Senator Jennifer Flanagan – My Interview With My Senator

On Election Day the other day as I was walking to vote I saw Senator Flanagan and some of her supporters waving signs and talking to people so I recorded this impromptu 3 minute  interview. 2014-11-04 My Interview with Senator Flanagan

Before this interview I was not clear if I would vote for her or against her. This interview made up my mind. It is clear that is she evading answering my questions, refusing to show her support in principle to the concept of mandatory rent escrow and not even knowing what it really is or why MA landlords are asking for it.

So and voted against her!…this time.

And on my way back she was still there so I told her how I voted and asked her to get together with her friend Senator Eldridge and fix this issue. It’s time for actions not just words and as far as being a MA voter this issue has turned me into a one-issue voter – if you support Mandatory Rent Escrow I will vote for you and if you don’t I won’t. I urge all Massachusetts Landlords to do the same thing. Tenant Retaliation Against Landlords in MA must be outlawed.

Yesterday I learned that she won but I made my point and I feel good about it. Making a point – that’s what voting is all about. I would like to be able to vote for Senator Flanagan in 2 years. We’ll see.

Here is the transcription of the interview:

“Interviewer: Okay, so can I ask you a question?

Senator Flanagan: Sure.

Interviewer: All right, I hope this thing is recording, yes. Senator Flanagan, today is Election Day. What do you know about mandatory rent escrow? And what do you think, should it be the law in Massachusetts or not?

Senator Flanagan: Well, I think you need to do a balance between protecting the landlord and protecting the tenant. I mean, we have a lot of good tenants in this state. There are some bad tenants in this state. You and I have talked about this many different times.

Interviewer: What is mandatory rent escrow?

Senator Flanagan: Well, I have the mandatory rent escrow, that the money’s in an account in the bank and it’s sitting there waiting for my tenant when they leave.

Interviewer: Waiting for your tenants?

Senator Flanagan: When my tenant moves out, she’ll get it back.

Interviewer: So why are landlords asking for that?

Senator Flanagan: I can’t tell you why certain landlords are asking for that. I’m not one of those landlords.

Interviewer: Okay, but why the majority of…

Senator Flanagan: We’ll talk off the record. You and I had this conversation multiple times over multiple years. And the legislation’s got to get out of the committee. The Bill’s got to get out of committee.

Interviewer: Okay.

Senator Flanagan: And tomorrow or tonight, you’re going to have a new legislature, with new people on committees.

Interviewer: New Chair people…

Senator Flanagan: New priorities. Almost likely new Chair people. I can’t guarantee that, but there’s a possibility.

Interviewer: So you are for it, correct? You want to have mandatory rent escrow in Massachusetts? Or are you against it and why?

Senator Flanagan: I haven’t made a complete decision on it.

Interviewer: And why not?

Senator Flanagan: It hasn’t been brought to the floor. There’s no Bill to vote on.

Interviewer: Right, but if it’s brought to the floor, what would you say?

Senator Flanagan: I have to read it. I can’t tell you what I’m going to vote on if I haven’t read it.

Interviewer: Right, basically mandatory rent escrow is…

Senator Flanagan: But the Bill that comes to the floor is the Bill that I would vote on.

Interviewer: I understand.

Senator Flanagan: So hypothetically, I wouldn’t say yes or no.

Interviewer: But in principle, basically, what it means is that when tenants file a complaint with the health board, which they are perfectly entitled to do, we simply want them to demonstrate that they filed the complaint in good faith and not in retaliation against us or because they don’t have the money for the rent. So that’s why we want them to demonstrate that they have the rent and put it aside in escrow in bank. Is that unreasonable?

Senator Flanagan: No, it’s not unreasonable.

Interviewer: That’s very reasonable to ask, right?

Senator Flanagan: Right, but I don’t have a Bill in front of me to vote, to tell you yes or no.

Interviewer: Right, well, that’s basically what we’ve been asking for the past 15 to 18 years with the Democratic legislature, and this Bill has been killed every single time.

Senator Flanagan: Well, you say a Democratic legislature. There were Republicans on those committees too. It’s not just completely Democratic legislature.

Interviewer: I know, but mostly. The Chairs are Democrats.

Senator Flanagan: But they still have Republican votes.

Interviewer: So I’m a Democrat. I want to vote Democrat. I want to vote for you. But I…

Senator Flanagan: But the responsible thing for me to do as a Legislator is to look at the Bill in front of me when it gets to my desk on the Senate floor and make the decision then, and not be presumptive and make the decision before it happens.

Interviewer: Absolutely. Okay. Senator Flanagan: So you have to let the committee and process play out. Interviewer: All right,thank you. Senator Flanagan: Thank you.”


My final comment: It is clear that I was asking her not to support a specific bill but to understand and support the concept of mandatory rent escrow. She does not understand what mandatory rent escrow is and she does not support it. She chose to evade my direct questions using the age-old politicians trick. “I can’t tell you how I feel about an issue unless I see a specific bill”. No, Senator, Flanagan, you can tell me how you feel about an issue without seeing anything. You just chose not to….just like mostly everyone else in the State House.  And for that you get my thumbs down.