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April 26, 2006

Mooney's Abstention Just Plain Stupid

Chris Patterson

Okay. Somebody has to say it. State Senator Alex Mooney is just plain stupid and it doesn't matter what anyone says. And occasionally he proves the point publicly.

The recent circumstance which encouraged this thinking was the matter of the BGE electricity rate hike. If you have been under a rock, you may not know that in the final hours of this year's legislative session, senators were given a bill to consider that would have phased in a 72 percent rate hike over two years instead of dropping it on consumers like a bomb on July 1.

Mr. Mooney abstained.

In all fairness to Mr. Mooney, the blame for the bill's failure does not entirely rest on him. But it is interesting that the bill did not move forward due to one vote.

The funny thing is that the senator's action seems inconsistent with his standard operating procedures. This is a man who has built his reputation on voting against things. He's never brought any significant benefits to Frederick County in his two terms in office because all he does is vote against stuff. Now he couldn't even do that.

According to published accounts, Mr. Mooney abstained because he didn't feel there was enough time to consider the bill with his fellow senators in the public forum. He made some comment about the bill being rammed down everyone 's throat "without debate" in the 11th hour.

So, he did something that is kind of like saying, "I'm not really here..Just pretend like I'm not here." He abstained.

Mr. Mooney later took a strong position about the rate hike upon questioning by the media. "People need to pay for what they get," he reportedly said. "You're getting power; you need to pay for it. You need to pay the free market value for power."

Go capitalism!

But here's the thing. With strong opinions like that, why in heaven's name didn't he simply vote against the bill?

Let's face it. Mr. Mooney will always rebound from a negative vote because the people that support him love to see him vote against things..anything. His supporters would happily vote against whipped cream on ice cream sundaes if Mr. Mooney sent out a fund-raising letter saying the creamy and delicious substance was responsible for gays or higher taxes.

Color me surprised, though, if Mooney fans accept his indecisiveness on this issue without a whimper. A lot of folks are getting an electric bill that is 72 percent higher than it was last year and that's gotta hurt. While hearing grumblings about the senator from Republicans and Democrats alike, they are louder than usual. Even fellow Republicans publicly threw the senator to the wolves on a recent edition of Adelphia's Pressing Issues.

And, why not? Senator Mooney should have known enough about the bill to take a stand on it. If he didn't know enough about it, he should have taken the initiative to learn about it before walking into the debate that night. Here 's why.

The morning after the vote, Senator Mooney is quoted as saying, "You take one of the most important issues we've ever dealt with down here and you bring it out 20 minutes before midnight on the last day of the session and the Senate president tries to ram it through without debate, and that's just not right."

So, does it bother anyone else that he said the issue was "One of the most important issues they've ever dealt with?"

Surely the senator would not have gone into the final day of the session to vote on "one of the most important issues he has ever dealt with" while in office without having researched the matter before walking into the room. Would he?

From his public comments - such as they are - it appears Senator Alex Mooney wants us to believe that's exactly what he did - he walked into a vote on "one of the most important issues he has ever dealt with" without researching it fully in advance. And, well.. I say we should believe him.

And if we believe, him, it leaves us only one conclusion. Senator Mooney is not just stupid, but also lazy.

Oops. I guess I should have done a little more research.

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