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October 2013

October 23, 2013

Updated: As Lindley Recovers, Two Candidates Challenge Him for Vermont GOP Chairmanship


*** Updated below with news of a second challenger, former Rutland representative David Sunderland, who has drawn the support of Lt. Gov. Phil Scott. ***

A month after Vermont Republican Party chairman Jack Lindley was hospitalized with a serious, unspecified illness, he's well on his way to recovery, according to a close friend and party official. 

"He's doing great. It's just a spectacular recovery. He's not ready to run any under-four-minute miles, but it's really wonderful," says party treasurer Mark Snelling, who visited Lindley (pictured at right) Wednesday at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. "It's just unbelievable."

Lindley's family and party officials have declined to discuss the nature of his illness since he was admitted to DHMC's intensive care unit last month, but Snelling says he expects the chairman to make a full recovery. Lindley's doing so well, Snelling says, he's hoping to attend the Vermont GOP's state convention next month, when he'll be up for reelection.

"I know he hasn't decided whether he's going to run for chair or not, but I know he's considering running," Snelling says. "He's having talks with his family. The recovery is occurring at a rate faster than anyone would've expected."

Prior to Lindley's illness, several party members were considering challenging him, though most have stayed quiet as the incumbent has recovered. One, however, announced Wednesday that he plans to run for the post at the party's November 9 meeting.

Windsor Republican John MacGovern, who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last year, emailed friends and supporters to say he would seek the party chairmanship because, he wrote, "We need a new approach."

Continue reading "Updated: As Lindley Recovers, Two Candidates Challenge Him for Vermont GOP Chairmanship" »

This Week's Issue: Front Porch Forum's Banhammer; Bernie for Prez 2016?


This week's issue of Seven Days gets into the Halloween spirit, so grab a growler of Donovan's Red and sit down with these news and politics stories:

Get this week's issue on newsstands — that creepy zombie gas-mask thing is hard to miss — at, or on the iOS app.

Abbott to Step Down as Prog Party Chair; Mulvaney-Stanak Seeking to Replace Her

Martha AbbottAfter a dozen years at the helm of the Vermont Progressive Party, chairwoman Martha Abbott (pictured at right) says she's stepping down to pave the way for younger leaders.

"Twelve years is plenty long enough," the Underhill resident says. "Fortunately we have some wonderful young people who've gotten involved in the party, have a lot of ideas and have a lot of abilities — and we're very excited about that."

One of them is former Burlington city councilor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, who plans to run for Abbott's position at the party's state convention on November 9. A labor organizer for the Vermont-National Education Association, Mulvaney-Stanak left the council in April 2012 when she moved to Winooski. 

"When I was thinking about what my next move was in politics, this seemed to be a good fit," she says. 

Continue reading "Abbott to Step Down as Prog Party Chair; Mulvaney-Stanak Seeking to Replace Her" »

October 22, 2013

Former Pentagon Jet Designer Warns of Risks of Basing F-35s at Burlington Airport

Pierre SpreyPierre Sprey, a defense analyst and co-designer of some of the military's toughest and most reliable warplanes, was in Burlington Tuesday warning of the potential dangers of basing the F-35 attack jets at Burlington International Airport.

Sprey charged that it would be both "dangerous" and "irresponsible" for the Air Force to base these new and sophisticated jets in a highly populated area such as South Burlington before they've logged enough flight time to work out all the bugs.

Sprey further warned that an F-35 crash in or around Chittenden County would produce dangerous levels of highly toxic gases and fibers, due to the burning of all its plastic components and stealth coating materials. He suggested that such a crash would be "a catastrophe of major proportions" that could "potentially blanket blocks and blocks" of residential neighborhoods in deadly gases for days, likening the effects to a "chemical warfare attack" in Syria.

Sprey also challenged claims by the Vermont Air National Guard that they'd be adequately prepared to deal with such an accident, noting that the video of a catastrophic crash and explosion of a B-2 bomber in 2008 "scared the pee out of every fire chief who looked at it." 

The 76-year-old Sprey speaks from experience. In 1967 he was brought to work at the Pentagon by then-defense secretary Robert McNamara. While there, he helped design the F-16 fighter jet, the A-10 "Warthog" ground attack jet, as well as tanks and anti-tank weapons. He left the Pentagon in 1971 but remained an active consultant on military systems through the late 1970s and has served as a defense analyst ever since.

On Tuesday, Sprey offered a room full of mostly F-35 opponents a blunt assessment of the new jet — and the politics of the generals pushing its development.

When compared to the F-16, Sprey described the F-35 as slower, less maneuverable and more difficult to fly due to its "frightening" cockpit visibility for pilots. Sprey also challenged the plane's ultimate usefulness to national defense, charging that its long-delayed development — now the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history — is driven more by political reasons than by military ones.

"The truth of the matter is, the engineering in the F-35 is appalling," Sprey said, adding that the attack jet's "main mission is to send money to Lockheed [Martin]." 

Sprey's final conclusion of the F-35s' usefulness: "This is no way to defend a country."

Continue reading "Former Pentagon Jet Designer Warns of Risks of Basing F-35s at Burlington Airport" »

Burlington City Council Passes Three of Four Gun Control Measures

Photo (2)The Burlington City Council covered a lot of ground in its meeting last night. It passed a second round of amendments to the city’s livable wage ordinance, approved a purchase power agreement related to the possible installation of solar panels off Sunset Cliff Road, and heard from members of the public once again about the basing of F-35s in Vermont.

But the items that generated the most public interest throughout the evening were four resolutions related to gun control, which had been proposed by the council’s charter-change committee and that came to vote by night’s end. The council passed three of the four.

The three successful resolutions will ban firearms in any business with a liquor license; require gun owners to store their weapons in locked containers; and allow police to seize firearms when domestic abuse is suspected. But by a 10-4 vote, the council struck down a measure that would have required individuals concealing firearms to carry a permit.

Continue reading "Burlington City Council Passes Three of Four Gun Control Measures" »

Media Note: Hoffer Hires VTDigger Reporter

Andrew-Stein_03Citing a desire to increase his office's investigative capacity, State Auditor Doug Hoffer said Monday he's hired VTDigger reporter Andrew Stein to serve as his executive assistant.

"I want more subjects covered," Hoffer said. "I want more product."

Stein, an alumnus of the Addison County Independent, has covered health care and energy for VTDigger since September 2012. He said he plans to leave the online news outlet in a month and join Hoffer's office November 25. 

"I was not actively seeking this position, but when the auditor approached me about the position he was essentially offering me a stethoscope to examine state government," Stein said. "This will give me the opportunity to better understand the issues that I investigate regularly and to investigate them in a much more thorough and meaningful way than I have time to."

Continue reading "Media Note: Hoffer Hires VTDigger Reporter" »

October 18, 2013

The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers

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

Apple bobbers, advertising firms, broadcasters, flag yankers, lobbyists, plane lovers and a couple of Marks.

Here's the Scoreboard for the week of Friday, October 18:


All of us — Now that the government shutdown is over and the debt ceiling has been raised, we can all move on and be bored to tears by Congress' next malfunction.

GMMB — The D.C. ad firm won big with its $2.8 million contract to promote Vermont Health Connect, half a million of which is earmarked for a gold-plated campaign to cozy up to — and monitor the work of — Vermont reporters. Runner-up winner: the Vermont Press Bureau's Peter Hirschfeld, who broke the story and all the reporters named in GMMB's enemies list, er, "media landscape report."

Mark Johnson — Halfway through an hourlong interview with Attorney General Bill Sorrell Thursday morning, the WDEV radio host got the AG to break some serious news: He's running for reelection.

F-35 supporters — In a memo issued Thursday, Burlington city attorney Eileen Blackwood concluded it's "unlikely that there are any grounds on which the City can prohibit or limit the Air Force from basing the F-35 at [Burlington International Airport]..." Will that stop the antis from trying? No.

Vermont broadcasters — Campaign for Vermont founder Bruce Lisman is throwing $60,000 at a trio of new TV ads. But what on earth is he saying?

The Rutland Herald — The paper fought the city of Rutland all the way to the Vermont Supreme Court to get its hands on documents relating to an investigation of police officers downloading pornography on the job. Last Friday, the Herald won. It spent the next few days publishing stories demonstrating precisely why the public has a right to know what its public servants are doing on the job.

Next-gen lobbyists — Now that KSE Partners' Kevin Ellis is leaving the Montpelier lobbying firm that bears his name, it's promoting three employees to partner: Statehouse lobbyists Todd Bailey and Nick Sherman, as well as D.C.-based Leif Johnson.

Citizenry — Sen. Patrick Leahy won not one but two "Citizen of the Year" awards this week — from the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and the Vermont Medical Society. Come on, St. Patrick! Couldn't nail the hat trick?

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

Morning Read: Playboy Interviews Bernie Sanders

MorningreadWe apologize in advance for using the words "Bernie Sanders" and "Playboy" in the same sentence, but here goes:

Sanders, Vermont's independent U.S. senator, is the subject of the storied Playboy interview in this month's issue. Not that we subscribe or anything. We just heard about it from a friend.

Interviewing Sanders for the men's mag was writer and activist Jonathan Tasini, who previously interviewed Paul Krugman for Playboy. His history as a gadfly political candidate in New York is reminiscent of Sanders' own early electoral outings. Tasini challenged and lost to then-senator Hillary Clinton in 2006 and scandal-plagued Congressman Charles Rangel in 2010.

Playboy.bunnyWhile Tasini doesn't break a lot of new ground in the interview, he does elicit an interesting response when he asks Sanders about a potential 2016 presidential candidacy. Sanders demurs at first, saying that "to run a serious campaign, you need to raise hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars."

Nevertheless, the Vermonter says, Americans "are hungering for a voice out there," and "it would be tempting to try to raise issues and demand discussion on issues that are not being talked about..."

Continue reading "Morning Read: Playboy Interviews Bernie Sanders" »

Donkey Dean Stars in "Truly Bizarre" Video by Former Senate Candidate

DonkeyDeanThought you'd been subjected to every lame Howard Dean scream joke imaginable?

You thought wrong. Allow us to subject you to one more.

Nevada politician Sharron Angle, who unsuccessfully challenged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in 2010, has produced what Politico's Emily Schultheis is calling "a truly bizarre video" featuring Dean's hair-raising shout.

We agree with her assessment.

Schultheis reports:

The one-minute YouTube video, which evokes echoes of Carly Fiorina’s 2010 “Demon Sheep ad,” intersperses video clips of Democrats talking about major issues with short clips of donkeys doing the “Dean Scream” — the WWE-style yell that helped tank former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential bid.

Angle's super PAC, OurVoicePAC, posted the video to YouTube in March, Schultheis reports, but the ex-candidate is only now starting to promote it. And there's really nothing more to say about it than this: It's totally weird and you should watch it.

Continue reading "Donkey Dean Stars in "Truly Bizarre" Video by Former Senate Candidate" »

October 17, 2013

Sorrell to Seek Reelection as Attorney General

Sorrell announce

Updated at 6:14 p.m. with more comment from Sorrell.

Vermont's Democratic attorney general, Bill Sorrell, said Thursday he plans to run for a ninth full term as the state's top prosecutor next November.

In an appearance on WDEV's "The Mark Johnson Show," Sorrell first said he was "intending to run" for reelection. When pressed further, he said, "I'm going to run."

Sorrell's intentions have been a topic of great speculation since he narrowly survived a primary election challenge in August 2012. The AG, who was first appointed to the post in 1997, defeated Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan by just 714 votes. Sorrell went on to easily defeat Republican businessman Jack McMullen and Progressive activist Ed Stanak.

Continue reading "Sorrell to Seek Reelection as Attorney General" »

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