by bumps along the road – some of my own making, others left behind by predecessors, but most the result of a global economic collapse that no one foresaw and few living have ever experienced,” Patrick said, according to the text.

“There are so many people who say he’s not running, that it was nice to see him animated and engaged,” said Rep. Daniel Bosley, a North Adams Democrat. “I think this’ll probably put those rumors to rest.”

Claiming success on several initiatives by “making it personal,” Patrick touted the state’s reversal of population trends, with more people moving in than out, rising business confidence and home sales, a stable credit rating, high test scores in public schools, and near-universal health insurance coverage.

The speech did not address expanded gambling, likely one of the largest policy debates of the year.

After the speech, Patrick headed to a house party in Springfield organized by his political committee.


"On the job for state jobs"
By Gov. Deval Patrick, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, March 2, 2010
BOSTON, Massachusetts

From Day One, our administration has been working to create jobs. We have focused on jobs for today as well as tomorrow, helping existing companies expand and also encouraging new innovative industries to invest in our future. And we have taken that strategy to every corner of our commonwealth. Without jobs, everything else is up for grabs. So, that has been our central mission, and the global economic crisis has not deterred us.

Using a combination of state bonding authority, federal Recovery Act funds and old-fashioned problem-solving, company by company, we have created one of the most business-friendly -- and, therefore, job friendly -- climates Massachusetts has ever seen. CNBC ranks us the 8th best state in the nation in which to do business, up from 15th a year ago.

Business confidence has improved 10 of the last 11 months. All three national rating agencies -- Standard & Poor's, Fitch and Moody's -- have affirmed the state's AA bond rating and stable outlook for the future, expressly citing our successful management through the current fiscal crisis. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reports that since the national recession began in December 2007, our economy has performed better than 33 of the 50 states. In fact, in the last three months, the Massachusetts economy outperformed 48 other states.

Independent economists forecast that Massachusetts is recovering faster, sooner and stronger than the rest of the nation. And for the first time in 20 years, young people and families are moving into Massachusetts instead of moving out.


These successes are the result of a proactive, comprehensive strategy to help the state recover and expand job opportunities. We have achieved this progress by improving the conditions for doing business. We lowered the corporate tax rate and cut state permitting time from two or three years to six months or less.

We started fixing our broken infrastructure. Today nearly 500 road, rail and bridge projects are underway, as is broadband expansion, public and affordable housing restoration, college campus renovations, open space preservation and more. Thousands of people across the state are at work or soon will be on projects like replacing the State Street/Route 8 bridge over the Hoosic River in North Adams and renovating Park Square in Pittsfield.

We're creating hundreds of jobs across the state by upgrading wastewater infrastructure systems, including some $28 million of upgrades in Pittsfield, Stockbridge and Lee, saving taxpayer money, cutting pollution through solar panel and other renewable energy installation and getting you cleaner drinking water.

And dozens of people are already at work installing a fiber optic backbone along 55 miles of I-91. Part of our Broadband Act's commitment to bringing high-speed broadband Internet to every community in the state, the Berkshires are finally on the verge of a reliable, affordable link to 21st century jobs and business.

We've also cultivated the innovation industries that will be our anchor employers of tomorrow. Our 10-year, $1 billion commitment to grow the life sciences and biotech sector is already paying dividends. We have leveraged more than $180 million of public funding into $680 million of additional private investment, with the prospect of over 6,000 permanent and construction jobs.

In clean energy, thanks to some of the most farsighted legislation in the nation, we will be the nation's leader in energy efficiency over the next three years, saving residents and businesses a projected $6 billion and creating an estimated 4,000 jobs for people modernizing light fixtures, replacing old furnaces, and weatherizing houses.

Recovery Act funds alone have meant that over 25,000 teachers, firefighters, police officers, construction workers and others are working today that would not be otherwise. And of course we have invested in public education at record levels, because that is the surest way to build lasting strength in our economy and our society.

Still, I am not satisfied -- and I won't be until everyone in Massachusetts is back to work, and every business that wants to can expand.


I've been meeting with business leaders, getting the story straight from them about what else the state can do to help create jobs and encourage growth. In October, we brought together 150 corporate, academic and non-profit leaders for an economic summit. The message: focus on small businesses. Small business accounts for 85 percent of Massachusetts business. They must be the centerpiece of any growth strategy.

So, on Feb. 10, we launched the Small Business Jobs Plan. Among other measures, here's what's in it:

-- A $2,500 tax credit for each net new job created.

-- Access to working capital and technical assistance through a new Growth Capital Fund.

-- Control of health insurance costs by having the insurance commissioner disallow unreasonable annual increases.

A freeze on unemployment insurance rates and reform of the system to lower rates.

Taken together, these measures are projected to create or protect an estimated 20,000 jobs and save small businesses $400 million. You can learn more about this plan at: If you support it, tell your local state representative or senator to enact it swiftly.

These measures are about more than improving the commercial climate and creating jobs. They are also about restoring people's optimism, about opening new avenues of opportunity. We are weathering this storm better and recovering faster than other states. If we continue to work together and have faith in our capacity for success, I am confident that our best days are ahead.
Deval Patrick is governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts.

"State should stop shielding firms with special tax breaks"
April 1, 2010

WHEN A state board is getting ready to award special tax breaks to a private company, citizens should have access to the details before the vote. This week, though, the Patrick administration held back key information about millions of dollars’ worth of exemptions until after the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council approved them. This wasn’t small money; it turned out, for instance, that insurer Liberty Mutual, which is looking to build a $300 million office space project in Boston, received an exemption worth $22.5 million.

Citizens deserve to know — in advance — how the public agency arrived at such a number. Economic-development staffers review applications for investment-tax exemptions worth up to 10 percent of a project’s value, and then make recommendations to the council about how much to award to each applicant. Yet the Patrick administration, relying on a stingy interpretation of the state’s public-records laws, treats its staff recommendations as internal documents that need not be disclosed. Never mind that the council, with minimal debate, rubber-stamped those recommendations at a meeting yesterday. The public had no opportunity to quibble with the staff’s logic, or even check its math, before the board approved a raft of exemptions.

There’s an inherent tension between the principle of open government and the desire of private companies, and the economic-development officials who court them, to avoid disclosing potentially sensitive business information to competitors. But if companies want the public sector to pick up part of the cost of private development projects, they must be prepared to submit to public scrutiny.

Massachusetts offers a number of economic-development tax credits that are simply awarded by state officials or claimed by recipients on their tax returns. For many of these programs, the state does not disclose which companies received them. The Patrick administration, to its credit, has filed legislation requiring public disclosure.

Yet the administration shortchanged the public interest in its handling of the investment credits yesterday. “This program is the most open and transparent of any tax credit program in the state,’’ economic development secretary Greg Bialecki said in an interview yesterday. Sadly, that may be true. But it’s not open enough.

"Bold tax vow comes back to sting Patrick: Relief for homeowners stalled amid recession"
By Michael Levenson, Boston Globe Staff, April 25, 2010

Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke’’ was booming, the crowd was cheering, and Governor Deval Patrick was still in full campaign mode, urging his supporters to help make one of his promises a reality.

“You want property tax relief? Come and get it! Come and get it,’’ he declared during the March 2007 rally at Boston Latin School. “You want it? Come and get it!’’

But they never got it.

Instead, property taxes have continued to rise in the 3 1/2 years since Patrick took office, just as they have every year since at least 1990, tracking increased property values. Last year, the average property tax bill on a single-family home in Massachusetts was $4,250, up more than 7 percent from $3,962 in 2007, state figures show.

Budget specialists say the recession made it nearly impossible for the governor to cut taxes without severely compromising his goal of preserving core services. But they say Patrick’s initial promise to reduce property taxes might have been impossible even in a strong economy, because it would have required the state to deliver a massive influx of hundreds of millions of dollars in additional aid to cities and towns.

“It hasn’t come about in large part because of the economic downturn, and he can be absolved of a large part of the blame for this not coming about because of that,’’ said David G. Tuerck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute, a fiscally conservative think tank. “On the other hand, it’s not clear he thought about a plan to make this come true, even in the best of times.’’

These days, Patrick’s failure to lower property taxes has become a major issue in the governor’s race. Angry voters sometimes question him about their bills going up, and his opponents often criticize him for failing to make good on one of his key pledges from the 2006 race.

“Did he cut property taxes? No,’’ Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker said in a recent interview on WRKO. “In fact, he cut local aid because he couldn’t fix his own budget by $600 million, and that forces a lot of cities and towns into override votes.’’

State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, an independent, blasted the governor in a statement last week, saying, “Governor Patrick told voters that their property taxes would go down, but all they have received in return is an administration that never met a tax increase it did not like.’’

Patrick calls his failure to deliver property tax relief one of the biggest disappointments of his term. He points to measures he has enacted to reduce pressure on homeowners, and vows that this will remain a top priority if he is reelected.

“It’s another reminder that you’re governor, not king, and you don’t get to just wave a scepter and make it happen,’’ Patrick said in an interview. “Still, I think it’s the right course to be on.’’

Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, was among those warning in 2006 that Patrick would be able to provide only limited relief unless he came up with a way to funnel millions of dollars in new funding to cities and towns.

Widmer said property taxes generate about $11.5 billion every year, providing local communities with more than half of their revenue for such basic services as schools, and police and fire departments. To keep the tax from rising, the state would have to deliver about $500 million in additional aid per year to cities and towns, he said.

“It was unrealistic from the outset,’’ Widmer said. “Even in an economic recovery, it would be virtually impossible to do without raising another broad-based tax.’’

Patrick moderated his comments about property tax relief as the economy worsened. During his 2006 campaign, he pledged to “cut the property tax by reinvesting in cities and towns.’’ Five days after he took office, faced with a surprisingly tight budget, his tone shifted.

“What we can do is stabilize property taxes, to be sure,’’ he said in January 2007. “We’ve got to start there.’’

In 2008, as the state confronted dwindling revenues and deep cuts, Patrick’s spokesman, Kyle Sullivan, said the governor “remains committed to working with the Legislature and cities and towns to bring relief to Massachusetts property owners.’’

Patrick mentioned property tax relief again in his State of the Commonwealth address in January, declaring that while he had taken steps to ease the financial strain on cities and towns, “I will not be satisfied until we find a way to bring property taxes down.’’

“It’s coming. It’s coming. It’s coming,’’ he said of property tax relief during an interview this month with Howie Carr on WRKO.

Patrick has, throughout his tenure, taken steps to relieve pressure on property taxes by offering cities and towns other ways to generate revenue and cut costs.

He has increased education funding, closed a tax loophole for telecommunications companies that raised $26 million in local revenue, and given cities and towns the power to raise taxes on restaurant meals and hotel rooms.

The governor has also made it easier for municipalities to join the state’s health insurance program, saving them millions of dollars, Patrick aides said. But expectations for that initiative have fallen short, and Patrick has insisted that unions, which have largely resisted the move to the state program, retain the option to approve or block the change.

His proposal to license three casinos was also designed to provide relief to an estimated 1 million property owners, by dedicating a portion of state proceeds to a property tax credit.

The House, however, killed the casino proposal in March 2008.

Patrick and the Legislature have also put pressure on the property tax by cutting local aid. Since fiscal year 2007, direct aid to cities towns has been reduced by 28 percent, or $363 million, including an emergency cut of $128 million that Patrick made to close a deficit in January 2009, according to the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

Patrick has said those reductions were necessary to close state budget gaps, and his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year maintains level funding for local aid.

Some legislators said Patrick’s property-tax pledge four years ago was ultimately swamped by a recession that plunged Massachusetts, like other states, into historic levels of red ink.

“When you lose $3 billion in tax revenue, there’s no way you’re going to be able to provide any relief,’’ said Senator Steven C. Panagiotakos, a Lowell Democrat and the Senate’s chief budget writer.

Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, which represents cities and towns, applauded Patrick for continuing to push the issue.

“The governor set a big, audacious goal and our understanding is he’s not backed off that, which is great,’’ Beckwith said.

Patrick said that, if he wins a second term, he will try to increase local aid and reduce local health care and pension costs, with the ultimate goal of delivering relief for homeowners, particularly seniors and others who can least afford rising property taxes.

“We have done so much of what we said we would do in the first term, but we haven’t accomplished everything, and that’s what a second term is about,’’ Patrick said. “This is one of the things I want to finish.’’
Michael Levenson can be reached at


"The case for a second term"
By Governor Deval Patrick, The North Adams Transcript, Op-Ed, July 21, 2010

Four years ago, hope was in short supply as young people and jobs were leaving the state. But because voters believed in taking a chance, not on me, but on hope for an economy based on innovation and opportunity, and a better politics, Massachusetts is now on the mend and on the move.

I know what this economic downturn has done to people here in the commonwealth. There isn't a single household or business, large or small, that hasn't been touched. Yet we have stepped up and made the tough decisions necessary to weather this global economic crisis, and our economy is now outperforming 48 other states. June marked the sixth straight month of private sector job growth, with a total of 44,700 jobs added since December 2009 -- and business confidence is surging. In April alone, Massachusetts added 19,000 jobs -- the largest monthly gain in 17 years. And for the first time in two decades, young people and families are moving into the commonwealth faster than they are moving out.

Health care reform has been implemented responsibly and effectively, and today 97.5 percent of Massachusetts residents have health insurance. We have funded our public schools at the highest level in our history, our students rank first in the nation in academic achievement, and we enacted landmark education reform to close the achievement gap. We are the nation's leader in clean and alternative energy policy. We have overhauled our transportation infrastructure, saving you a quarter of a billion dollars already.

All three independent rating agencies rate our fiscal strength higher than most other states and credit our effective management through this global recession. Just this month, CNBC has ranked us the fifth best state to do business with. Today, we are closer than ever to real CORI reform. We have kept discrimination out of our constitution, and today, you can marry anyone you love. None of this is by accident.

But there is work left to do, and a second term is about finishing what we started. I will not be satisfied until everyone seeking work can find it, until health insurance is as affordable as it is accessible, until a great school is in reach of every single child in this state, and until there are enough police on the streets and stability in our homes to end youth violence for good.

Forty years ago, when I was 14 years old, I came to Massachusetts for the first time from poverty on the South Side of Chicago. And from that moment forward, Massachusetts people and schools and jobs have given me opportunities I could not have dreamed of on the South Side of Chicago. I want to give back the same better chance I had: a better school, a better job, a better future. That is the work that we have started. With your help and support, we will finish what we started.


"Patrick bucks GOP tide to win re-election in Mass."
November 2, 2010

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick won a second term Tuesday with the help of some of the same political advisers who hope to do the same in two years for his friend President Barack Obama.

With 67 percent of state's precincts reporting, the Democrat had 49 percent compared with Republican challenger Charles Baker's 41 percent. Independent candidate Timothy Cahill was in third place with 8 percent, while Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein was a distant fourth.

Patrick benefited from the unusual four-way race, especially with Cahill's candidacy. A two-term state treasurer who quit the Democratic Party to run as an independent, Cahill sought the support of the same fiscally conservative voters as Baker, a former state official who spent the past decade turning around Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

The Republican Governors Association, seeking a trophy win by knocking off the president's fellow Chicagoan and Harvard Law alumnus, spent millions on anti-Patrick and anti-Cahill ads.

Patrick ran a defiant campaign, proud of his accomplishments and unwilling to yield to his critics.

Baker lambasted him for eight tax hikes -- including a 25-percent increase in the state sales tax -- and an unwillingness to explain how he plans to close a projected $2 billion deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Patrick countered by citing investments in health care, public education and emerging industries such as clean energy and life sciences.

"If you believe that government is about people, not abstract policy, that government is about neighbors, not numbers, this is your team," the governor told an audience over the weekend.


"Gov. Patrick to cut lawmakers' pay"
Posted by Martin Finucane; By Noah Bierman, Boston Globe Staff, January 3, 2011

Governor Deval Patrick formally announced today that he will trim lawmakers’ salaries, cutting them by $300 to match the drop in pay experienced by typical Massachusetts households over the past two years.

The law requires the governor to adjust legislators’ salaries every two years, but this is the first time since voters passed the constitutional amendment in 1998 requiring the adjustment that salaries will go down instead of up.

The 0.5 percent pay cut to lawmakers’ $61,440 base salaries carries more symbolism than economic consequences, as the savings will hardly register any impact to the state’s $1.5 billion budget gap. Several legislators said last week they were expecting the cut and, to some extent, welcoming it, given the harsh economy facing their constituents. The pay cut does not affect the thousands of dollars in added pay that many state lawmakers receive for holding leadership positions or for driving themselves to the State House.

By law, Patrick’s $140,535 salary will also go down – by about $700 -- as a result of the change.

The amendment – which took authority away from lawmakers to set their own salaries -- requires the governor to set salaries based on changes in median household income within the state. But because Census numbers lag behind by a year, it is up to the governor and his staff to use alternate economic measures, giving Patrick some leeway in his decision.

Patrick’s budget chief, Jay Gonzalez, used a combination of Census figures and wage data gathered by the state, the same method he used two years ago to give lawmakers a 5.5 percent raise. That $3,203 raise in 2009 was politically difficult for some lawmakers, leading some to reject it. In retrospect, it may have been too low. Census figures not available until after the raise showed median household income in the state actually rose by more than 9 percent between 2006 and 2008, meaning the raise probably should have been even larger, about $5,300.


"Evergreen Solar eclipse: Gov. Deval Patrick slow to release public records on deal"
By Jessica Van Sack and Hillary Chabot, Local Politics, - January 19, 2011

The Patrick administration yesterday dragged its feet on releasing public records of its ill-fated, $58 million taxpayer investment in Evergreen Solar even as energy experts questioned why officials ignored early warnings that the firm’s new Devens plant stood little chance against cutthroat overseas competition.

“They should (have consulted) somebody who is more up to speed on the technology, somebody who knew the industry in terms of economics,” said Adam Krop, a solar market analyst with Ardour Capital Partners, who has monitored Evergreen for years and questioned the state’s 2007 investment in the firm. “You could see the trajectory at that point.”

Patrick began touting Evergreen during his 2006 campaign, and moved quickly as governor to wager tens of millions of taxpayer dough to entice the firm to build its solar panel plant in Devens. But by then, Krop said, solar companies in Asia were rapidly expanding their solar panel plants in a bid to undercut U.S. manufacturers, meaning the Devens plant was doomed.

“It was known by the majority of the investment community,” Krop said, adding he would have advised the state to study the growing threat from China before investing taxpayer money. “Someone investing (their own) money into Evergreen would have taken that step.”

Said Christine Hersey, an energy analyst at Wedbush Securities who also follows Evergreen Solar: “It’s a very attractive thing for politicians to talk about green jobs, but you also have to be realistic about whether it’s competitive or not.”

Yesterday, the embattled Patrick administration sought to soften the blow of Evergreen’s decision to move to China and cut 800 Bay State jobs, vowing to recoup $13 million from its original deal with the firm, which included grants, tax credits and free state land.

“This wasn’t really an investment in Evergreen Solar as much as it was an investment in the clean-energy sector,” Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki said at a hastily called press conference following a Herald report. Bialecki insisted that the buzz generated by the state’s Evergreen investment — one of the largest in state history — spurred other green-energy firms to move to Massachusetts.

But the administration refused yesterday to release public records detailing its agreement with Evergreen. “Go ask (Bialecki),” Patrick told the Herald. “Go ask him for any documents you want.”

Last night, Bialecki spokeswoman Kofi Jones would only say, “The administration is compiling the documentation.”

Both House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray said they have not seen the original Evergreen agreement and are eagerly awaiting the details of the risky deal.

“The president wants to know the details of the incentive package, just how much was lost, and how much the company has to pay back. She looks forward to getting some answers,” said Murray spokesman David Falcone.

Energy experts said the Patrick administration should have studied the volatile, emerging green energy market. Among the warning signs the state overlooked, according to Krop, was that Evergreen’s success was closely tied to fluctuating price of its primary solar panel material.

“But the state didn’t know that,” Krop said. “Unfortunately, we see this a lot. We’ve seen the federal government do the same thing with the loan guarantee programs they have.”


"Massachusetts candidates spend $30M in 2010 election" - February 9, 2011

BOSTON — Candidates spent $30.4 million campaigning for the six Massachusetts statewide offices in the 2010 election, a sharp drop from $51.3 million four years earlier.

According to figures released Wednesday by the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, statewide candidates last year spent more than the combined $25.5 million they raised.

Gubernatorial candidates spent a combined $17.6 million. Gov. Deval Patrick spent $5.4 million on his successful re-election effort. He was outspent by Republican Charles Baker, who reported $6.7 million in expenditures. Independent Timothy Cahill spent $4.8 million.

Governor candidates spent $40.8 million in the 2006 cycle, 58 percent more than last year. No incumbent ran in 2006.

The 2010 cycle brought the most spending ever -- $2.6 million -- in the state auditor's race won by Democrat Suzanne Bump.


"State races cost $77M in 2010"
By Maggie Mulvihill, Sarah Favot and Matt Porter, New England Center for Investigative Reporting, February 20, 2011

From political action committees to gubernatorial candidates to county prosecutors, Massachusetts campaign cash spent in 2010 topped $77 million, paying for everything from a county club membership, tuxedo rentals, expensive car leases, makeup artists, cigars, hundreds of floral arrangements and much more, newly released financial reports obtained by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting show.

At least $2.5 million was spent on a practice banned in some states -- moving money "sideways" to other candidates, according to NECIR's analysis of tens of thousands of expenditures.

Ed Bender, the executive director of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, said states like Washington have prohibited that tactic because it serves as a form of political insurance for candidates. It can also be a strategy for getting a less favorable candidate into office, he said.

"Whenever you have a party in power and they're able to move money sideways to other candidates, it's a way for them to ensure they maintain their power and foster cronyism," Bender said.

"The person elected in a particular district is elected by people there. If they're not able to raise enough money in that district and if, instead, the money comes to them sideways, from another powerful candidate who bails them out, the question in voters' minds should be who will that candidate be listening to -- the voters or a powerful legislative leader," Bender said.

Massachusetts filers also contributed generously to favored causes and charities, the never-before-released reports from the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance show. Candidates and other filers raised about $107 million in 2010, the reports show.

Campaign finance experts said that is also a concern because contributors, when giving, feel they are supporting a particular candidate -- not filling the coffers of politicians or causes they wouldn't necessarily support.

"Most citizen donors expect their campaign money to be used for campaigning -- advertising, bumper stickers, campaign staff, etc., and would be shocked at some of the kind of spending that actually occurs," said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Massachusetts Common Cause, a nonprofit government watchdog group that tracks campaign spending.

Reports reveal surprises

While the bulk of last year's spending appears to be for traditional campaign costs like advertising, printing and postage, other surprises lurk in the reports.

Significant cash was spent by former politicians who haven't held elected office in years or those who ran unopposed last year.

Filers also spent hefty amounts on legal fees, gifts, meals at tony restaurants and international travel and hundreds of pricey floral arrangements.

"The campaign finance law is very loose regarding what campaign funds can be spent on. The standard is anything that furthers a candidate's political future so long as it isn't primarily for personal use. That covers a lot of things and we think it should be stricter," Wilmot said.

More than a dozen candidates spent more than $1 million, including election-night losers like Guy W. Glodis, who voters rejected for state auditor in the primary.

Another million-dollar loser was Republican Karyn Polito, who lost the race for state treasurer to Democrat Steve Grossman. Among Grossman's expenses was nearly $800 for a makeup artist last summer, the records show.

Glodis said he has no regrets.

"No. At the end of the day I want to know I gave it everything I could to win the race -- that includes spending as much as I can raise," Glodis, the former Worcester County sheriff, said.

Glodis's outlay pales in comparison to the top individual spender overall -- failed gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker.

Baker, a Republican, outspent his rivals by at least $1.5 million. Baker spent $6.2 million compared to winning Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick's $4.4 million and losing independent, former state Treasurer Timothy Cahill's $4.7 million, the records show.

The millions needed to run for statewide office grows each year, Wilmot said.

"Without either vast personal wealth or relying on special interest campaign donations, it is difficult if not impossible to be competitive for governor or other top offices. That doesn't serve the citizens of the Commonwealth," Wilmot said.

The more than 1200 filers, which include political action committee and ballot question supporters, had until Jan. 20 to file their year-end finance reports, said OCPF spokesman Jason Tait.

While most did, a precise accounting of annual campaign spending is still difficult to pin down. Many candidates leave required= information blank, like who was paid or why the expense was made.

Among the biggest offenders last year was aspiring state Auditor Republican Mary Z. Connaughton, who accounted for about 15 percent of records lacking information about the purpose of the expense. Connaughton lost to Democrat Suzanne Bump.

Connaughton said it was not her campaign's fault the blanks occurred. As a statewide candidate, she said the responsibility of reporting to OCPF falls on the bank. She said campaigns send checks with the purpose written in the memo line.

"It's the bank's responsibility, not ours, to report what's on the check," said Connaughton.

"Campaigns are required to provide purpose information, which is why if it is left blank we would ask a campaign to clarify," said Tait.

Other filers give vague explanations for spending like "miscellaneous" or "political expense," making it hard to discern what the payment was actually for without checking with every filer.

Just 4 percent of House and Senate did not file by the Jan. 20 deadline, Tait said. Candidates are fined $25 a day up to $5,000 for filing late, he said.

No longer politicians

The OCPF reports give the clearest available picture to-date of campaign cash collected and spent last year.

Politicians who have been out of public life for years spent tens of thousands in 2010 on everything from restaurants meals to their favorite charities.

Former Suffolk County Superior Court Criminal Clerk John A. Nucci, who now works for Suffolk University, spent more than $16,000 last year. His single biggest expense was to Suffolk University -- a $10,000 donation to the John Nucci Family Scholarship fund, the records show. Nucci left elected office in 2005, according to the Suffolk University website.

Nucci also gave generously to other candidates and charities and used a campaign credit card to pay for Christmas and constituent gifts, flowers, a Cape Cod package store and restaurants like the Ruth Chris Steak House.

"John's not retired. John is a politician and is trying to keep his name alive for any future campaigns," said Al Caldarelli, Nucci's campaign treasurer. "It's nothing for a politician who picks up the tab [at dinner] every once and a while."

"Campaign funds should not be used to enhance the lifestyle of the candidate -- especially long after their career is over. That's wrong, and we'd like to see it stopped," Wilmot said.

Nucci's spending also struck a nerve with Bender.

"He's living large at the expense of his campaign donors," Bender said.

Floral arrangements

Campaign committees should end after they file their year-end reports and give the remaining funds to a constituency fund or to charity, he said.

Richard P. Iannella, who resigned abruptly last month from elected office, spent about $33,000 in his bid to retain a six-year term as Suffolk County Register of Probate. His largest expense was $4,000 for Red Sox tickets for "poll and supporters," but he also paid federal taxes and bought over $2,000 in flowers, the OCPF records show.

One report shows he purchased $1,144 worth of flowers from Winston Flowers on Jan. 26, 2010. Iannella said that could not have been for a single arrangement.

"I've never spent that kind of money in my life [for flowers] unless my daughter was getting married," said Iannella in a phone interview. "And she ain't getting married."

Filers in 2010 spent close to $100,000 on flowers, mostly for funeral arrangements, but also on congratulatory and thank you pieces, the records show.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino ranks as one of the most generous flower givers, spending at least $7,000 on flowers in 2010, most from his favorite florist, Exotic Flowers, in Boston.

A spokesperson for the Menino campaign could not be reached and the mayor's office declined comment.

Flowers are such a powerful political tool and are so common that OCPF has even created specific regulations for them. Candidates cannot buy flowers for people they or their treasurer has a personal relationship with, the flowers must be appropriate for the occasion, and an "important political relationship" must exist, the regulations state.

Filers also spent tens of thousands on gifts and other festive items -- St. Patrick's Day and Christmas being among the most popular spending occasions, the records show.

Dinners, car payments

Spending millions on items the average person sees as a gift is a serious concern that has unfortunately become a campaign finance norm, particularly with special interest donors, Wilmot said.

"They want to maximize the personal impact of the donation and are happy to pay for dinner. That I think is a problem. As campaign funds become closer and closer to personal use, they also become closer to illegal gifts" Wilmot said.

Former high-profile politicians now working in much less prominent elected positions were also big spenders last year, like former Senate Minority Leader President P. Brian Lees, a Republican from Longmeadow.

Lees, who left the state Senate in 2007, is now the Hampden County Clerk of Courts. He spent nearly $500 a month last year to lease a car with campaign funds, OCPF records show.

Pricey cars were a typical 2010 expense for Massachusetts politicians.