Fire Sale

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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