MORE BLOGS: Bite Club (Food & Drink) | Live Culture (Arts) | Stuck in Vermont (Videos)

Off Message: Vermont News and Politics

The Fact Checker

November 07, 2012

The Fact Checker: Is the Fact Checker Really on Hiatus?

Fact Checker TrueEach week in Fact Checker, reporters and editors from Seven Days and VTDigger.org will evaluate the veracity of statements and rate them on a five-point scale: True, Mostly True, Debatable, Mostly False and Udder Bull.

CLAIM: "The Fact Checker is on indefinite hiatus," Seven DaysOff Message blog, Nov. 7, 2012.

FACTS: The Fact Checker has been running candidate statements and other claims through the BS detector for a good few weeks now. But with the campaign season over and the next legislative session not yet begun, the pace of outrageous claims has slowed down considerably. Therefore, the editors have decided to put the feature on administrative leave (unpaid, of course). The Fact Checker reserves the right to come back at any time, but will not appear weekly in Seven Days or on VTDigger.org for the next several weeks. If you have a fact you want checked, however, email us and we'll check it out.

SCORE: Judging from the byline of this post, and the website it's appearing on, this claim appears to be totally legit. For that reason, we rate it "True."

October 31, 2012

The Fact Checker: Does MacGovern Oppose Abortion, Even in Cases of Rape?

Factchecker-debatableEach week in Fact Checker, reporters and editors from Seven Days and VTDigger.org will evaluate the veracity of statements and rate them on a five-point scale: True, Mostly True, Debatable, Mostly False and Udder Bull.

CLAIM: “NO-CHOICE: At Least 15 GOP Senate Candidates Oppose Abortion For Rape Victims,” Oct. 26 story on Huffington Post, which said Republican U.S. Senate candidate John MacGovern opposes abortion even in cases of rape.

FACTS: Last week, the Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel sought to determine how many GOP Senate candidates share the view of Missouri’s Todd Akin and Indiana’s Richard Mourdock that abortion should be illegal, even in the case of rape. Terkel originally wrote that 13 held the same view, but subsequent corrections to the story reduced that number to 11.

Continue reading "The Fact Checker: Does MacGovern Oppose Abortion, Even in Cases of Rape?" »

October 24, 2012

The Fact Checker: Did State Treasurer Beth Pearce Get a D Minus in Transparency?

Factchecker-bullEach week in Fact Checker, reporters and editors from Seven Days and VTDigger.org will evaluate the veracity of statements and rate them on a five-point scale: True, Mostly True, Debatable, Mostly False and Udder Bull. This week's Fact Checker was written by VTDigger's Anne Galloway.

CLAIM: "If [the state treasurer’s website] was so wonderful, why do we have a D minus in transparency from the U.S. PIRG? That is unacceptable in this information age." 
— Republican candidate for state treasurer Wendy Wilton, WCAX-TV debate, October 7

FACTS: Transparency has been Wilton’s favorite cudgel in the state treasurer’s race. The Rutland city treasurer accuses Democratic State Treasurer Beth Pearce of failing to present the state’s budget in a “checkbook” format that Vermonters can understand. She points to a March study from U.S. PIRG, a national consumer advocacy organization, that gave the state a failing grade for financial transparency as proof that Pearce hasn’t provided the public with the kind of easy-to-grasp graphics and explanations that would make the state’s finances more transparent to average Vermonters. 

Continue reading "The Fact Checker: Did State Treasurer Beth Pearce Get a D Minus in Transparency?" »

October 17, 2012

The Fact Checker: Were More than a Million Doses of Oxycodone Prescribed in Rutland County Last Year?

Factchecker-mostlytrueEach week in Fact Checker, reporters and editors from Seven Days and VTDigger.org will evaluate the veracity of statements and rate them on a five-point scale: True, Mostly True, Debatable, Mostly False and Udder Bull. This week's Fact Checker was written by Andy Bromage.

CLAIM: Last year, more than a million doses of Oxycodone were prescribed in Rutland County. That amounts to 17 pills for every man, woman and child in the county.
— Vermont Public Radio, October 15 

FACTS: This week’s Fact Checker investigates a number that popped up in a recent Vermont Public Radio report about the growing drug-addiction problem in Rutland. In her story, VPR reporter Nina Keck quoted Clay Gilbert, director of an outpatient treatment center in Rutland, relaying a jaw-dropping figure he heard from a pharmacist at a community forum.

Continue reading "The Fact Checker: Were More than a Million Doses of Oxycodone Prescribed in Rutland County Last Year?" »

October 10, 2012

The Fact Checker: Would Single-Payer Health Care Result in the Largest Tax Increase in Vermont History?

Factchecker-trueCLAIM: “Montpelier is keeping a $5 billion secret. Why? Because the truth will result in the largest single tax increase in state history.”

 — Television commercial from conservative super PAC Vermonters First

FACTS: So what’s the secret? The super PAC Vermonters First is referring to the state’s current annual health care expenditures, including private insurance and federally funded programs, which total $5 billion. If Vermont moves ahead with a publicly financed universal health care system, residents would pay taxes instead of insurance premiums to cover the cost.

Continue reading "The Fact Checker: Would Single-Payer Health Care Result in the Largest Tax Increase in Vermont History?" »

October 03, 2012

The Fact Checker: Does Vermont Have the Highest Tax Rate in the Country?

Factchecker-bullWith the 2012 campaign season in full swing, Seven Days has teamed up with VTDigger.org to create a fact-checker feature to test the "truthiness" of claims made by the candidates who want your vote this November. This week's Fact Checker was written by VTDigger's Anne Galloway.

CLAIM: “Pete Shumlin’s Vermont: highest tax rate in the country.” 
Television commercial for Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock, titled “Who’s He Fooling?”

FACTS: The Vermont GOP has long contended that Democrats have made the Green Mountain State into a high-tax, antibusiness enclave. So it wasn’t surprising when Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock claimed, in an attack ad against Gov. Peter Shumlin, that Vermont has the highest tax rate in the country. 

Continue reading "The Fact Checker: Does Vermont Have the Highest Tax Rate in the Country?" »

September 26, 2012

The Fact Checker: Has Vermont Added 7500 New Jobs Since Shumlin Was Elected?

Factchecker-mostlyfalseWith the 2012 campaign season in full swing, Seven Days has teamed up with VTDigger.org to create a fact-checker feature to test the "truthiness" of claims made by the candidates who want your vote this November. This week's Fact Checker was written by Paul Heintz.

CLAIM: "We've added 7500 new jobs in the state of Vermont since we got elected two years ago."   

— Gov. Peter Shumlin, campaign kickoff,  September 10, 2012 

FACTS: If you've spent any time listening to Gov. Peter Shumlin argue his case for a second term, you've heard the number 7500. That's how many jobs he says have been created in Vermont since he took office in January 2011. 

Shumlin's campaign says it arrived at that figure by comparing the Vermont Department of Labor's tally of not-seasonally-adjusted, nonfarm jobs between January 2011 and June 2012. And, indeed, the number increased by 7550 during that time frame — from 296,600 to 304,150 jobs. 

But the story doesn't end in June. In July, the number of nonfarm jobs dropped 4950 to 299,200. And in August, it dipped another 900 to 298,300. Throughout Shumlin's 21 months in office, therefore, the number of not-seasonally-adjusted, nonfarm jobs has increased by just 1700. 

Of course, there's a reason economists seasonally adjust employment figures: They tend to fluctuate in a fairly predictable pattern throughout the year. For instance, last summer's June-to-July drop-off was similar to this past one; in 2011, the June-to-July nonfarm employment figure dropped from 299,450 to 292,950 — the lowest jobs figure of Shumlin's tenure. In December 2011, that figure surged to 308,100 — the highest of his tenure. 

When employment numbers are seasonally adjusted, Shumlin's record looks a little better — though not quite as rosy as he claims. Between January 2011 and August 2012, the number of seasonally adjusted, nonfarm jobs increased by 4700 — from 298,500 to 303,200. 

Another way to judge Shumlin's economic record is to look at unemployment figures. Between January 2011 and August 2012, the seasonally adjusted number of unemployed Vermonters fell from 21,600 (6 percent) to 19,000 (5.3 percent). While unemployment is lower now than when Shumlin took office, it has actually increased during each of the past three months, from a low of 16,400 (4.6 percent) in May.  

SCORE: Gov. Shumlin's claim  that Vermont has added 7500 jobs  during his tenure may have been true in June, but it's not true anymore. Using his own criteria, the correct number would be 1700. If Shumlin wants to provide an accurate sense of job creation during his tenure, he should shift to the seasonally adjusted measure, which shows an increase of 4700 nonfarm jobs during his tenure. By cherry-picking the best numbers available to him, Shumlin exaggerates Vermont's job growth during the past 21 months. We rate his claim "Mostly False."

September 19, 2012

The Fact Checker: Did Wilton Turn Rutland's Deficit Into a Surplus?

Factchecker-debatable

With the 2012 campaign season in full swing, Seven Days has teamed up with VTDigger.org to create a fact-checker feature to test the "truthiness" of claims made by the candidates who want your vote this November. This week's Fact Checker was written by Paul Heintz.

CLAIM: “As city treasurer, Wilton turned Rutland’s $5 million deficit into a $3.8 million surplus.”

— Television commercial supporting Republican state treasurer candidate Wendy Wilton, paid for by the conservative super PAC Vermonters First.

FACTS: When Wilton and Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras took office in March 2007, the city was reeling from years of sloppy bookkeeping.

 Due to an improper commingling of accounts, the city’s general fund had been depleted to cover deficits in its water and sewer funds. The situation grew so dire that Rutland had to borrow $5 million in 2006 to plug a hole in the general fund.

Continue reading "The Fact Checker: Did Wilton Turn Rutland's Deficit Into a Surplus?" »

September 12, 2012

The Fact Checker: Does Phil Scott Oppose a Woman's Right to Choose?

With the 2012 campaign season in full swing, Seven Days has teamed up with VTDigger.org to create a fact-checker feature to test the "truthiness" of claims made by the candidates who want your vote this November. 

LM-FactChecker-MostlyFalseCLAIM: Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is “against a woman’s right to choose.” 

— September 7 fundraising email by Jerry Greenfield, campaign treasurer for Progressive/Democrat Cassandra Gekas

FACTS: Last week, Ben & Jerry’s cofounder Jerry Greenfield served up some reasons to give money to Cassandra Gekas’ campaign for lieutenant governor. Most amounted to attacks on Phil Scott, the Republican incumbent.

In a fundraising email, Greenfield wrote, “Do you want Phil Scott to be Vermont’s next governor? ... He is against a woman’s right to choose.”

Continue reading "The Fact Checker: Does Phil Scott Oppose a Woman's Right to Choose?" »

Subscribe to the Daily 7

Fill out my online form.
All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684