Monthly Archives: February 2016

Legalization reconsidered

Constant VPO readers (Hi, Mom!) know that I’ve thought marijuana legalization would fall short of passage. Not that I’m opposed to legalization; I just didn’t think it would happen this year.

Startin’ to change my mind.

There are two factors at play, and neither directly involve the State Senate passing the bill last week.

First, I’ve written that there’s one person who could turn the tide — Governor Shumlin. He supports legalization, but I wondered how actively he would engage on the issue. Well, in the Senate, he was heavily engaged, and probably made the crucial difference. Especially with two of his longtime Senate running buddies, John Campbell and Dick Mazza. Both were opposed to legalization, both are powerful enough to derail any bill they don’t like — and both stepped aside and allowed the process to go forward.

Second, House Speaker Shap Smith has consistently thrown cold water on expectations for the bill. Now, he seems to be opening the door a bit. In an interview with the Vermont Press Bureau, he called the bill “a squeaker,” which is different than calling it a loser. He said “the split that exists in the Senate reflects how people in the House feel.” Well, the Senate just passed the bill.

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Image Recycling: sign of a truly green candidacy

State Sen. David Zuckerman put out a Tweet yesterday touting his yard signs:

Camel’s Hump profile. Clean, direct, classic symbol of Vermont. Not exactly original, though…

Oh, snap!

That Rubio endorsement is looking better and better

Two days after his as-quiet-as-possible endorsement of Marco Rubio, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott finally talked to a reporter about it. And he made it even worse.

He told Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck that he had planned to endorse John Kasich until the Ohio governor signed a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. For the self-described pro-choicer Scott, that was a deal-breaker.

But wait: Rubio is, if anything, more profoundly anti-choice than Kasich. He has voted, numerous times, to defund Planned Parenthood, and opposes abortion rights even in cases of rape or incest. Scott’s weasely response?

Scott acknowledged that Rubio opposes funding Planned Parenthood, but said, “He didn’t sign a bill doing so.”

Oh, what a load of crap.

Which is worse: endorsing an actual Planned Parenthood defunder, or endorsing an anti-Planned Parenthood candidate to, among other things, nominate Supreme Court justices?

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They’ll have to pry my Creemee from my cold dead fingers

Warning! Perimeter alert! Corporate invaders at three o’clock!

Dairy Queen is returning to Vermont.

… “We’d love to see [a franchisee] commit during 2016 and have an opportunity to open the first store in 2016 or early 2017,” [DQ VP Jim] Kerr said. “I think we have a pretty good chance.”

Kerr believes Burlington could support as many as five Dairy Queens, and that there are 15 to 20 potential locations in Vermont as a whole.

“Our goal would be to build throughout Vermont,” Kerr said.

Sigh.

I understand why they think Vermont is a promising market. We do, after all, consume mass quantities of frozen dairylike confections, and Vermont is the only state without an actual, name-brand Dairy Queen.

I don't think this is how they make Dairy Queen, but the recipe is a "trade secret," so I can't say for sure.

I don’t think this is how they make Dairy Queen, but the recipe is a “trade secret,” so I can’t say for sure.

What they can’t see from their Minneapolis headquarters is the fact that our state is chock full of independent joints that sell Creemees, many of substantially better quality than the corporate splooge on offer at DQ. It’s kind of like Mrs. Butterworth trying to open a “Maple” Flavored Syrup factory in Vermont.

Methinks DQ will find Vermont a tough row to hoe. Many of us are strongly attached to one or more of our local outlets. We all have our favorite spots. DQ will have to offer what they call a “unique value proposition” to gain a lasting foothold here.

I wish them luck… although not enough luck that they’d ever put a local vendor out of business.

Phil Scott Leadership Watch: Ducking Rubio (UPDATED)

Update: Most of what I wrote here is incorrect. I’ve been informed that Scott’s radio interview was taped in advance. He was, in fact, presiding over the Senate when the Rubio presser was held. My apologies for jumping to a conclusion. I’m keeping the original post intact because I don’t believe in erasing my mistakes. 

It still doesn’t explain why the Republicans held the presser at a time when Scott wasn’t available, and didn’t mention Scott’s name at all. Scott clearly intended for his endorsement of Marco Rubio to gain as little notice as possible. 

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Earlier today, I wrote about Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s arm’s-length, leave-no-fingerprints endorsement of Marco Rubio. You know, the one where he didn’t show up for a unified Republican press conference, at which nobody mentioned his name. The only indication of his endorsement was on a distributed list. He never even issued a statement about it.

Well, now we know where he was.

Yup. Paul Ralston’s vanity project, The Reluctant Pedant (I may have misremembered the title), airs at 1:00 Thursdays on WDEV. The Republican endorsement presser was at 1:00 Thursday in the Statehouse.

I gave Scott too much credit. I figured he was presiding over the Senate’s debate on marijuana legalization, a big issue on which he could have been called upon to cast a tie-breaking vote. But he was nowhere near the Senate. He was in Waterbury appearing on his “friend’s” radio show.

Now, maybe he considered that an unbreakable appointment. But the Republicans could have easily scheduled the presser for another hour, when he could have been on hand.

Nope, he was ducking. What a leader he is.

Repeating above update: Scott’s radio interview was taped earlier on Thursday. He was, in fact presiding over the Senate. Again, I apologize for my error. 

Profiles In Courage, the Phil Scott Way!

Apparently, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott endorsed Marco Rubio for President yesterday.

I say “apparently” because he didn’t appear at the big endorsement extravaganza put on by top Republicans yesterday at the Statehouse. Nor has he released a statement of any kind.

This is pretty damn shameful. The details from VTDigger:

At a Statehouse news conference, GOP legislators touted what they called Rubio’s values-based campaign. Afterward, Rep. Kurt Wright, R-Burlington, gave VTDigger a list of those backing Rubio, which included Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, 27 representatives and one senator.

Scott was not present or mentioned at the news conference. He could not be reached late Thursday afternoon for comment.

Holy Hiding In A Closet, Batman!

The strategery had an effect — and I have to infer it was the effect Scott wanted: very limited coverage. I assume that the Statehouse media corps were covering the Senate’s debate on marijuana legalization. As far as I can tell, VTDigger was the only media outlet to report on the endorsement.

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Planet Norm’s increasingly erratic orbit

Any time a reporter has a few minutes to spare and wants to buy the Vermont media equivalent of a lottery ticket, all they have to do is give once-and-maybe-future-Senator Norm McAllister a call. If he answers the phone, he’s almost certain to say something dumb or offensive or both.

This week’s winner was Terri Hallenbeck of Seven Days, who wrangled a juicy quote from Good Ol’ Norm, whose internal exile has, unsurprisingly, failed improve his perspective. In fact, he’s showing signs of outright conspiratorialism.

The context: Hallenbeck was previewing this week’s Senate vote on marijuana legalization. At the time, it was looking like a very close thing — maybe one vote either way. Which prompted Hallenbeck to observe that this was “the second of two recent legislative initiatives on which [McAllister] might have swayed the results.” (The other one was the paid sick leave bill.) That is, if he hadn’t been suspended in January because of those pesky sexual assault charges.

Take it away, Norm…

Reached at home in Highgate, McAllister said he would have voted against both measures. “I got an idea that’s probably why some people didn’t want me there.”

Yeah, solid thinking. It wasn’t the multiple felony charges or the pending trial or the embarrassment of having an accused felon in their midst. The Real Truth is that Norm McAllister was simply too dangerous and had to be silenced! 

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