For a few weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out which individual public services were effected by Charlie Baker’s unilateral $118M cuts to the state budget. Constituent aides in the Governor’s office have told me repeatedly and explicitly that the details of what Charlie Baker cut from the budget are not available for public circulation.
More recently, however, I used a public records request to get the complete list. (Check them out for yourself!) Unfortunately, there are still $64M worth of cuts missing from that list that I need to investigate. Worse, still, that means that Charlie Baker’s aides lied to me: the list is, indeed, available for public circulation. Last Wednesday, I called to ask why multiple people in the Governor’s office told me that I could not get the details of Charlie Baker’s budget cuts.
When I called, I spoke with John Tapley, constituent affairs director. You might remember John from when I called to ask about Charlie Baker’s position on Jeff Sessions. (Which, by the way, I still don’t know.) You might also remember that John Tapley would not wish me a happy Rosa Parks Day.
My conversion with John this time went something like this:
Hi! How are you? And happy new year! Who am I speaking with?
Hi, John. I called late last year to request a list of the 9C budget cuts that Governor Baker made by earmark. I was able to obtain a copy of it by a public records request. I was told by people in this office that it was not available for public circulation, can you tell me why I was told that?
John Tapley, who until this point sounded quite delighted to have had someone wish him a happy new year, turned sour. The pace of his voice hastened and its tone bristled.
“I don’t know who would’ve told you that,” he blurted.
“Nick did,” I interjected. Nick called me back on December 30 to tell me that the official position in the Governor’s office was that the public could not have access to the details of the cuts in public funds to public services. I forgot in the moment that John had told me the same thing when I spoked with him a day earlier, on December 29.
“Well, I don’t know why Nick would’ve told you that,” John answer. “Anyway, you have what you were looking for so you should consider the request complete.” He tried to scuttle me off the phone without an answer.
I squeezed in another word before he could hang up, “But I have another request!”
Is Governor Baker dedicated to transparency in state government?
“Yes, of course,” John replied. His voice was calmer again.
To show that Charlie Baker is dedicated to government transparency, will the Governor post the complete list of 9C budget cuts by earmark on his website with the other FY17 budget savings documents? The list of earmarks makes it much easier for the public to understand which services have been effected by his cuts.
John Tapley said that he’d pass on the concern. I want a yes/no answer to my request, so I continued.
And if the Governor refuses to post the list by earmarks on his website, I’d like to know why not.
At this point John was upset again. His pace quickened, and his answers got shorter and shorter.
“I will pass on the request,” he said.
“To whom?” I asked.
“We do not give out the identity of government employees,” he answered.
“Well, then can you give me the title of the person who will make this decision, please?” I asked.
John answered, “The director of legislative affairs.”
“Ah, Ryan Coleman,” I interjected.
John walked back his response, “Well, he might not be involved in the decision.”
“Can you call me back with the decision once someone in legislative affairs makes it?” I asked.
John Tapley refused to take my contact information and he refused call me back. Every other time I have spoken with someone in constituent affairs, the aide asked me for my contact information. I never had to offer it. Tapley broke the mold.
“No, you’ll just have to call back,” he huffed.
He hung up with me without saying good bye.
Call to ask Charlie Baker to stop hiding the details of his budget cuts from the People of Massachusetts
Are you confused why the Governor won’t make it easier for people to understand how he’s using your money? Call Charlie Baker’s office at (617) 725-4005 and ask him to post the details!
Here’s a script you can use:
Hi, my name is Joshua Reyes and I live in Cambridge, MA. Who am I speaking with?
Hi, John! How are you today?
Is the Charlie Baker dedicated to transparency in his administration? Having a list of budget cuts by earmark would make it easier for me and everyone else in Massachusetts to understand which individual public services were effected by the Governor’s December 9C budget cuts.
Will Charlie Baker post a list of 9C budget cuts by earmark with on the web with the other fiscal year 2017 budget savings documents?
John, will you call me back with his decision? Thank you very much! And have a great day!
Let me know who you speak with and what they say!
Give back what Charlie Baker took away!
This post’s service that Charlie Baker defunded is Aid to Incarcerated Mothers (AIM), a group that empowers mothers to make good choices.
AIM works with women, their children and the institutions that affect them, both inside and outside the prison system. Our goal is to keep families whole, healthy and self-sufficient by providing individual therapy, counseling, psychological assessments, information, referral services, assistance with finding housing, free legal advocacy and training.