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A Vote To Learn What Mass Democrats Are Made Of

On January 7th, the Democratic State Representatives of Massachusetts are going to choose the Speaker of the House for the ’09-’10 session of the General Court.  The incumbent and presumed winner is Speaker Sal DiMasi.

Here’s the problem: The citizens of Massachusetts have witnessed a parade of scandal, corruption, and conspiracy from Mass Democrats.  Sal DiMasi is at the center of at least three scandals, involved in a couple more, and is actively fighting the ethical investigations into his office.  He’s not fit for the office.

Here are some links to refresh your memory:

  • Five percent of the state senate was indicted last year, specifically Democratic Senators Marzilli and Wilkerson.
  • Robert Couglin (Gov. Patrick aide and state rep) was fined $10,000 for seeking employment from an industry while he was writing them tax breaks.
  • Middlesex Count Register of Probate Buonomo was caught on tape stealing change from the copier machines at the courthouse.
  • House-Speaker-contender John Rogers’s campaign funds found their way into a vacation home mortgage.  “Ooops.”
  • State Rep. Charles Murphy was caught voting on Beacon Hill.  While he was in the Virgin Islands.  The guy is tall, but his arms aren’t that long. . .
  • Boston City Council member Chuck Turner was arrested for his role in the Wilkerson conspiracy.
  • The Wilkerson conspiracy includes an as-yet unnamed state representative – presumably one who will be casting a vote this week for the next speaker!
  • DiMasi is directly implicated in the contract that was improperly awarded to Cognos.
  • DiMasi’s accountant and campaign treasurer Richard Vitale has been indicted for illegal lobbying.  It’s worth nothing that DiMasi claimed to have never talked with Vitale on the issue, a fact that is contradicted by the indictment.
  • DiMasi and his wife were involved in killing a liquid gas facility in Fall River – while DiMasi’s friend and wife’s employer Jay Cashman made $14M on the land in question.
  • DiMasi is fighting the Ethics Commission’s inquiry into the issue.

I think you could look at any one or two or three of these items and think of them as a few aberrations, outliers.  But a list that long?  With so many players, in so many areas?  To me, that’s a system of corruption.  It’s a set of people who can’t tell right from wrong.

What sort of message will it send when DiMasi is re-elected?  The message, loud and clear, is that it’s business as usual in Massachusetts.  It doesn’t matter how cloudy your reputation is.  All that matters is that you’re a Democrat with clout; it’s all you need to get by.

I think this is deplorable.  DiMasi should not be the Speaker.  He should step down; if he won’t step down, he should be voted out.  The House should choose a new leader.  He or she should be a clean as clean can be, and should be given the mandate to reform and reform again until the public trust is restored.

At least one State Representative agrees with me.  State Representative David Torrisi (a committee chair even) has announced that he will not support DiMasi’s re-election.

I wish I could say that Torrisi was my representative!  I’d be proud to have him.  In my new home I’m represented by Jay Kaufman who is quoted:

“I don’t feel at all distracted,” said Rep. Jay Kaufman, the Lexington Democrat whom DiMasi moved from the back bench to the House chairman of the Public Service Committee and has defended the speaker. “I think I’m very focused, as are most members, on the challenges we’ve got by way of the economy and loss of jobs, an education system that still needs serious attention, etc., etc., and I’m sorry that David feels distracted. I don’t.”

What Kaufman does not appear to understand is that it is impossible for him to work on the economy and education while the government he supports is distrusted by its citizens.  He can only succeed with the support of the citizens and tax payers.  He will not have that support while the government declines to confront its image (and evidence) of corruption.

Some defenders of DiMasi will say that it is up to the courts to decide if DiMasi is guilty or not.  I agree with the statement, but it is irrelevant.  The only thing that is up for debate on January 7th is if DiMasi is the right person to be Speaker.  At this point, it does not matter whether or not he is guilty. It is unarguable that DiMasi is in ethical trouble.  It is unarguable that he’s declining to cooperate with investigations into alleged improprieties.

The bottom line: Do the Democrats understand the degree that the public has lost faith in their moral compass? Do the Democrats have a moral compass?  Do the Democrats want to show the public that they’re serious about changing the culture on Beacon Hill?  Do the Democrats have the guts to change leadership?  In short, do they have the guts to follow Torrisi?   Of course, I’m skeptical.  DiMasi is going to win re-election this week, and he’s going to hold the title until there is an indictment.

This is one of those votes that shines a bright light on your representative.  Are they willing to stand for change?  Are they willing to step out of line?  Are they willing to take a stand for an ethical government? I’m not suggesting that you call your representative and let them know what you think.  This is where you find out if they know how to do the “right thing,” without a poll or a phone bank to tell them what to do.

Watch how he or she votes. Record it, remember it. And take it to the ballot box with you in 2010.

Comments

Comment from Quantum Mechanic
Time: January 4, 2009, 10:11 pm

Ah, such idealism. I used to be young once. :).

MA Dems are made of c**p. And it won’t matter one whit because (a) the MA GOP doesn’t have its act together enough to even be called a joke and (b) as long as their rep delivers the $$ and the hack jobs, they’ll be voted for.

Comment from dunster
Time: January 4, 2009, 11:11 pm

Yeah, I grant that it’s idealism. It won’t make me stop pulling for it. If I give up, I’m part of the problem. So long as I keep ranting, I can be part of the solution.

Comment from Spencer Robinson
Time: January 7, 2009, 1:42 pm

I agree with your rants. Keep it up! I have to think there’s lot’s of us out here…

Comment from dunster
Time: January 7, 2009, 11:50 pm

Thanks for the encouragement. Notwithstanding today’s vote, I have to believe that public disgust with the corruption of state government will force a change. Someday.

Comment from jjfoley
Time: January 8, 2009, 3:29 pm

At least the Globe agrees with you…
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/01/08/the_warped_morality_on_beacon_hill/

Comment from Spencer Robinson
Time: January 8, 2009, 7:09 pm

Did you read in the Globe today that Jay Kaufman was one of four lawmakers recognized by DiMasi at his nomination yesterday? I’m sure he’ll be receiving a leadership position for his “support” for the speakah.

Pingback from Dan Dunn’s Podium » Don’t Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out
Time: January 25, 2009, 8:23 pm

[…] General Court entirely.  Good riddance.  I’d like to publicly admit that I was wrong when I wrote about DiMasi earlier this month.  I thought he’d only quit after his […]