Sen. Stan Rosenberg’s $45,000 Unearned Pay Raise

State Sen. President Stan Rosenberg blurred the lines between himself and Wall Street’s greed when he sought a jaw-dropping $45,000 pay raise last month, from $97,547 to $142,547.

here others were organizing strategies and events to push back against the newly installed unhinged president of the United States, Rosenberg, a Democrat from Amherst, was cynically leading the way for a pay raise that is unearned, immoral and just plain ugly.

OMG, Bernie was right about the Democratic Party. It needs a revolution.

Rosenberg is the darling of the Western Massachusetts political class and donors, agency heads and school leaders. A recipient of an exaggerated number of certificates for just doing his job, he bets that in 2018, he will win again. Bottom line, he’s got nothing to lose and $45,000 to gain.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker – who had vetoed the pay raise bill – and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito rejected the hefty increase. Top Democrats Attorney General Maura Healey, who is fighting President Trump’s questionable policies, and Treasurer Deb Goldberg also passed on their raises. There you go, Senator Rosenberg. That’s leadership.

You don’t dig into taxes supplied by hard-working people to lift you into wealth. For wealth, you go elsewhere. Write a best-selling book, invent something, go to Wall Street. Taking $18 million out of circulation so you can live high off the hog is disgraceful. Now your pension will be even higher. That’s all of us paying for your highbrowed lifestyle. Had you given yourself a cost-of-living increase only, you would still be a shining star. But you prefer to be rich.

You show rot. You know how many agencies throughout the state would benefit with even $25,000 from that $18 million pot to cover the raises? Do you know how much teachers would have appreciated being reimbursed for supplies? You didn’t even hold a hearing for the public to comment on specifics of the bill. A cowardly move.

Senator, with self-indulgence as your cheerleader rather than public service, you organized colleagues to override the governor’s veto and became one of Trump’s trumpeters.

In very little time, a lot has changed, and you, senator, are a shadow of yourself.

It seems that it was years ago that the Democratic Party was a fountain of transformational aspirations – “Let us close the springs of racial poison” (LBJ); “We choose to go to the moon” (JFK); “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (FDR); “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” (Obama).

What’s your declaration, senator?

On Inauguration Day, many of us went to the Arlington National Cemetery to stand with the fallen who made this an already great country.

At the stroke of noon, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of fallen soldiers, a few known, like Medgar Evers and U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, we held a minute of silence for all. Knowing that the incoming president had built a movement on hate, mourning these men and women pressed our hearts more deeply. Had we not sworn to never forget their sacrifices?

From the cemetery, we watched the helicopter take the Obamas away. Then we saw Air Force One so quickly disappear behind the low-hanging clouds of that rainy day.

Obama certainly made his share of disastrous decisions. The difference is he didn’t make them from a place of bigotry, unlike the current president.

Deep into his Muslim-baiting and hating pledge during the campaign, broken-hearted parents appeared on national television to talk about their son, Capt. Khan, who with the wisdom of an elder, shielded his comrades from an exploding bomb with his body, saving their lives, ending his own at 28.

Khan’s father asked the man who never should have won the GOP primaries, “Have you even read the Constitution?”

The next day, Jan. 21, the Women’s March on Washington ignited a movement. We descended on D.C. like a murmuration of starlings, swiftly moving in sync. Despair, rage, humor and simple facts adorned thousands of homemade signs: “Yuge Mistake,” “Nasty Women,” “I’ve Seen Better Cabinets at Ikea,” “Women’s Rights are Human Rights Once and For All,” – that’s a Hillary quote – and “Super Callous Fascist Racist Extra Braggadocious.”

The day after the march, we went to the Holocaust Museum because being a witness means doing something, not pretending like danger is nonexistent.

We went because as the poet Gwendolyn Brooks said, “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

Senator, where is your magnitude and bond?

Natalia Muñoz, of Northampton, is the host of “Vaya con Muñoz” on talk radio station WHMP (1400 AM).

This opinion column appeared originally in The Daily Hampshire Gazette on Feb. 13, 2017