In a quick short series, I want to share my observations about Presidential Candidate Romney (please stop calling him governor, he really didn't do much governing when he was here) as a resident of Massachusetts, a working municipal official, a parent with children in public school and a someone active in local politics during his stopover here.
It starts with who he was and how he got here:
To understand his frame of mind, it is important to know HOW Romney became governor of MA. As briefly as possible, and leaving out so many little facts and stories I’d just love to share if we had more time:
In 2002 Jane Swift (R) was coming to the end of her term as governor of MA, a term she had inherited after serving as lt. governor under Governor Paul Cellucci who left mid-term to take a position as ambassador to the Canada. Swift was the first woman governor of MA and had worked fairly well with the Democratic legislature. But there were ethics issued raised when it was discovered that Swift had used staff to care for her children and used a state helicopter to commute to work – a commute that could take over two hours by car. The MA Republican party leadership was worried they’d lose the seat to a popular Democrat who was already positioned to run, State Treasurer Shannon O’Brien. Republicans had held the governor’s seat since 1991 and didn’t want to lose the only control they had in state government.
Suddenly Mitt Romney appeared, flown in from Utah like a knight on a white horse. Swift simply stepped aside, letting the wealthy business man who always behaved like he was the smartest person in the room, take over. (I have images of him patting her on the head and telling her this was too much for a women, he’d take over…)
The last we’d heard from Mitt was when he lost his senate challenge against Teddy Kennedy in 1994. I thought he moved away, (GONE AWAY) and it turns out he did. But, despite the MA Democratic party challenging his residency, (hmmm he was reluctant to share his tax records… sound familiar?) Romney’s candidacy went forward.
I had more than one up-close and personal experience with Romney, including the first time I met him when he was running for governor. A friend and I dressed up like Republicans .... and joined in a local campaign kick-off party.
He shook my hand while I was asking him a question and he wouldn’t let it go. I had never before, nor since had such a strange feeling about someone as I did Romney. I knew he was going to be evil.
(The question I was asking him was about Ed Reform Act funding formula. Despite the fact that he claims credit for that and the successes it brought our state in national rankings, it had been in place since 1993- 10 years before served as governor. Oh, and it was clear he had no grasp of what I was asking him. So he held onto my hand, while I explained. )
And, I swear, he was wearing make-up. A foundation that was almost orange, and his eyes and lips were, well, enhanced.
He ran against Shannon O'Brien with Kerry Healy as his lt. governor. Healy was a rising star in the MA GOP party. At the time there was suspicion that Healy was chosen because she was a woman, to help garner votes from women who might otherwise have supported O'Brien.
Romney ran on his recent success at “saving” the Olympics and his promise to reach out across the aisle and work with Democrats as we were facing a major fiscal crisis. He donated $6 million to his own campaign allowing him to flood the airways and fill our mailboxes with glossy postcards spouting lies and promises that wouldn’t be kept.
At the time MA voters were complaining about special interest PAC's donating to campaigns, and idea I supported. But as I watched Millionare Mitt's campaign it occurred to me that if we took those resources out of politics and people like Romney ran, the only opponent with a shot would be a fellow millionaires, and who would represent us?
There were major gaffs on Romney’s part during his gubernatorial campaign, like not knowing what the acronym, MCAS, stood for - Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, a testing system put in to place as part of the 1993 Ed Reform Act.-- and a particularly condescending exchange with Shannon O’Brien during a debate. It was close, but he won.
He took office in 2003. I was working in municipal government and he immediately showed us who was boss by using (9C) powers to substantially cut school and municipal budgets, which was particularly harsh as our fixed costs had skyrocketed. The 9C law allowed him to do this unilaterally, pushing aside the Democratic legislature. The cuts were announced at a municipal conference in Boston on a cold January Saturday. He had called in the press and made a spectacle of the whole thing. I called a friend who was a state rep at the time, and asked him if he had been told about this move. No, we all found out at the same time. So much for working with the Democrats.....
Cities and towns began laying off teachers, public safety officers etc.
Romney didn't care about all that, he had other plans.......