CLT Update
Thursday, November 30, 2000

Boston Globe shows its bias; Dick Egan strikes back

Barbara and I are back from our much-needed R&R, tanned and rejuvenated. The mailing we produced and got out before leaving (to hopefully retire the $40,000 Promise debt) is in your hands.

So too is the future of CLT.

Thus far, the response from the 8,172 it went out to is ... well ... those 45 who have recently responded have contributed $1,098 toward that $40,000-plus we owe so that we could win our ballot campaign and save you a small fortune over the coming years.

According to responses to our questionnaire on the back of the return card that have arrived, apparently the post office is not to blame for the dismal response to our October emergency fund-raising letter. It went out and was received. The fault is simply apathy or disinterest on the part of too many of the thousands of recipients.

If there's not enough interest among those 8,172 alleged supporters now holding our current plea to dig Promise out of this hole, obviously there's not enough interest and support to keep CLT alive and functioning.

The vote that's in is: $1,098 from 45 contributors for keeping CLT alive; and $38,902 and 8,127 "supporters" so far apparently either apathetic about or against (it's the same) the continued survival of CLT even after our victory.

For the entire year, "A Promise to Keep: 5%" raised only $105,828.50 from 2,465 contributions with which to run your statewide campaign. Still, we won and have provided you with your tax cut. Note that I said 2,465 contributions -- not contributors -- as a great number contributed more than once and more than their fair share. We thank them, and hope that all taxpayers are as grateful.

Yes, we had to go into debt to insure that you got your tax cut. But obviously, that was the necessary price of victory against an opponent with unlimited resources that spent over $3 million attempting to deprive you of your long-overdue tax relief. It was the only way it could have happened.

It's too early yet for final results to be predicted; you still have time to "cast your vote" and do your part to assist in the survival of the taxpayers' best last resort ... or to let it slip away.

But you must act now if you intend to act, or forever hold your peace when you're on your own against the Gimme Lobby.

A Promise to Keep: 5%
PO Box 408
Peabody, MA 01960-6908

How about that Boston Globe! While we were away recovering, it ran a story [below] about how much money was contributed to the governor's ballot committee, the Tax Rollback Committee, by businessmen who also wanted to "keep the promise," reported like their money was dirty, delivered in paper bags or something.

It mentions in passing the millions raised (taken by force) and spent by the public employees and teachers unions, but the reader is left to believe that the unions acted for the good of taxpayers and not simply in their own greedy, selfish interest, as always.

Well, this year's recipient of CLT's highest honor, the Warren T. Brookes Award, fired back. Longtime CLT member and benefactor Dick Egan let them have it with both barrels. His letter to the editor [below] was published in today's edition; it speaks for itself.

Chip Ford

The Boston Globe
Sunday, November 19, 2000

State-tied firms bankrolled tax cut
By Tina Cassidy, and Frank Phillips
Globe Staff

Governor Paul Cellucci, down in the polls and in need of a political victory, desperately wanted his tax cut ballot question to pass Nov. 7.

But with unions threatening a massive campaign to block the initiative, the governor picked up the phone and dialed for dollars.

The result: About $1 million in political contributions poured into his Tax Rollback Committee -- especially in the month before the election -- with nearly a third of the total coming from companies, from banks to technology firms, that are either heavily regulated by the state, have state contracts, or depend on the administration's good will for favors.

Many company officials say they donated out of conviction that lowering the state income tax from 5.85 percent to 5 percent would boost the business climate and consumer activity in Massachusetts. But some believe the campaign reveals a troubling coziness between the Cellucci administration and those with matters before state agencies, and the governor's willingness to exploit those relationships to rack up political wins.

"The unfortunate fact is that our political system is set up so that people with a financial interest in government are drawn into making political contributions, and what that creates is an appearance of impropriety, or at least unfairness," said Ken White, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts.

Take, for example, Arthur Winn, a major developer and owner of the Bostonian Hotel, who contributed $10,000 to the Tax Rollback Committee on Sept. 29, according to campaign finance records.

Just three days after the donation, the Cellucci-controlled Massachusetts Turnpike Authority agreed that Winn Development Co. would not need to compete with other developers for the right to build a hotel and housing complex over the turnpike at Columbus Avenue.

In a letter outlining its position, turnpike chairman Andrew Natsios said the decision to award Winn the project without a bid was due to his "track record as a developer" and that his proposal had a relatively low traffic impact.

Winn did not return calls seeking comment.

Unlike donations to candidates, which are capped at $500 per individual, businesses can give unlimited contributions for ballot questions. For example, Richard Egan and his giant data storage firm, EMC Corp., donated $151,000 to the tax cut campaign.

Egan, whose firm has more than $200,000 in state contracts, is a close ally of Cellucci and has regularly helped to underwrite the governor's political initiatives. From all appearances, it is a mutually beneficial relationship.

Egan has prevailed upon Cellucci and his administration for his own agenda. For example, the state Highway Department last year funded a $1.9 million road project in Hopkinton that allowed the firm to expand its headquarters.

This fall, state Representative Marie J. Parente, Democrat from Milford, felt the one-two political punch from Egan and Cellucci when the two actively backed her Republican opponent.

What surprised Parente most, she says, was that Cellucci earlier had given her his word that he would not campaign against her. Parente had known Cellucci when the two served in the Legislature, and has, as a conservative Democrat, often supported him.

But a month after Cellucci allegedly made that promise, he showed up in Milford attending a fund-raiser for William E. Kingkade Jr., the GOP nominee.

Parente is convinced Cellucci went back on his word because Egan, who was furious at her for blocking EMC's request for a sewer hook-up in Milford, prevailed upon the governor to campaign for Kingkade.

"It was obvious to me that it had to be a political ploy by the governor and his good friend, Mr. Egan," said Parente, who handily won reelection. "Egan has openly boasted about his relationship with Cellucci."

Egan, who donated $500 to the long-shot Republican challenger, did not return calls.

Cellucci was out of town last week and not available for comment. His press spokesman, Jason Kauppi, said the governor considers Parente a friend, but also considers it his job to back Republican candidates for the Legislature.

"He is going to recruit [Republican] candidates and try to get them elected," Kauppi said, adding that he could neither confirm nor deny the private conversation between Parente and Cellucci.

Meanwhile, NSTAR, formerly known as Boston Edison, wrote a $10,000 check in July to the Tax Rollback Committee. The company is frequently before the state Department of Telecommunications and Energy for regulatory matters, and last month was granted a rate increase for its default service customers.

However, a spokesman for NSTAR, the state's largest utility, said the company supported the tax cut solely because it sees the reduction as "a positive thing for the people of Massachusetts."

"There's no connection between anything," said the spokesman, Mike Monahan. "It's not political in nature. It's just a normal way of doing business."

New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc., which donated $5,000 to the tax-cut effort, received a generous tax package from the state and the city in 1998 to move its company headquarters to a site along the turnpike in Brighton.

Under the agreement, New Balance can write off about 10 percent of the money it is pouring into the office complex and garage. The company also has a $70,620 grant with the state Department of Employment and Training.

A company spokeswoman said New Balance chairman and CEO Jim Davis backed the governor's initiative because it is good for the retail economy.

"The reason he would have done it was to stimulate the economy because if taxes are lower, people tend to spend more," the spokeswoman said.

Other companies and individuals who donated also have interests on Beacon Hill:

Many drug firms and biotechnology companies have a keen interest in the debate over pharmacy plans for senior citizens being formulated by the state to ease the cost of prescription drugs, and together they gave nearly $50,000. The companies oppose a plan to create bulk purchasing for Massachusetts, which is being pushed by Joseph P. Kennedy II's Citizens Energy Corp.

The firms worry that if the idea catches on nationally, their revenues will drop. Among the companies who made large contributions to the tax-cut drive: Pfizer, Glaxo Wellcome, and Imunogen. Other firms with interest in the issue also have state contracts. For example, drugmaker Abbott Laboratories has $380,000 in contracts with the state, most of them with the Department of Public Health.

Fleet Bank, which gave $20,000, has many matters before the state, from mergers to ATM fees to lending practices. Fleet also has $2 million in state contracts, mostly to provide financial services to the state Treasurer's office and Department of Revenue.

Like the company officials, a Cellucci political aide said the business donations reflect support for the tax reduction's effect on the economy and the governor's emphasis on fiscal conservatism. And their contributions were needed to fight the union-backed campaign to block the tax cut, which raised about $3 million and blitzed television airwaves to try to defeat it, the aide said.

"The governor made calls throughout the entire campaign to raise money for Question 4, and most of the donations were from people who have been longtime supporters of the Republican Party," said John Brockleman, executive director of the Massachusetts GOP. "They wanted to see the state income tax reduced because it was a promise and it's going to keep our state competitive."

Matthew Carroll of the Globe Staff assisted with the preparation of this report.

The Boston Globe
Thursday, November 30, 2000
Letters to the Editor

Story maligned tax cut backers

REGARDING THE Nov. 19 news story, "State-tied firms bankrolled tax cut" (Page A1):

The major premise suggesting that everyone who supported the tax rollback with significant financial donations was trying to curry favor with the governor for state business is classic Globe "journalism."

While I can't speak for everyone else who was also disparaged in this article, I can tell you the only two reasons I strongly supported the rollback were:

  •  The Commonwealth is rolling in cash.

  •  Promises are made to be kept, even from politicians.

I believe the intent of this article was to discredit those of us who had the audacity to support a position opposed by the almighty Globe (editorials, Nov. 6 and 7).

For the record, I also donated to the Massachusetts High Technology Council and the Citizens for Limited Taxation to support the tax rollback initiative.


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