A timely exit from the Senate

The state Senate, in my unhumble opinion, could be vastly improved by the elimination of the Old Farts’ Brigade, an assemblage of Way Too Senior Solons (way too many of them Democrats) who are way too enamored of their own individual brilliance.

Er, they believe their shit don’t stink.

Well, the OFB has been reduced by one. The Freeploid’s Terri Hallenbeck reports that Bob Hartwell, the kinda-sorta climate change denying chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, has decided not to run for re-election.

My first thought was, Whoopee!!!

My second thought was a musical one: that warm, sensitive ballad “Fuck You” by the redoubtable Cee-Lo Green. This one’s for you, Bob.

Yeah, didn’t much care for the man. But the best I thought I could hope for was his entirely justified removal from the SNRC. And that seemed to be a very slim hope, given the hidebound nature of the Senate’s Committee on Committees, which doles out the committee assignments. (Phil Scott, plus venerable Old Farts John H.A. Campbell and Dick Mazza.)

So am I happy to see Hartwell go? You bet your sweet bippy I am.  

The news did not come directly from Hartwell; the source was his fellow Bennington Democrat (and Old Fart) Dick Sears, who offered this rationale:

Sears said Hartwell wants to spend more time on Cape Cod. Sears said growing strain between Hartwell and environmentalists likely also took its toll. “I suspect that that’s part of it,” Sears said.

Sears did not say, but I will, the “entirely justified (and entirely Hartwell’s fault) growing strain.” For the last two years, Hartwell and his committee — loaded with single-issue wind-energy haters — spent virtually all its time seeking, by any means at its disposal, to make it harder for Vermont to beef up its renewable energy resources. Hartwell’s climate-change skepticism, expressed in an April interview with Paul “The Huntsman” Heintz, was just the maraschino cherry on top of the shit sundae. As a reminder of Hartwell’s apostasy:

“I think what I don’t like about the extremists on the climate issue … is that somehow this is all being caused by human behavior. There is a significant natural phenomenon that is also going on, in my view,” Hartwell told Seven Days.

… “To suggest that mankind is causing the whole climate to shift, that’s a big reach,” he added. “I don’t think anybody’s ever proved that.”

As Heintz helpfully pointed out, Hartwell’s comments came less than two weeks after the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had released its report, making an extremely strong case that human influence “has been the dominant cause” of climate change. Hartwell quickly tried to deny that he’d said what he’d said, but the damage was done.

And if his willfully ignorant statements helped lead to his departure from the Senate, well, at least something good came of them.

His withdrawal comes only one week ahead of the filing deadline. The timing is clearly aimed at greasing the skids for his chosen replacement, State Rep. Brian Campion; it’s way too late for anyone else to gear up. Sears says he and Campion will campaign as a team.

I don’t know beans about Brian Campion, so I won’t condemn the man solely on the basis of his choice of allies. According to Project Vote Smart, he has a pretty solid voting record: 100% ratings from the League of Conservation Voters and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, and a suitably low 13% from the Vermont National Federation for Independent Business. His 44% rating from the Ethan Allen Institute is a bit worrying, but far from probative.

According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, Campion is very active in the civic life of Bennington: he’s a trustee of the Bennington Museum, a commissioner of the Bennington Housing Authority, and he’s a director of the Bennington Chamber of Commerce. His day job is with Bennington College’s office of external relations. I can only assume his favorite restaurant is the great Blue Benn Diner.

Oh, and he’s gay.

I wish him well. And I hope he’s an improvement on Bob Hartwell, who can go to Cape Cod and watch the sea level rise for some mysterious unknown reason.  

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