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August 23, 2012

Dean Slams Donovan for Suggesting Illegal Super PAC Coordination

Sorrell and DeanFormer governor Howard Dean slammed attorney general candidate T.J. Donovan Wednesday for insinuating that opponent Bill Sorrell's campaign illegally coordinated an ad campaign with an independent super PAC.

During a brutally negative Burlington Free Press debate Tuesday, Donovan — the Chittenden County state's attorney — said he had heard "numerous complaints" of such coordination, but declined to provide any evidence. He did issue a stark warning to Sorrell, saying the incumbent attorney general "should be very careful about any alleged coordination that may have occurred" between Sorrell's campaign and the Committee for Justice and Fairness, noting that Sorrell's office has sought to prosecute other political candidates for similar crimes.

Funded principally by the Democratic Attorneys General Association, the Committee for Justice and Fairness super PAC has spent at least $184,000 on television ads and direct mail supporting Sorrell's reelection fight.

Asked Wednesday to elaborate on his boss' charge, Donovan campaign manager Ryan Emerson admitted the campaign has "no evidence to suggest that's true," but implied that Dean may have served as an "intermediary" between Sorrell's campaign and the super PAC. Dean, who appointed Sorrell to the attorney general post in 1997 and remains his highest-profile supporter, narrated the television ad produced by the Committee for Justice and Fairness.

Continue reading "Dean Slams Donovan for Suggesting Illegal Super PAC Coordination" »

August 22, 2012

In New Poll, Sorrell Leads Donovan in AG's Primary — But Many Remain Undecided

Ag-illustration_0With just six days to go before the August 28 primary, a new poll from Castleton Polling Institute shows incumbent Attorney General Bill Sorrell with a commanding lead over Democratic challenger T.J. Donovan.

At least among those who have made up their minds. Almost a third of voters surveyed said they were undecided in the Democratic primary for attorney general.

And the small sample size of 223 likely primary voters means the poll comes with a high margin of error — plus or minus 7 points.

"It's summer," said Castleton poll director Rich Clark. "And while those of us who love politics have been following it with great intensity, most of the public has been following the Olympics and everything else but politics." 

According to the poll, Sorrell leads Donovan 44 to 24 among likely voters, with 31 percent of respondents saying they are undecided. Among the 122 self-identified Democrats polled, Sorrell leads Donovan by 16 points, with 36 percent of Democrats saying they are undecided.

Click here for full results from the new poll.

Meanwhile, the poll showed Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin (whose name the poll misspelled as "Schumlin") with a healthy lead over Republican challenger Randy Brock — 60 to 26, with only 10 percent of voters undecided. Twenty percent of Republicans polled said they'd vote for Shumlin if the governor's election were held today, compared with 6 percent of Democrats who favor Brock.

And surprising no one, President Barack Obama also holds a solid lead over Republican Mitt Romney among Vermont voters, 62 to 25 with just 7 percent of voters undecided. The poll was conducted between August 11 and August 21 — after Romney selected Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. As Clark noted, that pick doesn't seem to have moved the Vermont electorate.

Continue reading "In New Poll, Sorrell Leads Donovan in AG's Primary — But Many Remain Undecided" »

The Most Ridiculous Photos of the 2012 Campaign — So Far

We interrupt our serious coverage of Vermont's 2012 election campaigns to bring you this totally frivolous bit of infotainment.

Every two years, Vermont politicians go through the rite of passage known as pandering for running for re-election. How do candidates win the hearts and minds of voters? Not with wonky policy plans and details about their "records," but with photos that show they are regular Joes — just like you!

To that end, Vermont candidates have peppered their Facebook pages with photographs depicting the lighter moments of the campaign. You know, milking goats, doing yoga, shaking hands with a guy in a cow costume. We pulled together the most amusing snapshots we could find and posted them here for your enjoyment. Many more are sure to come as the fall campaign kicks into gear post-Labor Day.

Our elected officials may at times leave us cynical, especially around campaign season, when things can get pretty petty. But at least they have a sense of humor.

Without further ado, we present the most ridiculous photos of the 2012 campaign, so far...

Attorney General Bill Sorrell submerged in a babbling brook

Sorrell in a Waterfall

Many more after the jump...

Continue reading "The Most Ridiculous Photos of the 2012 Campaign — So Far" »

August 20, 2012

Movies You Missed 52: Kill List

Kill-listThis week in movies you missed: To celebrate a full year of movies we missed, here's a film that will throw you for a loop.

What You Missed

Do not let anyone spoil you for Kill List. If a friend says, "It's just like that old cult classic, you know, the one that was remade with—" immediately cover your ears and do the "La la la, not listening."

What you can know going in: Jay (Neil Maskell) has the round face and twitchy mannerisms of a small boy, and that's how his hard-as-nails Swedish wife, Shel (MyAnna Buring, pictured), treats him. They live in suburban affluence, but he hasn't been working for months, and she's nagging him about getting back on the horse.

The acrimony spills over into a wine-soaked dinner party with Jay's old army buddy, Gal (Michael Smiley), and his aloof new girlfriend (Emma Fryer), till Gal reveals that he has a job for Jay. That's when we learn that Jay and Gal are hitmen.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed 52: Kill List" »

August 17, 2012

Grazing: Mr. Hendricks, Meet the Cosmo

Gin_cosmoAny serious cocktail lover might order one in a low voice — such is the stigma that can accompany the Cosmopolitan. Somehow this simple blend of Absolut Citron, fresh or Roses lime juice, cranberry and a splash of Cointreau became, in the late 1990s, the cocktail equivalent of a Carly Rae Jepsen song.

But the bartenders that bastardized the Cosmo into sticky, sweet ubiquity are long ago and far away from from the bar at L'Amante in Burlington, where classics rule in both food and drink. With a chef who's a bona fide wine expert and a staff that know their Grillo from their Garganega, this is certainly a place to indulge a love of vino. The cocktail list, by contrast, is short and simple.

Ask bartender Ian DeLorme about wine and he will joyously pour you something new to try. Yet he also keeps classic drinks up his sleeve, including a tart, fresh-juice Cosmopolitan he first blended at his mother's request for a not-too-sweet version. 

This summer, DeLorme has been making a Cosmo using floral Hendricks gin, shaking up a generous pour of the stuff with fresh lime and lemon juices, splashes of Cointreau and cranberry juice, and floating St. Germain on top. The resulting drink has tiny bits of ice and hints of roses, a pool of citrusy herbaceousness that you want to dive into and emerge, buzzed, on the opposite rim.

Ian's Gin Cosmo

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add the first five ingredients:
4 ounces Hendricks gin 
Juice from half a fresh-squeezed lemon 
Juice from half a fresh-squeezed lime
1 ounce Cointreau
Splash of cranberry juice
A very light splash of St. Germain

"Shake hard," DeLorme advises, then strain into a martini glass. Float some St. Germain on top, garnish with a wedge of lime, and serve.

 

Help Map Burlington's Neighborhoods With New Crowdsourcing Project

Where's the line between the Old North End and New North End? How far does Downtown stretch? How big is the Five Sisters neighborhood?

If you think you know the answers to these questions, your expertise is needed. Burlington cartographer Bill Morris of GeoSprocket created a tool that allows you to draw the Queen City's neighborhoods as you see fit. The results from all the submissions will be aggregated to form a consensus about where the 'hoods are. This project was inspired by a similar undertaking in Boston — check that out here.

What's the point in all this? Well, besides engendering a greater sense of neighborhood pride, it's almost time again to reassess the boundaries of Burlington's seven wards. There's nothing official or binding about this project, but it could help inform redistricting decisions. If you think it's silly to lump Lakeview Terrace and the stretch of North Avenue near Waggy's in with the New North End's Ward 7, now's the time to speak up.

Continue reading "Help Map Burlington's Neighborhoods With New Crowdsourcing Project" »

August 16, 2012

VIDEO: 7 Highlights/Lowlights From Last Night's Seven Days-Channel 17 Attorney General Debate

 

Oh, snap!

Democratic rivals for attorney general, incumbent Bill Sorrell and contender T.J. Donovan, threw down on their home turf last night in a feisty debate inside Burlington City Hall sponsored by Seven Days and Channel 17 Town Meeting Television.

With the August 28 primary less than two weeks away, Sorrell and Donovan are jockeying hard for pole position — or maybe pol position — in the most competitive campaign of the year.

The candidates sat close together (their elbows were practically touching) and the tension was palpable at times. Donovan, the Chittenden County State's Attorney, stayed on offense the whole night, hammering Sorrell for what he said was a lack of engagement and leadership during his 15 years as attorney general — and for accepting help from a Washington, D.C.-based super PAC. Sorrell vigorously defended his record and got in his own digs, demanding that Donovan stop "distorting" his record.

At times, both candidates shook their heads in disbelief while the other answered a question.

Here are seven highlights (and lowlights) from the evening. You decide which is which.

Continue reading "VIDEO: 7 Highlights/Lowlights From Last Night's Seven Days-Channel 17 Attorney General Debate" »

Shumlin Widens Fundraising Gap, While Brock Widens Fund-Spending Gap

ShumlinThe news coming out of Wednesday's monthly campaign finance filing deadline is hardly news at all: Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin continues to raise money, while his challenger, Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin), continues to spend it.

In the 30 days since they last reported fundraising numbers, Shumlin took in $160,293 to Brock's $55,329. But in that same period, the incumbent Democrat spent just $16,041 to his Republican challenger's $65,516, widening the already yawning gap between the two candidates' campaign reserves.

With Shumlin now having outraised Brock $839,805 to $584,924 — and that includes a $300,000 loan Brock gave himself — the governor's cash-on-hand advantage moving into the last two-and-a-half months of the race is $769,027 to Brock's $237,139.

So how've they been raising and spending it?

Continue reading "Shumlin Widens Fundraising Gap, While Brock Widens Fund-Spending Gap" »

August 15, 2012

In Irene Funding Dispute, Shumlin Makes Nice With FEMA

Shumlin CoatesFor nearly four weeks, Gov. Peter Shumlin's administration has blamed the Federal Emergency Management Agency for misleading — and even deceiving — the state into believing it was due more in Tropical Storm Irene recovery funding than it may eventually receive.

But on Tuesday, Shumlin sought to hit the reset button with the feds.

"I'm proud of the relationship we have developed with FEMA," the governor said, unprompted, at his weekly press conference. "I can tell you that in talking with other governors about recovery efforts like this, there is not a governor in the country who will tell you that there aren't good days with FEMA, there aren't bad days with FEMA, that there aren't happy days with FEMA, that there aren't sad days with FEMA. And we have to expect that we're going to have exactly the same experience here in the state of Vermont."

The governor's newly conciliatory tone toward FEMA comes as the agency continues to weigh the level at which it will reimburse Vermont for the replacement of the state psychiatric hospital and the Waterbury State Office Complex — both of which were badly damaged by Irene. Contrary to reports earlier this week, Shumlin said Tuesday that an announcement from FEMA outlining how much funding the state should expect is still three to four weeks away. Shumlin and the state's congressional delegation are continuing to lobby for the maximum amount of funding, the governor said.

Continue reading "In Irene Funding Dispute, Shumlin Makes Nice With FEMA" »

August 14, 2012

Shumlin Opponents Mount Write-In Campaign


Annettesmithgovernor5Concerned about wind turbines on ridgelines or chloramine in your water supply?

If so, chances are you’ve heard of Annette Smith, the no-nonsense director of the grassroots organization Vermonters for a Clean Environment. Smith has made a name for herself advocating on behalf of local communities fighting unwanted development, and now her supporters hope that Smith’s name recognition will come in handy in an upstart write-in campaign in the August 28 primaries. They’re urging Vermonters to vote for Annette Smith of Danby as the Progressive Party’s candidate for governor — not so much because they love Smith as because they hate the other guy.

“Too often we’re all in a position of holding our noses and voting for whoever we think might not be as bad as the other guy or girl,” says Stephanie Kaplan, a Calais environmental lawyer organizing the write-in campaign. She says it’s an attempt “to let people who are dissatisfied with Shumlin know that there’s something they can do in the primary election.”

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