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June 15, 2013

Talk of the Times: City woman takes fishery pitch to Obama:

President Obama, who has come under fire here and in other fishing communties for turning a deaf ear to the needs of New England’s and America’s fishermen, nonetheless heard a face-to-face pitch on behal fof Gloucester’s fishermen this week from a very different type of lobbyist.

Frances Ferrante, mother of state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, received an invitation along with her daughter from Sen. Elizabeth Warren to attend a campaign event in Boston earlier this week featuring the president making his pitch for U.S. Senate candidate Ed Markey.

Ann-Margaret Ferrante said that Warren had invited her and her mother with the hope that they may have an opportunity to directly bring the message of the fishermen to the president. And that is indeed what happened.

As the president was walking by, Frances Ferrante moved toward him calling, “Mr. President, Mr. President” in close proximity to Obama. And as the secret service and the president saw Frances, who is blind, calling for the president’s attention, he stopped and asked her what was so important that she was calling out to him.

With that, as Obama leaned over and held Frances’ hand to listen.

“We need you to help our fishermen in Gloucester, Massachusetts,” she told him.

“You know we will,” the president responded.

To that, Frances responded, “We are going to hold you to it.”

A number of Massachusetts officials — up to and including Gov. Deval Patrick — have reached out to the White House to seek aid for the fishing industry to address the “economic disaster” in the New England groundfishery declared by the Department of Commerce last fall, and to ask that Obama use his executive authority to set aside dire new catch limits that have brought the industry to its knees this season. None have drawn any response.

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