Bill Konopnicki

Editor’s note: Yes, the blog is still dark for the time being, but my brother wanted to write a tribute to his friend and colleague (and according to Polish clan rules, shield brother), Bill Konopnicki

Last week came the sad news of the passing of my former colleague, Bill Konopnicki, Republican of Safford. He was a deeply thoughtful statesman in the long-standing tradition of earthy and pragmatic rural Arizona legislators for whom partisan considerations were secondary to the needs of their communities. It is a reminder of how quickly things in Arizona changed so radically that we speak of him as if he was part of some distant, bygone era, but we are talking about a man who was first elected in 2002 and served until 2010. This is not long ago at all, but it is difficult to imagine his like in the current legislature.

An alum of both Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, Bill brought to the legislature a long record of community involvement, including terms on the school board and the governing board of the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center. Back in the early 1970s, he was, along with his future House colleague Phil Lopes, involved in the establishment of Pima Community College. He later moved to Safford to work in the administration at Eastern Arizona College. This experience proved invaluable during the many times that state’s community college system became a political football.

My brother met him before I did. Ted ran Marsha Arzberger’s successful campaign for State Senate in 2000, when her district included both Cochise and Graham Counties. Bill was a supporter, despite the fact that Marcia was a Democrat, and his presence would have been difficult to avoid anyway. He seemed to own every McDonald’s in rural Southern Arizona that was not owned by José Canchola.

We hear all the time from politicians who cite their business experience, but a little bit of digging reveals that their records in this regard are problematic. This was not the case with Bill. He was an exemplary community-minded businessman. Once, during one of those marathon budget sessions, Bill took time out to drive to Safford and back to deal with a payroll problem which would have prevented his employees from getting paid on time, something that others might have let slide. This spoke not only to the special problems that rural legislators face, but also to Bill’s sincere concern for the people who worked for him.

Bill was usually labeled a “moderate Republican.” While this label does not seem unfair, it couches his approach to public policy in terms of some sort of ideology. The truth is that Bill recognized, as did his colleagues from his district, Senators Jack Brown (D-St. Johns) and Jake Flake (R-Snowflake), that the underserved rural communities that they represented could ill afford grand partisan gestures and crusades. To this end, he was willing over and over again to work across the aisle and focus on policy rather than politics.

I do not remember if he was a member of the faction that the capitol press corps dubbed the “Cellar Dwellers,” a group of dissident Republicans who met in the basement to hammer out a reasonable budget at a time that the majority leadership was concerned chiefly with exercising a petty and unproductive feud with Governor Janet Napolitano, but Bill was always a solid voice for reason when it came to the budget. Not only did he recognize the long term needs of his district and the state as a whole, but he also knew that a strictly Republican budget would never survive the closely divided House or the scrutiny of the Democratic Governor. Again, results were far more important than talking points.

It was not unusual to find Bill hanging out in Democrat’s offices, including mine, especially that of his seatmate Jack Brown and his old friend Representative Phil Lopes (D-Tucson) when the latter served as the Democratic Leader. It was not always about business, he was a genuinely friendly guy. We often hear about the collegiality of the legislature, but such geniality too infrequently crosses party lines.

One of the things I worked on at the capitol was trying to fix Health Care Group, a sort of state-chartered insurance pool for small businesses. The legislature had, over the years, very intentionally thrown sand into the gears of the program at the behest of the insurance industry. I was surprised one day to find out that Representative Konopnicki had scheduled my bill for a hearing in front of his committee. It failed, as we both knew it would, but he thought that it needed to be discussed. Afterward, he pulled me aside to tell me that he wanted to work with me on it next session, but, unfortunately, I did not have a chance to do so.

Bill often found himself at odds with his caucus’ leadership, something which got him branded a “RINO” by an increasingly doctrinaire clique of party activists. He was openly critical of Senator Russell Pearce (R-Mesa), whose ascent to near-total dominance occurred largely during Bill’s tenure. It should be remembered that, while Pearce’s rise was due largely to the craven behavior of so many who knew better, he also made use of some despicable tactics, and Bill was one of his targets.

At first, Bill took this with a modicum of humor. Once, when he got a rude email from a Pearce supporter, he recognized the address as being on his way between the place he stayed at while he was in Phoenix and the capitol, so he decided to stop by the writer’s house for a friendly visit. The man’s strident convictions failed him once he was confronted by the fact that his bile was directed at a real person.

However, dealing with this sort of thing this way eventually became impossible. Bill’s opposition to whatever it was that Pearce was pushing at the time made him the target of personal attacks which bordered on actual threats. Though Pearce himself maintained a veneer of plausible deniability, it was clear that he was a little more than indirectly responsible for provoking his most dedicated followers. Finally, Bill rose up to speak out against what Pearce was doing, breaking down into tears on the floor as he voted his conscience. Bill was very careful to stay within the bounds of legislative decorum and not attack Pearce directly, but we all knew who he was speaking of. It was ballsy, and could have been a Joseph Welch moment if a few more of his colleagues had shown this kind of courage.

I will admit that there were times that Bill did things that, at the time, disappointed me. However, in retrospect I understand and even sympathize with why he did what he did. Once, an abortive bipartisan effort to elect him Speaker fizzled before it even started when too many of the Republicans who would have joined Democrats in voting for him proved to be squishy. You cannot accomplish anything at the legislature without steady support from your allies. The reasonable middle is sometimes a lonely place to be, and it seems unfortunate that we have a political environment where governing from consensus is an act of conspicuous bravery.

It was that kind of courage that made Arizona lucky to have Bill. I am proud that he was my colleague and friend.

Lopes Endorses Wercinski

Phil LopesIn a note sent to legislative colleagues, Phil Lopes has endorsed Sam Wercinski for Secretary of State:

This email is to ask you to join me in support of Sam Wercinski for Secretary of State. I firmly believe he is the candidate with the best chance of winning the 2010 Secretary election. I first met Sam when I was stumping for Howard Dean and dealt with him during his stint as Director of the Department of Real Estate. He is a person of integrity, compassion, and exemplifies solid Democratic values. He has the drive and discipline that it takes to run a successful race, he is well on his way to building solid statewide grassroots support. Sam genuinely respects voters. He will protect their rights which will increase their confidence in our election process.

There are a couple of angles here. Wercinski’s likely opponent is Lopes’s fellow bajaarizonense Dave Bradley (unless another Southern Arizonan that gets talked about, Rodney Glassman, decides to make a go of it after all). Lopes and Bradley had been on opposite sides of a few leadership elections in the Democratic caucus. More importantly, it is an indication that Wercinski is smartly using this time that Bradley is constrained by the resign to run law to nail down support in areas outside of Maricopa County.

Yeah, Yeah, It’s All Napolitano’s Fault

Janet NapolitanoThe new meme among Republicans is that the current budget mess is all the fault of Janet Napolitano. Here’s Randy Pullen:

This crisis is the legacy of Janet Napolitano. The days of runaway spending and big government are over here in Arizona, as are the days of rainbow revenue projections.

I’ll let you sit back for a second and enjoy the irony of the party that brought you “dynamic scoring” decrying “rainbow revenue projections.”

Continue reading

The New Republic Catches Wind of Our Discontent

The New Republic’s blog, the Plank (a reference you only get if you know TNR’s logo), has a long (for a blog) piece about the consequences for us Arizonenses should Janet Napolitano pack her bags for Washington. The piece quotes Marsha Arzberger (First Lady of Kansas Settlement), Phil Lopes, Rebecca Rios and Amy Silverman.

The money quote comes from New Times editor Silverman:

I do not think she’s [Jan Brewer] a leader, I do not think she’s prepared for the task, and I don’t think she has a vision in mind. She’s from the same cloth–literally, she came from the legislature–as the wing of the GOP Napolitano has battled with for years.

My Bro’s Picks

My brother has sent out his biannual recommendations for the ballot propositions to all of his scenester buddies. In the spirit of public service that this blog is famous for, I present it here.

I agree with most of them. I understand his position on 202, which is an attempted fix of a draconian employer sanction law. I, however, think that it doesn’t do enough to change the law, and is the worst of all possible worlds: it further marginalizes and criminalizes the undocumented while letting those who exploit them off the hook. I see this the way I do the ballot proposition a decade and a half ago that changed our state’s method of execution: how the heck do you vote if you think the premise behind the law is abhorent?

Anyway, here it goes:

Before we get started, it must be said that this whole initiative thing has clearly gotten out of control. This is something that I never thought I would say.

The concept of a well-organized group of dedicated citizens hitting the streets and asking their family, friends, and neighbors to sign a petition to get something on the ballot because the legislature is too lazy, corrupt, or unimaginative to act on an issue still has merit, and it would be nice if this was still how things worked. However, various failures in our political culture, combined with cynical “reforms” designed to make ballot access more difficult, have combined to create a shady industry of consultants who will do whatever it takes to get something on the ballot, often at a cost that runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Paid petition passers are not concerned citizens working for the good of their community, but are itinerants, often with problematic voter registrations, who are being paid up to five dollars a signature. These individuals are often ignorant of what they are circulating, or have been misled altogether, and occasionally circulate petitions for propositions that are mutually inconsistent. The system is ripe for mischief, which is why so many items were kicked off the ballot this year.

It was not so bad in Tucson, but in Phoenix paid passers were everywhere. Some folks might remember the video game Berzerk from the early 80s, where the robots would mill around aimlessly in the room until the player entered, whereupon they would immediately make a bee line for our hero. Every retail parking lot in Phoenix was much like that in the Spring and Summer of 2008.

There was a brief effort to reform the process last year, by limiting the activities of paid passers, cutting down the number of required signatures, requiring a geographically broader base of signers, allowing some limited legislative oversight, et cetera, but these were quickly rejected by some of our friends on the left who haven’t figured out that the process really isn’t working in their favor. The effort fizzled for lack of broad support.

In Phoenix, there are those who say that you can hear a low rumbling from Papago Park at night. That’s George W.P. Hunt spinning in his grave.

This year’s crop of ballot items can be characterized by their almost universal dishonesty. Some of my colleagues have suggested that we would all be better off just voting against all of them.

Proposition 100 (“Protect Our Homes”): No.
I have to take some responsibility for this thing being on the ballot, since I am even mentioned on the supporter’s website.

Back in 2007, Phil Lopes and I were working with Pima County to help find a means to provide money for the affordable housing trust fund. To this end, we introduced a bill that would have allowed the County to levy a tax of “one tenth of one percent” on new home sales for the trust fund, which would amount to less than $200 on an average home in Pima County. This would have allowed Pima County to provide housing assistance to about 400 families.

We tried to make it clear that we were open to any ideas from the industry or anyone else as to how to provide money for the fund, as the bill was really about the trust fund itself and not the tax. Instead of coming forward with any ideas, the realtors, ahem…REALTORS, put out a pink flyer calling me a socialist. Then, with alarmist doomsaying predictions about how “some politicians” (that’s me) were going to force people out of their homes, they paid good money to get this constitutional amendment on the ballot to prevent us from ever considering this again.

Ironically enough, the REALTORS (that is what they want to be called) argue for their proposition by claiming that such a tax would be a blow to affordable housing. Given how small this tax is, this argument is laughably silly, especially since annual homeowners association fees in new developments are usually much higher. Keep in mind that this is the same industry that blames the current financial mess on the fact that they can no longer engage in discriminatory practices like red-lining to deny minorities and working-class people access to the housing market and denies their own culpability in the situation.

The REALTORS have demonstrated time and time again that they have no concern for affordable housing, and Proposition 100 will do nothing to keep anyone in their homes. It is about retaining a special tax exemption for their industry and enshrining it in the constitution. It deserves to be killed in a big way.

Proposition 101 (“Freedom of Choice Health Care Act”): No.
This one is all wrapped up in bizarre Ayn Randian Gingrichism. Ostensibly, it bans the state from passing any law that would prevent you from choosing your doctor. In reality, it is written to prevent the state from creating a universal health care system. In the process, it is sufficiently broadly written to threaten the existence of programs currently in place such as AHCCCS and Health Care Group.

This thing is being pushed by an especially arrogant think-tank called The Goldwater Institute, which is composed of otherwise unemployable right-wing nerds who are so obsessed with the beauty of their own rhetoric that the day-to-day reality of most people doesn’t factor into their thinking. Currently, they are pursuing legal action against some state officials who had the temerity to speak honestly about this proposition.

During the 1990s, snotty movement conservatives were fond of saying “ideas have consequences.” I agree, lets think about consequences instead of being obsessed with an imaginary libertarian paradise. Anyone who wants policymakers to take the issue of health care seriously should vote no on 101.

Proposition 102 (“Marriage”): No
Veteran lobbyists at the capitol generally agreed that the 2008 session was the ugliest in their memory, and the ugliest moments of the session centered around this bill. If you are reading this, you probably already know that this thing is hateful bullshit and are already intending to vote against it. It might be useful and informative, however to know how this came about.

Even though this thing got to where it is largely through the efforts of Senate President Tim Bee, it was not an effort to pander to conservatives for his congressional race. In fact, at one point he seemed to lose enthusiasm for this issue, a result at least in part, many of us thought, of the fact that it does not really poll well in CD 8. In reality, it was pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a would-be taliban of right-wing busy-bodies, to stir up fundraising, since they were nearly broke after getting spanked at the ballot box in 2006.

After this passed, I noticed that their executive director still had a scowl on her face. Perhaps these are just unhappy people.

Despite this, folks should all remember who carried the CAP’s water, and how legislation critical to economic development in Tucson was allowed to die without a vote so that this hateful thing could move forward. Vote no on 102 and for Giffords in CD 8.

Proposition 105 (“Majority Rules”): No.
This is quite possibly the stupidest item on the ballot. It requires that initiatives calling for new taxes get a majority of registered voters, rather than just a majority of votes. Effectively, it means that folks who don’t bother to show up to vote would be counted against those who do.

Proposition 200 (“Payday Loan Reform Act”): No.
The special law that allows payday loans in Arizona expires in 2010, after which they would have to go away, leaving their lobbyists scrambling to extend their peculiar institution indefinitely.

We sat down with a battalion of payday lending hirelings, at least half a dozen of the slickest lobbyists at the capitol, in an attempt to negotiate some reform of the industry. They went back and forth, agreeing to some things, then not agreeing to them, speaking in squishy terms and even outright lying in an effort to get us to agree to let them continue current practices forever in exchange for a promise of better behavior, sounding in some ways like someone’s errant no-good boyfriend who really wants to change. We held firm, and the industry’s efforts fizzled and died.

The industry responded with this thoroughly dishonest proposition which claims to be about “reform” but is actually crafted by the industry to let them continue forever with almost no interference from the state. The “reforms” in the initiative are meaningless, counter-productive, or already mandated by federal law. Apparently, meaningless self-regulation of financial institutions has been working so well lately.

A “no” vote on 200 will help see that this predatory industry dies in 2010.

Proposition 201 (“Homeowner’s Bill of Rights”): Yes.
This one creates a 10 year warranty on all new home construction and allows buyers of new homes some recourse when construction-related problems occur.

The homebuilders, who have been building crappy subdivisions for years, of course, hate this, claiming that it would lead to “lawsuit abuse” and would inhibit their ability to build affordable housing. Well, we all know that they, by and large, have consistently demonstrated no interest in building affordable housing. Additionally, a number of spectacular failures in Pinal County in recent years have demonstrated the need for some consumer protections in this often sleazy industry.

A “yes” vote will create enforceable standards in homebuilding.

Proposition 202 (“Stop Illegal Hiring”): Yes.
Like many of the above, the title here is somewhat deceptive, having been chosen, apparently, to look a bit more mean-spirited than it actually is. In reality, this is a mild but necessary fix to the state’s draconian employer sanctions law.

Among other things, the employer sanctions law, passed at the height of the anti-Mexican hysteria (which seems to be on the wane, fortunately) of a few years ago, made it so that an entire business (even with multiple and autonomous locations) would be shut down for what may well have been a mistake, putting perhaps hundreds of innocent people out of work. This proposition makes these laws fairer, more reasonable, and enforceable. This protects workers and our economy while still holding employers responsible for exploitation of illegal labor.

A “yes” vote will be a step toward restoring sanity to the immigration debate.

Proposition 300 (“State Legislator’s Salaries”): Yes.
Anyone who opposes this is pandering. If we expect our legislators to take their jobs seriously, we ought to pay them something more than a pittance. Voting against this really doesn’t prove anything.

Proposition 403 (TUSD Override): Yes.
This is a no-brainer. Our schools need the money and the authority to spend it. The TUSD board has gotten a lot of well-deserved criticism for fiscal foolishness but the current leadership at ten-ten seems to be willing to conduct these things differently. Even if this were not the case, the fact remains that much of the problem lies with the unwillingness of my soon-to-be-former colleagues to address the problems of school funding, a situation which has left many districts in a bad position. As long as this is the case, we have to handle the problem locally.

That Other Weiers…

I recieved a missive from our capitol correspondent, Sonoran Sam. Sam is an alright guy because despite his residency in the Valley of the Yakes, he is a former Tucsonan.

Posting his stuff is easier than writing my own, right?

Rep. Jerry Weiers – not to be confused with his evil brother Big Jim Weiers, the speaker of the House – is offering a bill that would dock a day’s pay if a legislator missed a vote. That would be $175 a pop, which ain’t chump change if your base pay is $24,000 a year.

This kind of populist stuff that is a specialty of Jerry (Weiers the younger). Last year he offered to fix a state flagpole that was lurching and leaning. At Christmas he set up a Christmas tree in the House lobby and raised a bunch of money and gifts for the children of 800 Arizona National Guard members serving overseas.

It almost makes ya forgive the guy for driving a friggin’ Hummer.

But his latest bill isn’t warm and fuzzy. It’s an effort to marginalize House Democrats. Y’see, every now and then, legislators like to “take a walk,” as the saying goes, to avoid voting on something controversial. Sometimes, when a couple of Repubs walk away from some wacky idea proffered by the likes of Russell Pearce, the Democrats actually manage to win a vote.

Of course, one of the Rs who reguarly misses a roll-call vote is Jerry’s big brother, Speaker Jim Weiers. In typical Big-Jim fashion, the Speaker got a little snarky when Howie Fischer of Capital Media Services asked Big Jim what’s he’s doing when he misses a vote. “Working,” the speaker responded to the query.

“And when you’re not out here with a microphone, what are you doing? The same thing.”

Hmm. I guess the little brother’s bill has as much chance of getting a hearing as a Phil Lopes bill to provide everyone with access to health care.

New Developments

Mutiny LogoMy mom got a robo call today that went through a rundown of the bill that Linda Lopez voted to move forward, and then promised to connect the listener to Lopez’s office. Gawd…that’s some serious juice there. Anyone have any idea who is funding that?

The heat thrown at Lopez and Pete Rios has apparently caused Olivia Cajero Bedford and Manny Alvarez to jump ship. Both have declared that they are voting no on the House budget. Remind me to go back and re-read the parable of the Prodigal Son. Also, it has been reported that entreaties from the now-dwindling “rebel faction” to Mark DeSimone were spurned.

I have got numbers on the amendments that the two of them proposed. I’ll be posting these later tonight.

Also, I’d like to comment on some things that I read both on DailyKos and in comments here. It is important to realize that this fight is not over ideology. More than a few of us in the liberal provinces of Blogistan like to see everything through the prism of “DLC v the Progressives.” This fight is definitely not over that. The Democratic caucus includes folks from the very conservative (for a Democrat) Jack Brown to the very liberal Kyrsten Sinema. Both of them are staunch allies of Democratic Leader Phil Lopes. The break away group isn’t doing this for ideology or anything resembling big ideas, but for petty personal issues. Saying that Linda Lopez, Pete Rios and crew are doing this because they are weak-kneed moderates is giving them too much credit.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

RadioKUAZ (89.1 on your FM dial) is doing something interesting: they are featuring interviews with Phil Lopes and Tim Bee every Thursday.  The two of them alternate weeks, with an interview with Lopes being featured last week, and today they will be broacasting an interview with Bee. As far as I can tell, this will be done from here until the end of the session. The interviews are aired at 3:50 and 5:50.

Kudos (not flowers) to KUAZ to providing this forum for the public to learn what is going on at the capitol.

What’s Up With That?

The funny thing with politics is, if enough people are wondering if a story is true, it doesn’t matter if it actually is true.  The fact that people are talking about it is a story all its own.

A few days ago I recieved an e-mail from a reader up in Phoenix who was asking me about the sponsors of HB 2159.  The bill raises the limit that a legislative candidate can collect from PACs.  Well, not just raises, but more than quadruples the limit from $7,560 to $32,843.

The correspondent wasn’t just concerned about the rhinocerous sized hole it blows in our current campaign finance laws, but he noted that it was introduced by a Democrat, Ben Miranda, and had as co-sponsors Manny Alvarez, Pete Rios and Albert Tom, all Democrats. The writer noted that three of these folks were part of the anti-Phil Lopes Heptarchy that had threatened to break the caucus two weeks ago. The writer asked, is this payback against Lopes?

It would be idle speculation, but it is a question being asked by several capitol watchers (from my few glances at the Yellow Sheet, I have found that I should call them “railbirds”). When the crack-up first happened there were some worries that some of the “rebel” members would take actions against Lopes’s bills, or that they would support Republican bills. Aside from some head scratching committee votes here and there, there really hasn’t been any evidence of substantive defections yet.

I don’t buy that this is an effort to break the caucus. If so, this would be a strange way to take action against Lopes. They aren’t dissing him by supporting a Republican bill because this bill has no Republican sponsors. Although I doubt that Lopes supports this bill, the way to really get his goat on campaign finance would be to mess with Clean Elections (don’t worry, the Republicans are doing that).  If this is really a way for dissident Democrats to “Get Phil,” it seems a roundabout way to go about it.

Mo Was Right About those Circular Firing Squads

Back in the closing years of the last century, I was regional director for the Young Democrats of America. A month or so into my term, an e-mail hit the YDA listserv (something I started, one of the few tangible accomplishments I made during my brief brush with leadership in that group) announcing that Oklahoma was leaving their region and joining mine. No one asked me, it just happened.

There was some dispute in their region about appointments to standing committees, and the Oklahomans felt jilted. They left and let it be known that they were going to force me to recind the appointments I had made to open up seats for them. I was a bit tweaked about this whole thing, so I sent an e-mail to Elizabeth Kennedy, a good friend who was Vice President of the YDA.

(Always good to mention Kennedy, she had an Alabama accent that could melt steel. Still makes me a bit wobbly remembering her.)

Kennedy gave me a call and said about the whole silly dust up, “How many Democrats will this elect?”

Good point.

I was reluctant to write about the Seven Against Lopes crack up in the Democratic caucus. For one thing, there are still people who think that my brother somehow directs all that I write on here (and a few who still think he writes this stuff. Just so you all know, Tom is actually illiterate. It’s a shame my family has to bear.). The last thing I wanted to do was throw hexane on this little conflagration and have people think he had something to do with it. I’ve known many of the details about this for a week or so (many of them not from my brother or any other Democrat at all, but from a Republican staffer, oddly enough), but it didn’t seem to be prudent to write about it.

Well, now it has made Espresso Pundit and the Star (Gawd, scooped by Greg Patterson and Daniel Scarpinato, too bad my oven is electric). For those of you who don’t know the story, several members of the House Democratic caucus (Seven according to Patterson, Scarpinato only has six and doesn’t list Dave Bradley) are staging a sort of slow motion coup d’etat against minority leader Phil Lopes. The initial event that allegedly triggered this was dissatisfaction with some committee assignments, and several members chose to bypass Lopes and go to Speaker Jim Weiers. There was also a small blow up over seating arrangements. Always a critical issue, those seating arrangements.

The thing that disturbs me most about this incident is that it seems to be about nothing more than personality. Let’s say, for example, that Jack Brown led a rump group of conservative Democrats that tried to upend things. It would tick me off, and I would write about it, but at some level it would make sense. There seems to be no ideological bent here: Lopes’s leadership team includes Brown, and he counts among his allies the very liberal Kyrsten Sinema. If you can’t fit comfortably between Brown and Sinema, chances are, you ain’t a Democrat. The rebels are pretty spread out on the spectrum too. Given this, it is hard to see how this is about policy or ideology.

I don’t know what exactly this accomplishes to move the agenda of either the caucus or the rebel members. Patterson supposes over at his blog that the seven members have agreed not to help Lopes if he tries to override the speaker’s actions. No one that I have talked to has seen this letter that the seven allegedly signed, and I would hope such a thing is not true. If it is, it seems a high price for the Democratic agenda to pay just so a few folks can snag nice committee assignments.

I can understand making a move like this if it advances an issue that is important to you. For example, one of the people in this group is Linda Lopez. She’s had a bill that she’s tried to push over the last couple of sessions on right-to-die, an issue that is, understandably, close to her heart. For all of her struggling, the bill has had only one hearing in four tries to get it heard. She is introducing it again this session. Does it get a hearing this time, or was the only demand for the committee assignments? If this issue, very important to her, gets a hearing, than this may have been shrewd on her part. I have my doubts, and in the end, it may not look like they accomplished much with this bargain.

Patterson has a good read over on Espresso Pundit, and it is borne out by conversations that I have had with legislators. He posits that the Heptarchy may have overplayed their hand and if the leadership vote were held today, Phil Lopes would probably be even stronger than he was when he only beat Linda Lopez by a single vote last month. There is also some talk that a few of the members of this group are starting to regret starting this whole bruhaha.

What saddens me is that we Democrats made great gains in this last election and are only a few votes shy of power. The Democrats are in a position to assert themselves, as long as their first impulse isn’t to go after each other. This is not a very good way to show the public that we deserve to be in charge.