Monday, November 13, 2006

Listen Up, Deval

Small to moderate efforts can bring huge paybacks. Deval Patrick has some opportunities in January to show what a directed and moral governor can make happen.

That's something many of us have forgotten over the past years of stagnation.

Patrick made repeated promise of fundamental change to governance and infrastructure. If you have not read and reread his promises, do try his campaign policy book.

We propose three biggies he and the legislature can knock off quickly and we'll all be much, much better for their accomplishment. They'll also set the tone of the possible and the right.

Let's not forget that with a rudderless government -- both in the executive branch and the legislature, particularly the senate -- lawmakers seem to think their only job is pork for their districts, so they will get re-elected. They need kicks in their collective butt to get back to the business of the commonwealth.

Deval, listen up. We strongly suggest:
  1. Fully legislate gender-neutral marriage
  2. Return initiative petitions to their original purpose
  3. Revise MBTA loan structure and forward funding to reality

Marriage

The governor was the babbling baby in the corner and the legislature was paralyzed without meaningful leadership. Hey, all, the Supreme Judicial Court told you that marriage equality was the only thing compatible with our constitution. They said, "Make it happen."

So, make it happen. Settle this damn thing finally. This is a small subset of laws that will fully formally enact the necessary rights. You've had years to fix it. This should be the top quick-hit of the new administration.

This will reinforce not only the constitutional interpretation of the highest court, but the repeated votes of our legislators already and the public view in which 60% or more want this. It should also stop those divisive type who can't get on with their lives. Maybe they can move to New Jersey and cackle there.

Ballot Initiatives

We are only one of many states where citizen redress of initiative petitions have been hijacked by the hateful and self-interested. Fine-tune them. Fix them. Return them to their original purpose.

In case you forgot, they exist to give the public a way to correct crazy and detrimental legislation. They are not to foster business interests, nor to legalize theocratic precepts, nor to deprive groups of citizens of civil rights, and certainly not to the overrule court decisions.

The nasties have seen what they can do with sleazy money and dishonest tricks of campaigns. We don't need unfunded mandates. We don't need narrow political interest and religious groups sneaking their self-serving laws on us under the guise of helping the public.

This will require a little study, but not much. The issues are clear. The lessons of the recent ballot drives are all we really need to study.

Mass Transit

Forward funding was a colossal blunder. Fix it.

At a time when it is plain we need more people taking public transit, we hike the fees yet again and repel riders. We need fewer cars, less pollution, and decreased congestion and accidents.

Instead the dull-witted T board and the inert legislature saddled the T with crippling debts. It cannot meet the legal requirements forced on it and serve the public.

Forward funding's basis is income that we did not and shall not get. It is dishonest and a sure loser. Any business, or well-managed government, would revise a major funding scheme when it became plain it was unworkable.

Don't doom the T. Remove the debt, so that it can operate at break-even. Deval is smarter than Romney. He can lead the laddies and lassies of the legislature to this quickly and with business savvy.

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1 comment:

Laurel said...

Ballot Initiatives. I understand that only about 30% of eligible voters in TN came out to vote on their anti-equality marriage amendment. I suspect we might find similar turnout for other states. How does this fraction fairly express the "will of the people"? Perhaps one fix for the Initiative process would be that if an initiative does make it to the ballot, to pass it must get a favorible vote my a simple majority of elegible voters. This is steep compared to the current measley requirement of only needing approval by the majority of the 5 people who show up to vote. But again, if you're crowing about "the will of the people", then "the people" have to show up and participate or the game is off. When one realizes that the initiative process is essentially the temporary usurpation by citizenry of legislative power from the legislature, which must have a quorum to vote and a simple majority to pass a bill, it doesn't sound so strict.

Or perhaps the situation can be remedied on the front end. Presently, the number of signatures required is calculated as 3% of the number of people who voted in the previous gubenatorial election (my details might be sketchy, but essentially this is the low hurdle). That might have been a great bar to hop in days when it was common for people to actually vote (was there ever such a time?!), but not today. If the turnout is some fraction of eligible voters, then the signatures calculation should be divided by that percentage to come up with the final number of required signatures. Or, just say the number of signatures needed is 3% of eligible voters.

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