On muni health and national union bosses, Speaker DeLeo flips the bird

Speaker to the press (rhetorically, of course)

Back in June when the conviction of Sal DiMasi focused rare public attention on Beacon Hill corruption, DiMasi’s successor and current Speaker Robert DeLeo took umbrage at the suggestion that the DiMasi scandal represented “business as usual,” and defended the House with these words:

Our efforts over the past couple of years have been focused on  government reforms that make our work and our decisions more transparent  and ensure that we can be held accountable for what we do on behalf of  the taxpaying public.

Flash forward to today, not even a month later, and it seems transparency is off the Speaker’s agenda.

From a State House News bulletin on the ongoing, secret (as if there were another kind) negotiations over municipal health reform:

Patrick administration officials confirmed to the News Service Friday afternoon that national labor union officials have taken an interest in the muni-health reform proposal, which Democrats in the House and Senate last week claimed struck the proper balance between worker rights and needed cost savings…

DeLeo, approached as he left the State House early Friday afternoon and asked about the progress of negotiations over municipal health insurance reforms, said, “We’re talking.” Asked if he had met with labor officials about the issue, DeLeo waved to a reporter and wished him a nice weekend. A union coalition official also declined to say whether labor leaders had met with DeLeo.

I try to avoid words like “outrageous” in my day-to-day criticisms – words that are over-used in politics to so great an extent that they are rendered nearly meaningless.  But this really is outrageous.  Asked a perfectly rational, reasonable question by a reporter, pertaining to a matter of extreme public interest, the Speaker may not have literally flipped the bird – but would his message have been any different if DeLeo had popped that middle digit into the air?

And what exactly is the big deal?  Patrick officials already confirmed that “national labor union officials” have taken an active interest in the Commonwealth’s collective bargaining dispute… READ THE REST at CriticalMASS

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