March 28, 2011

My Social Cause for Your Law and Order

Justin Katz

Most people probably have an idealized image of the legislative process as one in which legislators draft bills that they desire, other legislators sign on as they're interested, and everybody votes according to their understanding of the consequences. It seems somehow foreign to everyday life to trade votes on unrelated issues and such, but in a vote-counting occupation like lawmaking, it's inevitable.

And so, state representative Doreen Costa (R, Exeter, North Kingstown) is surely doing no more than offering a look into the regular processes of the General Assembly by going public with one example:

The bill's main sponsor, state Rep Teresa Tanzi last week asked Doreen Costa if she wanted one of the five coveted spots as an official co-sponsor. The legislation is meant to prevent people like Michael Woodmansee---who killed a 5-year-old boy in the 1970s---from leaving prison early. Tanzi, a Democrat, represents South Kingstown, where the boy lived. ...

"I have to horse trade," Tanzi replied, according to Costa. "She said, 'You have to vote gay marriage out of committee.'"

In one sense, there's nothing surprising about this at all. Tanzi has a desirable legislative property, and she wishes to trade partial ownership of it to remove a roadblock on an issue about which she's interested, for whatever reason. In a practical sense, also, there's little to remark. As Costa makes clear, co-sponsorship is not a prerequisite for her vote, so the offer does not affect the likelihood of the bill's final passage.

Still, when we reapply the context, the matter takes on a distasteful aroma. Tanzi has under her control a sensitive issue concerning the gruesome murder of a young child and the ability of victims to be assured that dangerous killers will not roam the streets again while still relatively young. Using that ownership to buy votes for a long-discussed and still-controversial issue like same-sex marriage is cynical, to say the least.

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I have had this explained to me thusly "everyone has their separate agendas, and they have to be unified".

Has anyone else seen Dr. Aronson's Projo column on worms today? "Joe the barber" comments there "how can you speak of worms without including the "pee-party" and the "right-wing-nuts" over at Anchor Rising."

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 28, 2011 7:45 AM

Rep Tanzi called it "compromise" and being "inclusive".

The problem is that you cannot compromise on matters of principle. Bravo that Rep Costa immediately understood that.

Posted by: Monique at March 28, 2011 8:16 AM

There is good news I can confidently report. I was told Saturday night at Twin Oaks by a person definitely in the know that freak show marriage is D-E-A-D in the Senate at least until 2013.
The really funny part that will have progressives reaching for their medical marijuana?
It was killed in a crusade led by the Senate's ONLY black member!
Choke on that "diversity" Alinsky dolts!
See ya in 2013.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at March 28, 2011 8:40 AM

Rep Tanzi called it "compromise"

"Compromise is the failure of leadership" W. Churchill

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 28, 2011 8:45 AM

We all know Costa had opposed gay marriage since the whole thing started. For DePetro to claim on air while interviewing her that he didn't know what her stance was...guess the Independent Man has declared his independence from the facts.
If Tanzi's guilty of anything, it's being naïve enough to think she should trust Costa. I think Costa's sneering "Are your parents gay?" to one of the witnesses made it pretty clear where she was parking her vote.
If you're a fellow legislator whose vote Costa needs to get a bill of hers passed, can you trust that she won't go running to the nearest radio microphone if she doesn't like your answer?

Posted by: bella at March 28, 2011 11:01 AM

Once again Bella reveals a peculiar moral code. Is there some obligation of secrecy binding representatives not to make public such horse-trading? In fact, making this kind of dealmaking public may be exactly what this state needs.

Whether Rep. Costa was "sneering" by asking a question during a hearing is debatable, perhaps demonstrable by viewing the hearing video in context. But I doubt that she sneered; and it only seemed that way to Bella because anything she disagrees with must be demonized.

Posted by: BobN at March 28, 2011 11:08 AM

This is great, Costa will make a bunch of friends with this! I am sure all of her pet projects will get passed. LOL

Oh, and by the way, Marriage Equality will pass. I also ran into someone who works at the state house. She said it is passing this year :)

Posted by: Swazool at March 28, 2011 11:16 AM

Somehow I don't think that making friends with the traditional RI Corruptocrats and leftist extremists in the GA would be high on Rep. Costa's list of priorities. But she's doing a great job of representing the people in her district and staying true to what she said in her campaign.

Posted by: BobN at March 28, 2011 12:03 PM

Remember when we used to expect people to be honorable, not the immoral sleazes that Tanzi apparently expects? Unfortunately it's not Tanzi who is naive, it's any of us who expect, or even hope, that when we meet people they are ethical. So here we are, 2011, when we need to err on the side of caution and expect what Tanzi expects - sleazy and unprinicipled and interested only in self - of our public officials.

They didn't call the first open meetings/open records laws "sunshine laws" for nothing. Thank you to Ms. Costa for letting the sunshine in, and do not be deterred, keep the light on in that dark chamber. Very little good grows in the dark.

Posted by: riborn at March 29, 2011 9:31 AM

"Most people probably have an idealized image of the legislative process"

DO you really believe this? Who is being naive? Horse trading is part of the legislative process. Sure, there maybe some issues that are "nonnegotiable." However, many issues are not. I personally do not believe that gay marriage is going to lead to Armageddon. I would gladly trade a vote top get gay marriage out committee (what's wrong with bringing it before the whole body anyway) for a more important issue.

Posted by: Sully at March 29, 2011 2:11 PM

I hope same sex marriage comes to the floor simply because the GA has been utterly gutless on the issue.They are elected to vote on proposed laws and this BS of "held for further study"on virtually any substantive issue is evasion of responsibility.
Plus I'm tired of hearing about it-let's get it settled one way or another.
Remember the state name change?That was finally brought to the public and turned down decisively.It's no longer on the radar.
Same sex marriage is before the legislature in both the form of a bill and of a referendum.If they won't act on the bill,then the latter should take place by default.The issue can't be swept under the rug year in and year out.
I prefer a vote on the bill because these legislators need their feet held to the fire a little more.

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 30, 2011 6:54 AM
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