Political War Games: May 5 for May 4, 2005
Representatives are in a battle royal on how to best fix state employee and teacher retirement systems, without state finances going belly up. The bill is SB141.
The pressure has been outrageous from the Senate, the administration, and every political player who gets pleasure out of political bullying. One representative (“he or she” so I don’t give a clue to identity) has suffered from a politico calling their $1,000 campaign contributors, to have the big buck contributors tell the representative how to vote (the representativbe is not a happy camper). The Senate has made no secret of holding our House bills hostage in their body unless we kowtow to their view of the world. One legislator inferred other legislators are failing their sworn constitutional duty if votes differ from theirs (I don’t recall reading that in the Constitution). Party loyalties are being called into question by folks who ought to know better. Powerful people from both sides of the issue crowd the galleries to overflowing to see if their targeted representative votes “correctly.” One senator followed me into the restroom, and lobbied me from an adjacent urinal (A meeting had been scheduled for later in my office, but was canceled due to this meeting "on the fly"). Getting from my office to the House floor means running a gauntlet political “persuaders.” There’s more, but you get the idea. If you are a normal person, your temper can get short. As the saying goes, things can get “interesting.”
Everyone is affected by these political war games. They do have a result. It reminds me of an observation I made about my fellow servicemen when I served in Vietnam. “The good get better. The bad get worse.”
Whenever possible on a controversial political issue, I try to “pick a side and go there.” That isn’t always easy, but if staying on one side of an issue was easy, everybody would do it. Votes on the House floor yesterday and today make my point. The Anchorage Daily News reported, “Over the past two days, with amendments to the retirement bill being debated on the House floor, members twice have voted for major changes to the retirement bill, only to rescind their votes and then shoot the amendments down.”
On a controversial issue like retirement system reform, trying to figure out how someone is going to vote on amendments, and if they’ll vote the same way the second time around, is like trying to pick up a bar of soap in the shower.
Had a long – and very “interesting” day that lasted until after 10:30PM – and now it’s past midnight and my “nighty-night” time. I have a State Affairs Committee meeting tomorrow morning at 8:00AM. I did my best to cast good votes today, and hope I didn’t make more than 50% of my constituents angry! “Hope springs eternal.”