postheadericon Beacon Hill Blotter: Relief in the Bullpen

State Rep. Geoff Diehl of Whitman

The 2011 Red Sox bullpen seems to be shaping up. Hideki Okajima is back in, Bobby Jenks looks to be a huge asset and, between Bard or Papelbon, we should have a lights out closer. If all goes well, the Sox pitching staff has the makings of a World Series-bound crew.

The 2011/12 bullpen for the 187th Massachusetts General Court also has some promising talent and, with 20 (possibly 21) new Republican State Representatives, it is welcome relief to the returning member of the House GOP. Still outnumbered 4:1, the caucus was in an even greater minority last session, serving in a 9:1 ratio (16 members vs. this sessions count of 32, pending the Durant/Alicia court case). But with a diverse group from around the state, Beacon Hill has the potential to make a significant and positive impact on the future of this great Commonwealth.

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. and his leadership team have made it clear to the media and the incoming freshmen that they welcome the new ideas and help that they will enjoy by having the caucus doubled as a result of the 2010 elections. Because there is a need to have each House committee balanced with both Democrat and Republican members, Brad’s team sat on anywhere from 4 to 6 committees, depending upon workload. Now, each Representative is likely to get 3 to 4 assignments, allowing greater focus on the bills passing through for review and approval or rejection. Committee assignments, in fact, should be determined by the end of this week or early next.

The week since last Wednesday’s Inauguration has been packed with activites, meetings, plus bill research and filings, as the deadline to submit legislative initiatives is next Friday. On Thursday, 1/7, the legislature gathered for the swearing in of Governor Deval Patrick, Lt. Governor Tim Murray and all the members of the Governor’s Council. I had a chance to meet the Governor, Lt. Governor, Treasurer Tim Cahill, Attorney General Martha Coakley and Auditor Joe DiNucci. Later in the day, I was given first access to my desk space in the “bullpen” (Hearing Room B1) and went about the task of setting up Outlook and responding to several letters, voicemail and e-mails.

On Friday morning, I was honored to be included in a special breakfast at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) to meet the Cadets who were preparing for “Sea Term,” a six week training cruise to teach nautical skills in addition to regular classwork. The ship, the T.S. Kennedy, also gets a complete paint job while in the waters of the Caribbean. I was partnered at breakfast with 4th Lvl. Cadet Kyle O’Brien of East Bridgewater, who was very excited as a Freshman to be taking his first cruise. My wife’s Godson, Daniel Thom of West Bridgewater, was also onboard as a 4th Lvl. Cadet and I was able to see him on the Kennedy, as well. A tremendous presentation about the qualities of the Academy (100% job placement upon commencement) by President Gurnon let me know that the Massachusetts university system truly is one of the most unique and excellent educational organizations in the world.

On Monday, we had our first informal session in the House chamber, followed by a lunch session provided by the Oral Health Caucus, where we reviewed their legislative goals for the session. At noon, I was interviewed by Meaghan Glassett of the Whitman Express for an article coming out on Thursday about my selection as “Citizen of the Year” in Whitman (quite an honor and more on that in another post). The rest of the day was spent in meetings to review the bills I’m filing (again, I will give more detail in next week’s blog) and Lynnel Cox (my Legislative Aide, from East Bridgewater) and I didn’t leave until 6pm. An incredibly busy and wonderful day.

Tuesday was just as busy. It started with an AIA (MA Architects) new legislators breakfast, followed by the special House ceremony, celebrating the 50th anniversary of JFK’s “City on a Hill” speech. The audio replay of the address, plus a speech by the grandson of Bobby Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy III, was a moving reminder of the importance of working to keep Massachusetts a leader in our nation and for the world. Two other meetings were rescheduled, and we made preparations for the anticitpated snowstorm on Wednesday.

Today, Wednesday, was the blizzard that was expected and my town of Whitman lost power from approximately 3am until 5pm, so much of the day was digging out my home and the district office. Tomorrow, Lynnel and I are planning to catch up on constituent service follow-up, scheduling new meetings, and I will have a sit-down with Rep. Jones to review my committee assignments. Friday morning, I’ll be speaking at CLT’s “Friday Morning Group” in Lexington and next week, I have an in-district breakfast scheduled with Congressman Stephen Lynch. Much to do…

This evening, I write the blog entry for the week and reflect on what has been the most exciting week of work I’ve ever had. I expect the work to get harder and the rewards to be even greater. I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s recap and look for some more fastballs coming from the bullpen in the coming weeks!


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