Wolf, Vieira Vow To Strip Anti-Oyster Farm Amendment From State Budget

Reaction from last week’s revelation that a North Shore legislator filed a state budget amendment to kill plans for an oyster farm in Popponesset Bay continues to reverberate throughout Mashpee.

“My phone has been ringing off the hook with messages of support,” said Richard J. Cook, the Mashpee shellfisherman who has been in a heated battle with more than 20 homeowners on Popponesset and Daniels Island who have been trying to stop the oyster farm for nearly four years.

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Earlier this month, State Representative Michael A. Costello (D-Newburyport) filed an amendment to the state budget that would designate the 1.99-acre aquaculture grant a “special coastal resource sanctuary.” The amendment only referred to longitude and latitude coordinates, and never mentioned “Mashpee” or “Popponesset.”

The budget, and the amendment, were approved by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and sent to the State Senate for review on Wednesday.

State Representative David T. Vieira (R-Falmouth) represents Mashpee and said that he has never met Rep. Costello and the Newburyport legislator has not returned his calls. He stressed that Senator Daniel A. Wolf (D-Cape and Islands) and Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) are working to make sure the amendment is removed from the Senate budget. Rep. Vieira also said that he intends to personally contact each of the three House conference committee members that will be involved in final budget negotiations.

“If on the off chance this amendment makes it through the budget process, I am ready to take this issue to the next level,” Rep. Vieira said.

Seth Rolbein, a senior advisor to Sen. Wolf, said that the senator’s Boston office has been receiving calls from throughout Massachusetts from citizens expressing outrage over the amendment. He also confirmed that Rep. Costello has not returned any of Sen. Wolf’s calls to his office, which he referred to as “an issue of obvious concern.”

“It is pretty safe to say that this amendment or anything like it will appear in the Senate budget. The Senator remains concerned about due process and will be monitoring this situation closely,” Mr. Rolbein said.

Last week, a spokesman for ML Strategies, the Boston-based lobbyist firm that approached Rep. Costello to add the amendment to the budget, confirmed that it did so on behalf of its client, Charles Clough. Mr. Clough, chairman and chief executive officer of Boston-based Clough Capital Partners, owns a home on Daniels Island Road in Mashpee.

At Tuesday morning’s meeting of the Mashpee Waterways Commission, chairman Kenneth H. Bates closed the meeting with this statement: “That was the most deceitful legislation I have ever seen.”

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