Daily Archives: September 18, 2014

Who’s writing the headlines @MilneforVT?

News release just landed in my inbox from the Scott Milne campaign:

POVERTY NUMBERS INDICATE A NEED FOR CHANGE

Mm. Mm-hmm-hmm. Mm-hmm-heh-heh-HAHAHAHAHA.

From Clipboard“Poverty,” “Need for Change.” Get it?

I’d say somebody chez Milne has a sly sense of humor, but the truth, I suspect, has more to do with cluelessness.

The rest of the press release is unimaginative bumpf about Governor Shumlin’s reckless spending. Nothing at all about job creation or what Scott Milne plans to do. Just a mindless, poorly aimed attack-by-the-numbers.

With a really stupid headline.

The Burlington Free Press: Your Shameless Hometown Daily

Last week, I called attention to a bit of hypocrisy from Vermont’s Largest Newspaper: Veteran reporter Mike Donoghue Tweeting a complaint that WCAX had poached his story without attribution. Which was a clear example of Pot/Kettle Syndrome, since the Freeploid has a reputation among journalists as a serial story poacher. Like ESPN, the ‘Loid likes to pretend it’s the only news source in its market.

At the time, I pointed out just one recent example of the Freeploid failing to give credit to another outlet, to wit Paul “The Huntsman” Heintz at Seven Days.

Well, they’re at it again.

On September 3, Seven Days published an article about John Barone, superintendent of schools in Milton, receiving his advanced academic degrees from an institution known to be a diploma mill.

And hey, whad’ya know, on today’s Freeploid front page, there’s a story about John Barone, superintendent of schools in Milton, receiving his advanced academic degrees from an institution known to be a diploma mill.

And it gives no credit to Seven Days.

If you think that’s a coincidence, I’ve got a bridge you might be interested in buying.

And the Free Press had the brass-plated balls to COPYRIGHT the story.

I’m sure they have some ass-covering explanation for this, but I ain’t buying.

Burlington Free Press, serial story-poacher.

On hiring a “disgraced journalist”

Remember Scott Milne’s new “flat organization”? The one with no campaign manager? The one that includes his son Keith and a few others?

Well, VPR’s out with a story about one of them.

Scott Fletcher, a former managing editor for the Times Argus. Fletcher was fired in 2002 for a front-page story that didn’t seem to be based in reality.

And after the brouhaha over that one story, serious questions emerged about others penned by Fletcher. He couldn’t, or wouldn’t, provide tangible evidence to support the stories.

So I guess you’re expecting This Partisan Blogger to go all medieval on Fletcher’s ass and the Milne campaign’s.

Nope, got some nuance to peddle.

A disgraced journalist, like any offender, deserves a second chance. Hiring a past offender isn’t, by itself, worthy of criticism. Indeed, it’s often praiseworthy.

There are some issues, however.

First, Fletcher is unrepentant. He insists his stories were true. Which makes me wonder if he’s learned any lessons and if he’s capable of doing the same stuff again.

Which leads to the second: Fletcher’s role in the Milne campaign.

That role, Milne said, is “research and background stuff that he’s doing directly for me.” The candidate said he has no concerns that Fletcher is bringing forth anything but the truth.

Why NOT? Good grief, Fletcher’s current job directly relates to the duties that got him in trouble in the first place. And to judge by his professions of innocence, I’d have a hard time trusting him as a researcher and writer. I’d have no problem hiring him to run my phone banks or buy ad time or drive my freakin’ car — but hiring an unrepentant serial fabricator to do my research? Hell no.

If Scott Milne knew about Fletcher’s past, the hire is yet another example of the candidate’s tone-deafness. If he didn’t know, well, he should have.

The (rotten) apple doesn’t fall far from the (poisoned) tree

Hey, good morning, everybody! What say we get the blood circulating with a brisk round of dumpster diving, led by Your Vermont Republican Party Vice Chair Brady Toensing?

We’re talking about the Jane Sanders brouhaha, which re-entered our attention yesterday with the release of Skip Vallee’s attack ad against Jane and Bernie. Skippy’s ad focuses on Jane Sanders’ severance deal with Burlington College: after her departure as President, she received about $200,000 in salary and benefits. Which The Gas Man characterized as a “golden parachute.”

Well, apparently Mr. Vallee didn’t come up with this idea on his own.

The Sanders Severance (by Robert Ludlum?) was reported by the media at the time of her departure, but it’s come back amidst the ollege’s latest troubles, including the sudden resignation of Sanders’ successor, Christine Plunkett. And, as VTDigger reports:

[Burlington College’s] financial struggles surfaced in the media last month when Brady Toensing, the vice chairman of the Vermont GOP, passed financial audits of the college to local media.

Oh Brady, you little scamp you.

Toensing’s backdoor mudslinging, I hear, included references to Jane Sanders’ “golden parachute.” In sharing the BC audits, he was clearly trying to highlight Sanders’ alleged role in the college’s current difficulties. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the bang he was expecting for his buck:

The severance pay of $200,000 was a year’s worth of earned but unused sabbatical, she said Wednesday. That pay and her title of president emeritus were announced when she resigned, and were covered in media accounts at the time.

Yeah, sorry, Brady. No scandal here.

Okay, this is pretty standard political hardball — conducting opposition research and slipping tidbits to the media in hopes of generating negative press for your opponents. I’ve gotten my share of tips from both sides of the metaphorical aisle; some have panned out, some have not. However, there’s a difference between sliming a politician and going after a spouse.

And it’s worth pointing out that Toensing’s activities are of a piece with his parents’ notorious scandalmongering on the national scale. Mom and Pop — Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova by name — are frequent guests on Fox News, flogging various Obama conspiracy theories. Vic and Joe are D.C. lawyers, and Brady is a partner in their well-connected (in conservative circles) law firm.  (Details in this Golden Oldie post from Green Mountain Daily, which also details Brady’s political relationship with putative good guy Brian Dubie.)

Apparently he learned his stuff rom Mom and Pop. We look forward to more of Mr. Toensing’s political statesmanship. And maybe putative nice guy Phil Scott can explain why he thinks the junior Toensing is a proper representation of Vermont Republican values. Seems like not quite The Vermont Way, eh?

Metapost: Hello, Stranger

This humble politiblog has experienced a record spike in pageviews and unique visitors in the last 48 hours, thanks in large part to my coverage of ex-Governor Jim Douglas’ incendiary comments about his successor Peter Shumlin and state Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson.

For those just joining us, thanks for stopping by. You’re welcome anytime. But perhaps a little background is in order.

This is not a news website. It’s a personal blog with a distinct point of view. I’m a liberal, but not always a conventional one. For instance, I believe that economic development is a good and necessary thing, and we need to implement renewable energy as broadly as possible. On the other hand, I strongly believe that Vermont’s tax system is too gentle with top earners and needs rebalancing.

But the main focus of theVPO isn’t public policy — it’s politics. It’s the process, the punch and counterpunch, the strategy and tactics of earning the public’s support and exercising political power. And often, it’s the foibles, missteps, and overreaches. It’s the hubris, the politicians with a highly developed sense of entitlement.

Those guys drive me nuts. (And they’re pretty much all “guys.”)

It’s also about the media that cover Vermont politics. As a longtime journalist, I’m keenly aware of the profession’s standards and the social obligation it presumes to bear. I criticize the media when they fall short, and give them due credit when they perform well. 

Although I’m a liberal, I’m an equal opportunity critic. Democrat, Republican, Progressive; officeholder, candidate, operative, advocate, or activist. I want my liberal politicians to succeed; whenever they fall short, they’re imperiling the cause, so I hold them to a high standard. I’ve even — clutch pearls — said some unflattering things about St. Patrick Leahy.

All I can offer is the quality of my insights and the entertainment value of my writing. If you like what you read, please come back. And let other people know. If you want to keep informed of new posts, I offer an RSS feed over in the right-hand column. It’s simple, quick, and your email Will Not Be Sold To Nigerian Princes. Or anyone else.

Finally, a note about Comments. I employ Comment Moderation, which means when you write a comment, it goes into limbo until I review it. I’m very generous with approval; I only disapprove spam, personal attacks, and irrelevance. I’m happy to approve comments that disagree with me. I do reserve the right to reply.

That’s it. Again, thanks for stopping by. And don’t be a stranger.

Shorter Feliciano: Money is Bad, when it’s not mine

One of the lesser pieces of flotsam to hit the beach after Governor Shumlin’s first campaign commercial went on the air was a written statement from Libertarian candidate Dan Feliciano. (I guess Scott Milne was too busy doing… something… to issue a stattement, so Feliciano seized the token-response space.)

And here it is, in all its hypocritical glory:

The reality is Governor Shumlin’s failed leadership is what is hurting Vermonters, but Peter Shumlin will reach into his million dollar war chest and run endless ads spinning a false narrative and trying to convince hard working Vermonters that his big Government programs are the solutions to their problems.

Oh, that’s rich. Dan Feliciano thinks that the Governor will use his big honkin’ bankroll to pull the wool over Vermonters’ eyes.

This, from a guy who believes that money is speech, and there should be no limits on campaign contributions. Stop it, Dan: you’re embarrassing yourself and undermining your own principles.

Your own narrative of the political process should lead you to congratulate the Governor for going out, working hard, and convincing people to give money to his campaign. It’s the American Dream, right?

Reminds me of a time a few years back when I was listening to professional Liberty Puppet Rob Roper flappin’ his gums on WDEV Radio. He was complaining about the imbalance in Vermont’s nonprofit community — that those on the left were far stronger and deeper-pocketed than those on the right. The Robster, at the time, was fronting his own struggling nonprofit, so you might say he had a conflict of interest. But I certainly never heard him complain about the vast Koch Brothers nonprofit network. Nor will he complain about the Kochs’ money underwriting his current gig at the Ethan Allen Institute.

But in the case of Vermont nonprofits, as with gubernatorial warchests, the shoe’s on the wrong foot for our doughty, independent Vermont conservatives. To put it another way, it’s not fair when liberals have the money.