We Had Our Own Superbowl This Past Week...
Speaker Salvatore DiMasi has named the Chairs of the House Committees for the forthcoming two years, and the results for Cape Cod are...subdued.
Doing the best was newly elected Sarah Peake. She was appointed to Environment (a necessity in her delicate district), Financial Services (formerly seperate Banking and Insurance committees, with oversight of the FAIR Plan, a potential home run for her), and Municipalites and Regional Government. These appointments argue for a good relationship with the speaker.
Cleon Turner was a little more subdued, but moved up a notch. Elected to his second term, he continues on Housing and Health Care, and added Small Business to replace Election Laws - all solid committees with issues germane to his district. Status quo ante, as it were.
Eric Turkington has retained the chairmanship of his boutique Committee, Arts & Tourism, one of the newly minted committees from last Session. In the last two years, it considered zero pieces of legislation, but it did hold some hearings, and may have work to do. Maybe. If somebody thinks of some. But, it's nice to see Turkington rewarded with a Chairmanship, however marginal, after sticking it out on the sidelines during the long Finneran wilderness years (he guessed wrong, and voted for Voke and was never forgiven), rather than fleeing Beacon Hill like his equally non-psychic brother legislators, Tom Cahir and John Klimm.
The remaining House members bear some comparison with Republican 'classmates' who also represent the area.
Demetrius Atsalis and Vinny DeMacedo of Plymouth were both elected in 1998, and are beginning their sixth terms. In the last Session, when the new Speaker DiMasi 'combined' the Committees, resulting in a net gain of five Committees with new Chairmanships to be had, Atsalis fully expected to receive one of them and reportedly locked himself in his office when he was not among the new lucky winners. Now, in addition to serving on Bonding and Labor & Economic Development, Democrat Atsalis is just barely holding on to the Vice-Chairmanship of a minor Committee, Election Laws, which was originally given to him by Finneran. He has not suffered actual demotion, like Tom O'Brien who fled the State House for the Plymouth County Treasurer's Office when he was stripped of his office and titles, but it is clear that Atsalis is not only not on the fast track any more, he has begun to fall behind; for instance, a far more junior legislator like Rep. Forry has the Vice Chairmanship of Public Service, a more powerful committee. Demetrisus' collar and cuffs are looking a little frayed, as he goes about with his hackneyed 'Ear of the Speaker' routine. Whereas, his contemporary legislator, DeMacedo, in addition to his service on Energy and Children & Families, is now the Republican Ranking Member of Ways & Means, a position similar to that held by Henri Rauschenbach, with a suite of offices, a seat in the Ways & Means Conference Committee that writes the final version of the budget, grater influence, and a leadership stipend far better than a Vice Chair of a negligible committee.
Also elected around the same time are Matt Patrick and Jeff Perry. Matt Patrick, as liberal a legislator as can be found, has still not been entrusted with even a Vice Chairmanship, although he continues his service on Energy, Economic Development, and Municipalities and REgional Government (with Sarah Peake), he has never succeeded in being named to Education, his stated first choice for many years. Of course, Jeff Perry was elected two years later and has served as Ranking Member of Education since he was elected, and receives a leadership stipend for that service, as well as serving on Rules, Public Safety, and Turkington’s Tourism Committee.
So, it would seem that the Cape Codders who worked so hard to further the Democrat majority are no better thought of in the House than they are by Gov. Patrick. On Cape Cod, Republicans still have better action.