For the last few weeks, newspapers around the North Coast have been calling on State Senator Pat Wiggins to resign her office. The worst of them adopt a pleading sort of tone. First they fire a 21-gun salute to honor Wiggins' many years in elected office, reading her accomplishments into the record. Then, suddenly, they drop to their knees and beg for the senator — who is suffering from an unspecified but clearly degenerative disease, rendering her sadly unfit for the job — to step aside for the benefit of the plebs, who will certainly remember with gratitude the kindness she did them at the end of her awe-inspiring career.
Naturally, such entreaties have accomplished exactly zero. To be fair, though, the rather more pugnacious editorial in Feb. 26's Santa Rosa Press Democrat didn't fare any better. “There is no dishonor in having a health problem,” the P-D wrote. “What is shameful is how she is being sequestered, hushed-up and hidden by a protective staff and a complicit state Legislature that seems to be more concerned about Wiggins' votes than her health.”
This was rather more to the point; Wiggins herself isn't driving the bus, and hasn't been for some time. Also unlike almost everyone else, the P-D editorialists decline to sully the concept of “public service” by applying it to a $100,000/year job.
There are two reasons for the recent flurry of editorializing. For one, the senator suffered another breakdown in a subcommittee hearing last month, threatening staff members when she found her water bottle was empty. According to reports, she had to be restrained from physically attacking people on that occasion. Secondly, this week marks an important political deadline: If Wiggins were to resign on Wednesday (March 17), a special election to replace her could be held. If she were to resign after this deadline, the seat would remain vacant until after this November's elections.
Wiggins' health problems have long been common knowledge inside the upper echelons of state government. Certainly her aides and colleagues have long been aware that she is suffering from some sort of senile dementia. And it's been over six months since the P-D published an in-depth investigative piece that made her grave situation very public. Still, as of right now — the night before the deadline — Wiggins' handlers show no sign of allowing the woman some measure of dignity in the coming months. They have decided themselves fit to do her job for her, regardless of the will of the electorate. There have been no uprisings within the local county central committees of the Democratic Party, who in their deference show themselves content to be represented by a physically incapable person so long as that person is a Democrat. The ever-wacky Internet write-ups of the latest Wiggins high jinks are a small price to pay, apparently. Everyone already knows that democracy is a joke.
Poor Pat Wiggins, with no one but newspapers defending her legacy!