Tag Archives: Brian Savage

I want no part of Brian Savage’s locker room

In last weekend’s stampede of Vermont Republicans distancing themselves from Donald Trump, there was one high-ranking GOPer who clings stubbornly to The Donald.

That would be Assistant House Minority Leader Brian Savage of Swanton. According to VPR, he first posted a Facebook message saying he was done with Trump, making the dutiful Republican shoutout to his daughter and two granddaughters.

He then apparently thought better (or should I say “worse”) of it, because he later deleted the Facebook post and undeclared his unendorsement of Trump.

“Was it the right thing to say? Is it the right thing to say amongst people? No,” Savage says.

But, he says he agrees with Trump’s characterization of the exchange as ill-conceived locker-room banter.

“We’ve probably said similar things in our lifetime, you and I,” Savage says. “It’s just that the microphone probably wasn’t on.”

Yeah, er, no. Please don’t indict the entire human race with your locker-room misogyny, Mr. Savage. Maybe you talk that way in a roomful of The Boys, but I, for one, have never ever boasted about my ability to commit sexual assault.

Then again, Savage is a Franklin County Republican, so perhaps he shares a locker room with Norm McAllister.

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Party of One

The leader of the State House’s perpetually undersized Republican caucus is feeling his oats.

[House] Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, said he believes the Republican Party can increase its presence in the chamber from the current 53 seats to 76 — a majority.

I understand it’s part of his job to put on a brave face, but there is no way on God’s green Earth that the Republicans rack up a net gain of 23 House seats. After all, 2014 was a horrible year for Vermont Democrats; their ticket-topper was the roundly unpopular Peter Shumlin, there was no race for President or U.S. Senator, and turnout was dramatically depressed. And even with all that in their favor, the VTGOP only managed a net gain of eight seats in the House.

Eight.

And 2016 should be a bounceback year for the House Democrats. (More on this below.)

There’s also the inconvenient fact that the House Republicans’ campaign warchest appears to be in the red. According to its most recent campaign finance filing, the Vermont House Republican PAC has raised $5,095 this campaign cycle and spent $7,832.74. That dip into penury was triggered by an Attorney General’s ruling that the PAC had improperly accepted contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session. It had to return $3,000 in donations and pay a $2,000 fine.

So, no help there. But it’s not like the VHRPAC is alone. Pretty much every Republican aside from Phil Scott is begging for spare change.

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VTGOP chair throws his own people under the bus

UPDATE: I was mistaken when I wrote this post. The opinion piece was not written by Sunderland; it was a Times Argus editorial. See this new post for details.

Vermont Republican Party chair David Sunderland, having been eerily quiet during the bulk of this year’s legislative session, is now throwing around boilerplate press releases and opinion pieces like there’s no tomorrow.

A recent missive, published in the May 27 Times Argus, castigates H.361, the education reform bill, as “a mess of a bill,” a “coercive regime,” the result of a “panicked” legislature. He claims the bill “will raise property taxes” (nonsense) and introduce inequity to what he called the “painstaking and thorough quest” that resulted in the adoption of Act 60 in 1997.

Which is funny in itself, because Republicans have been loudly beating the drum for repeal of Act 60 and its 2003 amendment, Act 68. Sunderland may be too young to recall that Act 68 was adopted because of severe problems with Act 60. But hey, if he views the halcyon days of Act 60 through rose-colored glasses, that’s his right. Of course, he may be completely alone in his nostalgia.

But that’s not the real story here. The most significant, nay stunning, aspect of his essay is that H.361 was a bipartisan bill. It was a cooperative effort of Democrats and Republicans in the House Education Committee, and it passed the Legislature with substantial Republican support. In the House, 23 Republicans — almost half the caucus — voted for H.361, including House Minority Leader Don Turner and Assistant Leader Brian Savage.

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A passel o’ peevishness on Inauguration Day (Part Two)

In Part One, I mused about the overreactions and hurt fee-fees on both sides of yesterday’s Inaugural protest. Now, let’s turn our attention to the Republican reaction to Gov. Shumlin’s inaugural address.

Their main point, according to VTDigger’s Laura Krantz?

Gov. Peter Shumlin ignored the most pressing issues facing Vermont in the first speech of his third term, Republican leaders said Thursday in response to the inaugural address.

… Republicans, gathered in the Senate cloakroom, said they were disappointed Shumlin ignored property taxes and health care — two issues that topped voter concerns during the elections last fall.

The speech focused on energy and the environment, so the complaint is technically accurate. But it deliberately ignores the fact that Shumlin billed this speech as Part One of a two-part 2015 agenda. And the governor specifically said he will address the “missing” issues in next week’s budget address.

“Just because the governor has acknowledged that his plan is a failure doesn’t mean he can ignore health care. We still need to address it,” said Rep. Patti Komline, R-Dorset.

Well, he didn’t “ignore” health care. He said he’d address it next week.

Sen. Joe Benning, R-Lyndonville, said the speech focused not on saving money but on spending more.

Again, the budget address hasn’t happened yet. That’s when Shumlin promises a plan to balance the budget. And, for the fiscal conservatives among us, Shumlin’s energy/environment speech contained very little in the way of new spending. The energy part was mainly about new regulation of renewables, which doesn’t involve any state spending. The Governor did propose two fees to help fund Lake Champlain cleanup, but both are narrowly targeted on sectors that contribute heavily to Champlain’s problems — agriculture and commercial/industrial development.

Republicans said they are open to his ideas about cleaning up Lake Champlain and other waterways but those are not the big problems.

Well, actually it IS a big and urgent problem because, as they well know, the EPA is holding Vermont’s feet to the fire. If we don’t come up with a solid plan, including new funding, then the feds will come down on us hard. That makes Champlain a top priority.

Speaking of new urgency, here’s another Republican missing the point.

“It needs doing but where was he four years ago on this?” said Rep. Brian Savage, R-Swanton.

Well, he was doing the same thing Jim Douglas did before him: postponing the Day of Reckoning as long as possible. As Rep. Savage well knows, the EPA has run out of patience, so Shumlin can’t possibly put it off any longer.

 Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

“Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.”

House Minority Leader Don Turner was his usual obstructive self, strongly opposing any new taxes or fees, and even blasting Shumlin’s proposal to use the current use law as an enforcement mechanism for farmers and loggers. And he did so in a stunningly inarticulate fashion:

“I think that we know that current use is a very popular program, and it is a very expensive program. But if we want open land in Vermont its been one of those tools that has worked really well,” he said.

So wait. Current use is “very expensive,” and, in fact, Republicans have called for new limits on the program, but it’s “worked really well” and we can’t possibly do without it. You’d need a couple hours of pounding ’em back at the Capitol Plaza bar before that started to make sense.

The entire Republican response consisted of the automatic gainsaying of anything Shumlin said.

With one exception. Lt. Gov. Phil Scott released a statement that began thusly:

“I was encouraged to hear the Governor talk about economic growth. It was good to hear about the Governor’s support of research and development, especially after this important incentive was reduced last year. I hope that the Governor’s mention in his speech today is a precursor to a proposal included in the budget next week.”

Admittedly Scott sort of bent Shumlin’s message in his own direction, but look at what he did:

— He identified common ground instead of just saying “No.”

— He acknowledged that the inaugural address was Part One of Shumlin’s agenda.

A hint of politics, but overall gracious and inclusive. That’s the way you do it.