Growing up, I used to look forward to visiting my grandparents. On my father’s side, I especially relished the chance to ride on Grandpa’s lap when he mowed the lawn. Watching him operate his Lionel train set was awesome and I felt I’d died and gone to heaven when he’d “help” me with a project at his workbench. Without fail, he’s proclaim, “Good enough for government work,” as we (he) would finish making a wooden boat, a model rocket or a pencil holder. My grandfather, Wilmer Diehl, had been a mechanic in the Army, specializing in airplanes, so following his service, he was recruited by American Airlines to become a “flight engineer.” It was, literally, a new seat in the cockpit -the third – and was a role that he and a select few from the military pioneered for commercial aviation. His favorite joke, both in and out of the military and throughout his life, was the quip about his work meeting the minimum for government standards. Everyone who knew Will understood that the joke really was that he never did anything unless it was to meet the highest standards he set for himself – be it work, family, or his faith in God.
I found myself thinking of my Grandpa’s catchphrase yesterday as I went to take my first votes in the State House… “[Am I good enough for government work?" At issue were the rules by which the House will operate for the 2 year session and some very significant amendments were at the center of debate; empanelling an ethics committee, requiring roll call votes on tax and fee increases and reporting to towns by March 15 a foundation budget to use for preparing FY12 budgets. None of these passed, despite my "yea" votes, though I was very happy that the amendment to conduct an audit of the House by the State Auditor was passed. It looks as though the legislature is taking steps to move towards increased transparency and reform, but I think we still have a ways to go.
Since my report from last week, it has been extremely busy - here are the highlights;
Tuesday (1/18): Started the day off in-district with a breakfast at Johnny D’s in East Bridgewater, meeting with Congressman Steven Lynch and his team to discuss how we can work together to provide what the district needs. Very glad to learn about all he does for the district and MA and am glad to start off on the same page with him! Later in the day, there was a Fire Chief’s luncheon at the State House and was able to spend a good hour with Tim Travers of Whitman, former Fire Chief. Learned about the issues facing their departments and am glad to see we have similar goals to make sure our first responders are prepared for whatever emergencies they face. Ended the day with meetings to move along the legislative goal of providing mortgage relief to homeowners who are making payments but have been affected by the continued economic crisis that has impacted income and home values.
Wednesday (1/19): On the one-year anniversary of Sen. Scott Brown’s historic win, I was able to attend the swearing in of our new State Treasurer, Steve Grossman. His speech highlighted his agenda of being an “activist Treasurer,” and I applaud his goal of moving state funds from banks that are not helping initiate new loans to move the economy forward – I think it’s a great step towards bolstering up and coming community banks who truly have the pulse of what’s important to the people and towns of Massachusetts.
Thursday (1/20): Yesterday was our first formal session, where I was able to cast my first series of votes as described earlier in this post. Throughout the session, I had an opportunity to speak with many legislators from both sides of the aisle and I foresee positive steps based on a more conservative body that has been elected. Following the session, the House freshmen gathered to vote on the slate of ceremonial class officers – Congrats go out to Steve Levy (R-Marlborough) as President, Jerry Parisella (D-Beverly) as VP, Russell Holmes (D-Boston) as Treasurer and Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica)! Special Note: Jerry Parisella will be deployed this weekend, as he is a member of the reserves, and will serve a year overseas – I certainly wish him Godspeed.
That is the wrap-up. I’ll spend the rest of today dealing with legislative filings and look forward to providing more insight next week on Beacon Hill happenings.
Hope you feel my efforts are “good enough for government work!”