Friday, September 7, 2012

Remarks of Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray

Remarks of Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray
Massachusetts Delegation at Democratic National Convention
September 6, 2012

Good morning.

I’m so proud of Governor Patrick and Elizabeth Warren for the great job they’ve done representing our state over the last couple of days. Let’s give them some applause.

Last night, former President Bill Clinton nominated Barack Obama to carry our flag in November. So this morning I thought I’d share a couple of stories about Bill Clinton’s visits to Worcester as President. Because in these stories I believe you will see a clear contrast in the kind of leadership we can expect from Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Let me take you back to December 3, 1999. It’s one of those dates that most of us will never forget. In a burst of flame that night, six lives were lost, families shattered, and a heart-wrenching pain rippled through an entire community.

Of course I’m talking about the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse fire that claimed the lives of Paul Brotherton, Timothy Jackson, Jeremiah Lucey, James Lyons, Joseph McGuirk and Thomas Spencer.

It started as just another fire call, but very soon raged out of control. As a fearsome glow radiated above the city, news began to spread that six firefighters were missing in the burning building, while searching for a homeless couple living in the warehouse.

By the morning of December 4, the story had gripped nation. Then, for days that seemed never to end, people watched the coverage on TV, and many of us in Worcester went to the site and watched in person, as those firefighters who survived the inferno worked to the brink of exhaustion to bring their brothers home.

President Clinton understood, instinctively, what the tragedy had done to our community, and to our Commonwealth. So the President came to Worcester, because he wanted to help. He met privately with the families. He spoke from his heart, and he touched our hearts.

I was serving my first term on the Worcester City Council at the time, and I will never forget his empathy and his understanding of how the loss had affected the entire community. He knew how important it was for him to respond.

Now fast forward four years. I was the Mayor of Worcester, and the city had decided to build a living memorial to the six firefighters in the form of a new fire station on the site of the old Cold Storage Warehouse. The city had acquired the property, begun a fundraising program for the memorial, and approved a consolidation plan that would close two older fire stations in the downtown and move those companies to the new station.

It seemed like the right thing to do: it would help the fire department protect the city more efficiently, it would mark the site forever as hallowed ground, and it would continue the community’s healing process. The city developed a six million dollar plan for the station and had come up with four million, but needed help closing that two million dollar gap.

Given the significance of the project, and what had happened at that site, Worcester made its request for assistance to our state leaders. And the new station was eventually built at the fire site, but only after the Massachusetts Legislature overrode Governor Romney’s veto for the funding.

Now I don’t think that Mitt Romney is a bad person. And I believe he is a sincere and dedicated family man. But for me, his decision to veto the fire station funding tells us everything we need to know about his approach to governing and the kind of America he would seek to create as President.

For Mitt Romney, funding for the fire station was just a data point….Numbers on a page… A cost to be cut. That kind of detached, calculated decision-making may work fine for some corporate types, but that’s not what it means to be an elected leader of a Commonwealth, or President of the United States.

True leaders like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama see things differently. They take the time to learn…to listen…to understand…and to rally people to work together for a common purpose.

You know, some people love to say that government needs to run like a business. And sure, there are many good business practices that can, and should be, applied to government operations.But that doesn’t mean our government is the same as a business.

In fact, they are two fundamentally different things. The preamble to our state Constitution reminds us that, we live in, and I quote, “a social compact by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be govern.”

On December 3, 1999…..we didn’t hire a private company to respond and fight that fire.

When the alarm rang, the Worcester-Six didn’t perform a cost-benefit analysis before deciding whether or not to respond. When duty called, they answered. In the face of deadly fire, they rushed in to protect people they did not know. Not rich and powerful people, but a homeless couple clinging to the fringes of society, who were believed to be still in the building.

President Obama, like former President Clinton, understands the power of the sacrifice made by these firefighters, and the impact that their example has on our community.

Sadly Mitt Romney did not. And that makes all the difference.

Like Governor Patrick, President Obama believes our elected leaders must help build a better America, by investing in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and a growing innovation economy always with his eye on the future, not just on today’s bottom line.

Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, Richard Tisei, and their allies like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, have a different view. They all support drastic proposals that would cut billions from education, and healthcare, and cancel infrastructure projects that are important for our state and country. They would cut programs for seniors, cut nutrition programs for kids, and even scale back services that our veterans, our heroes, rightfully deserve.

That is not an America built on shared sacrifice and shared dreams.And that’s what’s at stake in this election, and we can’t take it for granted.

Now before I finish, let me quickly tell you about Bill Clinton’s other visit to Worcester as president.

It was August of 1998. At the time I was the chairman Congressman Jim McGovern’s reelection campaign, and I was serving my first year on the Worcester City Council. Air Force One flew into Worcester, and a long line of elected officials, including Senators Kennedy and Kerry were waiting to greet him.

I was near the end of the line, and when President Clinton finally got to me I was introduced as a city councilor, but also as Jim’s campaign chairman. The President knew Jim was in a tough battle with the Republican State Senator Matt Amorello, and as he shook my hand he leaned in towards me and said “Tim, You keep that Dog runnin.”

And that’s what we did. We kept running. And we won. Bill Clinton knows a thing or two about winning.

So let me ask you today, are you ready to keep running ?

Are you ready to run with Barack Obama? Are you ready to run with Elizabeth Warren? Are you ready to run with John Tierney and all our Democratic Congressional candidates?

Then you need to run to the phone banks and those make calls. You need to run to the campaign office and get out lawn signs and stickers. You need to run to your computer, or your smartphone, and get all of your friends and contacts in the game.

Run to New Hampshire…or Pennsylvania…or Ohio… or Florida…and let people know what Mitt Romney was really like as governor. There are 60 days until the election, and we can’t afford to waste a single one.

As soon as the plane lands back in Massachusetts, we all need to be running as hard as we can to help our Democratic candidates win so we keep our country moving in the right direction.

That’s what I’ll be doing, and I know you’ll be there with me.

Thanks very much.

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