Tag Archives: Patti Komline

Private lives and public figures

 

I got a girlfriend that’s better than that
She has the smoke in her eyes
She’s moving up, going right through my house
She’s gonna give me surprise

— Talking Heads, “Girlfriend is Better”

So. In his latest “Fair Game” column, Seven Days’ Paul Heintz let slip a little secret that pretty much everyone under the Golden Dome knew about but didn’t mention in polite company. Right there in Paragraph 29:

[John] Campbell’s girlfriend, Rep. Patti Komline (R-Dorset), also opposes the bill.

Gasp! Horrors! The Ladies’ Auxiliary clutches their pearls as one!

(Is Paul OK? Was he struck down by lightning?)

(Guess not.)

Used to be, in the broader world of politics, personal relationships were off limts. Even when, say, the Kennedy Boys were sharing the charms of Marilyn Monroe. Allegedly.

That wall has been largely breached in national politics, at least when there’s a substantive reason to report the private peccadillos of pols. But it remains intact here in Vermont. And maybe it shouldn’t.

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The Republicans have sharpened their elbows

It’s been a tough few years for legislative Republicans. They’re a perpetual minority with little influence. Push comes to shove, about all they can do is call a press conference and let Don Turner bemoan the latest actions of the Democratic majority.

This year, things are looking a little different. Well, they’re still in a minority, but they seem to have gotten a little bit feisty — looking for opportunities to throw their weight around. I’m guessing it as something to do with Phil Scott’s candidacy for governor:

— It’s their best prospect for retaking the corner office since 2010*, which has to boost their morale, and

— The more trouble they cause, the better it is for Scott. (Who, as the Nice Guy in the room, would never ever stoop to chicanery, no sir. Ahem. See below.)

*Yes, Scott Milne almost won in 2014, but nobody thought he stood a chance. He wasn’t considered a prospect until election night. Until then, he was actually a drag on Republicans’ view of their chances.

We’re still early in the session, and we’ve seen two very high-profile spots where Republican lawmakers went out of their way to throw a wrench in the works.

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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.

Dirty Tricks Time, Part Deux

Gosh. Maybe, just maybe, the VTGOP is a little tiny bit concerned about Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s electoral prospects. Because party Vice Chair Brady Toensing, he of the mudslinging DC family law firm of DiGenova & Toensing (stepdad and Mom, respectively), is dipping into Mom’s bag of tricks: trying to drum up interest into a 20-year-old controversy about Prog/Dem candidate Dean Corren. And, wouldn’t ya know it, the Burlington Free Press’ Nancy Remsen took the bait.

Brady Toensing circulated 1994 newspaper clips that recounted the questions that had been raised about the housing reimbursements Corren and Terry Bouricius received while they served in the House of Representatives.

The pair had rented an apartment in Montpelier during the legislative session, but didn’t always stay there, commuting back to Burlington instead. Still they collected the full housing allowance, Toensing said, and called it a taxpayer scam.

Corren calls it a “phony accusation,” and says “I reported everything exactly as it was required.”

Professional Nice Guy Phil Scott’s campaign wants nothing to do with Toensing’s charge, at least publicly:

Patti Komline, Scott’s campaign manager, disavowed any knowledge or involvement in the information Toensing distributed.

“Disavowed any knowledge” is fortuitous phrasing on Remsen’s part; it comes from the opening to the old “Mission: Impossible” TV show, where the head of the black-ops team gets his orders via audiotape, which blows up five seconds after the tape says “Should you be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.” Likewise, Ms. Komline.

The Corren stuff has already been aired pretty thoroughly. It happened 20 years ago; Corren continued to serve in the Legislature for six more years, apparently without any more expenses problems. It’s clearly irrelevant to Corren’s fitness to serve in 2014.

Besides, I would think the VTGOP would be a little more forgiving about 20-year-old ethics charges, considering that in 2012, it happily gave its Auditor General nomination to Vince Illuzzi.

As you may recall, at the very moment when Corren had to clear up questions about housing reimbursements, Illuzzi’s license to practice law was under suspension over ethics charges. It had been suspended the previous year, and wasn’t reinstated until 1998. Illuzzi was lucky at that; the state bar’s Professional Conduct Board had recommended that Illuzzi be stripped of his law license for good.

Illuzzi had been charged with: using his public office to influence court proceedings, conduct prejudicial to administration of justice, and conduct displaying a lack of fitness to practice law. In a settlement, he stipulated to his guilt.

So I ask you, in a hypothetical faceoff between 1990s ethical questions, which is worse: having a candidate for Lieutenant Governor who faced questions about housing reimbursements, or having a candidate for Auditor who was officially accused of using his office to influence court cases and “displaying a lack of fitness to practice law”?

I know where my money is on that one.

But it is nice to see the VTGOP treating Dean Corren as enough of a threat that they feel the need to slime his reputation.

Phil Scott, chicken

Buck-buck-bacawwwww!

Our Lieutenant Governor, who isn’t afraid to steer a race car around a dirt track, is apparently ascairt of little ol’ Dean Corren, his P/D challenger. 

Corren had called for a series of ten debates. Scott’s answer? 

Four. 

Predictable but disappointing. Usually, a light schedule of debates would be okay in the race for Lieutenant Governor. But this year, when the gubernatorial race is effectively over and Scott is supposedly the spearhead of The New VTGOP, this particular campaign has taken on added importance. 

The Scott camp had some weasel words at the ready: 

Scott’s campaign manager, Rep. Patti Komline, R-Dorset, said the three-term incumbent lieutenant governor would rather travel the state listening to voters than champion his own views in exchanges with Corren.

Aww, fucknuts. The voters are being asked to elect Phil Scott to a high office. They don’t need him to tilt his head and nod sagely; they need to know where he, the actual candidate, stands on the issues. Of course he should be listening, as should any politico worth their salt. But the time for listening is the rest of the two-year cycle. Now, in the final eight weeks of campaign season, is the time when you define yourself so the voters can make an informed choice. 

You do want voters to make an informed choice, don’t you? Well, maybe not. 

Corren saw through the bullcrap: 

“It’s a tried-and-true method for the incumbent to avoid debates and attempt to skate in under the radar.”

Yup. And especially true for an incumbent whose entire stock-in-trade is foggy blandness. 

Another thing. Of the four scheduled debates, three are in the state’s northwest quadrant — two in Burlington, one tentatively in Johnson, and one at the Tunbridge Fair, this Friday at 9 on WDEV’s Mark Johnson Show.  Nothing in the southern half of the state. Nothing in the Northeast Kingdom.

Phil Scott, Man Of The People, is hiding behind a faulty fig leaf of an excuse, and minimizing the chances that The People will actually learn where he stands on the issues. 

Phil Scott, chicken. 

The Milne campaign does something smart. Stop laughing, I mean it.

Do Not Adjust Your Set. It’s True, It’s Damn True.

Scott Milne’s people, a.k.a. Brent Burns, put out a press release listing the names of prominent Republicans who have endorsed his candidacy.

And it’s an impressive list. 42 names of current and former officeholders. It puts to shame the tiny number of dead-enders and no-hopers who’ve opted for Libertarian Dan Feliciano.

It begins with former Governor Jim Douglas, the shining star of contemporary Republicanism. Unlike other people I could name (ahem, Phil Scott), Douglas has come out of his hidey hole and actually campaigned for Milne. His endorsement alone is worth approximately 1,000 Darcie “Hack” Johnstons.

After that, you get most of the VTGOP’s Senate delegation – Bill Doyle, Joe Benning, Norm McAllister, Peg Flory, and Kevin Mullin. From the House, add Kurt Wright, Heidi Scheuermann, Patti Komline, Chuck Pearce, Tom Koch, and Duncan Kilmartin and many more, plus former Rep and current Senate candidate Pat McDonald. A couple of interesting names: former Representative and current Senate candidate Dustin Degree and current Rep. Tony Terenzini, neither of whom are particularly moderate folks.

This primary-eve blast should put to rest any talk of a Feliciano groundswell. A couple of state party officials may have turned their backs on Milne, but the bulk of its officeholders – those with proven appeal to actual voters – are solidly behind him.