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Seven Days Blogs: Freyne Land

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sirota Visit

Up-and-coming political author David Sirota blew through Burlap this week, kicking off his two-month national book tour. Got surprisingly little attention from the local media.

Sirota_at_borders In fact, the only press to catch his appearance with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders at Borders Bookstore on Church Street the other night were a few 7Days types and a writer from the Washington, D.C. bureau of Le Monde, the big paper in Paris...France [right]. She interviewed him before his appearance upstairs before a standing-room crowd of 50.

David who?

David Sirota,
former press secretary to Congressman Bernie Sanders. David started with Ol' Bernardo back in 1999. Just a youngster in his early twenties. Was with him for a few years.

Now at 32, David's one of the new stars of the rising generation in American politics. His new book, The Uprising,  [catchy title, eh?]  includes a big chapter involving Bernie of Vermont.

Still, no local press covered his visit. No Freeps, no VPR, no WGOP, er, WCAX?

Sirota's Uprising was, however, newsworthy for The Colbert Report on Thursday


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Bad-Hair-Day Approaching?

Gibbz_hairday On the left, a Vermont legend - Art Gibb.

Art served in the Vermont House and Senate in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, a Republican who cared deeply about Vermont's environmental beauty and integrity and is one of the main reasons Vermont's roadways are not littered with billboard advertising like the other 49 states.

Thank you, Art.

He's also a key reason for Vermont's Act 250, the landmark environmental law that's held back commercial, anything-for-a-buck, development. Art Gibb was 97 when he passed away in 2005. More here.

On the right - the backside, or rather the ponytail of the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, David Zuckerman (P-Burlington). We think it's the longest under the Golden Dome - male or female - not that size matters.

Wavy Davy's Ponytail made the blog because it isn't going to be around much longer. Tuesday afternoon it's going bye-bye. In fact, said Zuckerman, enough $$$ pledges come in and he's SHAVING IT ALL OFF!

To all State House colleagues, legislators, staff, lobbyists, guests:

Some of you may remember that a few years ago I cut some of my hair as a fundraiser for kids with hair loss diseases (locks-of-love). Your generosity helped provide over $3,500 to go along with my wife's and my ponytail “locks”.

This year, on February 12 at 3:30 in Room 10, I will have my hair cut, lopped, buzzed, or even shaved as another fundraiser. Rep. Denise Barnard has been kind enough to agree to do the job. This time I will again be sending my hair out of state, but the money raised will be used for youth services organizations within Vermont. The four groups are Spectrum Youth and Family Services in Burlington, Youth Services in Brattleboro, Northeast Kingdom Youth Services in St. Johnsbury, and 206 Depot in Bennington. The money raised will be divided equally...

Zuckerman says his longest measured hair strand was 35-inches long.

Just won't be the same without it...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Peter_tony_2 Made it. Print column, the ol’ “Inside Track” all done. The Tuesday miracle. Whew!

This, after a topsy-turvy few days that included a car accident in the Mary Fanny parking garage on Hospital Hill. Yes, the one convicted former CEO Bill Boettcher and the boys got built.

Thanks, Bill.

Bob from Huntington in his white 2007 Silverado wagon just threw it into reverse and backed into me as hard as he could. I was stopped on the downslope at the time. Said he didn’t see me. I need a new bumper, headlights and a few other items - $1600 and change is the estimate. Hadn’t even made it to the doctor, yet.

The doctor, by the way, said the blood tests looked good. I'm a healthy dude these days.

Then the furnace in the 27-year-old building I call “home” started banging and clanging and spitting and spewing and leaking and on the way out. “Home” is a three story house on Burlap’s South End. The Ol’ Five Sisters neighborhood. I’ve got the ground-floor/ basement/mother-in-law apartment. Unfortunately, that’s where the furnace, original to the building, is, too.

The owner/lamdlord is on top of it.

Hey, at least it’s not boring, eh?

A pal took that photo of yours truly in Sweetwaters recently. The painting on the wall - by Wendy Copp, right? - includes the Peter Freyne of 1982 eying the Tony Pomerleau of the same vintage. “Inside Track” was running in the Vanguard Press, the “alternative weekly” of those days in Burlap when a guy named “Bernie” was occupying the mayor’s office.

Whatever happened to him?

A few other characters of that era in Burlap were also on the big wall at Tony Perry's "Sweets", including Denny Morrisseau, founder/owner of Leuing’s. Denny sold it in the mid-1990s. Yours truly was one of his early bartenders. What fun!

Time flies.

Anyway, knocked out the column for Seven Days, writing about a surprise on the healthcare front in Montpeculiar and also about marijuana which is scheduled to receive a little attention on tonight’s city council agenda and under the Golden Dome this week, too.

[Hey, if the council meetings are available “live” on BurlingtonTelecom, why the heck aren’t they available “live” online in the People's Republic of Burlington?]

Councilor_adrian Ward 1 Democrat Ed Adrian [right] wants Burlington voters to have an advisory question regarding the decriminalization of marijuana on the March ballot.

Councilor Eddie’s an attorney and former prosecutor in Franklin County. Currently cashes a paycheck from the Vermont Secretary of State’s office. Even admits to toking up in his younger years.

Besides Gov. Jim Douglas, who hasn’t?

Let's get real.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday Sun

Sunday_on_main Went on a little laundromat run this sunny Sunday in beautiful Burlap. This was an hour after sunrise.  Main Street in America's smallest largest city of any state.

And that other state - home of the Yankees - across the pond

First laid eyes on this vista in 1956 - a six-year-old in the back seat of a spanking new Mercury with sister and brother. Mommy was driving and Daddy was smoking and holding the map.

Time flies, eh?

Lot of miles since.

Clothes all clean. Ready to catch Gov. Scissorhands on WCAX's "You Can Quote Me."

Anyone else watching?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Changing of the Guard

No, we're not getting any younger.

And this week, two People's Republic of Burlington regulars are moving on.

Michael Monte's been in City Hall since the magical election of March 1981 when the candidate of "poor people, working people and the elderly" he worked for - some guy named Bernard Sanders - won the mayor's race by 10 votes. He started up and ran the Community and Economic Development Office and proved that socialists do indeed know how to do business.

Monte_x_2 Bright, personable, fair and decent, Michael [right] was a key player [along with Phil Fiermonte who he's about to share a hug with at last night's Community Boathouse celebration], in the political revolution that changed Burlington, Vermont from a dusty, bedraggled town without a decent waterfront into the people-friendly "metropolis" that you see today.

"Well, that was the idea," said Monte. "To foment a small revolution that had some long-lasting value."

Michael starts Monday as the Chief Operating Officer at the Champlain Housing Trust.

Tremblay Also departing is Chief of Police Tom Tremblay. Tommy Guns has been tapped by Republican Gov. Jim Douglas to be the next commissioner of public safety which will put him in charge of the Vermont State Police.

Maybe Commissioner Tremblay will have a wee chat with Gov. Scissorhands about the Guv's current law-and-order view on prosecuting marijuana cases, eh?

Incidentally, Windsor County State's Attorney Bobby Sand is scheduled to appear on "The Mark Johnson Show" this morning on WDEV AM-FM in the 9-10 o'clock hour.

He's the brave prosecutor who's willing to say publicly our drug laws simply do not work!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day 2007

Sanders_sabens Ol' Bernardo, excuse me, United States Sen. Bernard Sanders, usually does a presser on Mondays at his home base in Burlington and this Monday, a federal holiday for Veterans Day [no mail], was no different.

In this case, however, Sen. Sanders stuck to the theme and offered up a perfect made-for-TV news story about getting an 84-year-old World War II veteran from Barre his medals, including a Bronze Star.

Stanley Sabens was 19 when he signed up and he was a member of the precursor of the Green Berets who won fame during the Vietnam War. Sabens outfit was called the First Special Service Force, also known as "The Black Devils." And it was, uniquely, a half-American/half-Canadian outfit.

Black_devils "What was so unique about Stanley’s experience," said Bernie,  "is that he fought with our Canadian allies. They fought equally and they served heroically. On behalf of a very grateful nation, we thank you very much."

Stanley will also go into the Vermont history books, we were told, for opening the state's very first motel - The Knoll Motel in Barre. Opened in 1950.

As for recollections from the battlefields where he fought and his comrades died, Sabens told reporters it was "hard to think back."

"I think of the good times," he said, "but the rest of it, I can't do anything about."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Couple things....

Yes, it’s a scary world.

And I’m not just talking about war, fire, hurricane, drought and the melting of the Arctic ice cap.

I’m talking about the Boston Red Sox sitting one game away from winning the World Series. Ah, modern pro baseball! Millionaires on steroids!

Grandps In the old days, they just used to drink alcoholic beverages.

Born and raised a Yankee fan was I. Dad may have been the Kilkenny farm boy who joined the IRA in 1920, but mom was raised in the Bronx, daughter of the Galway girl who survived the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and the butcher from Tipperary who keeled over from a heart attack when she was still a kid.

Agnes Cummings grew up on Clinton Place, a dear and devoted Yankee fan and close friend of Yankee relief pitcher "Fireman" Johnny Murphy’s sister. That meant tickets to the games and socializing with the Yankee players. We’re talking mid-to-late 1930s and early 1940s.


Ah, sure they're all gone now, and you and I will join them one day, but the here and now is all we've got.

Happy to say I looked like I needed a haircut the other day. It’s growing back. Couple tests on Hospital Hill this week, but the chemo treatments look like they did the trick.

Haircut And also happy to say that Jessica Sidway introduced herself the other day down at Speeder & Earl’s and suggested she’d be the perfect one to do it.

The full treatment including a shampooing. Haven’t had one of these in.....ages?

Gentlemen’s Top Option. Down on the Burlington Waterfront. Upscale price-wise, but worth it.

Life’s short, eh?

And Jessica was great company.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bernie & Tony

Antoniopomerleau_2 On Friday, Tony da' Pom, sorry, Antonio Pomerleau, celebrated his 90th birthday.

What a guy!

"So you gotta, you gotta take a gamble," he told Channel 3. "You gotta have a vision. You gotta look ahead. Yesterday's gone by. Today's gone by. So you gotta think of tomorrow."

Tony's a rags-to-riches story. Landed in Burlap in 1939, gifted in the ancient art of buying-and-selling. Real estate was his shtick.

Was running the city police commission when Bernie Sanders pulled off that historic, miracle mayoral victory in 1981.

"I owe my victory as mayor to Tony Pomerleau," Bernie told me the other day, "because we campaigned against his disastrous waterfront development!"

Every vote counted and Bernie won by just 10.

"But the truth is," said former mayor, now U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, "as soon as I won, uniquely from the opposition, Tony Pomerleau called me up, came to city hall and said, 'How do we work together?'

"And the truth is," said Sanders, "we worked to make major reforms to the police department, significant reforms."

No lie.

"Tony helped me on a number of key economic issues. We killed a trash-burning plant that would have been a disaster. I appointed Tony to be head of a committee to look into that and he did a very good job on that."

Yes, indeed.

Some may forget that back in those days - the early 1980s - the wall between Mayor Bernie Sanders and the Democratic/Republican establishment in the Queen City of Burlington was both tall and thick, at times resembling an Iron Curtain. And the fact Police Commission Chairman Pomerleau spoke with and worked with Mayor Sanders cost him.

Bernie_nov_1 "The Democrats and Republicans who had voted year-after-year for Tony to be a police commisioner abandoned him ‘cause he was working with my administration," said Ol' Bernardo.  "What is not well remembered is that Tony Pomerleau won reelection as a police commisioner with the support of all the Progressives. He got his position because of Progressives!

"Here’s a guy who was in his seventies. Worked with Democrats and Republicans his whole life, and yet he thought that it was more important to do what he believed to be right and stand up to people who had been his political friends and allies. That takes a lot of guts!"

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Supreme Liar

Clarence_thomas_official U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas' autobiography goes on sale Monday morning October 1. Thomas, a staunch conservative, received a $1.5 million advance. Good for him.

Yet, word is that Ol' Clarence, the second black to serve on the High Court, is a very bitter associate justice and, it appears from the early reviews, a very bitter man.

National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg put it well on All Things Considered on Saturday. Nina had spoken with several people who helped him get confirmed 16 years ago,  "allies who simply don’t understand it because it reopens a wound that’s 16 years old, [a wound] that most people have moved on from, and it draws the Supreme Court into a place where it doesn’t want to be which is into politics.”

Totenberg described My Grandfather's Son as "intensely personal - far more personal that any memoir I have ever read. And it’s language is so vivid that it’s almost uncomfortable at moments to read."

Wrote Clarence:

"What gave these rich white men the right to question my commitment to racial justice? Was there no limit to their shamelessness?"

Which senators was he talking about?

Many, said Nina, among them Sen. Judiciary Committee Chairman at-the-time Joe Biden who he calls  "a hypocrite."

And Patrick Leahy of Vermont who dared questioned him on abortion rights and the law. "[Leahy's] bullying was something I just didn't give into," writes Justice Thomas.

Leahy's "bullying?"

St. Patrick's been called a whole of of names, but I wasn't aware "bully" was on the list.

Reached by NPR's Totenberg at his Middlesex, Vermont home on Saturday, Vermont's senior senator had this to say:

Patrick_leahy "Well, it’s an interesting reaction he had. I simply asked a routine question about whether he ever discussed Roe v. Wade.

"He surprised everybody, Republicans and Democrats on the committee by saying he had never discussed
Roe v. Wade or the hearing, even though the decision came down while he was in law school.

"I don’t know any senator who believed that answer, either Republicans or Democrats. Most people were kind of scratching their heads wondering why he wouldn’t tell the truth about something like that."

Here's a taste of the Leahy-Thomas exchange during Thomas' confirmation hearing on September 11, 1991 - long time ago, eh?:

SENATOR LEAHY: You were in law school at the time Roe v. Wade was decided. Was it discussed while you were there?

THOMAS: The case that I remember being discussed most during law school was Griswold. But I did not spend a lot of time debating all the current cases.

LEAHY: I am sure you are not suggesting that there wasn’t any discussion at any time of Roe v. Wade?

THOMAS: Senator, I cannot remember personally engaging in those discussions.

LEAHY: Have you ever had discussion of Roe v. Wade in the 17 years it has been there?

THOMAS: Only in the most general sense that other individuals express concerns, and you listen and you try to be thoughtful. If you are asking me whether or not I have ever debated the contents of it, that answer to that is no, Senator.

LEAHY: Have you ever stated whether you felt that it was properly decided or not?

THOMAS: I don’t recollect commenting one way or the other. There were, again, debates about it in various places, but I generally did not participate.

Source: Senate Confirmation Hearings September 11, 1991

Monday, September 17, 2007

Time Flies!

Was yesterday gorgeous or what?

Followed an impulse and jumped in the jalopy bright and early for a drive out of town. Out to Hinesburg and all the way to Bristol. Back in the early 1980s, when gasoline was "cheap," that was my getaway. It was also my route for distributing that "alternative" weekly: the Vermont Vanguard.

Burlington was but a dusty, crumbling old "city," and it took just a minute or two to get out in the "country." All those upscale housing developments along Spear and Dorset Streets had not yet been built.

Bristol_bikers Half the shops in Bristol were empty back then. It had a definitive "tiny town that time forgot" feel to it.

Not anymore. Like Burlap, Bristol's all spruced up - no empty storefronts - and there's even a fine coffee shop - the Bristol Bakery & Cafe - that gives Burlington's gourmet coffee shops a run for the caffeine and pastry.

Was on a window stool in the sunlight  when when the bikers showed up shortly after 9 o'clock.  A couple dozen or more had pedaled out from South Burlington - about 34 miles [State Rep. Michele Kupersmith and Deputy State Auditor George Thabault among them]. 

And they were pedaling back, too!

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