Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summertime, and the living is easy

The Patrick/Murray administration announced yesterday that our esteemed Governor and Lieutenant Governor are embarking on a summer “listening tour.” They’ll be taking time out of their busy schedules to talk with the public, to listen to our frustrations and our concerns. Well that’s not a bad idea. Surely they will be going to all parts of the state, to hear from people who are still struggling in this economy, to talk to those citizens from whom they might not usually hear – right? Let’s take a look at their itinerary: Lenox, Boston… Martha’s Vineyard?? You have got to be kidding me.

"Governor, can we talk?" Patrick to hit the Vineyard
Let’s start with the obvious – going to the Vineyard on a summer weekend and calling it a “listening tour” is a little silly. Then there’s the Governor’s Friday afternoon stop in Lenox, which is conveniently right next to his Richmond mansion. Considering the amount of time the Governor spends at his Sweet P Farm, holding a town hall event out there isn’t so much ‘getting out to hear from the people’ as it is ‘talking to your neighbors.’ Do the taxpayers really need to fund a “conversation tour” for the Governor in Lenox when he could probably just stop by the grocery store and accomplish the same thing?

Not to mention, these cities and towns seem hardly representative of the state as a whole. A quick look at their local unemployment rates reveals that they are all doing fairly well, at least compared to the state. Their unemployment rates are comparable to or lower than the state’s seasonally unadjusted rate of 7.4% (town-by-town data is only available as seasonally unadjusted). To be fair, the Governor’s office hasn’t yet announced the location of their South Coast visit, and that is likely to be a town with high unemployment (Fall River is at 14.9%). But with dozens of Massachusetts communities with unemployment still above 9%, it’s unbelievable that our Governor and Lieutenant Governor are primarily visiting communities with unemployment under 7%.

And really? Arlington? Northampton? Boston? Lenox? If this were a campaign bus tour for Patrick, it would make sense for him to visit these liberal strongholds. But this isn’t a campaign event, it’s being paid for by the taxpayers. Excluding the South Coast and Martha’s Vineyard because the administration hasn’t announced the location of those events, Patrick and Murray are going to eight communities. Patrick won five of those communities in 2010 and Charlie Baker won three of them (Patrick also won all of the South Coast and Martha’s Vineyard). Patrick’s average margin of victory in those eight communities was 23 points. That includes his losses in three communities. Patrick only beat Baker by six points statewide.

How Deval Patrick and Tim Murray can say with a straight face that this “conversation tour” is about “governing the whole state” is beyond me. It seems to me like the taxpayers will be paying for our Governor and Lieutenant Governor to visit only those parts of the state likely to tell them what a great job they’re doing.

UPDATE: The Administration has announced their South Shore location: Westport. As expected, Westport does have high unemployment (11.2%), although not as high as Fall River and New Bedford. With Patrick winning Westport by "only" 9 points in 2010, his average margin of victory in the nine announced communities drops from 23 points to 21 points.

UPDATE 2: It seems like Patrick is taking advantage of this "statewide" tour to raise a little money for his campaign and himself. His Lenox event will be followed by a fundraiser at his Richmond home and his Salisbury event will be followed by a book signing in Newburyport.


  1. 6 stops for the Gov and what 4 for Lieutenant Timbo in the dead of summer? This does not look like the schedule of a guy who just won re-election. The guy has a federal PAC! What presidential surrogate is expected to pay for his own travel!?

  2. The thing is, these aren't supposed to be political events. We the taxpayers are paying for these "conversations." Although I wouldn't be surprised if Patrick sprinkled in some praise for his friend President Obama, especially considering the towns he's visiting.


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