Choosing a bad example to follow

One of the major dings I give John Kerry is how he pretty much blew off his duties as a United States senator during his run for president — he missed well over 75% of all roll call votes in the 2003-2004 session. I thought that he should have resigned and allowed someone else to represent the people of Massachusetts, much like Bob Dole did in 1996, or at least refused his paycheck.

Well, it turns out that he might have started a trend back home.

Boston City Councilor Felix Arroyo was elected on his promises to put an end to the “old boy network” and bring responsibility and accountability to the city government. But since he took office in 2003, he’s only made it to roughly 3/4 of all meetings — and that percentage is going down all the time.

Now, Mr. Arroyo could be a very busy man. But the city of Boston pays its Councilors over $87,000 a year, and for that he ought to show up more than that. If I skipped a day of work every week, I’d be fired — and that would still give me an 80% attendance rating, better than his.

Other councilors have other commitments and problems, too. One councilor is currently undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, but still shows up. Another only missed a couple of meetings while being treated for leukemia.

On the other hand, though, considering how things are often done in Massachusetts, perhaps more politicians ought to be encouraged to not show up for work. As Mark Twain once noted, “no man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislation is in session.”

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