by Peter Freyne
That, mes amis, is yet to be determined. It's not 9 a.m. yet, and I'm still in Big Bad Burlington. Some hot and heavy floor debates on budgetary matters may lie ahead in the Vermont House. And Democrat Speaker Gaye Symington, who lost a biggie yesterday when her team failed to override Gov. Scissorhands' veto of the budget-adjustment bill, is expected to conduct one of her "Brown-Bag Lunches" with the Statehouse press corps around noon. Should be interesting. I already hear my stomach growling.
Here's a shot we took yesterday of two powerful Democrat "backbenchers" at work. Democratic Majority Leader Carolyn Partridge (seated left) and Rep. Floyd Nease (seated right), the Democratic Whip.
Didn't Howard Dean have that job twentysome years ago?
Rep. Partridge is engaged in a quick one-on-one with Rep. Alice Emmons, chair of the Institutions Committee. Rep. Nease is having a little pow-wow with Judiciary Committee Chair Bill Lippert. Face time like this is important. For "leadership," it's all about keeping tabs on what the hell is really going on among the lower ranks. Catch the brushfires early.
The same principles apply in the "upper" body - the Vermont Senate where the Democrats also rule the roost (for all the good it does them). The most obvious difference there is that a male, rather than a female, is the Top Dog. Has a different style too.
Here's how Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, Speaker Gaye's opposite number, frequently looks at the world. Took this shot from behind the distinguished senate leader, as I poked my own head into Putney Pete's rather small office. (The guy who had it before him, Peter Welch, has an office on Capitol Hill now.)
Left-to-right, that's Sen. Claire Ayer (Addison), vice-chair of the Finance Committee; Sen. Ginny Lyons (Chittenden), chair of Environment; Sen. Susan Bartlett (Lamoille), chair of Appropriations; Sen. Jeanette White (Windham), chair of Government Operations; and Sen. Ann Cummings (Washington), chair of Finance.
Shummy and his Rockettes!
No, no, no! I am not going to go there.
Rather the actual thought was how fortunate I've been in my 57-year lifetime, to personally witness the birth, growth and success of what we used to call "Women's Lib." Six powerful senators and five of them are female. The only question is, will I also live to see a woman president?
Also, some might notice who's missing from this pow-wow in the office of the senate's most powerful Democrat?
That would be the former Democratic Lite-Gov and unsuccessful, gubernatorial candidate (2002) - Sen. Doug Racine, chair of Health and Welfare.
No shortage of off-the-record Statehouse chatter of late about how much Racine loathes Shumlin. That the gap between them is deep and wide. Not exactly good buds or on the same page, are they, eh?