Does anyone own our current transportation crisis like Speaker Robert DeLeo? Nope, nobody. The reality we’re all living in now — DeLeo downright insisted on it in 2013. Governor Patrick had proposed a major investment that would have avoided many of our current problems — but Bob DeLeo just said nah.
It wouldn’t surprise you to hear, then, that DeLeo’s intransigence did not go over well with some of his membership. And the stories are just now starting to come out. This interview with former State Rep Jay Kaufman (Lexington) is, as they say, straight fire.
“He made it very clear to me that my options were to vote for it or not be part of any conversation going forward,” Kaufman said. “He said, ‘If you can’t vote for this, I can’t have you as part of my team.’”
DeLeo is not taking this well! He actually calls Kaufman a “liar” — even when this is the most believable thing imaginable.
“Representative Kaufman’s statement is flat-out false. He is a liar,” DeLeo said in a statement. “The events described never happened, and it is disappointing that he would make unfounded accusations, six years later, in an attempt to disparage the House. It is no coincidence that this interview comes at a time when this former representative seeks to advance his private business interests.”
Kaufman is backed up now by Cleon Turner, who was in the House at the time; and by a contemporaneous account from Governor Patrick himself — which Kaufman ironically denied at the time:
[Patrick] said he spoke to Kaufman several times about tax policy. The governor said Kaufman even wanted to support his $1.9 billion tax increase. But like other members of DeLeo’s leadership team, Kaufman ultimately opposed the tax increase because, Patrick said, that’s “what the leadership tells them to do.”
Again, there’s nothing surprising about any of this. Everyone knows that’s how the House works — and has at least since Finneran.
DeLeo has announced his intention to run for Speaker again. Obviously the odds are heavily in his favor for re-election. But I can’t help but notice that things are getting decidedly messier for him than previously was the case. Two of his lieutenants in progressive districts lost primaries due to their closeness to DeLeo — and relatedly their inability to deliver for those very districts. Shouldn’t proximity to power make you powerful? In the case of Kaufman, Sanchez, and Rushing — it was the opposite. If you’re a state rep, you have to ask yourself: What are you getting for your loyalty?
In Stephanie Ebbert’s magnificent recounting in the Globe, we’ve seen several newly-elected female reps refuse to yield their time, nevertheless persisting, and speaking up — and bringing down a sketchy tax break with the bad publicity they caused. They’re not here to go along and get along.
“Some of us have been told, ‘you’ll lose this vote and it will look bad for you,’ ” said Gouveia, an Acton Democrat. “I have a very different measure of success.”
Gouveia would rather register her viewpoints about issues, and she feels she has a mandate to speak up. She’s representing constituents whose sense of civic duty has been heightened over the two years of the Trump administration.
[Dear Globe: This stuff is absolute gold. MOAR plz.]
If DeLeo thought he could isolate and pick off reps one by one, by withholding chairmanships and other favors … what if everyone starts acting up? What if the heretofore-feckless “progressive caucus” starts to use whatever powers it might have? What if it’s a movement? What if we don’t yield?