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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Last Day of August

*Afternoon Update posted below*

Wait a minute!

The National Weather Service says it was 45 degrees at the Burlington International Airport at 6:54 am EDT.

A little chilly for August, eh? And a wet Ernesto weekend ahead?

Roger Hill had the day off at 'DEV this morning. Back tomorrow, but his forecast is not uplifting at Weathering Heights.

Ahead this last day of August -  we have another round of back-to-back dueling Montpeculiar pressers from Republican Gov. Jim Douglas (10:30) and his Democratic challenger Scudder Parker (9:30). We hope have an update this afternoon on how they did.

But to keep busy this morning, and make yourself feel good at the same time, go read the just-released 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning the restrictions the great (Leahy nominated) U.S. District Court Judge William K. Sessions III of Cornwall, Vermont placed on the hallowed 1st Amendment. It's the Williamstown Middle School t-shirt case that Adam Silverman did a real nice job on in this morning’s Burlington Free Press.

You can get the 26-page “GUILES v.MARINEAU" decision right here as a pdf file.

Background at the Vermont ACLU website.

Happy Free Speech in America Day!



Parker Challenges Douglas on Energy Issues

Nice day for Montpeculiar and we got our favorite beans at Capitol Grounds!

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Scudder Parker was in good form this morning in Room 10 at the Statehouse. Anson Tebbetts was there from Ch. 3 and Stewart Ledbetter from Ch. 5. And from radio land, Steve Zind from VPR. Yours truly, in addition to Seven Days responsibilities including blogging, was there to get a radio story for WDEV.  No one from the Times Argus/Rutland Herald 's Montpelier-based Vermont Press Bureau showed. And no one from The Burlington Free Press' Capitol Bureau did either.

Oh, that's right, the management of the Gannett-owned Freeps closed its Montpelier bureau down a couple months ago. A cost-efficiency apparently.

Doesn't matter. Even with a capitol bureau, the Freeps' print competition did not staff either Parker of Douglas' morning pressers. The new A.P. Bureau chief John Curran was there to cover their bases and those of other Vermont dailies.


***CORRECTION*** - posted September 1: A.P. DID NOT staff Parker's presser as I sloppily suggested above (and, yes, I was there,,,,oops!.  Sorry, gang!

J.C. from A.P. was at the Guv's. Didn't write anything, though. Has to be a strange new world to the new guy from Atlantic City, eh?

Terri Hallenbeck over in the  Freeps blog just caught our geeky mistake and addressed it in her talented way. Appreciate the criticism!  Flattered, actually, coming as it is from a journalist
and jogger.

Journalist Hallenbeck is reading and responding to this new "Freyne Land " thing!  On Gannett time!!! 

Does Jim Carey know?

As it was, Scudder made some good hits, but didn't get a statewide story in the papers.

Bad luck?


Parker the Democrat, who served in the Vermont Senate before Dubya’s daddy was President, took direct aim at incumbent GOP Gov. Jim Douglas like I personally haven’t caught him doing before. Timing, they say, is everything.

Scudder said that under the Douglas administration, energy prices have “gone through the roof” - with no solutions provided by our current chief executive. And energy prices are expected to keep increasing. Said Scudder:

“There are three critical components of a serious strategy to reduce the cost of living:

“You have to plan carefully. You have to increase efficiency, and you have you have to invest wisely. On all three of these principals, Mr. Douglas has failed.”
Skidder, er, Scudder, made a point of telling the press that King James, as I call him, “is more than two years behind in putting out a comprehensive energy plan that could provide the blueprint for coping with the current energy costs.”

And, said Parker, Jimmy D  “is a chronic skeptic and underachiever in increasing efficiency. And he has no thoughtful investment strategy to secure affordability in the future.”

Bing, bang, boom!

A subject near and dear to the former director of Energy Efficiency for the state.

Within the hour, up on the Fifth Floor, Gov. Jimbo scoffed at Scudder's attack saying , “Well, I’m sure he’ll try to take credit for everything and try to blame everything on me. Probably I’m responsible for the tent caterpillars and the common cold,” he joked. “We’re going to hear a lot of things between now and Election Day.”
Yes, we are. And the incumbent, a seasoned veteran of the statewide circuit. had a prepared comeback on the topic at hand.

‘I don’t understand how [Scudder] can talk about rising energy costs,” said Gov. Douglas, “when he tried to make energy costs even higher. He and his friends in the House of Representatives tried to raise the gas tax. That’s a regressive tax that would have impacted low and middle income Vermonters the most. I’m pleased that Senate Democrats and I worked hard together to say no.”


Jim Douglas - still a George W. Bush supporter as well as an ever vigilant champion of the low-income Vermonter!

But our charming Republican governor quickly became less chatty when asked about his recent public disagreement with  Republican Lt. Gov. Dubie on utility-scale wind development in the Green Mountains, or rather, on the Green Mountains.

Last week, Doobie-Doo all-of-a-sudden described himself in Lyndonville as “an unabashed supporter of wind,” noting “there are a lot of potential sites in Vermont even though they may be on ridge lines.”

If you’re at all familiar with Jim Douglas’ well-articulated policy against commercial wind power in Vermont, you know that what the Doobster said was pure and utter heresy!

“With all due respect,” said the Guv in response to our press conference inquiry, “I’m not going to characterize differences. I’m going to tell you how I feel. I really believe. based on our conversations, that we’re not as far apart as you think.”

He deflected the question and declined further comment on the Dubie “wind gap.”

He’s good at that, isn’t he?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Next Vermont Delegation?

Vermont’s senior senator, elected in an upset way back in November 1974, was standing in front of the soda coolers at the Radio Deli on Pearl Street in Burlington Wednesday morning. At one of Patrick Leahy's elbows stood Independent U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat created by Jeezum Jim Jeffords' retirement. At the other stood State Sen. Peter Welch, the Democrat shooting for Ol’ Bernardo’s open House seat.

The presser drew a very good media turnout: Ch: 3 and Ch: 5 had crews crammed in the narrow Radio DeDsc03367li aisle; Sam Hemingway from the Freeps (with the new goatee) showed, as did John Dillon from VPR and the new Montpelier bureau chief of the Associated Press John Curran. That's Mr. Curran with the interesting tie. (And yes, he's the guy who finally replaced Chris Graff.) Does anyone else see a resemblance to ex-Vanguard Press editor Jeff Good? Jeff, a St, Mike's grad, went on some success at The St. Petersburg Times before coming back to Vermont and finding paradise over at the Valley News.



The official topic was the federal minimum wage and there wasn't a Republican in sight.  Would you believe the entire trio wants it raised from $5.15 up to $7.25?  What a surprise!

Everyone stuck to their script and when they finished no reporter-type had a minimum-wage question on the tip of their tongues. So we popped something a little fresher: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s speech last night to the American Legion National Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.


The most incompetent, dishonest Secretary of Defense in memory actually played the Adolph Hitler card.  Rumsfeld, as you know is a man not even Republican Sen. John McCain has any confidence in.  Our current embarrassment of a defense secretary actually compared those Americans who are today’s patriotic critics of the Bush administration’s dishonest Iraq disaster to unnamed Americans from the 1930s who did not take Adolf Hitler & Co. seriously enough and called the threat of fascism “exaggerated.”

Said Rumsfeld to the Legion last night:

It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis -- the rise of fascism and Nazism -- were ridiculed and ignored.

“Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exagge
rated -- or that it was someone else’s problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace -- even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear. It was, as Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last....

“I recount this history because once again we face the same kind of challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism. Today, another enemy -- a different kind of enemy -- has also made clear its intentions -- in places like New York, Washington, D.C., Bali, London, Madrid, and Moscow. But it is apparent that many have still not learned history’s lessons.”

You’ve simply got to read the Rumsfeld speech.

St. Patrick bristled as we asked for comment, on Rumsfeld's crack about how  Iraq War critics  have not learned their history lessons. Pat Leahy got very, very serious, very, very quickly:

“You know, to quote my friend Bernie, I was outraged at what [Rumsfeld] had to say. You want to talk about reading history? I wish somebody in the Bush administration would actually read a history book, I doubt if anyone has from the top all the way down!”


“I’m reminded of what [former Bush Attorney General] John Ashcroft said when we actually asked questions about his failed effort, his failed effort to stop terrorists. Ashcroft said, ‘Those who are questioning us are giving aid and comfort to the enemy.’

"In other words the definition of treason.

“The press asked me what I thought about that and I said, look, I can’t criticize his right to speak. I’m a strong proponent of the 1st Amendment. He has a right to say anything he wants, no matter how stupid it might be.

“And I’ll say the same for the Secretary of Defense. He has a 1st Amendment right to say anything he wants to, no matter how stupid it might be. This was pretty stupid!

“To suggest, as this administration does over and over again, that if people question what they’re doing, then somehow we’re unpatriotic.

“I think the highest mark of patriotism in this country is to raise questions, and especially to raise questions about an administration that’s carrying out policies that make absolutely no sense, that have alienated us from much of the rest of the world, and have not made us safer, but has made us less safe.

“Is that clear enough?”

Peter Welch piped up:

“I just want to add - for the good of the troops for the good of the country I think Donald Rumsfeld should be fired today. He misled us into the war. He  criticized legislators and the press who asked questions before we went to war. He’s criticizing people who are now asking to hold him accountable. He refuses to accept responsibility for his own policies and his own actions. It’s unacceptable.”

And finally, Bernie Sanders:

“In point of fact, not only did Sen. Leahy vote against the War in Iraq. Not only did Sen. Jeffords vote against the War in Iraq, I voted against the war in Iraq. And that makes, in fact, the Vermont delegation the only complete delegation of 50 states in America to vote against the War in Iraq.

“And you know what?

“We were right.”

Tough to argue with these guys, eh?

At least on the topic of George W. Bush's War in Iraq.

The war that never needed to happen!

Sick & Tired?

Remember the time when many, many Vermonters were afraid the Green Mountains were going to hell in the wake of unprecedented actions taken by a Supreme Court, Democrat-controlled legislature and Democratic governor to establish in Vermont law the right of two homosexuals to marry one another?

Yes, indeed, 2000 was one hell of a legislative session. With the entire nation watching, the Vermont legislature passed civil unions. The Democratic governor, whatshisname, the Park Avenue-raised physician who is a household word today - Howard Brush Dean III - signed it that April behind closed doors. No photos or video of the historic moment that might pop up in a certain someone’s future presidential race, though!

In November of 2000 the Vermont GOP cashed in on the anti-gay backlash and Walter Freed became Speaker of the House in January 2001. Ol’ Walt held the job for two terms. Democrats, the ones who survived the 2000 voter backlash, moped and sulked in the Statehouse hallways for a few years.

Remember the fall of 2004 when the Vermont Democratic Party - legislature-wise - pulled itself off the floor? They found what they thought was the right message - healthcare reform!!!

And it was a winning message. The Ds took back the House easily and increased their majority in the Senate.

Just a few days after the 2004 election, Channel 3 News reported House Democratic leader John Tracy would step aside to let Gaye Symington become the new speaker of the House and Tracy would lead on healthcare. Ch.3 reporter Caroline Allen (since departed) told Vermont viewers:

Symington would become the second woman speaker in statehouse history. She says priority one is affordable healthcare for all Vermonters. “This is one issue where we start from very different places and the only way we're going to make headway is to be clear that we're willing to work together and talk together and we make those efforts.”

At his weekly press conference Governor Douglas echoed that sentiment -- and reiterated his pledge to work with the Democrats. “Douglas: I feel strongly that in the area of healthcare reform we need to hit the ground running in January”

Tracy: This isn't about flexing muscles, this is just we have a strong majority in both chambers we want to get something done with Vermonters and shame on us if we don't.

Shame on us if we don’t?

Well, fast forward to the present - the summer of 2006. What have Vermont healthcare reformers got for results?

They’ve got a report!

It’s called “Costs and Implications of a Single Payer Healthcare Model for the State of Vermont.” It was written by Kenneth Thorpe of Emory University. You can find it at the Legislature's website. Scroll down to "Major Issues." and then click on "Health Care, Overall."

P.S. Those interested is fresh poll numbers that indicate how effective Republican Rich Tarrant's unprecedented attack ads have been should check Today's "Inside Track" column in Seven Days.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Loose Ends

Good Morning!  (*Coffee-break Update below!...followed by *Lunchtime Update)

You know, people can criticize Channel 3 News all they want - it’s a free country. But how about a little “bravo” for the fact WCAX-TV posts its news scripts?

Hear, hear!

This from the lips of the one-and-only Marselis Parsons last night during the Six:

"Article in the New York Times has raised questions for U-S Senate candidate Rich his previous career as head of I-D-X.

"The article suggests there may have been some suspicious stock trading -- just before the sale of the South Burlington software company to General Electric. The article says abnormal trading occurred. The article adds that the price and number of shares traded in IDX stock jumped -- when company officials talked with G-E, and the buyer agreed to increase its bid by 5-percent. The trading is reportedly being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Tarrant -- who is a republican candidate for U-S Senate -- issued a written statement -- saying .... "IDX took every appropriate step to keep all information concerning the deal with GE Healthcare confidential and secure. As Chairman, all stock transactions made by me were public for shareholders and the market to evaluate."

"GE issued a similar statement, saying its employees are prohibited from discussing possible acquisitions. And, they said they saw NO signs of unusual trading. The IDX sale was just one of three dozen noted in the Times article that allegedly exhibited abnormal trading. The article suggests that such trading is becoming a "systemic problem" on Wall Street.

"We have a crew interviewing Tarrant -- and will bring you more of his response -- on the Channel 3 News at 11.”

I fell asleep around 10.

The 11 o’clock script isn’t posted yet......stay tuned.


Coffee-Break Update: (Lunch update below*)

Funny. it’s 10:30 in the morning and the Channel 3 News website - that informed Vermonters depend on - responds with this when one clicks on the link to Monday’s 11.p.m. news script:

•We're sorry, but the script you have selected has not yet been posted to our web site.
•The scripts are normally available within one hour of the actual broadcast.
•Occasionally, problems arise and more time may be required. On extremely rare occasions, it may not be possible to post a script. Please check again later.
•We apologize for any inconvenience.

The suspense builds!

Meanwhile, a kind "Freyne Land" poster - “bottomline” - has provided this very interesting link to previous, proven, IDX insider-trading.

I’m shocked! Shocked! Shocked to find stock fraud going on anywhere near IDX!

Channel 3 News did report the IDX insider-trader's conviction two-years ago. No big deal. Got all of three-sentences:

"A former Williston resident is going to jail for insider trading and securities fraud. 46-year old Jay Laveson worked as a financial analyst for I-D-X. He pleaded guilty in March to using his position with the company to make personal profits in the stock market. Laveson was sentenced today to 15 months in federal prison and two years of supervised released."

Now it's 10:40 a.m. and we're still waiting for Channel 3 News to post.

Patience, everyone.

Besides, I've got an actual newspaper column to write. Distributed tomorrow morning on paper.

I know.... old-fashioned.


*Lunchtime Update

Still no Monday-Night 11 p.m. Channel 3 News script posted and it's 1 p.m. on Tuesday. Hope everyone's OK over there.

Not to worry. A blog reader had taped it! Played it to us over the phone.

Thank you, Alexander Graham Bell!

Ch 3 late-night co-anchor, golfer and snowboarder Roger Garrity told Vermont viewers/voters that a New York Times story had reported Tarrant's IDX 2005 sale to GE Healthcare for $1.2 BILLION had been “flagged for abnormal and suspicious trading."

"Roger announced that "an analysis done at the time said the price and number of shares traded in IDX stock jumped prior to the sale. Tarrant the former CEO and Chairman of IDX says the company took appropriate steps to keep the sale information confidential and secure."

Tarrant's on-camera comment:

If there really was a leak or there was some insider-trading, that would have rung like crazy and on September 29 when we announced the deal [at] $44-a-share, we were trading at $31. So if there was any leak or any inside trading, it would have gone a lot higher than $31.”

Uh, huh. After all, it was only only a measely 5 percent jump in price. Hey, what's 5 percent of a BILLION dollars anyway?

That sure puts the stock-fraud talk to bed.

Well done, Richie.

Ever think of running for office?

In Paraguay?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tarrant Stock Sale Update

***UPDATE: Tarrant issues statement (4:40 p.m.)***


IDX took every appropriate step to keep all information concerning the deal with GE Healthcare confidential and secure.  As Chairman, all stock transactions made by me were public for shareholders and the market to evaluate.”

Your comment?

Lunchtime on Monday.

We’ve got emails in - two hours ago - to Tarrant Campaign Manager Tim Lennon and advisor Kate O’Connor (yes, formerly with Howard Dean) seeking comment on the New York Times insider-trading story (which is prosecuted under fraud statutes) that noted IDX stock's trading and price fluctuations last September during the corporation's sale to G.E. Healthcare for $1.2 BILLION. Tarrant was IDX chairman-of-the-board at the time.

Nothing back yet. Maybe, they're busy?

We'll keep you posted. We hear other press in on the trail, too.

However, we have received one press release from both Candidate Tarrant and one from his opponent, Independent U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, this morning.

From Tarrant HQ:


An investigation by the Humane Society of the United States found that chickens at the farm that supplied eggs to Ben and Jerry’s were dying of starvation, live hens were living among dead ones and sick or injured birds were caught in cage wires.

On Wednesday Ben and Jerry’s Homemade announced it will sever ties with the egg supplier accused of mistreating the chickens.  The company’s CEO was quoted as saying it “seemed like the right thing to do.”

A report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation found that workers at Florida Crystals, a company owned by the Fanjul family of Palm Beach, Florida, live in  “appalling working conditions on plantations in the Dominican Republic, where Haitian cane cutters live like slaves.  Workers who live on Central Romano, a Fanjul-owned plantation, go hungry while working 12-hour days to earn $2....

Congressman Sanders has accepted a campaign contribution from Florida Crystals.  Yet he refuses to return the contribution.  By failing to return the contribution from the political action committee Congressman Sanders is not only breaking his long standing pledge never to accept corporate PAC money, but worse he is turning a blind eye to the working conditions of Florida Crystals’ employees.

Isn’t it time for Congressman Sanders to show that he believes people are just as important as chickens?


From Rep. Sanders Capitol Hill office:

Statement from Congressman Sanders on One-Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Sanders said, "In the weeks following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, President Bush promised Gulf Coast residents that the Administration would do what it takes to rebuild their communities and their lives. Unfortunately, as we mark the one-year anniversary of the storm, it is clear that this President has not kept his promise.

"Currently only 3 out of 10 acute-care hospitals in New Orleans have re-opened; only 56 of 128 public schools in New Orleans are enrolling students this fall; and 80% of Gulf Coast businesses with approved SBA disaster loans are still waiting to receive the funds they need to rebuild. Less than half of the $110 billion in federal money that Bush has touted has actually been spent-the rest having been tied up in bureaucratic delays and mismanagement. This rampant mismanagement also includes awarding more than 70% of the government contracts to repair the region without full competition, wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and delaying desperately needed repairs. The residents of the Gulf Coast deserve more than delays and empty promises, they deserve real action that will help them rebuild their communities."

Interesting contrast, eh?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Tarrant "Fraud" Bombshell Drops via New York Times Probe

What a weekend it's turned out to be!

Extremely bad news for the Tarrant for Senate Campaign  as Sunday's edition of The New York Times broke a major investigative piece about some very suspicious Wall Street stock-trading last year involving the business dealings of Vermont's self-funded Republican candidate who is seeking to fill Independent Sen. Jim Jeffords seat.

The questionable trading miraculously raised the price of the sellers shares during negotiations involving five billion-dollar-plus corporate buyouts in 2005 - including G.E. Healthcare’s $1.2 billion buyout of Rich Tarrant’s IDX Systems of South Burlington, Vermont.

If your not a logged-in N.Y. Times subscriber, ---here [via NY Times Link Generator, here]Update: Thanks, Morgan, for the N.Y. Times link, just learning the blog ropes --- you can catch it here from Reuters via the Washington Post.  The study of the sales and the stock trades was conducted for the Times by a Toronto, Canada firm - MeasuredMarketsInc. Here's a look at the Vermont highlights from the Times article:

"In each of the five cases, the abnormal trading occurred during periods of significant behind-the-scenes progress in the mergers, as outlined by the companies themselves in regulatory filings long after the deals were struck.

"Trading in Dex Media increased sharply last Sept. 14, the day that management, legal teams and financial advisers representing the company and Donnelley met. And the price and the number of shares traded in IDX jumped on Sept. 7, when its chief executive and a G.E. executive talked and G.E. agreed to increase its bid by 5 percent.

"The S.E.C., following its usual practice, declined to comment on the report."

One thing we can be sure of: Rich Tarrant will accuse the popular, well-known and well-respected front runner, Independent U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, of a lot of things, and call him a lot of names in this campaign - already has, hasn't he?

BUT, Rich Tarrant will never accuse the outspoken Bernie Sanders of being engaged in a multimillion dollar illegal stock fraud!


This week, Tarrant, the former IDX CEO, co-founder and current rookie Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate may be talking to his lawyer, more than his TV attack-ad consultant?

Also, this could be the week that Vermont GOP leaders have a private talk with GOP Candidate Tarrant. Add a federal fraud investigation on top of his megamillion-dollar, negative, attack ad campaign, and no matter how much money Tarrant has, Gov. Jim Douglas, Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, State Auditor Randy Brock and U.S. House hopeful Martha Rainville are NOT going to want to be in the same state, let alone on the same ticket as Rich Tarrant come November 7, 2006.

After all, Tarrant's principal residence, the one worth $9 million rather than a measely $460k, is in Florida, isn't it!

P.S. From the IDX Corporate "Vision Statement":

"IDX Products will elevate the trust of healthcare consumers by empowering providers to make better more-informed decision."

A Tarrant Weekend Pt. 2

Now I remember where this - the "Tarrant Weekend" idea - started. It started on Thursday morning when I picked up, er, clicked on, the editorial page of The Burlington Free Press.

Something’s going on over there, folks.

Something strange.

Six years ago, in 2000, all-powerful Conservative Freeps Publisher Jim Carey prevented the largest daily newspaper in Vermont from publishing an editorial supporting same-sex marriage. You'll recall the landmark Vermont Supreme Court decision of December 20, 1999 that extended constitutional marriage rights to all couples in Vermont?

Carey would not let his newspaper paper say a word - a single word - in its editorial-position column on the Opinion Page about the most historic and heated political debate under Vermont’s golden dome in decades!

Oh, sure, the local daily published plenty of letters-to-the-editor, but NEVER an editorial of its own. Censored!

It was dead silence in Burlap, while down the road a ways, the Rutland Herald's editorial page and editorial writer David Moats were winning a Pulitzer Prize for writing about what The Burlington Free Press editorial page was deliberately NOT writing about!

What a world!

THE POINT (at last!) is - In the past week, The Burlington Free Press editorial page reads like the paper’s editorial board is undergoing reprogramming. There was the Friday editorial smack at Republican congressional hopeful Martha Rainville mentioned below in “Martha’s Good Friday?”

And a few days back on Saturday August 19, the editorial page that has been marching in lockstep with Republican Gov. Jim Douglas in opposing commercial, megawatt-sized, wind-power development in Vermont, suddenly softened its strident, perplexing, anti-wind power stand with this declaration to its readers:

"This needs to be said. The Free Press Editorial Board continues to strongly oppose wind turbines that damage and mar the state's ridgelines, and fervently hopes that state regulators agree and put Vermont's undeveloped landscape first in this matter. But this Editorial Board welcomes a thoughtful discussion about other options for turbine location -- the Searsburg towers prove that Vermont-scale opportunities exist -- and other methods of generating clean, renewable energy."

Even the blind are starting to see?

With Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie coming out of the closet last week as a "pro-wind guy" and the Free Press rethinking its extreme no-commercial-wind position, what would you do if you were Jim Douglas?  Seriously?

Stick to your anti-wind power position that most Vermonters, including your running-mate The Doobster, think is out-of-touch with reality? Or repackage and soften your stand before Democrat Scuddder Parker starts reminding everyone on a daily basis?

OK, finally, here’s where we’re is a Tarrant Weekend after all!

On Thursday morning, the Freeps editorial positively left teeth marks in parts of Republican Senate hopeful Rich Tarrant’s torso, the exact loccation of which we’ll leave to your imagination...

"Tarrant also said his background as former CEO of a successful health care software company would help him convince potential employers that Vermont is open for business. That makes sense.

"His answers were less inspiring, however, when asked about his responsibility as a member of the Fletcher Allen board of trustees to detect or prevent criminal fraud by hospital officials overseeing an expansion at the facility.

"In that case, former hospital CEO William Boettcher pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges for his role between 2000 and 2002 in covering up the true costs of the project, which eventually climbed to an astounding $367 million. In the aftermath of the fiasco, Tarrant was among board members who were asked to resign by Gov. Jim Douglas.

"Tarrant actually told the Editorial Board that he doesn't remember many of the details of what went on at that time. He said federal investigators found that "it's very hard for the board to catch fraud," and that essentially the hospital board was the "victim" in the case. That might have been the finding, but voters might see it differently." 

"Doesn't remember any of the details?"

Yikes! This is a guy who considers himself perfectly qualified to represent Vermont on Capitol Hill!  Tarrant's "memory problems," unfortunately, are becoming his trademark!

Now, here's something from our pre-blog days. A transcribed tape from a June 20 Tarrant press conference where the ol’ Fletcher Allen scandal came up:

Q. The Sanders Campaign put out something this morning under the headline “A Failure of Accountability” laying out your record and role at FAHC which they call “the worst scandal in Vermont history.” That happened on your watch. You resigned on Feb. 13 and then wrote that op-ed in the Free Press a month later...any comment?

A. "Certainly I wasn’t involved. The U.S. Attorney found that the board was the victim in that case. And fraud is very hard to manage especially when you have a financial genius like Boettcher who perpetrated the fraud."

Q. Anything in that op-ed in which you criticize Sanders and others and claim no wrongdoing....

A. "Yeah. The one mistake I made in the op-ed is saying no one could rightly accuse. That was a mistake. And I realize after the U.S. Attorney spent two years investigating the details. At that point in time, that’s what I thought."

Q. What do you mean?

A. “There was something in that editorial. It goes way back, I can’t remember. I said, I said ‘No one can rightly accuse something’ and I was wrong in that aspect of the editorial which I found out after two years of investigation the US Attorney laid some things out for me that I had not been aware of."

Q. Were you on the Audit Committee for this period?

A. "I was on the Audit Committee at one point in time. I knew when this thing all blew up, I requested to get on the executive committee because I wanted to dig into it and within six months after I went on the Executive Committee Mr. Boettcher was gone."

Q. While you were on the Executive Committee, did you unravel any of the web, this financial genius?

A. "No, no, not really. It was convoluted. There was an investigation going on and there were lawyers and so forth going on, but we didn’t, ah, it took a couple years for do a serious investigation, to piece it all together by the US Attorney."


Today Rich Tarrant, whose resignation in disgrace from the FAHC board for his staggering lack of attention and  oversight, was called for by Rep. Bernie Sanders, is now running child-molester attack ads on TV against Bernie in order to join Sen. Patrick Leahy as Vermont's new voice in the United States Senate.

Actually, denying reality appears to be Richie's normal style when it comes to this kind of stuff. Back in 2003, within a month of his FAHC resignation, ex-trustee Tarrant wrote a extremely arrogant and defensive op-ed in the Freeps denying any and all wrongdoing by hospital officials:

"The accusations related to Fletcher Allen's building project have been flying for some time, and I have yet to read anything in these pages that resembles the truth, supported by real facts."


Wonder if  Mr. Tarrant, the ex-trustee on the board's "Executive Committtee," bothers to write former Chief Executive Officer BIll Boettcher these days?

What federal prison did you say Mr. Boettcher's in, Richie?

What was that?

Oh, you don't remember?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Tarrant Weekend!

Time to play catch-up!

Your new Vermont blogger got swamped this week and he hasn’t had time to blog-a-bit about someone on a lot of people's minds and in a lot of peoples faces if they have a mailbox or own a television in Vermont.

So, what do you think of the latest barrage of political TV commercials paid for by the wealthiest candidate in Vermont political history?

Rich Tarrant - the first man ever to own an $9 million Florida oceanfront home while running for the U.S. Senate in Vermont! Want to see where he'll be spending his future years?


I'd be worrying about that global-warming stuff, if I were you, Richie.

The latest Tarrant TV ads are...well, like stuff you see in Rhode Island or Illinois or....Florida. You've seen them. They're as negative and nasty as we've ever seen in Vermont and feature the faces of mean-looking old people accusing Vermont's eight-term Congressman Bernie Sanders of having voted to support and defend the rights of every kind of despicable scumbag imaginable!

Can this stuff work in Vermont?

Guess, we’ll see, eh?

But think about it? Seriously, folks, what else has Richie Rich Tarrant got?

He may have had a good jump shot 40 years ago at St, Michael's College, and he built a successful software business and sold it to G.E. for $1.2 billion! But other than contributing hundreds-of-thousands of dollars to right-wind conservative candidates, causes and organizations over the years (Yes, he did make one donation to Dean for America, and he's always happy to remind you of it), Mr. Tarrant has absolute zippo for political experience.

Look. It's not his fault. All he can do is buy the best talent out there, money being no object. And we're talking about the best talent to slime, slam and smear a man who's been in Vermont public life and in the public's eye (and ears!...and face! ) for the last 25 years.

All one in Rich Tarrant's shoes can possibly do politics-wise is remind everyone again and again and again and again that the other guy is really a friend of child molesters and drug traffickers and God knows who else!  One tries to keep the spotlight on the other guy.

Hey, we all know propaganda works, don’t we? Can anyone say “weapons of mass destruction?”

Certainly, Ol' Bernardo, the solid favorite in the Vermont Senate Race, anticipated the over-the-top, new-to-Vermont-style Tarrant assault. Rich, given his political record, or lack of record, had no where else to go. I don’t think Team Bernie were expecting to see it before Labor Day - a little early to go for the groin kicks. Kids aren’t even back in school.

On August 15, Team Tarrant unveiled Who isn't online these days. I get email from Wake Robin readers, God bless 'em!

Yes, indeed, since “Dean for America” broke the politics-as-usual ice back in 2003 from its headquarters in South Burlington, Vermont, the Internet has become a bigger and bigger part of this game.

That was demonstrated when the Sanders for Senate Campaign quickly launched a counter-website called “The Truth.

Catchy title, eh?

And Team Bernie had already cut a TV spot. It was “in the can,” Just waiting for the Tarrant mud to start flying:

I’m Bernie Sanders and I approve this message because dishonest ads should not be a part of Vermont politics, For months, my opponent Rich Tarrant has been spending millions telling us about himself. Well, it’s his money and he can spend it if he wants but he has no right to distort my record or what I stand for. I can’t match his money ad-for-ad, but I’ll let the truth speak for itself.  I trust you to use your good judgment. Please, go to my website and check the facts. Thanks for listening.”

Does it work?

Well I do know a veteran Statehouse Republican old timer stopped me the other day to complain about the Tarrant ads.

"Look, we all know he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and started a succceessful business and that's about it. Good for him!," said the rock-ribbed, seventh-generation, deer-hunting Vermont Republican.  "But, please!" he begged me with feeling in his voice, "Tarrant's got to stop running those damn ads. They're awful! People are gonna lose respect for the man. After all, everybody already knows Bernie. And they don't know much of anything about him except for his money."

Good Republican advice, eh?

Did you catch the unusually frank comment about Tarrant’s latest ad campaign by the Vermont Media’s favorite current “political science professor” commentator in Darren Allen’s story?

"What it signals to me is a certain amount of desperation on Tarrant's part," Davis said, referring to recent polling done by both political parties that show Sanders way ahead of his Republican opponent. "Looking at self-financed candidates, they win when they have a message. I think Tarrant is trying to find a message."

No rush, eh?  Still got 73 days to come up with something.

Hey, how about  “Bernie had a sex-change operation!”


How about "I Made a Shitload of Money and I'm Over 60 and I'm Bored As Hell!"


.....more later today, so y'all check back.

It's a Tarrant Weekend in Vermont!



A spin downtown and around on the two-wheeler. Gorgeous day in the Peoples Republic of Burlington, Vermont. Absolutely packed downtown!

A constant moving carpet of people sliding through the big and beautiful Farmers Market in City Hall Park or doing the Church Street Marketplace March. Lots of parents of UVM freshman, many with kid-in-tow. The dorms have been filling up for two days. Remember what it felt like for you?

Was thinking while riding across campus a little later, looking at the new crop of rather clean, well-coiffed-and-attired frosh, I realized they would be the Class of 2010. Their junior year will coincide with the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. One hell of a year to remember, we'd bet.

And my gut tells me they will be the most politically-aware and politically-active college generation since the Sixties. They, quite simply, have to be, don't they?

Anyway, next to the gossip flying about the Democratic Primary for States Attorney, the best treat downtown was striking up a conversation with a real, live archeologist on Church Street!

Didn’t know September was Vermont Archeology Month, did you?

Get ready.

UVM researcher/analyst and archaeologist Charles Knight Ph.D. had a table set up. Lots of arrowheads. And a very, very nice 35-page program to distribute on September’s “Calendar of Events.”

But the highlight was - I, the blogger, learned something new!

Do you know what an atlatl is?

Oh, really? Never heard of it? And you claim a college education, right?

Dr. Knight the archaeologist had two atlatls laid out across his table. Six-foot long they were. He said they used to be quite common in the good old days: 20,000 A.D. to 7000 A.D.

The atlatl (pronounced AHT-lah-tuhl) has been in human hands a lot longer than cell phone, the golf club,  or the M-16 will ever be. You do not want to get struck by the spear shot by one of these babies - even if you are a Spanish Conquistador in shining armor.

In fact, the atlatl is making a comeback in Pennsylvania - honest!

Sorry, got a little sidetracked by an archaeologist. More interesting than Tarrant's record. Because with a record like Tarrant's how could anyone kid themselves into thinking they have a shot?

Memory-refreshers coming.

Check back later.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Martha’s Good Friday?

I’ve read both the online edition and the hard copy now, so I’m certain my eyes are not deceiving me.

The editorial page of today’s Burlington Free Press smacked Republican Congressional Candidate Martha Rainville right across the kisser with a crisp, stinging contradiction of a certain  "version of reality" she attempted to pitch reporters on Wednesday.

In fact, Marvelous Martha’s comments were so precious that day we had already linked to John Dillon’s "Rainville Wants Moderate Republican for Speaker's Post" story on VPR which had Martha saying what she said so everyone could hear it.

Obviously with control of Congress determined by the opening-day, party-line vote in January 2007 for House Speaker, being a Republican means Martha, if elected, would vote for the R candidate. It might be Dennis Hastert, if he survive the storm, or it might be a another Republican. Either way, it’ll be more of the same party running things.

Democrat Peter Welch has made a big deal out of this. Why shouldn’t he?

With 202 of 435 House seats currently controlled by the Democrats (one of them’s held by some Independent fella from Vermont named Bernie something-or-other), the party out-of-power - the Democratic Party - needs 16 more House seats. At the moment, all indications are the November 7 outcome House-wise (and Senate-wise, too, in fact) is completely up in the air.

Let me repeat that. The OUTCOME of the November election Congress-wise is UP IN THE AIR as we speak. And everybody knows why, right?

What if it came down to a one-vote difference and Vermont voters got to choose the next Speaker and determine the course of history as far as the next two years of the House of Representatives?

Those are the facts. The numbers don’t lie. It’s a fair question for a politician.

Still, what a startling surprise this morning to see the Freeps editorial page weigh in!

We checked the masthead and it’s the same personnel listed as the editorial board.

Just to be sure, we’re having random water and air samples from inside the Freeps 191 College Street headquarters analyzed.

If the samples come back negative, Marvelous Martha’s gonna have a problem.

Time for Plan B?


Moderate Martha may just have had the stool pulled out from under her as today's Washington Post reports that a well-known, well-respected Connecticut MODERATE named Republican Rep. Christopher Shays has joined the chorus calling for a timetable for withdrawal from the Bush-Cheney American Disaster called the War in Iraq.

Shays, the pro-military Republican, like pro-military Democrat Moderate Rep. John Murtha before him, was until yesterday an ardent supporter of the stupid, needless, macho exercise in international ignorance that will forever mark George W. Bush in the history books.

Now Chris Shays has decided he wants a timetable for U.S. withdrawal.

A Democrat says "timetable"  and V.P. Dick Cheney pops up from his bunker in Wyoming to slime and slander their patriotism.

Hey, Big Dick, we’re all ears now!

Shays, a 19-year veteran of the House lives in Bridgeport. You don't think he could be sweating reelection do you?

Meanwhile, this just in from Camp Rainville spokesman Brendan McKenna (formerly with the Rutland Herald): 

As she has said before, Martha Rainville does not believe we should publish a public timetable for withdrawing our troops from Iraq. However, she does believe the time is rapidly approaching when our troops will have accomplished their mission in Iraq.

“She believes there must be concrete, measurable political and military objectives and
there should be internal timetables, between the Iraqi and U.S. governments for bringing our servicemen and - women home, soon with honor and thanks for the work they’ve done and the successes they’ve achieved.”  (Underlining added by your Blogger.)


Sounds like a “Rainville Calls for Secret Iraq Exit Timetables” headline could come out of that, eh?

Things are, shall we say, in flux!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Senator Dodd in Burlington

Connecticut Democrat Christopher Dodd was in Burlington, Vermont Thursday to plug the congressional candidacy of Peter Welch. Freeps reporter and blogger Terri Hallenbeck showed. So did Mary Morin from Plattsburgh, N.Y. headquartered WPTZ Ch. 5. (They have a satellite bureau in Colchester, Vermont.)

South Burlington, Vermont headquartered WCAX-TV, Ch. 3, did not attend the Welch-Dodd presser. We’ve heard Vermont's beloved WGOP-TV "doesn’t do endorsement press conferences.”

But news, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

I looked at it as a golden opportunity on a beautiful sunny summer morning to hop on the two-wheeler, pedal down to the 60 Lake Street location and question one of those Democrats who I’ve seen pontificate ad nauseum on the Sunday Morning TV panel shows for years!

Sen. Dodd, unlike any member of Vermont's congressional delegation, was one of those blind, stupid, asleep-at-the-wheel Democrats who on October 11, 2002 gave President George W. Bush the green light to ignore both international law and the truth and send our American troops into harm’s way.

Turns out I was a half-hour early this morning. It was actually scheduled for 10 a.m.

To kill time, I rode down to the King Street Ferry Dock restaurant for coffee. Took it outside to admire the boats. And right in front of me, a 50-something dude was soaping up on the top deck of his cabin cruiser. Then he dove in to rinse off the suds. When he came back up,  we started chatting.

He was from western Massachusetts, was in great shape and had big tattoos on his biceps. Big biceps, too. Ex-football player. In town for an annual get-together with some old college buds - class of 1976. Remembered when UVM had football.

He has three grown kids, he told me. Two girls and a boy. The boy, a 24 year old former Marine, did four years in the Corps, nine months of it in Iraq. But something happened to the kid in Iraq, said his father, attired only in a black Speedo bathing suit, as he toweled himself off from his morning wash on the bobbing King Street dock.

“He’s not the same,” said the tattooed parent. "He's being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” he said shaking his head. “Just like Vietnam. Didn’t the military learn a goddamn thing?”

"The military did," I replied. "I've heard 'em say it that they'd never let it happen again. Never let a White House lie like LBJ and Tricky Dick did back in the 1960s."

NEVER allow another dishonest president to send our young folks (now sending a lot of the old ones in the National Guard, too) to be killed and maimed fighting a war they could not win. Not even the mighty U.S. can just beat down the local rebels anywhere it chooses, install a White House chosen head-of-state, and leave. In Hollywood, maybe, but reality just doesn't work that way.

Several prominent generals did object. Their advice was completely disregarded. The White House was always able to find its "Yes Man" in uniform to run the Joint Chiefs.

Ol’ Pops from Massachusetts touched a chord. Vietnam always does and always will for this writer. Forty years later, a fresh set of flag-waving liars have pulled off another one. Needless to say, Pops got me primed for Sen. Christopher Dodd's upcoming live appearance.

We waited patiently for Candidate Welch's 20-minute Dog & Pony Show to end - endorsements from Angelo Dorta of the state teachers union and others. Then we got to pop the question we came for: "Sen. Dodd, how did you vote on the Iraq War resolution?"

“I voted for it. I’ve said over and over again over the years that had I known then what I know now, there wouldn’t have been a vote, in my view. But had there been one, I would have voted against it.

"I don’t know why politicians or people in public life have a hard time saying they made a mistake. It’s something we ought to get over. I believe very deeply and strongly that there was information that said that the possession of weapons of mass destruction existed. And if I thought that was still true, I would embrace that vote.

"It turned out, of course, that it was fabricated information and we were all misled and I regret that deeply. And my view today is we ought to be trying to figure out a way to disengage. We’re now there in the middle of a civil war. We’re spending $250 million a day - almost $2 billion-a-week of taxpayer  money to sustain something that, frankly, we can’t resolve. It’s now up to the Iraqi People. It has been for some time. "

Now as I transcribe the tape, it hits me - Sen. Dodd the Democrat did not utter a single negative attack on the dishonest Republican president who lied to Congress and to you and me about Iraq from day one!

And continues to lie!

According to CNN as of five seconds ago, there have been 2,839 “coalition” deaths so far since King George declared war on this country that neither threatened nor attacked us or had anything whatsoever to do with 9/11. Of that total, 2,612 were Americans.

The future through Dodd's rather cloudy eyes?

"I’ve used the analogy of Benjamin Franklin walking out of Independence Hall in 1787 and Mrs. Powell confronts him and says, What have you given us?

"And he said, 'A Republic if you can keep it.'

"In a sense that‘s what we’re saying today, those of us who disagree with the president on this issue. We’ve given them the opportunity. It’s up to them to keep it now. And there’s no treasury big enough, nor army large enough that can do that for them."

P.S. This just in: Invitations to the Fall Republican Dinner On Sunday September 17 just went out. Sen. John McCain, who due to rain could not land in Rutland a few weeks ago, is returning to Vermont to headline the event. The GOP invitation reads:

"You are cordially invited to attend the annual Fall Republican Dinner
                              with special guest
                          U.S. Senator John McCain
                                 and honoring
     Gov. Jim Douglas and House Candidate Martha Rainville"

No mention about rookie Republican Senate Candidate Rich Tarrant, a man who will be remembered for, so far, spending $5 million of his personal fortune on the slimiest, dirtiest, most expensive and most out-of-touch statewide political campaign Vermont has even seen!

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