Daily Archives: September 15, 2015

The Augean Stable of state government

The Agency of Human Services comes in for a lot of green-eyeshade scrutiny when budget time rolls around. With good reason; thanks to outmoded software and management, I’m sure AHS could do a better job than it does. And thanks to our jobless, middle-class-killing “recovery”, it’s coping with ever-increasing demand.

Mr. Hoffer detects an unpleasant odor. (Not exactly as illustrated.)

Mr. Hoffer detects an unpleasant odor. (Not exactly as illustrated.)

But pound-for-pound, I doubt that any part of state government can top the Agency of Commerce and Community Development for waste, futility, and inside deals.

In the latter category, we had the backroom agreement last spring that landed Lake Champlain Region Chamber of Commerce a $100,000 no-bid grant for developing business with Quebec. And now, in the second category, we have a rather devastating memo about the inadequate structure of the Vermont Training Program, which provides grants to businesses for employee training.

In his memo*, Auditor Doug Hoffer is far too politic to use the most appropriate term — “clusterf*ck.” But that’s the message. As I was reading the memo, my thought was, “Maybe we should just burn down the whole place and start from scratch.” His bullet-point highlights:

*As of this writing, not available online. But check the Auditor’s website; it should be posted soon.

— The VTP has no effective internal controls to ensure that applicants meet the various eligibility requirements or that grant funds are only used for supplemental, rather than replacement, training.

— The wage increases reported for trainees may not accurately reflect changes in hourly wages and may reflect other factors not related to VTP training.

— A substantial portion of VTP’s total resources are directed to a few large corporations year after year.

Yeesh.

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Two Eminently Refusable Invitations from the VTGOP Social Calendar

Oh, those Republicans. They know how to liven things up, don’t they?

Don’t they?

Maybe they don’t.

Exhibit A: An unfortunate scheduling mishap by that Master of Mishaps, Scott Milne.

Exhibit B: A “gala dinner” that promises to thoroughly underwhelm.

MeetScottMilneFirst, off, you’ve got a chance to meet 2014 gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne on Wednesday evening. Oh, pardon me, I should say Meet with SCOTT MILNE!

Which is perfectly fine, except for what else is going on Wednesday evening that might just be of greater interest to Republicans: the second Republican Presidential debate. The first one attracted some 25 million viewers; the second is likely to blow Meet with SCOTT MILNE! out of the water.

(BTW, the Vermont Young Republicans are hosting a “Debate Watch Party” at Halvorson’s Cafe in Burlington. If you’re thinking about attending, you might want to grab a bite beforehand; the eatery’s Yelp reviews are kind of dispiriting. Lots of one- and two-star reviews, with its overall rating buoyed up to three stars thanks to a handful of suspiciously enthusiastic five-star reviews.)

For our second entry, we head down I-89 to the Upper Valley, where the Windsor County Republicans will hold a “friend-raiser” on October 3 in Norwich. “Friend-raiser” not “fundraiser” because, ha ha, they want to bring in new recruits for assimilation. They will, of course, accept donations, and entry will cost you 25 bucks.

The second-saddest thing about this announcement is the fact that John MacGovern is chair of the Windsor County Republicans. This is the same MacGovern who was a complete flameout when he challenged Bernie Sanders for Senate in 2012, and who represented the party’s conservative wing in the race for party chair in 2014. (He lost to David Sunderland, who is pretty darn conservative but was Phil Scott’s choice for the gig.)

Before that, he’d spent several years heading an “organization” called the Hanover Institute, a nonprofit whose goal was to bring conservative pressure to bear against the alleged liberals who’d taken over Dartmouth College. In fact, the Institute’s sole employee was John MacGovern, and its funds basically paid his salary and expenses while he produced occasional newsletters and swanned about the country kissing conservative alumni ass.

So that’s who you’ve got leading the Republican charge in Windsor County. But the saddest thing is the event itself.

MacGovern says the “friend-raiser” will “celebrate core Republican principles” and will feature a “full-course meal” (whatever that means), cash bar, raffle, and speeches from Republican worthies.

But you’d best read the fine print.

A number of prominent Republican, conservative and libertarian speakers have been invited to attend this event, including Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Bruce Lisman, Ben Carson, and former Vermont Governor Jim Douglas.

Please note the verb “invited.” The only confirmed speaker is Dan Feliciano, the Libertarian candidate who drew a dismal 4% of the vote in the dismal 2014 gubernatorial election. He then became a Republican, and is now considering a second bid for Governor.

Somehow I don’t see the likes of Fiorina, Kasich, Lisman, Carson, and Douglas going out of their way to answer their invitations. But hey, there’ll be a “Soap Box… to all Republican candidates who show up.”

Woof. That promises a long evening of tedium.

But wait, there’s more! After MacGovern’s press release was published on VTDigger, he posted a correction: “there is no cash bar.”

Aaaarrrgh.

With friend-raisers like this, who needs enemies?