Flooding and vetoes

From Sen. Majority Leader Fred Berry’s site, an article from the Salem Evening News – September 20, 2004:

PEABODY — 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.)

… And while we’re pondering an ounce of prevention, do see this post on wetlands, and why the Charles isn’t flooding. And hey, CBS4 has picked up the meme.

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.

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41 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. So Why Didn't Dem....

    Legislature Override the vetoe?  I mean Berry is the Senate Majority Leader for crissake. The power only works if you use it.

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • Are you sure they didn't?

      I haven't done the research, but have you?

      It's clear that article was written right after Romney's veto, and is about people's reactions to his veto.  It is not an article about how Romney stuck to his guns, the legislature didn't override, and the funding was permanently killed.  Unless you know what happened next, all of that is speculation.  Heck, the article even says they were urging Romney to reconsider.  Maybe he did.

      • I Do Know ,Cos.

        It did not even come to a vote. Fact.

        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
        • Then...

          Then why not tell us what you know?  That's much more useful than an endless stream of snark.  Snark is nice when it's funny, but you're not trying to be funny.  boggle

          (In this case it looks like Charlie did the research and updated)

          • Charley's research is correct.

            Formal sessions end in July in even-numbered (election) years.  So veto overrides are not really possible after that point.  And you can't pick up and override next January when the legislature comes back because then you've got a new legislature (because of the intervening election), and a new legislature can't override a veto that was made in the previous session.

        • I know, Ernie

          It could not have even come to a vote.


          Save your snark for when you've done your homework, OK? Don't make me do it for you.

          • Wrong Charley..

            he legislator went back and did the other vetoes they wanted. This wsasn't done because the legislature didn't want to override it. Blame not all Romney. Charley, do a little research and get the dates of all the vetoes towards the end of the session. This could have been voted on also like others.

            BTW Chalrley, you sound like a girl.

            eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
            • When was that, Ernie?

              Out with it. "Link sources."

            • My understanding ... (Cross-Posted Response from Under the Dome)

              I need to double check dates, and honestly probably won't so don't hold your breath, but I believe the last full formal session was held early in the summer. In order to override the vetoes another one would have needed to have been called to specificially address this issue.

              Regardless, the Legislature passed the bill with the appropriation for $5.7 million to the Governor. The Governor then vetoed it.

              The Legislature said, "yes" we need to provide funds to combat flooding problems in Peabody, the Governor said "no" I won't allow you to go back to your districts on election day and talk about money you got to prevent flooding.

              The Governor played politics, and the people of Peabody lost.

              • Yes

                See my comment below.

                And, actually, the Legislature couldn't have called a formal session after July anyway. The MA Constitution requires a roll call on veto overrides, which in turn requires a formal session.

                So Romney knew that this veto would be final, and did it anyway. Ernie has no leg to stand on when it comes to trying to blame the Legislature for this.

                Which is why we won't hear from him again on this issue.

  2. The Charles River - no flooding due to wetlands

    is fabulous, and quite interesting.

    I wonder -- and it may be a bit of a stretch -- but, given that the CPA helps towns aquire and preserve open space, could towns use the CPA to help protect them from floods by actively aquiring wetlands and passive park space adjacent to rivers and in lower lying areas in a specific effort to help mitigate the damage due to floods, all the while also adding beautiful views, wildlife habitation, and perhaps general park space?

    For example, my town of Brookline abuts the Muddy River, and when it floods, folks get water in their basement.  It's due for a dredging, but being held up over foolishness surrounding a footbridge.  Nevertheless, my thinking is: should Brookline pass the CPA, could it use money from the CPA to buy up land or easements along the Muddy River in an effort to maintain wetlands (or at least not-covered-in-concrete-lands) in an effort to mitigate those floods?

    • Works in Lowell

      The first thing to flood were the beautiful national parks alongside both sides of the Merrimack...sad to see all that lovely land under water, but certainly less dangerous for events with more mild flooding. (It wasn't mild this time and houses did get flooded across the way from the parks.)

      I was talking to the chief planning dude for Lowell, he was on his way to find out how these new developments were faring in one part of Lowell. He says the city had refused permits for those developments because of flood risk, but the developer sued and the city was overriden. The new houses were actually developed with "flowthrough" basements - a garage door at the front and back. Imagine going to see a house you might want to buy...and they tell you all the wonderful features of it...oh...and it's designed to let water through the basement because it's in a flood plain.

      Wouldn't it have been better to use that land for parks and open space instead?

  3. Any formal Session

    could have overridden that veto.

    And the timeline reads like Romney tried to rectify the error in Jan. of 2005, but was cut by the Legislature.

    This is all strange.

    Did anybody ever fix any of those 'ancient' dams like the one there was all the hoo-hah about in the Taunto River?  Remember?  It was privately owned and abandoned and almost burst?  Didn't the state identify over 200 of them?

    • Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

      Stop making our completely controlled by Dems state look bad!

    • David addressed your point above

      Here's the link to his comment.

      More to the point, saying that the lege should have taken care of it in '05 doesn't excuse Romney's apparent two-faced-ness on this one. Shouldn't Romney have shown a little leadership? Did he not say one thing, and then do another?

      A real can-do manager -- the guy MA folks thought they were voting for in '02 -- wouldn't make excuses like "we simply did not have enough information to sign off on the funds." A real can-do manager would fix the problem.

      You know, if the guy who got elected in '02 was the guy who's now governor, this site might not exist. Honestly.

  4. OK Charley, Read and Learn

    Senator Berry's office gave you misinformation. I don't want to say they lied, so I won't.

    The Legislature returned to session in fall of '04. And guess what the first vote was?



    To suspend the rules.

    That is how it is done, and that is what they did. And then they proceeded to override a bunch of Romney's vetoes.

    And one vetoe they chose not to override was the money the senate majority leader wanted for his district so as to prevent flooding.

    Now Charley, I don't have to do reseasrch. But since you are in the mood perhaps you should check out the above with the House and Senate clerk's offices.

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • ?

      Citation please?

      Romney vetoed the provision in late September '04. At what point did the Legislature enter formal session and have a chance to override the vetoes?

      You are right that the Legislature returned to session -- but it was a series of informal sessions. Do you have the exact date that the Legislature returned to formal session?

    • Hoyapaul is right

      Unless and until you cite chapter and verse on this, Ernie, I flatly don't believe you. I've heard from the Senator, I've heard from David; now it's time for you to step up.

      Chapter and verse, please. Convince me.

      • Let me know if you are convinced now, charley

        Charley, based on the comments of the others here, are you convinced now that the legislature has the power to hold a formal session at anytime?

        If not I don't think it is unreasonable to ask you to clarify your point based upon the reading of the rules.

        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • FWIW

      I looked up the info. The supplemental budget containing these items was enacted on 9/9/04, in an informal session (this is allowed under suspension of the rules, and does not require a roll call).

      The provisions in question were then vetoed by the Governor on 9/17/04. Any overrides must be done in formal session, since it requires a roll call vote. However, no formal sessions are allowed after the end of July. So, no further vetoes could have happened because the session was over -- and Romney was surely aware of this.

      So it appears that you are flatly wrong, Ernie. I don't know where you got the information about the Legislature overriding vetoes in the fall of '04, because it didn't happen.

      • I am Busy Today, But give me til tomorrow.

        It will really suck if i am wrong.

        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
        • If I am Wrong, I will Go Way A La Troll

          No excuse for this mistake.

          If I am Wrong.

          eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  5. Check the dates...

    I was looking at the Session Laws, and there were SEVERAL home rule bills, some involving land transfers, that were enacted in early January of 2005.  I believe that land transfers have to be voted on in a Formal Session, and I know in the past it's been common to hold a Formal for housekeeping reasons after Jan.1 but before the new Legislatue is sworn in, so calendar it's the next year, but technically it's part of the prior session.  A call to the House Clerk's office should answer the question.

    IF such a Formal were held, then an override vote could have been held.

    • I looked at the House clerk's page

      There was an informal session on January 3, 2005, belonging to the previous session. Here's the pdf for that day.

      Does this settle it, at long last?

      • How does this settle it?

        I don't get your point, Charley. What exactly in this document are you referring to.

        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • No

      Listen, it is IMPOSSIBLE for any formal sessions after July. Look at Joint Rule 12A of the Legislature.

      This is not a matter of sleuthing for a missing formal session or anything like that, it is a matter of facts. The fact is -- no formals after July until the start of the new session.

      And Romney knew this. So he must take the blame for his own veto. There's really no way around it, and I really think this will come up again down the road.

      • Not Impossible

        While you are correct that Joint Rule 12A does state: all formal business of the second annual session shall be concluded no later than the last day of July of that calendar year.

        If you kept reading the joint rules, you would have seen that Rule 33 says:

        Suspension of Rules.

        33. Any joint rule except the tenth and thirtieth may be altered, suspended or rescinded by a concurrent vote of two-thirds of the members of each branch present and voting thereon. [Amended Feb. 7, 18 93 . Adopted in revised form Jan. 9, 18 99 . Amended Jan. 16, 19 03 ; Jan. 26, 2005 .]

        All of this, in addition to the journals of the house and senate can be found on the Mass. legislative website. http://www.mass.gov/legis/

        So, while my search of the journals of the house & senate from 9/2004-1/3/05 seems to show that neither house ever came back into a formal session to take up the veto, that does not mean that they couldn't.  And considering the democrats have a supermajority in both houses, they clearly had the necessary two-thirds vote to suspend the rules and come back into sesssion, and take up the veto.  Thus, I don't think that Romney is entirely to blame.

        • Rule 33

          No, the purpose of Rule 33 is to allow the alteration or amendment of Rule 12A, among the others. It does not allow the legislature to simply come back with 2/3 of the membership and declare a formal session after final adjournment in July. As I said before, it is not possible for the legislature to return to formal session at this time.

          In any case, Romney knew that his vetoes had much more power after the end of the biannual session, since overrides could not happen. He must take FULL responsibility for his action on this.

          • Wrong Charley and HoyaPaul!

            Rule 33 allows legislature to declare a formal session. I don't understand how you can question that. Once again Charley, a little knowledge is dangerous.

            The rule is clear.  It does prove my point. I don't understand Hoyapaul's analysis of it.

            But i am certain the legislature used it to over ride vetoes. That is what you guys have me questioning myself about. I will get to looking into that soon. Maybe I am wrong on that. But I am sure. hmmmmm. Time passes much too quickly.

            But is is clear and from the rule mentioned above, since you require a citation, Charley that the legislature can declare a formal sesion during the time in question. I will not surrender that point Charliey. Ha Ha

            So why could the legislature not come back and overturned the vetoe for Peabody?  Don't rely on your misreading of a simple rule. That's Karl Rovian.

            I will get back to you regarding vetoes.

            eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
            • Well

              I hope you come back with your answer of whether the Legislature came back and overturned vetoes, 'cause you are flatly wrong on that. I would like for you to come back here and admit you were wrong, which you haven't done yet.

              As far as how the biannual sessions and the Joint Rules go, oh well. You are wrong and apparently there is no convincing you, and I'm sorry you do not understand my analysis.

              But why you keep harping on this point anyway, I just don't understand. The Legislature was for the Peabody funding and the Governor was not. Everything you are talking about is mere distraction from that fundamental point.

              I look forward to your admission of being wrong.

              • HoyaPaul says, $quot;A Door is A Window.$quot;

                To repeat pertinant rules:

                "Limit of Time allowed for New Business

                12A. All formal business of the first annual session of the General Court shall be concluded no later than the third Wednesday in November of that calendar year and all formal business of the second annual session shall be concluded no later than the last day of July of that calendar year."

                "Suspension of Rules.

                33. Any joint rule except the tenth and thirtieth may be altered, suspended or rescinded by a concurrent vote of two-thirds of the members of each branch present and voting thereon. [Amended Feb. 7, 18 93 . Adopted in revised form Jan. 9, 18 99 . Amended Jan. 16, 19 03 ; Jan. 26, 2005 .] "

                PaulHoya, explain to me how a door is a window. I can't wait to hear.

                I hope you are not a lawyer. You need to eat too.

                eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
                • Nope

                  I could let you know that you are misreading the rules, but I'll let it go. I enjoy debating when it's an opinion at issue, but it's pointless to debate facts. You either understand them or you don't, and you don't.

                  • Just give me your interpretation of the rule

                    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
                    • Been there, done that

                      Hoya -

                      I don't know if they did it in 2004, but I CAN tell you that there have often been Formals - AFTER Jan. 1 but before the new Legislators are sworn in - in prior Sessions.  I've even run paper back and forth between them.

                      Note the rule says CALENDAR year - there's your tip-off.

                      Is anybody going to call the House Clerk Steve James and just ASK?  617-722-2800.

                    • I will call

                      I've been out of town on business, but I will call on Monday. (But why didn't you? Do I gotta do everything here?)

                      If there could have been a formal session, then I'll ask Sen. Berry's office for further comment.

                      In any event, my subsequent post on Romney's non-leadership still is relevant.

                    • I called the clerk's office

                      The woman who answered was adamant that there could be no formal session after July of an election year. Not after January 1, nothing.

                      Adamant, I say.

                    • Thanks for checking

                      Perhaps I didn't have to recant below after all...but in any case, I think we agree that this is mainly irrelevant to this overall post, in any case.

                      The fact remains that the legislature was for the flood assistance and Romney was against it, period.

                  • Your wrong

                    Hoya - I've worked in the state house for five years, and while to my recollection neither the house nor the senate has ever gone back into formal sessions after the end of July, they absolutely 100% can under Joint Rule 33 which allows for the susenpsion of Joint Rule 12A.  I distinctly remember in 2004 many speculated in the building that the house and senate would vote to reconvene but it did not end up happening.  As you so eloquently put it above, it's useless to debate facts, and you are flatly wrong on this issue.  I can assure that the rules allow for the legislature to reconvene, if only for the sole reason that they would never have a system or set of rules that they could not suspend if the circumstances called for it.

                    • Worked there even longer...

                      ...back to pre-Finneran days.  And it WAS done.  1998 is my last specific recollection, but may have been in 2000 too.  CALENDAR year is the loophole.

                  • Answer This Hoya..

                    If an emergency situation happens in november that requires immediate action by the legislature or else a very bad situation will get extremely worse ...

                    Are you saying that the legislature cannot convene a formal session if that is what is required? "Come back in January!"

                    I hope you see the wickedness of your ways, Hoya. If you are a true Hoya, from those I know, I doubt you will graciously admit that you are wrong.

                    Show me I am wrong.

                    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  6. For the record

    I appear to have been flatly wrong on the Rule 33 issue. The legislature can indeed come back before the new members are sworn in. I misinterpreted the rule, and will admit, in writing, here, that I was wrong.

    Nevertheless, there is no question that none of this matters at the subject at hand. Though the rule allows Rule 33 to be suspended, this rarely, if ever, happens in the time frame between the close of session at the end of July and the elections. And it did not happen in 2004 (Ernie never admitted that he was flatly wrong on this point, did he?). Romney knew that his veto would have more power -- i.e. good luck herding cats and getting 2/3 of the members together during election season to override vetoes. Anyone who can find me an exception, ever, is welcome to share it here.

    Now that I have recanted on the technicalities of the Rule 33 issue, I would hope that Ernie Boch III would admit being wrong by stating that "the legislature did nothing" on the flood issue. THEY PASSED THE ASSISTANCE IN THE FIRST PLACE. That hardly amounts to "nothing".

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