Daily Archives: February 13, 2015

No place for gun images in political advertising

Update: A recut version of the ad has been posted on YouTube. See below. 

I am, frankly, amazed that someone as media-experienced as Greg Guma would produce a political ad showing his opponent with a target on his face followed by the sound of a gunshot. That’s just a complete WTF in my book.

Guma posted the ad, which attacks Mayor Miro Weinberger for being too pro-development, on YouTube a few days ago. The “target” is actually the logo of the Target chain, and it’s an unspoken reference to the possibility that a Target department store might become a tenant in the renovated Burlington Town Center mall.

It’d take a singularly savvy viewer to catch that reference. In real time, it’s a target over Weinberger’s face followed by a gunshot.

This is not okay. And Guma should know better.

Apparently he doesn’t. He’s defending the ad as “humorous.” Yeah, ha ha ha, politician, target, gunshot. Fun-nee.

We can’t judge the alleged humorousness because Guma has pulled the ad from YouTube. But he did so, not because it’s tasteless, but because the Weinberger photo was taken by the Burlington Free Press, which jealously guards its copyrights. He told the Free Press that he might repost the ad with a different photo, complete with target and gunshot.

Please don’t.

It may already be too late for this, but what Guma needs to do is issue a profound apology for the ad. And not one of those weaselly “I’m sorry to anyone who was offended…” Just a plain old “I was wrong, I apologize to Mayor Weinberger and the voters of Burlington, and I won’t do it again.”

Also, anyone in the liberal/progressive community who’s supporting Guma for Mayor: please don’t try to make excuses for this. There is no excuse. Remember when Sarah Palin’s PAC produced an ad that put gun sights on a map of the United States, each representing a Democrat she was hoping to defeat? Guma’s ad is the same thing.

Actually, it’s worse. At least Palin’s ad didn’t have any pictures of politicians.

Postscript. It looks like Guma has posted a new version of the ad, minus Weinberger’s photo and the gunshot sound. Still waiting for the apology. Note that this ad was posted today, February 13. 

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I think they call this “inexpedient to legislate”

In the words of Charlie Pierce, Here’s Some Stupid For Lunch. VTDigger: 

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday tabled a bill that would increase the scope of the state’s criminal DNA collection because of a backlog in processing existing samples.

The decision came after Dr. Trisha Conti, director of the Vermont Forensics Laboratory, told lawmakers that the lab has approximately 2,500 samples waiting to be processed and added to the state database.

Yeah, well, hmm. It begs the question, why didn’t anyone check with the Lab before proposing the expansion?

It doesn’t speak well of our government’s internal communication skills, does it?

A law passed in 2008 mandates DNA testing for every convicted felon in Vermont; the proposed bill would have included anyone convicted of a misdemeanor that could have led to jail time. That would have generated several thousand more DNA samples to the workload.

The backlog came about because the state lab has only one analyst doing the work, and she’s been on maternity leave. And if you think that’s funny, get a load of this:

At the time the [2008] law passed, funding was designated for two chemist positions. A chemist already employed by the lab, whose federally funded position was set to expire, filled one position. The other position was not filled.

Hahahaha. So the legislature expanded DNA testing and budgeted money for the necessary staff, and the administration never spent it. Well, two administrations: Douglas and Shumlin. Yeah, funny.

Paco Aumand, deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, added that they’ve had a hard time “finding qualified people to take these scientific jobs at compensation that the state of Vermont is paying.”

So we pass a law to protect ourselves from repeat offenders, and then we don’t come up with the money to actually follow through. Wonderful.

Oh, and in case you even had to ask: Governor Shumlin’s 2016 budget doesn’t include funding for a second lab tech. Of course it doesn’t.