It was very troubling to learn this week that a state representative, Michael Costello of Newburyport, had slipped an amendment into the budget bill that would create a resource sanctuary in a very specific portion of Popponesset Bay. Designated in the bill only as coordinates given in longitude and latitude, the area happens to be Dick Cook’s aquaculture grant that he is trying so hard to get final clearance to operate.
There are a number of troubling aspects to this development. Obviously Mr. Costello did not act alone but was put up to it. The burning question is who; who would do such a mean and cowardly thing?
Whoever did it is not owning up to it and he’s not likely to. Mr. Costello is not returning our reporter’s phone calls, but we are hard pressed to believe he would divulge whose bidding he obliged. This is unfortunate because there is a mean-spirited sneak out there and the Mashpee community has a right to know who it is.
The spitefulness of it is also troubling. The House approved the budget with the amendment before someone put two and two together. The Senate is now on to it and it will not likely go any further. But even if the package made it all the way through and became law, a righteous backlash would surely void the law. It would only serve to delay Mr. Cook’s operation.
Our guess is whoever put Mr. Costello up to his shenanigans is well connected and wealthy. Who else would have that sort of influence over a sizable portion of the state? To our knowledge, Mr. Cook is neither of those. He simply would like to work a shellfish grant in Popponesset Bay.
So far he has earned the right. Obtaining an aquaculture permit is not easy in the best of conditions; there are many regulatory hurdles. Mr. Cook has cleared them all. He has also fended off a number of appeals, although he is still waiting judgment on another.
He is apparently winning, though. Why else would someone go to such an extreme to launch a sneak attack on Mr. Cook? If you can’t win in the courts under the current law, then change the law. Well, it’s not so simple and that is a good thing. The rights of people like Mr. Cook should not be easily trampled upon.