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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