Party: Green-Rainbow

Incumbent: No

Headquarters: PO Box 317, Amherst, MA 01004

Age: 49

Occupation: Physics professor, Smith College

Family: Married, with two children, both in our local public schools.

Town: Whately

Education: Bachelor of arts degree in physics, Swarthmore College.
Ph.D. in physics, Boston University.

Experience: Physics professor, Smith College.
Chair, Whately School Committee, 2003-present.
Member of the board, Collaborative for Educational Services, 2007-present.
In 2006, I received the Massachusetts Association of School Committee's All-State School Committee Award; my wife Joyce and I received a town award in 2007 for our efforts on behalf of the town and schools.
MASC (2006): "As the state legislature debated reform of education aid, Nat Fortune emerged as one of the most knowledgeable and analytic of school committee members. Using state-of-the-art software and mapping technology, he and his team developed valuable illustrations that demonstrated how many Massachusetts communities were still disadvantaged by key legislative proposals. His attentiveness to detail and his commitment to disseminating timely information to the MASC membership and legislative leadership was vital to the funding discussion and the changes that took place this year."

— Submitted by the candidate

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TIMELINE

Why are you running?

"I'm running for state auditor to expose, and with the public's help, eliminate the insider deals, giveaways, and wasteful spending that raise our taxes and drain our cities, towns, and schools of needed funds.

I'm running to ensure that public funds are used for public purposes that benefit us all, like safe streets, good schools, and healthy communities.

And I'm running to make sure state agencies with overlapping responsibilities work together as a team to address public needs, including support for children and at-risk youth.

Every year at town meeting, when, as chair of my school committee, I am seeking support for our schools, I am reminded how important strong, reliable public services are to everyone in my town. Our school, library, recreation, police, fire, water, and transportation departments help hold our community together. I appreciate the sacrifices being made by the taxpayers of my town to pay for all this, and have done everything I can to offer a quality education at an affordable cost.

Problem is, every year I'm asking the taxpayers to dig even deeper into their pockets because the state is no longer the equal partner that Proposition 2 1/2 requires it to be.

Adjusted for inflation, which is the only honest way to look at it, local aid has fallen 46% in the past 10 years, 30% in the past 4. Elementary and secondary education has fallen 40% in the past 10 years, 30% in the past 4. Higher ed? Dismal. State support for the jobless, the mentally ill, and other essential services are all being cut.

You'll hear from our government that there's no money, but more than $1 billion a year in state funds are siphoned off by insiders, lobbyists, and the two parties running Beacon Hill in special deals benefiting the favored few instead of our Commonwealth as a whole.

I don't take lobbyist money. Neither does my party. I'm running for auditor to help you redirect those funds for the greatest possible public benefit."

— Submitted by the candidate

Issues

Stewardship

Has Massachusetts generally been a good steward of public dollars? Why or why not?

"Definitely not! Our government is a sucker for any scam that promises to create private jobs with public money.

$1 million/year spent by the Department of Revenue to rent empty office space.

$2 million to Nortel Networks for the promise of 800 jobs. Instead, it cut 2,000 jobs, but it still got the money.

$22.5 million for Liberty Mutual to build a new building so it could lease the old one.

In all, the governor's Economic Development Incentive Panel has approved all but one of nearly 1,400 applications - even for projects already built. All this as state aid for elementary and secondary ed has been cut 40% in the past 10 years, 30% in the past 4 years, and local aid continues to fade.

As the chair of my school committee, forced to ask my town to dig still deeper into their pockets every year, I wonder what our state government's priorities really are.

Our Legislature favors gifts that keep on giving:

$25 million/year to increase the profits of prescription drug makers.

$150 million/year in tax breaks to moviemakers, who then sell the tax credits to insurance companies and banks.

$300 million/year for 15 years running in "single-sales-factor" tax breaks to mutual fund investment banks (like Fidelity) and a special class of manufacturers (like Raytheon) with no requirement that a single job be kept, let alone created.

When Beacon Hill says there's no money, what they really mean is there's no money for you!

Good stewardship means using public funds for public purposes, for investments that benefit us all, like safe streets, good schools, and healthy communities. Rehiring teachers, firefighters, and health workers. Hire the unemployed for energy retrofits of public buildings.

Instead, our state squanders over $1.5 billion/year in insider deals with little accountability. Most of these programs are exempt from so-called "clawback" provisions, and no one has been counting how many jobs are really added or lost. I will."

DeNucci

Assess the job Joe DeNucci did as auditor.

"The allegation by the State Ethics Commission that DeNucci violated conflict-of-interest law by hiring an unqualified cousin as a fraud examiner, if proven, is very disconcerting.

The recent 5% pay raise is also hard to understand. Inflation eats away at all of our wages, and an average pay increase of 1% a year is not extravagant, but a wage freeze for two years, a 4% cut the next, and a 5% hike the following year is no way to run a railroad. Unpredictable salaries make it harder to retain your most valued staff, and makes it seem as if salaries are being determined by politics rather than reason.

Behind the scenes, the research staff working under the direction of the state auditor produce consistently professional and authoritative audits of many aspects of state government, uncover unfunded mandates, and make recommendations for change. The state auditor deserves credit for that.

But as our Commonwealth's official watchdog, the state auditor has an obligation to ensure that the public hears loud and clear how well - or poorly - the governor's office, state agencies, publicly funded contractors, and the Legislature are spending public money. And here, the auditor has fallen short.

If my experience on the campaign trail is any indication, most people have never even heard of the position of state auditor, let alone the office's findings and recommendations.

The auditor's job is to expose, and with the public's help, eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse. An informed public is key to bringing that about. The current approach of press releases and audit summaries isn't getting the job done. The public needs access to the complete audits, full online transparency for state expenses, and clear information on what to ask for to bring about change.

Our Commonwealth is running billion-dollar deficits. Our fiscal house is burning down. We need a watchdog who'll bark loudly enough to wake our neighbors and who'll visit every city and town to sound the alarm."

Responses gathered through e.thePeople

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