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Analysis: In stormy seas, Paiva Weed sets a middle path

April 5, 2012

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed’s staunch support of Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio after his arrest last week was wholly predictable, even if it appalled some citizens outside the Statehouse.

The explanation reflects why Ruggerio’s became majority leader in 2010 — he’s influential and well-liked by his fellow legislators.

It didn’t hurt that Barrington police say Ruggerio after like a gentleman during and after his arrest. They felt less charitable toward Senator Frank Ciccone, as we’ve learned, and there was some not-so-subtle scolding in a statement released earlier this week by Paiva Weed:

No one is above the law and everyone – including elected officials – should be respectful of individuals in the law enforcement community, particularly when they are doing their jobs.

Ciccone’s resulting decision to step down yesterday from a chairmanship and two of three legislative committees plays to the audience outside the Statehouse — a tangible consequence for his behavior. Yet the medicine seems calibrated to not alienate other lawmakers.

The brisk minute-or-so pace with which Paiva Weed made her announcement to the media yesterday suggests, perhaps understandbly from her perspective, that she wants this whole thing to go away.

If the Senate really wanted to burnish its good-government credentials, it could give voters the chance this November to strengthen the Ethics Commission. It was one of Paiva Weed’s predecessors, after all, who effectively neutered the commission’s oversight of the General Assembly. But that might be expecting too much.

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