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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, May 08, 2009

Weasel words

It's really easy to make bold statements and offer opinions when you have no power. I know, I do it once or twice a day right here.

But I really expect somewhat more from people elected to do the people's business and who collect pay checks with the name Commonwealth of Massachusetts on it.

That's why I marvel at the decision by Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, normally a fairly level-headed chap, to make one of the cheapest political stunt statements in a budget nightmare that has had more than you can count.

Asked about the situation facing Gov. Deval Patrick over collective bargaining agreements signed with state employees in good faith, Tisei offered this gem.
"You're asking taxpayers, many of whom have no job security right now and are taking it on the chin, to foot the bill. The governor is obviously planning a reelection campaign and trying to curry favor with the unions. There's no other explanation."
To be fair, maybe reporters Andrea Estes and Matt Viser didn't tell Tisei the story would focus on how Patrick is going to try and wring concessions from the freshly-signed union contracts. After all, that's not what candidates seeking re-election think to be a wise course of action in currying favors with union leaders.

Tisei's logic is beautifully muddled. Many of those taxpayers are state or municipal employees who have no job security as pink slips head out.

Their negotiators worked out deals that gave them no raise this year, one percent next year and 3 percent in two "out" years when one might have hoped the economy would have improved enough to support a small bump.

Only now that doesn't seem to be the case and Patrick is looking to re-open the contract. Seems like an appropriate decision -- even though it is doubtful it will win him many votes among public employee union members.

Tisei's response, straight out the state GOP talking points, ignores the real next step in the process. Legislators need to approve the cash for the 1 percent increase negotiate in good faith for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

In other words, it's in the hands of the Great and General Court to determine whether a less-than-modest raise for folks "taking it on the chin" should be funded.

We know the state GOP's cadre of elected officials has shrunk to phone book size proportions after 16 years of Republican governors convinced the party the grassroots didn't need attention.

And we also know that Democratic lawmakers are hurling barbs at Patrick because he doesn't believe in following the example of his GOP Corner Office occupants in rolling over and playing dead with lawmakers.

As I said, it's really easy to make bold statements and offer opinions when you have no power. Much easier than trying to roll up your sleeves and offer an alternative.

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