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Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Tarrant_o30 There was an email in my inbox at 6 a.m. this morning titled “R U Shitting Me?” 

It was from a fine gentleman who used to work for a Republican statewide officeholder. He was positively dumbfounded that in its Tuesday edition The Burlington Free Press endorsed the self-funded Republican candidate in Vermont’s U.S. Senate race. That’s right. If you haven’t heard yet, the Gannett chain’s Vermont shop endorsed the  $7 million man, Richie Rich Tarrant, over that living Vermont legend - eight-term Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders.

That's a shot of Richie Rich we took yesterday as he entered the Capital Plaza ballroom in Montpeculiar where, with other candidates, he spoke at the Vermont Mental Health Association gathering. Didn't really address mental health in particular, but rather Tarrant just gave his standard five-minute health care stump speech.

This comes on the heels of the Freeps surprising many with its endorsement of Democrat Peter Welch for Congress, and surprising many more with its backing of Democrat Matt Dunne for Lite-Gov.  Speculation has been that the addition of highly-respected former Howard Dean press secretary Sue Allen to the Freeps editorial board had injected a heavy dose of Vermont political reality to the strange band of faceless unknowns who decide the Gannett paper’s editorial-page positions.

“Rich Tarrant offers practical and creative ideas on jobs, taxes and a more streamlined health care delivery system. He deserves a chance to bring these and other ideas to the U.S. Senate.

"Tarrant is a problem-solver. He has a background in business that would be refreshing in Congress. He is a self-starter with proven accomplishments. His ties to the state are strong. He has a solid knowledge of health care. His is a voice of moderation.”

Yes, indeed, Ol’ Tarrogant Richie does have “solid knowledge of health care.” It’s the kind of knowledge one gets by being on the executive committee of the Fletcher Allen Board of Trustees when the biggest financial scandal in Vermont history went down! And Trustee Tarrant, forced to resign in disgrace, aggressively defended until the bitter end the point man on the scheme - the crooked CEO who lied to state regulators and went to federal prison for it where he sits today.

And we did catch Republican State Rep. Anne Donohue of Northfield giving Tarrant an earful in the hallway at the Plaza over his remarks, reported in Sam Hemingway's recent story, praising convicted CEO Bill Boettcher. Donohue does not consider "community activists" bad people.

"His courage to take a strong position when community activists attack is refreshing," Tarrant, now the Republican Senate candidate, said of Boettcher in a Nov. 12, 2001, e-mail to board Chairman Phil Drumheller. "We are lucky to have Bill Boettcher."

Boy, money does talk, doesn’t it?

Any thoughts, folks?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Too Little, Too Late

Scudder_pf Boy, aren’t you going to miss the “Vote for Me!” TV commercials?

Scudder Parker came out swinging Monday morning with a Statehouse presser. Ever since former Paul Wellstone aide Bill Lofy came on board, Scudder’s actually been having press conferences - free media!

About fricken time, eh? Particularly for a candidate who cannot afford much airtime.

Gubernatorial candidate Parker should of been doing that back in June? July? Lack of name recognition is killing him. He’s got no money for the necessary ninth-inning TV blitz. What he’s had has been a bit.... lame?

And he appears staff heavy. Today, for example, Scudder had four campaign staffers with him. The guy he’s trying to replace only had one - a Vermont State Trooper, per usual.

Monday at 11 a.m. in Room 10, Scudder did his best to paint the rosiest possible picture. The message was that he’s been getting closer since Friday’s WCAX Poll had him 10 points behind.  And it’s all about one question and one question only: are you better off now than you were four years ago when Jim Douglas was elected?

Scudder sounded like he was desperately looking for coattails - Bernie Sanders' coattails. Peter Welch's coattails. How come they ain’t there, yet?

Said Scudder:

“Everyone has known, and I have known from the beginning, that this was a difficult race. We were running against a four-year incumbent, a two-term incumbent who is, let’s face it, a pretty good politician.”

Is there any one thing, we asked, that a lot of people might not know about Gov. Douglas that they should know about him?

“That he is more invested in being the governor than he is in governing. And what I want them to know is that my only interest and my only activity will be to help govern this state.”

Incidentally, WGOP, er WCAX-TV did not attend the Democratic gubernatorial candidate's presser. Nor did the Freeps - no more Montpelier bureau for Vermont's Gannett machine.

Gov About 40 minutes later, the little Montpeculiar press pack nailed the Guv right inside the front door at the Capital Plaza Hotel. He was delighted to be nailed en route to the Mental Health Association conclave. Gov. Scissorhands was in top form and loving it.

This middle-aged politican started in the game by winning a Vermont House seat way back in 1972 when he was only months out of Midddlebury College. Montpeculiar has been his stage for more than 30 years.  Cheerful, friendly and funny was he. The look and feel of a winner. He’s done this drill so many, many times before.

Said left-leaning Vermont’s Republican governor:

“I agree. The WCAX Poll is not accurate. In fact, if it worked four years ago, I wouldn’t be standing here today!  I really believe things are going quite well. I’m optimistic and feel very, very confident.”

No pretend there, folks. We hit him with the best shot of the moment - Scudder’s little dig about how he primarily just loves to play governor, rather than actually having to govern. Someone we know likes to call him Gov. Scissorhands for his ribbon cutting skills. Said Vermont's Guv:

Gov_douglas_030 “I expect a challenger to say something like that. But Vermonters know me very well. I’ve been serving the people of our state for more than three decades. They know of my accomplishments. They’ve supported me repeatedly  in that time with more votes than anyone’s ever received in the history of our state. My record over the last four years is, I believe, impressive.”

Certainly, Jim Douglas' record of political survival - an anti-wind-power Republican in the Land of Patrick J. Leahy, Bernie Sanders, Jeezum Jim Jeffords. Peter Welch, Matt Dunne and....Howard Dean - that, mes amis, is mighty impressive, indeed!

P.S. Ready for this? The chairman of the Democratic National Committee will be making a Burlington appearance Tuesday morning with Matt Dunne. If Dubie the Republican doesn't break 50 percent, it'll go to a secret ballot by the 180 members of the heavily Democratic legislature.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Helen Thomas: The Real Deal

Helen_thomas “We are in an unwinnable war, and yet the president still speaks of victory,” said legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas. President George W. Bush still speaks “of an invasion and occupation of a country that did nothing to us.

“No weapons of mass destruction.

“No ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

“No threat against the world’s only superpower by a third world country.

“No apologies.”

This straight-talking, fearless, and, dare we say, inspiring living-legend of journalism and feminism and much more, regaled more than 800 Vermonters packed into the huge Emerald Ballroom at the Sheraton Burlington Sunday afternoon. T’was the “Vermont Woman Lecture Series” ($25-per-ticket), but quite a few guys showed up, too.

After speaking for an hour - the 86-year-old Thomas had the crowd rolling, roaring and riled up! - Ol’ Helen patiently autographed - with personal messages - copies of her new book: Watchdogs of Democracy?  The Waning Washington Press Corps and How it has Failed the Public.

Here’s the gist of it from a piece she had inThe Nation:

"Reporters and editors like to think of themselves as watchdogs for the public good. But in recent years both individual reporters and their ever-growing corporate ownership have defaulted on that role. Ted Stannard, an academic and former UPI correspondent, put it this way: 'When watchdogs, bird dogs, and bull dogs morph into lap dogs, lazy dogs, or yellow dogs, the nation is in trouble.'

"The naïve complicity of the press and the government was never more pronounced than in the prelude to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The media became an echo chamber for White House pronouncements." more here.

As she told her Vermont audience, after “nearly 3000 Americans dead, 2100 wounded for life, we are due for a midterm correction, and soon.This war is illegal and immoral.”

So nice to hear people say so in public, isn't it?.

What do you think, my fellow babyboomers - the 2000 presidential election - the halted Florida recount - will it not be remembered as the greatest and boldest political coup in American history? A government stolen. Not a shot fired. Instead, the lawyers and the Supreme Court justices took care of it.

Hey, remember thinking back then along the lines of  “Hey, this guy can’t be that bad, right? He went to Yale. His father was president, ferchrissakes. Chill out!"

If we only knew then what we know now. About this reckless liar's true "Mission Accomplished." And if we only knew then how painful losing Ol' Al Gore - President Global Warming-in-Waiting  - would be, eh? I didn't know he had any Academy-Award quality enviro-flick skills inside, did you?

“Where are the voices of protest,” asked Thomas Sunday afternoon to a packed house at the Sheraton. “All these horrors in our name! We’re back in the Dark Ages!”

The truth hurts.

Said Thomas to her Vermont fans, including Madeleine Kunin, Peter Welch, Bernie Sanders, Scudder Parker, Deb Markowitz and Phil Hoff:

"Bush has taken us into a catastrophic unnecessary war that he has yet to explain. The price is unbearable. The human toll. The billions spent. The war profiteering. The destruction of a nation. For that debacle we’re all guilty if only by our silence.

"Congress also acquiesced and did not asked why. They put their conscience in a bind trust. I’m even more appalled at the media, reporters, newspapers, broadcasters who rolled over and played dead when they should have been asking the important questions.

"After 9/11 reporters like everyone else were afraid to challenge the administration. Afraid to rock the boat. Afraid to be called unpatriotic or un-American.

"Reporters at the Pentagon and White House and at the Pentagon bought the spin hook line and sinker... 

"The upcoming election on November 7 will be a referendum on this war and the public’s assessment of the do-nothing Congress as well as the scandals which suggest this government has been for sale to deep-pocket donors and wily lobbyists.

"I still can’t explain why we’ve been so gullible - the whole nation. I don’t think the Republicans are going to be able to play the fear card again."

Fingers crossed, eh?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Leahy and the Press

Leahy_oconnor Vermont's senior United States Senator Patrick J. Leahy was a featured guest on the luncheon panel at the big Society of Environmental Journalists annual weeklong conference at the Sheraton Burlington on Saturday. About 400 for lunch. What a jam-packed conference schedule!

That's veteran Rutland Herald reporter Kevin O'Connor taking notes. Check the Sunday paper to see what he got.

Needless to say, the SEJ was friendly turf for the Vermont Democrat. The last question for St. Patrick was actually more of a complaint from a Seattle journalist about the extremely slow pace of getting "Freedom of Information Act" requests filled by federal agencies in the Age of Bush II.

Needless to say, Leahy of Vermont could relate. The tall bald guy who grew up in Montpeculiar closed out with an apropos story from the "good old days" of the 1980s when Ronald Reagan, Hollywood's gift to the White House, was in power, and William Casey was his CIA chief. As a few old-timers will remember, Leahy served on the Senate Intelligence Committee back then.

CIA Director Casey, noted Leahy, was required by law "to notify it of certain activities prior to their happening. He never did. Invariably news of those activities would "appear in The New York Times or the Washington Post." Then Casey would  "come running up [to the Hill] for an emergency meeting"

The CIA Director would tell the Intelligence Committee he had "meant to inform them" about the matter, but the information was unfortunately "on the front page" of the newspaper that day.

"About the third time he did that," said St. Patrick, "I said. think of the money you could save! Stamp The New York Times 'Top Secret' and then deliver it to us! I said, we’ll have three advantages:

"One, we would get the information far quicker than you ever got it to us.

"Secondly, we’ll get it in far greater detail than you ever gave to us.Leahy_freyne

"And thirdly, there is that wonderful crossword puzzle!"

Funny guy.

St. Patrick's Vermont chief, Chuck Ross, was driving him to the airport to catch a 2:10 p.m. Washington flight. Son Mark is running in a Marine Corps marathon Saturday. Dad wanted to be there for the finish.

But we grabbed him at the door with our trusty old-fashioned tape recorder to get his latest forecast for November 7. Don't know about you, but I have found no shortage of folks scared shitless - i.e. on pins and needles - over anticipating the possible election outcomes on Capitol Hill. Said Leahy:

"I believe the House of Representatives will go Democratic. The Senate, under normal circumstances would.  I understand, for example, in Tennessee horribly racist ads have been run by the Republican National Committee. There are totally racist ads being run against Harold Ford. Twenty years ago those would be very detrimental to the African-American candidate. It’s conceivable that they won’t work. Hopefully they won’t work. If they work, then that’s a seat that we lose.

"In Virginia, they’re running ads because James Webb is a well-known writer and has written books."

{That was a reference to the Virginia race and Republican U.S. Sen. George Allen's charge that his Democratic opponent's novels about the Vietnam War are "demeaning to women." In addition to his novels, Challenger James Webb, a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, is also the former Secretary of the Navy. Sen. Allen is obviously desperate! Hey, Republican Gen. Martha Rainville's become a tree-hugging critic of the Bush war policy right before our very eyes!]

"My God, I mean if the highly negative ads work, then we don’t take it over. The Republicans have a lot more money to spend than the Democrats and they’re spending it on some of the most vicious ads.

"Their wholly-controlled commentator’s getting into it - Rush Limbaugh making fun of Michael J. Fox. Do these things work?

"I don’t know. They worked a couple decades ago. I 'm hoping they won’t work now."

Post Script: Yours truly got some feedback at the Sheraton about our recent take on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Scudder Parker's chances. A few nice folks suggested I had written the Scudster off "too early." Today's Freeps poll has him "just" 10 points behind. We'll see, gang.

Also, I had the "surprise factor" thrill of breaking the news to a few "journalist-types" at the conference who had not yet seen today's local daily and were still in the dark about the Freeps endorsement of Democrat Matt Dunne over Republican Brian Dubie in the Lite-Gov race.

A unanimous surprise it was.

Bit of a shock, too, eh?

Stormy Weather For Doobie-Doo

A shot we took at sundown Friday of the first winter storm moving our way. Am I showing my age by expressing the view - winter sucks!


Then we wake up this morning to find another storm on the editorial page of Vermont's largest newspaper. The Burlington Free Press made a surprising endorsement in the Lite-Gov race:

Matt Dunne has sparked an unusually spirited race for lieutenant governor, reminding Vermonters of the potential for the second-in-command's role when enthusiasm and fresh thinking are brought to the office.

This Democratic legislator from Hartland who has served in the Vermont House and Senate has earned the vote of Vermonters on Nov. 7.

Dunne is a whirlwind of community action, service politics and ideas on the campaign trail. He comes by that civic-mindedness naturally.

His father, a civil rights activist, was jailed in North Carolina for resisting arrest during protests while he was in college. Upon returning home to Vermont, he helped establish a program to bring inner-city youths to this state. Matt Dunne's mother, Faith, was among the first women on staff at Dartmouth College.

Dunne ran successfully for the Vermont House at age 22, serving four terms. He was then appointed by former President Bill Clinton as director of AmeriCorps/Vista, returning to Vermont in 2002 and spending two terms in the state Senate.

His campaign for lieutenant governor was modeled on the AmeriCorps experience, bringing together supporters in communities throughout the state to work on local projects. Dunne and his supporters have volunteered to paint the Boys and Girls Club in Bellows Falls, repair food shelves in Brattleboro, and other civic projects. He calls that service politics, and it will surely attract young people looking for a hands-on way to get involved.

The job of lieutenant governor, which pays $61,000, is traditionally a part-time position. Dunne has committed to working full time for that salary.

Dunne's positions are clear and well articulated. The focus has been on economic development, including expansion of broadband services to rural areas, cleanup of contaminated industrial sites for business development, tax incentives for downtown projects, and a move toward bringing environmental companies to Vermont. He has also been among state leaders who have embraced the concept of the "creative economy," a link of business, culture and community...

But what about Republican Brian Dubie, the guy who's had the job for four years?

During this campaign, however, Dubie has seemed disengaged. That's too bad because the state faces challenges that will require enthusiastic participation by all leaders.

It is Dunne who has won the Free Press Editorial Board's recommendation, however. His energy and creativity are needed in the fight to bring jobs to Vermont and strengthen the state's dairy industry.

Vote Dunne for lieutenant governor on Nov. 7.

Wasn't expecting that, were you?

Here - read the whole editorial.

I mean, the scuttlebutt of the moment is that Ol' Scudder, the Dems gubernatorial candidate, has kind of faded into the background. Ol' Matt, however, has been picking up steam, but the conventional wisdom has been that's it's just too late in the game. Too much ground to make up. Too much lack of name recognition to overcome.

However, Young Dunne has stirred up a hornet's nest in the last week over how much time  Lt. Gov Doobie-Doo, the airline pilot,  actually puts in to earn his annual $61,000 state pay. Matt is on TV with a snappy spot in which he's standing in the hallway outside the Lite-Gov's empty office making it the  hot issue.

Today's surprising endorsement by the Freeps gives Young Dunne a big boost.  We anticipate more Dunne endorsements to follow, eh?

P.S. Yesterday I couldn't post a photo. Computer was slow and spotty with Internet stuff. Adelphia dude in Tuscon says my modem is getting a great signal. Got a repair-visit appointment for Monday afternoon. I know - Burlington Telecom.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Scudder Getting Testy?

The colors of autumn are almost gone. It's turn-back-the-clocks weekend. Ready for the early night, folks?

Damn, Had a nice Burlap photo, but it won't upload this morning. Computers!

UPDATE: Whoops! It loaded Saturday morning!!! St. Paul Street near Marble Avenue.


Democrat for Governor Scudder Parker held a press conference Thursday at the brand new Small Dog Electronics store that’s opening this weekend across from University Mall in South Burlington. Chittenden/Franklin County Apple computer users rejoice, eh!

Small Dog owner Don Mayer joined Parker. The topic was “health care reform” or rather the lack of health care reform produced by Republican Gov.  Jim Douglas. Mayer, who also is active in Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR), said it’s an accident of history that paying for health care is tied to employment. Mayer the business man said it should be decoupled. And his group said so at the Guv's Health Care Summit in Killington a couple months ago.

“We were invited and we spoke and we talked with people. We were definitely involved in the process. Whether we were heard or not, either by the governor or by the legislature to the extent that we would have liked is questionable. I remember in Killington the governor saying, ‘Yeah, what I heard was healthcare should be decoupled from employment.’

“And then he sat down and forgot about it. I don’t know that he actually heard that. I think he was just sort of repeating what everyone had said.”

Asked if it was a bit late in the race to be raising the health care reform issue, Parker said he has been raising it throughout the campaign while Jim Douglas has been avoiding the issue.

“This is a big and difficult and complex issue to change. And that’s partly why it is hard for the media to grasp it. It doesn’t lend itself to nice tidy sound bites. And what I offer as a candidate for governor, and what I will do as governor is, I will pull people together on that issue. In a sense, that’s a matter of who do you trust and what kind of leadership do you want for the future of the state of Vermont.”

Parker the Democrat has been well behind the incumbent in the polls. From where I stand, Ol’ Scudder just never got going. And Gov. Douglas is a master of the game. Gov. Scissorhands has picked up the endorsements of Independent U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords and the liberal/progressive Brattleboro Reformer (ouch!). When we asked the Scud Missile why he was having such difficulty getting his message out, Parker showed the strain. He did not appreciate the question and fired back this rather terse response:

“I’m not going to have you announce whether my message is getting out or not, Peter. Thank you very much.”

End of press conference.

You know, there's only one winner. Journalism is a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it, right?

This is my 14th Vermont state election. The Parker Campaign remains a mystery to me. If there is a plan, they’ve kept it very, very secret.

Meanwhile, Thursday evening on Vermont Public Radio, Democrat Matt Dunne continued his spirited challenge to Incumbent Republican Brian Dubie. It’s obvious why Doobie-Doo wants as few joint appearance with Young Dunne as possible. Smart.

You think Young Dunne has a future?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Mad Dog Thursday?

Uttered this morning on “Charlie & Ernie” on AM 620 WVMT:

Jim_barnett “Four years in and Jim Douglas is just now talking about affordability?
He’s had four years to lead on the issues of health care, energy and property taxes. The last four years has been a failure of leadership. More politics than substance. He’s been more interested in engaging in finding a way to get a political advantage rather than really dealing seriously with the challenges facing our state. And that’s what Scudder Parker pointed out yesterday and I think he did a great job of it!”

No. the above comment was not said by the gentleman seated above in his third-floor office on State Street - the rather successful and young (turned 30 last March) state chairman and executive director of the Vermont Republican Party - Jim Barnett. We all have known him over the last four years as "Mad Dog" Barnett, the 2002 deputy campaign manager - one of the whiz kids, who along with campaign Manager Neale Lunderville and Campaign Press Secretary Jason Gibbs, did what had to be done to get Republican Jim Douglas elected governor of so-called "liberal" Vermont four years ago.   

Rather, they came from the lips of the Vermont Democratic Party’s talented new helper - Bill Lofy. Bill worked for Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, a liberal Democrat, professor and  passionate arm wrestler. Wellstone was elected to the Senate in 1990 - same year Vermont’s Bernie Sanders was elected to the House of Representatives. Wellstone died in a small plane crash in northern Minnesota in 2002. Bill’s since written a biography: Paul Wellstone: Life of a Passionate Progressive.

Maybe he’ll do a Bernie bio someday, eh? Before the plane crash, please!

Anyway, what was Barnett’s comeback on Charlie & Ernie?

"Well. I think that’s silliness. The governor outlined his affordability agenda in his State of the State address in 2006, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t talking about the issues related to that. In fact, the Democrats weren’t talking about affordability at all until the governor made it an issue. So to accuse him of going about it belatedly just exposes the fact that the Democrats weren’t talking about it at all. And that’s because they’re responsible for a lot of the issues we have with affordability in this state.”

I know. I know. I know. What about global warming? Endless disease, malnutrition, famine and war? Some folks have stopped watching the national TV news months ago.  And a lot of people I bump into are on pins-and-needles as November 7 approaches - afraid to even acknowledge the throw-the-bums-out wave rising across the USA for fear of jinxing it.

I didn’t just take Mad Dog’s picture in his Montpeculiar office, I also asked a few questions.

How’s the Guv’s race looking?

"Very strong. The governor’s done his job well in the past three-and-a-half years. He’s got a bold agenda for the future that people are responding to."

What about Lite-Gov? How’s Doobie-Doo going to fare?

“I think [Dubie’s] going to prevail quite handily."

Marvelous Martha in the U.S. House race?

Good.  I still think she’ll pull it out....The fact this race is even in play shows voters reserving their judgment. The more they take the closer look the better Martha Rainville’s odds are."

Can we write off Tarrant in the U.S. Senate race against Ol’ Bernardo?

“Not at all. I think it’s still possible to win.”

Well, he had to say that about Richie Rich, didn’t he?  Party loyalty? All that Tarrant money?

Anything’s possible, right?

Well, almost anything, but not that, dear Mad Dog.

And the Tarrant “Old Guard” of Bernie-haters knows no shame as the red-baiting has begun in letters-to-the-editor columns. “Radical socialist” and even “Communist” have been slapped on Vermont veteran congressman Sanders by Tarrant-touters.

Look, the dude’s got a record of eight years as mayor of Burlington, during which he led a social and economic transformation of the Queen City. Sanders and his Sanderistas took a sleepy, dusty town with a lingering 1950s feel, and, through successfully encouraging citizen participation, turned it into a thriving,  award-winning “most livable city” in the United States.

Bernie followed that up with the last 16 years - repeat 16 years  - in Congress. He's the longest-serving Independent in frickin American history! Vermonters are very, very familiar with him. That’s why they keep reelecting him. Duh!

As for Tarrogant Tarrant, Vermonters know very little about him except that he’s got more money than God (an estimated $300 million), and doesn't mind wasting tons of it on the most obnoxious ego trip this reporter has ever seen. And, Vermonters know, Tarrant was also in the middle of the biggest criminal scandal in Vermont history - the one at Fletcher Allen Health Care where Trustee Richie's trustworthiness isn't looking real good. After all, Tarrogant passionately defended the crooks who went to jail longer than anyone.

Oh, one more important thing we left out: He played basketball for St. Michael’s College in the mid-1960s.

Forgot about that.

Damn. He’s got my vote!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tarrant-Inspired Memory Lane

*Updated* 4:50 p.m. Where's Randy?

If your head’s spinning from trying to keep up with all the radio/TV candidate debates you aren’t alone.

Catch any of Bernie vs. Tyrant, er, Tarrant on VPR with Bob Kinzel?  Good lord, Richie’s in a fricken time warp! Pour moi, listening  was a flashback to the early 1980s. I first became a Burlington renter in 1979. Bernie won the mayor’s race - a three-way - in March 1981.

By 10 votes.

It felt like an earthquake hit this town, er, city.

The “Old Guard” Democrats led by Mayor Gordie Paquette got tossed out the door. The rest is history, but I thought they’d gotten over it? Really.

It sure looks like Richie Tarrant is funding the Old Guard’s last primal-scream session. A $7 million primal scream.... doesn't it? 

Naramore_2 Certainly the pettiness and bitterness, distortion of facts and overall immaturity that Candidate Tarrant exudes is straight out of those "Old Guard" Days of a quarter century ago. I close my eyes. It's 10 in the morning. And there’s Mayor Gordie Paquette at the round table in Nectar’s. There’s City Clerk Frank Wagner. City Treasurer Lee Austin. Former Lt. Gov. Brian Burns (covered his federal trial in the 1990s - guilty), and St. Mike’s Professor and pollster Vincent Naramore. In 1978, Freeps writer (now Providence Journal) Scott MacKay debunked Naramore’s “Salisbury Poll.”

Accuracy should count in political polling, right?

And yours truly had the privilege of exposing Ol’ Vincent in August of 1981 as the secret author of the weekly anti-Mayor Bernie Sanders “Flea Press.”

It was an anonymous one-page political "slander sheet" that got mailed to the city clerk’s office and handed out at  Board of Alderman’s meetings on Monday nights. The new kids in the building were the target.

You see, The city’s of Burlap’s new Brooklyn-born, left-wing, Jewish mayor and his blue-collar, long-haired supporters were the target. To Burlington’s Old Guard, Bernie was a wacko, loudmouthed foreigner. Someone with no right whatsoever to take their little city away from them! I mean just look at him! Listen to him! Oh, my God!

It’s been 25 years, folks. I thought they’d learned their lesson. Adapted. Grew up. But it’s obvious Richie Rich Tarrant, who was watching all that from the sidelines of the business world back then, is determined to give the Paquette-Naramore Old Guard’s descendants one last, expensive primal scream. I mean, what’s Rich Tarrant’s message other than “Fuck You, Bernie!”

Tarrant, despite his estimated $300 million IDX fortune, really had nothing else to say. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t hold press conferences on issues of the day and take questions? He’s only had about three or four since January! I wonder if he can even find Iraq on the map?

Whatever turns you on. It’s a free country.

Oh, and how was Prof. Naramore caught?

Carelessness. Vinny left his new edition of a late August  1981 “Flea Press” on the copy machine in the basement at Capitol Stationers Inc., then on Church Street. I was the next customer to use it.  Was making copies of an early “Inside Track.”  The weekly was the Vanguard Press. Remember? No computers back then. No e-mail.

Remember typewriters, paper and triple-spacing?

My lucky day it was. Then it was just a matter of basic detective work. Got the clerk to pick Vinny out of a photo line-up - a St. Mike's yearbook. A few days later I ambushed the professor as he was leaving Nectar’s with ex-Mayor Gordie one morning. Photographer Rob Swanson was at my side. We were a good team in those days.

Nailed him.

And that was the end of the “Flea Press.”

Listen, I started off with a Jim Barnett photo I was going to post, but ended up going down a different path - Memory Lane.

Now I'm heading down to the Statehouse for a Martha Abbott presser at 10:30.





Pump_jockey Back from Montpeculiar. They were talking about cheap gasoline sightings on "The Mark Johnson Show" on the way down. Well, here's Vermont # 1 Pump Jockey Robert Bartell proudly waiting to provide you friendly, affordable full service until after the November 7 Election when prices go up, eh?

Back to business....One of the challengers for the job currently held by Republican Randy Brock was at the Statehouse Monday with a question: Where is the state auditor?

Former Vermont Progressive Party state chair and co-counder Martha Abbott of Underhill - not to be confused with Martha Rainville - told reporters at the Statehouse Wednesday (10:30 pressser - no TV coverage, but the rest of the gang), that it’s tough to figure our how Republican State Auditor Randy Brock spends most of his working hours.

Abbott - who by trade, operates a tax preparation service and just started running three funny radio ads -- requested and received a copy of Brock’s personal schedule from February of 2005 through September of 2006. The Progressive said it shows that 20 percent of the time Brock is clearly not at work,  another 38 percent is blank. 11 percent  is devoted to public appearances and only 31 percent of the time was he clearly doing some job-related activity.

I think it’s important to be accountable to the voters and the taxpayers and I want to know what these 40 percent of blank days say. I would like some answers. I would like to know where he is. It may be that you’ll call him up this afternoon and he’ll say 'Everyone of those blank days I’m working the the Montpelier office without a schedule. That’s why it’s blank. That’s where I am.'

"That’s fine. I would like to know that. I think we deserve to know that.”

We did call Auditor Brock at his office this afternoon at 2:07. He wasn’t in. Really.

Left a message with Felix the veteran business manager.  {We’re also filing a radio news report.) Brock expected back by 3 o’clock.  It’s now 3:51.

Should have checked his calendar?


UPDATE :4:10  Randy the Auditor just called. Was on his car phone. He denies the Martha Abbott charges. We'll update after we do the radio....

That's WDEV 550 A.M. and 96.1 FM if you listen at 5:05.

Said Vermont's current state auditor:

Since [Abbott] has nothing bad to say about the quality of my audit work, it’s reduced to grasping at straws. She’s wrong on the facts, wrong on the analysis and wrong on the conclusions. And if this is an example of her analytical skills, she herself has proven she’s not much of an auditor."

Brock told us he reads reports, reviews thousands of pages of documents, makes phone calls  - “even to reporters,” he humorously noted - but does not write those things down as “appointments.”

Randy the Auditor said he also "deals with staff, travels around the state and meets anually with thousands of Vermonters."

It pays $91K per annum.

Remember who he defeated in 2004 and replaced?

Long-time-no-see Chainsaw Liz, eh?

Actually, two very bright people are Martha and Randy.  Did you know Martha Abbott was the first woman in Vermont to run for governor?

1974. She got 5.4 percent of the popular vote. Incumbent Democrat Gov. Tom Salmon won. This year his kid, Tom Salmon, is the Democratic Party candidate for auditor.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It's In The Bag!

Who is the mayor of Burlington, Vermont?

Right! Progressive Bob Kiss. Just elected to the 3rd-floor corner office in March. First time we used Instant Run-off Voting. Took this photo on da' Mayor’s street when he was doing a little leaf raking/sweeping a couple weeks ago. Last night was the first big political showdown of the Kiss Era.

Kiss and the Progs on one side vs. Republican Kurt Wright and a few “conservative” Dems on the other. Here's how the local daily described it: "Council Approves Land Sale."

The administration of Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss won a solid victory Monday night when the City Council approved the sale of 199 acres of city-owned land in the Intervale to the nonprofit Intervale Center.

I didn’t go - having computer hassles, as you know, and I actually did watch the Bernie vs. Tyrant, er, Tarrant debate on Ch. 5. Unlike Ch. 3’s debates, the Ch. 5 moderator, Stephanie Gorin, did not let the audience applaud wildly during the debate, and blocked Tarrant’s attempt to play the macho anti-communist bully. Yikes! The most pathetic political candidate performance I have ever seen -= and the most expensive in U.S. history on a per-vote basis.

The rumor is Richie Rich is going through this to qualify to buy an ambassadorship. That explains the new $9 million home on the Florida coast, they say. We shall see.

Hey, how about Richie as Ambassador to Iraq?

Tonight the U.S. House debate on Ch. 5. will be Welchie vs. Marvelous Martha at 8 p.m.  Martha’s still trailing in one internal poll we got wind of by 10 points. Imagine if she had a different president and a different campaign staff?

Today is “Inside Track” writing day, so I’m getting the blogging out of the way nice and early - around 7 a.m.!

Malekdunneoct2206 Here’s a shot Peggy sent from Sunday’s Lite-Gov debate at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common. About 50-60 folks attended. Prog Marvin Malek showed. So did the energetic Democrat Matt Dunne. But Doobie-Doo was missing.

Republican Brian Dubie, the two-term incumbent, is laying real low this time. Interesting strategy, eh?

And on Monday, Dunne was joined by former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine outside the Lite-Gov's office at the Statehouse for a 10:30 a.m. presser. Dubie wasn't there.

That's the whole point. Where is Brian Dubie hiding?

Unfortunately for Dunne, poor press turnout Monday morning. No WGOP, er, WCAX, sorry. No Freeps (they've closed their Montpelier "Capitol Bureau") and the A.P. didn't make it either.

You know, few folks realize how thin the Fourth Estate in Vermont is when it comes to troop strength.

Fortunately for Young Dunne, Louis Porter from the Vermont Press Bureau showed up.

Two weeks from today is the Big Day.


Monday, October 23, 2006

A Fortnight Away

*Updated* Monday evening 8 p.m. (A Flash from the Past!!!)

Two weeks from tomorrow - Election Day in a 21sr Century democracy! Hey, George & Ol' Abe, Ethan Allen, too, you guys watching from above?

If there's the slightest doubt about what the 2006 congressional elections are all about, do read Kevin Tillman's piece. Hey, read it anyway. A Monday dose of reality will get your week off on the right foot. Two weeks from today is his brother Pat's birthday. But Pat won't be here to celebrate.

Kevin, along with brother Pat Tillman of National Football League fame, joined the U.S. Army in 2002. Volunteers. They believed what their government told them about the threat. So they put their lives on the line and  fought the Bush-Cheney War in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war based on the Bush-Cheney lies. Pat was killed in Afghanistan. Here's a taste of what Kevin just wrote:

Friendlyfire3_1 Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.
Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Yes, indeed - food for Election Day thought, eh?

Read the whole article here. It's on a website called  "truthdig - digging beneath the headlines." Very interesting. (That you,  John, for the tip!)

And when we went to the Truthdig website whose name  do we see on the article under Kevin Tillman's, but an old familiar face - Ron Kovic. It was 30 years ago and yours truly was in our Chicago cab-driver phase. Coming down Lincoln Avenue late one night I see a little dude in a wheelchair outside one of the fine drinking establishments. My conscientious objector nurse-aide duties in a Minnesota hospital had provided an excellent free medical education - it was a rather exciting place,  a teaching hospital: Hennepin County General. Everything and anything came through those doors - of the hospital and of the Chicago taxi cab.

Ron Kovic was about to become a household word in 1976 as the author of Born on the Fourth of July. A U.S. Marine wounded in Vietnam - paralyzed from the waist down. Tom Cruise played him in the movie.

As Ron knows, and Kevin, too, all that talk about "supporting the troops" and putting plastic fake ribbons on one's gas-guzzler just doesn't cut it.

As we used to say in Chicago: Vote early, vote often!


*Update* 8:10 p.m.

N So I was dashing out of the Williston rest area on I-89, having grabbed a "free" coffee en route to the very photogenic 10:30 a.m. Statehouse presser that Matt Dunne & Doug Racine were putting on in front of Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie's open-door to his empty ceremonial office, WHEN in pulls a car next to me and it's Nancy Bazilchuk, former Freeps environmental reporter starting way back in the days of Queen Madeleine!

I mean, Gov. Madeleine Kunin.

Good lord, known Nancy since the 1980s. Where is she now?

In Norway - the country! Here's her webpage. In fact, Ol' Birkenstock, er, Bazilchuk,  was using the pay phone at the Williston rest area to call her hubbie and kid back on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. It's a six-hour difference.

Nancy won many awards for her environmental journalism and is in town for the big enviro-conference that kicks off Wednesday at the Sheraton-Burlington.

Tree-hugger heaven!

I'll have more later - maybe even a photo - but I'm going to try to get this online quickly before something goes wrong. Been have Intenet connection problems (Adelphia, as you may know), which just became "Time-Warner" when I called this morning. Veronica in Barrie, Ontario was very nice - left nursing four months ago for this, and likes it. Said goodbye and had me do a virus scan (took two hours) then shut it off for five minutes. Still ain't right, but I have some deadlines looming and will have to work with what I've got.

Got to go Bernie vs. Richie Rich. On Ch. 5. Richie keeps getting "dry mouth."

Understandable, eh?

And, yes, will explore Burlington Telecom!

Thank you for the suggestion.

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