Editorial/                    Monday, February 21, 2000               by Glenn M. Heller
Time to Make Up Your Mind, Chris
Overpaid, Underpaid, or Lying

"Every year I file an ethics statement disclosing all activity and all income derived so that it can be viewed by the public......I hold myself to a higher standard than even the law dictates." ---Chris Hodgkins, from a letter published January 21st, 2000 in The Berkshire Eagle. (That letter is reproduced below on BerkshireRecordDotCom.)

Chris' public invitation to view his annual ethics statement spurred curiosity.  So inquiry was made of the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission to discover just exactly what it is that Chris filed with the State.  It turns out to be a real eye-opener.

A review of the data suggests that it comes as no surprise that Chris does not want to come clean about what monies he gets from "moonlighting".  One likely reason is that he does not want people to know he receives more money from Lenox Institute of Water Technology than he gets for being a state rep, though Chris insists he only works "part-time" for LIWT.  Another likely reason is that Chris does not want people to know he also spent time working for another firm, Krofta Engineering Corp., also of Lenox.

Chris' most recent ethics filing, dated May, 1999 for Calendar 1998, lists 5 separate income streams.  First, of course, is Chris' employer on Beacon Hill, us, where he works as a state rep.  For that he is paid $40,001-$60,000---category "E".

Why can't I be more precise, and what's this category stuff, you ask?  Welcome to agency-speak!  The way the politicians have it arranged with the State Ethics Commission is that rather than publicly having to divulge exact income figures, state officials like Chris need only list their incomes by "category" range.  For example, category "A" represents a range of gross income of $1,001 to $5,000;  category "B": $5,001 to $10,000;  category "C": $10,001 to $20,000;  and so forth.

So anyway, Chris' income of category "E" translates to a gross of $40,001 to $60,000 from taxpayers.  More illuminating though, is what Chris discloses about his so-called "outside income".

For Calendar 1998, his various employers include:
    The Ivey Company, Great Barrington, for consulting work,
            Category A--gross income received: $1,001--$5,000.
    Berkshire Resources, Lee, a company 100% owned by Chris,
            Category A--gross income received:  $1,001--$5,000.
    Krofta Engineering, Lenox, for consulting work,
            Category C--gross income received:  $10,001--$20,000.
    Lenox Institute of Water Technology, Lenox, executive vice president,
            Category F--gross income received:  $60,001--$100,000.

Chris' outside work for Lenox Institute is the subject of a spate of recent letters published in The Berkshire Eagle (reproduced below on this website) as well as a recent editorial on BerkshireRecordDotCom).  Lee resident William Donovan, in his letter, questions whether the amount of time devoted to working for Lenox Institute poses a conflict-of-interest for Chris given his responsibility and campaign promises to represent full-time his Berkshire constituency.

Chris' ethics filing does not require him to list nor even to approximate the number of hours he spends weekly or monthly working for his various employers.  Yet, what Chris' ethics filing does show is that LIWT sees fit to reward Chris far more generously for "part-time" work than Chris gets for a supposedly full-time commitment as state rep.

In addition, the ethics filing shows something heretofore not mentioned publicly by Chris, namely that Krofta Engineering played a role in Chris' life and bank account, and further added to the drain on the politician's time.

However one reviews the data, it is plain that either Chris is vastly overpaid by LIWT (and by Krofta Engineering) for what is supposed to be part-time work, or Chris is way underpaid by Beacon Hill for what is supposed to be full-time efforts there on behalf of constituents.

The other possibility, of course, is that Chris is lying to the public about how much time he really spends working for any of these respective employers.  Perhaps Chris should decide what he really wants to be---full-time state rep or full-time corporate VP.