Tag Archives: Peg Flory

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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A little lip service for the electorate, please

A lot of concern is being expressed these days over the Norm McAllister case. The disgraced Senator frets over the fairness of any legislative proceeding against him. A fellow Senator says he should be allowed to stay in office until the criminal proceedings are completed, no matter how long it takes. The head of his caucus frets about McAllister’s presence derailing the legislative session. The Senate President Pro Tem frets about establishing a precedent for dealing with the unprecedented: a sitting Senator accused of multiple sex crimes. The Senate Secretary tries to devise a process that’s true to the Legislature’s rules — and tosses a grenade in the direction of Vermont’s media corps:

You can’t do it just on what you guys are printing in the newspaper.

Yeah, how dare we print stuff in the newspaper.

Anyway. Notice anything missing?

Well, I’ll tell you. Nobody, except little ol’ me and some of my regular commenters, is talking about the voters of Franklin County, who have to suffer McAllister’s continued presence as their duly elected representative, or the people of Vermont, who have to suffer an accused sex criminal’s presence in the Legislature.

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Here’s where we find out how clueless the State Senate really is

Following last week’s profession of innocence by alleged sex criminal Norm McAllister, the head of the Senate’s Republican caucus is taking action. And encountering resistance that reflects the Senate’s insularity and overweening self-regard.

Paul Heintz has the deets, as he often does. Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning wrote a letter to McAllister, upbraiding him for taking back a promise to resign if his case wasn’t wrapped up by November, and warning that if McAllister fails to do so, Benning would file a resolution seeking his ouster.

Benning is no fool. He realizes exactly how bad it would be if McAllister is still a sitting Senator when the Legislature reconvenes. And even worse if he actually shows up for work.

This being the Senate, things aren’t so simple. Benning got some immediate blowback from Sen. Peg Flory, who trotted out the old “innocent until proven guilty” canard (discussed below) in support of Good Ol’ Norm. There was some back-and-forth between the two, thoroughly documented in Heintz’ piece, and then it was brought to a halt by Sen. Dustin Degree’s suggestion that the Republican caucus should discuss this out of the public eye.

Transparency, anyone?

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How can I miss you when you won’t go away?

(h/t to Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks)

Please allow me a brief gloat, a hearty chuckle, a moment of schadenfreude. Because this is just too f’n funny.

Sen. Norm McAllister (R-Franklin) is reconsidering his decision to resign from the Vermont Senate, according to a close ally.

“I don’t know what made him rethink it, but he has decided — he’s rethinking it is all I can say,” Sen. Peg Flory (R-Rutland) said Wednesday afternoon.

Heh, heh, heh, heh.

Here’s my message to Good Ol’ Norm: hang on for dear life. Make ’em drag you out kicking and screaming. Not because you deserve to keep your seat, hell no; but because your fellow Republicans (and really, the Dems as well) so desperately want to be rid of this entire affair.

I say, let ’em stew. They don’t deserve to get off this easy. Not when there are numerous second-hand stories about how ol’ Norm was a horndog at best, and maybe worse, to his female colleagues. Not when there are still serious questions to answer about what leadership knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it. (And if they really didn’t know, how loudly were they singing LALALALALA with their fingers in their ears?)

Not when there remains a distinct odor of clubby sexism around the Statehouse that needs to be dissipated once and for all.

Indeed, here’s my plea to the women of the Statehouse, past and present. If you had unpleasant encounters with McAllister, now is the time to step forward. So far, the only woman to do so is an ex-lawmaker. If some misbegotten sense of loyalty to the institution is keeping you silent, please speak up. You owe it to the truth, and to the women who will follow your footsteps.

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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.