"The legislators' battle cry in all this is that 'the people did not understand what they voted for,'" states an
editorial (below) in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune editorial, and no, the pols aren't talking about the
constitutional amendment approved by the voters which now guarantees them automatic and
untouchable pay raises -- though if ever there was such a ballot question voters didn't understand it would certainly be
Isn't it interesting how well informed and intelligent voters are presumed to be when they reelect pols over
and over again or vote for a ballot question that profits the pols, yet they are just so darned stupid when it
comes to anything else?
As most of us recognize, the very future or the initiative and referendum process is today on the line. If the
unmitigated arrogance of the Beacon Hill Cabal is enables them to thumb their noses at one successful
ballot question, it will embolden them to thumb their noses at any and all ballot questions
that don't serve their insatiable self-interests.
And remember: If a proposed ballot question served their interest and suited their approval, they would
simply pass it as a law.
Only the little people, the great unwashed masses like us, have to slave to put something on the ballot that
the Legislature has intransigently refused to consider and adopt. Even when they must by law put a
proposed constitutional amendment (that benefits them) on the ballot, they just vote to
put it there. No signature collecting is necessary for the Beacon Hill elite.
Many or us who are struggling to support the Clean Elections Law as adopted by 67 percent of the voters
vehemently opposed it when it was on the ballot and campaigned strenuously against
it. Many of us still oppose it on principle.
But there is a greater principle at play: Do voters have any respect remaining among the ruling Beacon
If they get away with gutting a law that was passed by 67 percent of the electorate, how long will it be
before they come after our tax rollback ballot question?
Now is the time to take a stand.
They have despoiled credible elections in Massachusetts where almost all run for reelection against only
token opposition, if any. They have made a joke of representative government, beholden only to the
House and Senate leadership. Now they scheme to take away by legislative fiat the last tool
the people have to assert their will.
It's all we have left, folks.
Don't let them get away with it, or any remaining semblance of democracy and self-rule will be lost
The Boston Herald
Wednesday, February 21, 2001
Finneran's disdain for voters shows
A Boston Herald editorial
What could House Speaker Tom Finneran be thinking?
We actually share Finneran's disdain for the Clean Elections
Law. The notion that somehow the people of Massachusetts have to be taxed -- to the tune of about $40 million for each
four-year election cycle -- to keep their politicians honest is offensive. But the voters of
Massachusetts have spoken. And we do not share Finneran's obvious disdain for them.
The "compromise" the speaker put forth at the end of last
week is far worse than full implementation. Finneran has indicated he would consider having the law apply only to
statewide races, thus exempting legislative contests. If ever there was an utterly backwards
notion it is that.
First, let's remember that the law is not mandatory for any
candidate. But in order to get public funds, candidates must agree to abide by its stricter limitations on fund-raising.
That is least likely to happen for the state's top offices. But the flow of public dollars could clearly
have an impact on legislative contests, bringing new candidates into the field.
It's apparently that thought that scares the living daylights out of Finneran and his fat and
happy band of incumbent lawmakers.
"I'm trying to reconcile my philosophical distaste for this
with what the public has indicated as their distaste for the way campaigns are financed," Finneran told the Herald.
But the time for such "reconciling" has long since past.
Finneran's only remaining task is to implement the law as it was approved by the voters.
The Eagle Tribune
Tuesday, February 27, 2001
They know what's good for all of us
The Massachusetts Legislature should enact the Clean Elections Law as passed by voters.
We argued against the Clean Elections Law back when it was
on the ballot in 1998.
We thought then, and still do, that using public money to
finance the political ambitions of private individuals is an extraordinarily bad idea. It's all part of the hysteria over
campaign finance reform, the notion that we have to "do something," however irrational, about the
dread fact of money in politics. Actually, Americans spend about 10 times as much
on candy and gum ($25.1 billion) as they do on political campaigns in a presidential election year ($2.5
The facts notwithstanding, we lost the argument -- at least
here in Massachusetts. Voters overwhelmingly approved the Clean Elections Law in the 1998 election.
That's why we're appalled at how the state Legislature is
trying to gut the Clean Elections Law and turn it to entrenched politicians' own advantage. The entire purpose of the
initiative petition process is to allow citizens to enact laws when they feel legislators have failed to act.
The Legislature is turning that process on its ear.
The law as passed by voters would have provided public money
to candidates for statewide office and the Legislature -- provided those candidates agree to fund-raising and spending
Since the law passed, lawmakers, led by House Speaker Thomas
M. Finneran, D-Mattapan, have been busily at work seeking ways to circumvent the measure.
One particularly egregious proposal is to allow candidates
to raise as much money as they can until six months before the election, when they would declare themselves as abiding by
Clean Elections and eligible for public money.
This is called "having one's cake and eating it, too."
Rep. Finneran has also floated a proposal that would exempt
House and Senate candidates from the law. His reasoning -- that higher-profile state races like governor and secretary of
state are where the bulk of campaign money is raised and spent. Note, though, that under
Rep. Finneran's plan, Rep. Finneran would not have to abide by the law.
The legislators' battle cry in all this is that "the people
did not understand what they voted for." Only those afflicted with the arrogance of power could make such a statement.
Enact the Clean Elections Law as written. If it is bad
legislation, that will soon become apparent.
The Boston Herald
Thursday, March 1, 2001
Finding common ground
A Boston Herald editorial
Massachusetts has never been one of those places where
former political foes bury the hatchet shortly after a hotly contested election, clasp hands and join together for the good
of the commonwealth.
So yesterday's joint news conference featuring former
gubernatorial foes Scott Harshbarger, now president of Common Cause, and soon-to-depart Gov. Paul Cellucci, was nothing short
During that 1998 election the two men weren't just political
opponents, they were also on opposite sides of the ballot question that became known as the Clean Elections Law once it
was approved overwhelmingly by the voters. Cellucci was against; Harshbarger for. Since
then Cellucci has taken the position that the people have spoken (and since they have also
spoken on the issue of an across-the-board income tax cut, Cellucci has maintained a certain
intellectual consistency) and their will must be done.
Legislative leaders are not similarly troubled at spitting
in the eyes of voters who presumably knew what they were doing back in '98.
"If in this state this law can be gutted successfully, then
it will dramatically increase people's skepticism and cynicism about the political process," Harshbarger said yesterday in a
meeting with Herald editors and reproters. "There's just too much at stake here."
Campaign finance reform is at all levels an issue that cuts
across ideological and party lines.
Harshbarger noted it was ironic that in Washington today it
is Republicans who are largely opposed to the McCain-Feingold bill aimed at banning soft money donations (noting that
Democrats in D.C. played a similar obstructionist role in 1993 and '94), while in
Massachusetts it was the Democratic leadership that was opposed to the Clean Elections
By coming to town to pitch for the law and to tie it to the
McCain-Feingold bill, Harshbarger has upped the ante for Democrats on Beacon Hill.
For too long, he noted, legislative leaders have been able
to tell their members that "nothing ever happens if you vote against reforms."
"The key in this business is being heard," Harshbarger said.
"This is to make sure the public interest is being heard."
Harshbarger has helped do that.