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October 2012

October 29, 2012

Video Dump: New Television Ads From Wilton and McMullen

——— We now interrupt serious news coverage for something completely inconsequential. ———

A new ad released Monday morning by Republican state treasurer candidate Wendy Wilton features a familiar face — and voice.

Former governor Jim Douglas — himself a four-term state treasurer — narrates the ad and appears in it, telling voters that, "Wendy Wilton is a professional, non-political fiscal leader who is looking out for you."

The ad features footage of Wilton strolling with a mother and child and Wilton chattin' with the former governor; it closes with Wilton facing the camera, saying, "I'll provide total transparency for all our state finances online, and I'd appreciate your vote on Nov. 6th."

Douglas did not immediately return a call for comment Monday, but said in a statement released by the Wilton campaign that the Douglas and Wilton families have been friends for years.

Here's the ad:


Continue reading "Video Dump: New Television Ads From Wilton and McMullen" »

The Week Ahead: October 29-November 4, 2012

The Week AheadHere's what's happening in Vermont news and politics this week, the final one before Election Day. Note that schedules are subject to change due to the looming Frankenstorm.

Got a newsworthy event for next week's calendar? Email us by Friday to submit.

Monday, October 29

  • Hurricane Sandy is forecast to slam into Vermont today, packing 50-mph winds and several inches of rain. So before you do anything, take down your political lawn signs!
  • "Charlie, Ernie and Lisa" nab a pair of political guests this morning on WVMT 620 AM. At 8:10 a.m., Democratic Attorney General Bill Sorrell steps up to the mic, and at 8:40 a.m., it's Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock.
  • At noon, Brock is the guest on Vermont Public Radio's "Vermont Edition," and takes your phone calls. Listen live.
  • At 5:25 p.m., the Ward 1 candidates vying to replace Ed Adrian on the Burlington City Council — Democrat Kevin Worden and Progressive Alison Segar — debate live on Channel 17 (CCTV). Stream it live.
  • CANCELLED -- At 7 p.m., the Burlington City Council will take up a resolution by Councilor Vince Brennan (P-Ward 3) to hire an independent investigator (for as much as $10,000!) to review Burlington police conduct during the July 29 protest that ended in cops firing pepper-balls into a crowd of demonstrators.

Rest of the week after the jump...

Continue reading "The Week Ahead: October 29-November 4, 2012" »

October 28, 2012

Declaring State of Emergency, Shumlin Says Sandy to Bring Wind — Not Flooding — to Vermont

DSC04382Gov. Peter Shumlin had a simple message for Vermonters Sunday afternoon: Sandy is serious, but it's not Irene.

Speaking at the Vermont Emergency Operations Center in Waterbury, Shumlin said that, unlike Tropical Storm Irene, which inundated the state with water, the greatest threat Hurricane Sandy poses to Vermont is wind.

"To those victims of Irene who are feeling so much anxiety right now, I want to be a reassuring voice," the governor said. "In Vermont, we do not expect the kind of flooding we saw in Irene. It isn't going to be that kind of weather event."

(Pictured from left to right: Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn, Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont Emergency Management Director Joe Flynn)

Shumlin said that, as a precautionary measure, he has declared a state of emergency in Vermont. Doing so will allow the governor to deploy the Vermont National Guard, if necessary, and could speed federal assistance.

"That does not mean I'm expecting the worst," he cautioned. "What it means is we're preparing for the worst and hoping for the best."

Continue reading "Declaring State of Emergency, Shumlin Says Sandy to Bring Wind — Not Flooding — to Vermont" »

October 26, 2012

Business Leaders Accuse F-35 Opponents of "Fear Mongering," Deliver 10,000 Petitions in Support of Fighter Plane

DSC03597Burlington-area business leaders are stepping up their offensive against opponents of basing F-35s at Burlington International Airport.

At a press conference inside the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, three business and real estate big-wigs accused opponents of the fighter jets of "fear mongering" and spreading "vicious misinformation."

"There is a lot of misinformation out there by people who misunderstand property values and people who really don't want a military presence here," said chamber president Tom Torti (pictured).

Torti, Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation president Frank Cioffi and realtor Ernie Pomerleau also unveiled a new petition in support of basing the warplanes at BTV signed by almost 11,000 Vermonters.

Torti said claims that noise from the F-35s would harm property values were a "red herring." 

"If it has such a dramatic effect on the prices of home values, why are they putting up luxury condominiums under the flight path?" Torti said, referring to a new apartment project that broke ground in Winooski this week. "It's not true. It's a red herring and we have the statistics to prove it. Don't let people buffalo you."

Continue reading "Business Leaders Accuse F-35 Opponents of "Fear Mongering," Deliver 10,000 Petitions in Support of Fighter Plane" »

The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers

Scoreboard.newEach Friday here at Off Message headquarters, we bring you the week's winners and losers in Vermont news and politics. Here they are for the week of Friday, Oct. 26:


The Vermont Municipal Bond Bank — The little-known bonding backwater became the topic of the week after Democratic State Treasurer Beth Pearce turned its internal "watch list" into a campaign hit against her Republican opponent, Rutland City Treasurer Wendy Wilton. Man, I hope I never get on their shit list.

Vince Illuzzi and Doug Hoffer —Weasely Vermont politicians, particularly Democrats, have taken to the line that while they hate on Citizens United, there's nothing they can legally do to stop super PACs from spending on their behalf. But Sen. Vince Illuzzi (R-Franklin), the Republican candidate for state auditor, has proved them wrong: He told the press he wished the conservative Vermonters First wouldn't back his candidacy and, lo and behold, they stopped! His Democratic opponent, Doug Hoffer, also deserves praise for his early and unequivocal denunciation of super PACs. Better than most Dems.

Champlain College — Sure, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters founder Robert Stiller lost a fortune — and his board chairmanship — when the coffee stock tanked last May, but dude still apparently has enough cash to give $10 million of it to Champlain College. How many K-Cups would that buy you?

Circling Wagons — The Democratic political establishment came out in full force this week for Pearce's campaign, after the embattled state treasurer finally started swinging. A gaggle of Democratic senators held a Statehouse press conference Tuesday bashing Wilton. Gov. Peter Shumlin hit Wilton in his own gubernatorial debate, and the gov's secretary of administration, Jeb Spaulding, helped a liberal super PAC put a radio ad on-air backing Pearce. Good timing or too little too late?

Losers after the jump...

Continue reading "The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers" »

Blotto By The Numbers: Just How Outrageous Was The Barstool Blackout Event?

Drunk partyOn Monday, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger publicly lambasted the promoters of last Friday night's Barstool Blackout DJ dance party at Memorial Auditorium for promoting "intoxication and wildness," after 16 local young-uns ended their evening in the emergency room or  detox unit.

According to the mayor, the city dropped the ball by not adequately vetting the promotional material of the 18-and-over rave-like fest. Presumably, someone at the city assumed the "barstool" referred to a breakfast bar, and "blackout" a temporary power outage.

OK, we totally get it that Mayor Buzzkill has to show a zero tolerance for underage binge drinking. But just how out of the ordinary is it for more than a dozen kids to wind up in the drunk tank after a Queen City bash?

Short answer: It depends.

Continue reading "Blotto By The Numbers: Just How Outrageous Was The Barstool Blackout Event?" »

Wilton Suggests Vast Municipal Bond Bank Conspiracy

DSC04381Thursday was a day that ends with 'y' — and you know what that means! Republican state treasurer candidate Wendy Wilton was busy making outrageous claims she couldn't quite prove.

To be fair, the Rutland City treasurer never actually makes accusations. She just suggests things. Like, real nutty things.

The latest? That the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank put the city of Rutland on its internal "watch list" in June to screw with Wilton's campaign for state treasurer.

Quite improbably, the bond bank became a bit of a political football earlier this week when Wilton's opponent, State Treasurer Beth Pearce, noted in a debate on WDEV's The Mark Johnson Show that — unbeknownst to Wilton — Rutland had recently earned a place on the bank's "watch list" due to concerns about its unfunded pension liability. Pearce's fellow Democrat, Gov. Peter Shumlin, followed suit Wednesday when asked at a Burlington Free Press debate about the treasurer's race — bashing Wilton for Rutland's inclusion on the list.

That didn't sit well with the Rutland Republican.

Continue reading "Wilton Suggests Vast Municipal Bond Bank Conspiracy" »

October 25, 2012

Burlington's Neighborhoods, Mapped By You: The Results

Screen shot 2012-10-25 at 7.16.29 PMRemember that crowdsourced neighborhood-mapping project in Burlington you read about back in August? Well, cartographer Bill Morris now has the results. Morris says 104 participants submitted 404 neighborhood "shapes" for the project, a screenshot of which you can see at right. 

Some parts of town, like the centers of downtown and the New North End, were nearly unanimously named as such. Other spots, like the Burlington College area and the Henry Street/Brookes Avenue neighborhood, weren't included in many shapes at all — as such, they're not lumped in with any of the neighborhoods. (Mansfield Avenue? More like No-Man's Land Avenue!)

Head on over to Geosprocket for an interactive version of the map. For more information about the project and modern, high-tech mapmaking in general, read Kathryn Flagg's story about cartography technology in this week's Seven Days, and see Morris speak this Friday at 3 p.m. at the Vermont Tech Jam.

Shumlin Says Super PACs Should Go Away, While His Aides Support Them

Spaulding 1Faced with an influx of conservative super PAC money in Vermont elections, the state's Democratic congnoscenti have been all over the map about how to respond. They say they hate on super PACs, but, well, they wouldn't mind taking a bit of their cash.

Take Gov. Peter Shumlin and his administration. Asked last week about the impact of super PACs on Vermont politics, the governor said, "I really feel strongly that candidates should raise and spend money and advocate for their own candidacy."

Was he disappointed that the liberal super PAC, Priorities PAC, has failed thus far to keep up in fundraising with the conservative super PAC, Vermonters First?

"I'll be honest with you. I wish all the PACs would dry up and go away," he said, speaking after a Winooski press conference. "In an ideal world, that's how we would do democracy in Vermont."

But just days later, Shumlin's own secretary of administration, Jeb Spaulding, was raising money for and recording a radio ad for the liberal super PAC. And according to Spaulding, he got the idea to collaborate with Priorities PAC from Shumlin's own campaign manager, Alex MacLean.

Continue reading "Shumlin Says Super PACs Should Go Away, While His Aides Support Them" »

Morning Read: Vermont an Outlier in Financial Disclosure for Politicians

MorningreadAnne Galloway over took a look at how Vermont stacks up nationally in its political candidate financial disclosure requirements. Let's just say it ain't pretty.

Vermont is one of just three states — the other two are Idaho and Michigan — that don't require statewide candidates to reveal where their money's coming from and how it's invested.

Why should we care? Galloway tells us:

Disclosure laws exist to prevent personal financial interests and potential conflicts of interest from having an impact on the way legislation is shaped and the way government operates.

Because Vermont has no financial disclosure requirements, we don't know the extent of candidates' connections to business interests and whether politicians have used the power of political office for personal gain.

Be sure to check out the story.

And while you're hangin' out at Digger, take a gander at Nat Rudarakanchana's piece looking at ongoing negotiations between the state and Hewlett Packard over the Department of Motor Vehicles' piece-of-crap IT system. Rudarakanchana reports that the state could be looking at a fatty refund check sometime soon.

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