The Associated Press

Gov. Patrick Ventures On Slew Of Overseas Trips In Final Years In Office

As he nears the end of his second term, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, seen here in Boston, has embarked on a trip around the globe. (Steven Senne/AP)

As he nears the end of his second term, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, seen here in Boston, has embarked on a trip around the globe. (Steven Senne/AP)

BOSTON — As he nears the end of his second and final term, Gov. Deval Patrick’s wanderlust has kicked into high gear.

In the past 18 months, Patrick has embarked on a whirlwind tour of the globe, stopping in such far-flung places as Colombia, Ireland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Panama, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The governor says the trade missions have attracted capital to the state and raised Massachusetts’ profile in an increasingly global economy.

The slew of trips marks the most active overseas travel period of Patrick’s nearly eight years in office, according to an Associated Press review of the governor’s official schedules by the Associated Press. During his first four-year term, Patrick made just one trade mission to China.

The governor says the trade missions have attracted capital to the state and raised Massachusetts’ profile in an increasingly global economy.

“It’s opening doors for business leaders to new markets, and they’ve made the most of it. We see it in job creation here. We see it in increased sales as well,” Patrick told the AP last week.

The trips have also made it easier for Massachusetts businesses to find markets and clients in other parts of the world, he said.

The trade missions have also drawn criticism.

When Patrick embarked on a trip to Panama and Mexico in March, some Republican lawmakers faulted him for leaving Massachusetts amid heightened scrutiny of the Department of Children and Families after social workers lost track of a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy, who was later found dead.

And when Patrick picked China for his first trade mission in 2007, he found himself under pressure from human rights activists, Tibetan activists and even some fellow Democratic lawmakers, who urged him to stand up for the principles of freedom and human rights. Patrick said he politely raised the issues during a luncheon with a senior Chinese foreign ministry official.

Patrick’s entourage on the trips typically includes business leaders and cabinet secretaries. He’s pointed to a series of deals that he said are the direct result of the trips.

Traveling to China, for example, resulted in agreements signed between life science and clean energy groups in Massachusetts and China, a new exchange opportunity for the University of Massachusetts and a nonstop air service from Boston to Beijing, according to Patrick.

Patrick’s second trade mission was in 2011, after he’d won election to a second four-year term. That 10-day trip included stops in Israel and the United Kingdom.

After the trip, UK-based companies Cambridge Consultants, Sagentia and TotalMobile announced expansion of jobs in Massachusetts while the Israeli biotech firm EarlySense announced the addition of jobs and established its U.S. headquarters in Waltham, he said.

The state typically picks up the tab for Patrick while business leaders accompanying him pay their own way. The 10-day trade mission to Israel and the UK in 2011, for example, cost the state about $300,000, Patrick said at the time.

A portion of the state’s costs on some of the earlier trips – about $130,000 – was also picked up by a pool of funds raised by businesses that wanted to partner with the state in promoting Massachusetts overseas.

Patrick said a visit to Brazil later in 2011 launched what he called a “new era of collaboration” in agricultural research and development with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation.

Patrick’s pace of trade missions picked up with a slew of trips from February 2013 to June 2014, when he returned to Israel and stopped in the United Arab Emirates.

During the trip, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev announced the establishment of a fund to pay for faculty and scientists at the two schools to work together on research opportunities.

Patrick’s travels even caught the attention of the White House. President Barack Obama asked him to attend the July inauguration of President-elect Juan Carlos Varela in Panama, where Patrick had visited in March on a trade mission.

“Being away for 24 hours to respond to the president’s request to represent the United States at a foreign head of state’s inauguration is a pretty great honor for the commonwealth,” Patrick said at the time.

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  • X-Ray

    May one assume that these junkets, paid for by taxpayers of the Commonwealth, will result in material and quantifiable benefit to the People of the Commonwealth?

    • David Kimball

      The article has given several deals which were brought about as a result of these trips. If you have your doubts, don’t doubt at the meta level of principle, investigate these specific deals and then determine whether they were worth it or not. Criticizing on the meta level of principle rather than the presented specifics is an example of lazy thinking and only wanting to hear what one wants to hear.

      • X-Ray

        I asked for evidence of “quantifiable benefits” which the “ideas” presented in the article do not even come close to a level of assuring. The suggested returns are fuzzy and and designed not to yield to investigation. Further, it would incumbent that the Govenor justify his expenditures, and not put the burden on the People.

  • Lawrence

    1. WBUR reported the news. No where did they subjectively voice their own opinion. Did you happen to miss how they reported on the beneficial results of these trips?

    If you’re astute enough to be a CEO of a company yet can’t see the fair reporting on this issue, there’s a problem of bias from you.

    2. Yes these trips are sometimes necessary but $30,000 per day? Who does he think he is? He’s a public servant and should watch how he spends our money. I for one would like to see an itemized receipt.

    • Andrew Tarsy

      I appreciate your comments. Let me reply this way:
      Reporting on the trips – critically – is good journalism. Giving oxygen to the casual assumption that doing these trips is somehow irresponsible – barring evidence to support that – is different. WBUR is an entity – and a great one. When I refer to it – I mean individuals doing the stories, not the station itself. I am offering constructive criticism to the newsroom’s choices. In other words, if they want to write a piece refuting the value of the trip, they should do so. But I don’t see an attempt to do so in a substantive manner.

  • Thinkfreeer

    “It’s good to be king.”

  • Paul Shaw

    New Bedford Ocean Wind Port -Massive Mismanagement & Financia
    Fiasco

    Are our Massachusetts State Preventatives wasting taxpayer money in New
    Bedford ? You bet they are!

    Last week through the Massachusetts Accelerated Energy Program bond
    legislation authorizes $62 million to be spent on the New Bedford Marine
    Commerce Terminal. This is in addition to all the money that has already been
    spent.

    Massachusetts State Representative Antonio Cabral D New Bedford Chairman
    House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets testified in
    July of 2012 the wind turbine port would cost 35 million dollars.

    The New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal is being called the “Big Splash”
    after the massive financial failures of the “Big Dig.”

    The project went out to bid under 100 million dollars in 2013. So why now
    another 62 million ?

    The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center spent tens of millions of dollars
    going through environmental reviews, blasting and dredging the new channel in
    New Bedford Harbor. The tug boat association has notified the city and state
    that the channel is not wide enough and has to be done all over again. There
    will be a new environmental review, blasting and dredging at taxpayers expense.
    Your paying for it again !

    The project never hired the quota of minority and local workers even though
    the project has spiraled out of control.How can they excuse the failure to hire
    minorities as the price continues to escalate ?

    Politicians are on the hot seat over accusations that they’re not hiring
    enough minorities and local workers while the New Bedford ocean wind port costs
    remain hidden. This is also embarrassing for the news media as it has failed to
    watch out for taxpayers in favor of local politicians. Massachusetts has two
    classes of people the winners and the taxpayers.

    The hurricane gate is 150 wide but only has a safe clearance of 120 feet.
    The problem here is Jack- Up barges used to transport wind turbines world wide
    are 127 feet and wider. They don’t fit in New Bedford Harbor.

    A special barge is being built in New Jersey called the RD MacDonald
    probably named after the burger. Some of you will remember the Governor Patrick
    91 million dollar barge to no where. This is it !

    http://bostonherald.com/business/business_markets/2010/10/bowles_91m_plan_not_cape_wind

    The railroad is still 2000 feet from the project making absolutely no head
    way. This part of the project is so poor they have resorted to calling this
    another phase of the project. The rail access has been advertised as part of the
    project.

    An AM radio antenna on 4 acres of the project has to be moved to a
    residential section of New Bedford. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has
    problems notifying residents within 2000 feet of the new proposed residential
    location of the antenna. Many residents claim they were never notified.

    Massachusetts Clean Energy Center sent out a RFI, request for
    information, to terminal operators who would be interested in managing the port.
    One New Jersey company responded and the Mass CEC has no idea the company has
    ties to Genovese crime family and probably all five crime
    families.

    Cape Wind recently signed a lease with Quonset Point, Rhode Island, New
    Bedford only has a federal permit for three maintenance boats. The Bureau of
    Ocean Energy Management has never conducted any biological studies for the
    construction of Cape Wind from the New Bedford Port.

    Folks, This is how your tax dollars are being spent. If this is what we do
    know about the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal – What don’t we know ?
    What’s the secret ?

    https://plus.google.com/110428618913389869063/posts/d2gF4wJFumC

  • David Kimball

    Since Patrick has been pointing to specific deals, it seems to me the detractors should respond to these specifics rather than raising it a meta level and disagree on principle.

    • Lawrence

      Can anyone really justify the $30,000.00 per day spent of OUR money?

  • Lawrence

    At a cost of $30,000 per day!

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