One Senator rebukes another

I posted this item at the end of my “Happy Face, Sad Face” compilation on Monday, but I’m posting it here as a stand-alone item because I think it’s important to note, and has gone unnoticed in the political media.

Last week, Sen. Peter “The Slummin’ Solon” Galbraith (D-Hambone) was all in a tizzy over his interpretation of something said by Paul Burns of VPIRG. The Senator grilled Burns on the subject at a committee hearing on Tuesday, and then rose on the Senate floor Friday afternoon to deliver a “Point of Personal Privilege” accusing Burns of “extreme language and name-calling” and expressing the hope that the debate over a wind moratorium can “proceed in a civil fashion.”

That much was reported by the Associated Press last week. What was apparently missed by the entire press corps was the immediate rejoinder from Sen. Mark MacDonald:

I use extreme and say dumb things all the time. I say things I do not mean, and I sometimes cross boundaries. I know no one else ever does. [laughter]

But I will use my points of personal privilege to point out, explain, and apologize to you when I do such things, not when others do them to me.

MacDonald didn’t name names, but it’s unmistakable that he was addressing Galbraith’s fit of pique.

My question: Isn’t it unusual for a Senator to rebuke another on the floor of the Senate during an official session? I’m surprised that no other reporter took note.

After the jump: misusing parliamentary procedure.

Also, it should be noted that Galbraith violated the spirit, if not the rule, of the Point of Personal Privilege. Per the National Association of Parliamentarians:

Privileged motions are motions that are unrelated to the current motion, but are of such urgency or importance that they are considered immediately. These motions are related to members, the organization, and meeting procedure rather than the item of business being considered.

Two points. First, there was absolutely no urgency to Galbraith’s whine. And second, it was not “related to members, the organization, and meeting procedure.” It concerned remarks made by Paul Burns at a news conference. And Burns’ remarks were not directed toward the Senate or any particular member.  

It sounded good — a lawmaker citing an unusual parliamentary procedure. Made him sound real smart.

The problem is, he was wrong.  

3 thoughts on “One Senator rebukes another

  1. pompous jackass. Hopefully he realizes this is the VT legislature, not Congress where such silly, stupid antics are a bit more common.

  2. There seems to be some confusion here between the parliamentary measures “Privileged Motion” and “Question of Privilege”.

    From Robert’s Rules Newly Revised (10th ed.), pp. 218-219: “Questions of personal privilege – which seldom arise in ordinary societies and even more rarely justify interruption of pending business – may relate … to charges circulated against a member’s character.

    I’ve long been familiar with the expression “point of personal privilege”, but surprisingly I was unable to find any reference to it in RRO, which suggests that the good senator (deferentially speaking) would have been more on point to raise a question of personal privilege.

    Since no motion was made, the issue of urgency would appear to be moot.  If Galbraith happened to take Burns’ comments personally, Robert suggests the subject parliamentary device could be rationalized. However, it’s doubtful the general would offer any assistance with questions of personal hypocrisy.  

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