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Friday, October 26, 2007

Ribbon-Cutting Time!

It was the official opening of the new environmentally-friendly Merrill Lynch office on the Burlington Waterfront Thursday. Yours truly was the only press that showed. No big deal, but I thought there just might be a gubernatorial ribbon-cutting, eh?

Ribboncutting Gov. Jim Douglas noted Merrill Lynch is a "very large global corporation with annual revenues  7-times the state budget here in Vermont."

Gov. Scissorhands called Merrill Lynch "a great corporate citizen" for making a "commitment to a green building."

Steve Waltien of Shelburne, a UVM grad and bank president before signing on with Merrill Lynch 17 years ago, told the gathering of almost 100 that "Without the support of the local administration, this project for us would never happen. So we really appreciate your being here mayor."

Progressive Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss - the only socialist we could identify in the crowd, told the gathering that:

"Being a student of the Sixties, you know the question I have is: ‘Does business have a soul?’ 

"I think in a lot of ways Merrill Lynch is a pillar of the community...and we’re building the community together.

"We all know that the sub-prime mortgage rates are in trouble. We all know that there’s disparity between rich and poor and I think we’re all struggling with those issues to make sure we have a quality life and a better life."

"So what I see here is a dedication to green building,  an investment in Burlington and a long commitment, I think, to social needs in the City of Burlington and the State of Vermont so I’m hoping that we partnership together so that we can build a better world."

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Merrill Lynch's Waltien told Freyne Land:

"There are a lot of Merrill-Lynch managers like me around the country who think like I do. Very frankly, I’m a liberal Democrat and there are many people who think like I do in this firm. I feel very comfortable in this firm.

"I think the impression from afar is that these are the right-wing Republican fat cats. Nothing could be farther from the truth


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Curtis Hier


Our latest unemployment rate is at 4.0 percent, which puts us at 19th and below the national unemployment rate. Your job growth comparison is based on the net number of private sector jobs. Our labor force in Vermont is shrinking as Vermonters are retiring and there aren't younger workers to take their place. Governor Douglas has been trying to address that.

Furthermore, I am concerned that the public sector is growing so much and the private sector is shrinking. (From my perspective as a teacher, it seems like everyone in town is becoming an instructional aide here at school.)We can't pay for that forever. I feel that the Republicans would do a better job of addressing that problem. I'm wondering why you picked September 2004.

Doug Hoffer


The unemployment rate sounds great but it's been below the national rate for the last 30 years and, therefore, has nothing to do with Jim Douglas' policies. And for the record, it's 4.2%, not 4%.

Furthermore, the median number of private sector jobs created annually in the `90s was over 4,000. In the last three years, the figure is under 1,300. These figures don't lie.

I picked September because it's the last month available to show year - to - year figures. That's exactly what the Dept. of Labor does every month.

Moreover, I track these numbers for my work and it doesn't matter what month you pick. Job creation is - and has been - anemic since the last recession.

As for Republicans doing a better job, we have had a Republican governor for the last 5 years. It is HIS Dept. of Economic Development carrying out HIS policies. Furthermore, with very few exceptions, this is the same pattern in most other states (regardless of the party in power). The Gov. is attempting to use old "tools" to solve new problems. It's not working.

And of course we've had a Republican President for the last 7 years, with a Republican Congress for most of that time. U.S. job creation is also anemic.

It's not about Jim Douglas per se. He just represents old thinking that is out of step with new realities.


Jim Douglas would rather throw the game than play with his teammates.

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