and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
November #4

Critical vote on Senate seat
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, November 26, 2009

No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear,
But grateful, take the good I find,
The best of now and here.

— John Greenleaf Whittier

OK, Thanksgiving statement out of the way. That was a pleasant moment of living in the moment and appreciating it.

But this year I cannot tarry in the joyous present. Too much happening in the political arena. And I'm grateful for the chance to fight back.

I'm going to ignore the holiday political correctness debates that are beginning now about Christmas mangers and sugary candy canes. I don't do Christmas, anyhow, until Belsnickle on Dec. 5. And that's three days before the U.S. Senate primary elections here in Massachusetts.

I was waiting to do a column about the race until I saw a debate between the two Republicans who, you may be surprised to learn, are also running for the seat vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy. Have seen or heard them doing individual interviews on television and radio, though, and they both attended the Citizens for Limited Taxation annual brunch last month.

Sen. Scott Brown was there early to meet and greet CLT activists; Jack E. Robinson bought a table and brought friends. This makes them both CLT members, so I'm neutral for this primary.

Easy to say since as an independent I intend to vote in the Democratic race.

Scott Brown always has a high rating with CLT on tax and economic issues; it's 100 percent this year. Robinson became an instant friend when he told us he admired our involvement in the Amirault issue. This is one of those things on which we judge people as good, bad or indifferent.

The Amirault case was not directly a tax issue, though it was wrong to use taxpayer dollars to persecute an innocent family. But in the aftermath of the hysteria that gripped the nation around day-care centers during the 1980s, we came to indulge ourselves in a peripheral quest for justice.

Violet Amirault ran a day-care center in Malden, with the assistance of her daughter, Cheryl, and son, Gerald, for many years without incident. Suddenly the Middlesex County district attorney's office was prosecuting them for child abuse, even though no evidence was ever found. I saw tapes of children insisting that nothing bad had happened, then being pressured by social workers to make things up. The elderly Violet, along with Cheryl and Gerald, went to jail.

Over many years, Middlesex district attorneys Scott Harshbarger and Tom Reilly insisted they stay there. Violet, though refusing to admit guilt in exchange for an early release, finally got out two years before she died.

By the time Martha Coakley became Middlesex DA and got involved, anyone could easily investigate the case and arrive at the conclusion that the family was innocent. But Coakley couldn't be bothered.

She finally agreed to Cheryl's release under stringent conditions. But when the parole board recommended commutation for Gerald Amirault, she organized families of the alleged abuse victims to object. Overall, Gerald was unjustly imprisoned for almost 18 years.

Though every chance I get I vote against the politicians who persecuted the Amiraults, I've seen all three DAs become attorney general. I did, however, have the pleasure of seeing both Harshbarger and Reilly lose their campaigns for governor. Now I hope to see Coakley lose this Senate race.

I disagree with all four Democratic candidates on health reform, taxes, and the economy. I was glad Michael Capuano, the congressman from Somerville, attacked Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca when the latter supported a military draft; but aside from that, the only real issue for me here is justice.

I've been watching their debates, fantasizing that one of them would go after Coakley on the Amirault injustice. I hope if she wins the primary next month, the Republican candidate will use the Amirault issue to argue that she doesn't have the judgment, character or courage necessary to be a good U.S senator. Robinson told us that he intends to do this.

Meanwhile I must choose someone to vote for in the Democratic primary. Eeeny, meeny, miny ...; one potato, two potato, three potato...

No, actually, it's not that hard. I have known Mike Capuano since he was chief of staff to the Taxation Committee on Beacon Hill during the Proposition 21βΡ2 campaign. We debated that and later, the graduated income tax. We agree on nothing about which I have any expertise, though I might trust him on Afghanistan.

I can still see Capuano, sitting on a stool in the middle of the U-shaped Taxation Committee table, feeding legislators the data, the pros and cons of each piece of complicated tax legislation.

He is one of the smartest people I've met on Beacon Hill. For what that's worth: I suppose I'll never understand how smart people can be fiscal liberals. Also don't understand how good people can vote for trillions in debt that our grandchildren must pay.

But that aside, I know Capuano to be a genuine, honest, delightfully combative man. If he won I wouldn't feel as silly as I usually do when required to call my senator.

I won't be voting for him and more national debt in the general election, but on Dec. 8, Mike Capuano will have my vote, and Martha Coakley won't.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

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