I was sorry to read Lee Cataluna’s column in Sunday’s Star-Advertiser (“Fold against adversity, just like the Legislature“). Using humor as a weapon, she blasts the Legislature for what she describes as “giving up” when faced with complicated issues.
It’s the kind of column that contributes to public estrangement from the political process, an attitude that trickles down to the state’s abysmal voter turnout and lack of participation in public affairs.
Catalina doesn’t name the issues she believes were given up on prematurely, or that were simply not worked on hard enough to craft solutions. Identifying those issues would have allowed those who disagree with her stance to chime in with alternate, perhaps less cynical, interpretations. Instead, she tees off on a generalized, nebulous straw man. A cheap shot, in my view.
The legislative process is incredibly complex, requiring somehow harnessing 76 potential conflicting personalities and political aspirations in a process of crafting legislation and steering it over hurdles through a process of open discussion, private negotiations and bargaining, balancing or steering past special interest groups and their lobbyists, community groups focusing on a single issue, headlines in the media that often reflect another political agenda, all within a deadline of 60 working days.
By the way, that time crunch is, at least in part, a result of the public’s disinterest in paying for a year-round legislature where additional time would be available to deal with those nasty, complicated issues.
It would seem that the lack of agreement on rail was one of the “failures” that prompted Cataluna’s diatribe.
But this is one of those cases where the disagreements between legislators and factions simply reflect the conflicting views in the broader community. There aren’t easy answers. There probably aren’t even any good answers. Past city administrations have left us with such a colossal mess that a few months of legislative attention, while juggling the thousands of other bills and issues pending during the session, had little chance of reaching a clear decision.
Here once again, Cataluna could have been specific and provided details of where she thinks the process failed, what facts or factors were overlooked or overvalued, and where she believes it should have led. But that didn’t happen.
Overall, I just wish Cataluna had deployed her wit and writing skills to describe the legislative process in a way that would draw people in rather than drive them away from public issues.