Last week, SouthCoastToday and the Herald News both reported that a large expansion by Meditech of its facility in Freetown was on life support, after the Massachusetts Historical Commission required Meditech to strip the top two feet of soil from 21 acres and sieve it for archeological artifacts, at a projected multi-million dollar cost. The Herald News quoted various local leaders calling the MHC’s decision “incomprehensible…arbitrary…bizarre… and unacceptable.” What they did not point out, and what is even more troubling than just the decision here, is that the best description of the MHC action is simply this: business as usual.
It’s telling that the state MEPA office approved the project, but that MHC is the stumbling block – and that Representative Michael Rodrigues was quoted as saying that
I’ve had several conversations with [Assistant Secretary of State] Michael Maresco. He told me the secretary is not going to meet with me or the applicants, and they have to comply with what his office dictates.”
People both in and out of government have been complaining – quietly – for years about the fiefdom known as MHC. Even the MEPA office cannot get MHC to play nice. Why has the criticism been so quiet? Because the MHC is located within the Secretary of State’s office. Because we live in a one-party state and Secretary of State likely has the job for life, if he wants it. Because state legislators don’t even want their name associated with a bill that would limit MHC’s authority or move it out of the Secretary of State’s office into some part of the administration managed by our actual Governor. Because developers fear retribution from the MHC.
Is the likely failure of the Meditech project going to the catalyst for real change at MHC? One can only hope. It’s time for the legislature, the administration, municipalities, and the private sector collectively to rise up and say “I’M AS MAD AS H___, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”