New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell is pulling no punches in addressing the defeat of a compromise proposal that would have allowed the Alma del Mar Charter School to proceed with its expansion but on a smaller scale. Appearing on my Friday program, Mitchell stated unequivocally that State Rep.Tony Cabral (D-New Bedford) "killed it."

Mitchell 5-16

Cabral actively opposed a home rule petition that would have advanced the much less costly compromise with the state and the financial assistance the state would have provided to help implement the agreement. This despite support for the measure by the Administration, the School Committee and the City Council.

I hear tell that House Speaker Bob DeLeo (D-Winthrop) actually had to call Cabral into his office and tell Cabral to vote to send the petition to committee for debate.

It is almost unheard of for a legislator to oppose a home rule petition on behalf of his own district. During appearances on my show and Chris McCarthy's in recent weeks, Cabral was unable to articulate his opposition to the home rule petition.

The legislation was filed by Rep. Chris Markey (D-Dartmouth) and Rep. Paul Schmid (D-Westport), both of whom represent a sliver of New Bedford on Beacon Hill. Cabral and freshman Rep. Chris Hendricks (D-New Bedford) were unwilling to do the deed. While Cabral actively opposed the home rule petition, Hendricks and Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) laid low and did nothing to advance it.

Taylor Cormier/Townsquare Media
Taylor Cormier/Townsquare Media

The home rule petition and the expansion of Alma del Mar were bitterly opposed by the Massachusetts Teacher's Association. While not exactly supportive, the New Bedford Educator's Association did not lobby in opposition to the agreement.

It's alarming that members of the legislative delegation would oppose or do nothing to help support a home rule petition that has so much support back in the district. What is more alarming is that the taxpayers of New Bedford will likely pay the cost in terms of higher property taxes and budget reductions in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2020.

Last fall, New Bedford voters began the process of draining the legislative swamp. Perhaps next year they can finish the job.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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