Sunday, February 1, 2009
Farewell Sal, Welcome Johanna
Stalwart foe of casinos and staunch friend of equal marriage Sal DiMasi left the office of Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives last week. Some miles to the east, Geir Haarde, premier of Iceland (a country that looks like it spent a wild weekend in Vegas) also found himself on the way out.
Iceland's economy crumbled after its banks gambled on the U.S. mortgage bubble never bursting. Their debts were more than six times the size of Iceland's GDP.
The incoming prime minister of Iceland is Johanna Sigurdardottir, co-founder of the Social Democratic Alliance, and the world's first openly gay head of government. Her new administration is a coalition of social democrats and the Left Green Movement, and in crucial parliamentary votes it can count on the support of two left-of-center parties -- the Progressives and the Liberals -- that remain outside the government. To this green social democrat, that sounds like a dream team.
The BBC reports that Sigurdartottir is a former union organizer and flight attendant who has become one of Iceland's most popular politicians. One of her nicknames is Saint Johanna, says the BBC, as a result of her work for disadvantaged people. Iceland is casino-free, by the way.
Now back to Massachusetts: The new Speaker of the House is Robert DeLeo who says he "likes slots at the racetracks" and whose ascension to the big chair has the casino industry suddenly feeling lucky, according to the Boston Globe. If you would like to call Johanna and ask her if she would consider trading places with Speaker DeLeo, here is her office number: 011 354 545 8400.