Beacon Hill Culture Does Not Serve Us Well
Fear of Leadership and a Desire To Be Leadership Rule The Hill
By William Legault
How do you define courage within the political world? The same definition applies, but with a qualifier. Political courage means being willing to speak on a matter in a way that you know will be unpopular. A political figure with courage will not only will speak truth to power to the voters, but also to those they serve with, or serve under within the legislative or executive system.
As a Salem City Councillor for three years I had my opportunities to display political courage. There were times when I did, and times when I didn’t. I regret none of the times when I did speak up. I was one of only two councillors who spoke up publicly when the Salem Police overtime scandal hit the news. To this day I believe the whole thing was mismanaged, and the fact that one of the offenders was recently listed again as the top paid cop in town only strengthens that belief. When the first allegations of voter rights issues came to light in 2014 I spoke up publicly and tried to form a council working group to address it immediately. My efforts led to a major disagreement with the Council President, who just wanted it to go away. It did not go away. There were and are, major racial issues running strong just under he surface in Salem and it would be better to address them sooner rather than later. I should have stood my ground longer and louder, but the support was not there. My efforts failed in magnificent fashion and what we eventually got was last years Sanctuary City election wars. My words and actions surely led to being ostracized by a couple of key voting blocs in the next election cycle.
There were other times however, when I should have stood and spoken up more loudly on other issues and did not. Our lack of a City-Wide Master Plan was and is a pet issue for me. My plan was to push for it hard if re-elected for a second full term. Obviously I should have pushed for it earlier, but chose not to for political expediency. There were other moments also, when my speaking more loudly would have better served the City. Incidents that foreshadowed some of the recent city clerk issues come to mind. As does a decision on bids for city owned property that in my mind did not serve the best interests of the community.
Over the last year or so we have been inundated with details from the long running sordid tales of Byron Hefner, the spouse of former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and his criminal behavior on Beacon Hill. I won’t re-hash the details here. It would take up too much space and time.
We have seen no political courage from any of our elected officials at any level. This is troubling. It becomes even more troubling when you realize that none of our state level officials have been heard at all. Where were they when this was all happening? Where are they now? The 37-0 Senate vote the other day to accept Rosenberg’s resignation is just political cowardice of the highest form. This charade of waiting”for all of the facts to come in” is just a clear example of a wet finger held to the wind to see which way it is blowing.
The political machinations that delayed the release of the Senate ethics report until it was too late for a candidates to run for the vacated seat, except by sticker campaign, is a sure sign of political nefariousness propagated again by political cowardice. This just clearly demonstrates the “Go along, get along, or get out” culture that dominates Beacon Hill. This culture does not serve us well, it serves those who serve there, and those who work for them well.
Interim Senate President Harriet L. Chandler should create a special election date to allow real candidates to step and run for the vacated senate seat. Our current state officials should advocate for a special election, after all, Rosenberg was first elected to the senate by special election. The voters of that district, and of the Commonwealth as a whole deserve a fair and free election.
Reach out to Senator Lovely and Representative Tucker, and Senator Bruce Tarr of Ipswich who actually served on the committee that wanted to allow Rosenberg to continue to serve, to let them know your thoughts.