Disband the State Historical Commission

“Rogue Agency” an obstacle to economic recovery

Another example of "Political Correctness" carried to bureaucratic silliness

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in Economics to know that jobs are the key to Massachusetts’ recovery from the Great Recession, as well as to the state government’s long term financial stability.  Every new job brought to Massachusetts – or every existing job retained here – brings with it both tax revenue and spending in local economies. 

With apologies to Bill Clinton's campaign manager James Carville,It’s the economy, stupid!” He other dictum was "Change vs. more of the same."

Some time ago our state pols fell under the sway of "Political Correctness" which gradually took hold from elementary school to university, from the media to the arts, from the country fields to factories and offices, and they learned to say what it was safe to say, and unfortunately also legislate that way.

The Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) is one egregious example of legislative political correctness on drugs.

In recent months we have watched the Massachusetts Historical Commission as a major impediment to the state’s economic recovery.  The breaking point came with the Commission’s interference in Meditech’s plans to develop a $65 million project on a parcel in Freetown where the company hoped to employ 800 people.  When Indian artifacts were rumored to exist on the property the Commission became involved and has brought the project to a screeching halt.

The Commission’s arbitrary and capricious use of their ill-defined mission.Much has been written in the months since our October 12, 2011 editorial on the topic.  Articles like last week’s story in the Fall River Herald News have brought out more accounts of the Commission’s arbitrary and capricious use of their ill-defined mission to block one business project after another.  Referred to as a “rogue agency” by some, the group apparently operates without oversight and with no way to appeal its decisions, according to David Begelfer of the commercial real estate trade association NAIOP Massachusetts.

Any place in Massachusetts could be declared “historic”


The classic David Horsey cartoon says it all.
Virtually any place in Massachusetts could be declared “historic” by one special interest or another.  We saw this with the recent CapeWind controversy over a beach where the Mashpee Wampanoag’s – the Christian-converted “praying Indians” – once observed pagan sun worship rituals.  Fortunately that particular case did not stand up to the light of day.

No one denies that Native Americans suffered a terrible fate at the hands of the Europeans invaders of North America, but the definitive website on their burial customs says that Northwest coastal tribes put their dead in mortuary cabins or canoes fastened to poles, not buried as Americans do today. But the MHC's standard, every inch oif ground in our state may be subject to reclaim as a sacred burial site.

Despite the agitation in the press and commercial groups, neither Secretary of State William Galvin (under whose office the Commission operates) nor Governor Deval Patrick have stepped up to address the damage this agency is doing to the state’s economy.

We believe that the Legislature must now take leadership on this critical issue.  We urge you to contact your state representative and state senator to demand that they disband the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

Even a Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court isn't safe

If our elected officials won’t take ownership of this issue, there is perhaps a way the citizens can get their attention.  Does anyone remember when Supreme Court Justice David Souter ran afoul of his fellow citizens in Weare, NH over the issue of eminent domain?  Some of the good people of Weare suggested that his own home be taken by eminent domain.  That certainly got his and other people’s attention.

So perhaps the good people of Brighton could start by declaring Secretary Galvin’s home in Brighton as an historically significant site, demanding that the buildings be removed and the property returned to its historic condition.  Then they could move on to Governor Patrick’s house and yours.

Read the rebuttal Letter to the Editor here.One way or another, it’s time to get our elected officials’ attention on this issue.  The MHC  cannot be allowed to continue its campaign against the state’s economy.

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