Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"The public's perception that lawmakers cannot be trusted"

Today's Globe brings one of those articles that temporarily freezes my synapses.  I know I want to write - and there is much to be written - but the combination of bemusement, disgust, resignation and boiling, churning sarcasm clogs up the works.

Here's the article: Senate kills five year ban on taking casino jobs.  The headline pretty much tells the story, but how our esteemed Democratic Senate generated the headline - ah, that's some fun stuff.
A state Senate proposal to impose a five-year ban on former lawmakers taking casino jobs triggered an uproar yesterday by Democratic senators who abruptly broke off a heated public debate to rewrite the measure in secret.An hour later, and with no further discussion, the Senate approved a watered-down, one-year restriction.
In politics and in government, as in real life, the simplest and most obvious explanation for something is usually the correct one.  Here, the simple and obvious explanation of why a group of Senators would go into an "uproar" over a measure that would ban them from going to work for a casino for five years is that some of them aspire at long last to careers in the private sector, in the Commonwealth's exciting and glamorous new casino industry.

A casting suggestion for the inevitable movie
The explanation offered by what few Senators were willing to address the issue in public, not surprisingly, was somewhat different.  And HIGH-larious.  Globe again:
Lawmakers’ rationale for weakening the bill may be hard to explain outside the marble corridors of the State House: They said that a strong prohibition would only feed the public’s perception that lawmakers cannot be trusted.

“We’re creating a presumption that the people in this body cannot operate with integrity,’’ complained Senator Gale Candaras, Democrat from Wilbraham. “It’s bad law. It’s bad precedent.’’
Yet more evidence that these people have no conception whatsoever of how the rest of the world truly sees them.  Here's a bit of breaking news for Senator Candaras and her like-minded colleagues:  "The public's perception that lawmakers cannot be trusted" cannot be further fed.  That beast is well and truly stuffed.  Un-chewed hunks of raw cynicism already spill from the corners of its mouth, squeezed from its lumpy and distended cheeks.  This latest action, and the twisted public rationale, may well choke it to death.

If you can bear it, here's a little bit more Globe on the Democratic (large D) process here in the Commonwealth: 
But as the debate continued to simmer and tempers flared, Senate President Therese Murray inexplicably slammed on the brakes and called for a recess, so Democrats could hash out their differences outside of public view.When the closed caucus emerged, the five-year ban had been shaved to one year, though the change was not publicly announced before the vote. The Senate quickly passed the amendment 36 to 1.
So what happened behind that closed door?  As usual, nobody is talkin'.
After the vote, Murray defended her decision to usher her members into closed session to work out their differences. She said the same arguments the public heard on the floor were the arguments repeated in the private discussion.

Then why, she was asked, shouldn’t the public see that debate?

“I think they had a very hearty debate on the floor,’’ she said.

Following the vote, casino opponents were mum on what happened in the caucus. Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, a Boston Democrat and casino critic, said that she and several other senators made themselves available for interviews to account for their votes. “I think it’s a stretch to say this was done in secret,’’ she said.

Eldridge, the senator who started the whole debate, called the one-year ban progress.

He declined to say how his colleagues persuaded him to give up on the tougher language. “That’s part of the caucus process that is private,’’ he said.
"Democracy" according to MA Democrats
Senators Eldridge and Chang-Diaz deserve credit for the very public way in which they've bucked leadership on the casino issue, and for raising the ban in the first place.  That credit is eroded significantly, however, by their meek adherence to the Democrats' code of legislative Omerta that allows this kind of thing - this closed door secrecy - to occur on controversial issue after controversial issue. 

I am sure that whatever "part of the caucus process that is private" persuaded the ordinarily effusive Eldridge to nail his yap shut is indeed something that the Senator would prefer his constituents not see.  Yet more feed for the already gorged "public perception that lawmakers cannot be trusted."

1 comment:

  1. Why would they not want to wait 5 years if they have nothing to hide maybe the ones that are so against the 5yr wait already have jobs waiting in the wings.


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