Politicians are fair game and easy targets.
They push bills to designate an official state cheese and drag their feet on anything controversial. They’re quick to take credit and even quicker to find someone else to blame.
Time and again they prove themselves worthy of scorn and ridicule by representing the interests of everyone except the people they were elected to represent.
At least that’s the way it seems.
But sometimes what seems to be true isn’t the whole story.
Sometimes they’re doing exactly the kind of stuff they should be doing, and not seeking inordinate amounts of publicity for doing so.
On Monday morning, state Rep. Dan Winslow, a Republican from Norfolk, showed up at the Milford unemployment office to draw attention to the state’s deficit in job creation.
He picked a good place to go and a good time to be there.
Staffing at the Milford site has prompted several people to call the newsroom to say they waited all day and never got to see anyone. On Monday morning, there were 20 people in line before the doors opened.
Winslow said he talked to a forklift operator who had been out of work for more than two years and was now living in his car.
Will Winslow’s visit get the forklift operator back to work? Maybe not. Will he be able to fast-track bills to help others in that worker’s shoes? Unlikely.
But by showing up, he at least sent the message he grasps that not all his constituency has been lifted by the state’s shrinking unemployment rate, and blue-collar workers and older workers remain particularly hard-hit.
State Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, recently met with a group of constituents, including Marlborough real estate agent Lyn Gorka, who are looking for some sort of legislation to prevent an animal being left to die in an abandoned property, the way yellow Lab Phantom was in a Hudson condo complex last year.
Eldridge didn’t seek publicity for the meeting and didn’t promise quick answers.
Still, “the meeting went really well,’’ said Gorka.
“The meeting was mostly a chance to discuss policy ideas they had, as well as existing pending bills that might help accomplish some of the same goals,’’ Melissa Threadgill, a spokeswoman for Eldridge, said in a recent email. After doing some research, Eldridge’s staff found a bill filed by state Rep. Harold Naughton Jr., D-Clinton, “would require all cities and towns to certify that abandoned properties have been inspected, which would find any pets that had been left behind,’’ she said. “It seems like passing this bill would be the fastest way to see a substantive change in policy. Given the timing and the legislative schedule, any new bill that is introduced wouldn’t see any movement until at least a year from now, and probably much longer.’’
Such a bill comes too late for Phantom, who was last seen alive by neighbors in May and whose remains were found in September, but if it helps any animal escape his fate, I’m all for it. I respect Eldridge’s willingness to support a colleague’s bill rather than making sure his name is attached to legislation that would take far longer to make its way through the State House maze. And I respect the fact his office didn’t seek attention about the meeting.
I also respect U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern and his staff not tooting their own horn on an issue for which they deserve credit.
I recently ran into Lila, an Egyptian native and American citizen who had grave fears about the safety of her Coptic Christian family back in Egypt last April. I wrote about her concerns, but told her a column in a local newspaper would offer little protection for her loved ones in Assiut. She followed the advice to contact legislators, and when I saw her earlier this month, she said she’d just learned her parents had been granted visas, thanks to efforts by McGovern, D-3rd, and his staff.
It’s not the first time I’ve told people to contact their senators and representatives, locally or in Washington, and it won’t be the last.
For all they do to earn scorn, politicians also honestly do, on many occasions, go to the mat for the people they represent.
And once in a while, they deserve a pat on the back for the efforts that rarely make headline news.