, Newburyport, MA

July 9, 2013

Markey's priorities don't portend well for state

As I See It
Joe D'Amore

---- — The opening salvo of senatorial gridlock was delivered by Senator-elect Ed Markey fresh off his victory for the special election with this declaration relative to the gun-control issue.

“I realize that it’s not easy. It’s going to take an ongoing effort over some time, but I am not going to give up on the issue. I have been working on this (issue) for over 20 years and I am going to continue to do so until we have ultimate success.” I read this with great disappointment despite my earnest desire to see progress in our Massachusetts delegation where compromise to move things along would be the hallmark of new leadership.

The ban on assault weapons is a vital topic for our nation but the senator–elect needs to decide if he will expand on background checks as enumerated in the Munchin-Toomey bill that incredulously he stated he would have supported, or just skirt that requirement and move only to the clamp-down idea of an all-out ban. The contradiction and feigned attempt to straddle the issue to try to please everyone is not indicative of quality leadership. In effect before the senator-elect even reaches Washington for a swearing-in, he has thrown the gauntlet on the floor on this issue and compromise does not appear to be an option.

In another matter Markey appears to embark with unilateral zeal on an issue that ignores significant progress made at both the federal and state levels. In his list of priorities he cited the need to pass legislation that would “ … put Bay State citizens to work building roads, bridges and tunnels.” I think the senator-elect has missed the point that we don’t need to build “more,” but rather, we need to fix the crumbling infrastructure we now have. And this assertion smacks in the face of a compromised resolution just announced by a six-member conference committee at Beacon Hill that led to the House and Senate passing versions of a bill that will help close a projected $118 million deficit facing the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in fiscal 2014, which started July 1. The compromise eliminates the need for fare hikes and service cuts in the transit system.

Regarding the infrastructure repair component, the measure adds a 3-cent gasoline tax and a $1 cigarette tax, which will create an allocation of funds that will be specifically reserved for just the purpose of addressing infrastructure needs for many years. Add to this compromised, legislative accomplishment last year’s federal overhaul of transportation spending and one has to wonder what is the intent of proposed legislation that Markey is referring too. Does he simply embark on new legislation to superimpose or eliminate those now in progress that reflect years of conflict that have resolved to productive compromise?

Lastly, Markey announced the “ … unleashing of a green energy revolution.”

Without any specificity on this initiative that will likely compete with an already heavily laden structure of restrictive legislation that is detrimental to economic growth, we are witnessing the beginnings of a void of representation for the people of Massachusetts. I remain hopeful, though, that some day the citizenry will deliver to Capitol Hill enlightened leadership where a genuine desire to represent the vital interests of constituents with an ability to work in partnership with fellow legislators trumps the need for unilateral zeal.

For now, it appears we will have to sit out the next 17 months before there is an opportunity for this dynamic to have a chance to materialize.


Joe D’Amore lives in Groveland.