Monthly Archives: July 2016

Methinks The Donald is overcompensating

Recently, I made sport of the graphic-design misadventures of the Lisman and Scott campaigns. Well, maybe it’s a Republican thing, because Donald Trump is putting out some truly awful stuff himself.

The Donald’s banner ads have started following me around the Internet. There are several different ones, all featuring Trump doing his best Mussolini pose (except he’s always wearing that damn baseball cap, which makes him much less dignified than Il Duce) with short, bold messages and some sort of vibrant, thrusting visual. Like so.

Trump thrustYeah, that’s the ticket! Noble visage, call to action, stirring image of American ingenuity at work.

Except, hmm, that’s the space shuttle, right? First flew in 1981, now permanently retired from service? Rendered obsolete by the passage of time and its own imperfections? Occasionally subject to catastrophic failure?

Maybe that’s intentional. You know, “Make America Great Again,” like when we had our own rockets penetrating the atmosphere and delivering payloads into space.

Or, more likely, the graphic designers got an order to come up with a picture of a stiff, hard phallic device thrusting upward with explosive force, scattering its fiery power far and wide on the landscape. Liquid hydrogen pearl necklace, you might say.

Good grief. Instead of remaking himself into a more acceptable figure, he’s just getting stranger and stranger. I hope Vermont Republicans are proud of their standard-bearer.

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“No one will ever trust him again.”

Matt Dunne, pre-Friday:

Dunne says the state can’t meet its 90 percent renewable energy goal by 2050 unless it encourages the development of large-scale wind and solar projects.

Dunne is a proponent of large-scale renewable wind and solar projects.

That’s from VTDigger’s guide to the primary candidates. and it’s completely at odds with the Matt Dunne who came out against ridgeline wind on Friday.

“We must battle climate change and continue down the path to 90% renewable energy by 2015. …But we must do this in a Vermont way.

… “Large-scale ridgeline wind projects should only take place with the approval of the towns where the projects are located.

… “Vermont’s renewable energy future is largely in solar and small-scale hydro.”

In short, Matt Dunne has executed a last-minute flip-flop on one of the key issues in Vermont politics. And that’s why a well-connected liberal insider told me today that “No one will ever trust him again.”

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Matt Dunne just lost my vote

I’ve been thinking about the race for governor since the very beginning. I’ve never felt a sense of clarity because I thought the two frontrunners, Matt Dunne and Sue Minter, were both good candidates. There were good reasons to go either way.

Until now.

Dunne just released a renewable energy siting policy that would make it much harder to expand our renewable capability. It would give veto power over large-scale wind projects to local communities. In all respects, it adopts the rhetoric of the anti-renewable movement.

And, in a turn that may be unprecedented in our politics or anyone else’s, his press release includes a quote from his gubernatorial rival, Peter Galbraith, a persistent opponent of ridgeline wind.

Seriously, has that ever happened before?

(Yes, I know it happened earlier in the cycle when Dunne adopted Galbraith’s stance on corporate contributions. But at the time, Galbraith hadn’t officially entered the race. Now, so close to the primary? That’s a whole different ballgame.)

There’s something fundamentally Nixonian about this. Two candidates ganging up on Sue Minter — who I must now presume is the front-runner, and clearly the biggest threat to Dunne’s election.

It’s also very close to a white flag from Galbraith, a tacit acknowledgment that he’s not going to win.

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Bernie’s hometown bros could use a little help

Fun fact: When you Google “Has Bernie Sanders Endorsed Matt,” it autofills “Has Bernie Sanders Endorsed Mattresses.”

Unfortunately, the search results don’t shed any light on whether Bernie has sold out to Big Serta, or if he prefers the versatility of a Sleep Number. (Heck, for all I know he’s still rockin’ the waterbed.)

I discovered this irrelevant factoid when trying to find out if Bernie has ever endorsed Matt Dunne for governor. The answer, once I undid the autofill, is apparently no. Dunne endorsed Bernie very early in his campaign for governor, and has lashed himself to the rhetorical mast of the S.S. Sanders, but the Junior Senator has not returned the favor.

Dunne did manage to bag Bernie’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, whose endorsement was announced today by the Dunne campaign.

Which begs the question, What About Bernie?

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The VPR Poll: Pants On Fire, and other observations

Rich Clark was worried about inaccurate results. That’s why he didn’t want to survey Vermonters about their preferences in the August primary.

Okay, but when you look at the results of his VPR Poll, you realize that some of those people are lying their asses off. Which kinda makes the whole accuracy concern seem a bit irrelevant.

The biggest whoppers came when respondents were asked how likely they are to vote. 87 percent said they were very or somewhat likely to vote in November. In actual fact, we’ll be lucky to hit 60.

As for the primary, 68 percent claim to be very or somewhat likely to vote. More than half of those people are lying. The biggest primary turnouts in recent years were 23 percent in 2010 and 30 percent in 2000, the year of the Great “Take Back Vermont” freakout.

Which makes me wonder. If that many people are lying about that, why should we believe the rest of their answers?

After the jump: analysis of their possibly truthful answers. 

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Too Many Cooks Equals No Broth

Sorry to do this to you first thing in the morning, but it’s time for a reading and math comprehension test!

Take a look at this table, and see if any numbers jump out at you.

AuditorTable 7.16

The abbreviations in the first column are for three departments in state government: Human Resources, Information & Innovation, and Finance & Management. And the answer, or at least the answer I’m looking for, is on the DHR line.

The Department of Human Resources has 25 supervisors and 82 classified employees. That’s a rather stunning ratio of one supervisor for every 3.28 supervisees.

There is no absolute ideal ratio; it depends on many factors. But rarely, if ever, is 1:3 a reasonable figure.

There may be perfectly good explanations for DHR’s ratio. But to the outside eye, it looks like featherbedding.

This table comes to us courtesy of State Auditor Doug Hoffer. It’s included in his latest performance audit, which exposes a dismaying case of administrative sloppiness in state government. In those three departments, administrators routinely failed to conduct annual performance reviews with their staff.

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The VPR Poll: Point/Counterpoint

Apparently my previous post pricked some delicate sensibilities at VPR’s brand spankin’ new $10,000,000 Palace Of Genteel Broadcasting, because within a few hours this blog had received comments from VPR News Director John Dillon and Director of Digital Services Jonathan Butler, attempting to explain why their Castleton Polling Institute survey didn’t include the question foremost in political junkies’ minds: how are the primaries for governor and lieutenant governor shaping up?

Their explanations were earnest, extensive, and only partly convincing. I’ve still got problems and unanswered questions.

Starting with this. Nowhere in its poll-related online content, as far as I can tell, do they disclose the lack of direct, “who would you vote for?” questions on the key statewide races. Did it not occur to anyone in the P.O.G.B. that listeners might wonder about this singular omission?

Apparently not. Either that, or they were embarrassed about it and were hoping to slip it under the door while nobody was looking.

Well, on to the explanations. Which bore striking similarities, almost as though somebody had a meeting.

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