Vote No on Questions 4 and 5

There are three ballot questions that will appear state-wide on Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 6. We discussed those questions in this space last week.

In addition, there are two other questions, Questions 4 and 5 on the ballots in Revere and Winthrop, that will appear only in Revere and Winthrop for consideration by the voters of those communities.

Both questions apparently were put forward by a pair of MIT students who do not live in either Winthrop or Revere and who know nothing about our community needs or residents. If the proponents of these questions were serious about the issues they are raising, then presumably they would have sought to place these questions on the ballot state-wide.

But inasmuch as they only needed 200 signatures each in Winthrop and Revere in order to place these questions on our ballots, it is obvious that they are not really serious about what they are doing, but rather are doing so here only to make some sort of political statement or have a personal vendetta against Rep. Robert DeLeo or worse have been put up to this base campaign by a cowardly person.  Whatever the reason, their aim is to impugn the integrity of Robert DeLeo who has served the people honorably of Winthrop and Revere for more than 40 years.

Question 4 states: “Shall the State Rep. from this district be instructed to vote in favor of the global warming solutions implementation act which would require the state to create a clean energy roadmap for meeting 2050 emissions limits by the global warming solutions act of 2008, including detailed modeling and analysis interim and sector emissions limits and market based compliance mechanisms.”

Question 5 states: “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would repeal the $45,000 increase in annual compensation for the Speaker of the House of Representatives enacted on House No. 158 by the 190th General Court; prohibit elected officials and their senior staff from engaging in lobbying activity for five years once they leave office, and enact a rule that no member shall hold for more than eight years consecutive years the office of Speaker of the House?”

We urge a “No” vote on both questions for these reasons:

First and foremost, we generally oppose ballot questions that instruct an elected official to vote a certain way because it is contrary to our nation’s founding principle of a representative democracy.

If our elected officials, at any level of government, were to be told how to vote on every issue, our legislative form of government would cease to exist as we know it. We elect our fellow citizens to an office with the expectation that they will learn about the issues and they will use their best judgment.

If the voters don’t like what they do, then the voters have the ultimate say at the next election.

Second, specifically as to Question 4, we take a back seat to no one as regards the issues of climate change and taking the steps necessary to end the destructive path that is facing our planet. Indeed, in our view, Question 4 does not go far enough, because it talks about meeting guidelines by 2050 — yet a recent United Nations report informed the world that the catastrophic effects from climate change may happen within 20 years unless drastic measures are taken immediately.

We have to admit that we’re not sure what Question 4 really accomplishes, but given the time frame it envisions, it would seem to be very little when we need a lot more.

Third, as regards Question 5, it is our view that the vote by the entire legislature creating pay scales for its officers and committee members was long overdue.

Those who talk about the virtues of the private sector, if they were being honest, would be the first to admit that the salary level that existed before the legislation addressed in Question 5 did not even remotely conform to the responsibilities of the job.

Indeed, as we have said many, many times in this column, long before Bob DeLeo became Speaker (and even before he was elected to the House), we believe that our state officials (and teachers, police officers, and firefighters) are woefully underpaid.

We were pleased that the Mass. Legislature actually showed some courage — knowing that there would be political fall-out from the usual suspects — when enacting the pay scale being targeted in this question, not only for themselves, but also for future legislative leaders.

We urge a “No” vote on Questions 4 and 5.

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