Sacred Cods and Holy Mackerals

Reform starts in the kitchen
November 28, 2008, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

The Boston Globe has a round-up today of the reform packages being pushed by various lawmakers.

Here was the paragraph I thought that accurately summed up the political process here on Beacon Hill.

Beacon Hill has long been known for its closed-door culture. Deals are made in private, and some committee votes are even taken via Blackberry and e-mail. Power is concentrated in the hands of a few, with rank-and-file lawmakers afraid to mount public challenges of leadership for fear of being punished. And because the Legislature exempted itself decades ago from the state’s open-meeting and public records laws, lawmakers often deliberate in private and keep key documents hidden from public view.

However, I don’t think this is the disease as much as it is a symptom of the greater problem, which is that nobody outside of the building seems to care anymore. The average citizen doesn’t know the difference between a veto and a quorum. Local newspapers don’t put a premium on political coverage anymore, and as a result, the State House Press Corps (not counting the Globe, Herald and SHNS) is down to about 8 reporters. And most of all, there is no effective opposition party!

So what happens? Politicians start to get lazy and sloppy. No need to hold a committee meeting to take a vote that noone outside of the building will pay any attention to anyway, so we may as well just vote by Blackberry. Why bother debating budget amendments on the floor when we can just do it in this ante-chamber. Who’s going to complain, a reporter? Try finding one, and then try finding a few people who will actually read the story. And why should I stand up to leadership and do what’s right? It’s not like my constituency is going to throw me out of office anytime soon.

Personally, I  blame Howie Carr. At least when Jerry Williams stirred up the masses, he’d encourage them to take action. Howie is the leader of the “Why even bother?” movement that gets people angry, but then turns that anger into apathy, not activism.

If people want real reform, they need to demand it from their elected official. Nothing gets a legislator moving like 100 angry phone calls or E-mails into his office. (And by angry, I mean passionate, not offensive, threatening, insulting, and written in all caps. Big difference!)

And if the elected official won’t do anything about it, you need to demand more coverage of the issue in your local newspaper. Editors justify cutting back on their coverage of government by saying that the readers arent interested political stories. Tell them that’s not true, that you want more stories on how your state legislator is voting! (Here’s a secret: even the most liberal reporter is a watchdog at heart first.)

2 Comments so far
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It’s all Howie Carr’s fault? Come now…. that’s rich. Howie is the ONLY one who names names and knows where the bodies are buried. The Massachusetts Legislature is run as a criminal conspiracy, and has been for generations. Howie is a columnist, and covers his beat. He is not a Beacon Hill reporter, and it is not his job to report the issues being debated decided by the Bosses. Howie didn’t create $70,000 toll takers on the Mass Pike (say the words to yourself), and he didn’t salt away ever relative and in-law on the payroll. Howie didn’t negotiatiate the Boston Firefighters’ contract that allows them to go out on disability at their bosses pay rate when they fake an injury while filling in for one day. If it wasn’t for Howie, how much would we know about the stench that comes from Massachusetts government at every level?

Comment by MarkB

Blaming Carr is a copout. If anyone wants to do a better job of raking the muck, have at it. Considering the “support” he gets from the Herald and Entercom, he fills a need. This state is in a race to the bottom with Louisiana. I’m surprised he hasn’t already left for Florida.

Comment by aging cynic

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