Anyone who was expecting fireworks on the House floor today (in the wake of Bettencourt and Mead scandals) was sadly disappointing. This is traditionally one of the most boring days of the year (I’m so bored, I’m writing this with the sound on in the background). Senate messages, amendments usually involving minor changes to bills, are read and voted upon, usually approved with only a smattering of no votes.
The House adjourned at 11:52 a.m.
At the beginning of the session. Bettencourt's rather lengthy resignation was read along with the resignation of Carroll County Republican Norman Tregenza (apparently he's moving out of the district and thus is required to resign by the Constitution--hey, hey, some people still honor the Constitution).
The two resignations will not be significant today, but they could well be when it comes to voting on Constitutional Amendments next week. Keep in mind that 60 percent of the elected members is required to pass amendments along to voters. Last week, the number was 239 (we had 397 members; 397 times 60 percent is 238.2; round up to 239). The DJ resignation brought the number down to 238, and it appears the Tregenza departure knocks it down to 237 (395 times 60 percent is exactly 237). This will only matter should it be a close call on amendment votes next week. I had Tregenza listed as opposing the education funding amendment, so his departure ironically could help get to the required number.
There is very little chance any amendment would pass today. On early roll call votes, only about 310 of the 395 Reps were there. Any absence is as good as a no vote when it comes to amendments. Keep that in mind for next week's final day of the session. New GOP leader Peter Principle Silva will have his work cut out for him in getting enough people in the hall to get the votes he and O'Brien will need.
Comments on DJ were rife throughout the hall. One I heard was that as bad as his cheating and lying conduct was, it was even worse that we continued to try to cover-up his misdeeds as late as Friday. In other words, he wasn't about to come clean at all had not Rep. Giuda insisted. I agree. As always, the cover-up is worse than the initial misdeed.
In the past two days, the Union Leader has featured two editorials extremely critical of O'Brien. While neither calls for his resignation, they both approach the issue as they are extremely critical of his leadership style. Could this be like Richard Nixon deciding to tough it out in 1974 until super conservative Barry Goldwater told him he'd lost his core of support?
I'm just asking.
Here's what the Union Leader (Andrew Cline but presumably with Publisher McQuaid's consent) wrote:
"The Speaker's handling of the House business in the last few months has needlessly angered allies as well as foes. Provoking the Senate and the governor, both needed to pass critical legislation, was a mistake. So were his mishandlings of Mead and Bettencourt."
To paraphrase Shakespeare (from Julius Caesar), "Et tu, McQuaid. Then die (figuratively speaking of course--we wanted want problem from the ubiquitous PC police) OBie, die."
The Union Leader is still trying to recover from being totally scooped by Matt Spolar and the Concord Monitor in Meadgate. Like a lover scorned, expect the paper to go out of its way to pound the issue since it missed the boat originally. (How's that for pop psychology?)
O'Brien, of course, will survive for two reasons--the session is ending soon (not soon enough) and his super GOP majority, many of whom fail to see the new role they are playing, that of lambs to the slaughter.
While OBie will survive this term, chances of him being back (as Speaker) next year as closer to zero than the temperature outside in Nome, Alaska in mid-January.