I have never made it a secret that I hate legislation. I loathe it. I love politics, but legislation can go to the dogs. I’m not very good at it either. Too many tricks of the trade I’ve never “gotten.” I wish there were a board of experts I could leave it to, and do my own thing via the movement.
I’ve been at the game for decades. It used to be fun. Once on a whim, when I still lived in Canton (Ohio) I took the Greyhound to Columbus, booked a room at the downtown Holiday Inn (along with a room service meal and a Singapore Sling), and testified off the top of my head on a bill before the House Judiciary Committee. No “submitted testimony” to fuss with. Just blathered on, and nobody seemed to mind. Unlike later experiences, everyone was polite. Attorney Irene Smart was on the committee. She had been my neighbor when I was growing up–back before either of us got political aspirations. She said I did fine and informed me if she got more than 14 letters from the public on a bill, she knew it was important. That still seems right to me, knowing what I know now about responses to action alerts.
Another time–and this is my pride and joy– I made Wayne Hays cry.
Now that name Wayne Hays may mean nothing to you, but back in the day, he was a big name. Hays was from Belmont County and had served in the US House forever (13 terms). He’d been the Chair of the Committee on House Administration. He’d been Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He’d run for President. He was a Big Cheez Democrat.
But then came THE SEX SCANDAL. By today’s standards, it was pretty mild, but it was still a doozy. Hays’ secretary/mistress of two years, Elizabeth Ray, who admitted that she couldn’t type, file, or even answer the phone, dropped the dime on him to the Washington Post. After 38 years of marriage Hays had left his wife–not for Ray–but to marry one of his other secretaries. Ray was a player and would have probably been fine, but for a serious social faux pas: ” I was good enough to be his mistress for two years but not good enough to be invited to his wedding.” Oh, Lizzie, I feel your pain!
The House, a bastion of moral rectitude, demanded Hays resign. In retrospect. it seems that his real crime was putting someone on the federal payroll for what was perceived as “sex services”-which he denied, but no one seemed to figure out what she actually did otherwise. It reflected badly on the Democrats. Or was it a little matter of possible backroom votes-for-sex deals that nobody wanted to talk about?
Hays’ constituents loved him and didn’t care. In fact, he was a great Rep and his Constituent Services were unbeatable. So Hayes went home and was promptly elected to the Ohio House by about 80% as I remember. He served one term and then retired with his new wife, to his farm.
I was heavily involved in prisoner’s rights back then and was also the secretary of the board of the Ohio Coalition Against the Death Penalty which included some pretty heavy hitters: Catholic Bishops and other church-affiliated social justice groups, members of the OSU Law faculty, and unions among others. Of course, I went to Columbus to testify at a House Judiciary hearing in support of a bill to abolish the death penalty. Hays was on the committee.
Much to my shock, although I only heard about it later from our board president, I’d made Hays cry. He went into the meeting dead set in support of the death penalty and walked out an abolitionist. Admittedly, he did look a bit gray during my testimony, but I didn’t think anything beyond that. After the meeting, he asked our board president to tell me that I had changed his mind. And then he cried.
Holy cow! I mean, this would be like making Mitch McConnell cry.
I wish I had that kind of power today. Now, it’s more of an eye-roll and get-out-of-here or worse.
In 1999 or 2000 I testified before another the Ohio Judiciary Committee against Ohio’s original Safe Haven bill. The sponsor called me a liar and a baby killer. But every cloud has a silver lining. Jim Jordan–yes THAT Jim Jordan–agreed with me and used my points to argue against it. It passed anyway.
So, I’m writing all this tonight because some legislative stuff has come up that I need to work on. Last-minute stuff. End of the session stuff. Let’s sneak it through stuff. Instead of talking off the top of my head, which is probably never a good idea anyway, I need to write up a bunch of stuff. I doubt I will make anybody cry (except me.)
So it’s back to legislative hell for the next couple of days. spending most of my time on something I hate. I will, however, post some very short blogs to keep my commitment to NAM/NAAM/NanoPoblano. Once I say I’ll do something I try to do it.
Poke the Bear?
We Poke Back!
Day 12 NAM/NAAM/NanoPoblano
Originally posted: Daily Bastardette, November 12, 2022