Term Limits a Must for New House Speaker [OPINION]
Robert DeLeo is stepping down as Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and everyone who pays taxes to this corrupt Commonwealth should be gleeful. The only problem is that whoever replaces DeLeo will be just more of the same.
House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy) and Rep. Russell Holmes (D-Boston) are the candidates for DeLeo's replacement. Mariano already has the vote in the bag and will be the next Speaker. Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset) had a notion but was outgunned by Mariano. A bout with COVID-19 has kept Haddad sidelined throughout the process.
When DeLeo was elected Speaker in 2009, the three previous Speakers had resigned from office because of corruption scandals. Sal DiMasi went to jail. DeLeo voted to support term limits for Speaker. When his term was about to expire, rather than step aside, DeLeo pushed a rules change that removed the cap and allowed him to serve a record 12 years as Speaker.
Holmes supports term limits for the Speaker, while Mariano does not, according to the State House News Service. The Legislature's rules committee will discuss the matter early in the new year. It is clear that Mariano – and not Holmes – has the votes, and therefore the power to determine whether term limits will return.
Don't hold your breath.
Massachusetts is so deeply immersed in a one-party system of government that real change is unlikely. Also, elected officials at the legislative level are rarely threatened at the ballot box and are almost always returned to office, term after term.
As long as their power is absolute, the Democrats will continue to rule Beacon Hill with an iron fist. Don't expect much of a change under a Mariano speakership. If anything, the grip on power only gets more tyrannical.
If House members can't stand up to the power structure, they should at least demand term limits for the leadership.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.