In a Leona Helmsley Moment, Trump Goes Afoul of Sasso's Analytic Device

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

To measure last night’s presidential debate, let’s grab the John Sasso Gauge from the political toolbox.

Sasso, a chief of staff to former Governor Michael Dukakis and a high-ranking field officer in two Democrat presidential campaigns, wrote a piece in The Boston Globe this past spring on how and why voters make a choice in the final election of a president.  It was headlined, “The values battle in the general election.”
“…deep and emotional judgments about candidates ultimately drive Americans’ choice of a president,” Sasso declared.

“The most salient variables,” he wrote, “are voter perceptions of three characteristics”:
One, “a candidate’s personal political strength,”

Two, “voters’ trust in the depth and sincerity of the candidate’s convictions,” and
Three, “most importantly, whether the voters think that the candidate ‘cares’ about people like them.”

There were several points in the debate where I thought Hillary Clinton was clearly better than Donald Trump in showing caring-ness for the average voter.  She was particularly effective on that score when speculating on Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns for public scrutiny.
“Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is,” she told the 80 million or so persons watching the debate, “…maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be.  Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes,” at which point Trump interjected, “That makes me smart.”  (Immediately, I thought of the late Leona Helmsley's famous put-down of the working class: “We don’t pay taxes.  Only the little people pay taxes.”) Then Clinton expertly twisted the knife, “So, if he’s paid zero,” she said, “that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health.”

Soon after, when Trump excoriated “know-nothing politicians like Clinton and President Obama” for squandering trillions of taxpayer dollars, Clinton seized the moment to reinsert her blade.   “We have a country that needs new roads, new tunnels, new bridges, new airports, new schools, new hospitals,” said Trump.  “And we don’t have the money because it’s been squandered on so many of your (Clinton’s) ideas.”  Said Clinton, “And maybe because you haven’t paid any federal income tax for a lot of years.”

Trump tells America he’s smart not to pay taxes and implies the rest of us are chumps.
Four months ago in the Globe, Sasso predicted Clinton would win.  I’m sure that, watching the debate last night, he had no sudden qualms about his prognosticative powers.

 

When Kaufman Writes His Memoirs, Let's Hope for a Chapter on that July 3rd Bash

Friday, September 23, 2016

For the chance to chew the fat with Ron Kaufman, I would have gladly volunteered to drive one of the golf carts shuttling guests from a party at Kaufman’s Beacon Hill condo on the night of July 3 to the Boston Pops rehearsal concert at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade.  The man’s been a political operative and lobbyist for like 40 years.  There are stories I’d love to hear from his perspective.

You know the party I’m talking about, the one that put a couple of higher-ups in the Department of Conservation and Recreation in hot water after it was revealed they had expended DCR resources on the private celebration.  The golf carts in question, for example, were rented by the DCR.
There’s been a fair amount of publicity about the party at Kaufman's place and the resulting disciplinary action against the top twosome at DCR.  Nowhere has it been reported, however, if Kaufman was actually at the party, which seems a glaring instance of lazy journalism, although it’s hard to imagine why he would not have been there.

Actually, it’s easy to see why Kaufman might have missed the party:  If there was a more powerful and influential group of people he could have been with that night -- in Washington, D.C., say -- he would have subcontracted the hosting duties in Boston to a trusted friend and sprinted to D.C.
Kaufman is a Quincy boy who’s done well in life, and had a good time doing it, because of the Republican politicians he's befriended, first and foremost George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States.  Now 71, Kaufman is still going strong as a “Senior Advisor in the Public Policy and Regulation practice” at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, where he, no lawyer, works out of the Washington office.

On the Dentons web site, Kaufman is described as “a highly experienced political strategist who has served as a senior advisor to U.S. Presidents, Governors, Members of Congress, and a host of elected and appointed officials at every level of government.”
With his still-mostly-dark, swept-back hair, trademark moustache, and wickedly winning smile, Kaufman resembles the guy you knew in college who always knew the easiest courses to take, was simultaneously dating three women, and seemed destined for a fabulous career in sales.  You knew you shouldn’t like him so much, yet like him much you did.

There’s a gem in the archives of The Boston Globe, dated Aug. 20, 1989 and written by Scott Lehigh, who still writes a popular column in the Globe, which describes how Kaufman got his start in politics.  Here it is in its entirety:
“Ron Kaufman, now a deputy assistant to the president, got his start with George Bush through political blackmail, Kaufman told a Republican gathering in Boston last week.  Back in 1978, Kaufman was a South Shore grocery-store manager who wanted to get into politics.  He and his friend, Andy Card, then a young state representative from Holbrook, decided to hook up early with a presidential candidate.

“The two settled on a dark horse named George Bush.  Card became Massachusetts state chairman and then announced that he wanted Kaufman as Massachusetts campaign manager.  Thinking Kaufman too inexperienced, the campaign high command balked.  Whereupon Card issued an ultimatum: Either Kaufman was hired or he and his political allies would quit.  Concluded Kaufman: ‘So my first job for George Bush was through blackmail.’ ”
Bush lost the Republican presidential nomination to Ronald Reagan in 1980 but still emerged a winner as Reagan’s choice for vice president.  Kaufman won, too.  Reagan appointed him first to be the northeast regional political director of the Republican National Committee, then later the committee’s national political director.

Kaufman was the national campaign director for Bush when he ran for re-election as VP in 1984.  Following the landslide victory of Reagan-Bush over Mondale-Ferraro, he helped lay the groundwork for Bush’s successful campaign for the presidency in 1988. 
During the ’88 campaign, Kaufman engineered a media coup that had Bush taking a boat tour of Boston Harbor and decrying the harbor’s then-heavily-polluted waters, all to undermine the environmental bona fides of Governor Michael Dukakis, Bush’s Democratic opponent. 

The stunt became a high-volume national media event.  Amidst the noise, cries from Democrats that the Reagan administration had cut federal funds for the clean-up of Boston Harbor were drowned out (pun intended).  Said South Boston’s Jack Corrigan, director of operations for the Dukakis campaign, “These guys, the Republicans, cut off funds for Boston Harbor.  Then they walk in here and say, ‘You guys did it.’  It was outrageous.”
In a further attempt to embarrass Dukakis, Kaufman persuaded the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association to endorse Bush.  He then staged a media show where Bush flew to Massachusetts to accept the endorsement in person from the leadership and an assembled mass of the union.  

For his campaign services, Kaufman was named White House personnel director, overseeing all patronage hires at the beginning of Bush’s term, a job that made him suddenly very popular with Republican majordomos and campaign hands throughout the country.  Can there be any doubt that some of the persons he met then are still helpful to him today?  (“…I’m blessed with friends across the country,” Kaufman told Politico in 2013.)  Kaufman later became a special assistant to the president and White House political director.  Reportedly, he remains in frequent contact with the elder Bush, now 92 and enjoying a long retirement in Maine and Texas.
Kaufman joined the Dutko Group lobbying firm in 1994.  A few years ago, he moved to the law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge, which was subsumed into Dentons fairly recently.

John F. Kennedy said that anyone who would discount the importance of politics should consider that it was politics that took him, a lieutenant, junior grade, in the U.S. Navy in 1946, and in 14 years made him commander in chief.
In a less-exalted variation on that theme, we may note that it was politics that took the manager of a Weymouth grocery store in 1978 and made him a special assistant to the president of the United States in 1990 -- and then made him in 1994 a well-to-do practitioner of the art of winning friends and influencing policy.  Fourteen years for a son of a millionaire from Hyannisport and Palm Beach; sixteen years for a product of the working class from Quincy.  Damn impressive in either case.

 

Acting's a Big Part of the Party Chair's Job, which Puts McGee at Disadvantage

Monday, September 19, 2016

A week ago yesterday, Tom McGee announced he would not be a candidate this November for a second four-year term as chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.  The election of the chairman and other party officers will take place the week after the presidential election in November.

A longtime member of the state Senate from Lynn and son of a late House Speaker renowned for helping anyone down on his luck, McGee announced that decision in an email to members of the party’s state committee and others.
Befitting the man, who is the embodiment of decency, the message from McGee was warm, optimistic and personally engaging. 

“Over the past three years,” he wrote, “I know our work electing Democrats has helped countless people across the state.  I’ve often talked about my grandmother and the values I learned from her.  After helping organize shoe workers in Lynn, and during the darkest days of the Depression, she went to work for the Roosevelt administration to continue fighting for working families.

“The values we share as Democrats are the values my family instilled in me.  The Democratic Party is part of who I am.  I have been a proud member of our party my entire life and was first elected to the State committee over 40 years ago.”
Noticeably absent from that message, however, was a specific reason why McGee decided to walk away from the party chairmanship once his term is up.

Prior to the announcement, there was at least one report in the media that McGee could face opposition from two candidates who were at least partially motivated by what they perceived as McGee’s reluctance to criticize and to challenge Charlie Baker, our Republican governor, in public over Baker’s policies and actions.

On September 2, the Boston Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan, formerly a star at the State House News Service, reported that one possible candidate against McGee for the chairmanship, Eileen Duff, a member of the Governor’s Council, “appears to be trying to latch onto dissatisfaction within the party over McGee’s leadership style.”
O’Sullivan wrote, “According to people who have spoken to Duff, part of her pitch has been that she can approach the chairmanship as a full-time job, arguing that McGee has been conflicted by his legislative role.”

O’Sullivan wrote, “Other Democrats have complained that the party has not been aggressive enough in opposing Republican Governor Charlie Baker.  That unrest burbled up at the state party convention in June, when some activists criticized party leadership for not having a plan to hold the governor accountable.”
I don’t think McGee has been conflicted by his legislative role.  It is a legislator’s duty to oppose the governor if he or she believes the governor is attempting something wrong-headed or just plain wrong, and there have been several occasions during the past 21 months when McGee has criticized the governor publicly.  It’s just that, for a certain category of Democrats, McGee hasn’t criticized the governor nearly often enough or hard enough. 

These Democrats are looking for someone who can act outraged at a moment’s notice, someone who can call a press conference on 30 minutes' notice and emote on cue about how awful the governor is and how bloody important it is that he be defeated in 2018.
If McGee thought the governor was awful, or doing something awful, I’m sure he could do that, but if he didn’t truly feel it, he couldn’t fake outrage -- or any other emotion for that matter.  McGee, to his everlasting credit, is no actor.

So, is McGee giving up the chairmanship without a fight because he fears the faction of his party demanding more outrage?  Hardly. If he ran, he’d be an odds-on favorite for re-election no matter who was running against him.  You can find friends of McGee everywhere in Massachusetts,  enemies nowhere.  
My guess is that he is simply not enjoying the job enough to want another term, or that, having done the job for four years, he feels it’s time to give someone else a shot at it.

 

 

Sky Has Not Fallen in Medicinal Pot Shop's First Month in Downtown Boston

Friday, September 2, 2016

I’m wondering how the persons and organizations who tried to block the opening of a medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Boston are feeling now, one month after the dispensary opened.  Are they relieved that it has caused not a single problem in the neighborhood. Are they disappointed that their strongly expressed concerns have proved to be unfounded and that their credibility may have suffered as a result. Or have they moved so far past the issue they don’t give a thought to their old dispensary antagonism, and figure the rest of us don’t either.

A company known as Patriot Care opened the dispensary at 21 Milk St. on the morning Wednesday, Aug. 3, with a lack of fanfare thoroughly intentional.  There’s no sign on the outside of the building that even says Patriot Care, never mind anything about the products sold there.
Last August, the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to grant Patriot Care the conditional use permit needed to operate a dispensary at that location, which, interestingly, is right next to the spot where Benjamin Franklin was born.  (A broad-minded rebel genius, Mr. Franklin would have approved of this enterprise, and not just because of its name.) 

At that time, Robert Mayerson, president of Patriot Care, predicted, “What people will find is that, over time, no one will know that the dispensary was even there.” 
It looks to me like “over time,” in that instance, meant 30 days.

My office isn’t far from 21 Milk and I frequently pass by it on foot.  Up to yesterday, I’d never observed anyone going into or out of the building.  So, today, I decided to go by 21 Milk at three different times between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., hoping to catch sight of someone entering the building to fill his pot prescription or exiting it with a small bag containing his, er, medicine.  (Intensive fieldwork has always been a hallmark of the Massachusetts Politics Blog.) 
On all three passes I came up empty. 

Twenty-One Milk has to be one of the sleepiest retail venues in all of Boston; it looks nothing like what its opponents feared.   
In the spring of 2015, the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (BID) said, “The proposed medical marijuana dispensary at 21 Milk Street is broadly viewed as a business activity that will not advance the neighborhood’s positive momentum.”  The BID is headed by former Boston City Councilor Rosemarie Sansone.  Its 37-member board of directors reads like a Who’s Who in the power structure of Boston.

At one of the 2015 zoning board hearings on the Patriot Care proposal, then Boston City Council President Bill Linehan, in whose district the dispensary sits, “voiced strong opposition to the proposed location and his continued desire to work with Patriot Care to find a more suitable location,” according to a Boston Globe account.  Downtown Crossing is “finally starting to take off” and the dispensary “doesn’t send the right message,” Linehan was quoted as saying.
Others who spoke publicly in opposition to the permit included Bernard O’Rourke, a deputy superintendent of the Boston Police Department; Marc Epstein, owner of the popular Milk Street CafĂ©; Kristen Mansharamani, founder and executive director of the Torit Montessori School, 41 Bromfield Street; and Karen LaFrazia, executive director of St. Francis House, a large shelter for the poor and homeless at 39 Boylston St.

Also registering opposition was the Midtown Cultural District Residents’ Association, which reported that, of 86 association members responding to a survey on the dispensary, 59% were against it.  One association leader explained that the group was concerned that the dispensary “would exacerbate parking woes in the neighborhood.” 
(Parking is not allowed on that part of Milk Street. I’ve never seen a vehicle parked there when Patriot Care is open, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)

The long-established zoning process for granting conditional use permits in Boston worked well in the Patriot Care case.  The Appeals Board members were able to see beyond the heightened fears and anxieties of those who were sincerely concerned about keeping the downtown on its remarkable upward trajectory.
I understand where the opponents were coming from.  I respect their opinions and their right to express themselves fully, in whatever manner they chose, throughput the process, even though I could never understand how persons filling prescriptions at a marijuana dispensary could possibly be more adverse to a neighborhood than the persons already in the neighborhood every day filling prescriptions at CVS and Walgreens or going to appointments with physicians, dentists and physical therapists. Downtown Crossing and the adjoining Financial District have scores of such doctors and therapists.

When Patriot Care is celebrating its first anniversary next August, perhaps the Business Improvement District or the Midtown Cultural District Residents’ Association, or someone else in the opposing camp, circa 2015, will issue a statement congratulating the company on a trouble-free first year and acknowledging they were wrong to try to block the dispensary. 
That would represent a refreshing exception to normal human behavior.  Organizations are like persons, me prominently included: we never want to revisit those times when we were dead damn wrong.   

AN ADDENDUM OF PERFECT EXPRESSION: I couldn't fit this into the text above but it's too good to leave out: a statement by Scott Matalon, a member of the Allston Board of Trade and owner of Stingray Body Art, 384 Cambridge St., Allston.  As reported in digboston.com on June 17 of last year, Matalon described 21 Milk St. as the "ideal location" for a medical marijuana dispensary.  "Downtown Crossing is a commercial zone," said Matalon. "I can't think of a zone that is more commercial in our city; it's an ideal location.  If not there, then where?  If it's not allowed in a major commercial zone like Downtown Crossing, then where in the City of Boston?"
 

Wynn Just Bought a Bunch More Land in Everett and You Have to Wonder Why

Friday, August 26, 2016

At some point this past spring, casino mogul Steve Wynn acquired the weed-choked old General Electric property in Everett for an undisclosed sum and an undisclosed purpose.  I’m surprised this move has received so little attention.  

Robert DeSalvio, the person overseeing development of the “Wynn Boston Harbor” casino on the  former Monsanto chemical factory site in Everett, was quoted as saying, “Wynn Resorts supports the city’s vision of the former GE site to further advance the renaissance of Everett.  We look forward to working with the city’s planners in helping to transform this now vacant lot into a more productive use.”
It was revealed at that time that Wynn would be donating three acres of the GE parcel to the city for use as a new park.

Back in the spring, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria was as vague as DeSalvio about the future of the GE site, which comprises at least 40 acres along the banks of the Malden River and has sat, wretched and unused, for more than 20 years.  (I don't know for sure how far the GE site is from the Monsanto site, but it's got to be less than half a mile.)
Immediately, I thought they all must be planning something bigger for the property than a parking lot for casino employees and a warehouse for casino and hotel supplies. 

“Wynn does now own the GE site,” DeMaria confirmed in an interview with a local newspaper.  “We’ve hired Redgate Real Estate Advisors to help us do some development planning down at the GE site.  They are planning to help us with some ideas on how to develop that area…We want to get a pedestrian footbridge down there connecting us to Wellington Station.  That change would really drive property values up off of the Main Street area…”
By the way, DeMaria’s political stock, now that the City of Somerville’s attempt to block the casino has been thwarted, has never been higher.  DeMaria’s improbable-from-the-start, highly difficult, tortuous, multi-year campaign to bring the casino and all its related financial benefits to Everett has ended in a smashing victory.  If Wynn & Co. delivers on everything they’ve promised over the next decades, DeMaria will go down as the most successful mayor in the history of his long-under-appreciated city. 

With offices in Boston and Baltimore, Redgate describes itself as “a strategic real estate investment, development, project management and advisory firm.”  On its website, Redgate says, “We listen to our clients, collectively develop a strategy, and follow with a crafted delivery method to satisfy every client.  We design clear communication protocols from the moment of engagement to facilitate dialogues and foster and mobilize consensus.  We deliver a financially feasible strategy and an implementation plan for each client we serve, reducing risk and extracting the best value.”  Greg Bialecki, who served as Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development in the Governor Deval Patrick administration, is a member of Redgate’s management team.
Redgate’s involvement leads one to infer that the GE site redevelopment may consist of a new office park or apartment complex, with Wynn taking on the role of bankroller/lead developer and maybe using part of the land for a casino back office and supply depot.

(The deal for the GE site, significantly, is enabling Wynn to complete the purchase from the City of Everett of the Line Park on Lower Broadway/Route 99.  The traffic mitigation plan for the casino calls for Wynn to build a ramp off the northbound side of Route 99, which will lead to a new flyover that will take traffic directly to the casino on the other side of the road.  With the flyover, persons travelling north will not have to stop at a light and wait for a signal to turn green before proceeding to the casino.  Parkland may be taken for such a purpose in Massachusetts but must be replaced somewhere else in the jurisdiction.)
I can’t help but think that Wynn is up to something bold and unexpected.  His track record points in that direction.  He could, for example, be planning a golf course.  The site could accommodate a par-three 18-hole course or a normal-size 9-hole course.  If he were to acquire some of the contiguous properties, which include a large vacant lot now owned by a utility and rented to a bus and limo transport company, Wynn could potentially build 18 holes of more or less regular size.

At the Monsanto site, Wynn is building, at a total projected cost of $2 billion-plus, what he has always referred to as a five-star resort casino.  We know he prefers to include golf courses in his resorts.  Not too long ago, he spared no expense to create a plush-green, tree-lined golf course, with an eye-popping waterfall, in the desert beside his new casino on the Las Vegas strip.  To design that course, he turned to Tom Fazio, dubbed by Golf Digest magazine “the country’s preeminent modern-day designer.”   
Of the casino in Everett, Wynn recently said, “The hotel we’re building in Boston is a destination – not a box of slots in a regional casino, but an addition to a city that makes people want to go there and vacation.”  Many vacationers, especially the gambling kind, love to golf.

The GE site is not adjacent to the Mosanto site; however, both are on the water, the inner part of Boston Harbor, and one can travel by boat between them in less than five minutes.
There’s another reason I believe we could see a golf course on the Malden River one day.  A person I know was told by Mayor DeMaria that Wynn was considering, not long ago, the purchase of an industrial site in Everett because he wanted to put a golf course on it.  This site is on the opposite side of Route 99 from the casino, meaning it would not be easy to drive there, but it does have water access and would have been a two-minute boat ride from the casino dock.

People in Everett are now saying how the GE site and the area around it will be “totally different in five years.”  Don’t be surprised if “the renaissance of Everett” features the occasional golf ball flying into the street.   

 

 

 

There's a Way to Keep Horse Racing Alive and Help Our Economy and Environment

Friday, August 19, 2016

I never liked the idea of turning the Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston and Revere into a resort casino.  Being from Revere, I feel strongly that there are better uses for that property than gambling.  The city and its people will be better off if their future is not chained to a casino.    

I can see a beautiful housing development arising one day on the  old Suffolk Downs, a project that capitalizes on the site’s two abutting Blue Line train stations and its proximity to Revere Beach, the first public beach in the nation and still one of the best and safest natural beaches in the U.S. 
Except for one thing, I was not sorry when the Gaming (Gambling) Commission rejected the Suffolk Downs casino bid and gave the Eastern Massachusetts casino license instead to Steve Wynn, whose team is now building their casino in Everett, a few miles from the all-but-dead racetrack.

That one thing would be horses and horse farms.  More precisely, I’m talking about the preservation of open spaces and farmland.
There are more than a thousand farms, out of nearly 8,000 farms overall in Massachusetts, devoted to the breeding and care of horses. 

During the years it was striving to secure a casino license, Suffolk Downs constantly pointed to the value of these horse farms, job-wise and economic-impact-wise.  It warned of dire consequences for these farms if it did not get the casino license and had to close the track.  There was only a little hype in those warnings.
Now comes the University of Massachusetts to tell us there’s a way to reinvent horse racing in the Bay State and keep those horse farms, which represent 30 percent of all the agricultural land in the Commonwealth, from becoming house lots, apartment complexes, office parks, strip malls and the like.

Last month, the Center for Economic Development, part of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the UMass, Amherst, released a study proposing the creation of a horse park on approximately 150 acres in some rural or suburban part of the state with good access to the kinds of roads that would make it fairly easy for large numbers of persons to drive there.  Ten possible sites are identified in the study.
The horse park would feature a large track for thoroughbred horse racing, an equestrian center capable of hosting a variety of events, such as dressage competitions and hunting/jumping contests, and a retirement and retraining farm where up to 40 retired racehorses could be housed

“Thoroughbred racehorse breeding is an important component of the Massachusetts Equine Industry, whose vitality is directly tied to the availability of racing opportunities within the Commonwealth,” the study notes.

The new racetrack would account for $66.3 million in annual economic output and sales statewide, and support the creation of 664 full-time jobs, which would add roughly $38 million of labor income to Massachusetts households.
The study predicts that the equestrian center would generate $31.7 million in annual output and sales, and create 280 full-time jobs good for $14.5 million in household income.

Further, the study suggests that the retirement/retraining farm would become a significant tourist destination, requiring 11 full-time employees.  The total economic impact of this part of the horse park is estimated at $800,000 per year.
The three authors of the UMass study, who include two professors with doctorates, say the park could be developed at a total cost not likely to exceed $150 million.  They suggest paying for the park with loans backed by state's Race Horse Development Fund, made up of a small percentage of the proceeds from taxes on casino gambling.  The fund now holds close to $24 million, a sum that will fast grow larger when casinos under construction in Springfield and Everett open for business.  

In a world where some National Football League teams are said to be worth $2 billion, $150 million for a horse park hardly seems like a ridiculous or impossible dream.

The natural endowment of Massachusetts is beyond priceless.  The land itself has always been and will always be the most valuable thing in Massachusetts.  Unquestionably, the horse park would help to preserve that irreplaceable endowment, that incalculable value.  Our hope for its creation should be a fervent one.
The UMass study, “Towards the Creation of a Horse Park in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: A Feasibility Study,” may be found at:




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Gun Manufacturing's Large Role in MA Economy Has Not Deterred AG Healey

Thursday, August 11, 2016

It was good, I guess, that the Massachusetts Medical Society weighed in Tuesday in favor of Attorney General Maura Healey’s actions strengthening the state ban on assault weapons by expressly having it cover an array of so-called “copycat” weapons.

It was good, too, that 19 mayors from across the state announced yesterday that they have put their support for the AG’s position on copycats in writing.
But I was sold on the idea July 20, the day Healey undertook this particular initiative, when I read that Boston Police Commissioner William Evans was in her corner. 

If the person ultimately responsible for protecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Bostonians and keeping the peace in our capital city thinks it’s a good idea to keep copycat assault rifles out of Massachusetts, that’s good enough for me.
No regulatory change, however, is ever likely to alter this strange fact of life: Massachusetts is hopelessly bifurcated on the issue of firearms.

We have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and some of the busiest, most profitable gun manufacturers in the nation.  We’re a liberal state delighted to supply conservative states with all the guns they want.
We who live under the Route 128 bubble too often forget that the making and the marketing of deadly weapons is a big, booming business in the Bay State.   

“The economy of Western Massachusetts and the entire Knowledge Corridor Region has been steeped in the production of firearms since 1777, when George Washington selected Springfield as the site of the nation’s first arsenal,” the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts proudly notes. 

Since that time, says the Council, “the area has spawned a number of arms manufacturers, accessory manufacturers and job shops to support the industry.  These major players within the world of firearms production, Smith & Wesson, Savage Arms, Ruger, Colt, Marlin & Mossberg, were not only an epicenter for innovation during the industrial revolution, but are still developing advanced manufacturing techniques today.”
According to a current year “State by State Economic Impact Report” from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the spectrum of gun manufacturing in Massachusetts accounts for 7,091 jobs. 

The total annual payroll for these jobs stands at $515,414,900, and the annual per-employee wage and benefit package averages $72,686, the NSSF reports. 
These are what Mike Dukakis was very fond of calling “good jobs with good wages.”

When she announced her crackdown on copycat assault rifles, the Attorney General, to her credit, was not looking over her shoulder at the gun industry’s half-a-billion-dollar Massachusetts payroll and the seven thousand Massachusetts families holding secure spots in the middle class because of the vigorous American trade in guns.

She was what John Kennedy, one of Dukakis’s heroes, would have called “a profile in courage.”

ADDENDUM, 9-13-16: I read a post on the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) blog yesterday about how AIM will be honoring 11 Massachusetts companies with its 2016 Next Century Awards over a five-week period beginning next Tuesday, Sept. 20.  Among those companies will be Smith & Wesson of Springfield.  The section of the post describing Smith & Wesson, its contributions to Western MA economy, and its philanthropic activities was informative and pertinent, so I decided to add it to the above post.  Here it is in its entirety:

Smith & Wesson has been a cornerstone of the Pioneer Valley manufacturing economy since Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson began to produce the Model 1 revolver in Springfield in 1856. The company’s storied history traces an arc from the old west to the Imperial Army of the Russian Tsar to outfitting thousands of laws enforcement officers in the United States and abroad.

But beyond its own success, Smith & Wesson has been a crucible of technology and skills that have fueled the development of a metal machining hub in western Massachusetts that now serves industries from aerospace to medical devices.

Smith & Wesson Corp. today is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of firearms. The company is expected to generate more than $900 million in annual sales in its current fiscal year.  It also employs more than 1,700 people, most at its sprawling manufacturing plant on Roosevelt Avenue.

Smith & Wesson has delivered tremendous organic and inorganic growth in firearms, and in 2010 moved 225 new jobs to Springfield as a result of its earlier acquisition of Thompson/Center Arms in New Hampshire.

In addition to growing its historical and sizeable firearms business, Smith & Wesson has recently expanded beyond firearms.  It acquired accessories maker Battenfeld Technologies in 2014, and in August of this year added Taylor Brands to its list of acquisitions.  Taylor is a designer and distributor of high-quality knives and specialty tools.

Then Smith & Wesson purchased a leader in laser sighting products, Crimson Trace.  Smith & Wesson paid $180 million in cash for both the Crimson Trace and Taylor acquisitions. 

In addition to Smith & Wesson’s rich legacy of supporting philanthropic efforts in the community throughout the decades, the company has more recently taken a visible role in addressing the critical shortage of trained machinists that is affecting all areas of Massachusetts. The Smith & Wesson Technology Applications Center was created at Springfield Technical Community College to host STCC’s manufacturing and engineering technology programs, which prepare students for jobs in modern, computerized precision-machine shops.  It’s is just one of many programs that the company has supported to help deliver economic growth.

Among Smith & Wesson’s best known products over the years have been the .38 Military & Police Revolver, now known as the Model 10, a firearm that has been used extensively by police forces and has been in continuous production since 1899; the Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver made famous by Clint Eastwood in his Dirty Harry movies; and the popular M&P line of polymer pistols and rifles.

Smith & Wesson Corp. is the main operating subsidiary of the publicly traded Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation.