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September 20, 2013

The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers

Scoreboard.newWho won and lost the week in Vermont news and politics?

Gun owners, cops, windmills, bridge-crossers, Upper Valley-ites, unions, pot-lovers and more!

Here's the Scoreboard for the week of Friday, Sept. 20:


Updated résumés — It was appointment week in Vermont. Gov. Peter Shumlin named a new Vermont Supreme Court justice, education secretary, Public Service Board member, state rep, chief performance officer, deputy finance and management commish and legislative liasion. Talk about job creation!

Renewable energy — The newest member of Vermont's powerful Public Service Board, soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Margaret Cheney (D-Norwich), established herself during her seven years in the legislature as one of its strongest renewable energy advocates. That bodes poorly for those who oppose ridgeline wind. Runner-up winner: Welch/Shumlin cross-pollination. Cheney also happens to be married to Rep. Peter Welch (though, to be clear, she earned the job in her own right). Shumlin also hired former Welch flack Scott Coriell (disclosure, disclosure) as a new legislative liaison.

Strained analogies — In Shumlin's mind, the fight for legalizing marijuana is a lot like the fights for civil unions and same-sex marriage. Wait, what?!

Lobbyist turnover — Kevin Ellis is leaving KSE Partners, while Tim Meehan's retiring from MMR (KSE's K left a couple years ago). Perhaps the two top lobby shops should bury the hatchet, merge their alphabet soup names and call themselves SMR. Or MRS. Or something.

Labor — Vermont's labor community this week rallied for higher wages at the Vermont State Colleges, against the firings of two St. Mike's custodians and for paid sick days. Are Vermont's unions trying to increase their relevance? 

Hikers — With L.L. Dean (ahem, former governor Howard Dean) and Shumlin in attendance, the Green Mountain Club on Monday broke ground on a new cross-Winooski footbridge that will soon eliminate a major road walk on the Long Trail. Runner-up winners: Everyone in attendance, because we got to tromp around on the LT and call it work.

Seven Days — (Warning: raging self-call) In hiring the Valley News' Jeff Good, Vermont's fave alt-weekly scored a top-notch news boss. Plus, after dropping by the Alchemist Cannery on Wednesday, the Atlantic's James Fallows stopped by Seven Days and had this to say about us.


Tie Score:

Operation Northern Lights — The Vermont State Police rounded up dozens of suspected drug dealers Tuesday, but as the Burlington Free Press' Liz Murray hilariously recounted, the super troopers struggled at times to find their way around Franklin County. Also, is the VSP aware that "northern lights" is a popular strain of bud? Just sayin'...

Upper Valley Democrats — They lost Cheney as an influential House member, but they gained Kathy Hoyt, whose experience in Democratic politics is unmatched. UV Dem insiders also lost their chance to make their own pick to fill Cheney's seat when Shumlin opted to bypass the usual process and preemptively appointed Hoyt.

Gun rights — A new-ish gun control group is plotting its legislative strategy and hiring up experienced lobbyists. But Vermont's top Dems are holding strong to their pro-gun rights positions.



Vermont Health Connect — On Wednesday, a Blue Cross Blue Shield exec told the House Health Care Committee he's not confident his company's systems will interact seamlessly with the state's soon-to-be-unveiled health insurance exchange. Then the Shumlin administration disclosed the exchange won't be able to accept electronic payments until Nov. 1 — a month later than expected. The gov's response to the news? "Nothing-burger." Runner-up loser: the Vermont Health Co-op, which finally bit the dust this week.

Peter Welch — Because the poor guy serves in the U.S. House, which is all kinds of nuts.

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