Wednesday, June 13, 2012

In Which I ask Governor Patrick a Pointed Question

Yesterday Governor Deval Patrick journeyed out to Cape Cod, an impromptu visit that was only announced a couple days ago. At the "Tourism Roundtable," he received the "key to Provincetown." He also learned why the spraying of herbicides under the power lines to control vegetation will pollute our sole source aquifer ...

The Governor had visited with restaurateurs in Dennis and farmers in Truro before meeting with hospitality service members in Provincetown. Guess who was invited? Little old me. The Governor was prompt. He arrived at Provincetown Town Hall five minutes ahead of schedule. He’s handsome and looked younger than I expected. I was also surprised by his sense of humor and quick repartee. Governor Patrick spoke of his good rapport with our darling Rep. Sarah Peake, who sat at his side, then suggested we keep the discussion “breezy and light.”

The first question was actually four. A Provincetown restaurateur, named Astrid, asked about 1.) the likelihood of an improvement in transportation during shoulder season, 2.) visa restrictions for international workers, 3.) their eligibility for unemployment, and 4.) smoking regulations in restaurants.

“This is your list of standard unnegotiable demands?” the Governor quipped.

I agreed with the thrust of restaurateur’s first question. We need to consider what kind of transportation service we want in the future, for Wellfleet as well as Provincetown. The Governor responded, “Point taken.” After answering the visa question, he said, “We need to reelect this president. The dynamic will change if not. The country will have rejected bullying politics, and we can get down to business.” (From the way he phrased the response, I could not help but wonder whether the Massachusetts governor, might be on a short list for a future Obama administration???)

There were more questions, all related to Provincetown. Most of the audience was from Provincetown. Topics raised: expansion of the room tax, already collected at guest houses in P-town, to weekly rentals; support for the celebration, in 2020, of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims in Provincetown, before sailing on to Plymouth; support for the Pilgrim Monument; support for the jazz festival; an invitation to stop by the theater.

I had raised my hand and not been called upon. After answering a prior question, suddenly Governor Patrick turned to me, asking what I wanted to know. Who me? So, I plunged, although I’m afraid my question was not so “breezy and light.”

“I write a blog about living green on Cape Cod. The Outer Cape,” I corrected myself. “I run a green bed-and-breakfast in Wellfleet. We serve organic food and filter our water. I have a book here that I give to guests who are interested in the environment, and I wanted to give a copy to you. My question is about NStar and whether you could help prevent the utility company from polluting our sole source aquifer …”

The Governor was not very well informed on the issue and turned to Rep. Peake who quickly filled him in, explaining that there is a pilot plan in place this year, for Cape Cod, to control vegetation under the power lines without the use of herbicides. That Senator Dan Wolf and herself were waiting for the smoke to clear after Nstar’s merger with Northeast Utilities to pursue the issue further. Rep. Peake explained that the testing on herbicides had been done in the mid-1970s. Emerging science indicates endocrine disruptors are more dangerous than previously thought. Cape Cod has a sole source aquifer and sandy soil. She and Wolf would like to see the pilot program made permanent. Rep. Peake also mentioned the possibility of replanting low-bush blueberry bushes and beach plum, a more natural solution than herbicides. “I’ll make you a blueberry pie,” she concluded.

The Governor left with my book, Our Stolen Future. Or, rather it ended up in the hands of his assistant. I found her outside and explained the author, Theo Colborn, is the expert on endocrine disruption in the USA. That she is eighty years old. That I hoped the Governor would pass the book on to President Obama once he had finished reading it.

What did you do yesterday?