From Sen. Majority Leader Fred Berry’s site, an article from the Salem Evening News – September 20, 2004:
PEABODY â Gov. Mitt Romney declared a state of emergency and lobbied the White House for federal disaster aid when a massive storm left Peabody Square under water last April.
But on Friday, less than six months later, Romney vetoed $5.7 million in state aid meant to help Peabody prevent such flooding in the future. The move stunned city officials, who called Romney’s actions politically motivated.
Now, in some cases, this kind of project might be seen as porky, Federal-dollar bait. But come on, the damn square flooded that April. Unforseen? — No way. Unnecessary? — Are you kidding? (Hat tip: Healey is a Fraud.)
UPDATE: Ernie Boch III asks in the comments why the legislature didn’t override the veto. I called Sen. Berry’s office; His aide Alex Grimes told me that there were no formal legislative sessions in September of ’04, since it was an election year. Overrides need to be in formal session, since they are done with a roll call vote. There have been subsequent attempts to get money for Peabody flood protection; this year it’s in an economic stimulus bill (Sen. 2264) that’s currently in committee.
Does this make sense?
FURTHER UPDATE: Salem News has a front page story on the vetoes and the aftermath, including this timeline:
April 1-2, 2004: A massive storm drops 8 inches of rain in 24 hours, flooding downtown Peabody for the fourth time in eight years. Gov. Mitt Romney declares a state of emergency.
April 9, 2004: Romney asks President Bush to declare Essex County a federal disaster area.
April 21, 2004: President Bush declares Essex County a “major disaster area.”
May 8, 2004: Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency official suggests trying to get state funding to address flooding problems.
May 20, 2004: Sen. Fred Berry requests state funding for flood mitigation as part of supplemental state budget.
Sept. 9, 2004: State Legislature passes supplemental budget, including $5.7 million for Peabody flood control.
Sept. 17, 2004: Romney vetoes Peabody flood aid. Romney spokeswoman later claims governor was unable to reach city officials. An angry Mayor Michael Bonfanti notes that City Hall was closed for former Mayor Peter Torigian’s funeral.
Sept. 30, 2004: Bonfanti and other city officials visit the Statehouse; Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey promises to look for “creative solutions.”
January 2005: Romney unveils budget that includes $2 million for flood aid, but money is later cut by House Ways and Means Committee.
November 2005: State Senate passes economic stimulus package, including $2 million for Peabody flood aid, but bill remains stuck in House-Senate Conference Committee.
May 12-14, 2006: Torrential rains again flood Peabody. Romney visits and pledges state help.
Stranger and stranger.