Say What? The Job of a Legislator 'Isn't Worth Doing Any More' ?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

I pay attention to Peter Lucas, who writes on politics for the Lowell Sun.  I seldom disagree with what he says and I never dismiss out of hand anything he says about Massachusetts politics.

So, when he did a column the week before Christmas on why so many persons leave the legislature in the middle of their terms, I lapped it up.  Lucas has been around forever, and, like I said, he really knows his stuff.

"...over the past five years," he wrote, "the upper branch of the legislature has seen at least five senior members, all Democrats, leave, taking with them years of invaluable experience that went out of the Senate chamber with them," ["Climate change spurs Senate's brain drain," 12-22-15].  I recommend you read the entire column by going to:

Lucas cited East Boston Senator Anthony Petrucelli as the latest example of this trend.  Petrucelli's resigning to join the lobbying firm headed by Dennis Kearney: Kearney, Donovan & McGee.  Dennis himself got his start in public life many years ago as a rep from East Boston.

The basic reason so many legislators have quit in recent years, said Lucas, is "the job is not worth doing any more because the business has changed."

Developing this theme, he quoted one unidentified "veteran senator," who said, "You can't help people anymore, which is why I ran for the job in the first place.  Sure, we still vote on a budget and on social programs, but they've made it a crime to help people, to help a constituent get a job, or get a kid into a state college."

A little further down in the column, Lucas quoted "one veteran legislator," who said, "We run for office and get elected to help people.  But now helping people has become a crime.  You can't write a letter for anybody anymore, you can't even make a phone call.  Everything is now recorded and designed to come back and bite you."

Then he quoted "another ranking legislator," who said, "Everybody is afraid to do anything."

At the very end of the column, he quoted "one veteran legislator," who said, "Who needs it?"

Yeah.  I guess.

In this post-Ware-Report/post-convicted-Probation-Commissioner world, who needs a seat in the Massachusetts legislature if it comes with a permanent de facto prohibition on helping a constituent land a job on a public payroll or a friend's kid gain admittance to a public university?

With patronage and doing favors supposedly gone the way of the Walkman, I thought legislators might want to turn their attention to more meaningful and rewarding activities.

If you accept the premise of "Climate change," no, they'd rather walk away from the State House than spend their newly-freed-up hours doing what's on the official job description: lawmaking.

Here's a topic I'd like to see Lucas, et al. at the indispensable Sun explore: Is enough actual lawmaking taking place these days to hold the interest of the sharpest legislators over the long haul?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Eugene O'Flaherty leaving the House was a huge blow to the Institution. Ask any of the veteran legislators and they'll confirm that.

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