The Boston Globe
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Barbara Anderson, the voice of limited taxation in Massachusetts,
dies at 73
By Mark Feeney and Evan Allen
To state legislators who tried to find a way around Proposition 2½,
Barbara Anderson’s signature tax-cutting ballot measure, she had a
simple response: “It means what it says!”
For Ms. Anderson, who was 73 when she died Friday of leukemia, the
exclamation point was as much a part of her as the political wallop
she delivered throughout the Commonwealth. A master of forcefully
turning complex public policy into something anyone could
understand, she played a highly visible and influential role in
Massachusetts politics for more than three decades as the longtime
executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation.
“She was incredible,” said Jim Braude, who as executive director of
the Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts traveled the state with
Ms. Anderson from the late-1980s through the mid-’90s, debating
opposite sides of the tax-cut initiatives she championed.
“She was a political force of nature. I’ve never seen anything like
it before, and I’m sure will never see anything like it again,” said
Braude, who is now host of the WGBH-TV show “Greater Boston.”
Among the successful ballot questions Ms. Anderson backed were
Proposition 2½, in 1980, which capped property tax increases to 2.5
percent of fair market value; Question 3, in 1986, to remove a 1975
income-tax surcharge and put a cap on tax receipts; and Question 4,
in 2000, which rolled back the state income tax rate from 5.85
percent to 5 percent.
Her greatest triumph, the landslide passage of Proposition 2½ in
November 1980 took place less than four months after she became
Citizens for Limited Taxation’s executive director. She had started
there in 1977, as a part-time volunteer. A year later she was hired
as an administrative assistant.
Governor Charlie Baker remembered Ms. Anderson as “funny, smart, and
edgy,” as well as a significant force in Massachusetts politics.
“For decades, she was the most effective taxpayer advocate in the
Commonwealth and her tireless work positively impacted public policy
at all levels, making government more accountable to the people,” he
Chip Faulkner, the organization’s director of communications, called
Ms. Anderson’s death “a tremendous loss for the taxpayers. She
wanted more freedom for the average person. That freedom came
through limiting the amount of money the government could take from
Ms. Anderson, who had lived in Marblehead for many years, died in
respite care in Salem.
Faulkner, who worked with her for more than 36 years, said he loved
her tenacity and sense of humor.
To allies, Ms. Anderson was a “tax-cut tigress.” To opponents, a
“tax-cut terrorist.” There was, however, no disagreement on her
effectiveness. A longtime ally, Howard Foley, founding president of
the Massachusetts High Technology Council, hailed her as “the most
powerful political figure in Massachusetts.”
When supporters and opponents alike called her the state’s most
powerful unelected official, Ms. Anderson just shrugged. “She said,
‘That’s like being the biggest banana in a strawberry patch. It
doesn’t get you much,’ ” Braude recalled. “She was painfully witty.
She was really bitingly funny.”
His roadshow debates with Ms. Anderson, he added, were “the most fun
I’ve had in my working life.”
In 1981, state Senator Alan Sisitsky, an opponent, called Ms.
Anderson the “de facto governor” of Massachusetts. Though her
effectiveness peaked in 1990 with the defeat of Question 3 and its
proposed tax rollback, she remained a force to be reckoned with on
Beacon Hill — and at the ballot box.
“I didn’t know anything about anything when I started 2½,” Ms.
Anderson said in a 1985 interview. “I didn’t know it could not be
done. If I knew then what I know now I would never have had the
Whatever doubts she may later have had about passing Proposition 2½
did not extend to its impact. “In five years everyone is going to
admit that this was the best thing that ever happened to
Massachusetts,” she said in a 1981 Globe interview.
Figures from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation suggest the
impact of Proposition 2½ was much as Ms. Anderson supposed. When it
was passed, in fiscal year 1981, Massachusetts ranked sixth among
all states in the amount of state and local taxes residents paid per
$1,000 of personal income. Five years later, in fiscal year 1986, it
ranked 14th. By 1990, it had dropped to 36th.
Ms. Anderson’s inveterate optimism was evident in 2002 as she
recovered from a fall that left her unconscious for nearly a week.
When she regained consciousness, doctors asked what year it was and
who was vice president. Having answered both questions correctly,
she complained: “Why didn’t they ask me something more difficult,
like what’s my name?”
Asked once where her political philosophy originated, Ms. Anderson
cited a surprising source, the children’s story “The Little Red
“The simple justice of it was so right: If you work for it, you earn
it. To a small child who looks for justice in the world that is a
great lesson,” she said, adding that whenever she read “Peter
Rabbit” she sided with Farmer McGregor: “It was his lettuce, and
Peter had no business stealing it.”
An only child, Ms. Anderson grew up in St. Marys, a small
manufacturing town in northwestern Pennsylvania. She was the
daughter of Max Horvatin, a hardware store owner, and the former
Mary Ann Fodge, a homemaker. Ms. Anderson attended local parochial
schools and very early on demonstrated an intense independence. She
was nearly thrown out of the Girls Scouts for refusing to sell
cookies. She liked to say, “I think the phrase I heard more than any
other in my entire life, from family friends, teachers, and
everybody else, was, ‘Barbara, sit down and stop arguing.’ ”
At Penn State, Ms. Anderson further demonstrated an unwillingness to
accept dogma, joining both the Newman Club, for Roman Catholic
students, and the Young Protestants Club (“to find out what that was
all about, too,” as she later put it). She read the libertarian
novelist Ayn Rand, whose novella “Anthem” moved her to tears. As she
later said: “Someone had put into writing how I felt about the
sacredness of the individual.”
Ms. Anderson dropped out after her sophomore year to marry Jack
Crowley. They moved to New Jersey, where Ms. Anderson gave birth to
a son, Lance.
After Crowley joined the Navy, the family lived in Florida,
California, and Greece. “That was my idea of heaven, being married
to a naval officer,” Ms. Anderson would later say.
While in Greece, Ms. Anderson once again demonstrated her
iconoclastic bent: She took to wearing a black armband to protest US
involvement in Indochina. The couple amicably divorced in 1971. A
year later, Ms. Anderson married Ralph Anderson, a Marblehead
Inspired by her husband’s opposition to a ballot initiative backing
a graduated income tax, Ms. Anderson volunteered to do part-time
work at Citizens for Limited Taxation. She had been spending summers
as a lifeguard and swimming teacher at the local YMCA. CLT, which
officially became Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government in
1996, has some 6,000 members. At its height, during the 1980s, it
had about 15,000 members. Ms. Anderson and her husband divorced in
1978, the year she went on the CLT payroll. She liked to say it was
because of her ex-husband that she acquired her trademark bright-red
hair: She chose the color because he disliked it so much. Later,
though, she would say her hair was “colored to match my temper.”
Ms. Anderson proved a highly effective spokeswoman for the
tax-cutting cause. She kept up a constant schedule of public
appearances, giving speeches and debating critics. Her regular
Tuesday afternoon appearances on radio station WRKO, as one of “the
governors” with talk-show hosts Jerry Williams and Boston Herald
columnist Howie Carr, became an institution during the 1980s and
’90s. She also wrote a weekly column for The Salem Evening News and
Her strength lay in her common touch. Braude, who drove to nearly
every tax debate with Ms. Anderson, said the difference in their
approaches offered a window into her success and impact. “As someone
once said to me, ‘People like you talk billions and abstract policy,
which means nothing to real people. Barbara brings everything down
to the barbershop level and connects with virtually everyone,’ and
she did,” he recalled.
Despite Ms. Anderson’s seemingly all-consuming involvement with
politics, she had many interests. She was an eclectic reader and
devotee of New Age thinking and astrology. (Her standard response
whenever asked if she was a libertarian: “I’m an Aquarian, with
In 1999, Ms. Anderson became only the fourth person to receive the
Lifetime Taxfighter Award of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers
Association. Jarvis was the political activist who helped promote
Proposition 13, the 1978 statewide tax-cut initiative in California
that helped pave the way for Proposition 2½.
“I was always sort of a rebel,” Ms. Anderson said in 1985. “I always
At her request, no services are planned at this time, according to
Citizens for Limited Taxation. In addition to her son, Ms. Anderson
leaves two grandchildren, Aidan and Mariah, and her partner of 20
years, Chip Ford.
“She was the eternal optimist,” Ford said. “She was always looking
for the positive and thought she could accomplish anything. She
wanted to do things her way, and she did up to the end.”
About 15 years ago, just after her twin grandchildren were born, Ms.
Anderson was diagnosed with a blood disease whose treatment
ultimately led to her leukemia, said Ford.
She knew about the risk, he said, but wanted the treatment because
she was determined to live long enough so her grandchildren would
“She was thrilled to make it that long,” Ford said. “It was 15 more
years than she expected.”
Evan Allen of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
State House News Service
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Veteran taxpayer advocate Barbara Anderson dies at 73
By Michael P. Norton
Barbara Anderson, who for 40 years fought to limit property taxes and
resist tax-raising efforts within the Massachusetts Legislature, died on
Friday after battling leukemia for several months. She was 73.
Anderson was one of the authors of Proposition 2½, the state law
approved in 1980 that still serves as a check on property tax increases
in Massachusetts' 351 cities and towns.
"She was a natural individualist and a libertarian by philosophy," Chip
Ford, Anderson's partner of 20 years, said on Saturday. Ford said
Anderson stumbled into the top post at CLT in the 1970s and ran with it.
"She just got into it and went at it and won," he said.
Anderson led Citizens for Limited Taxation for years, working to
preserve property tax relief, reduce the state income tax and oppose a
graduated income tax structure.
"Barbara Anderson was funny, smart, and edgy," Gov. Charlie Baker said
in a statement on Saturday. "For decades, she was the most effective
taxpayer advocate in the Commonwealth and her tireless work positively
impacted public policy at all levels, making government more accountable
to the people. I am very sorry to hear of her passing and my thoughts
and prayers are with Chip and her family."
When Democrat Michael Dukakis was governor, Anderson co-hosted with
Howie Carr and Jerry Williams a weekly radio program called "The
Governors" where they served as a foil to the Democrat-controlled
legislative and executive branches. Anderson was also a columnist for
The Salem News and The Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company.
Through a series of governors, political reporters often turned to
Anderson for her perspective when Democrats were pressing to impose new
or higher taxes. And she was never shy about offering it, seeming to
relish each opportunity to speak for limited taxes on behalf of those
who she believed deserved stronger representation.
Anderson in 2015 retired as executive director of CLT, which was founded
in 1974 to oppose a graduated income tax plan as it was headed to the
1976 ballot, where it was defeated 68 percent to 24 percent.
But she stayed active, and last year alleged that backers of a
constitutional amendment adding a 4 percent surtax on incomes above $1
million are ultimately interested in a graduated tax structure where
people in different income brackets pay different income tax rates.
"A graduated income tax is a tool to divide and conquer taxpayers,
hiking taxes one bracket at a time," Anderson wrote in a 2014 press
release. She continued, "By targeting a single bracket, enough critical
mass will never be reached for effective tax resistance. And, without
legislative cooperation, a constitutional amendment is forever."
Ford, who ran CLT with Anderson and continues to lead the grassroots
group with Chip Faulkner, said Anderson was driven by her beliefs.
"She worked it day and night. It wasn't a job, it was a vocation," Ford
said. "There's no on and off switch. You either do this because you love
and believe in it or you get a real job that pays."
Anderson also frequently lectured conservative groups, who at times have
strained relations with media. "The media isn't the enemy," Ford said,
explaining her message to the groups. "The media are working stiffs just
like you and me. Talk to them. Be nice to them."
Anderson leaves behind Ford, a son Lance and daughter-in-law Mary of
Nevada and their twin teenage children, Aidan and Maria. According to
CLT, no services are planned at this time, at Anderson's request.
The Cape Cod Times
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Anderson championed small government, local control
By Cynthia Stead
I still have the T-shirt, but the force behind it is gone. Barbara
Anderson died this week.
The shirt was for a signature gathering for Question 4, repealing the
temporary income tax hike. I was one of many led by Anderson, the
maestro of the citizen petition and director of Citizens for Limited
My favorite story about her says many things about this brave and
intelligent woman. During the battle over Proposition 2½, a group of
teachers went to her home in Marblehead to protest. One of them was
quoted as saying, “I thought it would be, I don’t know, nicer.” There
was an assumption that she must be rich, a member of the 1 percent
elite. But the international headquarters of CLT was in a home office in
her modest ranch house. The most effective lobbying organization in the
state didn’t seem to need an office on Milk Street to accomplish
fundamental changes in government.
Her two biggest victories were the passage of Prop. 2½ and the repeal of
the "temporary" income tax hike by Gov. Michael Dukakis. Both of these
celebrated the sensible in government. Prop. 2½ keeps municipal levies
and tax rates low by allowing an increase of only 2.5 percent per year.
It has had an enormous effect on the out-of-pocket expenses of home
ownership in the state. When the ballot question was proposed,
Massachusetts ranked fourth in the nation in personal tax burden. This
past year, we ranked 34th, as the long-term effect of a brake on tax
hikes took effect. But Prop. 2½ isn’t a unilateral proposition. Baked
into it is an assumption that a municipality may want or need to exceed
the automatic increase ceiling, and there is a provision to override the
ceiling as part of the law.
In 2000, when Question 4 repealed the "temporary tax," many liberals
protested that they did not mind paying the extra amount, that it
supported crucial state services. Rather than argue that point, Anderson
conceived of VOTE – the Voluntary Optional Tax Endowment – which allowed
taxpayers to pay the old rate of 5.85 percent on a voluntary basis. The
CLT proposal became law, and is still a check-off box on Massachusetts
income taxes. The Department of Revenue must track how many people
actually choose to do so each year, but it has never been more than a
I met Anderson at different CLT events, and at the Friday Morning Group
run by Chip Faulkner, the longtime associate director of CLT. But what I
enjoyed most was her weekly column for the Salem News. They were a
mixture of personal and political reflections, voicing her common sense
and unswerving dedication to her political creed of small government and
That is a part of Anderson’s genius. CLT’s tax proposals keep rates
lower, but give individuals and communities flexibility to meet
unexpected issues. The CLT website is a gold mine of tax information,
and anyone can read up on the difference between an override and a debt
exclusion and participate more intelligently in town meeting.
Her last posthumous column begins, “If you’re reading this, I’m dead.”
She continues her activism from beyond the grave, telling people to get
Gov. Charlie Baker to honor his campaign promise to end parole for
Gerald Amireault, who was convicted in 1986 of child sexual abuse of
eight children at the Fells Acres Day Care Center in Malden.
Anderson summed up her life by saying, “Having promised Peter Pan that I
wouldn’t grow up, I could never answer the question 'what do you want to
be when...,' but volunteer activism became a lifetime career as a
taxpayer advocate, which let me hang out with the lost boys and fight
pirates.” Her own buccaneer spirit will survive as CLT continues its
efforts to guard the pocketbooks of commonwealth taxpayers from the
Captain Hooks in the State House, but it won’t be the same without her.
Cynthia E. Stead of Dennis urges people to make a donation in
Anderson's honor to Citizens for Limited Taxation at
The Boston Herald
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Longtime taxpayer advocate Barbara Anderson dies at 73
Longtime taxpayer advocate Barbara Anderson, who crafted Prop 2½ and for
decades led opposition to Massachusetts income tax hikes, has died of
leukemia at 73, her nonprofit announced today.
“Citizens for Limited Taxation announces with deep sadness the passing
of Barbara C. Anderson on April 8, 2016,” the nonprofit said in a
statement. “Barbara was 73 and had been battling leukemia for several
months. For the past forty years Barbara Anderson was a relentless
advocate for taxpayers across Massachusetts. Her accomplishments
included leading the campaign for property tax relief for which she was
called “The Mother of Proposition 2½,” repeal of the state income tax
surtax, defeat of the graduated income tax ballot question, and the
rollback of the “temporary” state income tax increase.”
Anderson, one of the state’s most prominent anti-tax activists, was a
fixture in many media outlets, at a time co-hosting the Howie Carr show,
joining Jerry Williams on his weekly WRKO “The Governors” program in the
1980s and contributing columns to The Salem News and The Eagle-Tribune.
“Barbara retired as executive director of CLT last year, but stayed on
in a less demanding capacity, still participating daily with the
organization that was her life,” CLT said.
Anderson is survived by her partner of twenty years, Chip Ford, a son
Lance and daughter-in-law Mary of Nevada and her grandchildren, Aidan
Per Anderson’s request, no services are planned at this time.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Barbara Anderson, 'Relentless' Taxpayer Advocate, Loses Battle with
“The Mother of Proposition 2½" and Bay State political icon passed away
on April 8 at the age 73.
By Tony Schinella
MARBLEHEAD, MA - A populist Massachusetts political icon and fighter for
taxpayers in the state has passed away after a lengthy battle with
leukemia, according to a post on the Citizens for Limited Taxation
Barbara Anderson, 73, passed away on April 8. She had spent the last
four decades fighting for taxpayers via the CLT organization, where she
was the executive director up until last year, often tangling with state
Democrats and labor leaders in both public and private forums about the
need to help working class folks not with more government spending but
with the ability to keep their own money.
“A tax cut is a pay raise,” was often her rallying cry.
Some of those battles included the repeal of the state income tax
surtax, the defeat of the graduated state income tax, the repeal of a
“temporary” state income tax increase, and preservation of Proposition
2½, a state law she helped initiate that requires cities and towns to
seek voter approval for property tax increases and debt exclusions for
constructing public buildings and other temporary, municipal debt.
Anderson was also active in the fight to save historic Fenway Park and
garnered respect on both sides of the aisle for her humor and honesty.
During the 1980s and 1990s, she was a fixture on talk radio and was a
frequent source for journalists, including the national press corps
during then-Gov. Mike Dukakis’ presidential run in 1988. Anderson was
also a columnist for The Salem News and Lawrence Eagle-Tribune.
Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr broke the news of Anderson’s passing
on Twitter this morning.
“Barbara was the best,” he wrote. “She, Jerry Williams & I were
‘governors’ on WRKO circa 1989-92. We made it hot for the hacks! She was
Union activist turned journalist, former Cambridge City Councilor Jim
Braude, who would often debate the issue of taxes with Anderson –
sometimes traveling to events together in the same car – called her “a
political force of nature: never seen before, never to be seen again.”
Media critic and journalism professor Dan Kennedy called her “a
principled conservative and every reporter's best friend. She made time
for journalism students as well.”
Anderson leaves behind her partner of two decades, Chip Ford, who is
also active at CLT, a son, Lance, and a daughter-in-law Mary, of Nevada,
as well as two grandchildren.
According to CLT, there are no services planned at post time, per her
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Governor Baker, Chairman Hughes statements on the passing of Barbara
BOSTON -- Governor Charlie Baker and MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes
released the following statements today regarding the passing of
Citizens for Limited Taxation President and longtime taxpayer advocate
Governor Charlie Baker: "Barbara Anderson was funny, smart, and edgy.
For decades, she was the most effective taxpayer advocate in the
Commonwealth and her tireless work positively impacted public policy at
all levels, making government more accountable to the people. I am very
sorry to hear of her passing and my thoughts and prayers are with Chip
and her family."
MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes: "Barbara Anderson was a principled and
tenacious advocate for Massachusetts taxpayers for decades. Her
willingness to fight for the notion that government should live within
its means and allow working families to keep more of their hard-earned
money has made our Commonwealth a better place. On behalf of the MassGOP,
I want to extend my deepest condolences to her family, friends and
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Statement on the passing of Barbara Anderson
"Barbara Anderson was a tireless champion for Massachusetts taxpayers,
and her work made our state government more accountable to the people.
She will be deeply missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family,
friends, and colleagues following her loss."
The Boston Herald
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Barbara Anderson, 73, honored by friends, foes
By Jordan Graham
Barbara Anderson, Massachusetts’ fiercest advocate for limited taxes,
was remembered yesterday as an activist so formidable that even foes
could not help but respect her. She died Friday at the age of 73.
“I probably was on the opposite side of everything Barbara Anderson used
to advocate for,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, recalling his
battles with Anderson when he was a Democratic state rep. “I’ll tell
you, she was a fierce, strong advocate for what she believed in, and
she’s an icon in this city and this state for fighting what she believed
was right and she’ll be missed.”
Anderson, who passed away after a months-long battle with leukemia, had
fought vigorously — and often effectively — to lower state taxes since
1977, when she joined Citizens for Limited Taxation as a volunteer.
“It’s a tremendous loss to the people paying taxes in the state,” said
Chip Faulkner, director of communications at CLT, where he worked with
Anderson for decades. “She was a true champion.”
“A modest woman with bold ideas and unrelenting determination, Barbara
was not only an enduring fixture of the Massachusetts political scene,
but also one who succeeded time and again,” former Gov. Mitt Romney said
in a statement.
In 1980, she earned one of her largest wins, shepherding Proposition 2½
to a ballot victory, capping property tax increases. She is also
responsible for the repeal of the state income tax surtax and defeating
a graduated income tax ballot question.
“Barbara Anderson was funny, smart, and edgy. For decades, she was the
most effective taxpayer advocate in the Commonwealth and her tireless
work positively impacted public policy at all levels, making government
more accountable to the people. I am very sorry to hear of her passing
and my thoughts and prayers are with Chip and her family,” Gov. Charlie
Baker said in a statement.
As the Legislature tried to tie property tax increases to inflation
years later, Anderson fought every attempt by the Legislature to modify
the law, Faulkner recalled.
Among her foes was then-Speaker of the House Thomas Finneran.
“She was a formidable opponent, she was well-prepared, she was very good
on her feet,” Finneran told the Herald. “She would take some of the
statutory language and boil it down to a few punches right to the solar
plexus and you had to be prepared or you were going to look like a
And she won that battle, Finneran noted.
Anderson is survived by her partner, a son and two grandchildren. Per
her request, no services are planned.
Blue Mass Group website
Sun 10 Apr 2016 @ 12:35 PM
“Being powerful is like being a lady, if you have to tell people you
are, then you aren’t.” Margaret Thatcher. This quote from Barbara when
we were sitting, arms crossed in the back row of the House Chamber
bantering about power and women in the State House and I told her she
was a the most powerful lady I knew.
We chatted on phone a couple of times a year. I did not know she was so
ill. I treasured her friendship; she did not tolerate fools gladly.
Judy Meredith [Human Services lobbyist]
The Boston Herald
Sunday, April 10, 2016
The true savior of Mass. taxpayers
By Howie Carr
Do me a favor. Say a prayer for Barbara Anderson — at church this
morning if you must, but it might mean more for the repose of her
immortal soul if you were to remember her at a somewhat more secular
Like, say, when you open your next quarterly property tax bill. Or your
auto excise tax bill. Or this week when you write the check for your
2015 state income tax. Or, if you don’t own either property or a car,
when you notice how much money she’s saving you on your renter’s
Believe me, Barbara Anderson wouldn’t dream of asking you to say
anything aloud. Just a silent, heartfelt “Thanks Barbara!” would
Barbara Anderson, my fellow “governor” and the guiding light of Citizens
for Limited Taxation, died Friday at age 73. At a time when the likes of
Bernie Sanders are beating their chests about the plight of “working
people,” by which they mean “non-working leeches,” let us recall that
Barbara Anderson did more good for the real working people of
Massachusetts than anybody else, ever.
No one else even comes close.
She wasn’t the founder of CLT. But she was the one who in 1980 put the
referendum question Prop 2½ on the ballot, capping the ruinous property
tax increases that were bankrupting the working classes for the benefit
of the non-working classes — i.e., the Democrat hacks.
The powers that be went crazy at the very thought of having their spigot
shut off. In October 1980, Boston Mayor Kevin White started closing
police and fire stations in East Boston — more than a month before the
ballot measure passed in a 60-40 landslide. The angry residents of Ward
1 chased Hizzoner back through the tunnel.
Prop 2½ froze annual property tax increases at 2½ percent. For renters,
CLT sweetened it with a cut in the auto excise tax. The rate used to be
$66 per $1,000 of valuation; CLT cut it to $25. Imagine if you will,
Millennials, what your Prius would cost you today without that CLT-mandated
In 1986, another referendum victory for CLT: they repealed the 7 1⁄2
percent Dukakis surtax on state taxes. Here’s how that stickup worked:
If you owed, say, $100, you got a bill for $107.50.
Back in the late 1980s, Gov. Mike Dukakis was reeling. I was battering
him daily the way Emile Griffith once pummeled Benny Paret onto the
ropes. A suburban columnist wrote a piece saying that the three real
governors of Massachusetts had become me, Barbara and radio talk-show
host Jerry Williams.
The scribe thought it was a knock, we knew it was a boost. Our new radio
show started on WRKO that same Tuesday afternoon — “The Governors.”
It’s great to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s even better when you
know it. The Globe knew it, too. They tried to take us off the board
with a front-page series entitled “Poisoned Politics.” They compared me
and Barbara to Joe McCarthy and Louise Day Hicks, respectively. Down on
the boulevard, they take it hard. They look at us natives with such
Ironically, 1990 was the only time that Barbara and CLT ever lost a
referendum — to repeal all of Dukakis’ tax increases. It was Question 3,
and the hacks came up with a great slogan of their own — “Question 3 —
It Goes Too Far.” It was so effective that uber-hack serial killer
Whitey Bulger used to repeat it to his gunsels — he was frightened his
cocaine dealers would lose their no-show state jobs.
On election night 1990, while Barbara was at a Question 3 party, I was
doing the election analysis on WRKO with my fellow governor Jerry
Williams and state Treasurer Bob Crane.
It was utter devastation for the sordid Dukakis-Globe-Whitey Bulger
slate. Bill Weld and Joe Malone were elected statewide. Every commercial
break, Crane would call the State House for more returns. The Bulger
mob’s Senate stooges were being exterminated one after another.
Cherokee Sal Albano … Teddy Alexio … Artie Lewis … John Houston … Tommy
White … Paul Sheehy … Nick Costello had already been whacked in the
primary … Bobby Ambler was being crushed in Weymouth. … Even Jane Swift
was winning out west, defeating Sherwood Guernsey, whom we always called
“Robin Hood’s cow.”
Barbara Anderson and CLT would win again — in 1994, defeating the
parasites’ fourth or fifth try to impose the graduated income tax. Then
in 2000, CLT repealed Dukakis’ 1989 “temporary” income tax increase.
But by then, everything was changing. Barbara used to have an office
above Papa Gino’s on Washington Street, just down the hill from the
State House. It was easy to lobby the reps from there. But then the
speaker Felon Finneran gave all the solons $7,500 stipends for their
“leadership” positions. They couldn’t be lobbied; they’d all sold their
souls for $7,500.
Pretty soon Barbara and CLT were operating out of her house in
Marblehead. Membership began shrinking, the ballot questions were few
and far between. People began referring to her in the past tense.
“She’d been planning her death for a long time,” her partner, Chip Ford,
was saying yesterday. “She left me $5,000 to take care of her cat, Gilly.”
One other issue Barbara Anderson was obsessed with until her death — the
injustice of the Fells Acre Day Care Center persecution, with Gerald
“Tooky” Amirault being railroaded into prison by corrupt Democrat
politicians for their own cynical purposes.
“It was her dying wish that Gerald Amirault finally be cleared,” Ford
said. “She said Charlie Baker had promised her that one of his first
tasks would be getting Amirault out of parole and out of his ankle
bracelet. She said it was a broken promise that Charlie had made to
Your move, Gov. Baker.
Listen to Howie every weekday 3-7 p.m. on WRKO AM 680.
The Boston Herald
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Activist’s final battle was a personal fight
Barbara Anderson’s last fight was her most personal: a battle to
legalize doctor-assisted suicide as she fought her own painful war with
“All she wanted to do was take the blue pill, but of course she
couldn’t,” said Chip Ford, Anderson’s longtime partner. “She ended up in
a bed, slowly dying away.”
Ford said Anderson had been receiving regular blood transfusions, but it
became clear they would not be a cure for her leukemia.
“She was getting weaker and tireder,” Ford said. “She said enough of
this, let’s do the hospice route.”
Anderson had been working with state Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) to
pass a “Death with Dignity” bill that would permit doctor-assisted
suicide as five other states have done.
“It boils down to putting yourself in the shoes of a terminally ill
person,” Ehrlich said. “I imagine it would provide some sort of comfort
In her most recent column for the Salem News, published on March 27,
Anderson wrote she wanted the option.
“As I get older, I want the right to choose assisted suicide should I be
in a ‘ready to die’ mode,” she wrote, adding, in characteristically
colorful language: “My own emotions don’t usually run deep, my being a
rational, logical person and all, but I admit to hating the voters who
said no to the recent ‘right-to-die’ ballot question; hope they live
long enough to regret it.”
Behind the activist, passionate to the end, Ford said, was a caring,
relentlessly positive woman who loved to read and garden.
“She had a big bed of day lilies. She liked them because they opened at
different times, so there were always flowers blooming,” he remembered.
“The glass was always half full. No, it was always full,” he said. “She
always saw the positive, it used to drive me nuts.”
As Anderson began to sense her time was coming, Ford said, she made sure
to finish at least one of the things she started.
“She wanted to live long enough to see ‘House of Cards,’ so we
binge-watched that a couple weeks ago,” Ford said.
“I’ve been taking care of her. After watching her deteriorating
gradually, I knew the end was coming,” Ford said.
He got the call that Anderson passed away a minute before he pulled into
the nursing home parking lot on Friday.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Barbara Anderson, tax reform champion, dies at 73
By Ray Carbone
It is perhaps fitting that the same night Ronald Reagan was elected
president of the United States, Massachusetts voted to enact Proposition
2½ , the landmark legislation of Barbara Anderson's life.
Anderson, of Marblehead, was no Reagan Republican [though not a
Republican, Barbara adored President Reagan -- Chip] – she generally
espoused libertarian to conservative views but was not a member of any
political party – but the law she championed had a major impact on local
government's ability to tax people, invoking the same kind of low
tax-small government philosophy Reagan supported.
On Friday afternoon, Anderson – the feisty activist who had developed a
national reputation as a grassroots anti-tax fighter – passed away at
the age of 73. She had been battling leukemia for the last six months
before dying in a North Shore hospice facility near her home, according
to longtime partner Chip Ford.
"This may surprise you but I think she's probably, in the history of
Massachusetts, the most important woman ever in terms of her effect on
the citizens of the state," said Ted Tripp, a longtime friend of
Anderson's and chairman of the North Andover Taxpayers Association. "She
was a champion of freedom and of less government. The two of them went
together to her."
The website of Citizens for Limited Taxation, the organization Anderson
led for more than 30 years, illuminates her philosophy on its homepage:
"Every tax is a pay cut," it reads. "A tax cut is a pay raise.”
That was the essence of Anderson's message when she first began working
with CLT in the late 1970s. The success of Proposition 2½ came just
months after she was made the group's executive director.
Proposition 2½ limits the amount a community can levy in property taxes
to 2.5 percent of the full and fair value of real and personal property
in that community. It also restricts the rate of increase of the levy
limit to 2.5 percent annually, plus new growth. The law includes
provisions for voter-approved overrides or debt exclusions.
The legislation also cut the auto tax rate from $66 to $25 per thousand
of assessed value and removed compulsory binding arbitration for police
and fire unions. It also ended school board fiscal autonomy, under which
school committees had to be provided with whatever they demanded for a
Virtually every political organization in the state lined up against the
effort, saying it would have a crushing effect on communities,
particularly schools. But it passed, and the state eventually grew
"She obviously believed that lower taxes, or less taxation, empowered
the individual," recalled Tripp. "Proposition 2½ was the basis of
everything that followed. When you think about it, what it did to all
taxpayers in this state was it put more money into their wallets. It
gave them more freedom to do more things – to save for a vacation or for
Over the years, Anderson developed a reputation as both a ferocious
crusader and a kind-hearted person.
She fought against efforts to repeal her property tax law, helped to
repeal the state's income tax surtax, defeat the graduated income tax
ballot question, and rollback the state's "temporary" income tax
But Ford said there was another side many people didn't know.
"When people started seeing us spending time together they would say to
me, how can you put up with such a strong-willed woman," he laughed.
"But she liked people. Conservatives generally feel like there's this
one vast conspiracy with the media, but she liked reporters. That was a
side of her that I don't think her opponents ever saw – or, ever wanted
At one time, Anderson co-hosted a popular WRKO radio program with
newspaper columnist Howie Carr and radio personality Jerry Williams. She
toured around the state with radio/TV commentator Jim Braude, debating
the impact of Prop 2½ and other tax policy matters. Although they were
political opponents, the pair became good friends.
"We started out as political opponents, we ended up as political
opponents. In the middle, we became pretty close," Braude said.
Braude came to Massachusetts a few years after Anderson won her great
victory with Proposition 2½ . But there was always another tax policy
matter to discuss.
In 1990, a ballot initiative backed by Anderson would have produced the
largest tax cut in history. Braude and Anderson debated the issue across
the state, sometimes before crowds of 5,000 or more.
"People find this hard to believe but we drove to every debate
together," Braude recalled.
"She was a take-no-prisoners kind of woman," Braude said. "She was
laser-focused on her goal. She was incredibly witty. It was about as
much fun as I ever had in my life."
The two remained friends and Anderson was a frequent guest on Braude's
On his Twitter feed, Braude called Anderson "a political force of
nature: never seen before, never to be seen again. I'll miss her!"
Anderson also wrote a weekly column for The Eagle-Tribune and The Salem
About 15 years ago, Anderson was diagnosed with a rare, incurable blood
disease called Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, Ford said. Her doctors
said if she was willing to take the risk of getting leukemia, she could
Eventually, a physician at the North Shore Cancer Center in Danvers
created a "concoction" that put the illness in remission, Ford
explained. Her treatment was noted in medical journals as one that could
hold promise for future patients.
Anderson followed up with regular testing over the years, but in August
she began to complain about feeling tired. A blood test revealed she had
Anderson prepared for her passing by writing a final column, which will
be published in The Eagle-Tribune and The Salem News Monday. In it she
wrote the following:
"Having promised Peter Pan that I wouldn't grow up, I could never answer
the question 'what do you want to be when ...,' but volunteer activism
became a lifetime career as a taxpayer advocate, which let me hang out
with the lost boys and fight pirates."
She later added: "Thank you, Salem News and Eagle-Tribune, for running
my columns, and to those who read them."
Ford was able to take care of his partner at home until a few weeks ago.
He said the former activist spent her time reading – a longtime passion,
she enjoyed everything from fiction to political treatises – and
enjoying TV shows including "House of Cards."
"She bought the 'Downton Abbey' series because she didn't want to die
before it ended," he laughed. "She was always planning."
About a week ago, Anderson was moved to a nearby hospice facility. "She
was supposed to be coming home on Sunday, then yesterday (Friday), they
called and said she was not coming home," Ford said. "And then she
"You know it's going to happen," he concluded, "but it's still a shock.
You feel empty."
Anderson had requested there be no religious service following her death
although Ford and others are considering having a "celebration of her
life" some time in the next few months, he said. Her body will be
cremated, he added.
Ken Johnson contributed to this report.
The Telegram & Gazette
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Barbara Anderson, mother of Proposition 2½, is dead at 73
By George Barnes
MARBLEHEAD - Barbara C. Anderson, the face of Citizens for Limited
Taxation who helped change the face of city and town government through
Proposition 2½, has died at age 73.
Citizens for Limited Taxation announced on its website that Ms. Anderson
died Friday after battling leukemia for several months. A taxpayer
advocate for 40 years, she was one of the founders of Citizens for
Limited Taxation, which helped push through landmark legislation in 1980
that limits cities and towns from raising taxes more than 2.5 percent
without voter approval. The tax cap legislation changed the way local
government was funded in the state, putting pressure on the state to use
more broad-based taxes to pay for city and town budgets.
Ms. Anderson was executive director of Citizens For Limited Taxation for
many years, retiring last year. The organization also led efforts to
roll back the state income tax surtax and helped defeat a graduated
income tax ballot question.
Daniel J. Morgado, town manager for Shrewsbury, said Ms. Anderson and
Citizens for Limited Taxation raised a very important issue at the time
about the heavy reliance of cities and towns on property taxes. In 1980,
communities had unlimited ability to raise revenue as long as they had
town meeting or city council approval. They now need both town meeting
and election votes to increase beyond the limit.
"It was a time of expansion of services where cities and towns were
getting involved in many more areas and federal and state mandates
became more prevalent," he said.
Mr. Morgado, who has been town manager since 1997, said property tax is
considered a regressive tax, which relies on a small number of
contributors in communities. Taxpayers were struggling in the 1970s to
keep up with increasing taxes in their communities before Proposition 2½
"I think her legacy was being at the forefront, the face of what
residents had been struggling with," he said. "The adoption of
Proposition 2½ really forced officials statewide to really think about
sharing revenue with cities and towns."
Mr. Morgado said unfortunately, the state auditor came out with a report
last week that cities and towns are back to a heavy reliance on property
taxes. He said residents are expecting services, and the fixed costs and
other costs to communities are resulting in overrides and tax increases.
Mr. Morgado said the state is doing the best it can, but the state aid
that Shrewsbury is receiving is still below the 2009 level and he
doesn't expect it to exceed 2009 before 2018 or 2019.
Lt. Gov. Karyn E. Polito said she has known Barbara Anderson for many
"Really from her heart she was an advocate and a champion for the
taxpayers of the commonwealth," she said.
Ms. Polito said Ms. Anderson was a smart, passionate and a very
interesting person whose focus was on helping the taxpayers, working
families and others in the state.
"She had a gift for understanding the issue and boiling it down into
simple language people could understand," the lieutenant governor said.
Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella said Ms. Anderson came to the forefront
of state tax politics at a time when the state was going through many
changes similar to today, when taxpayers feel they have reached their
limit of tax increases and that spending needs to be limited.
"She was the quarterback of that at the time," he said.
Mr. Mazzarella said after Proposition 2½ was enacted, Citizens for
Limited Taxation became a taxpayer watchdog organization that would
issue reports on tax issues and rate politicians.
"She kept people accountable," he said.
Mr. Mazzarella said Ms. Anderson also was an exceptionally good debater,
who knew her facts and could hold her own in any debate.
Along with her duties with Citizens for Limited Taxation, Ms. Anderson
was co-host with Howie Carr and Jerry Williams on the WRKO weekly "The
Governors" program during the era of Gov. Michael S. Dukakis. She was
also a weekly columnist for the Salem News and Eagle Tribune Publishing
She leaves her partner of 20 years, Chip Ford, a son, Lance, and
daughter-in-law, Mary, of Nevada.
The Washington Times
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Barbara Anderson, voice of limited taxation, dies
By The Associated Press
The longtime executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation who
successfully lobbied for tax cuts in Massachusetts has died. Barbara
Anderson was 73.
CLT Communications Director Chip Faulkner told The Boston Globe (http://bit.ly/22kArXE)
that Anderson died Friday of leukemia.
Anderson is remembered for backing Proposition 2½, which capped property
tax increases to 2.5 percent of fair market value. It overwhelmingly
passed in November 1980, less than four months after Anderson took the
helm at CLT, in Marblehead.
She joined CLT in 1977 as a volunteer, inspired by her then-husband’s
opposition to a ballot initiative backing a graduated income tax. She
was hired in 1978.
Anderson grew up in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, and briefly attended Penn
She is survived by a son, two grandchildren and her partner, Chip Ford.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Keller @ Large
Barbara Anderson’s Legacy Of Proposition 2½
By Jon Keller
The late Barbara Anderson, of Citizens for Limited Taxation and
Government, was an unforgettable person.
But the single biggest part of her public legacy might not be so
unforgettable – if we somehow let it be diminished and forgotten.
That would be Proposition 2½, the 1980 ballot initiative that gave
voters the power to veto sharp increases in their property taxes.
Back in the 1970s, state and local taxation seemed out of control; we
paid the third-highest share of income in taxes in the country. The same
culture of reckless spending that has us on the hook for huge pension
and retiree-benefit obligations now was well underway then.
Prop. 2½ wasn’t just about limiting tax hikes. It was a populist demand
that arrogant political elites and special interests undergo an attitude
adjustment, re-balance their priorities, and stop treating the working
classes like an ATM.
In our deep blue state, activist government is popular, and plenty of us
cash a check from it.
But it was Barbara Anderson’s political genius to see that the appeal of
giving power to the people over such a crucial economic issue
transcended partisan and class boundaries.
The public-employee unions will make sure there are more efforts to
“fix” Prop. 2½ .
How well they’re countered will be a test of whether or not Barbara’s
legacy will endure.
The New Boston Post
Saturday, 9, 2016
Tax-cut advocate Barbara Anderson dies; ‘Mother’
of Prop 2½
BY NBP Staff
Massachusetts lost a true taxpayers’ champion Friday with the passing of
Barbara C. Anderson.
Anderson was the driving force behind 1980’s Proposition 2½, the
signature law that forced the Bay State down the road to shedding its
well-deserved “Taxachusetts” moniker, and the champion of many
subsequent tax-cutting or limiting measures. She succumbed to leukemia
Friday at 73, according to Citizens for Limited Taxation, the group she
led for decades.
While she counted herself a libertarian, both Republican and Democratic
political leaders offered words of respect and praise, using Twitter.com.
“Barbara was a force of nature and a tireless advocate for taxpayers,”
Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said on Twitter. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito
said Anderson “will always be remembered for tireless efforts for
taxpayers and as a principled woman of conviction.”
“Sad to hear of the passing of Barbara Anderson, a longtime advocate who
stood up for what she believed in,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a
Democrat, said on Twitter. “She will be missed.”
For Anderson, party establishments were often the real foes of her
insurgent campaigns. In a recent article, reprinted on her advocacy
group’s website, she recalled that the 1964 presidential contest
delivered an important lesson that she never forgot:
“That year was my first campaign, as I pushed my newborn son’s carriage
around the neighborhood passing out Goldwater flyers,” she wrote in the
March 10 post, referring to GOP candidate Barry Goldwater. “Slowly I
learned that fiscal conservatives were hated by the Republican
establishment as well as by the socialist-leaning Democrats. How can you
build a Washington, D.C., lobbyist-run power base if you can’t tax,
spend and borrow unlimited amounts?”
Before Prop. 2½, the Bay State ranked behind only Alaska and New York in
terms of the burden imposed by state and local taxes, according to the
Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. State and local authorities took
nearly 14 percent of the personal income of Massachusetts residents in
Prop. 2½ changed that scenario. The ballot measure capped property tax
growth to 2.5 percent a year, based on market value. Not a lot, it may
seem, but it marked the beginning of a trend that led to income-tax rate
cuts years later and was instrumental in pushing down the overall tax
burden to about 10 percent of personal income by 2012, putting
Massachusetts in the middle ranks nationwide and burying the
Anderson never rested on that victory, however, as she pushed for
income-tax cuts and won several of those battles as well during the
1980s. And while the Marblehead resident freely expressed her views on a
wide range of issues in the media over the years, she relentlessly
focused on limiting taxation as a way of curbing the reach of government
and empowering individual liberty.
“We here all understand what socialism is,” she wrote in a March 10
article. “You work hard, the government takes as much of your
hard-earned money as possible, gives it to other people to empower
politicians and government bureaucrats, and eventually you too need
government help in order to survive.”
Setting aside her libertarian allegiance, Anderson said she and her
longtime partner, Chip Ford, voted for Ted Cruz, the Senator from Texas,
in the Republican presidential primary on March 1. In a March 2 article,
she cited the Texan’s record on the federal deficit and reining in
government spending, including actions that set him apart from virtually
every other Republican in Congress:
“The candidate most likely to address the deficit/national debt is Ted
Cruz because he already kept his word to his Texas constituents on those
subjects; he ran to become a tea party U.S. senator then led the fight
against raising the debt ceiling,” Anderson wrote. “If I had run for
U.S. Senate that tea party year, I would have stood with Ted, and there
would be two senators that other senators detest.”
Despite her ardent advocacy for tax cuts and limits on government
spending, liberal commentators in the media voiced their respects as
news of her death spread Saturday.
“A political force of nature: never seen before, never to be seen
again,” Jim Braude, a liberal commentator on WGBH radio and television
stations, said on Twitter. “I’ll miss her!”
Often referred to as as “taxpayer champion,” Anderson in her own words
saw things a bit differently: To those who do the work should go the
rewards, while government spending must be restrained for the good of
“I get those big truths that liberals think we should all understand,”
she said in the March 2 post. “The world has changed. But I would argue
that truth does not change. Spending more than can be raised is bad. No
matter what the other issues, uncontrolled debt makes it impossible to
responsibly address them.”
Writing last month while fighting her illness, Anderson quoted lyrics
from “Long Road Out of Eden,” a song by The Eagles, in a column
addressed to the young people of today:
“But I must be leavin’ soon
It’s your world now
Use well the time
Be part of something good
Leave something good behind
The curtain falls
I take my bow
That’s how it’s meant to be
It’s your world now.”
Barbara Anderson, who fomented a tax revolt that echoes to this day,
certainly lived up to those words.
The New York Sun
Monday, April 11, 2016
How One Heroic Woman Rewrote the Modern History of the State of
By Ira Stoll
Uninspired by the presidential race? This past weekend brought an
emphatic reminder that some of the most consequential lives are led by
those who are never elected to political office. The reminder came in
the form of the obituaries for Barbara Anderson, who for 35 years was
executive director of a Massachusetts grassroots group called Citizens
for Limited Taxation.
The write-up in the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune newspaper, which carried a
regular column by Anderson, included a quote from a friend and fellow
tax reformer, Ted Tripp, who called her “probably, in the history of
Massachusetts, the most important woman ever in terms of her effect on
the citizens of the state.”
Most important woman in the history of Massachusetts is a high bar.
Competitors for the title might include Abigail Adams, a crucial partner
and adviser to her husband John in an earlier tax rebellion; Mary Baker
Eddy, who founded Christian Science; Rose Kennedy, who was the mother of
a tax-cutting president and two other nationally significant
politicians, and Margaret Marshall, the state judge whose decision in a
gay marriage case set a national precedent.
But Anderson has a reasonable claim to the honor, in a story with
resonance beyond the borders of the Bay State. By the account of the
Boston Globe, Anderson’s tax-cutting ballot initiatives brought
Massachusetts from the sixth-heaviest taxed state to the 36th. The state
once known pejoratively as Taxachusetts has become a relative regional
tax haven, to the point where GE, partly for tax reasons, is moving its
corporate headquarters to Boston from Fairfield, Conn. Massachusetts is
no Florida or Texas or even New Hampshire, tax-wise, but it is
significantly better than it once was.
For that, there is plenty of credit to go around. But at least as much
of it rightfully belongs to Anderson as to more nationally famous
personalities, such as two of the state’s former governors, William Weld
and Mitt Romney.
With Proposition 2 ½, in 1980, Anderson got Massachusetts voters to cap
both the absolute level and the growth of property taxes. The
proposition, which followed the similar California Proposition 13 ballot
initiative campaign led by Howard Jarvis, also reduced the excise tax on
cars. Subsequent petition drives won the repeal of a 7.5% income tax
“surtax” imposed by Governor Dukakis, and defeated efforts to replace
Massachusetts’ flat income tax with a graduated tax.
How did Anderson achieve her remarkable success?
Particularly refreshing in the context of the current presidential
campaign is that she did it with civility. A leftist activist and radio
host, Jim Braude, told the Eagle-Tribune that the two traveled the state
together debating tax policy. “People find this hard to believe but we
drove to every debate together,” he told the paper.
She was nonpartisan. The Eagle-Tribune reports that while she “generally
espoused libertarian to conservative political views,” she “was not a
member of any political party.” That’s an increasingly popular stance,
and, again, in the context of the current presidential race, some might
find it understandable.
She was a bottom-up person, not a top-down person. “Everything starts at
the grass roots level,'' she told the New York Times for a 1985 article.
“None of the important issues start at the government level.”
She was not an “expert.” Anderson’s success disproves the idea that you
need a Nobel prize or a Ph.D. in economics from some fancy university to
influence the tax policy debate. Governor Weld was inducted into Phi
Beta Kappa at Harvard as a junior. Governor Romney has both a J.D. and
an M.B.A. from Harvard. Anderson dropped out of Penn State. Before
joining Citizens for Limited Taxation part-time, she had been, by the
Globe’s account, working as a swimming teacher and lifeguard at a YMCA.
Finally, as skeptical of big government as Anderson was, she was never
cynical about the people that really matter most in a democracy — the
voters and the citizen-activists. Rather than shrugging and complaining
about high taxes or mediocre politicians or grinning and bearing it, she
actually tried to do something to improve things, getting people to join
her organization, sign petitions for ballot questions, and turn out to
As an example of what can be accomplished by a determined individual,
it’s an inspiring tale. Abigail Adams would be proud. Massachusetts
taxpayers can be grateful.
Mr. Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com.
The Boston Globe
Monday, April 11, 2016
Barbara Anderson defeated Taxachusetts
By Jeff Jacoby
It would be overstating the case to claim that nobody disliked
Barbara Anderson, the irrepressible “tax-cut tigress” who for nearly 40
years was the best-known taxpayer activist in Massachusetts.
The longtime director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, who died of
leukemia on Friday at 73, had an amazing gift for friendship that even
diehard political foes found hard to resist. Jim Braude, a liberal’s
liberal who used to campaign as ardently for raising taxes as Anderson
did for reducing them, always said that he liked Anderson as much
personally as he disagreed with her politically. The two faced off in
scores of heated public debates over tax-cut ballot initiatives
spearheaded by CLT — debates to which they would travel together in the
same car, their vehement clash over policy, even in the heat of an
election season, never interfering with their friendship.
Still, there were always some people who couldn’t disagree with
Anderson’s views without being disagreeable.
Long after Proposition 2½, CLT’s foremost tax-limitation triumph, had
come to be seen as the most
sweeping public policy reform in recent Massachusetts history, the
superintendent of schools in Salem was still fuming that “Barbara
Anderson should be tried for murder” because of Prop 2½’s impact on
public-school finances. In a notorious swipe during his 1989 State of
the State address, Governor Michael Dukakis, fresh from his defeat in
the presidential campaign,
bitterly denounced the “gutless wonders of Massachusetts politics”
who were thwarting his desire for higher taxes. (Anderson’s swipes were
usually more elegant. “The good that men do lives after them,” she
had told the Globe during the Dukakis campaign; “the evil that men do
goes on to the Democratic convention as an example of gubernatorial
Full disclosure: When it came to Barbara Anderson, I was never neutral.
We were friends for more than 30 years, and in all that time I can’t
recall exchanging a harsh word with her — not even when we had our own
vigorous policy disagreements. In profiles she was routinely
characterized as fiery or rebellious, but in my experience she was
funny, affectionate, occasionally profane, invariably sincere, and
never, ever, a prima donna. In an atmosphere thick with ego, she was
never egotistical. Politics is full of deceit, but she was never
deceitful. And time and again she surprised critics inclined to believe
the worst of her by turning out to be so much more kindly and modest
than the right-wing ogre they had imagined her to be.
In his 2007 book on Massachusetts politics, “The
Bluest State,” Jon Keller recounted how a group of protesters,
angrily opposed to a tax-cut proposal Anderson was supporting, decided
to march on her home in Marblehead. They were intent on demonizing her
“as a symbol of the obliviousness of the rich to the struggles of the
poor,” Keller wrote. After all, how could a resident of wealthy, tony
Marblehead possibly sympathize with the struggles of the poor and
But when the protesters reached Anderson’s address, they found not a
swank, waterfront mansion but “a tiny five-room cottage in need of paint
and repair, stuck on a small lot with a view of the street and some
tangled underbrush.” Had she been home to open the door, they would have
seen that the inside of the house was as humble as the outside. It was
also a fine reflection of Anderson’s quirky charm. I am quite sure she
is the only taxpayer activist I ever knew, or am ever likely to know,
with a decided hippy-dippy New Age-y streak. She was definitely the only
one who ever invited me to visit the store where she liked to buy
crystals, and who later offered to cast my horoscope.
CLT was always tiny. It rarely operated on more than a shoestring
budget. Before she retired as the organization’s executive director,
Anderson was paying herself the munificent salary of $10 an hour. Her
goal was never to get rich, but she lived a life of wonderful richness.
Summing up that life in
her final column — for years, her essays appeared regularly in the
Salem News and the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune — she wrote that she “had
enjoyed almost everything, come to think of it,” reflecting a hearty
aptitude for appreciation and delight that her mother had always said
was genetic. It was also infectious. When it was learned last week that
she had passed away, her longtime companion Chip Ford told me, he didn’t
think the phone would ever stop ringing. “It was like being in the
closing days of a petition drive or campaign,” he marveled.
Barbara Anderson was the happiest of happy warriors, a breed we don’t
have nearly enough of these days. Her life left Massachusetts a brighter
and better state. How much duller it will seem without her.
The Salem News
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Anderson's 'dying wish' revisits controversial case
By Paul Leighton, staff writer
MARBLEHEAD — Barbara Anderson ended her final newspaper column with what
she called her "dying wish."
Gov. Charlie Baker, Anderson wrote, should live up to a promise he made
to lift the parole of Gerald Amirault, a man that Anderson believed was
wrongly convicted of child sexual abuse 30 years ago.
Anderson's dramatic plea focused new attention on a notorious case that
drew widespread attention in the 1980s and beyond. It drew no clear
answers, however, on the fate of Amirault, who has been out of prison
for 12 years but lives under the restrictions of parole, including an
ankle bracelet that allows authorities to track his whereabouts.
Asked for a response to Anderson's column, Baker's office on Monday
issued a statement saying the governor "has tremendous respect for
Barbara's career as a taxpayer advocate."
"The governor expects the parole board will thoughtfully review all
petitions for clemency based on the merits of each case and the
guidelines established and will carefully review any recommendations
they make,” Lizzy Guyton, Baker's press secretary, said in a statement.
Anderson, a Marblehead resident who died Friday at 73, was best known as
an anti-tax crusader. But she also became a strong advocate for Amirault,
who in 1986 was convicted of abusing children at the Fells Acre Day Care
Center run by his family in Malden.
Amirault's conviction, along with those of his mother and sister, raised
questions about methods used by prosecutors in relying on the testimony
of children. Anderson became interested in the case after reading
stories by Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal, who won a
Pulitzer Prize in part for her editorials questioning the validity of
the convictions. Anderson visited Amirault in prison and became an
advocate for his innocence.
In an interview, Amirault said Monday that he was touched by the fact
Anderson ended her final column by appealing to Gov. Baker on his
"To write a living obituary and have that be one of her things, that's
just remarkable," Amirault said. "Barbara was a firm believer in my
family's innocence. She's just a champion for lots of people in the
The state parole board voted in 2000 to recommend commuting Amirault's
sentence, but then-acting Gov. Jane Swift denied it. In 2004, Amirault
was released on parole after serving 17 years and 10 months of his 30-
to 40-year prison sentence.
As part of his parole, Amirault must wear an ankle bracelet at all
times, be home by a 10 p.m. curfew, take a polygraph test every six
months, and seek permission from the parole board to travel out of
"It's like you're free but you're not free," he said.
According to Amirault, Baker spoke to him in 2014 while he was
campaigning for governor in the North End in Boston. "He made a
commitment to me in front of my whole family that once he was elected
one of the first things on his list would be to take care of my
situation," Amirault said.
Amirault said he does not want a pardon from the governor, because that
would be an acknowledgement that he was guilty. He said he would like
the governor to end his parole, which is scheduled to last until 2023.
Amirault acknowledged that he has not applied to have his parole lifted,
saying he would rather speak with the governor first.
"I'd just like to have a conversation with him," he said.
Monday, April 11, 2016
The anti-tax woman goeth
A legendary voice in Massachusetts political battles is stilled
By Dave Denison
When Commonwealth Magazine arrived on the scene 20 years ago, Barbara
Anderson’s most public battles were already behind her. It was in that
context that founding editor Dave Denison paid her a visit at the
downtown offices of Citizens for Limited Taxation and then, a week
later, at her “small, cluttered Marblehead home.”
Anderson, who died on Friday at age 73,
was the driving force behind the state’s turn toward a wariness of
reflexive tax increases. In the process, she’s probably more responsible
than any other individual for the fact that the state has largely shed
Not one for pretense or preening, Anderson greeted him at the door to
her house in “navy blue sweatpants, torn at the knee, and a heavy
She confesses that her son voted for Bill Clinton and railed against
“running-dog capitalists” during his days at UMass, that (limited)
taxation is a necessary evil, and that “traditional conservatives” have
some valid points, though she can’t bring herself “to support their
agenda or vote for it.”
She had a spiritual side, which led her to famously answering the
question of whether she was libertarian by saying, “No, I’m an Aquarian,
with Libra rising.”
But that didn’t extend to a let’s-all-hold-hands view of politics and
settling the big issues of the day.
“Blessed are the peacemakers,” Anderson told Denison dismissively. “I
don’t buy that. It’s always going to be adversarial. And so you have to
hold your own on what is a battlefield.”
Monday, April 11, 2016
A Marblehead housewife
By Jack Sullivan
“Darn, I knew this was going to happen someday. If you’re reading this,
So begins Barbara Anderson’s final column in today’s Salem News.
Anderson died Friday at the age of 73 after a long battle with leukemia.
If you’re under 45, that name may look familiar but mostly from
occasional quotes in budget and tax stories or from her weekly column in
the Eagle-Tribune and Salem News. But if you are middle-aged or older,
it’s a name that will bring chills or smiles, depending on your view of
how to fund government. In the 1980s to early 90s, Anderson was arguably
the most influential non-politician in Massachusetts.
Before there was the Tea Party, there was Citizens for Limited Taxation,
which is to say, there was Anderson. Anderson did not have the polish of
a Jim Braude, her then-foil who was the head of the ultra-liberal Tax
Equity Alliance for Massachusetts, nor the biting wit of Herald
columnist Howie Carr, who gave her a regular soapbox to connect with the
masses. But what she have in her favor was the fact everyone in power
underestimated her and dismissed her – until she almost single-handedly
brought Proposition 2½ across the finish line and changed the way the
state and municipalities dealt with their budgets.
Anderson often introduced herself as “just a Marblehead housewife,”
fully aware of the disarming self-deprecation and double meaning the
phrase carried. But to view the fiery redhead as simply out of her
element when it came to public policy was to miss the boiling anger she
channeled from voters to the public arena.
It didn’t matter to Anderson that the passage in 1980 of Prop 2½, whose
effects still reverberate today, resulted in municipal layoffs, fire
station closings, and overcrowded classrooms. She insisted there was
plenty of money to do those things; it just required a change in
But Prop 2½ was not the end for Anderson, only the beginning. Every time
the Democratic Legislature and then-Gov. Michael Dukakis made a move to
raise taxes, she rallied opposition to defeat it at the polls. In 1988,
when Dukakis was touting the Massachusetts Miracle in his run for
president, Anderson was a highly sought-after voice – and a more than
willing one – for reporters from around the country.
Anderson, Carr, and WRKO talk show king Jerry Williams were so
incessantly hammering away at Dukakis and the Democrats, effectively
blunting any attempts to increase revenues, they were dubbed “the
governors.” They liked the moniker so much, they had a regular segment
on Williams’s show every Tuesday afternoon called “The Governors.” For
several years, it was must-listening for both voters and politicians.
As a young mother in New Jersey, she pushed her baby son around in his
carriage handing out flyers for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential
race, which she compared recently to the GOP establishment’s rejection
this year of Donald Trump.
“I learned that fiscal conservatives were hated by the Republican
establishment as well as by the socialist-leaning Democrats,” she wrote.
“How can you build a Washington, D.C., lobbyist-run power base if you
can’t tax, spend and borrow unlimited amounts?”
But Anderson was not a one-trick pony. Her signature was taxes but her
cause was libertarianism. But, of course, even her death is a chance for
some lobbying on an issue that was near and dear to her, in this case
the matter of Gerald “Tooky” Amirault, convicted in the infamous Fells
Acre Day Care child abuse trial.
“There will be no memorial service but if anyone wants to honor my
memory, please remind Gov. Charlie Baker that when he was running for
office, he promised my friend Gerald Amirault and his family that
getting Gerald off parole and his ankle bracelet would be a first order
of business,” she wrote. “So far he has broken his promise, and keeping
it is my dying wish.”
In her next-to-last last column on March 27, Anderson went off on a
variety of subjects in her usual cue-ball-off-the-six-cushions manner,
taking on Communism, Islam, terrorism, border fences, and the Catholic
church. But the end of her column may have been a goodbye that few
people recognized, when she railed against the defeat of the “death with
dignity” ballot question in 2014.
“When I get angry, it’s when my own rights are attacked. For instance,
as I get older, I want the right to choose assisted suicide should I be
in a ‘ready to die’ mode,” she wrote without revealing her cancer. “But
no, despite my having left the Catholic Church 55 years ago, it still
had the power to fight a ballot question that would give me personal
autonomy over its religious doctrine. My own emotions don’t usually run
deep, my being a rational, logical person and all, but I admit to hating
the voters who said no to the recent ‘death with dignity’ ballot
question; [I] hope they live long enough to regret it.”
“Well, enough peace, love and understanding this week,” she concluded.
(Beckley, West Virginia)
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Columnist puts governor on spot with ‘dying wish’ to lift restraints
on convicted child sex offender
CNHI News Service
SALEM, Mass. — A popular political activist and newspaper columnist
penned a “dying wish” in her final column, calling on the governor of
Massachusetts to live up to a promise and remove parole restrictions on
a convicted child sex abuser she believes was wrongly accused 30 years
Barbara Anderson said in a column published this week — though written
prior to her death from cancer on Friday — that Republican Gov. Charlie
Baker assured Gerald “Tooky” Amirault, 62, he would intervene in his
Asked for a response to Anderson’s column, Baker declined to acknowledge
the promise. His office issued a statement saying he had “tremendous
respect for Barbara’s career” and that the parole board thoughtfully and
carefully reviews all recommendations.
Amirault was convicted in 1986 of abusing children between the ages of 2
and 4 at the Fells Acre Day Care Center in Malden, Massachusetts, run by
his family. The nationally publicized case relied on statements of the
youngsters and no collaborating physical evidence.
Anderson and others, including Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Dorothy
Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal, called it a miscarriage of
justice, questioning whether prosecutors had talked the children into
making statements about a “secret room” and an abusive “bad clown” at
the day care center.
Sent to prison for 30 to 40 years, Amirault gained release on parole in
2004. But he is required to wear an electronic tracking device at all
times, report in a notebook each time he leaves his home, take a lie
detector test every six months and comply with a 10 p.m. curfew. He’s
also registered as the highest level sex offender and cannot leave the
state without permission.
Amirault, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, said he feels
“like you’re free but you’re not free.” He said he doesn’t want the
governor to pardon him because that would be seen as admitting guilt.
Amirault said Baker promised to support efforts to remove Amirault’s
parole conditions while campaigning for governor two years ago. “He made
a commitment to me in front of my whole family that once he was elected,
one of the first things on his list would be to take care of my
situation,” Amirault told the Salem, Massachusetts News.
Anderson, who said she was influenced by Rabinowitz’ editorials in the
Wall Street Journal, spent endless hours looking into Amirault’s case,
including interviewing him in prison. She contended he was the victim of
overzealous prosecutors determined to pin child abuse charges on him
even though there was no physical evidence of child sex abuse.
Amirault’s mother and sister were also convicted in the case, and
sentenced to from 8 to 20 years in prison. They were released in 1995
when a judge ordered a new trial for them. The mother died several
months later, and the district attorney reduced the sister’s sentence to
Anderson has been known for her crusading ways since the 1980s, when she
campaigned forcefully and successfully for a tax-cutting referendum
restricting local property taxes in Massachusetts. She later headed an
organization called Citizens for Limited Taxation, serving as an
effective counter-weight to the liberal state legislature on tax issues
big and small.
She died of leukemia at age 73, writing her final column from a hospice
Details for this story were provided by the Salem, Massachusetts
The Salem News /
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
A Salem News / Eagle-Tribune editorial
Remembering 'a force of nature'
The commonwealth's taxpayers lost their bravest and most tireless
advocate with the passing of Barbara Anderson last Friday.
Always humble, Anderson invariably credited others with the invention
and passage of the property tax limitation law known as Proposition 2½.
Although she worked hard to get the measure on the ballot and secure a
majority vote back in 1980, her greatest contribution up to the day of
her death was defending it against those local and state officials who
continue to chafe under its restrictions and seek to undermine it.
Thanks to Anderson and her colleagues at Citizens for Limited Taxation,
Massachusetts taxpayers escaped the workhouse treadmill of unlimited
annual increases in their property taxes imposed by municipal officials
who felt more beholden to public employee unions than to their real
And while Proposition 2½ applies only to the local property tax, the
overwhelming vote it received created a wariness about raising taxes
that persists among the Democratic majority on Beacon Hill 36 years
“Thou shalt not spend more than those responsible for the bills can
afford to pay,” voters in Massachusetts decreed that November. And
however some may loathe the limits it imposes on local and state
spending, the taxpayers have been the winners.
"This may surprise you, but I think she's probably, in the history of
Massachusetts, the most important woman ever in terms of her effect on
the citizens of the state,” Ted Tripp, a longtime friend of Anderson's
and chairman of the North Andover Taxpayers Association, told reporter
Ray Carbone. “She was a champion of freedom and of less government. The
two of them went together to her.”
Hard to believe that prior to 1980, to cite one instance of how things
worked, local school boards had total autonomy in all education matters,
including spending. They would approve a budget, and regardless of the
amount, the district was obligated to fund it.
Proposition 2½ places a hard ceiling (2.5 percent plus taxes on new
growth) on how much a city or town can increase the total property tax
burden each year. If public employee unions want an increase in pay or
benefits, those on the other side of the bargaining table have to figure
out where to cut in order to get the money. Or seek an override, no easy
From her modest home on Village Street in Marblehead, Anderson kept in
touch with a legion of friends, supporters, opponents and elected
officials. She relished the hard work of keeping government in check,
whether by lobbying at the Statehouse or campaigning to defeat stealth
attempts to raise state taxes, including repeated attempts to impose the
dreaded graduated income tax. She will be missed this fall when the
usual suspects will be back with a disguised grad tax, the so-called
Anderson never made the debate personal. Liberal radio and TV
commentator Jim Braude, with whom Anderson sparred on more than a few
tax issues over the years, recalls how they often drove together to the
no-holds-barred forums in which they participated.
Anderson was a true believer in the idea that those who disagreed did
not have to be disagreeable or hateful toward one another. Indeed, she
thoroughly enjoyed the exchange of thoughts and information.
“We started out as political opponents, we ended up as political
opponents,” said Braude. "In the middle, we became pretty close. ...
“She was a take-no-prisoners kind of woman,” Braude said. “She was
laser-focused on her goal. She was incredibly witty. It was about as
much fun as I ever had in my life.”
Here at The Salem News and Eagle-Tribune, we will miss her weekly
columns that were always thoughtful, provocative and entertaining.
Citizens of Massachusetts will miss her vigilance.
The Lynn Daily Item
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
A Lynn Daily Item editorial
Barbara Anderson spoke up and didn't back down
It is fitting that the late Barbara Anderson called Marblehead home.
With its strong Revolutionary War heritage, the town matched Anderson’s
love for rebelling against the status quo as a champion for small
government and less taxes.
In the early 1980s, soon after she co-authored the Proposition 2½ law
limiting municipal taxation powers, Anderson marched down the halls of
the State House and into legislative offices, armed with stacks of paper
crammed with information and a love for engaging elected officials in
She constantly poked, prodded and pushed legislators to explain why new
taxes were necessary. Anderson was impossible to ignore because she made
it her business to know her way around Beacon Hill and know why and how
decisions get made.
Always a self-styled political outsider, Anderson never wanted to use
her voice or her well-published position on taxes to gain the support of
one politician over another. She wanted to be a high-powered spotlight
shining on state tax policies: If the voters liked what they saw when
Anderson shined her light or didn’t like what she exposed, that was fine
Anderson died last week at 73 after being diagnosed with leukemia.
Her Citizens for Limited Taxation comrades praised her as a “relentless
advocate for taxpayers across Massachusetts” and cited her
accomplishments, including leading the campaign for local tax relief;
repealing the state income tax surtax, defeating the graduated income
tax ballot question and rolling back the “temporary” state income tax
Never at a loss for words and never one to shy away from debate,
Anderson did not belittle or browbeat her opponents. She defeated them
with information and by outlasting them in a discussion forum.
She was an independent, unapologetic voice who took her detractors in
stride and boiled down every argument to the facts.
She will be missed in Marblehead. She will be missed in Massachusetts.
The Lowell Sun / The
Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Lowell Sun / The Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise editorials
Barbara Anderson, taxpayers' champion
It's a common tug of war that occurs regularly in communities around the
state -- whether to seek an override of Proposition 2½ to pay for some
perceived municipal or school need not funded under the current tax
Instead of automatically rubber-stamping revenue increases, cities and
towns now must live within their means, or else convince a majority of
voters to assess themselves a steeper property-tax bill.
In more well-to-do Dunstable and Groton, residents in the upcoming town
elections will have the opportunity to approve or reject a Proposition
2½ override to increase school spending.
In Dracut, known for its aversion to tax increases, voters are faced
with both public-safety and school overrides.
And you can thank -- or curse -- the one person who took the lead nearly
40 years ago in attempting to take the "tax" out of "Taxachusetts."
Barbara Anderson, who died on Friday at 73.
In a grass-roots movement that socialist Democratic presidential
candidate Bernie Sanders could appreciate -- though vehemently oppose --
Anderson, as executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation,
mounted one of the most effective anti-tax campaigns ever in a state
known for never meeting a revenue enhancer it didn't like.
And so in 1980, Massachusetts voters unanimously supported Proposition
2½, a ballot question that capped a community's property-tax increase at
2.5 percent of fair market value, plus new growth.
It also cut the auto excise tax from $66 to $25 per $1,000 of valuation.
While not all of her anti-tax initiatives succeeded, we're still seeing
one of Anderson's final victories play out -- Question 4, which set the
stage for rolling back the state's income-tax rate from 5.85 to 5
percent. It currently stands at 5.1 percent.
In her post-Prop. 2½ heyday, Anderson was arguably the most powerful
figure in the commonwealth -- elected or otherwise. In columns published
in several of the state's newspapers, including The Sun, and multiple
public appearances, she regularly dispensed her philosophy of
no-nonsense fiscal conservatism.
Devoid of pretense, Anderson practiced genuine populism. Critics pointed
to her Marblehead address, but if they had bothered to check, they would
have seen she lived in what could only be described as a modest cottage.
So Massachusetts taxpayers, pause for a moment and reflect on the
passing of Barbara Anderson -- the best advocate you ever had.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Marblehead residents remember Anderson as tenacious, free spirited
By William J. Dowd
Members of the Marblehead community are lamenting the loss of the
anti-tax activist resident Barbara Anderson, who died on Friday
after battling leukemia for several months. She was 73.
“The universe has lost an important natural resource forever,” said
friend and Marblehead resident Jack Buba. “You don't replace a
Marblehead resident Jean Eldridge, a lifelong Republican and friend
to Anderson, described her as loyal and free spirited with a
penchant for “doing her own thing.”
“She was a bigger-than-life person,” said Eldridge.
Anderson catapulted into Massachusetts politics during the 1970s -
at a time when increasingly high property taxes were covering
shortfalls from lower-than-expected revenues from state taxes.
"Property taxes were out of control," recalled Marblehead Selectman
Harry Christensen. "And there was a wave of individuals proclaiming:
'We're not gonna take it anymore.”
To put the tax hikes in check, Anderson was one of the chief
architects of the controversial Proposition 2½ referendum. The
political organization she would come to lead for 35 years, Citizens
for Limited Taxation, got the proposed tax-relief law printed on the
1980 ballot with 86,711 voters’ signatures. The 35-year-old law
still caps the state’s 351 municipalities annual tax levies to 2½
percent of the market value of property.
In 1980, four months until election day, CLT elevated Anderson from
secretary to executive director.
"She was a natural individualist and a libertarian by philosophy,"
said Chip Ford, Anderson's partner of 20 years. "She just got into
it and went at it and won.”
Her promotion, in hindsight, essentially put Anderson - who then
proudly proclaimed herself a YMCA swim instructor and housewife - on
the battlefield to fight Massachusetts’ entrenched liberal
establishment and powerful special-interest groups.
Buba said a firebrand Anderson championed the 1980 initiative on
populist rhetoric with “straight-talking and plain truths" that
unified Massachusetts voters across political allegiance,
demographics and socioeconomic status.
On Nov. 4, 1980, 83 percent of Massachusetts voters cast ballots.
More than 1.2 million out of 2.4 million shaded in Question 2,
effectively enacting Proposition 2½.
"She worked it day and night. It wasn't a job, it was a vocation,"
Ford said of Anderson’s work ethic. "There's no on and off switch.
You either do this because you love and believe in it or you get a
real job that pays."
The victory, by a 400,000-vote margin, crowned Anderson “The Mother
of Proposition 2½.”
“She was courageous and just plunged right in,” said Former
Marblehead Finance Committee chairman Charles Gessner. “She reset
the agenda on how Massachusetts pays for things.”
It was for that reason she took a seat in the commonwealth’s
pantheon of political activists.
“Anderson was funny, smart and edgy,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “She
was the most effective taxpayer advocate in the commonwealth, and
her tireless work positively impacted public policy at all levels,
making government more accountable to the people.”
Over her 35-year tenure as CLT’s executive director, Anderson led
initiatives that repealed the state income tax surtax, defeated the
graduated income tax ballot question and rollbacked the “temporary”
state income tax increase, according to a CLT statement.
“She did all this work from her modest home office,” said Third
Essex Republican Committeewoman and Marblehead resident Amy
Carnevale. “She was a strong role model for fiscally conservative
An only child, Anderson was born to Max and Mary Ann Horvatin on
Feb. 17, 1943 in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, a rural community where
she grew up.
Moving to Marblehead in the early 1970s, she brought up her only
child, Lance, here in her Village Street home where she lived for
Anderson served on the Marblehead Finance Committee from 1978 to
‘81. In 2010, Marblehead School Committee appointed Anderson to a
seat on the Glover School Building Committee, which closed out in
January under budget and on schedule, as the $26 million project's
In her longstanding newspaper column, she once wrote about her
affinity for “the purest form of democracy,” Marblehead’s Town
Meeting, as it rolled direct democracy, free speech and debate into
one entity. Regular attendees, Anderson wrote, were worthy “models
of Norman Rockwell paintings.”
In part, believing a decay in debate on Town Meeting floor existed
and a surge of debt-exclusion overrides in recent years, she quit
going after a 25-year attendance streak. She returned in 2011,
following a year in which voters here defeated 10 override
“I didn't agree with her most of the time, but she had original
ideas. In a democracy, you should consider all the arguments and
every side,” said Christensen. “She certainly spoke her mind.”
Buba recalled often stepping into Anderson’s house to find her
nose-deep in books.
“Barbara had a quest for knowledge,” he said. “She’d spend hours
pouring through books and the Internet until she felt she really
understood an issue before taking a position.”
He said that she once told him that the most important attribute a
political activist can possess “is not caring what other people
think. She was right on.”
In her life, he said: “She did not seek fame or fortune. She lived
modestly and accomplished great things, an example to us all.”
Material from the State House News Service was used in this
The Wall Street Journal
Friday, April 15, 2016
WORLD | OBITUARIES
Barbara Anderson Spent Decades as a Taxpayer Advocate: 1943-2016
Self-trained political activist led successful campaign in 1980 for
to cut taxes in Massachusetts
By James R.
Barbara Anderson, a self-trained political activist with a sharp
wit, spent more than three decades campaigning to hold taxes down in
She died of leukemia April 8 in Salem, Mass. She was 73.
Her most famous triumph came in November 1980, when she was a leader
of a successful campaign for Proposition 2½, approved by voters.
That measure required property tax cuts in communities with rates
above 2.5% of fair market value.
Ms. Anderson had been working as a volunteer and then as a secretary
for Citizens for Limited Taxation, a group pushing for that measure.
When the executive director took another job near the height of the
election campaign, she was suddenly promoted to the top position.
“She just taught herself as she went along,” said Chip Ford, who is
now the group’s executive director and was Ms. Anderson’s partner
for the past 20 years. She participated in debates, talked on radio
programs and wrote newspaper columns. When journalists called, she
always had a pithy quote ready. She urged other conservatives to get
over their distrust of the media. “They’re just working stiffs like
you,” she said.
Barbara Suann Horvatin grew up in St. Marys, Pa., where her father
ran a hardware store. She studied English at Pennsylvania State
University but left before graduating. She was divorced twice and
retained the last name of her second husband. She is survived by a
son, Lance Crowley, and two grandchildren.
She once told an interviewer that the children’s book “Peter Rabbit”
was an early influence on her political thinking. Her sympathies
were with the gardener. “It was his lettuce,” she said, “and Peter
had no business stealing it.”
Ms. Anderson got involved in the antitax crusade partly because at
that point she was a single mom and needed a job, said her son,
Lance. She also believed that taxes were making it hard for her to
make ends meet. The 1980 campaign for Proposition 2½ was so heated
that she at times feared for her safety and checked under her car
In recent years she wrote a column for the Salem News. Her final
column, printed three days after her death, began: “Darn, I knew
this was going to happen someday. If you’re reading this, I’m dead.”
She described her role in life as “a taxpayer advocate,” which let
her “hang out with the lost boys and fight pirates.”
Despite her efforts, property taxes in Massachusetts have risen in
recent years, according to the Tax Foundation, a business-backed
research group. It says the state’s median property tax burden was
the 18th highest in the nation in 2014, up from 27th a decade
Nonetheless, in her final column, Ms. Anderson said she had achieved
many of her most cherished early goals. They included writing,
falling in love, traveling in Europe and having a son named Lance.
The Marblehead Reporter
Friday, April 15, 2016
LETTER: Barbara Anderson is my hero
By Jack Buba
Barbara Anderson is my hero.
When I moved to Marblehead some 20 years ago it was not long before
I learned that Barbara Anderson, the mother of Prop 2½, lived here
as well. At that time I was proud just to be a fellow Marbleheader
with her. It was many years later that I actually met her and we
She was my mentor on subject like opposing overrides, understanding
local politics and we shared side by side seats at several Town
Meetings. At a Marblehead Republican Town Committee I was fortunate
enough to be chosen to introduce Barbara as a featured speaker.
I told the audience what a thrill it was for me to introduce one of
my true heroes. Now with her passing I am glad that I had that
opportunity to express to her and to the community my admiration for
her and her causes.
Barbara was committed to the Libertarian goal that the money you
earned belonged to you and not to the Government. Prop 2½ was the
practical realization of that goal. And while her detractors
sometime deplored this “reduction in revenue” as they called it.
They all paid less in taxes.
Years later she and the Citizens for Limited Taxation worked on
passing a bill that could have easily been called the Pro Tax
The bill provided a new check box on the state income tax form that
allowed any taxpayer who thought that taxes where not high enough to
pay higher taxes simply by checking a box, what could be easier?
But Barbara knew that people only like higher taxes when other
people are paying them, year after year significantly less than 1%
of taxpayers in Massachusetts check the box. I am sure Barbara got a
real kick out of that.
Everyone in Massachusetts is a benefactor of Barbara’s work.
If you have taken a vacation, bought a boat or some other
recreational vehicle, added on to your house, bought a new house or
summer house, or made any expendable income acquisition; you can be
sure that some of the money for that purchase was available because
Barbara spearheaded the passage of a law that put more of your own
money in your pocket.
I would be nice if tonight, before you go to sleep you offer up a
simple “Thank-you Barbara.”
You always hear that You can’t fight City Hall, but Barbara Anderson
fought the State House and WON.
That is why she is my hero, Marblehead has lost a real treasure.
Rest In Peace Barbara.
The Marblehead Reporter
Monday, April 18, 2016
Farewell to a friend
By Dawn Bucket (Fraffie Welch)
Barb Anderson would have blushed if she’d seen the publicity that
followed her passing a couple of weeks ago and
her final Salem News column was a total gem.
I had been meaning to make a lunch date with her and another pal for
a chopsticks gathering at Gourmet Gardens and I kept putting it off,
I never got to have the Hillary/Trump chat with her, which would
have been a lulu, as you can imagine.
Three of us, conservative Barb, middle-of-the-road me, and more
liberal pal (old ‘Header, now a Nahant person) used to lunch. Our
politics were all different, our taste in Gourmet Gardens food all
different, but strangely enough it was a trio that worked in short
spurts, and we were cautious not to be too loud in our animated
I will miss that squirming in seats by many at Town Meeting when
Barb would head for a microphone to vent her spleen on
I’d bet a dollar she was against changing the quorum requirement.
Smooth sailing Barb, thanks for Prop 2½, your kind attention to our
tax dollar; I won’t forgive you for feeding the Village Street
turkeys and I will miss our lunches, your Town Meeting frustrations
and your good friendship. This Bud’s for you.