In a recent post on Blue Mass Group, Governor Patrick’s chief of staff, Doug Rubin, declared that “Governor Patrick has succeeded in bringing fundamental change to our state government.” One phrase made clear that Mr. Rubin was engaged in extreme spin. Rubin cites the decision of the Appellate Tax Board (ATB) to let communities charge telecommunication companies property taxes for the land that their telephone poles occupy: “The Appellate Tax Board closed the loophole on telephone poles, which when the process is completed will raise millions in new revenue for cities and towns.”
Well, the administration certainly played a role in the pole-tax case. As Boston Globe columnist Steve Bailey has pointed, the administration did intervene -- but not on the side of the communities trying to close the loophole. In fact, Deval Patrick’s Department of Revenue jumped in on the side of the defendant, Verizon. Now the Governor is claiming credit for an ATB decision that his administration actively argued against just a few months ago.
Rubin’s list of Deval Patrick’s heroic achievement states: “Highlights in 2007 include the historic vote on same-sex marriage… and national leadership in clean energy and environmental issues.”
Claiming some credit for the Legislature’s decision not to put the anti-marriage equality measure on the ballot is fair enough. Nobody would deny that the Governor, along with House Speaker Sal DiMasi, helped persuade legislators to kill the proposal. Persuading people to come around to your point of view is part of the art of politics. Of course, when Sal DiMasi exercised that same art to kill casinos, Deval Patrick cried foul. Referring to my handy Polspeak-to-English phrasebook, I see that when the Governor talks to legislators he is a doughty advocate and when the Speaker talks to legislators he is a sleazy midnight-deal-making hack. So far, so good. Like Humpty Dumpty, many politicians seem to believe that words mean whatever they chose them to mean, and unabashed hypocrisy is what makes politics such fun.
But the Patrick administration claiming “national leadership on clean energy and environmental issues” is a bit of a stretch. What could Rubin mean?
On the plus side, the Governor issued an executive order last year setting targets for renewable energy. Called “Leading by Example,” the executive order says that 15% of agency electricity should come from renewable resources by 2012 and 30% by 2020.
According to National Geographic,
In addition to the “Leading by Example” greenwashing, our Governor has a penchant for high-emission/low-efficiency forms of transport (e.g. helicopters). And the avowed intent of his casino proposal was to encourage people to drive long distances to large new constructions on previously undeveloped land. How all this might constitute national leadership on clean energy and environmental issues intrigued me. So I decided to try and find out what Doug Rubin meant.
Yesterday (Wednesday, April 2) after e-mailing an inquiry I followed up with a telephone call to the Governor’s office, asking what specific measures Mr. Rubin was referring to. They put me through to the communications office where a woman took my number and said that somebody would get back to me. Then, a little nervously, she asked “you’re not from the press or anything, are you?” My request for concrete facts seems to have triggered a degree of alarm in the Deval Patrick communications office. I shall let you know as and when they get back to me.