If you say the same thing enough, you start to wonder if you’re going crazy. I’ve been saying that Speaker Bob DeLeo is a stubborn impediment to progress and simple decency long enough that I feel like I’ve been shouting into a pillow.
State Rep. Daniel Cullinane didn’t name names when he publicly condemned the rhetoric of the one of the state’s most powerful labor organizations as “bluster and B.S.,” but practically everyone crammed into a State House hearing room knew the Dorchester Democrat was talking about AFL-CIO president Steven Tolman.
Cullinane’s remarks earlier this month were widely seen by State House watchers as a rebuke of the labor leader’s attacks on long-time House Speaker Robert DeLeo and what’s seen as the House’s wanting track record on key portions of the labor legislative agenda.
Now, can you imagine being on the wrong side of wage theft? Isn’t it one of the most despicable things you can imagine? Can’t our Dear Leader can’t see his way clear to making something happen on this? Could this boiling-over not have been avoided? It is truly stunning.
Even more stunning is the continued loyalty of practically every House member — a loyalty that trumps even their duty to constituents who are having their very livelihood stolen from them. Prof. Ubertaccio here invokes the hoary legi-splaining term for anything that makes the Speaker or his members (yes, his members) mildly uncomfortable: “Counterproductive“.
“The speaker has a lot of respect among many members of the House and they have a lot of loyalty to him and don’t take kindly to attacks against him that they view as counterproductive,” Ubertaccio said.
Sorry … who are they working for again? Us? Or him?
So, let’s tot things up here:
- Speaker DeLeo calls a recent student protest against high tuition and fees “Trumpian … offensive and [wait for it – ed] counterproductive.” Trumpian! Counterproductive!
- The Speaker’s ally calls labor’s complaints about the Speaker “bluster and B.S.” … “slander”.
- DeLeo chides teachers advocating for equitable funding of schools: “These juvenile tactics are counterproductive … “
It’s just one middle finger after another.
DeLeo doesn’t stop to imagine why people find it necessary to protest, how much frustration with the ordinary process leads to extraordinary measures. He doesn’t get how advocates’ usual channels — developing relationships and trust with reps; sharing credit; “making more pie”; “hero opportunities”; plain-old legislative log-rolling, back-scratching; and favor-trading — have left so many constituents with a sense of futility. That’s how we’d prefer to do it! But DeLeo turns the Art of the Possible into the Impossible Dream. He hasn’t learned the lessons of Jeffrey Sanchez and Byron Rushing. And maybe he won’t. Maybe his members will have to learn the hard way.
Labor is in the same boat as the rest of the progressive coalition. We’ve all been given the choice: Either accept whatever dregs the Speaker decides to throw us; or try to shovel him out the door — a daunting task, to be sure. But it seems that’s what’s left to us.
So again, I’m making this case: Robert DeLeo must go. He must step down.
And as the IBEW has done (and AFL-CIO in some cases), progressive rank-and-file must withhold support from any House member who continues to support DeLeo. I have already withdrawn support from Sean Garballey, who professes progressive bona fides but nonetheless has continued to invest this Speaker with the power to crush Sean’s own initiatives — at the expense of his constituents. I will vote for a primary challenger to Garballey. I don’t care how “progressive” they claim to be; I don’t care how passionate their press releases; I am calling for primary challenges to any state rep who has prioritized their cozy relationship with DeLeo over the needs of their constituents.
I keep feeling this is coming to a head. It’s long past time for DeLeo to go — and anyone else who backs him up.