Editor’s note: This letter is from Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield.
148 Donahue Drive
Northfield, VT 05663
October 15, 2010
To the Editor:
October 15 was the deadline for the latest campaign filing, and as I pulled into one of several open “visitor” parking spaces at the Secretary of State’s office, I couldn’t help but notice a car with “Senate 1” as its plate, parked squarely in one of the marked handicap parking spaces.
The plate had no handicap indicator, and no temporary handicap sign. As a member of the disability community, it’s something I’m sensitive to.
Yes, it happens. We can all be careless. But we in the legislature have an obligation to set higher standards for ourselves as elected leaders, and an identifiable car becomes a symbol of the legislature as a whole.
I went in and asked who “Senate 1” was, and Sen. Susan Bartlett identified herself. She was signing in to deliver a finance report on behalf of Sen. Peter Shumlin’s gubernatorial campaign.
I said found her parking inappropriate.
I expected a bit of embarrassment, and an apology along the lines we all make when we err: “I knew I was only going to be there a moment and wasn’t really paying attention, but you are right, it was a bad example to set.”
Instead, she defended it and, clearly annoyed, attempted to make light of it. There were lots of open [handicapped] spaces, she said.
When I persisted she tried to shush me. “Oh, cut it out,” she repeated several times. In effect, “stop trying to make a big deal out of nothing.”
She turned her back to me to walk out, still brushing it off. “Cut it out.”
I responded: “I’m damn serious about this.”
She half turned her head. “Go to hell,” she said, and walked out the door.
Since when are state senators above the law?
The term for this kind of response is arrogance.
It is the kind of arrogance that has dominated Senate leadership over the past several years, so it should not have surprised me, coming from that leadership and that campaign.
I told Sen. Bartlett that her response tempted me to write a letter to share her attitude publicly.
“Go right ahead,” she snapped.
So here it is.
Rep. Anne Donahue