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October 2008

October 31, 2008

VT GOP: Symington Violating Campaign Finance Law

Not to be outdone with last-minute charges of campaign finance violations, the Vermont Republican Party has filed a complaint with the attorney general's office claiming Democrat Gaye Symington's campaign has been illegally coordinating activities with Democracy for America.

Assistant Attorney General Mike McShane told Seven Days that letters asking both Symington's campaign and the DFA to respond to the complaint were sent out in today's mail. They would then have five days to respond.

That means nothing would be settled before Tuesday's election, McShane said. "We'll take look at what their responses are, take a look at the law and decide if there is any form of violation."

Continue reading "VT GOP: Symington Violating Campaign Finance Law" »

Douglas Changes Course on Free Ride Charges

Gov. Jim Douglas started his day Thursday on the Charlie & Ernie Show in Colchester and ended it in Bennington, but the topic of conversation was the same: the "free ride" claims leveled against him by Democrat Gaye Symington.

On C&E, Douglas parroted his campaign manager's claim that Symington's allegations are a desperate attempt to tear him down by a candidate who is trailing in the polls. He added that every governor has a 24-hour security detail — a detail Vermonters are expected to pay for no matter where he treks.

Then later on in the day, meeting with reporters during a part campaign/part official business swing through Bennington, he told Neal Goswani from the Banner that he reimburses the state for phone calls, photocopies, etc. out of his own pocket.

Really? That was news to us: it doesn't show up on his campaign finance records as an in-kind contribution (if he paid for it himself) or as a direct payment from the campaign to the state of Vermont.

Here's what Douglas told the Banner:

"I'm doing what I understand to be the appropriate thing, which is if there is a telephone call made out of the governor's office that's political, I reimburse for it as I've done, or a photocopy made or something like that," he said.

"I've paid it out of my pocket," he added, which is why it's not showing up on campaign finance reports.

Hmm. That's not what Douglas campaign manager Dennise Casey told "Fair Game" two weeks ago when we asked if the campaign reimbursed expenses to the state. No, was her answer then.

The campaign's response seems to be evolving, and I've asked Casey to clarify why the governor didn't make these points sooner.

Here is the the video the Banner shot of the press conference.

The early part of the video shows some protesters asking Douglas to refund the state for the money he's cost them while campaigning. You'll see more of those Democrats around the state today at honk 'n waves around Vermont.

Paula and Pamela on Halloween

Ps_halloween Our fearless leaders, Pamela and Paula, were kind enough to take a moment out of their busy days to pose for this picture.

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2008

Election Night Coverage on Blurt

102908musicspotblonds_3 Ok, so we're not the AP. Nevertheless, a few of us Seven Days political junkies will be posting election day and night updates to Blurt.

Once the polls close, political columnist Shay Totten and I will be live blogging and Twittering from the Channel 17 studios.

Don't forget to tune in and join the discussion about this memorable election.

Or you could go out on the town with the Dirty Blondes and get updates sent to your cell phone via Shay's Twitter feed.

Vermont 3.0 Tech Jam Video

Seven Days videographer Eva Sollberger was at Vermont 3.0 last Saturday, and filed this video report.

Douglas' Free Ride Rolls On *UPDATED*

Took time to scan a few Vermont news sites this morning after learning that a story "Fair Game" broke two weeks ago was behind yesterday's press conference by gubernatorial candidate and Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington.

Two weeks ago, I reported that Republican Gov. Jim Douglas has yet to reimburse the state for any of the travel costs incurred by his full-time state trooper while he criss-crosses the state glad-handing Vermonters as he fights to keep his job.

This was a break from his predecessor, Gov. Howard Dean, who did reimburse at least some of these costs. Did he reimburse them all? Probably not, but Douglas has chosen to take a more cavalier attitude — stick taxpayers with the bill.

Yesterday, Symington called on Douglas to repay those costs. Here is a snippet from prepared remarks she distributed:

"It’s galling that at a time when an increasing number of Vermonters are losing their jobs, Jim Douglas is using Vermonters' tax dollars to campaign to keep his own. At a time when Jim Douglas has cut vital services for Vermonters he is helping himself to more of our tax dollars to campaign on the public's dime.  He needs to give the money back.

Is it a lot of money?  The truth is we don't know — and the governor and his campaign have made it clear they have no intention of saying.  But it's the principle that matters.  When the governor uses tax dollars to campaign, he's not protecting taxpayers, he's exploiting them."

Continue reading "Douglas' Free Ride Rolls On *UPDATED*" »

Karl Lagerfeld in Vermont -- Videos

Everybody's getting on the Karl Lagerfeld bandwagon!

Video from WCAX — featuring Karl himself! — and a stakeout vid from intrepid reporter Lauren Ober of the Burlington Free Press, who sits in her car outside the house on Grand Isle and delivers an entertaining monologue summarizing the story.

Yep, the rumor was true...

October 29, 2008

"Ode to a Modern Mariner"

Fneutrino Last month, I wrote a cover story that featured celebrity raft builder Papa Neutrino. An ode to Neutrino just turned up in our snail mail bin:

Ode To a Modern Mariner

He came from the west in the land called Frisco.

A self-educated man who avoided disco.

To the shores of Burlington, a city in need.

To establish a new way, a better creed.

His followers were legion, his fame widespread.

A sojourner of truth who ate whole grain bread.

Was he the one, the great bambino?

No, no my friend, he was Papa Neutrino.

— Anonymous

Photo by Matthew Thorsen.

Stalking Karl Lagerfeld

Sotaklagerfeld Monday morning I had some allergy testing, got a flu shot and received a phone call from one of my editors. Not the usual, "What were you thinking?" editorial call. No, from on high, I was told that I must make a pilgrimage to Grand Isle, perhaps the least notable of the Lake Champlain Islands.

I didn't have to take the ferry to Plattsburgh (pretty much the only thing one can do on Grand Isle), so what was I supposed to do there? Stalk Karl Lagerfeld.

If you've been following the story here on Blurt, you know that Karl Lagerfeld bought property on Grand Isle recently (see photo below).

Women's Wear Daily announced that Lagerfeld bought a home here in early October, and since then, news sources as lofty as the New York Times have all had their say., has their own over-romantic take on the property. Here's hoping that Lagerfeld takes full advantage of the "fertile farmland."

Other local media outlets are finally picking up the story — here's a report from last night's WCAX newscast.

Monday afternoon, I drove over to see what exactly the couturier was doing in the brick house on the highway. When I got there, I met Willie Lebeau of Essex Equipment, who was providing furnishings and heating for a photo shoot. He was doubtful that Lagerfeld would eventually settle there, "If he were moving, it would take more than two days to renovate it." And presumably, he would bring his own furniture.

Hpim1691_smallMandy Hotchkiss, proprietor of the Blue Paddle Bistro, confirmed that her business would be catering a four-day photo shoot for Chanel. Hotchkiss came face-to-face with the designer Tuesday morning. “I met him,” she said. “He was very nice to (Alburgh chef) Barbara (Cote). He spent most of the time in the house . . . he really just dashed in and dashed out.”

As Seven Days' newly appointed fashionista, I hope to shake his fingerless-gloved hand.

You can read my story about stalking Karl Lagerfeld in this week's Seven Days.

October 28, 2008

WCAX Poll Shows Pollina Gaining Ground

A new WCAX-TV poll in the Vermont Governor's race shows Independent Anthony Pollina gaining steam as we head into the final week of the 2008 gubernatorial election.

The new poll, released tonight, shows incumbent Republican Gov. Jim Douglas with 47 percent of the vote, Democrat Gaye Symington with 24 percent of the vote, and Pollina at 23 percent.

In mid-September, a WCAX-TV  poll had this breakdown: Douglas 48 percent, Symington 33 percent and Pollina at 7 percent. In that poll, 12 percent were undecided.

Since then Rasmussen released a poll that many discredited, but seems to hold up now given the WCAX numbers.  Rasmussen poll saw the race this way: Douglas: 45 percent; Pollina: 25 percent: Symington: 20 percent. And, a Macro poll released last week called the race as such: Douglas 43 percent, Symington 18 percent, and Pollina 15 percent.

The poll of 400 Vermonters also revealed that of the three candidates, Douglas has the highest favorables of the three candidates at 50 percent — Pollina was viewed positively by 45 percent of those polled and Symington 34 percent. Douglas is viewed unfavorably by 42 percent of those polled, while Symington is viewed negatively by 45 percent. Pollina was viewed negatively by 35 percent of those polled.

I discuss more fully Gov. Douglas' shift in campaign ads and attacks in this week's "Fair Game" — so be sure to check back tomorrow when it's posted, or pick up a print edition.

Continue reading "WCAX Poll Shows Pollina Gaining Ground" »

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