Daily Archives: April 22, 2016

Vermont, wellspring of twee liberalism

Disclaimers first. Ben Hewitt is a terrific writer who’s accomplished more at a young age than I ever will. His book about the food scene in Hardwick is marvelous. He’s also got to be a better farmer than I, because our garden is friendly only to the hardiest of plants. (Garlic, green beans, potatoes, and tomatillos. Boy oh boy, do we get tomatillos.)

But I have to take issue with a commentary he wrote for VTDigger, entitled “The Northeast Kingdom’s True Prosperity.” It’s the kind of thing that makes millions of working-class Americans vote Republican.

Hewitt argues that the collapse of the Stenger venture is actually a good thing, because if it had been fully built, it would have radically transformed the Northeast Kingdom and its precious essence would have been lost.

The people of the Northeast Kingdom already have everything we need to truly prosper, and not merely in a material way. Indeed, with its abundance of unspoiled natural places, and its population of people who understand that a vital connection to the land and to one another is a type of affluence no silk-tongued developer can ever match, the Kingdom is already a region of true prosperity.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but holy f*cking crap.

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Serenade for Tiny Violins

MouseTinyViolinPoor, poor Ariel Quiros. The alleged fraudster has had his assets frozen by the big bad federal government, to the point where he can’t “feed his family” or “purchase… a cup of coffee, let alone defend against the SEC’s allegations.”

So says Quiros attorney Charles Litchman, who is asking for the freeze to be lifted.

The people of the Northeast Kingdom weep for him.

But Vermonters are a resourceful breed. Maybe we can suggest some ways Ariel could generate a little cash, even as his millions remain sequestered.

For starters, perhaps he could sublet that $2.2 million Trump Tower condo, allegedly paid for with money looted from Quiros’ EB-5 development project.

I’m sure he has other properties that could be rented out or even sold; these guys always own a fistful of homes in the garden spots of the world. I hear he owns a 42-foot oceangoing sailboat; maybe he could hire it out.

I hear tell of a thing called “Groupon.” It’s how the kids are getting all kinds of great deals on the Interwebs. He should check into it.

There’s always the local food pantry. I’m sure they would welcome him with open arms, since a man of his means must have donated liberally to worthy causes in his community. Right?

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Same song, new verse

Here’s a story ripped, as they say, from the headlines.

It’s about a business venture with an ambitious plan to bring new possibilities to an underserved area of Vermont, with large quantities of money obtained through a federal program.

The venture’s head is a prominent, well-connected Vermont businessman. At one point, he hired a top Shumlin administration official to fill a high-profile executive position. The hire raised some concerns about Montpelier’s “revolving door” between public and private sectors. (The hiree was a woman, and is no longer with the company.)

The venture poured lots of outside money into its project. Eventually, people started noticing that the results were far short of what was promised. Inconvenient questions were raised. But through it all, the head of the venture insisted that nothing was wrong. Indeed, he publicly criticized VTDigger for “unfair” reporting.

Okay, I must be talking about Bill Stenger and Jay Peak, right?

Wrong. 

Vermont’s congressional delegation is seeking information from the federal government on the $116 million broadband project that VTel Wireless started in 2010.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., have signed a letter asking whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service has been holding VTel accountable.

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