Dave Richards for July 24th…………
--A story I read from the Boston news wire got me thinking. The story read that lawmakers on Beacon Hill were angry because two officials with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles simply didn’t show up to a committee meeting to be grilled by a legislative sub-committee. They just didn’t show up. No explanation.
We know that an audit is being conducted as part of the investigation into the out-of-state-infractions scandal, but that’s not due to be completed until September. It appears from this story that a certain sub-committee couldn’t wait for the audit and wanted to grill these two registry officials right now. I thought about it for a minute. I couldn’t come up with one logical reason why they should do that, other than to conduct a circus for their own amusement or political profit.
What would they ask these two people which would make any sense? Would they ask “Why were the notices from other states ignored?” Well that’s a silly question to ask, really. Nobody is going to say they even knew they were being ignored if they have half a brain in their head. It’s already been established that in the day to day workings of the registry, when the notices came in from other states they were placed in the Inbox but nobody checked the Inbox. At least that was the initial comments I heard. It’s plausible. And the investigation will find the truth of the matter.
So what should a good citizen do when they are called upon to “testify” by a group of legislators whose only interest is to ask leading questions and to make you look bad so they can look good doing it?
The way I was raised, you respond respectfully to the request to appear. But when you do appear, if they start in with the “so when did you stop beating your wife?” kind of questions, you just remind them you are there because you respect the high office the questioner holds and you wish they would respect themselves and their high office as much as you do.
Don’t be evasive. Don’t work hard to offer answers you know will be unhelpful. Just ask them politely to ask their questions in a way you can answer them honestly and completely. Without emotion. Without hidden agenda. And so long as they refrain from acting like a pulpit pounding preacher or a bad rendition of Perry Mason, you’ll all get along just fine and you’ll do what you can to help them do the business of the people.
And there’s the key. When the legislative members are doing the business of the people everything works. It stops working when they are doing the business of getting re-elected or qualifying for a TV interview or a desired committee assignment.
Does anyone here think for a moment that someone at the Mass. RMV looked at the infraction notices from other states and said to themselves, “let’s just ignore these.” ? Of course you don’t. Nobody thinks that.
So tell me, what questions would you ask someone at the RMV if they appeared before you which wouldn’t make you (not them) look stupid? Think about that. Then think better of doing it at all.
We can expand upon this idea to the endless congressional committee hearings in Washington, D.C. Personally, I’d feel better letting the FBI conduct investigations and have them report their findings to congress. I pick the FBI because it’s the closest thing I think we have to a federal police force. Law enforcement professionals should investigate. Law makers should make laws.
But that’s not the way it is in reality. Congress will conduct their own investigations, because that ‘Genie has been out of the bottle for a long time’, as the old saying goes. But I think if congress wants the respect of the American people they should act respectfully to those who testify. Because each time they don’t, the next people called upon to testify will become more defensive and evasive and, in short, less respectful of people who don’t appear to be respecting themselves……..or the high public office to which they’ve been elected.
The late, great George Nasuti said it best, “Give Respect, Get Respect.”
--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to: email@example.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.
Thanks for reading.