There are still summer days remaining until the fall
equinox; and, if we aren't directly involved in a campaign, still an
occasional weekend afternoon with time to spend in the hammock or
But for those of us who love an election-year autumn, the phones are
ringing again as the excitement of the political battle surges through
So there I was on Labor Day morning in Marlborough with Kerry Healey;
her running mate, Reed Hillman; and their cheering supporters, as the
pair enthusiastically signed a large cardboard version of the Taxpayer
Protection Pledge: "I (Kerry Healey, Reed Hillman), pledge to the
taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that I will oppose and
veto any and all efforts to increase taxes."
Good news for laboring people, for whom a tax increase is a pay cut.
Suddenly, voters are paying attention to at least the gubernatorial
campaign, noticing the radio and TV ads, reading newspaper articles
about tax plans and education proposals, and watching televised
interviews and debates as we approach the Sept. 19 primary.
As an independent I can vote in either primary. Since there is only one
contest on the Republican ballot, and either Ken Chase or Kevin Scott is
fine with me against Ted Kennedy, I'll be taking the Democratic ballot.
I will be voting for incumbent Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who has
been supportive of the initiative petition process. And then I must
choose the best Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant
governor. I'm working on it, starting with tax issues.
Of course I will vote for Healey and Hillman in the general election.
Besides signing the pledge, they have both supported the income-tax
rollback over several years.
Independent candidate Christy Mihos, who just turned in his signatures
to qualify for the November ballot, is expected to sign the pledge too;
but he no longer supports an immediate income-tax rollback as the
Republicans do, but rather has some vague plan to do it later.
I know sometimes people choose the candidate they judge as weakest
against the person they want to win. I can't do that; I take my vote
seriously and won't play games with it. When I'm supporting a Republican
or Libertarian, I vote in the primary against the Democrat I really,
really, do NOT want to win.
I loathe Tom Reilly. I wouldn't vote for him for the same reason I voted
against Scott Harshbarger in the 1998 Democratic primary.
As Middlesex County district attorney, and then attorney general, they
were the persecutors of the Amirault family in the infamous Fells Acre
Day Care case. Because they refused to look at the real evidence and
admit the state made a mistake when it convicted Violet, Cheryl and
Gerald Amirault, innocent people spent many years in jail until
enlightened judges and a decent parole board freed them.
If Patrick really cares about property taxes, let him propose a direct
property tax cut or at least endorse Healey's proposal to control local
I don't know which annoys me more, Reilly's sudden and unbelievable
conversion, or Gabrieli's never-gonna-happen "plan."
And despite what Patrick says, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is not a
gimmick. It's a message sent by candidates to the Legislature, cities
and towns: Don't spend yourselves into another fiscal crisis. Control
yourselves, set priorities, do systemic reforms -- because in the next
recession, you'll need a two-thirds roll-call vote to override the
governor's veto of the new taxes that provide an easy way out at
Gabrieli or Patrick? I still have more than a week to decide.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem
News, Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence
Journal and other newspapers.