Monday, May 14, 2007

DiMasi Demands his Due

MetroWest Daily News opinion editor Rick Holmes quotes Governor Deval Patrick speaking about his recent dinner with House Speaker Sal DiMasi in his column yesterday:

"I told the speaker I would be calling on some of his members to talk about the Municipal Partnership Act," Patrick told the editors Wednesday. "He said 'you should be talking to me instead."'
This is pretty much the statehouse in a nutshell -- the majority of state legislators are largely irrelevant to the way laws are made. I'm not sure what bothers me more about this, the fact that DiMasi is brazenly saying that he controls the votes of House members, so don't bother talking to them, or the fact that it's true. DiMasi is clearly upset with the way the Governor is trying to circumvent him on this issue by appealing to the public, to individual legislators, to municipal leaders, and so on.

The larger point of the column, though, was to advocate for the passage for the Municipal Partnership Act, and particularly the ability for cities and towns to levy their own meals taxes. Holmes notes that since DiMasi represents the restaurant-rich North End, he's unlikely to allow that to pass. Even so, that's not a battle DiMasi should be having with the Governor. He should, Holmes argues, allow other municipalities to control their own revenue streams and fight out the particulars of Boston's restaurant tax with Mayor Tom Menino. I agree. Why should the Speaker stop Framingham, for example, from enacting a meals tax simply to ensure that his North End constituents never have to be subject to one?