Lucas: Governors deserve official home

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Sometimes a house is not a home.

It is certainly not much of a home when a bunch of Nazis come knocking on the door.

Well, they did not exactly approach the front door last Saturday of the Arlington four-bedroom house Gov. Maura Healey, 52, is living in with her partner Joanna Lydgate, 42, and Lydgate’s two children from a previous marriage.

But the right-wing members of New England-based NSC-131 (National Social Club) did cause enough of a disturbance that the cops had to be called.

In a story covered by WBZ-TV, a half dozen or so State Police cruisers with blue lights flashing in the night descended on the quiet neighborhood to deal with the 25 neo-Nazis protesting the influx of illegal immigrants into the state.

“New England is ours, the rest must go,” the masked and hooded demonstrators chanted before being led away by state troopers. No arrests were made.

It is not known if anyone was in the house at the time, but the ruckus did disrupt the neighborhood, which is made up of million-dollar single-family homes with children.

“It was scary,” one neighbor, with blue lights flashing all around, told WBZ-TV, “especially in this neighborhood, there’s a lot of kids, a lot of families.”

He said it was one thing to demonstrate outside public buildings, but another outside private homes.

“All that stuff, they can do somewhere else. Don’t be bringing it to people’s front lawn and trying to intimidate people. Because that’s not how you do things,” he said.

While people, especially children, could be traumatized by a phalanx of cops descending on their neighborhood at night, it does not compare to the ugliness they see coming from Israel and Gaza on nightly on television news.

Still, where the governor lives is a problem. Unlike many other states, Massachusetts has no governor’s mansion, although the governor does have a housing allowance of $65,000 to go along with her $222,000 salary. But she does deserve some privacy.

In addition, Healy is the state’s first openly gay governor who, unlike past governors, is not married and has had no traditional family life with a spouse and children or a traditional family home.

While her relationship with Lydgate is not new, Healey moved in with Lydgate weeks ago after Lydgate’s husband moved out.

What happened in Arlington was predictable. Healey had to know that she would be subjected to protesters and demonstrations — given the uncivil times we live in — wherever she lived, just as former Gov. Charlie Baker was with protestors outside his home in Swampscott and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu outside her home in Roslindale.

It is not enough these days to protest outside the State House or on City Hall Plaza. Protesters want to intimidate public officials and their families at their homes, like pro-choice demonstrators did to Supreme Court Justices in and around Washington.

Now it’s Arlington’s turn, and some neighbors on the street where Healey lives do not like it.

The bottom line is that the state needs a safe and secure official residence for the governor that is shielded from the mob.

This is not to say that the state should build a mansion for the governor.

A solution could be for the state to build a residence for the governor within the State House that would be safe and secure and give the governor personal privacy.

It would be like the residence the president has at the White House, where he both lives and works. Like the White House, the governor’s residence would be separate from the governor’s office on the third floor of the Bulfinch section of the State House.

There is plenty of room for a residence in the non-Bullfinch additions to the State House, especially in the extension that was added in 1895.

It is the most secure public building in the state with plenty of space for demonstrators to make their case outside on Beacon Street

Renovations in the non-Bullfinch section of the building are common. Walls have frequently been torn down to make room for offices for governors, legislators and staff.

It would be no great feat to construct a two- or three-bedroom private residence for the governor in the building and away, at least for a while, from the madding crowd.

People on at least one street in Arlington would be most grateful. Or maybe not.

Peter Lucas is a veteran Massachusetts political reporter and columnist.

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