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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Riding the crest of problems

"Just what I needed," Senate President Therese Murray likely muttered upon hearing the decision by District Court Judge Matthew Nestor to lock up yet another member of the Massachusetts Senate. "I need this like a need a root canal."

The new year brings new legal problems for the Great and General Court. Less than one year after former House Speaker Sal DiMasi pulled a "first you say you won't, then you will" by winning re-election, then quitting before indictment, Sen. Anthony Galluccio brought new dishonor upon the Legislature by violating terms of his very lenient sentence for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident.

In the process, the Cambridge Democrat set the new standard for laughable defenses, blaming toothpaste for a blood alcohol content of .037. Skoal!

Galluccio follows Sens. Dianne Wilkerson and Jim Marzilli in bringing disgrace to the chamber, just as the Senate and the House need all the credibility they can muster at the start of yet another pivotal year for the Commonwealth.

The public has had about enough of the budget cuts and tax increases required to shore up a national economy that has suffered mightily. Naturally they are focusing on anything and everything that can be done to root out waste, fraud and inefficiency.

Right now the Legislature is looking like the poster child for that unholy trinity.

The Senate Ethics Committee is likely to meet tomorrow and set in motion sanctions against Galluccio that can range from censure to expulsion -- assuming he doesn't do the honorable thing and resign today.

Toothpaste jokes aside, the whole thing is incredibly sad, both on the personal level and the institutional one. Galluccio obviously has an addiction that he can't shake.

The overwhelming majority of legislators are decent, hardworking and well-intentioned individuals. The vicious and unproductive partisan acrimony that has paralyzed Washington has never taken root here.

But the actions of the few are tainting the many -- and swift action is needed to prevent this being another year where precious time is lost while a lawmaker puts his own interests ahead of the Commonwealth's.

Galluccio cannot serve his constituents from the Middlesex County House of Correction (though the image of him showing up at his desk for a vote in an orange jumpsuit would be one for the ages.) He has already crippled them by his less-than-full attention to the job.

The honorable thing would be the resign. Today. If not, the Senate should expel him. Tomorrow. There's no need to study anything. A judge already has.

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