and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
February #4

There's no respect for voters in any branch of government
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dear Ms. Anderson: This will acknowledge receipt of your recent letter requesting a review of Bar Counsel's decision to close the matter referenced above.

"Please be advised that a member of the Board of Bar Overseers has reviewed the decision to close the file. Based on that review, it is the opinion of the Board member that bar Counsel has properly closed the file.

"This matter is closed and will remain closed. I thank you for your cooperation throughout the process. Sincerely yours, Michael Fredrickson, General Counsel"

You're welcome, though I don't recall cooperating as such. I simply filed a complaint against those elected lawyers, including Gov. Deval Patrick, who ignored a Supreme Judicial Court ruling that the Legislature is constitutionally required to vote on initiative petitions. The Bar Counsel refused to rule that they violated their oath of office, so I appealed to the Board of Bar Overseers and was rather brusquely told to forget about it.

Of course you know I will not. This lack of respect for the state constitution goes to the top of my list of grievances against the new governor, who:

1. Doesn't respect the constitution, initiative petition process or voters.

2. Wants to raise taxes by allowing communities to increase lodging and meals taxes.

3. Insults our intelligence by calling these tax increases "tax freedom." Get it? Cities and towns are "free" to raise the tax on senior citizens eating breakfast at the coffee shop.

4. Further insults our intelligence by also calling these taxes "property tax relief," apparently because 25 percent of the money will go into a fund that can give additional abatements to lower-income senior citizens 70 and over. The rest of us will just pay the higher meals tax on top of our unrelieved property taxes.

His package includes some needed local reforms that might save money, so he pretends this package is his campaign-promised "property tax relief." But he hasn't yet explained how that money will lower property taxes, instead of just being spent by the cities and towns.

Question: How dumb does he think we are? Continuing with my list:

5. After running a campaign about openness and working together, Patrick refuses a "freedom of information" request to release the suggestions he very publicly solicited from his department heads on possible budget savings. I've filed an appeal on that one, too, this time with the Secretary of State's office, which oversees the public records law. Figure that we can only address the budget, together, if we have open access to information.

6. While proposing tax increases to cover a budget deficit, he refuses to even discuss Massachusetts' unique "paid police details" while blaming the state police for his decision to lease a Cadillac. He claims they gave him only two choices, so he picked the more expensive one. After intense criticism, he decided to pay part of the cost himself.

7. While pretending to be an environmentalist, he travels by helicopter and gas-guzzling automobile, while heating two mansions. File under "do what I say, not what I do."

8. And now we learn that he is using taxpayer dollars to hire a campaign supporter at $72,000 as chief of staff for his wife. Who knew his wife had a staff that needed a chief? Who knew we elected his wife?

This is beginning to look like the Declaration of Independence, with its list of grievances against HRH King George III. I'll stop now, and return to the Legislature and its dislike of roll call votes.

Earlier this month, the House rejected, 20-127, a Republican-proposed reform requiring that committee votes be posted on the Legislature's Web site. Bills generally pass or fail early in the legislative process, when committee members vote for or against them; you can get those important votes only by going to the committee office with "reasonable" notice during regular office hours.

If you ever ask your legislator to file a bill, you might be pleased that he does what you ask, but never know that he votes against your bill in committee, pretty much assuring its defeat. Yes, we are drowning in respect, openness and "together we can."

Returning to the Board of Bar Overseers: It had a chance to back up the Supreme Judicial Court when its decision was ignored by legislators.

I know that the judiciary is always afraid to take on the executive branch, lest it be ignored and thus diminished. This is why the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1803, backed down on Marbury v. Madison, refusing to make President Jefferson give Mr. Marbury the post to which he was entitled by law. Later, in 1831, the court refused to support the Cherokee Nation when the states broke the federal treaties and shamed our own nation forever.

What we asked last month wasn't a big defining deal relative to separation of powers. Our judiciary branch could have stood up for itself and the voters with a simple reprimand in the files of lawyer-politicians, and it refused.

Massachusetts government, executive, legislative, judiciary: Working together to make us proud.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.