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Rep. Lyons Blasts MBTA Deal With Chinese Firm

Oct 23, 2014 03:26PM ● By Bill Gilman

State Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover.

State Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover, has publicly blasted a half-billion dollar deal between the MBTA and a Chinese firm for the purchase of nearly 300 new rail cars.

On Wednesday, the MBTA Board of Directors awarded a contract to CNR Corp., a Chinese state owned corporation to produce 284 new cars at a cost of $566.6 million. According to the MBTA, the new cars will replace 32-year-old Orange Line cars and 44-year-old Red Line Cars.

In an e-mail sent earlier in the week to Gov. Deval Patrick and Sec. of Transportation Richard Davey, Lyons outlined his concerns and urged the governor not to sign off on the deal. Lyons called the Chinese government a "repressive regime that respects none of the liberties that we cherish in this Commonwealth. "

Lyons, whose 18th Essex District includes a section of Tewksbury, said spending Massachusetts taxpayer dollars with a firm owned by the Chinese government "unseemly," and said the Bay State residents should not be required to "bankroll that authoritarian regime."

The vehicles will actually be built in Massachusetts. As part of the deal, CNR has promised to build a new $60 million plant in Springfield. The plant, which would serve as CNR's American headquarters, would is expected to create 250 new manufacturing and construction jobs to economically beleaguered Greater Springfield.
The entire text of Lyons' e-mail to Patrick and Davey can be seen below:

Dear Governor Patrick:

Today I write to you with respect to the $1.3 billion contract that the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has put out to bid for new rail cars. As reported in the 10/18/2014 Boston Herald, a favored contender for this contract is Changchun Railway Vehicles Co., a subsidiary of CNR Corp., the state-owned entity of the Chinese Communist government.

I strongly caution you and the MBTA Board of Directors against granting this contract to a repressive regime that respects none of the liberties that we cherish in this Commonwealth.  The hard-working families of Massachusetts should not have their scarce and precious tax dollars used in such an unseemly manner.

According to Human Rights Watch: Human rights defenders in China regularly face police harassment, house arrest, short-term detention; they are punished with so-called re-education through labor, forcible commitment to psychiatric facilities, or imprisonment on trumped-up criminal charges, often the result of forced confessions through torture.

Freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of labor, and freedom from fear are some of the liberties treasured here in our Commonwealth.

Those and other natural rights are routinely ignored by the repressive government in Communist China.

Therefore, I strongly object to sending the tax dollars of our hard-working citizens to bankroll that authoritarian regime.  

Surely we can do better. Let's use this opportunity to make a statement on behalf of American values, American labor, and American free enterprise. Our taxpaying families deserve no less.

Thank you.

 Your truly,

James J Lyons, Jr.

State Representative

18th Essex District

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