Thomas Finneran, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, rules that body with an iron hand. In a marathon, all-night budget session that ran from Thursday morning, April 20, to the following morning, Finneran pushed through a number of controversial measures, including a bill mandating further study (read liquidation) of the Clean Elections initiative passed overwhelmingly by Massachusetts voters in 1997. The Boston Herald's reports on this session gave the impression that the disempowered legislators spent the night sleeping and/or carousing (one young legislator from East Boston is said to have had his leg shaved by fellow leglislators while he dozed). The worst publicity concerned a number of "phantom votes" cast in the wee hours on behalf of a legislator who had already left Boston.
"Rules reform" is the move for a more democratic process in the House. Proposed measures of this sort have been kicking around for years, and they got a boost in the wake of the bad press inspired by this last session, but Finneran dismisses the idea as left-wing frivolity.
For more info and a previous comment on the Clean Elections initiative, see my October 30, 1999 cartoon.
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