Fire Sale

| May 13, 2002

Fire Sale

Three years after Massachusetts voters passed a 'clean elections' initiative, entrenched Massachusetts legislators are reneging on the deal, writes Micah L. Sifry for In These Times. The debate has reached such an impasse, in fact, that the state Supreme Court has authorized election reform advocates to auction off state property in order to fund the initiative.

The law, passed by a 2-1 margin in 1998, was supposed to take effect in time for this November’s elections, but legislators led by Speaker of the House Thomas Finneran have refused to release the estimated $40 million needed to implement the law. In February, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature must either repeal the law or release the funds needed for implementation. The Legislature did neither, so election reform advocates took the case back to the Court, which then authorized the sale of state property to fund the initiative.

The first auction was held April 28 and included several state-owned vehicles. 'We’re seizing late model cars with a high resale value,' says David Donnelly of Mass Voters, 'so as to cause as little disruption to the taxpayers as possible.' Subsequent sales, however, may include Fineran’s furniture. 'Taking a love seat is not a hindrance to the legislative process,' says Donnelly.

Finneran’s chief of staff has countersued to save his boss’ furniture.
--Craig Cox
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