NEWS

Editorial: Same standard for all on public rolls

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

It may be a partisan shot but state Sen. Robert Hedlund is right on target in asking that indicted colleague Sen. James Marzilli be suspended pending the outcome of the felony indecent assault charges against him.

The Weymouth Republican asked Senate President Therese Murray of Plymouth to, at the least, take away Marzilli’s $7,500 bonus that goes with being chairman of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development.

A spokesman for Murray said the Plymouth Democrat denied Hedlund’s request, stating the Senate has a process. Indeed it does, which is why, as abhorrent a thought as it is for taxpayers, Marzilli will continue to be paid his $58,237.15 salary until the end of the year when his elected replacement will take over.

But in the meantime, the process Murray is talking about is through the Senate’s Committee on Ethics and Rules which is, first laborious, and secondly, only addresses Marzilli’s ability to sit and vote as a senator, which he said he will no longer do.

But as a chairman, Marzilli is a member of the Senate leadership team and sits at the pleasure of the Senate President. Murray not only has the right to remove Marzilli, we think she has the duty to send a message that there will not be a double standard for lawmakers and other public servants.

Removing Marzilli, 50, who allegedly accosted four women in Lowell, as chairman would be symbolic and the savings minimal. But when a police officer, or any public employee for that matter, is charged with a felony, he or she is almost always suspended, sometimes with pay, sometimes without, until a resolution of the criminal matter. And it is not considered a reflection of guilt or innocence and would not be in Marzilli’s case.

But Hedlund makes a legitimate point, one that should be heeded by Murray.

“I cannot think of a single argument for why the taxpayers of Massachusetts should be paying a chairmanship stipend to a senator who is incapable of fulfilling his duties and who has announced he does not plan to return to the Senate,” Hedlund wrote in a letter to Murray.

Neither can we. Marzilli, a Democrat form Arlington, has claimed he suffers from bipolar disorder and has begun seeking treatment. We extend our sympathies to him and anyone else who suffers from mental illnesses and hope the therapy helps right his life

But he is still charged with multiple felonies and we should not have to pay extra for him to not sit at the State House nor give him a pass at taxpayer expense when we hold others on the public payroll to exacting standards.

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