I sat this day (Sept 19th) and brought something I never turned in to Constituent Services because…
I got off the couch.
I wrote things down before I forgot. Thank goodness, the incident was so short, I could remember with 95% confidence. Say what?
Events can sometimes fall into place to create a specific moment where everything or nothing could happen. I had one such moment Thursday, September 19th. I’ve been sitting in Gov Baker’s waiting room 15 minutes every work day to call attention to the thousands of people who oppose the Weymouth gas transmission compressor project. On the day of my 198th lunchbreak visit, something happened.
So many times I have sat on the waiting room couch, facing the inner office door, and he’ll cruise by on his way out of the office. Most of the time I say hello, or good afternoon and he is polite enough back to me. No fireworks. I don’t get off the couch and follow him… at least not until Sept 19th.
Why did I follow him? Maybe because I was inspired after helping host the wonderful Dr Sandra Steingraber, and, also, being super-tired apparently tamps down my fantastic anxiety. It must have contributed to the lowering of my normal reserve?
Why did I follow him? Maybe it’s because I was concerned with the very real possibility all of the state permit for the compressor could be issued in early October 2019, and Enbridge can start moving on the compressor November 1st, per the draft RAM plan submitted by TRC, Enbridge’s environmental engineers, the proposal for the clean up of contamination on the proposed compressor site.
SIDEBAR: Totally not kidding that the plan is called RAM. It stands for Release Abatement Measure Plan. Tucked on page 27 of the draft Release Abatement Measure Plan from TRC was found this statement:
8.15 Implementation Schedule The anticipated schedule for the commencement of construction activities is November 1, 2019, with a September 1, 2020 in-service date.
How does Enbridge plan to undertake construction by Nov 1st on a contaminated site:
1. Without having full state permitting
2. Without fulfilling first the public comment period that currently ends on October 15th with the answers to those comments due on November 15th?
3. Without the final Release Abatement Measure Plan?
4. Without your promised public safety and risk evaluation reports as well as the coastal resiliency report?
The only way I can think of is if there’s continued, tight coordination/collaboration between Enbridge, Energy and Environmental Affairs, and Department of Environmental Protection. (shrug)
Disclaimer: I’m not publishing this experience here because I want a pat on the back or to feel brave. I’m writing this to hopefully mitigate any retaliation that might come from my having the ovaries to talk to him. It’s happened before to a friend deeply involved in the compressor fight, and luckily the person’s boss told Baker’s people to feck off. Ultimately all this mini-drama means nothing if the compressor gets built.
Back to Thursday, to the best of my memory:
Gov. Baker came out of his office with two of what I’m assuming are his executive protection unit (EPU). I said Hi, he looked back over his shoulder and said Hi, and I had my guard down just enough to squeak out:
“Can I please talk to you?”
Too late to back out now.
His EPU said he’s busy, they have to go.
I don’t know how to tell you what it felt like to get up off that couch to follow him to the elevator for the first time in 198 days. I was uncertain as hell, and definitely worried about doing it.
I stood with the three of them as they waited a couple of seconds for the elevator. The door opened and they got in, Baker in the back right corner with the two EPU covering him. I immediately moved to take a step in, and the EPU very nicely blocked me.
I looked at him and said “I can get in this elevator” (like, dude, it’s a public building, I’m not a physical threat, etc.)
Baker said “Let her in.” He’s looking at his phone.
I stepped in the elevator, scooted around the EPU to stand on Gov Baker’s right side. I gently put my hand on his upper arm and said
“What’s it going to take?”
He looked up from his phone.
He looked me in the eye and said:
“You have been so brutal to me. I have nothing to say to you.”
Not having any kind of plan for a case like this, I popped back, sort of shocked:
“You’ve been brutal to us!”
I went a little blank here for a couple of seconds, but I think he went back to looking at his phone.
I try again:
“Sir, when will you follow the laws?”
At this point we are approaching the first floor. The elevator dings and the door starts to open. He looks at me and says:
“I am following the laws. You would like me not to, but I am.”
I silently stood at the back of the elevator, watched him go, and rode the elevator back up to the third floor. I stepped off the elevator car, spoke to the trooper for a couple of seconds, and then the weight of the past 3-5 months stress just landed on me all at once. All. At. Once.
I may have cried, um, quite a lot in front of the Trooper. I was quiet about it, and went to the ladies room to let it all fly. Gotta feel your feelings, folks. I got ahold of myself, went back to the waiting room to get my purse and jacket, and left.
I want to emphasize that what Baker said didn’t upset me. How he said it wasn’t threatening to me personally— it’s just that I had to follow him on an elevator after 198 days of him ignoring me and say these things at all.
Three initial reactions:
Well, hell, if you had talked to any of us about the compressor concerns in the first place, there would be no “brutal” behavior to be upset about. It was an easy fix. Still is.
I want to hear what laws your administration is following by approving the air permit. You’re certainly not following the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008.
I mean, sheesh, we can lay off, but you have to lay off first, Gov Baker. If you feel targeted, well, maybe there’s a good reason. We feel targeted, undermined, ripped-off, angry, sad, and scared. It’s not a great feeling, I agree.
A good start to the conversation that will never happen is to hear from the Baker administration exactly which laws they feel they are following, and we can show them exactly which laws are not being followed. Wonder Gov Baker has been mislead all this time? LOL.
On the eve of the Global Climate Strike, I will promise you:
We are not going away, Gov. Baker. Those of us fighting this precedent setting gas project are not going away.
What would you do to protect your home? We know what we’d do.
I understand this is only my rendition of the event. Take this recounting for what it’s worth to you. (Patriot Ledger coverage here)