Tag Archives: Peg Flory

The Good Senator from ALEC

An unknown number of Vermont Republican state lawmakers are affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative organization that promotes model legislation for statehouses across the country.  The most recent estimate came from State Rep. Bob Helm (R-Fair Haven), ALEC’s state chair, who figured there were about 20 Vermont lawmakers on the ALEC rolls.

Which is about one-third of all Republicans in the Statehouse.

But of all those 20-odd people, there’s one who has benefited from ALEC’s largesse more than any other Vermonter. And you probably wouldn’t be able to guess who it is.

Kevin Mullin, Republican from Rutland, not especially known for being a hardliner. Indeed, like a beige house with beige trim, his blandness is his most distinguishing characteristic. Well, that and being Norm McAllister’s clueless roomie.

(The Rutland area seems to be a hive of ALEC activity. In addition to Mullin and Helm, Sen. Peg Flory is also on the ALEC list, as are a couple of former Rutland-area lawmakers. Is it something in the water?)

We can’t tell exactly how much Mullin has dipped his snout into the ALEC trough because for the past several years, the group has refused to release information about its members, its “scholarships” and free travel to ALEC meetings and conferences, usually held at top-flight hotels and resorts.

See, it became too embarrassing to its beneficiaries.

But the figures are still out there for 2009 and before. And boy howdy, has Sen. Mullin cashed in.

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Lawmakers Lament Lost Opportunity to Grandstand

Full marks to Rutland Mayor Chris Louras for rolling out the welcome mat to 100 Syrian refugees — and for stoutly defending the decision against the inevitable backlash.

He drew the connection to America’s tradition of welcoming immigrants of all kinds — and he pointed out that immigrants, by and large, are a strong economic plus for struggling cities.

“Their arrival will signal a new wave in the ongoing economic growth of the region,” Louras added. “As our forefathers’ arrival added to the rich cultural melting pot of Rutland County, our newest residents will enrich and expand the tapestry we cherish today.”

Plus, Rutland will probably get some authentic Middle Eastern food out of the deal.

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The State Senate, where leadership goes to die

Yesterday, the State Senate took up S.230, the energy siting bill.

And promptly dropped it on the floor, kicked it around, and stomped it into mush, in a particularly unedifying display of sausage-making. A four-and-a-half hour debate included a blizzard of amendments — some adopted and some never even considered — and produced a result that satisfied no one on either side of the debate. Including many of the Senators who actually voted to pass the much-amended bill, Seven Days’ Paul Heintz Terri Hallenbeck:

By 7 p.m., when the final vote came, the majority of the senators appeared to be voting for the bill just to put an end to the day’s events.

Democracy in action, folks.

I wasn’t there, but from media accounts, this has the greasy fingerprints of Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell all over it. His tenure has been marked by frequent breakdowns in process, and headstrong senators taking advantage of the situation. This was classic Campbell: helpless to steer a complicated course through the reefs of strongly-held viewpoints and the shallows of senatorial ego.

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Clueless Norm

If there was any doubt that Senator-In-Waiting Norm McAllister is completely unmoored from reality, well, this should be the last straw.

Two months after his suspension from the Vermont legislature, Sen. Norm McAllister (R-Franklin) petitioned a Senate panel last week to restore his voting privileges.

Yeah. Because, why the hell not.

Clueless Norm’s argument is: now that his trial on gross, disturbing sexual assault charges has been delayed until May, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to carry out his obligations as a duly-elected lawmaker.

Yeah, no reason at all. I can’t think of one. Can you?

Just because a return to the Senate would turn that body into a daily circus (I’d be tempted to show up every day and shout “Vaginal fisting!” every time he walked by). Just because, whether he is guilty or not, a massive stench surrounds him due to the notoriety of the charges.

Just because, based on what he has already admitted and his lawyer has already acknowledged, the only remaining question is whether he “merely” made his victims submit to unpleasant sexual encounters, or whether he actually committed assault over and over and over again.

Bear that in mind, Senator Peg Flory and his other defenders.

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I think Dick Mazza’s just trolling us now

Well, the State Senate’s #1 Untouchable, Dick Mazza, is at it again.

This time, the alleged Democrat has co-written an opinion piece (published a few days ago in the Bennington Banner) with Republican Peg Flory and alleged Democrat Bobby Starr, slamming the Shumlin administration for, uhh, seeking the shutdown of Vermont Yankee.

To be more precise, the three solons accuse Shumlin of rank hypocrisy for wanting to close Vermont Yankee and now seeking divestment from coal stocks. Because Vermont Yankee was renewable energy, see?

Yeah.

The essay includes plenty of harsh rhetoric you might expect from the outer precincts of the VTGOP. (Tougher than Phil Scott, certainly.) Here’s a sample:

Recent issuances from Vermont’s government have overridden fiduciary responsibility and due process in favor of special interest campaigns and political gestures.

Right out of the Republican playbook, no? And then, this:

The eventual, unfortunate decision to close Vermont Yankee has now increased the state’s carbon footprint, as Vermont uses more fossil fuels for energy generation. State government officials at the time called the loss of high paying jobs and expanded tax base “hard news,” as if nothing could have been done to prevent the closure and its consequences.

Again, chapter and verse from the VTGOP: pinning the blame on Shumlin and ignoring the fact that it was Vermont Yankee’s owner that pulled the plug. For all of the Governor’s posturing, Entergy was winning the court battle over VY’s future when it decided, purely on financial grounds, to close down the plant on schedule.

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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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Senate ethics discussion devolves into farce

Well, now we know why the Senate Rules Committee likes to meet behind closed doors. Because yesterday, with reporters in the room, things got so badly out of control that they had to abruptly pack up and leave. Fortunately, VTDigger’s Mark Johnson was on hand to chronicle the chaos. His report is a classic case of “this would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.”

Senate Rules, a committee designed to defend the status quo, has been forced by events to take up the issue of ethics regulation — the very idea of which seems to offend at least three of the panel’s five members.

The saddest thing? The shambolic performance didn’t even concern a really tough issue. To anyone hoping for genuine ethics reform — like, for example, a state Ethics Commission — yesterday’s meeting was a knife in the back. The five Senators couldn’t even handle the much less impactful idea of an in-house Ethics Panel using the House’s toothless joke of a watchdog as a model.

Instead, they got stuck in the weeds of disclosure requirements.

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The apotheosis of Norm

It’s only six days into the new year, but I think we have a front-runner for Dumbest Political Statement Of The Year. Take it away, State Senator Dick McCormack:

“Adjudication is not supposed to be democratic,” he said. “Jesus was put to death by the will of the majority. Socrates was put to death by the will of the majority.”

That is how the Orange Windsor County Democrat explained his vote against the expulsion of Norm McAllister, self-admitted sex criminal.

Jesus.

Socrates.

Oh my.

You know, if the first rule of political discourse is “Take it easy on the Hitler talk,” then Rule Two ought to be “Think twice before comparing anyone to Jesus.”

I mean, c’mon. First of all, to compare Norm McAllister, in any way, shape, or form, to two of the great men* of history is, well, let’s just say unfortunate.

*Or one great man and one God in human form, take your pick.

But even leaving aside that rhetorical absurdity, I’m afraid McCormack has a foundational problem and a historical problem as well.

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The circus is coming to town, and I don’t have a ticket

This Just In… New caboose on the trainwreck:

 

It should be entertaining in a trainwreck sort of way, when the State Senate Rules Committee gets together Wednesday afternoon to discuss The Curious Case Of The Predator Senator. Regarding Norm McAllister, Our Most Senior Deliberative Body has been acting like anything but. Opinions are scattered in every direction, there’s no hint of a consensus, and in less than one month we could be treated to the spectacle of the accused sexual felon McAllister taking his honored seat in the Senate chambers.

As a blogger with a vested interest in chaos, all I can say is oh please, please, let it be so.

The Rules Committee is a curious construct, presumably born of President Pro Tem John Campbell’s unique leadership style: a mix of moderation, obfuscation, and inertia. I mean, look: the Democrats have 18 seats out of 30; there are three Prog/Dem/Indy hybrids, all representing the left side of the spectrum; and a mere nine Republicans.

So how is it that the Rules Committee includes two Republicans and a conservative “Democrat” who’s actively supporting Phil Scott, Republican candidate for governor? Plus the Pro Tem himself, who has supported Scott in the psat and is known as one of the least liberal members of his caucus. The Furious Five:

Republicans Joe Benning and Peg Flory; Republidem Dick Mazza; Democrats John Campbell and Phil Baruth.

For a strongly liberal body, that’s an awful lot of conservatism and institutionalism. Plus, Campbell installed himself as Rules Committee chair, so he clearly wanted to have his own hand firmly on this particular tiller.

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Senate closes ranks around Good Ol’ Norm

Like the frog in the hot water, I guess you can get used to anything if it happens slowly enough.

This week’s “Fair Game” column from Seven Days’ Paul Heintz is a substantial piece of work. He managed to contact almost every state senator and get them on the record regarding their disgraced/disgraceful colleague, Norm McAllister. Highly recommended reading, although it might make you shoot coffee out your nose.

And surprise, surprise: over the last several months, the air has gone out of the “Get Rid of Norm” balloon. Indeed, the person who seems to have suffered the most from this affair is Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning, who’s been leading the charge to expel McAllister. Many of his fellows blame him for being too aggressive, and Heintz reports that the issue has fractured the Republican Senate caucus.

Which just reinforces my view of the State Senate: it’s a clubby, tradition-bound institution whose members have an excessively high regard for themselves and not nearly enough concern for, oh, serving the people and stuff like that.

According to Heintz, the conversation has moved away from expulsion and toward the possibility of suspending McAllister pending the outcome of his criminal trial. Which, c’mon, is a weaksauce idea intended to diffuse the pressure and provide a pretext for barring McAllister from the Statehouse. Because when push comes to shove, the thing they’re most worried about is the media circus of McAllister showing up for work, and reporters badgering Senators with uncomfortable questions. Here’s a good one:

“Senator Mullin, you shared a house with Senator McAllister. You saw him take his teenaged “assistant” to bed every night. She has said that McAllister raped her ‘every time I went down there… just about.’ You’re an intelligent man; how could you possibly be unaware of what was happening under your own roof?”

(Mullin, by the way, was one of the few Senators who failed to response to Seven Days’ inquiry. Brave man.)

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