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Seven Days Blogs: Freyne Land

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Bernie Tips France!

Bernie Vermont's Independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has declined to endorse a presidential candidate...until now.

Ol' Bernardo finally let his ol' cat out of the bag this week - to the people of France, well, actually to the readers of Le Monde .

Sen. Barack Obama is his candidate.

Le Monde Capitol Hill writer Corine Lesnes ends her piece on Vermont's one-of-a-kind senator with a little insight into things to come down Washington-way in January.

Cheer up, folks. Time to pull together. Brighter days ahead.

Here's a translation of the kicker on Corine's Le Monde piece:

Bush_plate "Bernie" and his group of progressive friends in Congress are already working on a program for first 100 days of 2009: medical coverage for all, reduction in military spending, reform of trade agreements, and the end of the war in Iraq ... "I told Barack Obama not to worry for its first three months, we have already prepared the ground for him", said "Bernie".

Also... I caught this license plate down the block the other day.


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


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Remember me?

Couldn't resist.

Resist taking a stroll downtown to catch Tony the Prog's big speech outside Burlington City Hall.

Are the rumors true?

Will Progressive Party candidate for governor Anthony Pollina announce he has finally seen the light?

A Has an agreement been struck with Vermont Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Gaye Symington based on the reality that knocking out the two leading Republicans in office in Vermont - Gov. Jim "Scissorhands" Douglas and Lite-Gov Doobie-Doo - is what really counts?

Placed two small bets {$1.25 total} with veteran Vermont political insiders: one, a Republican in Montpeculiar, and the other a Democrat currently "inside the beltway."

I bet Pollina realized winning office, even the lite-governor's office, was better than winning no office. That he'd realized he could use the lite-gov's office to promote any damn cause he chose. That at the age of 56, the old hippie had seen the light!

Dream on, Pedro.

I lost.

During the noon-hour on Church Street today, Pollina received the largest Vermont press turnout he's ever gotten and what news did he have to announce?

None whatsoever. He's continuing his gubernatorial campaign.

Funny how politics works, eh?

Jim Douglas and Brian Dubie sure appreciate it, eh?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Last Track

Freynes_last_track_2 As you may have noticed, dear reader, the writing stopped in Freyne Land two weeks ago, both here in cyberspace and over there in the print edition of Seven Days in the "Inside Track."

Here's why.

Been covering the Vermont political/news/media scene since autumn 1979. Way back before Bernie Sanders ever won an election and nobody had heard of Howard Dean M.D. other than his patients.

And for most of that time, I simply could not believe they were actually paying me to have so much fun!

But in the last few years, what had been pure pleasure had turned into work - drudgery, in fact.

Not good.

Depression set in. Cancer followed. And, surprise! surprise! - beating the darn cancer did not change things. The depression, which those who've been there know is utter misery, came back. Why?

Because being "successful" at one's job does not mean being "happy" with one's life.

It has not been easy, mes amis, but the lesson learned in the last month has been positively enlightening.

I deserve to be happy - as do you -  and if that means putting the period down, ending the paragraph on the last "Inside Track" then so be it!

Life is short. As my ol' pal Mike always said, "We're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time." And as I've come to realize, one cannot begin that new chapter of life until one closes the page on the current one. It's a big step to take, a risky one, but until one takes it, the misery reigns supreme.

Health-wise, things haven't been this good in Freyne Land in decades. And the writer within - the non-political columnist - has a whole lot of material that's been waiting much too long to get out.

Stay tuned. We continue our good relationship with Seven Days as contributing editor and blogger and who knows what's next?

The simple fact is that life is good...and getting better.

And I haven't been able to say that in years!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Obama Wins Vermont!

Mayor_kiss The only question is - how large Obama's Vermont win will be?

"I understand the numbers are good here in Ward 5," Burlington, Vermont's Progressive Party Mayor Bob Kiss told yours truly and Reporter Anya Huneke from NECN during lunchtime at Burlington Electric on Pine Street.

"I voted earlier today," said Kiss, "and I did vote for Barack Obama for president."


"I tried to think back to 1968," said Da' Mayor of Burlap. "I voted for Eugene McCarthy over then-president Johnson. McCarthy was an agent of change [and] in some respects, I hope that Barack Obama measures up to that as well."

Actually, Sen. McCarthy lost the Democratic nomination to Hubert Humphrey, who lost the presidential race in November to Republican Richard Nixon.

What would an Obama win mean?

"I think he’s bringing this message of change," said the Ol' Kisser. "Whether he can deliver on that, I think it’s a good message for this state and time."

Deancnn Howard Dean voted in Ward 5 around 8:30 this morning. The press wasn't there. But the chairman of the DNC did appear on CNN via satellite this afternoon from WCAX-TV. Wolf Blitzer asked Dr. Dean if he was getting concerned things were getting “too nasty” between Hillary and Barack?

DEAN: This is a pleasant walk in the park between what’s going to go on between the Democratic nominee and the Republican nominee. The two candidates are very close on the issues They’re incredibly articulate. Both are well-qualified to be president of the United States. The real fight’s going to start when we have the nominee.

Who did Ho-Ho vote for?

DEAN: I didn’t take a presidential ballot. If I’m gonna be neutral, you really have to be neutral all the way. So I voted for the school budget and so forth and so on, but did not take a ballot for the presidency.

Who's gonna win?

DEAN: Let’s see what the voters do. The voters are the key . The voters will make this decision. It will not be made by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and myself. It will be made by the people of America voting in these primaries. We’ve had 20 million people turn out and vote so far. That’s a 50 percent greater turnout than the Republicans. That’s incredible, and apparently it’s a record turnout today. Two million people voted early in Texas. That’s unbelievable!

P.S. Yours truly's taking a week off from the "Inside Track" print edition. Squeezing in a little vacation week. Check back for online updates.

Monday, March 03, 2008

A Bernie Monday

Fqhcsbernie Sen. Bernie Sanders held a presser on health care at his Burlington office Monday morning before flying back to Washington and the budget battles ahead this week.

The folks joining him represented the seven Federally Qualified Health Centers, FQHCs, across Vermont. Five years ago there were just two, and the application process is currently underway for three more. FQHCs provide medical and dental care to Vermonters in need on a sliding scale.

Sanders: "We are making progress in the state of Vermont. In the last five years tens and tens of thousands of Vermonters have access on a sliding-scale basis to high quality healthcare and high-quality dental care, and we are trying to move forward even further. Today we’re looking at Springfield and Windham County. We’re looking at Addison County. Within a couple years we hope to be down in Bennington County.

"We’re gonna continue to fight to increase funding for the FQHCs so that the day will come, not only in Vermont  but all over America when any person regardless of income will be able to walk into a  high-quality community health center  and get the health and dental care, mental-health counseling, low-cost prescription drugs that they need.  That’s the point."

Q. And when do you think that day might be, within 10 years?  20 years?

Sanders: Well, that has something to do with politics and I suspect has something to do with who’s the president....

And yes, Ol' Bernardo said he is voting in the presidential primary. Casting an absentee ballot before flying back to Washington on Monday afternoon. He'll vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary, but declined to say which candidate will get his vote.

Sanders: "I am an Independent. I happen to think that the current administration will go down in history as one of the worst administrations in American history. They’re moving us in the wrong direction in almost every single area of public life. I hope our country will elect Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton as the next president.  As an Independent I’m not going to be involved in the primary, but when the Democrats do select their nominee, I’m going to campaign as hard as I can to elect Obama or Clinton because I think this country must move in a very different direction."

Friday, February 29, 2008

Chelsea Morning

Chelsea_c Remember the Joni Mitchell song?

"Woke up it was a Chelsea morning and the first thing that I heard,
was a song outside my window and the traffic wrote the words...

It was freezing - around zero - on Church Street in downtown Burlington early this morning. At 9:15 AM when it had been broadcast Chelsea Clinton would arrive on Church Street to shake some hands, there were 250 people huddling in the cold hoping to meet and greet the famous daughter of Bill and Hillary.

"We want to see the Clintons, any Clinton we can," said Connie Ramsey of Burlington. "I'm supporting Hillary, but I’ll take either one, her or Barack."

Is it because she’s a woman?

"No," replied Ramsey. "I find that insulting, actually, that people assume if you’re a woman you’ll back the female candidate."

Churchstchelsea Different story for Valerie Parauka from St. Albans.

"I’m voting for Hillary because I want to see a woman in the White House," Parauka told us. "I think she’s capable. I think she’s more capable that Barack. She has the experience and the strength to deal with our country and other countries."

Is her gender a key factor?

"It shouldn’t be a factor, but unfortunately in today’s society, it is a factor," said Valerie, "and people do look at her gender and she has to work twice as hard to overcome that.  I think it’s time for a woman president and I think after Bush’s fiasco, it’s a prime opportunity for her to pop into office."

The crowd has shrunk by the time Chelsea arrived around 10 o'clock. She was escorted by former Gov. Madeleine Kunin and Big Bill's EPA Secretary Carol Browner.

The First Daughter hit Uncommon Grounds for some java. Dropped into Banana Republic, too.

Well, at least she had one parent get elected president of the United States, eh?

For some nice video shot by Ch. 17 Producer Tuija Lindell go here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Let it snow...

Up and at 'em and in 2008 that means up and "online." And the word on WGDR out of Plainfield is here comes da' snow. Yes, indeed. Despite all the global-warming talk, we're about to set the record for snowiest February on record.

Golden_snow Click over to WDEV and catch Eric Michaels getting the Statehouse story out of a sleepy-sounding Kristin Carlson. Kristin's a one-woman capital bureau for Ch. 3 (remember Tim Lewis?) and she was the fill-in anchorwoman on the Six O'Clock last night. Busy gal.

So, let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

The presidential primary heats up in the Green Mountains. Got an automated "Vote for Hillary Clinton" call last night from none other than former Governor/Ambassador Madeleine Kunin. Then I got one from a live person, a male, calling from an Obama for President office on North Street who wanted to urge me to vote for Obama.

Last week, Queen Madeleine and House Speaker Gaye Symington and Rep. Kathy Keenan did a Hillary for President conference call.

This morning the Obama Campaign is hosting a conference-call presser with three women for Barack.

And yes, Progressive Anthony Pollina does exist!

In fact, Tony the Prog's holding a Statehouse presser today at 12:30 in the Cedar Creek Room. This arrived a little after 5 o'clock on Monday. Unfortunately, we can't make it:

Pollina Pollina to hold press conference on Douglas' budget and promises to take the Governor to task for false promises and increasing cost of living for Vermonters, especially low-income families.  "Jim Douglas has built a reputation on keeping taxes low, but his budget increases fees for poor families while giving tax cuts to those on top. Plus, he's decreasing services badly needed by Vermont families," said Pollina.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Who are these guys?

Statehouse_vets Distinguished leaders of the Vermont State Senate, that's who. The Baby Boomer generation in power!

With one distinguished flash from the Statehouse past in the middle of them - the dude in the leather jacket.

Committee rooms and hallways - that's where the action occurs, information's exchanged, deals cut. It's all about communication, eh?

On the left is Sen. Jane Kitchell (D-Caledonia). On the right Sen. John Campbell (D-Windsor). [No relation to the soup.] To Campbell's right, Sen. Susan Bartlett (D-Lamoille). And strolling through the middle of them in bomber jacket and white scarf is a flash from the past: former-State Rep. John Freiden, a co-father of Act 60 [1997] which leveled the education property-tax playing field statewide.

Sen. Bartlett, first elected to the state senate in 1992, is one of the more unheralded, yet powerful political players in Montpeculiar. She's chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Kitchell was elected to the senate in 2004 - the first - no, the second Democrat - ever elected to a Caledonia County state senate seat (Scudder Parker was the first). Born in St. J and raised in Danville,  Sen. Jane has long been a Montpelier fixture for quite some time. She's a retired state worker - former secretary of the Agency of Human Services.

Sen. Campbell, a relative Montpeculiar newcomer compared to those two, didn't make it to Golden Dome Land until the 21st Century. He's the current Democrat Majority Leader. Was thinking about a gubernatorial bid, but that didn't get far.

In fact, the Vermont Democratic Party is still looking for a gubernatorial candidate to challenge Republican Jim Douglas.

Friday, February 22, 2008

And the point is?

Mplrsnow Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington's Friday "brown-bagger" with the Statehouse press is now being dubbed her "weekly press discussion."

I was the only one who ever brought a sandwich in a brown bag - to the first one, a few years back. One cannot, however, take notes with food in between one's paws. Gaye kept calling it a "brown-bagger," but no one ever brought food again. After all, it's her chance to counter the Guv's weekly presser, usually held on Thursdays.

Today's gathering in Speaker Gaye's office (a gathering Ch. 3, Ch. 5 and The Associated Press blew off), started 10 minutes late. In fact, with both Gov. Scissorhands and Lite-Gov Doobie-Doo out of state, Ol' Gaye was acting-governor!

When it was over, we were left wondering why she had bothered to call it in the first place. What was the Democratic Speaker of House's message?

Politics, mes amis, is a battle of messages. He/she who has the winning message ends up in power.

Despite his Republican jersey, Jim Douglas has had the winning message in Montpelier since taking office in 2003.

And despite their currently significantly superior numbers under the Golden Dome, Democrats have still been unable to deliver on the core issues they told Vermont voters were their priorities: major healthcare policy reform, serious climate-change legislation and major campaign-finance reform.

If the Democratic Speaker had a message today that she wanted to get out to the Vermont public through the Statehouse press, quite frankly it escaped us. So as the press ran out of questions and the Speaker ran out of anything she wanted to say,  yours truly tossed up the old softball, asking Madame Speaker if there, in fact,  was a particular message she wanted to get out to Vermont voters through today's press gathering?

Symington replied:

Symington "The message that I began with was we’re beginning to write the budget and our priorities in the budget are not to put additional pressure on property taxes, not to put additional, shifting cost onto healthcare premiums for Vermonters, and to focus on the barriers and challenges that both our employers are facing and that Vermonters are facing in terms of being able to get to work and hold work and, you know, be reliable employees and that’s housing and transportation and child care and that we have tough budget choices ahead of us, but those are our priorities."

Wouldn't you agree that until Vermont Democrats can articulate a "message" more clearly and crisply and concisely, [i.e. get to the point!], Republican Gov. Jim Douglas' hold on power is quite secure?

P.S. Anybody see/hear Tony the Prog this week?

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