Reform, apparently, is for other people.

How else to describe Robert DeLeo's all-too-expected yet still galling move to toss out the term limits he touted when he became House speaker?

Back in 2009, in the aftermath of the resignation of his predecessor, the disgraced and now-incarcerated Sal DiMasi, DeLeo the reformer pushed to limit the speakership to two four-year terms.

Six years later, his time in power nearing an end, DeLeo decided to change the rules to suit himself. Lickspittle rank-and-file Democrats were happy to help, voting Thursday to kill term limits.

Locally, only state Rep. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, joined with Republicans -- including local Reps. James Lyons, R-Andover, and Lenny Mirra, R-West Newbury, and Minority Leader Bradley Jones, R-North Reading -- in voting to retain term limits for the speaker.

Before the House vote, DeLeo told reporters his position on the issue had "evolved."

After the vote, he denied he had broken a promise, saying his experience was needed in a state with a new governor and a new Senate president.

"I wouldn't say I'm going back on my word as much as the fact that over six years, rightly or wrongly, I have learned and I feel have learned in terms of what the importance is of doing away with the term limits we have in the rules," he said.

What he has learned is that power is nice to have and difficult to give up. That's why its necessary to limit the length of time one can hold sway over the House. If voters don't like their local legislators, they can simply vote them out. They have no voice in selecting House leadership. We are reminded of Lord Acton's famous phrase: "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Let's look at DeLeo's predecessors:

* Charles Flaherty was forced from office in 1996 after pleading guilty to a federal tax charge.

* Flaherty's successor, Thomas Finneran, pleaded guilty in 2007 to a federal obstruction of justice charge for giving false testimony in a lawsuit over a legislative redistricting plan.

* DeMasi, who followed Finneran, was convicted in 2011 on charges of conspiracy, extortion and theft.

Last year, DeLeo was named an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the patronage hiring scheme that led to federal convictions for three Probation Department higher-ups, including the department's former chief, John O'Brien.

DeLeo, who was never charged or called to testify, called the process a "witch hunt." Thursday, he praised his fellow representatives and, in doing so, himself.

"What we've done in the past six years has been remarkable," DeLeo said. "Other members have approached me about the importance of staying on and completing this kind of work and our record of success."

That record of success includes partial responsibility for a $750 million budget deficit, a deepening heroin epidemic and a reluctance to take on the state's "hotel homeless" problem. We suspect an average voter would have a markedly different opinion of the House's "success."

There are those who note lifting the term limits would also make DeLeo eligible to benefit from any pay raise for the speakership. A special legislative task force last year called for raising the speaker's salary from $102,279 to $175,000. Such a raise would also likely mean a pension boost.

Our local Democratic delegation was nowhere to be heard on the issue this week. None were brave enough to oppose the speaker, choosing instead to settle for table scraps -- a better office, maybe a slightly better committee assignment.

In their stead, we'll leave you with the words of one of the few Democrats willing to speak up Thursday, Jonathan Hecht of Watertown:

"It's like magnetic north," he said of the speakership. "All compasses tend to swing in its direction and by eliminating term limits we will make it more powerful still.

"If we're honest with ourselves, we have to admit that absent term limits, there are no real checks on on the speaker's longevity in office. The strength of the House lies not in the longevity of its leadership but the vitality of its membership."

On Thursday, both leadership and vitality were sadly lacking.

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