Ward 5: Past, Present and Future?
Went for a little stroll down Memory Lane last night - attended the Ward 5 Neighborhood Planning Assembly in the People’s Republic of Burlington - the South End. Current candidates for city council, Democratic Incumbent Joan Shannon and Green Party long shot Rene Kaczka-Valliere faced off. All of 15 warm bodies in attendance at Public Works on Pine Street.
Folks like Madeleine Kunin (right). A journalist (Burlington Free Press), who became a wife and mother who became a state representative who became a lieutenant governor who became a governor and later became the American Ambassador to Switzerland!
And yes, yours truly did put in four colorful months on the Fifth Floor in Montpeculiar as Queen Madeleine's royal spokesman (1989-90).
Howard Dean. A medical doctor (once my doctor), who became a husband and father and a state rep who then became a lieutenant governor who became a governor who became chairman of the Democratic National Committee!
Democratic City Councilor Joan Shannon?
Wife, mother and business person (long-torso swimwear is her stock and trade.) Shannon (below, at last night's WARD 5 NPA), proudly takes credit for “spearheading the initiative of banning smoking in bars.” That effort, which began in the Queen City of Burlington, noted Shannon, “provided the impetus and political will for Montpelier to follow.”
The River Shannon is likewise not shy about taking some credit for promoting Instant Run-off Voting in Burlington - a process that went smoothly in its inaugural run in 2006. Just ask Mayor Bob the Prog, eh?
Councilor Shannon’s the thoughtful and thorough type and has demonstrated political backbone on more than one occasion. She insists, however, she’s not interested in statewide politics.
“My passion,” said Shannon, “is what’s best for Ward 5, not my political career.”
Didn’t Madeleine and Howard used to say that, too?
Rene the Green (to Shannon’s left), is a social worker at the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging. He spoke to the NPA about homelessness in Burlington and school kids shuffling between couches, the “Hunt-Edmunds Shuffle,” he called it. And he highlighted the issue of "men’s violence against women." More than 50 percent of homicides in Vermont, he said, are the result of domestic violence.
The Democrat and the Green were asked how they would "grade" the tall, quiet, incumbent mayor Vermont's largest city currently has - whatshisname?
Grade-wise, Rene gave Mayor Kiss a “B.”
Joan wasn’t so easy on him. Shannon gave the Progressive a “C-minus.”
“There’s room for improvement,” said Joan of Lakeside. Mayor Kiss has had some problems with “process,” she said, and shortcomings in the "communications area." Asked for an example she cited several, including da’ Mayor’s attempt to slide through the sale of city land in the Intervale on the Council’s “Consent Agenda,” thereby avoiding public discussion and open debate. (The matter did get a public airing and the sale was approved by a council majority.)
Shannon did, however, have nothing but praise for the the good work of Kiss-appointee, City Treasurer Jonathan Leopold (right). Leopold, you'll recall, was the bright, personable bow-tied treasurer who was the financial anchor and financial whiz of Mayor Bernie Sanders' mayoral reign back in the 1980s. The socialist mayor screamed a lot, but he also recognized talent and brains when he saw it. Bernie's no dummy.
However, Leopold did not get on smoothly with Bernie's successor in the corner office - Peter Clavelle. Their personal styles simply clashed rarther than clicked. Clavelle brought in Brendan Kelleher, ex-Winooski City Manager, to oversee Burlington's bottom line.
But with Clavelle gone, Jonathan's back as the Money Man, Back at home in Burlington City Hall - though he doesn't wear the bow-ties much anymore - and Kiss the Quiet Man is lucky to have him.
"In that area," said Shannon, referring to fiscal management, "the [Kiss] administration has done well."