This was the Vermont Statehouse around 2:30 this afternoon. Yes, it's April - baseball season. Time for Passover, Good Friday and Easter.
It may look a bit nippy on the outside, but, let me tell you, it was pretty darn "hot" inside today. Big floor battles underway in the Gaye Symington House. One Democratic leader we collared in the hallway during a break in floor action politely described the present as one in which "two meltdowns were going on."
What good is Speaker Symington's 2-1 majority advantage if she's unable to make it work when it has to work?
Had a great little off-the-record chat with a lobbyist. The dude surprised me. Turns out he'd be happy to talk - just not with other people around. So a quite, private moment offered itself. and he and I took advantage.
Wanted me to know my "Noblesse Oblige" blog item on Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington was "right on the money" and "pretty much what I tell my clients about her." That she believes "good politics makes good policy," and believes "achieving consensus" is the ultimate goal.
Yes, indeed, that may explain what so little has been achieved so far in the Symington Era.
Look folks, whether Gaye likes it or not, when the Vermont Legislature is in session, the Speaker of the House is the second most powerful person in the state, next to the governor. In fact, some would argue the House Speaker is actually the most powerful person for those months. It all depends on whether or not one can handle power.
Oh, by the way, speaking of women handling power, as we were heading into the building around 10:30 a.m., the door opens and out walks the head gals from the Mary Fanny, excuse me, from Fletcher Allen Health Care: C.E.O Melinda Estes M.D. (right) and Theresa Alberghini DiPalma, her right-hand woman when it comes to matters of politics, aka "senior vice president for government and external affairs." Theresa formerly served on the staffs of U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and Gov. Howard Dean.
A pleasant surprise, indeed! In fact, such a surprise, I completely forgot my little digital camera, the one that feeds this blog, was in my pocket ready to fire.
Grabbed the photo at right from Melinda's Mary Fanny web page. The hospital does not post a photo of Vice President Alberghini DiPalma. The FAHC C.E.O. had testified in favor of "workforce development" before the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs. No press in the room, as far as they knew.
The purpose of today's Statehouse visit was to shoot the first show of what Jess Wilson of CCTV reminded me was the kick-off of my 14th season of producing/hosting "Point-Counterpoint." The January cancer arrival delayed me a couple months this year, but hey, if the mouth's still working fine?
And I had the "blabbermouths" on today.
First half guests were journalistic redheads and Statehouse reporters Terri Hallenbeck from the Freeps and Ross Sneyd from the Associated Press. Terri's been doing the Vermont-legislature beat for three years. Ross is on No. 15. Theirs is the daily grind under the dome, or "in the building," as they say.
Of course it affects their brains! Tune in and see for yourself.
Second half guests ended up being two Democrats when Essex/Orleans Republican State Sen. Vince Illuzzi blew us off - a half-hour after agreeing to be on with State Sen. Dick McCormack from Windsor County. Can't wait to hear what happened.
Sen. Jim Condos from Chittenden County was Vince the Prince's last-second replacement. Quick on his toes, that Condos fella.
Had a wonderful time rattling the cages of McCormack, a comeback-kid in the Senate, and Condos, the guy who knows everyone in Chittenden County. If the Democrats are so smart that they could take over the House & Senate, how come GOP Jim Douglas appears to be running the show?
Hey, is Jim Condos seriously considering a gubernatorial run against Gentleman Jim Douglas in 2008?
Sen. Condos confirmed during our "Point-Counterpoint" taping that he will not be seeking reelection to the South Burlington City Council where he has served for 18 years and is the current president.
Plus, Condos is not a left-wing, liberal Democrat like the last three who've gone down in flames to Douglas, the Middlebury Marvel. Condos is a middle-of-the-roader and he can talk the paint off a wall with anyone from blue-collar to millionaire. That's Condos in the middle in a recent Statehouse photo - perfect spot, eh?
On the left is megabucks Burlington real estate mogul/developer-type Ernie Pomerleau, and on the right is Tom Torti, longtime state official who now runs the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce.
I mentioned this to a couple folks today and they suggested Condos isn't known outside of Chittenden County and lacks statewide name-recognition.
I suggested there are "condos" everywhere you go in Vermont these days. Sen. Jim's last name is literally a household word.