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Three quarter million dollar man

Governor Douglas announced that he has raised nearly $750,000 for his campaign for governor. Is there any surprise that he vetoed Campaign Finance Reform bills twice since his last election? Clearly the last two years have been very good to him. At least one Vermonter is not concerned about affordability. Is that enough money though to convince the rest of us that we are better off than when he took office? That is a tall order. We have questioned here the high numbers of communication staff throughout the administration who seem to act as de facto campaign communication staff. But to be fair, they have a very tough job ahead of them. It will take more than $750,000 of radio and TV ads, and taxpayer-funded press releases from a dozen different departments to convince many of us that we can survive another two years of Jim=Job Loss.

Running On The Issues

I couldn't agree more with Martha Abbott's blog entry of July 22, "Reaching Across the Partisan Divide". I see Pollina's decision to run as an Independent to be a great opportunity for him to run purely on the issues that are so important to Vermonters, including well-paying jobs and health care for our citizens. Looking at the example of Bernie Sanders, it seems that voters are able to see a candidate more clearly when party labels are removed. To defeat Douglas, a candidate will have to appeal to a coalition of voters that cross party lines, young people who haven’t voted before and many of the Vermonters who consider themselves independent voters anyway. I look forward to working for and supporting Anthony’s Independent campaign and I expect that fellow Progressives will be joining me “in the trenches.” We know from experience that we can count on Pollina to stand firm on the issues and that’s what matters most.

Sales Tax Holiday Hoopla

Ever since the sales tax holiday weekend in mid July I have seen letters to the editor stating that anyone who was against the holiday is clearly an idiot. That it is totally clear from the results that if we had lower taxes then we would all be better off. The one weekend proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Now I agree, as do many Progressives, that the sales tax is a terrible method of taxation. Lower and middle income people pay a significantly higher percentage of their income in sales taxes than do the wealthy. Sales taxes are regressive and should be changed/lowered/eliminated. However the rest of the conclusions and the facts leading up to them are truly shallow at best. The biggest cheerleader in all of this, of course, is the Republican Party. But again, they use shallow facts to make their point. Does anyone really think that if we eliminated the sales tax that shopping numbers would continue in the way that they did for that one weekend? I think most people realize that anyone paying attention (and many did) waited to buy big ticket items until that weekend. Sales for 2-3 months prior to the weekend were probably slightly off (no way to know how much) as people saved up for that new TV, fridge, etc. etc. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how sales go for the next few months as people also shopped ahead using ever more credit.

Party's Over

Every few years the media and political pundits write nice obituaries about the VPP. It's easy enough to understand, we are not like other third parties around the country because there really aren't any. For one, we elect people and have consistently elected folks. For another, albeit too slow, we continue to grow. We grow because we find good people to run for office. Take Mollie Burke in Brattleboro as an example. Last fall she announced she was running for the seat left open by Daryl Pillsbury. My friends in the democratic party were all up in arms about how early her announcement was. About how positively indecent it was to engage in political jockeying a year before the race. Un-phased by their complaining I would push further and it turns out their real beef was that Mollie makes an outstanding candidate. Which explains how she is running for an open seat, unopposed. The last obit I remember was around the 2006 mayoral race in Burlington. Everyone and their brother lined up behind Democrat Hinda Miller, and fair enough. Hinda is a successful business women, she is well connected and at that time had money in the bank and staff on the ground starting in September. Nobody thought the January entrance of Rep. Bob Kiss would cause much of a stir. Before that, there was the Clavelle defection. This prompted a good-bye piece from the Rutland Herald that proved...um, totally wrong. Yes Clavelle ran for governor as an Democrat. And yes, he did miserably. But that year we doubled our seats in the VT House and grew to include four new counties. So before you go getting too discouraged about our little political experiment. And before you conclude the Pollina switch means the end, take a deep breath and remember what we stand for. The media and punditry class represents many of the same powers that the Progressive Party opposes. They would like nothing better than to have us evaporate. Think about Yankee's relicensing. Consider Catamount vs. real health care reform. Remember the struggle for livable wages and home-heating fuel. All of these discussions would be easier without the Vermont Progressive Party. Easier to gloss over. Easier to sweep under the rug without much excitement. Don't throw in the towel just yet. We've got work to do and campaigns to win. Besides, what do pundits know anyway? They're still prepping for Hillary v. Giuliani.

Benefits of Incumbency

Major party petitions were filed Monday for all state-wide and Statehouse offices. All seven statewide incumbents are running again. Of 180 Statehouse elections, 162 incumbents are running again. Potentially very little turnover in our citizen legislature. 52 incumbents are running unopposed, at least until the independent filing deadline. We expect that one of our Progressive incumbents will be unopposed in the fall. It looks like 13 Republicans and 36 Democrats will get a free pass. Is that an indication that we all think we are better off than we were two years ago? That we should just stay the course?

System Failures and Reporting Misrepresentations

We are having all manner of excitement down here in Southeastern Vermont with cooling tower collapses, leaks and power outages at ENVY (Entergy Vermont Yankee) or, more properly, ENLY (Entergy Louisiana Yankee)  Enough angst has been generated by systems failures and reporting misrepresentations that ENVY’s support group members have taken to uncharacteristic open grousing. Governor Douglas utility lap dog, Public Service Commissioner David O’Brien, has been yapping in public and , possibly jeopardizing his career prospects in the nuclear industry. And the lap dog’s lap dog, DPS Director of Consumer Affairs Stephen Wark, has been directed to publicly whine that envy might not be entirely forthcoming in their propaganda,  . However he and his boss and his boss’s boss don’t feel that this justifies letting our elected representative’s designees participate in the inspection process . Even the national nuclear power cheerleading society, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, has made some public noise.  More noise here. Are we witnessing public servants doing their job? It’s a nice thought but I don’t think so. This smacks more of corporate shills trying to cover their butts. When ENVY goes ass over teakettle and the parent corporation declares this branch bankrupt leaving Vermont taxpayers with the bills while Windham County survivors limp away to start over somewhere, these pismires want to be able to claim they tried to do their jobs and protect the public. Meanwhile, for our upcoming election, Brattleboro Progressive Sarah Edwards is again unopposed for Windham 3-3. Newcomer Progressive Mollie Burke is unopposed out-of-the-gate for Windham 3-2. And the liberal Democrat in Windham 3-1 is unopposed. In fact, in all of Windham County there are only 3 Republicans running and most all of the Democrats are considered liberal to progressive. How embarrassing that one of the most progressive parts of the state is obliged to host one of the most regressive corporations in the state.
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