A Boston Herald report published Saturday reveals that "Occupy Boston" protesters have already cost the City of Boston $146,000 in overtimes since the camp-in began, with costs expected to keep growing as the movement shows no signs of slowing down. Despite costing the state's largest city thousands, Massachusetts Democratic Governor Deval Patrick spent Saturday "trying to understand," protesters. The Boston Globe reports on the governor's meet and greet:
“'I’m trying to understand,' Patrick said, sipping from a cup of Au Bon Pain coffee. 'There’s a range of issues and interests and you can’t get all of them from the media.'
The governor chatted with a few protestors, some of whom hugged him, about their concerns over unemployment, income taxes, and education funding.
As they spoke, a man with a long blond beard holding a sign with an anti-war slogan yelled repeatedly 'Who here has a $4 million home, raise your hand.'
Patrick did not respond. As he walked away, he was repeatedly stopped by demonstrators, both thanking him and raising their concerns."
Saturday was Patrick's first visit to protesters in Boston's Dewey Square. The governor's office did not notify major media outlets of the planned visit, and the event was not listed on Patrick's public agenda. He said after walking through the camp that he better understands the range of views and was sympathetic to concerns about unemployment, health care and the influence of money in politics.
“The fact they are coming together, trying to find consensus on a few issues, is pretty darn exciting,” said Patrick to WBZ. The governor would not comment on whether or not the group should be allowed to stay indefinitely, and told WBZ in regards to the occupation's cost:
"Asked if he was worried about the extra expenses incurred by the group, for things such as police overtime, Patrick said, 'I know the mayor (Boston Mayor Thomas Menino) is concerned about that, but the mayor is also respectful of the interests of the people who are here.'"
Occupy Boston marched Saturday from Park Street, near the Statehouse, to Dewey Square.
The Herald reports that Boston City Council President Steve Murphy said earlier this week that the overtime cost for Boston Police could reach $2 million if the demonstration remained through the end of the month. Boston police say city cops have already put in 3,056 hours of OT since the protests began Oct. 1.
"So it was kind of spontaneous. And it was fascinating," Patrick said in regards to his visit during an interview with the Boston Phoenix. "I met with a couple of the organizers -- very thoughtful, responsible people."
According to the Governor's official website, Patrick served as Texaco’s Vice President and General Counsel, and as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of the Coca-Cola Company, prior to running for Governor. The Governor's website bio does not include Patrick's time at Ameriquest, the corrupt subprime mortgage lender whom Patrick joined the board of in August 2004 and left in 2006.