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Oh Darling, flattery gets Senators nowhere

darling-jauchIt’s always funny to see lawmakers awkwardly trading jabs or even compliments while trying to keep things polite.

At a meeting of the Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Forestry, Mining and Revenue on Wednesday, state Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, greeted state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, with a remark on her rather flamboyant dress and matching lipstick.

“How come every time I see you,” Jauch asked, “I see red?”

Truth be told, if I had to name the exact shade of Darling’s garment and make-up, I would have plumped for “international orange.” But I’m no expert on colors, so really am in no position to contradict Jauch. Besides, he was probably beholding her in a different light: in the sickly glimmer of partisan rancor rather than the undistorted daylight glow of journalistic objectivity.

Darling responded by saying, “Every time I see you, I see less of you.”

It was actually meant as a compliment, but didn’t quite have that effect when Jauch revealed that his accomplishment wasn’t quite as great as she had obviously assumed.

How much weight had he lost?

“Two pounds,” he said.

Later in the meeting, the discussion turned away from personal appearance to a proposed increase in the tax credit developers receive for renovating historic buildings. Several of the officials in the room were from Racine, and some questions came up having to do with the river of the same name that runs through the city.

That prompted a disquisition by state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, about the meaning of the word “Racine” – it’s French for “root” – and about … well, I’m not really sure about what else, because I, like most of the people in the room, lost track of what he was saying halfway through. I think there was something in there about a building that had been renovated, or should be renovated.

Whatever the topic, the one thing I’m certain of is that I wasn’t the only person in the room who felt some relief when state Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, allowing himself to show a little irritation over the digression, brought Lehman’s speech to a crashing halt.

“Thank you, Senator,” Tiffany said, “for telling us the name of that river.”

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