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Chris Gabrieli

Excerpts from Chris Gabrieli’s interview with the Boston Globe editorial board

GABRIELI: We are the second wealthiest state in the country. We have a manageable sized state. We have a legislature that, while certainly not easy to deal with, is actually, in reality, for a Democrat, or even for a Republican, when Weld wanted to engage, but particularly for a Democrat, I think, who would want to engage. Frankly, I think we could get a ton done with this legislature. I’m not saying they’re the easiest characters in the world to deal with, and they have their weaknesses. But actually, I think that there’s an incredible, untapped potential for change, and I’m tired of people taking this job and not wanting to make stuff happen with it. And not everything you’re going to do is going to work, but, you know, I just find that appalling.

I moved to Massachusetts because I loved the spirit of innovation. At that time, it was more the private sector that animated me and the academic side work. Gone to college here. But, I assumed — to be honest, I assumed the public sector side would be the same, just because I knew the history of the Kennedys and all of that stuff. And, you know, my brother was telling me this guy Dukakis was squeaky clean, that was for sure true. And, you know, so, I thought, OK, you know, probably the public’s life is like the private life, and I’ve been more and grown more and more disappointed and angry over the fact that it hasn’t been the case.

That’s why I’m running, and the core of my candidacy, in many ways, has been trying not to pitch, you know, nuance public policy that, you know, frankly, that I think would bore most voters and not make them be that interested. But rather, to say that, that their frustration they do feel, which I feel they feel in common with me, is they don’t see government there, working on the problems that face them in their lives. And they blame it on Democrats and Republicans. It sure isn’t partisan. I could argue, you know, hey, it’s really Republican, you know. But they don’t see it as a single party issue at all, and that frustration is, I think, a reason to consider a candidate whose achievements are most — obviously, mostly not on the political side. I am the most — you know, I think I am the most experienced person in actually getting stuff done in government you could possibly be, who is a total outsider.

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EDUCATION

GABRIELI: Even a lot of reforms that we need to do on things like education. You wrote a column recently, an editorial, recently about the whacking that happened at the MTA meeting of Romney, that it’s all Romney’s fault, and you’re right. I don’t think Romney’s tried to move an agenda. You guys said well, let’s just give it a chance. I don’t think he’s tried to actually advance it in a way that could ever happen, with the sole exception, interestingly, of extended day, which he’s looking to get some credit for, which is sort of amusing in its own way. But I agree with your point, which is that some of the changes that have to happen are not fundamentally Democratic or Republican. You cannot just do more of the same. I think out education system is going to be dramatically different.

Q: One of the reasons that extended day might be something that in addition to the fact that, you know, seems like a new idea, is that if you have a pilot program, it’s not going to cost a lot of money.

GABRIELI: Correct.

Q: Some of the other, you know, innovations and certainly one that Kerry has talked about is universal preschool.

GABRIELI: Right. You’re right, it’s telling. His veto on the early ed is a telling example of why he should not be labeled as a tax-and-spend Republican.

Q: But my question for you, though, is, you know, how do we get to afford the — I mean, the Republicans, you just know it, are costing out every Democratic recommendation in the campaign. If you total it all up, you come up with an eye popping number and say, that’s what you’re going to cost or what any Democratic who’s running is going to cost the taxpayers. So how do you refute that?

GABRIELI: Two or three different ways. I mean, the broad way, politically, I mean, she’s running that ad. I couldn’t tell the numbers. They spin too fast for me. I’ve got to get the — slow down the thing to see what my number — I think my number, she has highest. Which is — I don’t know. I have been really careful about that because if the premise of your campaign is don’t make promises you can’t keep, that really limits you. Now, the most important commitment I made on that part is the tax and budget proposal I put forward that says, we’re going to spend what we have, plus three percent, and above that, we’re going to take forty cents on the dollar and put it into tax reduction. So, that only leaves you twenty cents into the rainy day fund.

By the way, you’re the only place in the world that mentions the rainy day fund ever. No other candidate for governor has mentioned the rainy day fund, which is part of what I’m talking about in terms of depth of responsibility, because that’s actually really important. If you’ve been in this state, you know it. If you’re running for Governor and you don’t address it, that’s because it’s politics over substance. So, if you spend all the money plus some, and you don’t even touch the rainy day fund, maybe it’s better politics. I don’t know, but it’s not the right thing to do. So, I say forty cents to tax reduction, forty cents to programs expansion and restoring accounts, and twenty cents to the rainy day fund. That means we’d be limited on how much we could spend and my — if I’m elected Governor, would be limited in my first term for sure, and that means we’d have to make priority choices, which is what you always do on budgets.

You never can fund everything you want to. By the way, in the private sector, I can tell you — and you might agree with this point even more so — you can never fund everything you want to do. I’ve been through hundreds of company budget cycles and they all work the same. Each department adds up what they want and it’s always more than you can afford, and then there’s an interesting process about priorities. So, I don’t think there’s anything different. Every family goes through that. I mean, it’s just the reality of budgeting. Number one, I’ve sort of created a top-down guide that just absolutely binds me, and I think that’s a healthy thing, frankly, and probably particularly healthy for a Democrat. I’ve done it because I think it’s the right thing to do, to address the desire of people to see taxes reduced, and to see a proposal that actually honestly tries to do it and not, go back on your promises, but actually honestly tries to do it. Frankly, I saw one of the benefits of it is it actually will make the discussion more interesting about what are the highest priority things to do, versus saying, I’ll do it all somehow.

Now, with the greater specific programs, I think that when it comes to innovation, which is always my first, you know, love, the best way to spread things is not to sort of set top-down goals and force it down. I would criticize even the Early Ed proposals a little bit that way. They assume that it’s 100 percent clear that Early Ed for all kids, right up front, the way we — without a delivery system we’ve had put out, will work and be great. It’s a great political goal and I absolutely believe that Early Education is a good thing to do, but when you know that a ton of kids already are getting some Early Education and now you’re going to have to question will the quality of the new system actually be better, really be better, you know, there’s a risk of doing what we do already a lot in education. We spend more, we’ll get better, and the data doesn’t support that. So, I like the approach that we’ve taken on it, extended time. I spent a lot of time thinking hard about that and I’m really proud of it because I think it’s working out just right. Start with the people who have the gumption and desire and leadership capability to get it done. See if it works there and spread, you know, somewhat more at the rate with which there’s a real ability to do it, not at the rate with which, you know, political decisions like, let’s do $100 million a year times three years, because $100’s a round number, because I think you end up wasting a fair amount of money then.

Whenever something like that went to a local program, if the locals aren’t really ready, willing and able to do it, it doesn’t happen. You could send the money and you could send the instructions, and it doesn’t happen. I mean, it was shocking that we discovered it with MCAS, which was certainly attention getting, that there were districts that basically hadn’t even changed their frameworks — their curriculum to the frameworks of the MCAS. I mean, that’s shocking. They haven’t done their part, right, knowing they were setting up their own kids for failure. It’s one thing to say it’s really tough to educate a kid from a tough background, that’s true. It’s another thing to say if you’re still teaching not to what’s on the test, you’re setting up your own kids for, you know, disaster. I think I’ve learned on these local state partnering things, which Early Ed is an example of — now, some things aren’t an example of that, the Early Ed is. I think it would be wiser to go iteratively forward. The last answer, I’d give on question, I have more answers. How much time do you guys have? The last answer I’ll give — one question and I’ve got four answers, how much time do you guys have — the last answer I’d give is look, the pace with which we can do things is the pace of economic growth.

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The rate of economic growth is the rate of opportunity to do things, and I’ve mentioned in some odd answers during this campaign, a book that’s really shaped my thinking, which is ‘‘The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth,’’ which is a great book by Benjamin Friedman, former economics department chair at Harvard. The point of the book is, growing economies have the ability and will to do more of the moral agenda. Stagnant economies and also shrinking economies don’t, and so in the 1990s, we had a growing economy, we were able to do tax cuts. We were able to make a record investment in education. We were able to put aside a big rainy day fund. The big problem in Massachusetts really is we don’t — the pie isn’t growing and everything you’re talking about and everything I’m going to talk about and everything anyone’s going to talk about in this campaign is if you assume a fixed size private as a prop — so, Kerry Healey and Mitt Romney, who are going to sort of deal with taxes, yeah, they turned income taxes into property taxes. There’s not a person out there who doesn’t feel like what good is having a higher property tax bill and a so-called flat income tax bill. That doesn’t do me — save me a nickel. I don’t care who I send the check to.

So, in the same way, on all of these priorities — I got asked at the NECN debate, what percentage do I put into Early Ed versus, you know, if I have to pick only between Early Ed and after school, which would I pick. First of all, we have no idea what the right ratio — here’s no one who could tell you, they’re both meritorious ideas. But more importantly, the only reason you’re forced to make really difficult choices like that is if you don’t have the economic growth to give you the choices. So that’s why I put that agenda at the top of the list.

ECONOMY

Q: We were going to ask you about working in the private sector. You’ve done such great work already. Does the government — do you think government really affects economic growth?

GABRIELI: That’s a great question. The answer is, it certainly doesn’t drive it single handedly, but it has an absolute key role. We were talking about this, you know, I base my belief in these on my life experience and on Robert Solow’s work, who won a Nobel Prize for defining modern economic growth theory. You don’t hear a lot of Democrats or Republicans talking about what we actually know about growth theory. By the way, Democrats want to say it’s human capital, and they go K-12, which isn’t really accurate, and Republicans say it’s about tax cuts, fueling, you know, cash. The answer is, the rate of innovation is the biggest driver, and it’s why Silicon Valley and Greater Boston are the leading economic growth places in the United States. That’s not because of any other thing, it’s not because of the cost of doing things here or there; it’s not because of the level of K-12 education in these places because the people who are driving those things move here as much as they were born here. It has to do with that incredible innovation cycle. And you can do things about innovation, and that’s why my first proposal, practically, in this campaign was $1 billion over a decade for advanced science and technology. And what’s changed is, states have come to understand, they’re in a competition for this stuff. If you don’t think California and New York and New Jersey understand what they’re going to gain if they fund stem cell research and we don’t, you know, I think you’re wrong. I think they know exactly what they’re going to gain.

When it comes to alternative energy, there is going to be a Silicon Valley of alternative energy in the 21st Century. It’s completely indeterminate where it will be. Nobody has a lead because there’s no university that’s the clear leader in alternative energy. There’s no industrial base anywhere, and that is up for grabs, and I will posit to you that at 2050, if you came back, if you can tell me the place and the country that has what we haven’t thought of; the Kendall Square or the Palo Alto of alternative energy, it will be one of the wealthiest and strongest economic places in the country. I think we should care about it as a state. I think I know how to make that happen as a state, and I absolutely think it’s going to be critical for us in an ever more competitive era, that we do that. So, innovation in this state has a significant role to play.

ENERGY

Q: First of all, on alternative energy, you’ve taken a fairly zig-zaggy path on how you —

GABRIELI: You’ve been listening to the other side.

Q: I’m sorry?

GABRIELI: You’ve been listening to the other side. [laughter] I mean, my apologies. I’m teasing. What I said at the beginning was, first of all, I headed, right at the beginning of this race to take a strong view on it. Now, politics is you’ve got to take strong views but it’s a complicated issue that hasn’t finished playing out. So, you know, I don’t like just saying well yeah, but it’s an election year. So what I said at the beginning was I felt like the review was critical and the review continues, and I said the second concern I had was that the state wasn’t necessarily getting a good deal, and I thought the state could get a better deal. I was in business in the 1970s and ‘80s, when the cellular phone business started, and we gave away the spectrum, gave it away to these companies. They made billions of dollars, we gave it away. We now auction it off for a lot of money to the government. So, I think it’s a mistake to give away —

Q: What are we giving away?

GABRIELI: What are we giving away in that case?

Q: Yeah.

GABRIELI: The right to use, the right to —

Q: It’s not our water. The federal government —

GABRIELI: It’s the federal government, so there’s a federal government piece to it. But, you know, frankly, by the way, one place I slightly disagree with you guys, I would have been happy to have the veto, because that’s the 100 percent way you can negotiate the deal for the state you want. I understand that the spirit behind the veto was not to get a good deal for the state. It was to kill the project. So, you know, I’m just saying, if I was governor, I’d have loved to have the veto, because that would have handled that question. But I’m pretty sure, from what I’ve read and understood, the state has enough ways they can make the life of Cape Wind difficult, that you can negotiate with them on a deal. They need you to go along with them. Even though the real reason they should give it to you is the waters. You know, there’s an arbitrariness to the fact that’s federal water, because you know by its history, it’s a little bit arbitrary that it’s not state. So, I said we should go through the review and we should get a good deal. The more time I spent on it — I met with the people from the Cape Wind side and some other people who supported it. I met with the opponents.

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So, you know, I tried to make sure I understood, you know, as much as I could. The more I thought about it, the more I came to feel that first of all, the Environmental Review will take care of itself. If there’s a big problem, if it turns out that — the opponents tell you that the radars won’t work. The proponents say the radar is fine and show you an FAA letter. What do I know about radar blockage? I think the Review will figure out whether the radar is a problem. If it is, it may kill it. Let’s assume that the Review though, continues positively, which it certainly has mostly been so far. I’m sure I can get a better deal for the State of Massachusetts as a negotiator. I’m confident of that. So I say you know, what? It really comes down to do you want to make it happen, and I think everyone who has thought about this project has the same reaction, which is incredibly excited about the positive alternative energy source; disappointed that it’s almost the only place we can site it. It’s hard to believe this is the only place we can site it. Isn’t there someplace else, considering how beautiful and unique the site is.

But then you come learn that no, actually there isn’t a lot of choices. Buzzards Bay maybe, but you know, there’s not a lot of choices. Then it comes down to whether you want to embrace the future or not. That’s what I think it comes down to. It’s a true value judgment and I said to myself, you know what, you’ve got to be clear which way you come out on the values of this. It’s probably one of the more important, defining kind of Rorschach tests of who you are. Are you NIMBY, you know, and you’re worried about all the downsides, or are you going to embrace the future? I’m such an embrace the future person. I said, I’m going to be clear, I’m for this project. Now, I haven’t changed my position. I’m going to negotiate a better deal. OK. You can’t, in 30 seconds, put every word into it, so I don’t put it in the ad. I’m going to get a better deal out of the guy and I assume the Environmental Review. So, I don’t think I’ve changed my position at all. I chose to come out for it forcefully because —

Q: But initially, you were, at best —

GABRIELI: No. I have always said, I’d be for it if it passed the Environmental Review and we got a better deal. I have not changed my view on that. I really have not. In fact, I met with a guy in 2002 and somewhat argued to Shannon O’Brien that we should have been for it in ’02.

Q: If it gets the approval, and you want to embrace the future, you’ve made that clear, how much leverage will you get out of it?

GABRIELI: He needs to start from the state. By the way, I’ve spent time with the guy. I read him as a guy who certainly knows how to make money for himself, but I find it ironic how he gets pilloried by some people, you know, including amazingly enough, Christine Miles of the Environmental Debate. I don’t know if any of you were there. It was just unbelievable. The guy in the private sector said, the only reason he’s against it is because it’s private sector, which is extraordinary. He said he’d be floored if Massachusetts, as a state, did it, which is like why don’t we privatize —

Q: He had always stuck to one side, right?

GABRIELI: No, but it was a bizarre — just philosophic, I just kept sitting there thinking does he think, you know, why does he think convenience stores shouldn’t be run by — for profiteers. Why not state-run convenience stores. They have state-run liquor stores in New Hampshire, right?

MASSACHUSETTS POPULATION/ HOUSING PRICES

Q: Well everybody pretty much agrees that one of the big challenges facing the state is the shrinking population or the people who are going outside of here, like the Quincy or whatever — people checking out of Massachusetts. A lot of reasons for that have been proposed: the pie isn’t growing, housing prices are ridiculously high —

GABRIELI: Yeah.

Q: — a sense of you know, it’s hard to do business here, et cetera. Again, it’s hard to belong, kind of squishy stuff but real important.

GABRIELI: I don’t buy that theory by the way.

Q: So talk about that. Talk about that and also the housing dilemma.

GABRIELI: I’m a data guy. I think you guys did an incredible service with the survey that was on the front page of the Globe, where you went out and looked up 500 people who have left. MassINC had done some stuff kind of like that, but that was really good, because it really highlighted it. I mean, way down the list was taxes or the weather, which you know, I’m middle age now and the weather is starting to — I’m starting to relate to that one. The really big things that were the huge drivers, totally obviously, were couldn’t get a good job or got a better job —

Q: Right.

GABRIELI: — which was the high-income, high-skills people. That’s scary. And couldn’t afford as good a house and I would like to have and reasonably want to have, and that was the middle income people. Now that was very much MassINC’s data too, when they looked at who was moving to New Hampshire versus who was moving to other parts of the country, which is a shorthand for the same point, right? So, I think that the data is really clear. It’s a rare clarity, I think, in public policy. Neither problem is easy to solve but it’s real clear where we’ve got to go. We’re going to make a proposal this week that addresses one of the reasons — one of the things that I took from that data, and that proposal is going to be an approach to — can I — this part is — I don’t want to take off the record.

Q: I think actually you talked about it last night.

GABRIELI: No. I didn’t talk about the other one though, and it’s not, you know, I don’t want to take it off record. It’s just we haven’t — I don’t know whether we’re going to do it.

Q: You’re not ready right now. We’re not running this tomorrow.

GABRIELI: I don’t know what day this week or next week we’re going to roll it out but it’s — it can’t be as big as I would like but it will be a program to help first time home owners buy their home. The idea is that for an income cutoff that we haven’t finally decided, but we’re looking at right now, $85,000. For anyone making under $85,000 a year, the first $50,000 of their income, would be they could deduct entirely for the purchase of their house. So, it’s basically $2,500, five percent of $50,000, just to simplify it. I mean, the way I’ve explained it, I don’t get it, so $2,500 basically, by letting you essentially write off the fact that you’re buying a house against your taxes.

TAXES — INCOME/ SALES

Q: Oh, OK. Income taxes.

Q: State income taxes?

GABRIELI: Yeah, state income taxes.

Q: That’s a lot of money, isn’t it?

GABRIELI: Well, it’s not a lot of money compared to what a house costs. It’s a couple of payments.

Q: Do you know what the impact is?

GABRIELI: Yeah. $50 million.

Q: Fifty million?

GABRIELI: Fifty million bucks a year. And when it comes to tax cuts, as you know, I’m not adverse to them. I actually like tax cuts that are smart. So, I’ve proposed three of them so far. One is a sales holiday. I notice you guys opined against the sales holiday. I don’t think you’re wrong, because the sales tax holiday once a year is kind of just a cute trick. A sales tax holiday for energy star appliance twice a year, I think there’s a goal to it, and I proposed that. I proposed making the college savings tax deductible. That’s about $50 million a year too, or $40 — I forget the number. We have the number and I just don’t remember it. But I think that’s a good idea. Reward something we want people to do more of. Obviously, her proposal, Kerry Healey, is to eliminate the gasoline taxes. Of course, the extreme example of the opposite, which is lowering taxes on things you want less of. If you want people to purchase less gas, why would you lower it, you know. And I think similarly, saying to home buyers, we want people to become first-time home buyers and we want to help them, and we know that any change that’s regulatory on supplier-ended, which is what I favor for housing over the long haul, isn’t going to help anybody tomorrow, and not next year and not probably in three years. The pace with which you can change, you know, the supply of housing is slow and there are a lot of people right now, deciding whether to stay in Massachusetts or not. I mean,

I still am blown away by that one woman who stood out to me in that article in the Globe, who moved to Dallas and it was 3,500 square feet and got $10,000 back out of it with a swimming pool. I mean, my first reaction is except for not lot liking Dallas — I use that line all the time — except for — but you know what, Dallas is a major city. It’s not even like, you know, we may say eh, you might not like their politics down there but it’s not like you’re giving up being in a major U.S. city, right? So no, I know, you know, you get $10,000 back, triple the space and a swimming pool, frankly, I think that most people really understood that and we know more people even. Right? I think we were lucky that most people never really thought through, because that’s a heck of an improvement in your life. And the fact that most of them were happy when they moved.

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HOUSING

Q: How do we stimulate production?

GABRIELI: That’s the answer. Well, you know, the answer is we’ve got a regulatory burden, a regulatory problem, which is that we’ve allowed, in this state, over the last 15 to 20 years, a creeping kind of broad NIMBY-ism that means — you know, Steve Bailey has a piece, where he’s always going after that one guy, that professor or whatever in Cambridge, right, but that’s the whole state. Any one person, certainly any one neighborhood in absolutely any town can say we’re against everything, and it’s a problem in our state. I think we need a governor who is willing to be honest about it and I appreciate it, you know, you cited, I think it was in your piece, the fact that if you’re running for governor and you don’t have the guts to say we have to re-dress the balance a little bit more towards the common good of the State of Massachusetts versus each town or city or village’s ability to resist everything. If you’re not willing to say that, you’re not going to get it done as governor. If you don’t have the backbone to do it in the election, you’re not going to have the backbone to do it when you get in that office, in my opinion.

I’m not out there saying exactly how I would change the regulations, probably because I don’t know, but I certainly think the idea, the only way we could really do it is by using the fact the state — every one of these communities is begging for more state money on every account and I think the state’s saying no. We’ll give you our charge card but you have no obligations to do what’s good for the state is the wrong approach. I think we ought to say fine, we’ll give you more dough if you’re doing what we need, which is bringing on some more housing, and I think 40R and 40S are a good approach. They just aren’t muscular enough. Do you know that every 40R that so far has been applied for, its footprint is identical to one project and in most cases it was a 40B project. It’s the challenge, by the way, of new idea. So what people did is they went out and said this 40B project, now if we call it a 40R, the state gives us $600,000. Hmm. So, when I heard it, it was one of those things where you go — people are smart. I learned in business, every incentive program gets figured out by the sales people into how to get around it to their benefit and not necessarily what you had in mind. Sometimes what you had in mind and sometimes not.

So, we did not have in mind monetizing 40B projects, right, to the towns. Right? So, you don’t get a district out of it, you get nothing. I don’t blame the administration for that. I think as far as legislature, I think it was a good first step, but we’re going to have to make it work and the only way to measure that it exactly what you said, units. When Romney got elected, he said he was going to double housing starts from 14,000. They were 18,000 last year. I do believe the economists will say at $25,000 to $30,000, that’s a large enough thing, getting us back to the early nineteen — you know, to what we had in the ‘60s and ‘70s, that you would start to see a real balancing out of supply and demand. I don’t think you’d see prices go down. I mean, that may happen because of the market bubble and because of interest rates and so on, but I think you’d see this artificial drive up that has been due to a lack of supply. I mean, that’s where it’s been, right? The Massachusetts housing crisis for middle income people is five or six years old at most. At most ten. We had an affordable housing crisis before that, but that’s a pretty different beast and I care about that too, but as far as the long-term of the state goes, affordable housing is problem every place where prices are going up. But middle income housing is not a problem in most places. It’s a big problem in a handful of places, and it’s going to hurt them if they don’t get their arms around it, in my view.

So economic growth, you know, I mentioned innovation. There’s other things. I think that we have to go on a massive effort, which will be almost no money at all leadership around Massachusetts as a strong global player. You know, we killed off all these trade missions and stuff because they were "junkets," but the reality is, if you go and talk to people around about Massachusetts’ future, they are sure it’s totally bright. And the reason is, number one, we’re the perhaps single best innovation place in the world, which is the most important economic asset. Number two, everybody likes Massachusetts everywhere else. We have great cachet. We have brand value everywhere else, especially overseas. Now, the world’s going global, we all know that cliché. Everyone focuses on the downside of outsourcing. There’s another up side, which is there are Indian companies that earn a lot of dough. I’m familiar with a fair number of them. Many of them, at one point decide, they don’t have a U.S. operation center. We are well positioned to be where they want to be. Now, are we out there competing for those guys? No. That is crazy.

I mean, we stand to win in the global contest. Good luck to Iowa. I’ve talked to Tom Vilsack. He’s got plans for how he’s going to get people to go to Iowa, you know, that’s a tough hand to deal. I sat with Governor Granholm and looked at Michigan’s economic development plan. Do you know what their target is on every page? Massachusetts. They’ve got a set of measure that they did a commission on. They want to have the NIH — you know, they want to have the R&D dollars per capita of Massachusetts. They want to have the patent rate per capita of Massachusetts. They want to have the college graduation rate per capita of Massachusetts. They’d like to have the NAPEs of Massachusetts, the SAT, you know. So you kind of go boy, must be great to be in Massachusetts because Michigan sure thinks so, and the answer is, it doesn’t seem like it’s that great. So that’s why I’m supremely optimistic. We have the best raw material of probably any state in the country. Northern California, if it was a state, would be competitive. They’ve got a much bigger state with a lot of other issues. We have an extraordinary circumstance here that I think we way under leverage.

HANDLING A RECESSION

Q: You know, the economy is going pretty well here. State revenue is around the 8th, 10th percentile. What do you do if there’s a recession? How would you, as governor, address it?

GABRIELI: Well number one, that’s one of the reasons why I’m the only guy who is calling for putting more money into the stabilization fund, and I think the fact that Kerry Healey — do you think somebody else is?

Q: I don’t know.

GABRIELI: I haven’t heard it.

Q: OK, anyway.

GABRIELI: I can go down the list. Tom Reilly wants to cut taxes, can’t right away, can’t see how he could do that. Kerry Healey wants to do it right away. Mihos wants to go what, 40 percent —

Q: Yeah.

GABRIELI: — to the communities, you know, has given up on the income tax cut for that reason. I’ve not heard Deval Patrick say the words, we need to fund the stabilization fund. I’m not saying he wouldn’t say it in a room but that’s — what you say in a room to the Globe editorial board is one thing. When you put out policy in front of people and say, I’m willing to put 20 percent in the rainy day fund, you’re expecting them to be adults and actually value that. Now, the other day someone said to me, ‘‘What’s the rainy day fund?’’ at some presentation, and I realized oh God, I’m doing a terrible job representing this, but it’s important to have. So, you know, that’s why we’ve got to build it up. That’s the number one answer, and I also think it’s why we’ve got to be moderate in our growth. Look, here are the critiques you put in about this year’s budget cycle is just right. God knows, maybe even the gazebo and the moth study are worth doing, I don’t know. Let’s assume for a second they might be. It’s not a question of whether they’re meritorious, it’s a question of how much can we afford. I think that legislature unchecked does go a little crazy and frankly, the joke is, having a Republican governor who doesn’t check the legislature at all. Once you get to two-thirds majority and they’re used to governing that way, he doesn’t check it an iota. That’s the flaw in Kerry Healey’s entire premise, is that they are in fact — they check. What check?

Q: So how would you check on them if Romney couldn’t?

GABRIELI: Well, I think the most important thing is you’ve got to engage him.

BEACON HILL POLITICS

I mean, if you look at Clinton’s biggest wins, he got it by going around the leadership of the Democratic Party and going directly to rank and file membership and Republicans. In this state, you don’t have to go to Republicans but you’ve got to go to rank and file membership. Right now, I like Trav and I like Sal, and I’ve worked with both of them but you know what, they have way too much power. You can’t even go around them.

***

I think you’re always going to have battles between the legislature and the Governor. Everyone thought Sal and Trav would be — and I don’t mind saying this on the record — the closest of friends, and it became pretty clear pretty early on that when you run one cameral unit versus the other cameral unit, if that’s the proper term for bi-cameral legis — whatever. Ah, one unit versus the other, it’s just in your job to be oppositional sort or, because you end up having your chair who had a different idea. Of course, I don’t expect to get along with them on everything and I expect there to be some real fights, but I do expect to engage them and be honest with them, and not embarrass — Look, House One is an example. I mean, Romney tries to claim credit in part on it by saying you put $15 million in his budget. But you know what? His budget didn’t add up. So what ends up happening — and it’s literally a public relation statement that he puts out as House One, with no thought that it’s actually going to get passed. So then the House grinds its way to a real first draft budget. First of all, that puts you like 90 days behind. I mean, put a first honest budget forward. Why not? One that would actually be passable. Now, you’re still not going to get everything you wanted in it but you’ll be at the table to trade. And by the way, on a lot of vetoes, if you actually had relationships with a lot of people, you get to stamp a fair number of vetoes. The problem now is — Do you think Romney picks up the phone and calls — who would he call? He can’t get his own people, right? The Republicans often vote, as they did on the stem cell in the end, for example, in the Senate. They often vote.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR VS. GOVERNOR

GABRIELI: Chris, you’ve been thinking about this [job] for so long, if Tom Reilly hadn’t stepped in six months ago, you’d be running for Lieutenant Governor now. What was that all about?

GABRIELI: Oh that? Next question. What was that all about in what sense, Bob? I mean, it’s been very well reported. I’m not trying to be defensive when I answer. What aspect do you, you know?

Q: What would you have — why didn’t you make this jump to start with? Why would you have been willing to go through Lieutenant Governor. You look like a strong candidate.

GABRIELI: For some reason, I always wanted to go with Lieutenant Governor in 2002, which is I don’t — I’m not — (overlapping dialogue)

Q: But specifically, and related, once that fell apart, what was the open, because I don’t — somewhere in the field? What did you feel was lacking in those candidates?

GABRIELI: Sure, that’s a very fair question. Let me back up and say, you know, look, I think people assume you must have a huge ego to run for office, and I guess you have to have a healthy one and they assume that if you’d made some dough, you must be an egotist, which I don’t really get. The reality is — and I thought about it a lot really, frankly, in 2002, when Romney, who had done nothing in Massachusetts, showed up and ran for Governor. I was running for Lieutenant Governor, partly because I thought gee, I’m pretty qualified to be Lieutenant Governor. I could help a Governor, I felt, in 2002, and it will be really substantive, and I did a lot of substantive work and I think made a big difference in the quality of Shannon O’Brien’s policies. Obviously, we didn’t win. I thought I would be able to do a lot of work as Lieutenant Governor and yes, I thought one day, I’d love to be Governor but I’d learn the job. I mean, I actually think it’s good to know what you’re doing.

You know, I’ve spent my life dealing with people and getting a sense of whether they know what they’re doing or they’re not, and I’ve burned by plenty of people who have no idea what they’re doing. So I’m not a big fan of amateur hour as a strategy. And I’m not, as much as it may look — having run for office twice before — like I’m hell bent to get elected, I’m eager to get the opportunity to serve. I honestly think a good look at my record says that. I mean you know, whether it’s stuff I’ve done at MassINC, the amount of effort I put into extended learning time, which yes, I’m using it politically but I’ve spent six years of my life nearly full-time on that. It’s not something where I’ve written a check, and people don’t really check that out. They just assume because I guess it’s so unique to be able to write a check, that that must be the limits of what you do. To me, that’s a wonderful gift to be able to do. Out of the $35 million we raised for after-school, I put in $1 million. The other $34 million I raised. I didn’t raise it alone but a lot of it, actually I did. And, you know, I’ve not been embarrassed. I’ve been sort of eager for opportunities to be sort of appointed. I mean, when the Mayor asked me to work on after school, I worked on after school, supporting Tom Reilly or whatever. I worked on an after school.

You know, Cahill approached me on pension funds. A lot of people feel that Cahill is not on the up and up. I decided he was up and up on this issue and I’ve got an opportunity to work with him on it. You know? He went and, in my opinion, said things that are just fundamentally true, when it came time to write an article about what I did or didn’t do. Whatever? I mean look, these are disappointments but I am very proud of $175 million invested in that. I’ve tried to get stuff done. So when Tom Reilly came knocking and I had decided there was no way I was going to run, there was no need to do it, I was tempted because, you know, here was a guy who seemed like he was going to win the nomination and roll over Kerry Healey, who seemed to be focused on that, and certainly seemed real focused on some of the things I care about.

***

I sat there and I wasn’t going to do anything about it. I mean, I was disappointed but I had a sense of I’d gotten excited but a) I had already started phone calls from people saying we’re not going to win this because Reilly has just gone from — he can waste little money and time and really get the nomination and Deval is doing a nice job being an alternative choice but not is really going to be a serious can — more like Pat McGovern in ’98 or whatever; a good opponent but not really going to get the votes to all of a sudden it’s going to be a fight. Secondly, I sat down and I thought you know what, why don’t I just run for governor. I mean, the things I want to do, and I know it may seem amazing but I’m actually modest about this stuff. It was a hard decision for me. I’ve never been Governor and I don’t know that I could do the job as well as I’d like to think.

I watch these guys like Bush do a piss-poor job with the opportunity and Romney, who probably has the capabilities, utterly wasted it for self-serving political reasons. I am nervous about it. I mean look, if you ask me which legacy I worry about the most, running and losing or serving and doing a bad job, being Jimmy Carter, I worry a lot more about the second. If you run and lose hey, the voters voted. You know, you took your best shot. You put all of yourself on the line, which is how I do this and do everything in my life. If you run and don’t do a — if you serve and don’t do a good job, that would be — I mean, I would be pretty disappointed, as I really feel — I probably elevate these positions too high in my mind and it’s probably, you know, I’m being very psycho-dramatic here but my parents, being immigrants, gave me such a powerful love and respect for this country and when I got success beyond what I could ever have imagined at an age I could never have imagined it at, you know, I got excited about devoting myself to making a difference to other people, an opportunity.

CHARTER SCHOOLS/ EDUCATION

Sometimes maybe I come across as technocratic but when I go to schools and I see these kids — when I go to the Roxbury Charter School, who honored me for the work I’m doing on extended time, and you go to a school where the sixth grade, 100 percent minority, 70 percent free and reduced lunch, and their math MCAS are above Wayland, Weston and Wellesley. No kidding. Above Wayland, Weston and Wellesley. And I feel like I played a role there because I’ve helped them in the past, but I also feel like I’m taking the best — I’m doing what the hell the charter schools are supposed to have gotten. Innovation that these guys say was critical to what they did, and I’m doing the hard work that nobody else has done. Not the teachers union, they haven’t done it. There aren’t even as many Horace Mann charter schools as are allowed. Right? There has been no effort on their part to spread those innovations —

Q: Right.

GABRIELI: — and there’s been none of anybody’s part that I can see to spread these innovations. And quite honestly, I’ll be real blunt for one second. The thing that makes me most disappointed in Deval Patrick, even though I respect him in many ways, is that he’s turned his back on education reform to get the teachers unions’ endorsement. He flipped his position on charter schools despite the fact that he is the beneficiary of a private school education and the nature of opportunity. That makes me mad because you know what, my kids don’t need it, but I look at these other kids and that is the single biggest, most motivating thing for me in public life, is the unfairness of the fact that these kids don’t get the same opportunity.

What really motivated me to get involved in after school is when I went to Stepping Stone Foundation, and that’s an after-school program that takes kids who are doing fine. Not kinds from dirt poor backgrounds. Poor backgrounds, but not — I shouldn’t say dirt poor — but not troubled backgrounds, not kids who are getting in trouble. Kids who are sort of moving fine through the system, almost none of whom are destined to great outcomes because of the nature of where the schools are at. In a 15-month program in the summer and the school year, they get almost every one of those kids — first, they got them into the private schools, sort of affirmative action scholarship spots, and now they’re getting a ton of them into Boston Latin, believe it or not, and most of these kids are now going to good colleges. They changed the trajectory of these lives and that was like a moment for me when I said wow, this program gives these kids with relatively little input — I mean, that’s not — it’s surprisingly little what it takes, to take these kids and give them more of a shot. It’s shamefully low. Because we debate — every school system out there says if you only give me $5,000 more a year per student, I can do it. These guys do it on $2,000, $3,000 bucks a kid, one time. So I’m not saying it’s as simple as that, that’s just a model, right, but it’s the kind of model that says, we can do a better job of this.

Q: Chris, when you limit the education, then you try to find some innovation.

GABRIELI: Right.

Q: It could be $6 million bucks for —

GABRIELI: Our $6.5 million — $215 million to business as usual. People ask me, that was another thing, how are we going to afford it, and I say, you know what, I’m not going to be for spending as much more on business as usual. I’m going to be spending more on innovation and one of my main proposals is going to be a pool of money from the state that says, if you want to do an innovation and it’s a sensible innovation, I’m going to have a Department of Education that actually has some knowledge and judgment. If you want to do a good new idea, we’ll fund it. You’ve got to measure whether it works, including our idea. Our proposal includes a review commission in five years that can kill it off at any time because you know what? It may not work. It may be mediocrally done by the school districts and the kids hate it and it’s more of the same, and they can’t figure out how to get it done. If you can’t really do it then the fact that the KIPP Academy is doing it and it works great for them, or Roxbury Prep, doesn’t mean they actually can pull it off. I don’t know if they can. I hope they can because we’re doing everything we can to make it true.

But that’s why when the teachers, when the unions ask me are you for merit pay, I say, look, my position is I don’t believe in merit pay. I’m skeptical, but I can tell you that one of the teachers unions, the locals, has told me he thinks the Denver Model is a really great idea. Well, I think if he goes to his jurisdiction and says let’s apply for that Gabrieli Administration, try to go to try this idea out, I’m for it, because if the teachers and the school want to do it and they think it will make a difference, let’s try it. It’s not — even though my instinct says it won’t work, and I certainly think the Governor is saying, if we were only like the private sector and gave people bonuses based on stuff, then everybody would work harder. I think that’s ridiculous, top down assumptions that traveling salesmen have the same motivation as teachers. However, if a district actually says, let’s measure this, I’m for it. I’m far more interested in people applying to say how about we fill math and science openings where we can’t find qualified candidates and pay them market rates.

Q: You’re in favor of differential pay then?

GABRIELI: I’m in favor of getting people to raise their hand and say we want to try differential rates. You see, what I’ve learned in innovation is, innovation works best bottom up, with lots of different sources out there. So, if we could turn on 351 towns and cities as opposed to the negative they are now — too decentralized — into a positive of little laboratories of democracy with regard to education, we might come up with some really good stuff, and that’s the problem right now. Most of the school districts, they look the same. There isn’t actually differential innovation. They have remarkably similar teachers union contracts. I mean, for a system that is not actually doing that great almost anywhere across the board — high socio-economic kids do great wherever they are, that’s what the data tells us. It’s not that Newton is so great. It’s the high socio-economic kids you can’t screw up, pretty much. Maybe you could screw them up. If you give them a chance, they float up high. So you know, I want to turn them into far more innovative players, the way that charter schools are little tiny islands now. I’d like to — So, when you see the Fitchburg guys say hey, let’s do pilot schools in Fitchburg, great! Pilot schools have been working great in Boston. Let me ask you, how come there’s not another pilot school in Massachusetts a decade after pilot schools were negotiated? The Saltonstall School in Salem is the only year-round school. Not another one. The kids love it, parents love it, teachers love it, they’re doing better.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

Q: You know, for someone who is as passionate as you are about education, —

GABRIELI: It’s not the only thing I’m passionate about but I do light up the most on that, I agree.

Q: — it was bugging me last night at the town meeting, to hear you oppose the in-state tuition rates for immigrant —

GABRIELI: Yeah.

Q: — students. It’s not big money.

GABRIELI: It’s not.

Q: What — why oppose that?

GABRIELI: What I say, and I’m careful how I say it, I feel more strongly on the drivers’ licenses —

Q: Yeah?

GABRIELI: — is, it’s not a priority for me to fund it. And the reason is, I wish those kids would get the education, and I do feel they’re caught in between. I do also feel that there is an enormous frustration that rather than focus on the opportunity for every, for the broad group of people in Massachusetts who feel that they’re not getting the real helping hand of government, that Democrats want to focus on what is, by one account, two or three hundred kids. I feel like — I’ll be just real frank. I feel like that agenda of putting that out in our forehead is some kind of suicide impulse on our part to avoid — instead of saying, how do we improve an education system and college affordability for thousands of kids, and their parents, who are worried about where they can go, we say no, our priority — OK? Our priority is to fund a group of kids whose parents are here illegally. They’re here illegally too, right, technically.

Q: Not all of the kids.

GABRIELI: Yeah well, the ones that are — I think the ones that we’re talking about. So you know, I never say I’m actually against it and I never say I actually think we should keep them in some hold because I do, I’m sympathetic to the individual sympathy. However, I do really believe as you know, that the illegal immigration problem is more of an issue than some people think, and I do believe that voters are surprised when they hear Democrats actually put more of a premium on illegal immigrants benefits than helping the broad group of people we’re responsible to help. I think frankly, to be really blunt, I think sometimes it’s a part of the Democratic Party that doesn’t actually worry about college education for their own kids that says that. It’s not the part of the Democratic Party that was there last night, as an example.

Q: But why is it zero funding?

GABRIELI: Well it isn’t really. It’s just in a campaign, people want to know what your priorities are, and so when that question comes up, it does come down to priorities. I hope I’m not sounding excessively evasive on this but I’m trying to be careful in my language. I just say it’s not a priority for me. I wouldn’t get there first. It’s not a proposal of my campaign, let’s go do this. Now, what happens if the legislature gets up on its hind legs. I mean, Sharon O’Brien famously got into trouble on the gay marriage issue when she was asked, "What would you do if the legislature passed gay marriage? Would you veto it?" Now, she made the stupid mistake of answering a hypothetical question, right, and in her mind, when she was thinking about it. Well, a veto is a higher standard that what you would advocate for, so no, I wouldn’t veto it. That’s what was in her mind. I really believe that it wasn’t pandering. She knew it was being closely covered, right? You can’t explain that to people, that you see a different standard between veto and so on and so — I’m careful when I say it’s not a priority for me. I have not said I’d veto it.

Q: Can you talk a little more about —

GABRIELI: You might say that’s cute but I’m reflecting the fact that I want to get people excited about what government can do for the broad group of people here in Massachusetts, and I think the illegal immigration issue is mostly an issue that should be —

Q: It’s divisive.

GABRIELI: It is and it’s mostly an issue where, you know, I’ve said who I think the real villains are. I don’t think it’s the individual illegal immigrants. I think it’s the employers who exploit them. I think the people who focus on it as about the illegal immigrants are not focusing on these companies who are exploiting them, and that’s what gets me hot and bothered.

Q: So, OK. Talk a little bit more about the whole immigration issue because clearly our state economy would be in big trouble if it didn’t have a lot of immigration. We’re using a lot of the population and not everybody is, you know, being exploited.

GABRIELI: No.

Q: It’s variable with each job. Where is the — what are the numbers? Do you know what the numbers are? How many illegals are there in Massachusetts?

GABRIELI: No one really knows, but there are estimates, right. Look, my view on it is that there’s a whole national debate, obviously, on illegal immigration, and I do support the Kennedy/McCain proposal. The truth is, I think at one level, what America is doing is we’re sitting on 12 million illegal immigrants and kind of going along with a weird, sort of apartheidy kind of thing where they’re exploitable, they’ll do the low- end jobs. We don’t really enforce, you know, the immigration laws. That’s sort of beneficial because who else is going to wash the dishes in the back of the kitchen or do the gardening or the — I mean, I really think that’s a big part of what’s going on and that’s why I think Kennedy/McCain is the right kind of thinking about what to do. Now, that’s not a governor’s issue. At the state level, what I believe is I totally disagree with you know, the whole let’s take the state troopers and have them arrest — not only do I think that’s just a joke of an election year proposal, but I also don’t think it’s the right thing to do, to go chase down these immigrants. You can’t solve the problem that way but I’m not even for it.

Two things I’ve focused on this. Some people want to provide greater services and spend more money, provide greater rights to illegal immigrants, and I don’t agree with that. I do think there is a difference between legal and illegal. We have a set of laws right now. I’m for changing them until they change the facts of the facts. So, I don’t support the driver’s licenses, and I don’t make a priority with tuition, OK, because that’s a spending position. Where do you spend your first dollar? On Early Ed for poor kids who are legal or on — I mean look, you raised earlier, what do you do on choices. I’m being defensive because I’m not proud of drawing that distinction. That’s the one that bothers me the most. I’m honest about that in this setting, and I’m on the record, OK, but I think it’s the most symbolic and least relevant of the issues, and I think you’re raising, I think, the most relevant of the issues. Where, I think the state should focus its efforts is the enforcement on these companies who are absolutely abusing these — and exploiting these kids. Not just kids but these illegal immigrants. And I think they’re doing it absolutely at the expense of middle class people in Massachusetts, and that is not being covered. Did you bring up the two — no, somebody else did, I’m sorry, I’m thinking of a different conversation, about the spreading of, you know, the haves and have-nots. When you spend time with people —

Q: There was a question last night.

***

GABRIELI: There are a group of people that, right now, the Democratic Party is not standing up for, and I’ve spend time with them, and they’re not my natural base, but boy am I sympathetic. When you talk to a carpenter who is a middle class guy, who went through — and that guy who got up last night, the sheet metal worker. This guy gets up and I don’t have any dis-reason to disbelieve this guy’s a retired sheet metal worker. He seemed like a really honest, straight forward kind of guy and you know, his point was he made it into the middle class by being a sheet metal worker. And these are the guys, these trades jobs, are the ones that are absolutely losing out on this illegal immigration delay. I think those laws should be enforced. I mean, your articles on the state contracts and the contractors underneath it who are laughing at the social security numbers requirement. When you guys labeled it online, look up the fact that 30 or 40 out of say 50 employees weren’t qualified, you know it’s a strategy. I mean, anybody could hire two. Nobody hires 30 out of 40 people, who you can easily find out are illegal, by mistake. That’s the strategy of that firm, right? And, in fact, in some of these fields, I’m told by the carpenters, for example, it’s even out-of-state people; it’s not just locals. It’s that they actually have a strategy to move people from other places and put them in ridiculous housing situations. Right? Then they’re deeply isolated, which is the maximum exploitation opportunity to boot. Right? And whose jobs are they taking? Who would otherwise be painting that house or doing that carpentry? And that really troubles me.

Q: Chris, in terms of being innovative and something like extended day, have they done anything for immigrant children? Are there any bright ideas or do the charter schools not cater to immigrant children at all?

GABRIELI: No, I think there’s quite a variety. For example, the Lawrence Community Day, which is the total school of choice in Lawrence, is very, very strong on immigrant kids, on Hispanic kids.

***

They choose — I mean, if you look at most of these schools, it’s more time, it’s very motivated teachers and obviously, the ability to select the teachers, who they want. In many cases, it’s different staffing patterns. One of the things that’s interesting is a lot of these charter schools actually have more staff and lower ratios by having more lower, you know, more aides and so on, which is an interesting strategy. I mean, the teachers union’s mission is yeah, we one to twelve or fifteen because we want two. Instead of a class of one to twenty, let’s have two classes of one to ten with teachers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, although there’s a big debate in the nation if you suddenly needed tens of thousands more good teachers, where would you find them, since there’s nobody hiring all the good teachers they can already and they already have a lot of teachers we are hiring we probably shouldn’t. So, where would more come from? Their strategies tend to often be more like we’ll have an aide and a teacher, and we’ll have one to ten effectively, and the aide will do certain activities with the kids that the aide can really do in small breakout groups. And so, you get a lot more student/teacher contact and you use the aide in the right — it’s pretty interesting. It’s what you would do if you had the free hand to say hell, I want to do better by these kids. Here’s the money I have, what’s the best way to deploy it. Right? It’s exactly the point of charter schools in a lot of ways. Nobody is looking at this. Nobody’s looking at this. Have you read a study about what these guys are doing? It’s absolutely extraordinary, right — the whole purpose of Democrats who supported it was really innovation. A little bit of choice, but mostly innovation, and nothing is being done because of the status quo, and not by the Republicans either. Their position is let’s just have — if a few charter schools are good, let’s have vouchers. Anyways.

***

CHARTER SCHOOLS/ ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

GABRIELI: You guys actually provide — I’d say you and a lot of the other papers actually provided quite a bit of coverage of individual charter schools. I think the idea of looking at it more as a study, you know, what are the patterns that work well. It’s a very fair question and by the way, I think your point that Reilly’s got a good point when he talks about charter schools cheaply in the failing districts is a good point, because you’re right. I don’t know if it was your editorial, but I know it was the Globe’s. That you’d love to see the innovation focused on the problems we know are the biggest problems; English language learners and immigrant kids, Special Ed. I’m not sure I want to force charter schools to like only apply for certain categories of kids. Among other things, it’s the whole spirit of any kid can go, then there’s certainly a problem. If you focus on, for example, on urban and failing districts, you’ll have all the English language learners, all the Special Ed, all the difficulty problems you want, you know, once they’re in Boston or Lawrence, or you know, you almost can’t avoid them.

***

HUMAN SERVICES

GABRIELI: I certainly think — on some of these — I think we’ve actually had more of the innovations and successes in human services than people realize. We don’t celebrate enough, sometimes, the things work. The tremendous changes that came out of Jerome Miller and the notion of putting kids less in lockups and stuff, right. Now, we’ve slipped from that some, but it’s still enormous progress. The progress we’ve made on teenage pregnancy, which a lot of it has been through kind of human services oriented organizations. Not just them but I think there’s some tremendous progress being made in places around homelessness. I was just down on Pine Street. It blows me away. The Pine Street of today versus the Pine Street of a decade ago, I mean, they continue to really make progress in the hardheaded way they think about the homeless. And I don’t mean hardhearted, hardheaded, what do we need to do? Well, we don’t need more shelters, we need more housing. How do we get that housing? What are the problems with cobbling it together. You know, I found it fascinating because I’ve taken a beating on the minimum wage position that I took. When you’re out on those things, you get it walking into the restaurant — I mentioned at the earlier town meeting, I was in a restaurant in Brockton. A couple of people at the table pulled me aside, small business owners, and they basically told me to go "F" off because I’m going to cost them their business because I’m for the minimum wage. So you know, you hear from people and stuff, which is fine. People should express themselves. I asked the people at the Pine Street Inn what’s the minimum you’ve got to get to get a homeless man out of the shelter into being able to support themselves, and they say $11.75 an hour. It’s an interesting number, because they’re not — you know, Women’s Industrial Union puts out numbers about, you know, and I like their approach but they sort of tend to, I think, be a little high on the numbers sometimes.

Q: Well, it’s families.

GABRIELI: It is families, you’re right. No, no, it’s a big difference there too. But I also mean Pine Street’s really practical. They want to get people out of there. So they have a pretty good feel for, you know, not how much would you like to have, what’s the minimum before you can share an apartment with another guy, who you don’t necessarily want to live with, and have very little in the way of a great life. It’s $11.75. It’s just an interesting number. But my point is, they’re doing some interesting things. We don’t scale those human services providers, so one of the things I’d want to look at, and I don’t have a proposal on this, is — I believe a lot in the non-profit sector’s ability to demonstrate best practices. I think it’s a great way — again, I told you how I feel on — I know a lot of innovation, it always happens in smaller, peripheral groups. So, I think non-profits are a great way to see the seeds of ideas. The question is when you see a good idea, do you have the resources and the will to go after it, and that’s, I think the challenge. I don’t know how I would do that because the human service has already got a lot of that out of that contracting with existing non-profits and part of the problem is we already clearly have.

This is unbelievable irony, right, that we have these incredibly generous benefits, for example, on the healthcare side and municipal employees on the one hand, and we haven’t given the human services providers, that we are indirect contractors to arrays of X years, right, and they’re making a ridiculously well amount of money. If you don’t understand the politics, the problem of the politics of public unions, you just line up. Human services workers, let’s say, and teachers. You take a look at the deal that each side gets, and you get it’s all about power. So, I’m not suggesting that even though I’ve arrogantly claimed I could get some stuff done with the legislature, that’s a problem that can’t be fixed easily. It could be improved but it can’t be fixed because there’s so much power on one side and so little on the other. But I really am interested in questions of how, whether in regard to homelessness, with regard to youth services, where I think there’s always some really big issues, especially with regard to seniors, by the way, which isn’t exactly human services but sort of borders into it. I think we’ve got to get out there and really refresh out ideas about what works and look at these non-profits that succeed. I mentioned last night, I might have mentioned it in Quincy, these pace programs that have gotten no attention, and they’re the most important big idea I know of. Pace programs combine Medicaid money and the Medicare money for the dually eligible seniors.

They’ve never been scaled much, the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for the Aged — they changed their name but whatever they’re called now, had a program. Phenomenal results because what they do is they really stop the approach of saying as older people get in physical trouble, we sort of react to it and when they need to go to a nursing home, we pay through the nose for the rest of their lives. A much more proactive approach is, because they get all the money prospectively for these people from those accounts, minus a few percent, and they’ve gone out and done things like figured out how to get people to stay in their homes, and they can spend the money on things like an air conditioner to keep a senior in their home. They can spend money on — you know, whatever they want to spend money on, they can spend money on. They use nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to go actually see these people as opposed to the current system, where we wait until they call 911, at which point you’re in for a $1,000 or $5,000 adventure no matter what, right? It’s craziness not to have lower paid, but perfectly medically competent people out visiting these seniors. So these models are out there and I think we do a terrible job in sort of finding what’s working out there and getting away from the budgeting of last year’s budget plus two percent or minus one percent, or kill the one program maybe, into these questions of much more exciting models that could work. So, I do hope to identify some of those.

***

GAMBLING

Q: Can you help us understand your position on gambling, casino gambling, slot machines.

GABRIELI: My position is — I’d be happy to explain my position directly and then my logic. My position is that we should get ahead of the curve and not wait around for either the racetracks to win their political fight and get slots there or the Indian Tribe to get final recognition and potentially legally sue effectively, but rather say you know what, we’re going to have casino gambling in Massachusetts, let’s do it the right way. I think there’s a lot we can do that’s righter, even if you disagree with whether we should have it all, there’s righter and less right, and I use as an example — I looked pretty close at this because this was a close call for me. One of the state regulatory bodies that has really looked at this, they called for no ATM machines on the floor.But you know what? It’s a good example of something where people can get that that’s an interesting regulatory decision. Now, I happened to be in Las Vegas for my brother’s 50th birthday. I don’t go to casinos almost ever but my brother likes Las Vegas. We took my mom, who was still around then, and you know what, we had fun. More than half the revenues, I mention, in Las Vegas are non-gambling. There’s a lot more to it than people realize but anyways, there were ATM machines and I know because I didn’t bring much cash, and I went and got it. Now, I’m reputed to be able to afford to do that but it’s probably — so that’s why it really stood out in my mind.

Q: What do you advocate the most?

GABRIELI: Well, I read that state regulatories recommend no ATM machines on the floor. I thought you know —

Q: There’s a reason for that. There’s a larger reason for that, which is that gambling is, to some people —

GABRIELI: Addictive.

Q: — an addiction and for many people, a regressive, involuntary thing you have.

GABRIELI: Let me answer those, because those are great concerns and those are absolute impediments. So, I agree with that. All I wanted to say was, my point is, if you get ahead of the curve, I think you can at least do it the right way. For example, slots at racetracks is not the right way. Casinos are a destination. You know, done well, they’re a destination place where people go and they have a lot of fun that’s not just about gambling, and we know that because tens of thousand of people and probably hundreds of thousands go from Massachusetts right now, to Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun, which are in the middle of nowhere and a fair drive, because they want to go there. It’s not — they could just go do keno — if they just wanted to do the obsession, they could just go down to the corner and do Keno, which is an extremely addiction oriented thing, where I know there was always this debate about whether to shorten the amount of time for a game, which ups the addition intensity reaction. I’m going to come back to that but we already offer plenty of people who have addiction tendencies there plenty of opportunity to express that. Now, that doesn’t mean another one that’s —

Q: They’re there to see Wayne Newton for crying out loud.

GABRIELI: Well impulse, that doesn’t make it for the impulse one way but it certainly kind of says we’re ready to them, right? We already have a $4 billion lottery. You can already go to the racetracks and bet. You can now bet online really easily on the Internet. You can go down to Connecticut. So, I think that while I might, once upon a time, have been actually more of a blue nose on this, because I’m a close call on this. My wife absolutely opposes. It’s the only issue that my wife and I really disagree on. She’s really mad at me about this but my view is we’re there already, and I do think it matters how we do it, and I don’t want to wait around until a successful lawsuit or until a successful lobbyist strike on Beacon Hill. I think we should do it thoughtfully. I also think frankly, for the tens of thousands or hundred thousand of people who go there, it is an interesting issue about Massachusetts. They kind of feel like it’s pretty amazing that Massachusetts makes them drive to Connecticut to do what they want to do.

You know, most of them don’t have a problem. The average bill at Mohegan’s Sun is $90, and most people don’t have a problem. If most people had a problem, you know, those casinos are good at emptying as much money out of your pockets as you want empty. So, there wouldn’t be a lot of repeat customers, if you know what I mean. Now, I’m not trying to minimize the fact that there are problem gamblers and I think we should do what we continue to do now, which is put half the percent aside and try to do everything we can to help those people. I’m for that and maybe even in some regulatory ways, we can help sort of keep them off the premises if they have a problem. I feel like we do with alcohol. I mean, if you make alcohol available. I have an alcoholic in my family. There’s a part of me that says, you know, I don’t know why we have alcohol. Well, we tried that, prohibition, right? But no, I’m serious. If you have an alcoholic member of your family, it changes your view of alcohol dramatically. I don’t think I’ve actually gotten seriously drunk since this member of the family, through marriage, came into my family. When you see the destruction it weaves, and this is in a very upper middle class individual, not a street bum, it really gets your attention in a big way. But there are some things, as a society, we’ve got to decide, you know, I’m for being able to pull people over for not wearing their seatbelt.

****

So my position is let’s do it the right way, and the reason it really put me over the limit was, everybody in this race says they want to lower property taxes. If you want to do that or stop the rate of growth, you’ve got to have some money. You asked me at the beginning about money, and I think the difference between my campaign — if I lose this race, I’m going to sleep well at night. I put forward honest proposals on everything. So, I put forward a proposal here to where we could raise maybe a couple hundred million dollars a year, the estimates vary. Is that enough? No. We have $9 billion in property taxes. $200 million is what, 3 percent, therefore, two and a half percent. But, it’s something and it might be more than $200 million, but it’s something that we’re at least headed in the right direction as opposed to nothing. It’s the only thing I can come up that I think you could ever get done because as opposed to any tax raise anywhere, there’s a different way of doing it. Now, I mentioned the gamblers thing and on the regressive thing.

You know, I hear you, although I got to say to you, I do sympathize with that view and a part of me feels that. Another part of me thinks you know, watching cable TV or going to the movie theaters, or whatever form of entertainment, it’s all just entertainment. It was interesting, I mentioned the $11.75 and I said it was no frills, but I was talking about this gambling thing because the one thing they said when the rumors are taking off and $11.75 gets you, one of the things she ticked off, and then she was almost embarrassed because she kind of realized it sounded opulent, was basic cable service. I thought to myself, you know what, if you’re a homeless guy, you get some awful job that pays you $11.75, you have to share your room with some other. Probably not your first choice in life, to share a room with a guy. You know what? Cable probably doesn’t seem —

Q: It’s not that much of a luxury.

GABRIELI: Yeah. It’s like something to do. Maybe you should read books better yet, but you know what I mean right?

***

GOVERNMENT

Q: One more question. Talk about governing for a minute. You talked at the start, about your frustration over public policy opportunities being wasted. You have all of these ideals, you’ve got a lot of passion. By the time of the election, you will have position papers issued on every topic under the sun. So day one in office, do you — you have a whole portfolio of position papers. Do you kind of drop those on the legislature and say —

GABRIELI: No.

Q: — you know, pick a policy, any policy?

GABRIELI: No.

Q: Is there going to be a set of a couple of priorities —

GABRIELI: Yeah.

Q: — that you’re pursuing. How do you go about achieving all these different things that you have in mind?

GABRIELI: That’s such a great question, it really is. I got asked it recently by somebody and I’ll be honest with you, one of the problems when you’re running is it’s hard to think too much about it, for one reason, which is, if you don’t win. Look, these things are crap shoots, who the hell knows who’s going to win. It’s sort of a form of personal torture to think about what you would do. And that’s why — one of the reasons I am running is I got into some of that personal torture because Shannon O’Brien and I were in a good place and lucked out. So, it was hard. When we were 12 points up and Romney thought we were too, it was hard not to start thinking about the stuff you could do. That’s really haunted me for quite some time and that’s one of the reasons why I decided the day after the election, I’m just going to go try do some of these things, and continued to do the after school stuff. I went into the economic development stuff.

So, one answers is I try not to think about it too much. But I did — the second answer — that’s indirect but I’ll give the direct, is I learned by working on a transition, the Cahill transitions, that transitions are really important. That’s actually the most important answer, because you get 60 days there and you need to not squander it. So, as much as you’re going to want to, if you win in November, just to kick back and celebrate, those are the 60 most important days of your administration because those are the 60 days where you don’t have to say anything publicly. I mean, you’ve got to make a few minor things but you’ve got 60 days to get ready and you’d better use them well because the day you’re sworn in, you better have — you’ve got to have made those decisions.

Here’s a couple thoughts about that broadly. First and foremost, it’s about great people. I do feel like the difference between me at 46, and me at a younger age, is I used to try to do it all myself. And I think the reason I’ve been successful in some of the things I’ve done more recently is, the people of Massachusetts. 2020 is an example. They’re as deeply involved as I’ve been and they’re fabulous. They’re continuing to do a great job without me there. The more experiences you have like that in life, the more you realize you’d better have great other people there. Empower them and you set priorities, and set expectations but boy, if you recruit great people, that is like the higher priority than what you want to directly do. The good news is, I think by being a leader in the public policy realm in this state, I think I know a lot of people who really want to serve.***

PRIORITIES

Q: So it’s not on the first day obviously, and it’s maybe not for 100 days but as you go into this, are there three or two or one thing that you want to address and make sure that you’ve addressed during your term as Governor?

GABRIELI: Yeah.

Q: Or will you look back on it and say I no, I really wanted to do many things.

GABRIELI: I’m a many-things guy but I’ve mentioned that at the top of my totem pole is economic growth and jobs, and the reason is, I think that this, you know, this whole consequences book, I think that’s what drives the whole shebang. I would go so far as to say, if we end up with a 2008 referendum on gay marriage, that it may make a difference as to whether or not the economy is and whether it passes or fails, and I believe that because again, I believe this moral consequences argument that angry people are negative people, and they’re less generous on rights and happy people are more generous. That may sound crazy but I think we’re — it’s close 50/50 in Massachusetts, is my estimate, on gay marriage. So I think that vote, if it happens, it will come down partly to the temperament of the time. I don’t want to overplay that. I’m not saying my solution on gay marriage is economic growth. I’m just saying my solution to everything starts with some economic growth, and I believe that the Governor of Massachusetts could change Massachusetts in a way that 16 years of argument, that it’s about stops to big businesses and tax cuts, to what it really is about, which is an innovation and economy that’s better than any other place in the country that has to learn how to spread its benefits to even more people, and I believe that’s a big deal. I’ve lived in Silicon Valley. It’s a better environment because people get this idea of innovation. It grows the pie for everybody and it’s really an extraordinary environment out there. It includes an incredible philanthropic generosity.

I mean, think about what Gates is doing. I mean, Gates is a bit of a hero of mine, even though he’s a monopolist, because look what he is doing in his second career. Jesus, it’s amazing, right? He’s not getting everything right, but man, he is trying to take the same entrepreneurial problem solving intensity, with a scale of money that actually can move some mountains, and go on after it, right. So to me, why haven’t we exacted that out of our group. Everyone sits around bemoaning Fidelity or Gillette or whatever, the Globe, the New York Times. There’s a lot of people like Pat McGovern, entrepreneurs with a billion dollars or more who, you know, are starting to be really generous, and I think that we’ve got to get that whole entrepreneurial innovation culture. That is our greatest asset. I mean, that’s probably the most important thing, from my mind, to get done because I think in terms of the jobs for individuals, which is the ultimate, you know, opportunity for an educated person. It turns into revenues for the state to be able to do the kind of things we want to do.

And culturally, it’s the difference between whether Massachusetts is the most interesting place in the 21st Century. Then it becomes Venice, my father’s ancestral home, or Buffalo, where I grew up. Because Boston and Massachusetts are a little bit on the edge on that, and I think we’re on the good side of the curve by quite a bit. But we have within us, by our ability to innovate and our spirit of that, an incredible opportunity to be, you know, a place that people are envious of, if you’re lucky enough to live there. Or we have the opportunity to sort of erode and corrode down to being that branch town that people talk about, not because a few companies buy us off but because we stopped believing that we’ve got some magic air that we can build on. And I really feel — I feel like I’ve seen both sides of that, and that’s the piece. It may seem like the economy is a big jump to the other stuff but it’s a cultural thing. The excitement. When you spend time in Silicon Valley, what Google means to people out there is a lot more than just a whole lot of billionaires and jobs and stuff.

***

Q: In a minute or less, the biggest test. We know you can do it, you do it at the debates. John Campbell had recommended that we mark a certain percentage of state revenues to local aid, and I think he said 20 percent. Would you say that —

GABRIELI: To the cuts in local aid? He wants 40.

Q: No, he wants 40 of new growth I think.

GABRIELI: No, he wants to get to 40 total. You probably read it more recently and are fresher than —

Q: I think 40 is the new growth rate and you site the corporate tax and you know, income tax. But I think it was more like 20 or whatever.

Q: Whatever.

GABRIELI: I can’t help myself, economic growth and education because I do believe — let me say this. K-12 look, the achievement gap is the bear in this country that is really — you know, I think Massachusetts is so poised to make a difference, not to solve it. Solving it would take a miracle. Make real measurable progress from other states, and I think we can do that. I don’t like the formulaic approach to that, because I think it’s more complicated than that. You’ve got the lottery revenues. I worry about taking an excessive formulae approach. I know that the municipal people love the 40 percent goal. If we do it, there’s some subtleties. The Tax Branch Foundation found some good points in my view. For example, an interesting idea, if we went into a higher fixed ratio like 40 percent, which is what the MMA wants, is to say to them, look, you get your own rainy day funds. Because right now, when it’s a rainy day, they all go we need more money, we need to be have some local aid. Why? The state’s not held harmless on revenues.

It’s an interesting — maybe it’s because I’m too much of a bargainer and negotiator, but if we go to a more formulaic or larger local aid, I want things out of it. I want housing growth because they could do it, it’s up to them, regulatorily. I want certain things on education. I want more regional innovation, to talk about something I haven’t talked about much in the campaign. I’m sick and tired of 300 cities and towns and the redundancies that are inherent with that. That’s ridiculous. You know, we’re the only state in the country that’s going toward fragmentation. Everybody else is going toward county and regional government, for obvious reasons. By the way, Springfield is an example. The towns around Springfield are doing fine. Springfield is Detroit. It’s just the city is being abandoned for the nearby suburbs, and you know, and then all those suburbs are saying, we should get 25 percent of our aid on Chapter 70 because we just should. They took their taxes with them, left the kids in Springfield, so the state’s going to pick up anyways, and then they say, you know. I want change for more money, not just say that more of the same is fine.

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