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November 22, 2013

The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers

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

Keno, Christie, the Champlain Parkway, campaign-finance violators, broadband spinners, Sanders speculators, deer hunting pols and, most of all, legislators.

Here's the Scoreboard for the week of Friday, November 22:


Broadband spinmeisters — Gov. Peter Shumlin sure knows how to make lemonade from lemons. Despite falling 3000 homes short of his campaign pledge to provide every Vermonter with broadband access by the end of 2013, the gov all but declared "mission accomplished" at a "celebration of progress" roundtable on Wednesday. The phrase of choice — uttered by the gov and by Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding — was that the administration had "for all intents and purposes" met its goal.

Sanders speculation — In his Saturday story questioning whether Sen. Bernie Sanders might run for president in 2016, Burlington Free Press reporter Sam Hemingway didn't get much more out of the senator than Playboy did last month. Oddly, Hemingway never directly quoted Sanders expressing interest in a run. But the story sure caught the attention of the D.C. press corps, which took it as a sure sign that Bernie's running. We remain skeptical.

Christie love — Less than two weeks after the Vermont Republican Party announced that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's coming to town, the party sold out all 600 tickets to the eventRunner-up winner: Peter Shumlin, who, as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, will likely get more national press now that his counterpart at the Republican Governors Association is Christie, a media darling and 2016 prospect.

Champlain Parkway — Mayor Miro Weinberger scored a victory this week with the announcement that a longtime critic of the Champlain Parkway had dropped his objections to the project. Forty years after the link between I-89 and downtown Burlington was first proposed, it's one small, but significant, step closer to reality.

Big buck hunter — You can't make this shit up! In the opening hours of opening day, Shumlin bagged himself a 186-pound, six-pointerRunner-up winners: The Vermont press corps, whose members were spared repeated references to the feat, since the gov didn't hold a press conference this week.


Tie Score:

Vermont Health Connect — Department of Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson said Thursday that a new fix to the state's health insurance exchange should make it easier for employers and employees to sign up. So that's good. But those same employers only have until Monday to decide whether to take advantage of a three-month extension offered by the Shumlin administration. Oh, and the site's payment function still doesn't work.

Campaign finance scofflaws — This week, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England became the latest group to get whacked by Attorney General Bill Sorrell for alleged campaign finance violations during the 2010 election. But who cares?! Their candidate — Shumlin — won. For them, that's worth the $30,000 investment, er, settlement.

Sen. Patrick Leahy — The Senate's elder statesman spent years trying to keep junior members of his party from blowing up the filibuster. On Thursday, even he gave in. The upshot for the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman is that his panel will no longer serve as a graveyard for failed judicial nominees.



The legislatureAt a pre-session briefing at the Statehouse on Wednesday, lawmakers got plenty of bad news: from a looming $72 million budget gap and declining federal funding to a shortfall in the teacher retirement fund. Bottom line: The coming legislative session will be a total downer.

Keno — The legislature's Joint Fiscal Committee doesn't seem eager to gamble on Keno, the game of chance the Vermont Lottery Commission is considering for Vermont bars and restaurants. Will it go the way of former governor Jim Douglas' lotto privatization scheme?

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