by Peter Freyne
Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington is the target, er, the guest on "You Can Quote Me" at 11 this morning on WCAX-TV.
Her third-in-command, House Majority Whip Floyd Nease [left] was the target, er, guest at the Democratic State Committee Meeting Saturday in the library at Montpelier High School.
One committee member wanted to know why if somebody's supposed to count votes ahead of time, Wednesday's double-barreled Democratic defeat was allowed to happen?
“You asked the right question," replied Whip Nease. "I’m the guy that counts the votes." He conceded he knew ahead of time what the votes were in both chambers on both bills: global warming and campaign finance reform.
But Nease made the pitch that, "It was an opportunity to hold Gov. Douglas accountable even if we lose the votes."
Nease pointed to the editorial in the following day's Rutland Herald. "It really did generate some press," said Nease, press that talked about Douglas in a way he hadn't been talked about before.
Yes, indeed, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Editorial Writer David Moats personally attended the Wednesday circus in Montpeculiar. Thursday's Herald editorial carried the headline: "Stymied." And Ol' Moatsie showed his 60s-generation roots, calling Vermont's Republican governor "Dr. No."
Don't know about you, but it made me think of Sean Connery right off, showing my 60s-generation roots. Wrote Moats:
Doctor No is trying to portray himself as Doctor Sort Of. The political reality is that climate change and energy issues have significant political momentum, and Douglas could become an irrelevance unless he takes action.
The Legislature will be prepared to move ahead aggressively in January on energy and climate issues; one hopes the leadership will avoid political minefields like the one into which it tiptoed with the Yankee tax. This is a priority that will not go away.
House Speaker Gaye Symington was persuasive in her statement that climate change is a Vermont problem and that Vermont must show leadership. She also made the salient point that the two bills that went down on Wednesday —campaign finance and energy — were linked.
Big money has the power to block action in the public interest. Douglas helped preserve the prerogatives of big money through his veto of the campaign finance bill. It will be up to the Legislature in January to continue the fight to address the climate and energy issues, dragging the governor as it goes.
Nease noted that on the House Floor only one Republican stood up to defend Jim Douglas on the campaign-finance veto and that was [Burlington Rep.] Kurt Wright.
Ol' Floyd's argument that, even in defeat, the majority Democrats scored points by getting "Dr. No" on record as an opponent of reform legislation addressing campaign finance reform and global warming didn't fly with everyone.
State Committee Member Bill Sander from Jeffersonville told the gathering Wednesday's embarassing Democratic defeat at the Statehouse - one that gave the Guv the opening to call the Democrats "big losers" - was "an exercise in exposing Gov. Douglas to folks who already knew" where Jimmy D stood on those issues.
"The guy is a fascist with a smile and it's clear to us," said Sander. In many quarters, he told the committee, Gov. Douglas "comes out looking like an effective leader and comes out with a plausible explanation if you don't look at it too carefully, and most folks don't."
Good point, eh?