House dissidents might serve public's interest
Three Democratic lawmakers broke with tradition in criticizing the House speaker on opening day.
THE opening session of the state Legislature came with a bit of theater when three House members rose to denounce longtime Speaker Calvin Say
. The break from the day's ritual of leis, rhetoric, feasts and making nice was criticized as unseemly and as sour grapes since two of Say's adversaries once were part of his leadership fold.
Appropriate or not, the breach in the united front of House Democrats might better serve the public if it leads to openness and liberated expression about legislation. Dissent from a loyal opposition should be welcomed as long as the intention is to benefit the community and not simply a struggle for power.
Democratic House members Sylvia Luke, Scott Saiki and freshman Della Au Belatti raised eyebrows when they used the customarily ceremonial occasion to speak against Say's continued leadership.
Luke, who previously held the vice speaker post, fired off against what she described as Say's "need to hold on to power and the old ways." Saiki, the former majority leader, called for change, declaring the House has too long been controlled by insider dealings. Belatti, who is newly elected and had little to gain by going up against a formidable politician, nevertheless criticized the status quo.
All three apologized for breaching protocol, but they need not have. With few Republican lawmakers to challenge the majority, Democrats in the House, as well as in the Senate, do not often encounter resistance, at least not publicly. Bills emerge from both chambers already prepped and ready to serve, sometimes with little discussion conducted outside conference rooms.
It might be naive to think that three House members can make much of a difference, but it also would be naive to think that the trio stands alone; there could be more chafing under the leadership's bonds who might show their faces as the session progresses.
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