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February 14, 2013

Senator Raskin, Pay Attention!

Zachary Peters

Last week, a record crowd flooded Lawyer’s Mall in front of the State House in Annapolis to rally against the newest gun regulations proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley.


In addition to the rally, hundreds of citizens lined up around the State House, and down the side streets, to testify before legislators on the issue of these latest gun-grabbing bills.


While so many citizens provided educated, heartfelt, and meaningful testimony to the group of senators, one senator found something more important to take care of.


During the passionate testimony, Sen. Jamie Raskin (D., Montgomery) decided to focus his attention on playing computer chess games during the hearing. Don’t believe me? Check Facebook, Twitter, Google, Breitbart, you name it; the photo went viral.


In all fairness to the senator, I reached out to his office prior to writing this column and asked if he could confirm that it is indeed him in the photo, and to also confirm or deny that he was playing chess on his computer during the hearing. Sadly, I did not get a reply. Surprising, I know.


Is this what we pay our legislators to do? It would be bad enough if it was during the workday in his office, but to brazenly play computer games during citizen testimony? Give me a break! This is why no one has faith in our legislators; no one likes Congress. This represents the epitome of government nonsense and waste.


We pay these people straight out of our tax dollars to represent us, thoroughly read through bills, and work tirelessly on our behalf. Do these things happen? I would say they’re a rarity, but there are a few responsible legislators left.


I digress. While Senator Raskin wasn’t busy perfecting his chess skills, the panel of senators made sure to stop the testimony at 9 P.M. in order to get a good night’s sleep, despite the over 200 citizens left outside who didn’t get to voice their opinions or beliefs.


This simply demonstrates just how out of touch our political leaders can be. As taxpayers – and the people who fund this corrupt government – we deserve much better than computer games, backroom deals, and overall laziness. We see it all the time in Congress, given only minutes to “read” extensive bills before a major vote, or taxpayer funded vacations and other unnecessary and ridiculous luxuries.


We would all benefit from Senator Raskin issuing a heartfelt public apology for intentionally ignoring and disregarding the citizens who testified before him. This atrocious act, let alone his horrible voting record, is certainly enough to ensure this man should never be elected to any office ever again.


To the citizens of Montgomery County who voted for this gentleman, do you feel your interests are being best represented when your Senator plays computer games during testimony or floor debates? Do you feel he is earning his taxpayer-funded salary of over $43,000 by playing games and making a mockery of the democratic system during citizen testimony? Well, I certainly don’t.


With elections for the House of Delegates and state Senate just around the corner in 2014, I would ask all Maryland citizens to consider exactly what their representatives have accomplished throughout their time in office, not just during the campaign season.


While the state Senate is not as prestigious as the United States Congress, there is still so much meaningful work that goes on, and it is vital to elect the appropriate people for the job.


I rest assured that my senator, David Brinkley, does not play computer chess games during session, and certainly does not disregard, or blatantly ignore, citizens or public figures during important testimony.


Check up on your senators and delegates. They might not be working as hard as they like to say they do during campaign seasons and door-to-door walks.


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