When Bill Clinton came to Springfield in 1996, reporters from the eastern part of the state gasped when they saw that former House Speaker Charles Flaherty, who had just been forced out in disgrace, had actually been invited to speak prior to the President's arrival. However, while most decent people were shocked to see a convicted pol given such an undeserved honor, our local politicians saw in "Good Time Charlie" Flaherty a kindred soul. For them, Flaherty's only sin was to have gotten caught.
Flaherty's successor, Tom Finneran, also left under a cloud and now the current speaker is sinking in an ethics scandal. What's wrong? From an editorial in the SouthCoast Newspaper:
So the last two Democratic speakers of the House in Massachusetts have been indicted.
Tommy Finneran for perjury and Charlie Flaherty for income tax evasion.
We're evidently going for a trifecta, as a federal grand jury now is investigating the activities of current Speaker Sal DiMasi. Last Thursday, Attorney General Martha Coakley indicted Mr. DiMasi's personal accountant, Richard Vitale, for allegedly lobbying "the speakah" illegally.
Now why, you might ask, have three Massachusetts speakers in a row skated so close to the ethical line between right and wrong?
Well, one good reason is because there's no one in an opposition party to watch them.
With only 11.6 percent of state residents registered as Republicans, and only 19 of 160 state legislators members of the GOP, there's no one with enough political juice to check the power of an ethically challenged Democratic leader.
Are all Massachusetts Democrats ethically challenged? Certainly not. Although you could make a good case that you have to be in order to rise to the position of speaker, given the history of the last three guys to hold the job.
I don't blame people for not yearning to vote for the GOP, there are few species of politician more pathetic than a Massachusetts Republican. However, the Democrats are mostly corrupt in this state, and without Republicans to keep an eye on them, they will continue to run hogwild. As a civic duty, every Massachusetts Democrat should make a solemn vow that they will find a Republican on the ballot this year that they will vote for, even if they have to hold their nose while doing so. It is their duty in the cause of good government to revive a fully functioning two party democracy in Massachusetts.
Here is something that appeared in the Valley Advocate about me way back in 1996. (click to enlarge)
Well the snow has finally stopped, but only to be followed by an arctic blast of bitter cold wind. Those of you in nicer climes can observe from this video I made this afternoon through the window of the UMass Library to see for yourselves how we are suffering.
Vegetarian - Indian word meaning "lousy hunter."