U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is coming to Gloucester today and is expected to call on President Obama to replace NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, according to multiple sources in Brown's Washington office.
Brown's schedule calls for him to hold a 10 a.m. press conference at the Fishermen's Memorial and "Man at the Wheel" statue on Stacy Boulevard.
His call would be the latest in a stepped-up show of disillusionment with Lubchenco, who came to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from the Environmental Defense Fund in 2009 and immediately pushed EDF's catch share management program while, as the Times reported, EDF officer David Festa was advising investors on the West Coast to put their money in catch shares for windfall profits.
But the disillusionment has grown exponentially since her performance at a Senate Commerce Committee field hearing organized by U.S. Sen. John Kerry at the State House in Boston on Oct. 3.
Lubchenco was seen as evasive and non-credible by Brown, Congressmen John Tierney and Barney Frank, and Mayors Carolyn Kirk of Gloucester and Scott Lang of New Bedford, as well as industry representatives in the audience.
Lubchenco and her entourage then left the hearing to make a meeting of The Boston Globe's editorial board before Brian Rothschild, a marine scientist at University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, had testified.
Rothschild had been nominated to head NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service by Frank and others in Congress and was a favorite of many in the industry, not just in New England.
In questioning Lubchenco, Frank brought out that she was falsely claiming catch shares had produced an increase in gross revenues.
"Your testimony cherry picks what looks good and leaves out what's not good," Frank added. "That's not building trust."
At the same hearing, Brown described her testimony as "the political hoojie woojie."
Frank and Tierney called for Lubchenco's removal from office in the summer of 2010, but while Tierney held to that call, Frank was calmed by promises from the White House that progress could be achieved working around her.
Following the State House hearing, Frank said he no longer believed that, and Tierney reiterated the suggestion that the quickest way to change the culture at NOAA was to the change the leadership.
Lang said afterward that Lubchenco's testimony had crushed his last hope that she could work productively with the industry.
Kirk, meanwhile, videotaped a mournful interview about job -destroying fisheries policies after the Commerce Committee hearing; the Democrat's comments went up on YouTube and have since been quoted in the Senate by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
"Overzealous enforcement of brutal fishing regulations is destroying jobs and forcing smaller players out of the business," was McConnell's summary of Kirk's complaint.
In June, at a field hearing of another Senate subcommittee — one he organized with Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat — it was Brown who raised the now oft-quoted question, "What does it take to get fired at NOAA?"
The question came during the interrogation of Lubchenco's assistant administrator, Eric Schwaab, about the decision not to punish anyone for the decade -long abuse of fishermen by NOAA law enforcement. Schwaab was assigned to appear as a surrogate for Lubchenco, who refused the committee's invitation.
Brown is running for what would be his first full six-year term, with the election in November 2012.
Harvard professor and consumer finance advocate Elizabeth Warren, a protegee of Frank's, is leading Democrats in polling to become Brown's challenger; she also visited Gloucester, touring waterfront businesses with Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, to get a first-hand look at the fishing industry Oct. 13.
Brown, who came to office weeks before the national "United We Fish" rally at the side of the U.S. Capitol in late February 2010, made a quick study of fisheries at the time, tutored by state Sen. Bruce Tarr of Gloucester. He served with Tarr in the state Legislature prior to winning a January 2010 special election to fill the seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3464, or firstname.lastname@example.org.