Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ward Representation - will we even have a chance to vote for it?

What a frustrating day yesterday was. I returned a call from Candace Lopes, Sen. Buoniconti's aide, and I knew was bad news even before I called.

No, the Senate had not voted on the home rule legislation for ward representation-- in fact, the House hadn't even finished voting. And even after the legislation is passed, it still has to be signed by the Governor-- all before what I believe to be the deadline for getting a question on the ballot-- next Monday, October 1. Candace said the rumor was that a House member from Western Mass-- no identity known-- was holding the legislation up.

I called Rep. Ben Swan, a longtime ward rep supporter, who said he hoped it would finish being voted on this Thursday, but that it really wasn't up to him, it was up to the House leadership-- that means Speaker of the House Salvatore DiMasi. So I called his office and talked (of course) to an aide.

Then I called the Governor's office to make sure he was going to be in town to sign the legislation, should it pass both houses of the Legislature. Of course that's like trying to talk to God, but I did speak to his legislative director who said that getting the Governor to sign was not that simple-- that it often took 30 days or more while the Governor did "due diligence" on the legislation.

During the day other ward rep supporters called their state representatives. The responses ranged from pretty clueless to informed and ready to vote favorably; everyone denied being "the one" to hold the bill up.

Then I called Mayor Ryan's office, for the fourth time since August, to ask him the same thing-- PLEASE be in touch with the Western Mass. legislators and tell them to move the home rule petition forward. Later in the day I was told by a mayor's aide that Mayor Ryan was, that very day, writing a letter to the reps-- too little, too late for a mayor who is supposed to be a ward rep supporter (as is his mayoral opposition, Domenic Sarno, at least for the last couple years).

Finally I called Mike Plaisance, reporter at the Springfield Republican, to fill him in on what was (not) happening. He called me later and said he'd been told by the city's Election office that the question could go on the Springfield ballot as late as October 19. Now that's not what I was told by the Election office, (and not one of the city councilors, state reps or city lawyers that I've talked to over the last several months have challenged that date-- maybe they just don't know) so my job today is to clarify what the real deadline is.

If it's October 19, terrific. Of course that gives us grassroots folks even less time to campaign among the city's registered voters. However, even that date probably doesn't guarantee that the Legislature will finish doing it's job.

And they wonder why people are cynical about voting and politics.

1 comment:

Tommy said...

Even ward rep opponents should be outraged by the way this is being handled. The contempt being shown for the democratic process is staggering in its arrogance.