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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ward 5: Past, Present and Future?

Went for a little stroll down Memory Lane last night - attended the Ward 5 Neighborhood Planning Assembly in the People’s Republic of Burlington - the South End. Current candidates for city council, Democratic Incumbent Joan Shannon and Green Party long shot Rene Kaczka-Valliere faced off. All of 15 warm bodies in attendance at Public Works on Pine Street.

Kuninsm The memory part is of the political figures that emerged from Ward 5 soil in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.  Very fertile soil for the Vermont Democratic Party

Folks like Madeleine Kunin (right). A journalist (Burlington Free Press), who became a wife and mother who became a state representative who became a lieutenant governor who became a governor and later became the American Ambassador to Switzerland!

And yes, yours truly did put in four colorful months on the Fifth Floor in Montpeculiar as Queen Madeleine's royal spokesman (1989-90).

Dean_5th_floor_1 Howard Dean. A medical doctor (once my doctor), who became a husband and father and a state rep who then became a lieutenant governor who became a governor who became chairman of the Democratic National Committee!

Who’s next?

Democratic City Councilor Joan Shannon?

Wife, mother and business person (long-torso swimwear is her stock and trade.)  Shannon (below, at last night's WARD 5 NPA), proudly takes credit for “spearheading the initiative of banning smoking in bars.” That effort, which began in the Queen City of Burlington, noted Shannon, “provided the impetus and political will for Montpelier to follow.”

Hear, hear!

Ward_5_22707_1 The River Shannon is likewise not shy about taking some credit for promoting Instant Run-off Voting in Burlington - a process that went smoothly in its inaugural run in 2006. Just ask Mayor Bob the Prog, eh?

Councilor Shannon’s the thoughtful and thorough type and has demonstrated political backbone on more than one occasion. She insists, however, she’s not interested in statewide politics.

“My passion,” said Shannon, “is what’s best for Ward 5, not my political career.”

Didn’t Madeleine and Howard used to say that, too?

Rene the Green (to Shannon’s left), is a social worker at the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging. He spoke to the NPA about homelessness in Burlington and school kids shuffling between couches, the “Hunt-Edmunds Shuffle,” he called it. And he highlighted the issue of "men’s violence against women." More than 50 percent of  homicides in Vermont, he said, are the result of domestic violence.

The Democrat and the Green were asked how they would "grade" the tall, quiet, incumbent mayor Vermont's largest city currently has - whatshisname?

Mayor_kiss_3 Oh, yes, Bob Kiss (at left, where else?). Born a Wisconsin Badger, Kiss was a Vermont state rep who became Burlap's mayor in 2006, Progressive Bob faces reelection in two years - March 2009.

Grade-wise, Rene gave Mayor Kiss a “B.”

Not bad.

Joan wasn’t so easy on him. Shannon gave the Progressive a “C-minus.”

“There’s room for improvement,” said Joan of Lakeside. Mayor Kiss has had some problems with “process,” she said, and shortcomings in the "communications area." Asked for an example she cited several, including da’ Mayor’s attempt to slide through the sale of city land in the Intervale on the Council’s “Consent Agenda,” thereby avoiding public discussion and open debate. (The matter did get a public airing and the sale was approved by a council majority.)

Shannon did, however, have nothing but praise for the the good work of Kiss-appointee, CityJonathan_leopold Treasurer Jonathan Leopold (right).  Leopold, you'll recall, was the bright, personable bow-tied treasurer who was the financial anchor and financial whiz of Mayor Bernie Sanders' mayoral reign back in the 1980s. The socialist mayor screamed a lot, but he also recognized talent and brains when he saw it. Bernie's no dummy.

However, Leopold did not get on smoothly with Bernie's successor in the corner office - Peter Clavelle.  Their personal styles simply clashed rarther than clicked. Clavelle brought in Brendan Kelleher, ex-Winooski City Manager, to oversee Burlington's bottom line.

But with Clavelle gone, Jonathan's back as the Money Man, Back at home in Burlington City Hall - though he doesn't wear the bow-ties much anymore - and Kiss the Quiet Man is lucky to have him.

"In that area," said Shannon, referring to fiscal management,  "the [Kiss] administration has done well."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Monday Drug Shopping

Sec_1 So I dropped into Walgreens in downtown Burlap for some AA batteries around 5 p.m. on Monday and who do I bump into head-on but Vermont Secretary of Transportation Neale Lunderville!

Sec. Lunderville, who lives near downtown,  was picking up prescription drugs for an allergic condition he has. He was gracious enough to hold still for a photo AND take one of this blogger, who's gotten a little light on top.

Incidentally, last week a former Associated Press bureau chief echoed our recently published remarks that Sec. Lunderville has gotten more good press in his first few few months running that agency than all the previous Vermont Secretaries of Transportation have in the last 20 years!

Still, getting positive comments from the likes of yours truly does put Young Lunderville, Gov. Jim Douglas' former campaign manager, on shaky ground amidst his Republican teammates.

The price of being a good communicator. And, oh yeah, nice shot, Mr. Secretary of Transportation, of yours truly at Walgreens.


Who needs a lot of hair?

What did it ever do for Patrick Leahy? Or Bernie Whatshisname, the U.S. Senator the Capitol Steps have NEVER heard of?

In the past two weeks, the biotechnology industry has kicked in at the personal level in Freyne Land, and this columnist/blogger with cancer has lost most of that thick white Irish mop from the top of the ol' skull. (And the beard has mostly fallen out, too.)

Chemotherapy is action.

Cool. And the tumor's shrunk to almost nothing!

Then, speaking of chemotherapy, one picks up the Vermont newspaper and learns all is not well in Drug Land.

Barre mayor wants death penalty for drug peddlers

BARRE — Mayor Thomas Lauzon on Saturday said he hoped the Legislature would consider imposing the death penalty on convicted crack and heroin dealers, and to legalize marijuana.

Failing that, the mayor said, he would call for a public forum in Barre to kick off a statewide discussion about the growing drug problem in Vermont and steps — including the death penalty and legalization — to control the situation.

"I'm sure everyone will distance themselves from me," Lauzon said Saturday night of his death-penalty call. "But if anyone tells you we're winning the war on drugs, they're lying."

the rest of it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Crabapple Sunday in Vermont

Nothing like Montpeculiar on a Sunday. I’m talking Montpelier, Vermont, the state capital of Vermont and the smallest state capital city by population of any state capital city in the United States of America.

According to the City of Montpeculiar’s official website, Montpelier “is the smallest state capital in the United States with a population of approximately 8,400 people. When the legislature is in session, and at other times of the year, the city swells to an estimated 15,000 people.”


Mplrcrabapple Meet Jordan Fletcher, 39, Montpelier resident, tree-trimmer, and the only “worker” spotted on the Main Drag Sunday afternoon. Jordan was born and raised in Maryland, picked up a philosophy degree from the University of Maryland in Baltimore and a master’s in elementary education and enviro-science at Antioch. Was a classroom teacher for five years, he told me, and then he quit.


“Leave all children behind,” he said, was the real goal of the system, not “Leave no child behind!”

Now the ex-teacher owns and operates Jordan Fletcher Tree Care in Montpelier, Vermont. He was the official winner of the low bid to trim the sprawling crabapple trees growing wildly and beautifully in front of Washington County Superior Court on State Street.

“They’re nice guys” over at the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, said Jordan. “I bid it real low.”

The two crabapples hadn’t had a trimming “in a few years,” he said. “They needed to get knocked down real good to train them for the future.”

Asavage_mplr Then we popped into Capitol Grounds for a coffee and who’s working away on his laptop on a Sunday afternoon but Congressman Peter Welch’s press secretary - Andrew Savage. Andrew was so happy to be home. He grew up in Calais, Vermont and was lamenting the fact his parents are soon moving to Colchester, "a Burlington suburb," after more than 30 years living in paradise

I hear ya, Andrew..

One of those little electronic keys on the table by his right hand, he said, allows him to get right into the computer on his desktop on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C..

Work, work, work.

P.S. And we bumped into another attendee at last night's Capitol Steps' show at the Flynn Theater in Burlington who could not believe the performing troupe did not even mention the name of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the only socialist in the Senate, in Bernie Sanders' hometown

And I bet there were a few more.

A few hundred more?

Out-of-Step Steps?

Out on the town town last night to catch the Capitol Steps at the Flynn Theater.

Pamela from Seven Days was my "date" and vice-versa. Good to be out and nice to see a lot of old faces.  Haven't been to the Flynn in a few years.

Pamster and I reminisced about our own earlier appearances on the Flynn Stage: she as a punk rock diva of the early 1980s, et moi, as a variety show actor doing Shakespeare's Henry V in the 1990s.

Getting old. Just like Capitol Steps, if I do say so myself.  But I hope we're staying sharper than they are.

Burlington, Vermont got one of three Steps troupes performing last night. They are a successful operation. Pump out the CDs. But is it asking too much to expect such a successful professional troupe to pay attention to the locale they are getting paid big bucks to appear in?  And maybe even pay a little attention to that locale's unique politics?

To the five-member Capitol Steps troupe we got, Burlington, Vermont could have been Burlington, Iowa. In fact, sitting in my balcony row was Burlington Progressive City Councilor Tim Ashe from Ward Three. (Didn't see if Burlington's Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss was there. It was a full house.)

But I do know that in their performance that began at 8:05 P.M. and ended at 10 P.M. - with a 15-minute halftime - the Capitol Steps never once uttered the word "Progressive."

And not once did a Capitol Step, fresh from Washington, D.C., mention the name of Vermont's newest special-delivery package sent to Washington, D.C. - a United States Senator and the only Independent in that chamber. Not once!

In fact, at one point, one of the Steps asked how many Republicans were present?

A smattering of applause.

Then he asked how many Democrats were in the room?

The place broke up. Loud applause and cheers.

But that's where he stopped. Didn't bother to ask how many Progs or Independents were in attendance. Didn't the dude from D.C. know he was in the People's Republic of Burlington, Vermont?

The Capitol Steps started up in 1981.

Good year.

That's the year Bernie Sanders, excuse me, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, won his first political office - mayor of Burlington.

You'd think a sharp, talented, successful band of D.C. performers would know?

These political satirists steered away from the War in Iraq, impeachment of George WMD Bush and other 800 lb. gorillas, preferring instead to dabble in drinking jokes about Ted Kennedy and his son, Dick Cheney hunting jokes and "Springtime for Liberals and Hillary!"

You know what?

Capitol Steps have gotten establishment boring.

P.S. Meanwhile, you know what really keeps me going? Waking up to emails like this one:

Hi Peter,
    God Bless you in going through your treatment regimen.  My husband and I have been fans of yours for years. Truth to Power is an awesome thing. Just had a biopsy myself last week, waiting until next Monday for the news.  Reading your blogs about your trip over the past few weeks has made this a little less scary for me . Thanks for sharing your experiences, and we'll keep praying for you. I have 3 kids under 6, so I'm hoping for a real good result!

    Peace,  KB

In this together, aren't we?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Update on the Cancer-Patient Columnist

Chemo_221 That's me in the chemo-recliner up at the Mary Fanny on Wednesday. Nice little TVs, eh? I'm watching Hillary in the too-damn-early Texas Democratic presidential candidate debate. On drugs.

I was finishing up my second of six scheduled chemotherapy saturations. Getting a very specific IV vein-drip of Adriamycin, Cyclophosphamide and Vincristine. Then a 100 mg. dose of Prednisone by mouth which I continue for the following four mornings. Don't ask. I've never heard of them. They don't exactly know why this mix of chemical shit works against the cancer I've got. They only know it does.

My second chemo-dosing was interrupted the previous Friday after taking in Rituxan by IV for more than two hours. Had the little seizure, which got me admitted to the hospital for the weekend and checked out with an MRI and a Spinal Tap!

Negative so far. There's no history of Rituxan causing seizures, says Doc Pillemer the oncologist, so they're curious. Plus, I've never had a seizure before. At least none that I remember over the course of the past 57 years. You don't think it's 'cause of some old "Inside Track" columns I wrote about FAHC CEO Bill Boettcher, Trustee Ritchie Tarrant and their Renaissance Scam, do you?

So Doc Pillemer put me on some Dilantin, three capsules once a day. It's an anti-seizure med that slows down brain impulses. It feels like a downer. Don't like downers. Have to be sharp to hit Jim Douglas and the rest of the pols with the questions they're not expecting. Asked the Doc if I can stop taking it and he's put me on a neurologist track to see if that's possible. So yesterday, I got slid into an open time slot for an EEG - an Electroencephalogram - up on Patrick 5. An EEG measures electrical activity in one's brain - brain waves.

Eeg_1 Anita Rocheleau of South Burlington (pictured with me) was the electroneurodiagnostic technologist.  Big title, eh? In fact, all the words are long up on Hospital Hill.

The EEG takes a little over an hour - the first 30 minutes spent attaching 25 electrodes to one's head to measure the electrical activity on the other side of the skull. Liked the part where Anita flashed the strobe lights in my eyes. Like an old rock concert.

I go back on Wednesday to get the official brain-wave reading from an official neurologist.


Also worth noting that along the way, several of the folks in the white jackets have mentioned I would likely qualify for Vermont's Marijuana Registry should I choose to apply. Legal pot at last!

Vermont Marijuana Registry
rtment of Public Safety
Title 18 V.S.A. Chapter 86



In 2004, the Vermont General Assembly passed S. 76, An Act Relating to Marijuana Use by Persons with Severe Illness. This piece of legislation creates an exemption in state law from criminal penalties for the use of marijuana to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a debilitating medical condition as long as it is done in compliance with 18 V.S.A. Chapter 86. The law also creates a registry of individuals who are eligible to receive this exemption... 


The Act creating the Marijuana Registry was designed to protect certain seriously ill and terminally ill patients from state criminal penalties for using marijuana to relieve the symptoms or effects of their debilitating medical condition. Only people with a debilitating medical condition may use marijuana. A “Debilitating medical condition” means:

(A) end of life care for cancer or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS);


(B) cancer, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, multiple sclerosis (MS), or the treatment of these diseases or medical conditions if

(i) the disease or condition or its treatment results in severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms;             and

(ii) in the context of the specific disease or condition, reasonable medical efforts have been made over a reasonable amount of time without success in relieving the symptoms.

      The Act also allows a “caregiver”  to register and receive the same criminal protections as the registered patient. However, the caregiver is not entitled to use marijuana.

More here.

Also should point out that Sen. Richard Sears (D-Bennington), distinguished chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has a bill in this session with co-sponsors - S. 7 - that would expand Vermont's original Medical Marijuana Law and lower the registration fee.


One might even call it "civilized," eh?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Vermonter Wins Peace Prize

Second Vermonter, actually.

And that's just this year!

"With America and the world under constant assault from a Bush Administration and Republican Party, it is hard sometimes to remember that acts of justice are performed every day. Part of the overwhelming sense of helplessness unleashed by the combined incompetence and extremism of the Bush GOP is due to not being able to avert one's eyes from the wounded world that they scar even more every day.

" is now awarding a weekly 'Wings of Justice Award' to honor individuals who speak out and take action on behalf of the great American tradition of courage, Constitutional Rights, secular inclusion, truthfulness and common sense."

The following is from the latest "Wings of Justice Award":

"This past week, Vermont became the first state in the Union where both legislative houses passed resolutions calling for the forthcoming and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.  It shouldn't be lost on anyone that Vermont "has lost more soldiers per capita than any other state in the nation.

Rep "State Representative Michael Fisher (pictured at right in the Statehouse cafeteria Friday), led the effort to save Vermont men and women in uniform from being put in harm's way for an undefined mission and delusional pursuit of an un- determined victory. Fisher put the lives of his fellow Vermonters in uniform at the top of his state’s legislative agenda.

"I really do believe we can have full respect and support for our troops and at the same time speak out against the policy that led to this war and keeps this war going," Fisher said.

"In fact, there is no higher regard for our GIs than saving them from the politically motivated mania of a rogue regime sitting in the White House.

"For his compassion and his conviction, Michael Fisher -- State Representative from Lincoln, Vermont -- is awarded our BuzzFlash Wings of Justice Award."

Recent Wings of Justice Award Honorees:

Maxine Waters - February 14, 2007
Ted Kennedy - February 7, 2007             
Molly Ivins - January 31, 2007
Bernie Sanders - January 24, 2007             
Bill Moyers - January 17, 2007

Not bad company for the member from Lincoln, eh?

Rep. Fisher, 41, is a Democrat. He was born in Philadelphia and moved to his present town in 1988. The father of two is a social worker by profession. Picked up his MSW at UVM. It's Fisher's seventh year in the building. He's vice-chair of the Human Services Committee this term.

Here's the Vermonter's official award page.

Congratulations, Michael!

Likewise, Ol' Bernardo!

Nice to see a new face at the leadership level eh?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Douglas vs. Shumlin AND When is an Illegal Alien Really an Illegal Alien in Vermont?

The end of February is closing in.

March Town Meeting Day approaches.

And right on schedule, the public bickering between the Republican in our governor's office and the Democrats running our Statehouse is picking up! 

Guv_jim_222 Gov. Jim Douglas told reporters at his weekly press conference at the state capitol Thursday that Vermonters support his “aggressive agenda to take the state forward in the 21st Century.” The Governor insisted he encounters  “trememdous support” in his travels around the state for the Douglas "Affordability Agenda" and it continues to grow!

Vermont’s Republican Guv said he’s been "waiting patiently" for Vermont’s Democratic legislature "to focus more of its time and energy on the public policy that’s most important to Vermonters." He mentioned  "reducing property tax growth, making housing and higher education more affordable, and passing legislation that will move Vermont to becoming the first E-State in the nation."

"As we head into the Town Meeting break," said Jim from Middlebury, "Vermonters have every right to ask what the Legislature’s been doing that’s going to make Vermont more affordable, to make our economy stronger and our families more prosperous?

"The answer, unfortunately, is very little action."

Putney Democrat Peter Shumlin is the Senate President Pro Tem this session replacing Peter Welch, who went to Washington to replace Bernie Sanders, who went from House to Senate to replace Jeezum Jim Jeffords, who retired.

Putney Pete is the senate leader and viewed as a prime future Democratic candidate for governor...maybe even in 2008?

Sumlin_223 Not suprisingly, Sen. Shumlin had a dramatically different analysis of the legislature’s progress so far this year. Like night and day. That's Shummy doing an impromptu in the Cedar Creek Room after the Guv's shot.

"I don't quite understand what the Governor's frustration is today," said Shumlin, the Nose that Knows.  "All I can tell you is that I've never seen a legislature work harder, provide more leadership and deal with more difficult issues than we are this session. I think it would be tremendously helpful if the Governor would spend more time doing policy with us and less time doing politics."

A pair of marvelous political word smiths are these, eh?

ON A DIFFERENT TOPIC - as expected, questions were raised by the press corps about the apparent sanctioning by Vermont's governor of his in-laws use of illegal Mexican aliens on their Middlebury dairy farm. Here's a transcript of the interesting back and forth. According to the Guv, the Foster Brothers dispute the accuracy of The Burlington Free Press story, at least as far as their admitting to having illegal aliens working on their farm.

The Guv: It’s not their job to be immigration agents. There are federal agencies that have that responsibility and I expect those agencies to do their jobs.

I think everyone agrees our immigration system is flawed. This may be a rare occasion where Chairman Leahy of the Judiciary Committee,  the president of the United States and I have the same view. We need to reform our immigration laws and provide for a guest worker program so that here no question about the validity of the documents of the workers on our family farms.

I’m pleased Sen. Leahy is going to have some hearing on Tuesday on this topic in Washington and I hope it’s an item he can move forward quickly.

Press: But it is illegal to hire undocumented workers?

The Guv: That’s correct.

Press: And so farmers, the Fosters among them, are doing that, right?

The Guv: Well, I don’t know that and you can talk to them. They frankly take great issue with the characterization that was in another metropolitan daily. They don’t believe that was a fair representation.

Press: You think those workers are legal?

The Guv: Well, I’m not saying what I think, I’m saying what they’ve told me, so I’m inviting you to talk to them.

Press: Is it their contention that they have the proper paperwork, these workers?

The Guv: Well, again, they’re not immigration experts but employees on that farm, and I assume other farms, do the same thing that you and I do - present a Social Security Card that's issued by the Government of the United States with an appropriate number on it so that social security taxes and other income taxes may be withheld. You may want to talk with them.

Press: But how can they be legal if they don’t have a "Green Card?"

The Guv: Well, we’re not asked for them when we’re employed. You’re not suggesting racial-profiling in employment, I hope?

Press: No.

We’re you misquoted in that story saying you were aware there were illegal Mexican aliens there?

The Guv:  No. I didn’t say that. What I’m telling you is that the Fosters believe they were not accurately represented.

Press:  Do you think there are illegal immigrants working at the Foster Farm?

The Guv: I don’t know the answer to that. I’m not naive. I think it’s not an unreasonable assumption in the agricultural industry of Vermont there are people who don’t have documentation that they can support, but the real answer to this dilemma, I believe, is to change the federal law.

Press: Is there sort of a "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Thing" going on in the farm community where they desperately need the labor. Vermonters aren’t doing it. There is a workforce available. But there is this problem with the federal law. So they don’t have to prove, under the labor law, the document's accuracy, but a lot of them know?

The Guv: Well, your assessment of the labor situation is exactly right. I talked about the demographic challenge that the state is facing overall and it's’s certainly true in farm labor as well. A lot of the farm families today aren’t as big as they used to be in terms of the number of kids. Historically in Vermont there were families with a large number of children who did the work on the farm and that was the source of labor for literally centuries.

Now families are smaller. More people, including spouses work off the farm. There are fewer working age people in Vermont to do that work and it's hard work. I’ve worked on my in-laws'' farm. It’s very tiring, exhausting work. It’s hard labor and a lot of people are not interested in doing that work.

He has a way with words, our governor, doesn't he?

Wouldn't be surprised if the Freeps followed up to see if the Fosters actually do dispute their story's accuracy - as reported by no less a source than Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Will Bush Administration Look the Other Way?

Guv_douglas A bit of behind-the-scenes buzz going on Wednesday in Vermont political circles stretching from Burlington and Montpeculiar all the way to the District of Columbia. Surely the Feds cannot ignore the fact that federal law is now being openly broken at the Middlebury dairy farm owned by the in-laws of our distinguished leader - Gov. Jim Douglas.

Sam Hemingway broke the story in Sunday’s Burlington Free Press. Nice catch, Sam! And a whole lot of people have noticed. Especially the fact that Vermont’s Republican governor acknowledges the fact he’s been aware the law was being broken at the Foster Farm for quite some time.

“I’m certainly aware they have Mexican workers, but I’ve never run into any of them when I was there,” Douglas told Hemingway.

Oh. Okay. As long as you never actually saw one. Then it’s fine.  Whew!

But what if Governor Douglas’ in-laws were growing marijuana?

As long as you never saw it, Governor?   


Lunderville_1 This little stumble has a lot of jaws saying it won’t be too long before Gov. Douglas reigns his “Karl Rove”  back in. You know, the new, personable and media-savvy Transportation Secretary Neale Lunderville (with arms folded at right. Adm. Sec. Mike Smith to his left). Many a veteran Vermont pol is wondering aloud this week how much longer Gov. Scissorhands can put off a Lunderville recall back into the inner sanctum on the Fifth Floor.

Young Neale (currently in his early 30s), was his campaign manager in 2002 and 2004 and not too far away in 2006. He’s the saviest political mind to pop up in the Vermont GOP in a long, long time.

He was appointed Vermont’s Secretary of Transportation with transportation qualifications that did not go beyond his own personal driving experience.  Even his mother, reliable sources say, questioned Gov. Douglas’ judgment.

But Neale Lunderville is an extremely gifted manager and motivator. And he most definitely gets it. You know - “it.”  In fact, he gets “it” so well, we’ve heard Democrats sing his praises - off-the-record only, of course.

In the last three months, Sec. Lunderville's received more favorable press coverage than previous Vermont transportation secretaries have garnered in 20 years.

Governor Lunderville?

Somebody's got to do it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bernie vs. Big Media

Bernie_fcc2_3 In terms of war in Iraq, said Vermont's junior United States Senator Bernard Sanders Tuesday evening, "People would say to me, 'Where were Democrats on the war? Why did everyone sell out?'"

Well, in fact, said Sanders, "A majority of Democrats voted against the war and the American people did not know that."

Several hundred thousand Americans, he told the audience at St. Michael's College, "turned off the American media and went to the BBC to get a more objective analysis."

The important point, said the Senator, is that it's just too simple to blame President George W. Bush. We must “hold the media complicit as well," he said. The media, charged Sanders, "became a loudspeaker for the White House and that is not an accident."

I watched Sanders speak from the comfort of my own bedroom. Ol' Bernardo's Town Meeting was broadcast live, not over the television, but over the Internet on I watched him on my desktop!


Health Care?

"What many of you may or may not know," said former House member Bernie of Burlington, "is that the proposal that had the most support in House was a single-payer bill." It received very little coverage from the corporate media. he said.

Global warming?

For years, what the media would be talking about, said Sanders, was "there is a major dispute among scientists about whether global warming exists."

Actually, said Sanders, an Independent aligned with the Democrats, "There was very little dispute. Exxon-Mobil disputed it," he noted, "and Exxon-Mobil was able to get its point of view out very well."

Sanders told the Town Meeting attendees that he and allies opposed to the current corporate control of the media intend to focus in the months ahead on one major point - the airwaves are owned by the people and the companies that hold the FCC licenses to broadcast over them "have a certain responsibility."

"How can the public reclaim the airwaves," asked the senator from Vermont, "and make the stations accountable?"

Stay tuned.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Bernie Targets the Media!

I'm old -fashioned. I miss Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday. This President's Day stuff lacks historical context and perspective. Any old president will do. Even Richard "I am not a Crook" Nixon?

Even Nixon.


Hayward Anyway, it was a quiet Presi- dent's Day in Burlap's South End.  A lot of folks still had work to go to on this "holiday."

That's a shot of Hayward Street out front looking peaceful.

Tuesday,  is "Inside Track" Writing Day - our lips are sealed. I get it in to Pamela at Seven Days by 4 p.m. and it's at the printer by Six.

At 7 p.m. the spotlight will be at St. Mike's McCarthy Arts Center where Vermont's junior United States Senator Bernie Sanders is holding a "Town Meeting On Media Ownership & Why It Matters!"

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein and Paula Routly from Seven Days will be on the distinguished panel among others.

But the really good news is you can watch the goings-on from the comfort of your own home!

No, not on "Vermont's Own," WCAX-TV, but online - live - at


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