To the Editor:
Please allow me to introduce your readers to the Mitt Romney I know.
In Chelmsford, MA there is a small neighborhood known as Twiss, Waterford, Main and Leedberg which abuts Route 3, a major route from New Hampshire to Route 128 in Burlington, MA. This roadway, originally constructed in the 1950’s, was two lanes on both sides. Residents of the neighborhood were negatively impacted with the original construction in the 1950s, their homes were physically moved to this neighborhood to make room for the highway. Then beginning in 2001, the Route 3 widening project began expanding the highway to three lanes on both sides. The residents of this neighborhood experienced a dramatic increase in noise due to the project and traffic. The Department of Transportation (DOT) had estimated the 2010 decibel level would be 68. In 2005 as the project was nearing completion, the decibel level was 72. An example of 72 decibels is the equivalent of the telephone ringing inside your home and a lawnmower running outside your home simultaneously, continuously throughout the day. The residents could not peaceably enjoy their homes, suffered sleep disturbance and health disorders.
The neighborhood was denied a sound barrier because it was not “cost effective”. The project received federal funds, so it was bound to the federal guidelines. Under guidelines, the first criteria for mitigation is cost effectiveness, however, very clearly in the guidelines; this neighborhood did meet each of the other criteria including sound levels, impact from prior highway projects. The Department of Transportation issued a letter to our then Congressman Marty Meehan stating that the neighborhood did meet the other criteria that would permit a sound barrier to be built.
Numerous letters from the neighborhood, the Chelmsford Selectmen, the State Senator, the State Representatives and the Congressman were sent to Governor Romney regarding this inequity. Governor and his aides were repeatedly invited to the neighborhood to view the situation for themselves. Never once were any of these letters or requests responded to. I spoke with our State Representative Tom Golden asking why Chelmsford was being ignored. He told me “I have never seen anything like it; we (meaning the Representatives and Senators) can’t even get in to meet with his aides, forget a meeting with the Governor.”
I am not a resident of this neighborhood. I am a Town Meeting Representative in Chelmsford who became involved in 2003 when the residents asked Town Meeting Reps to help them. I wrote letters, called and delivered copies of these letters to the state house to no avail.
So in September 2004, while at my day job, I received an email from a friend which informed me that Governor Romney would be in Chelmsford stumping for two local Republican candidates. I saw red, how dare he enter Chelmsford after ignoring us for years. How dare he come to town for politics while real people were suffering. It forced me to get up and excuse myself from work for a few hours.
I went back to Chelmsford and took a seat in the middle of the second row of the event, listening to the speakers. When Governor Romney finally arrived, he greeted the front row with handshakes and a hollow smile. I extended my hand, as he took it and said “hello” I grasped his hand with both of mine and said “Chelmsford wants its sound barriers”. Governor Romney went blank, withdrew his limp hand and kept going. So I mirrored his steps along the second aisle and asked him more loudly “Why are you ignoring Chelmsford?”. “People are suffering - why won’t you respond to us”. At the end of the aisle, Romney and I were again face to face and he said “if you get a couple of these guys elected, you’ll get your sound barrier.” Then the Governor was whisked away and an aide approached me. He handed me his business card and I explained the frustration, the nerve of the Governor to show his face here, to make the plight of these residents a political trade off. The aide asked me to call him the next day and he would be sure to put the issue in front of the Governor.
Needless to say, the abject refusal to respond to the people continued. I got a first-hand look at this man who pledged to represent the people of Massachusetts and he could not even acknowledge this nonpartisan issue. He was not a leader of the people, he was holding peoples’ enjoyment of their most valuable asset as political hostage. In a room full of supporters it did not take much to scare him away. The Mitt Romney I know is a fake. He hides and ignores, only coming out in situations where he is the presumptive star. When faced with a real life situation that he could easily correct, he held the correction as a barter, he chose to flee.
I am glad to report this story does have a happy ending. I attended a town meeting by Candidate Deval Patrick in June of 2006 in that same room where I met Governor Romney. That day I got up, explained the plight of the neighborhood and asked what Patrick would do as Governor. He turned around to the officials who were present, asked them if it was true and they all nodded yes. Candidate (currently Governor) Patrick asked me to take him to the neighborhood after the event. We drove there together. He and his aides got out of their cars and listened, not only to the noise level but also to the people. Patrick pledged that if he were elected, this disgrace would be corrected and it has been.
I urge your readers to understand that their everyday concerns are not important to Romney. Quite honestly, they will be ignored by him unless they have something to give him in return. These people suffering from a nonpartisan issue where they were 100% eligible to receive relief could not even get Romney’s attention as governor never mind action. You will not receive relief from Romney as President.
This is the Mitt Romney I know, and the reason I am voting Barack Obama for President on November 6th.
Mary E. Tiano