Today’s Washington Post calls out Jane Harman for missing 43 votes this year alone. While Jane gives no excuse for why she isn’t showing up, she continues to collect her government salary and pension anyway. Jane announced she is leaving Congress after 33 days of her 2 year commitment but said she would serve until March 1st. Now word comes she isn’t even serving during this transition period.
Jane’s friend Kitty Felde, from the local NPR affiliate KPCC, has poked fun at people who are trying to get Millionaire Harman to pay for the special election she has created. Harman, afterall, is worth millions of dollars and her husband owns Newsweek. Kitty lives in Washington, DC and so we’re not surprised she doesn’t get the outrage we are feeling in the South Bay over being taken advantage of by a millionaire who resigned after telling us she would serve 2 years. Kitty and the rest of the LA media should find out if Jane is spending time at her new job while collecting taxpayer dollars. In fact, the Woodrow Wilson Center should come clean and tell us when they started negotiating with Jane for their top job. Additionally, the Woodrow Wilson Center should let us know if Jane has been showing up in their offices over the last few weeeks while collecting her Congressional salary.
When the Washington Post notices your absence, shouldn’t the LA media?
Former Representative Jane Harman was the second-wealthiest member of the United States Congress, with a fortune estimated at nearly $300 million. And yet she served only 33 days of a 730 day commitment after winning re-election in November 2010.
Now, California voters will be forced to foot the bill for a special election – at a price tag in the millions of dollars. She hasn’t been upfront about when she started looking for a new job and it seems unlikely she didn’t know she’d be leaving Congress before the election.
Why should Californians pay for her cavalier attitude towards public service?
The idea that Jane Harman is quitting Congress because she is a frustrated moderate is absurd. Harman is worth an estimated $300 million and so she thinks she can dine and dash at taxpayers’ expense. She has been missing in action from our 36th district for years. She didn’t hold a single public forum before the government healthcare vote despite her constituents’ pleadings and protests. She has consistently ignored the people of the South Bay and is only seen when there is an election at hand. Harman has been aloof and disconnected for years.
She quit Congress because the Democrats were no longer in control and millionaires don’t like to toil away in the minority. Why would she run for a new term if she really had no intention of finishing it? What changed so abruptly? Lee Hamilton announced May 3, 2010 that he would be leaving the Woodrow Wilson Center job that Harman is now taking. Harman and the Woodrow Wilson Center should come clean on exactly when their conversation started. If it is found that Harman was already making inquiries to take the Center’s top job before her November election then she owes the voters an apology. Harman resigning a few weeks in to a two year term is offensive to the voters. In fact, Harman served all of 33 days of her 730 day commitment before announcing her departure – that’s a cost to taxpayers of $126,575.34 of wasted time when you figure her annual office budget is $1.4 million.
Sadly, we are not surprised by her lack of respect for us – it’s been a pattern. Millionaire politicians think they can do what they want without facing the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, Los Angeles taxpayers also have to foot the million dollar special election bill to pay for Harman’s selfishness. Harman should pay for the election to fill her vacancy with her personal fortune and reimburse the taxpayers for her ego-centric decision. After all, Harman can afford it; Los Angeles taxpayers already have a huge budget deficit.
The person who replaces Harman should be someone with real world experience, not some re-cycled politician with tired ideas seeking higher office and creating more special elections. Janice Hahn and Debra Bowen are career politicians that have been so unimpressive that it would be a mistake for voters to send them to Washington. Hahn helped create the financial mess that Los Angeles finds itself in and Bowen hasn’t produced the changes at the DMV she promised. Why send uninspiring bureaucrats to do the same thing in Congress? We’ve seen what they deliver and we should say, “No thanks.”
Isn’t there someone in the South Bay that knows how to balance a budget and make the necessary tough decisions that we expect of our representatives? Is there someone in the 36th District that could bring new ideas to Washington without maneuvering for their next gig? How about we find someone that will also come back home to the South Bay after serving and live under the same laws that they helped create? Thomas Jefferson is asking for someone to stand up – and the voters are asking the same ‘ole politicians to sit down.
Voters across the country are holding out-of-touch politicians accountable for their years of egocentric decisions and callous indifference to constituents. Southern California Democrat Jane Harman exemplifies the politician that voters are tired of. Harman’s career in Congress may very well end in California’s primary election on June 8th.
What is clear to district voters is that Harman’s silly and childish public fight with Speaker Nancy Pelosi has neutered her ability to be effective in introducing or passing legislation. Its clear Harman won’t work with Republicans and can’t work with her own party’s leadership. She has single-handedly alienated most everyone she needs to be an effective voice for the people in her coastline Los Angeles district. Harman’s self-proclaimed expertise on national security issues has also become a thorny issue for the conservatives who think she isn’t tough enough and the liberals who think she is too tough. Harman is proof that if you are everything to everyone then you’re a soul-less politician without a base. Harman’s television commercials comically mention no issues but instead show pictures of the district with upbeat music playing while her name is splashed on the screen – a constant reminder to voters that we don’t know who she is or what she stands for after 8 terms in Congress. But voters have tired of being ignored by the multi-millionaire Congresswoman who failed to hold any legitimate town hall meetings on Obama’s healthcare plan even though voters in the district were calling for them. Harman, the richest Democrat in Congress, just ignored the requests and petitions from voters and kept a low profile during the debate. Harman likes to pay attention to the voters closer to her elections.
But California’s unique election process offers voters the chance to classify themselves as “Declined to state” instead of choosing between Republican or Democrat. Harman’s district, which runs from San Pedro to Venice, has one of the highest concentrations of voters classified as “declined to state” in all of California. The independent and unaffiliated voters of the district will decide who represents Los Angeles’ coastal communities in Washington, DC for the next Congress. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect for Harman to lose her seat in the primary election of June 8th. Email chains and community buzz have Democrats and Republicans joining together to dump Harman in the primary by voting for Marcy Winograd. For Democrats, Winograd is a grassroots liberal more connected to the traditional base and willing to listen to the activists of the party. For Republicans, Winograd presents an obvious and stark contrast to their conservative principles of lower taxes and personal responsibility.
Winograd’s tough grassroots campaign has forced Harman to ignore the healthcare debate and call for higher taxes and defense spending cuts despite the fact that her district is home to some of the Nation’s most respected defense contractors. Winograd has effectively outed Harman’s liberal policies at a time when voters are concerned with the traditional tax and spend tactics of this Congress.
Waiting for Winograd or Harman after June 8th, is Mattie Fein. Fein is the best hope for Republicans to take back the district and a rising star in Republican politics. Fein is smart, humble, funny and wildly experienced. She is a mother who speaks comfortably about job creation in the casual beach community of Venice as well as national security policy in the halls of Congress.
Fein will blunt Harman’s self-proclaimed expertise on intelligence and national security issues by challenging Harman’s quixotic ideas of dealing with terrorists. And Fein’s approachability and personality are more in tune with the beach culture of the district than Harman’s limousine liberal attitude.
Without even trying Harman has actually succeeded in uniting the parties together – they are now united to defeat her.
Nancy Pelosi is manipulating the legislative process away from an open and transparent one and into a secret system where her chosen few will be the only ones who know what is in a healthcare bill that will systematically change the way everyone in America receives and pays for their health insurance. Should this process really be a horse trade within the Democratic Party? And where is the Obama promise that the process would be completely transparent to the American people.
The American people are watching closely to see which members of Congress vote for this bill even though they won’t know the details of the bill and won’t have read it before the vote. This healthcare vote will be Nancy Pelosi’s Waterloo. She will find herself no longer the Speaker and her reputation ruined as an out of touch and elitist secret manipulator.
Even members of Congress that think they are in a safe district will be vulnerable. Jane Harman, for instance, has a large and active group of independents organizing to defeat her. Harman held no healthcare briefings for the public and has been completely quiet and hiding from her constituents. A multimillionaire afraid to speak with those she purports to represent is not the way our founding fathers envisioned the process.