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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 11, 2009

That's one small step...

I wouldn't propose a new state employee holiday, say pension reform day, just yet.

The compromise bill crafted by a legislative conference committee makes a significant number of symbolic changes. But the measure also shows how intertwined ethics and transportation reform bills are the the process of cleaning up state government.

Conferees eliminated the most egregious failing in the House version -- the ridiculous effort to grandfather all current public employees. But they didn't address the granddaddy of all pension outrages, the MBTA's 23-and-out rule.

That, leaders tell us, will be coming in the transportation reform bill.

Nor does it address the other bad behaviors that would probably continue to fester under the Senate version of the ethics reform bill also still in conference.

Thankfully, there is a realization, if not among legislative leaders then at least various interest groups, that this overdue legislation is just a start.

Listen to Ralph White, president of the Retired State, County and Municipal Employees Association of Massachusetts:
"There are few people in an elite category who have taken advantage of these loopholes."
Or Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer:
“This is an important first step, but these are mostly symbolic. They don’t address cost savings for cities and towns in the long term.”
For example, there was little electronic ink spilled on the question of Group 4 pensions and the games that go on there -- so amply illustrated by another friend of Tim Cahill.

And I get downright nervous when I see something like a provision in the bill that calls for a special commission to meet and report on broader changes by Sept. 1.

Aren't special commissions generally political graveyards?

So legislators and Gov. Deval Patrick are entitled to some back patting. But let's not forget this is the first significant piece of legislation to emerge in a session that began with the House overwhelmingly re-electing Sal DiMasi as speaker only to see him resign two weeks later -- and be indicted four months later.

There's still a very long road ahead if state government wants to begin to address to damage caused by three indicted speakers, a cash-in-bra-stuffing senator and a park bench groper.

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Blogger Chris Rich said...

Better something than nothing, right?

Now it's funny, the park bench groper has to undergo counseling sessions in my building..ever meet him?

He's a tiny little gnome of a man with a bald pate encircled by hair remnant and odd bug eyes, a tragicomic figure.

Of course I won't condone his drunken messy outburst in Lowell but once upon a time sturdy women would just slap such a goofy little specimen and send him packing or stop him in his tracks with a withering rebuke like 'Dream on horses**t'.

That, when added to public exposure in the press and ensuing humiliation woulda done the trick.

Now all matters, no matter how preposterous, must go through the clogged dockets of of a court system.

June 11, 2009 7:00 AM  

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