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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Golden Domeology

Back in the old days, academics made careers out of watching who lined up with the Soviet leaders during military parades and funerals. Kreminology turned out to be a dead end business.

These days, the next best thing may be Golden Domeology -- reading the signs and symbols among our less than happy family of Statehouse leaders.

While it's hard to say at first blush whether the ethics reform package reported out of conference committee yesterday will be the key to restoring legislative peace between Gov. Deval Patrick and lawmakers, it's clear cordial personal relations are a long way off.

And that may be what both sides want.

The governor's silence on the ethics bill is logical in one key respect: lawmakers didn't bother to share the details with him until the last minute, a clear cut slap. And the parades of personages parading from Senate President Therese Murray's office -- including Attorney General Martha Coakley and officials from the State Ethics Commission and the Office of Campaign and Political Finance -- was also designed to send a message to Patrick.

You better get on board because this ship is sailing whether you like it or not.

But if you dig just a little bit under the surface, it's not to hard to figure out what happened here. The parade was the Senate President's face-saving opportunity in light of the fact Patrick has won a major spitting contest: he challenged lawmakers to pass pension, transportation and ethics reform before he approves a sales tax. And they did.

Murray needed the face-saving opportunity because the Senate version of the reform bill was an out-and-out joke. It weakened the ethics commission rather than strengthening it. And while the final version doesn't give the commission the subpoena powers Patrick wanted, they do have more authority than when this all started.

So Murray gets her face time with other leaders in the ethics push while giving Patrick the back of her hand. And a bill that continues to allow lobbyists to donate campaign cash while closing a loophole Patrick found and exploited. Score One for Terry.

Patrick gets to sign the pension, transportation and ethics bills as well as a budget that contains a veto-proof sales tax and have cameras rolling for his campaign commercials about how he stood up to the Legislature and won. Score One for Deval.

Taxpayers get long overdue pension, ethics and transportation reform. They also get slapped with a 1.25 percent increase in the sales tax but also a chance to prevent even deeper cuts in local aid, education, social services and public safety. Score 1.75 for us.

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Blogger Judy Meredith said...

And now I'll start reading you before I read the Globe for analysis of the analysis.

1.75 out of what?

June 25, 2009 6:02 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Out of 3 -- transportation+pension+ethics-sales tax. New math :-)

June 25, 2009 7:26 PM  

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