Friday, May 1, 2009

The Role of the Press

I see two opinion pieces in today's Star regarding the train wreck that is this Legislative Session. First is Matt Tully's great column that reaffirms his writing and thinking talents. In 'Our lawmakers failed us again', Matt writes:
After four months of silly games and petty politics, lawmakers ended their 2009 session without fulfilling their only constitutional duty: passage of a new state budget. Despite a winter and spring spent cashing paychecks from taxpayers and enjoying free meals from lobbyists, the General Assembly failed Indiana.

First, the General Assembly is in dire need of new leaders. The annual brawls between House Speaker Pat Bauer and Republican leader Brian Bosma have turned the House into a gridlocked embarrassment. Second, there is a stunning lack of effective rebels in either chamber willing to challenge their legislative bosses and the old way of doing things. Third, if things don't change and if the legislature doesn't start thinking less about politics and more about policy, Indiana is going to sink even further behind other states.

The Star Editorial Board also took on the pathetic Session in an editorial titled 'A sad state of legislative leadership', which started with:

Rating the Indiana General Assembly's sessions is like rating Chicago Cubs seasons. The scale typically runs from disappointing to bad, to dismal to disastrous.

The legislative session that expired Wednesday night deserves a spot on the low end of that register for several reasons, including lawmakers' failure to complete a state budget before they adjourned. Now, taxpayers must bear the cost of a special session at a time when revenues are falling and services are squeezed. That's a minor concern in the scheme of things, but it does illustrate how ineffective and even irresponsible lawmakers were over the course of the session.

These are representative cases where the role of the Press in a free society is to call out elected officials who do not do the work of the people. This is a good thing.

But come election time, lets watch closely for who the Star endorses. While it is clear that Dan Burton will definitely feel the Star's wrath, will they settle for that token gesture? Will they do their usual thing of shedding crocodile tears for the state of our city, state and nation, then endorse all but one or two incumbents?


Jen & Bill said...

So how do we know which legislators are doing their jobs? I don't care which party they are from. Which of them are supporting reform? Which are feeling the wrath of their respective leaders? That might give a clue. I've tried following bills through the House and Senate websites, but if you can't follow up every day, it becomes hard to track more than one or two legislator's records at any given time.

Had Enough Indy? said...

I guess my approach would be to follow your own representatives most closely. Do they only regurgitate the party line or do they hold more complex attitudes? And, its not bad to decide if they vote in a manner that you think is beneficial to the public.
The public has a responsibility to pay attention, to let their elected officials know their positions when the issue warrants, and to vote. That’s my opinion anyway.