People and Politics: July/August 2011
New clerk. The Virginia House of Delegates unanimously elected G. Paul Nardo clerk in June, succeeding Bruce Jamerson, the 20-year veteran clerk who died on Easter. The chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court administered the oath of office to Nardo, who became the chamber’s 21st clerk, after he was escorted to the well of the House by a committee of delegates. Nardo has a long tenure in state government. He was chief of staff to Speaker William J. Howell for 11 years, was speech writer for former Governor George Allen, and was legislative director of former Representative Herbert Bateman.
Successor. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has appointed Jim Hall to replace Representative Jeannette Wallace, who died in April. Hall, 67, has served as a Los Alamos County councilor, school board member and county manager. He also has worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and was a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy. He headed up the state Information Technology Management Office under Governor Gary Johnson. Wallace died in April at age 77. She served 20 years in the Legislature, and, according to her successor, “looked at the solutions people were proposing and saw the art of the possible. I’ll do the same thing.”
Back to five. In August 2008, Utah became the first state to go to a four-day work week. That’s about to end after Labor Day following a veto override of a bill requiring state agencies to move at least one office to the five-day work week. Initially, the four-day plan, ordered by then-Governor John Huntsman, was expected to save $3 million a year in energy and other savings. But actual savings were around $1 million. Governor Gary Herbert vetoed the bill, co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, in May, hoping to expand services online and by phone. Managers will be able to decide how many and which offices will be open five days a week, and how many people are required to man them. “You want to make sure you’re providing good customer service,” said Human Resources Director Jeff Herring. “Based on the cost, availability and customer service, it really became the choice we had to make.”
Six-term rep dies. Illinois Representative Mark Beaubien, 68, died unexpectedly in June while at a Republican fundraiser. A graduate of Northwestern University Law School, Beaubien was first appointed to the House in 1996, and subsequently won six consecutive terms. He served as assistant Republican leader and was the GOP’s chief budget negotiator in the House. Beaubien was respected on both sides of the aisle. “He was absolutely nonpartisan,” said Representative Jack Franks, a Democratic colleague. Republican Leader Tom Cross said Beaubien was “loved around the Capitol for his brilliance, attention to detail and ability to work with all legislators on very important issues facing our state.”
Critical injury. Kentucky Representative Dewayne Bunch has been moved to a rehabilitation center in Georgia after suffering a critical brain injury while trying to break up a fight between two students at the high school where he taught. Bunch’s condition was “extremely critical” when he was transported to the hospital following the assault. He was the first teacher to respond to a fight in the cafeteria during breakfast between two boys, one 15, the other 16. The two students were charged with assault and sent to a juvenile facility. Bunch, a math and science teacher, returned from a tour in Iraq as a National Guardsman and ran for the House in 2010. “Dewayne is an outstanding legislator and is passionate about education,” said House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover.
"Big mouth." A 91-year-old New Hampshire freshman representative resigned after statements he made regarding funding for the mentally ill provoked public outrage and pressure to quit. Martin Harty said he doesn’t support state funding for “the crazy people” who should be sent to “Siberia.” Acknowledging his “big mouth caused this furor,” he said he couldn’t serve effectively with the “slightly unfavorable publicity” he provoked. Harty’s comments were made to a program manager of an agency providing behavioral health and developmental services. House Speaker William O’Brien said Harty offered his resignation in person. “We both agreed that this is what is best for the House to move forward and focus on critical issues,” O’Brien said.
Upset win. Also in New Hampshire, former representative Jennifer Daler won an upset in a special election to replace Robert Mead who resigned to become chief of staff to House Speaker William O’Brien. Daler, a Democrat, served two years in the House, and won the seat in May in a district considered the 16th most Republican of all 103 New Hampshire House districts. Her 58-42 percent landslide victory was touted as a message of dissatisfaction with GOP leadership. Mead, 73, resigned one day after taking the oath of office for his third term, donating his $100 a year legislative salary to charity and assuming his new $80,000-plus annual salaried position with the speaker.
Fists on the floor? It allegedly came to fisticuffs on the floor of the Illinois House on the last day of the Legislature over a utility rate-hike bill. Representative Kyle McCarter, a Republican, says Democrat Representative Mike Jacobs hit him in the chest after a floor speech McCarter made stating the bill was swiftly passed out of the committee chaired by Jacobs, whose father is a utility lobbyist. McCarter alleges Jacobs came over, used profanity, pointed his finger and then punched the Republican in the chest. Jacobs denies there was a punch, calling it a “dust-up.” McCarter filed a report with the Capitol police. They are investigating. Governor Pat Quinn says he will veto the bill.