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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sal-vaging face

In the end, Sal DiMasi is doing the right thing by stepping down as Speaker of the Massachusetts House at the start of what will be an excruciating budget debate. But he is being less than honest in blaming his downfall on "powerful special interests" in the casino industry.

The "will he, won't he" debate had the potential to stop action on painful budget cuts and potential tax proposals. No need to look beyond the end of the session last July -- when supporters of House Ways and Means Chairman Robert DeLeo and Majority Leader John Rogers dominated member interests.

Whoever is responsible for putting together the House's response to Deval Patrick's fiscal 2010 budget needs the undivided attention of his or her members.

And the new speaker will have enough on his plate -- like tax questions -- that the loser of the battle would probably be well advised to leave the Legislature too.

But while DiMasi is doing the right thing, he's not being honest with himself -- or the public -- by blaming special interests. Sure, casino lobbyists are probably doing a dance right now -- and Patrick may be considering whether to dust off his plans for three "resort casinos."

But DiMasi need not look much beyond his relationship with his former accountant Richard Vitale to understand why it has all slipped away from him. His principal task now is to avoid being the third consecutive House speaker to to be indicted.

DiMasi will leave a positive legacy -- strong support for health care legislation and the end to the divisive battle over gay marriage. He was also behind positive efforts in energy.

But ultimately he will be remembered for the friends he kept -- friends who let him down and who in turn forced him to let down the people who supported him.

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OpenID ron-newman said...

You wrote "John Rogers and John Rogers" above -- is that what you meant to say?

January 25, 2009 10:15 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

and who do you think leaked the vitale stories? funny they first popped up in the middle of DiMasi standing tall against the enormous and corrupt slot machine lobbies.

Obviously, DiMasi should have run a cleaner ship, but his honest reflections on what brought him down were spot on. If he never stood against slot machines, almost no one would know who Richard Vitale is. If DeLeo pushes casinos through, the corruption that will exist because of it will make what DiMasi did look like a breath of fresh air. This Commonwealth will miss Sal DiMasi.

January 25, 2009 11:48 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Thanks for the catch Ron.

January 26, 2009 4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone really believe Sal DiMasi had anything to do with health care reform?

Romney wrote the bill, and Travaglini was its main legislative sponsor.

DiMasi tried to kill the legislation by sitting on it. He even refused to meet with HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt when Leavitt came to Boston to explain how many federal dollars would be lost if Massachusetts didn't revamp its health care system.

It took the intervention of Ted Kennedy and Jack Connors to get the legislation unstuck in the House.

January 26, 2009 1:26 PM  

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