Hey, Greylock Nation!
Welcome to Episode # 168 of the Top Left Corner here on greylockglass.com, published Monday, August 22, 2022. I’m your host, Jay Velázquez and I thank you for tuning in.
We’ve spoken in the past on this show about Massachusetts’ dismal ranking in the area of transparency. Today’s topic takes the problem of the opaque old-boys club to the next level. We’re talking about the Governor’s Council, which I had always assumed was probably a benign, if wasteful, bit of blue-blood anachronism. Brothers and sisters, I tell you it goes way deeper than that, and today’s guest is a candidate for the open seat in September’s primary, and she’s going to spill the beans on why we need to care about this office as much or more than any other contested race this year.
Candidate for Governor’s Council: Tara Jacobs. MORE INFO
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WHAT IS THE GOVERNOR’S COUNCIL?
The Massachusetts Governor’s Council, also known as the Executive Council, is composed of eight individuals elected from districts, and the Lieutenant Governor who serves ex officio. The eight councillors are elected from their respective districts every two years. The Council meets weekly to record advice and consent on warrants for the state treasury, pardons and commutations, and recording advice and consent to gubernatorial appointments such as judges, clerk-magistrates, public administrators, members of the Parole Board, Appellate Tax Board, Industrial Accident Board and Industrial Accident Reviewing Board, notaries, and justices of the peace.
Members of the public are welcome at Council formal assemblies and hearings.
To view the livestream of the Governor’s Council Assembly or Hearings click on the link below:
NTRVW: TARA JACOBS
Top Left Corner: And with me on the line is Tara Jacobs, who is candidate for Governor’s Council District Eight here in the Berkshires. Thanks so much for coming on the show, Tara.
Tara Jacobs: Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
Top Left Corner: Well, it’s you know, I saw your initial release about this race. And I’m going to admit I don’t know much about the Governor’s Council. I you know. You know, by the governor, you know, about the local legislature legislator. What what is the Governor’s Council?
Tara Jacobs: Well, you are not alone in asking that question. It has been a key component of this campaign is to help spread the word on what this council is, what it does and why it’s so important. The Governor’s Council is made up of eight members in eight districts, and they work directly with the governor and the lieutenant governor. And lieutenant governor is actually their ex-officio chair. And they confirm every judge in the entire state from the district court level all the way up to the Supreme Judicial Court. Every single judge is confirmed in the advice and consent role that is in a check and balance on the executive branch. Their decision is final and can’t be overruled by the governor, though they can override the governor’s choice. They also do a lot of other things that are equally important. For instance, they are the ones who choose, who serves on our parole board in the state. They confirm every clerk magistrate across the state. And also if there are pardons or commutations up for consideration, they are the ones who make the final decision on those cases. There’s a bunch of other judiciary related roles as well, so the work they do is quite important and it’s one of the least well known elected positions, partially because it doesn’t show up on the ballot as Governors Council. So people are often say to me that they’ve never voted on it or seen it on a ballot, and probably that’s because it shows up on the ballot under the word councilor rather than saying Governors Council.
Top Left Corner: That’s weird. Why in the world would that be? Do we know?
Tara Jacobs: We do know. I actually tracked it down because I really have been curious and if this can be changed. I spoke with Bill Galvin, our secretary of state, and it hearkens back as many things with the Governor’s Council does to the origins of the council, which are written into the state’s constitution from colonial days. And so many of while it has evolved over time, what the Governor’s Council does and the fact that they’re elected now, they used to be appointed and other things have changed over time. There are still lingering, constitutionally created aspects to how the Governor’s Council works and things like showing up on the ballot under the word councilor instead of Governor’s Council. Another thing that I also think is partially why there’s a lack of transparency for the Governor’s Council work and existence. They are not subject to open meeting law as so many of our other bodies are.
Top Left Corner: Oh, my gosh.
Tara Jacobs: Who is constitutionally. Yes.
Top Left Corner: Oh, my gosh. So a lot of people don’t know this. I should we’ve talked about this, I think, in connection with Democratic the debacle that occurred in the Democratic Party during the last campaign between Richie Neal and that was Alex. Yes. Alex Morse. Thank you. And and how and, you know, as many of our conversations do in this show, it sort of meandered a bit, but we covered the the issue. Well, there’s you know, what you find out when you have a long form news show is that there’s a lot of things that are related to a lot of other things that make it hard. If you if you just doing the 30 seconds soundbites or nowadays 15 seconds sound bites, you, you don’t understand the connections between a lot of this stuff. But the fact of the matter is, is Massachusetts is one of the least transparent states. I didn’t know that. For example, legislative votes, you know, you the state the state reps in the state, senators, you you don’t know who voted for what in committee. So they can publicly they can publicly support or or oppose any legislation they want to to make their voters happy and then go and do the opposite in committee and they can vote the other way. I mean, that’s real, you know, facade, cardboard cutout, democracy, sort of sort of behavior. So the fact that we don’t know what’s going on in the Governor’s Council and we can’t demand it through a, you know, Freedom of Information Act, that’s that’s appalling. That’s appalling. Would you and of course, you know, this is a leading question, but I’m assuming that you’re against that, that you’d like to see more transparency.
Tara Jacobs: It’s one of the it’s not the leading reason I’m running at all. But it is definitely a key component in in my campaign, is that I would love to bring more transparency as well as more accessibility and accountability to the work of the Governor’s Council. Because, for instance, for the first time ever, they brought cameras into the Governor’s Council chamber due to COVID because the statehouse where they meet every week was closed for so long. And so they continue to do their work remotely. And so the cameras were introduced and then when it became safe again to be present in person, the Governor’s Council removed the cameras from the chamber, which they have the right to do. But there was a huge backlash and outcry from constituents, community members and especially organizations, nonprofits and the media. And after pressure for about a little more than a month, they brought the cameras back again. But that’s another instance where especially the state, which not to say that we’re the hugest state in the country, but coming from the Berkshires to Boston, there is an accessibility issue in terms of being able to participate actively as a community member.
Tara Jacobs: If you want to give input into a confirmation process for whatever, whatever role that might be, if you have personal experience you want to share. There’s a level of privilege involved with having the time to go to Boston and you don’t know what part of the day you’ll get to participate. So having a day to go to Boston and wait your turn, but also the privilege of transportation, which we all know is an issue here in Western Mass, it it really excludes many voices from the process. So accessibility and transparency are two issues that I’ve been talking about because, you know, for instance, when there’s a judicial nomination for a local western mass, but I would love to see what I can do about enabling the entire process to shift to that local demographic area. Because, you know, being in person in a community that will be served by this position and having the ability for community members to actively engage easily, I think would be to the benefit of all of us in choosing the best the best care.
Top Left Corner: Here, here, here, here. Yeah. No, look, these are some amazing issues that seem so such common sense, so simple, right on their face. You have to wonder. What’s what’s the downside? And the downside typically means that and not to get to leading again with my questions but it sounds like there’s well it’s you know, this is you know, it’s a news show, but it’s you know, it’s my news show. So I say what I want. That’s kind of what we do there. It’s well, it’s a talk show. It’s really it’s more of a talk show. So. Where were we? Oh, that’s. We’re talking about the downsides. The downsides are that. You have to, if these transformations were enacted that you suggest that would lead to an amount of power sharing with the general public. And potentially, as you.
Tara Jacobs: Said, I think you’ve nailed it on the head literally. I think you’re nailing it on the head because I think to a degree there is a gatekeeping and a power centering the power. For instance, the legal community tends to be very protective of the Governor’s Council positions, as though only a lawyer could possibly weigh in on these important decisions, which is, I think, the farthest thing from the truth. I think not to disparage the legal community in any way, and I have full respect for lawyers, but lawyers are involved heavily in the process of confirming our judges throughout the process. The process of confirming a judge begins with the governor. The governor nominates a candidate. And there’s first one group that is 100% made up of lawyers called the Judicial Nominating Committee. They weigh in on the initial vetting and and moving down the chain candidates that are up for consideration. Then it goes to a second group and they are 100 again, 100% made up of lawyers who do the second round of vetting. And they are the joint bar committee that is appointed by bar associations across the state, which, by the way, Berkshire County spot is vacant at the moment. So we don’t even have a voice in that process.
Tara Jacobs: But nonetheless, 100%, two groups of lawyers and then there are six lawyers on the Governor’s Council already. So the legal community is very well represented, but they also tend to be very protective of the role. And there’s a lot of inside baseball politics in the process of partners who want to be judges and, you know, sort of because there’s no open meeting law, there’s you don’t know what might be going on back chamber. Right. Jockeying for, you know. So I do think it’s an advantage for me that I’m the only person in the Democratic primary running right now who’s not an attorney, and that I am doing this to be that voice, to represent the people in the process of making these decisions, to add diversity of perspective to the work. And 99 plus percent of us aren’t lawyers. We deserve a voice to where our lives are impacted by the choices that are made. And judges don’t just work with lawyers. They work with families and victims and advocates and community members who are not lawyers. And I think it’s important to diversify the viewpoint involved to ensure that voice that represents the people is present in the work they do.
Top Left Corner: Yeah. And coming full circle in this conversation, we’re talking about the importance of this this role that most people seem unaware of. And now we realize it’s not entirely an accident, or at least it’s not entirely unexplainable why people don’t know more about it. The fact of the matter is, and we’ve seen this on the national level, that when you don’t pay attention to the judicial nominees and appointments, you can find that the very face of your country changes in one administration.
Tara Jacobs: Right.
Top Left Corner: I mean, we we just saw that. And the fact of the matter is, the people who end up on the Supreme Court of the United States are people who may have started out locally. You know, they they rise through the ranks. And this is your chance to you know, this Governor’s Council is the chance to say, hmm, what sorts of people are fit for the bench?
Tara Jacobs: And exactly.
Top Left Corner: And what sorts of, you know, what level of of objectivity or what level of agenda do they bring? Are they going to be activist judges? Are they going to be trying to be as impartial as possible? Now, we see that that impartiality is not a requirement for these jobs anymore. You know, it’s a I mean, it should be, obviously. But clearly, as you say, the appointments are less and less about, or at least as you hinted they might be less and less about. You know, can you can you administer justice fairly versus do you have a worldview that fits mine as I appoint you and. What I wish I could remember where I saw the figure. But there was a survey done as there is about trust in government all the time. I mean, trust in local, trust in regional and trust in national. And one branch of government that has always enjoyed the high level of trust has always been the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court. Right. And for the first time, that number dipped significantly. Can’t remember where we are.
Tara Jacobs: Americans are well, justifiably so. I mean, having made that call that for the first time ever, removed rights from citizens.
Top Left Corner: Yeah, sure. I mean, I think.
Tara Jacobs: It’s.
Top Left Corner: Just started. I mean, the public started smelling something rotten in the back of the fridge with Citizens United. And though people did not understand the implications of it until later on, I mean, there were some people who were jumping up and down, waving their hands, saying, this is very bad. And most people well, I mean, you know what, it really is the abuse going to get that, you know, a corporation is really going to end up having, you know, being able to just buy politicians. That’s not really going to happen. Well, you know, whatever. I have never I was I was born with a skeptical bone in my body. And so I never trusted it. But but the idea that Americans and not just Americans like broadly, but right here in the first years would lose faith in the justice system. That is the sign of a failed state. If you if you cannot trust.
Tara Jacobs: And degrading democracy, you know, it’s the very foundations of the grand American experiment are being dismantled.
Top Left Corner: Yeah, and it happens not just in Washington. It happens here. No, it starts here, you know.
Tara Jacobs: I’ll give you another example. I’ll give you that. That goes back to how shocking it is sometimes to really put a microscope on our state. So Massachusetts, in so many ways is such a progressive state and has done so many times, has been the leader in moving the entire nation forward through legislative decisions made here, like, for instance, gay marriage and things like that. But when you take a look at our state’s incarcerated population, the racial disparities in our state are among the worst in the entire nation, which seems to fly in the face of the perception that we are such a progressive Commonwealth. But the reality is we have the same problems that we’ve been seeing across the country. But they’re actually, to a degree, worse.
Top Left Corner: Well, they are worse because they are. They are whitewashed. I mean, to put it, I’m using that word very, very pointedly. The perception is that. We have this this progressive, you know, sort of structure, you know, that the paradigm that sort of guides Massachusetts civil life is is forward thinking, is fair, is equitable, is diverse. I mean, it looks great, but it’s just it doesn’t. And the thing is, when you pretend that it is, you’re doing so much damage because then for the.
Tara Jacobs: Well, you protect the status quo. That’s what happens. You protect the status quo that you believe is is rosy when the reality is we really do need change to undo the systemic injustices that are baked into our entire state system.
Top Left Corner: You know, I lived in Tennessee for a number of years, and there’s this notion that Tennessee is in the South in general are so racist, you know, and there is really blatant racism in parts of the South. I’m not going to deny that. But at the same at the same time, that racism is really public and, you know, we’re you know, we don’t want to go. Right. Right. You know, there was a there was a a mechanic shop, custom car care, and it was spelled with the C’s turned keys like so, you know. Yeah. Right. So, you know.
Tara Jacobs: Oh not him.
Top Left Corner: Yeah. So I’m not going to be bringing my car there if I’m a person of color or Jewish or whatever. Right. So. And, you know, people will say things to you in certain areas that they would not say here, because we hide we hide of racism here. But at the same time.
Tara Jacobs: And we deny it. We deny it to people who have very good hearts and are trying to do the right thing, have denial around their own racial beliefs because it’s dangerous and uncomfortable to actually look at and evaluate and do the work to shift their biases. If you won’t acknowledge your biases and deny they exist, you can’t do the work to do better.
Top Left Corner: No. Yeah.
Tara Jacobs: And I’ve definitely found that to be the case where there is a defensiveness and a denial. And so my my educational background is psychology. I majored in psych and, and specifically social psychology research and studying the human animal of what our makeup is and what that results in, in terms of our thoughts and our behaviors and our attitudes, etc.. We are all racist. I mean, we all have we’re wired to differentiate for safety reasons from back in the days of living in the caves and and pre civilization survival to recognize who are my safe people here and who are other and then to in the course of differentiating other fear and difference and it’s bad and not safe and that’s just human nature is wired that way. That doesn’t mean we can’t take ownership of that and improve it, but the first step to any problem is to acknowledge it exists. And then there is active productive will actually help change your thought process work you can do to shift your biases. But the first step you have to acknowledge you have them.
Top Left Corner: Yeah, it’s a funny thing and.
Tara Jacobs: That that I find is.
Top Left Corner: It is a problem and it’s kind of a double thing because you have to convince yourself that you’re not a racist and then convince yourself that you didn’t just convince yourself of that. You know, you have to sort of. Right. You got to sort of forget that that it was work to to sort of let yourself off the hook. But, no, I did a lot of, you know, a lot of jobs down south, you know, standard working class jobs. I worked in warehouses, I worked in restaurants. And the rank and file, they worked together like there’s a mixing of of different cultures, you know, black and white people both working together in a restaurant kitchen that’s 120 degrees. And they’re working and they’re laughing and they’re talking and they’re joking and they might not go and hang out with each other, but they work together and they socialize at work in a way that you don’t see as often here. It’s a weird thing. I can’t quite explain the difference, but it’s the fact that maybe it’s because there’s a social strata that knows that there’s not a lot of upward mobility for anybody. So there’s nothing to fight over. There’s nothing to be guarded about. I don’t know. But, yeah, here in the Berkshires, it’s it’s a tough nut. It’s a long row to hoe to get to get people to sort of face that. So I, I think that your, your background actually sounds like you’d make a great judge yourself, given that you have a sort of a bird’s eye view of the human mind here.
Tara Jacobs: Do you want to hear a funny fact that also comes from our Constitution? That’s still is technically true, though I don’t think ever actually plays those. Yeah, you don’t have to be a lawyer to be a judge in this state. No way. You don’t technically have to if that is truly the case. I can’t. I couldn’t tell you the last time someone served as a judge without having had a legal education and passing the bar. But technically, officially, you don’t have to. I, I can’t foresee any time when someone who’s not a lawyer becomes a judge. So it’s almost an immaterial little factoid. But it’s interesting.
Top Left Corner: You know, there’s a certain proletarian side of me that appreciates the heck out of that that, you know, because, like, there are some folks that I know who are far more level when it comes to listening to to two sides of a story than anybody else have ever met in the legal profession. Anyway, I want to I want to, I guess, just ask a little bit more about why you I mean, there’s a lot of different things you could be putting to you could be putting your talents to work towards why this role why you.
Tara Jacobs: So both good questions. And I will say that I have two main motivations for governor’s counsel. The first is the work itself. It’s the kind of work that I find really not just important but interesting. And most importantly, I see it as as an opportunity to affect actual change in our state, for our communities, in the work that they do. I’ve been approaching this from the standpoint of wanting to be the person who can help to consistently center the issues of social justice and racial justice and and other other forms of justice as well when it’s relevant for the role. But like environmental and economic and gender and, and youth justice in the work that the Governor’s Council does, they do occasionally ask questions related to these issues, but it’s very spotty. Whereas I would actually infuse these kinds of questions to assess the values of each candidate regardless across the board. Because I think I think we need to have going back to the conversation we just had, we need to have people who are serving in these roles who are focused on not just justice but fairness, who are have have the character of compassion and understanding of the communities that they are serving and the challenges they face who don’t necessarily go immediately to incarcerate. When sometimes addiction or mental health issues are have driven, whatever has led to that person being in court? And while consequences need to happen, they don’t necessarily need to happen in a one size fit all way. And so having people who are serving from the standpoint of really also going back to the other conversation or trying to understand what their own biases are, doing the work to affect their own biases, but also understanding the biases that are driving our state to the level of racial disparity in our incarcerated population now and making different choices that can help to level the playing field.
Tara Jacobs: More so doing that actual work, just like the systemic injustice in our system, actively doing the Governor’s Council work in an effort to be one cog in a machine, to work to dismantle the systemic injustices that we have here in Massachusetts. And so the work itself is a major motivating reason because I do see that opportunity to make a difference. The other reason I’m running is the opportunity to advocate. Through the access you have as a Governor’s Council member there in the state house every Wednesday. They literally are in the governor’s suite, their chamber doors next door to the governor’s door. They work directly with the governor and the lieutenant governor in the state house. They are surrounded by our legislative body. So the opportunity to create relationships and advocate for Western Mass and our needs that are so in so many ways, our problems are the opposite of the problems in Boston. And our voice here in western Mass is underrepresented, even more so underrepresented with the new redistricting where we lost the legislator in the redistricting. So we were already underrepresented. And now even more so. So to be another voice to amplify western mass and in a way that articulates our problems and helps to find solutions that actually work.
Tara Jacobs: That opportunity was just too good not to take on this campaign to try to win this primary and serve that role. So those were the two reasons I decided to run. As to your other question is why me? It’s an interesting you know, there’s no incumbent. It’s an open seat. Four of us have jumped in. I am the which one of us is not like the other candidate and I’m the only non attorney. As I mentioned, I’m also the only woman and I’m the only Berkshire County resident running, which is significant because we couldn’t find we went back as far as the online records went and couldn’t find anyone from Berkshire County having ever served on the Governor’s Council. Wow. So, you know, and I think it plays out, too, in terms of there’s no representation for Western Mass on the Supreme Judicial Court. You know, Berkshire County’s seat is vacant on the that bar committee I told you about. It’s our voice is. Really dampened in Boston. And so coming from the Berkshires gives me the perspective that I intend to serve the entire district. And it’s a very large district. It’s fully half the state. It’s 102 cities and towns in District eight, and it’s all four counties of Western Mass and even a few towns in Worcester County as well. And I have been traveling all over this district to towns that have fewer than a thousand people to Springfield, to Northampton, to Amherst to take a seat, literally going everywhere in this district and talking to people, talking to people where they are.
Tara Jacobs: Like literally yesterday I was in Northampton at the Addiction Recovery Center talking to their community meeting about what the governor’s counsel is and why it’s so important, because so many people don’t know what it is, but it impacts their lives. I’ve been doing the work to connect with, listen to share what governor’s counsel is. But even more importantly, I think that’s important for my campaign. But I really think even more importantly, hear what their problems are, what their concerns are, what things are lacking, resources that are lacking, things that we need from Boston. And so the fact that I’m from the Berkshires, I think just increases my the holistic way I’m looking at this region, as opposed to oftentimes it’s someone from Springfield who has the seat. And when they talk about Western Mass, they’re largely talking about Springfield. I’m literally talking about all of Western Mass. And and do it from a standpoint of the people, the people whose lives are impacted. So being that, like I said earlier, being that voice to represent the people I have in terms of qualifications, I largely see the job of the Governor’s Council as similar to other things I have done in terms of recruiting and hiring candidates. And, you know, my work on the school committee, I’ve been on numerous search committees, starting with the superintendent of schools, but also hired to business administrators and other administrative roles.
Tara Jacobs: And I’m the chair of the trustees at the library here in North Adams, and we just hired a library director, and I actively participated in that hiring process. And prior to all of that, in my career in the corporate world, I, I couldn’t even tell you the maybe even into the hundreds of people who I interviewed and hired for various roles in the advertising agencies I worked at as a manager of teams and having hiring authority. So I have experience even in roles that are not my own in in a library setting where I’m not a librarian in the school environment, where I’m not an educator being able to assess the qualifications, but also the merits and the evaluate for candidates who will best serve the communities that we’re hiring for. And I mean, looking back, I have a pretty strong record in terms of hiring candidates who have performed exceptionally well and really done all that we hoped for and more. And so I think that that skill set in terms of evaluating candidates translates directly to the work of the Governor’s Council. And also know I moved to the Berkshires 17 years ago, and from the very first moment that I got here, jumped in on working with organizations to effect positive change and find community wide solutions. The first thing I did, I joined. I served for six years on the Berkshire Commission on the Status of Women and advocated with the Status of Women Massachusetts wide. We all lent our voices and our energy to advocating for the Fair Pay Act successfully and locally.
Tara Jacobs: In Berkshire County, a countywide community solution to successfully decrease our teen pregnancy rates in the county. And so very proud of the work I did there. But it was just the first of many things. I’ve been on our local cultural council. I’ve served in various capacities on other boards and steering committees and and all with an eye to finding opportunities to actually affect positive changes that impact people’s lives and make them better. And I just see Governor’s Council as the next. Steps to go from that more local work to statewide, because as much as you represent a district, they vote on the council as a bloc. So not a bloc, but they. Majority majority vote wins. But you vote on all all of the candidates, not just the ones that will be placed in your local district. The only thing that really changes is when there is a local candidate, for instance, a Western Mass candidate. If I were to successfully become a Governor’s Council member, then I would be chairing the hearings and the meetings for the candidate who comes from my interested. So that’s the only time that it really. Yeah. So. Yeah. So between my educational background that I’ve already alluded to and the work that I’ve been doing, I feel I’m a very strong candidate and it comes down to the choice of the non attorney coming out of the standpoint of representing the people versus what I see more as a status quo.
Top Left Corner: So it seems to me that there are a lot of folks with sort of a progressive mindset that are realizing that they have to sneak in however they can and and affect change as quickly as they can in roles that are not always sexy, you know, that don’t get the the don’t get the attention, the media attention especially. One of the things that I like about what I’m hearing from you is that you seem to understand how the nitty gritty details really are, what affects the big picture. And having that micro and macro focus is not. That’s a rare that’s a rare talent. And look, I would love to say that. That there are a lot of you out there, a lot of Terry Jacobs there are not. And that is why I think the public has to support. The efforts of those people who really do want to see systemic change, especially when the opportunity comes up so infrequently, it is so infrequent that you get an opening. It’s like, you know, it’s like a grueling soccer soccer game that’s high speed for 150 years. You’re waiting for your opening. You’re waiting for your opening. You’re waiting for you. And you finally get the ball and you want to take a shot and you want to make it count. I think that I think that this is one of those times I was recalling that Trump had said with glee that Obama had left him 128 judge seats to fill, and that’s why he was doing that. The actual number apparently is 105, but still, that’s that’s a lot of love.
Tara Jacobs: And he took full advantage. He took full advantage.
Top Left Corner: Right. And I’m looking at the.
Tara Jacobs: Same and appointed.
Top Left Corner: Yeah. He just went on an appointing spree and he had a he had a Senate that was going to go along with him, even though even though they could have pushed back on a number of places and chose not to. We’re not going to get into that right now because it’s beyond the scope of this.
Tara Jacobs: But it’s all day.
Top Left Corner: It ticks me off, though. But here you’ve got Governor Baker. Yeah. You know, I got in touch with you and reconnected with you after I got that press release from Governor Baker’s office saying that they were so proud and pleased to submit his nomination, let’s say, to the governor’s counsel for Lawrence F Army Junior as associate justice of Probate and Family Court. And then today, there’s another one, just as Governor Baker appoints Sarah Tuberville as associate district of Dysart, associate justice of district court. So he’s doing the same thing. He’s you know, his days, you know, are.
Tara Jacobs: Well, that is going through the governor’s counsel though. So they’re his appointments. But they they are the ones to say, oh, sure. You know, those are good examples. But a few I think a month ago, maybe now I’ve lost track of time. The Governor’s Council confirmed an anti-choice judge who it was discussed in their in their meeting and three voted against it, you know, vocally calling out the fact that how uncomfortable they were with that and that it was a bad choice for our state. And five voted to confirm with comments like but she’s a nice person and and one even said, well, this isn’t really a judiciary matter, it’s a legislative matter. It’ll never affect a court case, which is, to me, ridiculous and, and lacking the foresight of what I am sure will become litigation in our state when it comes under attack here. And I’m sure that it will, you know. So while I’m very happy with the legislative supports around reproductive access and rights in Massachusetts, I fully foresee that it’ll be challenged and to have made that choice. It was after the Supreme Court had already undermined Roe, made that choice, and just boggles my mind. And it’s just outrageous. And and it makes me outraged that that happened. But but a comment was even made in that very same meeting, I don’t think, related to that particular candidate, but about another one that they walk into the chamber with their minds made up, really. And these meetings are really just for whatever and they know what they’re going to vote and no one’s minds are ever changed. And that goes back to the open meeting conversation about walking in with your mind made up, having already had whatever deliberations might have happened elsewhere, undercutting the time to actually, as a council, deliberate together and influence, potentially choices that don’t serve our state well don’t really happen. You know, they walk in, they know what they’re going to vote.
Top Left Corner: So it’s it’s frustrating. It’s really frustrating.
Tara Jacobs: And it’s very frustrating. Yeah.
Top Left Corner: No, I cannot.
Tara Jacobs: It is very frustrating.
Top Left Corner: I can’t imagine being in a room and trying to stay civil with people that, you know, are are not they’re not they’re not taking on this role with good faith. I mean, they’re literally they know that that’s not what they’re there to do. They’re there to be impartial and they specifically are taking advantage of that because they know that they have so much quiet power.
Tara Jacobs: It’s true. And. Yeah. I mean, there’s so many aspects to that that are frustrating. It’s funny, though, what you said when you let off with you do this in a civil manner. The majority of articles written about the Governor’s Council is about as about their lack of civility, which sometimes becomes amusing stories of what went on. But but I actually think civility needs to be reintroduced to the Governor’s Council chamber because for a few reasons. First, I just think the work they’re doing is so important, is so responsible in terms of it’s the highest level of our of our of our system that they’re making choices about. And they often, you know, name, call and fight with each other. There was an instance recently literally throwing dimes at each other, really literal, literal, literal. It was a metaphorical. It was a metaphoric dime. It had meaning. The dime had meaning, but literally throwing the physical. Piece of change at each other. Stories like that. So it’s, it’s, it’s, um, you know, I would hope for a level of civility and respect for each other, professionalism and conducting the Governor’s Council work. But also, I have heard from retired judges who have shared with me their insights that it’s actually it’s detrimental to the process because there are candidates who refuse nominations because they don’t want to subject themselves to that behavior and that potential embarrassment for themselves and their families.
Tara Jacobs: And so it narrows our options. Some really great candidates might not be willing to subject themselves to that, and we don’t get the opportunity to have them be nominated and confirmed. And so it actually damages us to have this behavior so prevalent and known. And and and I’ve talked to people who’ve who’ve gone either to support a nominee and so participated in the process or have been nominated themselves. And and they all describe it as a painful process. And I think it should be a process with scrutiny and and deliberation. And and it’s not an easy process like the three the three groups I told you about that ends with Governors Council. That entire process takes 18 months to two years from the time you’re nominated to confirmation. It’s grueling. And and I don’t know that you could ever make it be a fun trip through the wildflowers, but it shouldn’t be that painful where the very dignity of it all is at such a low.
Top Left Corner: Well, okay, so I. I was absolutely making an assumption that a certain level of decorum was in place there, but clearly that the very, very high stakes nature of what they’re doing results in bad behavior. It sounds like a it sounds like it’s ripe for a a reality TV show, maybe. You know, if we could just get the Kardashians in on it somehow, we could really boost public awareness about the importance of this position. But but I’ve often said that about about local politics as well, is that people will sit around and they watch TV sometimes really your selectboard meeting or your city council meeting will provide you all the drama you could ever ask for. And maybe that’s how we need to pitch government and awareness of civic civic life as it’s really good entertainment. Maybe you should. We should be selling popcorn out front and that might get well.
Tara Jacobs: It’s like, remember the show night court? It could turn into the Governor’s Council.
Top Left Corner: Yes, exactly. I do remember the show Night Court and that that kind of that kind of pins me at a certain Gen-X sort of age, too. Thanks for that. Well, what are you going to do? Actually, you know, we Gen-X is we we still have time to save the world. Trying every little bit every little bit helps. And I do want to say this is so, you know, sometimes I’m asking questions and this is a little bit, again, how the sausage is made. I’m asking questions I wouldn’t know the answers to because I need the person I need my guest to say it. But in this case, I will say with all honesty, I’m asking questions because I’m very curious and I don’t know the answers to these things. And I love it when that happens because I feel like like I’m smarter after after this conversation. And that helps. That helps because when when I know that I get fascinated. I know that a lot of the people who are fans of The Greylock Glass, you know, they’re similar in curiosity and they’ll be fascinated too. And that’s basically how I’m going to pitch this episode that this is fascinating stuff, riveting stuff. You know, the sleeper summer box office hit that you didn’t know that you needed to see. And that’s that’s.
Tara Jacobs: I love it.
Top Left Corner: So anyway.
Tara Jacobs: And I embraced the Cheerios community because I am I am one of you.
Top Left Corner: I know you are. And there you are. And and that for that, I thank you. It’s it’s not any secret that certain people find The Greylock Glass and latch on to it, and others do not. And the reason is, I think, because what we do is we we try to do these deep dives because that’s where you learn stuff and that’s where you come to understand your world, everything else. Just about. It’s just pitching you to try to buy something, whether it’s an actual purchase or whether it’s an actual purchase, or they just sort of want to push your buttons so that you make a snap decision. And I won’t have that. I just won’t have it on my on my show or on The Greylock Glass because I really want people to make their political decisions based on the best knowledge that they have available that that that can be available. So I really thank you for taking the time out of this. I know is a going to be a grueling last couple of couple time? How much time do we have left before the election? What are we looking at here?
Tara Jacobs: Oh, I hate it. Two and a half weeks, the final push and it is this that we’re pushing right through the finish line. Hard, hard all the way, getting out there, meeting people and doing what we can to get the word out. Because everything we’ve discussed is such a challenge to be breakthrough on a position people don’t know about.
Top Left Corner: Well, I’m here too.
Tara Jacobs: So every little bit helps. And I appreciate you giving me the time to discuss it because this too, will. We’ll post it, we’ll spread it and and try to get that word out to people of please so many people because they don’t know what the governor’s counsel is. And like I mentioned earlier, because it says the word counselor and not Governor’s Council on the ballot, they tend to skip it. They tend to leave it blank. And so I’m doing everything I can to raise awareness so people even even if they choose to vote for someone else, at least don’t skip it. This is so important. I hope they vote for me. But. But just don’t leave it blank. And so ideally, I want to beat the blame.
Top Left Corner: Let’s put it this way. Okay. So if people know nothing about any candidate, right? These are my listeners in this area. If you don’t know anything about any candidate and you’re going to fill in the blank for some random person, make sure it’s the person from the Berkshires, since we’ve never had at least as far as we can go back and document. Yeah. We’ve not had a Berkshires sort of representative on that Governor’s Council. Again, not the best way to make your decisions, but it would be great to have somebody from the Berkshires there because you’re right, that’s another conversation that we could have one day about how the fact about the fact that the Berkshires doesn’t exist. I mean, people think that we’re a separate another state somewhere between New York and Massachusetts, the state, the 51st state, that mass western mass actually stops at Shelburne Falls. Route two is it’s a cliff. There’s you beyond there. There’d be dragons and.
Tara Jacobs: There be dragons.
Top Left Corner: That’s yeah. I mean, that’s kind of how eastern mass thinks of is even when we had Deval Patrick as governor, we still couldn’t get any respect from for Western Mass. And that goes back all the way to post Revolutionary War times. That goes back to heck. That goes back to, in some ways, the Shays Rebellion. It goes back to the riots that the farmers would wage because there was this price fixing, price fixing going on in Boston. You know, the farmers would would lug their their stuff to Boston to try and sell it. And they’d go to one merchant, he’d say, well, I’ll give you, you know, $0.06 on the on the on the barrel. And they’d say they’d go to the next one. I’ll give you $0.05 on the barrel and then go to the next one. So it was like the entire.
Tara Jacobs: You know.
Top Left Corner: But that’s that’s another conversation. But yeah, western mass.
Tara Jacobs: It’s crazy how many of what goes on in Massachusetts can be traced back to historic roots that just have shifted over time and yet stayed the same.
Top Left Corner: And I think that the way but you’re here to change that one cog in a very complex machine. And I appreciate that. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. And we will put a link to your. Campaign page, if you have one.
Tara Jacobs: Definitely. That’d be wonderful. It’s super easy to remember it’s W.W. Jacobs and that links to everything else and also has a rapidly growing news page that will be putting this on to.
Top Left Corner: We go Tara Jacobs dot com and you’re one of the smart and lucky ones who grabbed that dot com with your name first it’s.
Tara Jacobs: That was actually through luck and the help of a Williamstown friend who has been just so supportive ever since doing some work together to advocate for his son in the North Adams School District. So when I when I announced I was running, he literally immediately, within a day had volunteered to help me with that. So.
Top Left Corner: All right. Well, we’ll talk to you again. I hope to to check back after your victory speech. And and we’ll just wish you the best. I wish you the best of luck, Tara. Thank you.
Tara Jacobs: Thank you so much, Jay. I really appreciate it. I appreciate your time and I appreciate your audience for listening.
Top Left Corner: All right. Take care and we’ll talk to you soon.
Tara Jacobs: Thank you.
That’s it for this episode, so thanks for tuning in Join us next time when we hear from District Attorney Andrea Harrington about the ongoing search for a Bekrshire County keep killer who has evaded justice more than 40 years. Until next time, stay safe, be good to each other, and go easy on yoursself. Bye now.