“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.”

What’s worse, he’s done so roughly two-thirds of the way through the early voting period. VTDigger:

The Secretary of State’s Office expects that around 17 percent of Vermonters who participate in the Aug. 9 primary will have either voted at their town clerk’s office or through the mail.

Let’s do a little math. In 2010, when we had a contested Democratic primary for governor, turnout was 23 percent. This year, both primaries are contested. Is it fair to say that turnout will be 25 percent or more? I think so.

25 percent of Vermont registered voters is 111,000. 17 percent of that is a bit under 19,000.

How many of those people cast their votes before Dunne’s reversal on Friday? Several thousand, shall we say?

How many of those thousands voted for Matt Dunne before his U-turn on renewables? How many of those supported his earlier stance?

I don’t know, but this I can say: he just betrayed every one of those people.

Okay, look. It’s not fair to expect candidates to flash-freeze their agendas once early voting begins. But it is fair to expect consistency unless events dictate otherwise. If, say, an issue suddenly became urgent or its parameters shifted in a significant way. But the renewable siting issue has been set in stone since before Dunne launched his campaign: there are those who want local control and an end to ridgeline wind, and there are those who want the state to use all available means to meet the 90 percent goal by 2050.

That hasn’t changed. What did change is Dunne’s mind, at a suspiciously convenient moment in time. His campaign actively solicited early votes starting on opening day, June 24. He harvested a large number of pro-renewable early votes, and now he’s hoping to galvanize the much smaller but more passionate believers on the other side.

A few words come to mind. Devious. Two-faced. Duplicitous. Deceitful. A few more I find in the thesaurus: calculating, underhanded, double-dealing, insidious, fraudulent, scheming, shady, shifty, sneaky, treacherous.

He’s got Dick Nixon’s hairline. He appears to have Dick Nixon’s ethics as well.

Personally, I think Dunne has sealed his fate in the Democratic primary. But if he does win, I will tell you this: I will not vote for him in November. I won’t vote for Phil Scott either, but I’d rather have an honest Scott than a Democratic Governor I can’t trust.

Postscript. As I said yesterday about Bill McKibben, who still hasn’t commented on Dunne’s flip-flop, I’ll say today about Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Vermont’s ice cream guys support Matt Dunne, but they are also big supporters of wind energy. Do they know that Dunne has double-crossed them? Are they rethinking their endorsement?

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25 thoughts on ““No one will ever trust him again.”

  1. Kelly Cummings

    Wow! Pretty harsh stance you’ve taken here.

    I’m just wondering…..before you solidified your judgement of Matt Dunne did you ask him for a comment or give him a chance to explain his side of things?

    Curious to know, cause that would be the responsible thing to do before making a post like this one.

    Reply
    1. John S. Walters Post author

      The responsibility for this site is entirely my own. I didn’t seek comment from him; I write based on the public record. He made himself quite clear in his official statement, which I reproduced in my previous post.

      But the general sentiment is something I’m getting from quite a few Democrats. If Dunne manages to win the primary, he’s going to be severely handicapped in November because he just burned a whole lot of people.

      Reply
  2. Paul Denton

    I, and many folks from the Northeast Kingdom, have been trying to help Matt understand the economic, environmental and community disaster that is industrial wind for months. He may have lost some people’s vote but his balanced and nuanced approach has gotten mine. Also, he didn’t come out AGAINST industrial wind, he came out for COMMUNITY CONTROL of industrial wind development. So you think he’s wrong to place his faith in the people of Vermont?

    Reply
    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Giving veto power to communities is effectively a stand against wind. He’s not placing his faith in “the people of Vermont,” who support wind and solar by big margins, but in the fears and misconceptions of rabid oppositionalists.

      Reply
      1. Taylor Sawyer-May

        I take offense to your comment. Being from Windham County (home of Vermont Yankee), where I had to take iodine pills growing up — I SHOULD have a say if an energy project which could have potential health impacts on me and my family. Your comment shows a clear misunderstanding that people should have a say on issues that affect your community. Also – if this happened in your backyard — I would guarantee that you would be singing a different tune then you are right now.

        Local control is not a veto on wind. Your comment is clearly lacking in substance and more a knee-jerk reaction to an issue that is very important to people, their home values, and their quality of life. Have a little empathy, man.

        Dunne’s policy is exactly the same as Peter Shumlin’s in 2010 when he ran for Governor. I can post the video if you want me to prove my point. It’s the right policy and the people should have a say in their renewable energy future. He’s also not in favor of banning wind turbine development despite what the wind fanatics say. Dunne favors community involvement in the decision process. When we are talking about blasting into mountain tops, leveling forests, ect — people should have a say if it affects them, their health, and their property values.

        I’ll be voting for Matt Dunne not because of this issue but because he’s more qualified and more pragmatic. I would ask where Sue stands on this issue? Why has she not come up to the NEK to speak about her stance on wind? Just saying…

      2. John S. Walters Post author

        For someone who doesn’t know me, you presume to know a lot about me. I can’t convince you that I’d support a wind farm in my community, but I would. I don’t find them offensive; I take then as a visual reminder that we are moving to a post-fossil fuel economy. I like seeing them.

        The claims of environmental and health effects are vastly overblown. These issues have been studied thoroughly over a 20-year period, and the scientific consensus is that the impacts are minimal.

        And local control may not be a veto, but Dunne’s newly-stated position is in favor of a local veto. Sorry, just the truth.

      3. Sen. Joe Benning

        Sorry John, you can’t have it both ways. If “the people of Vermont support [industrial] wind … by big margins” then you should have absolutely nothing to fear from communities being given the right to say no. Lowell and Sheffield, after all, both said yes so your fear is unfounded. Local control is a fundamental Vermont tradition. Any politician who dismisses that fact, especially while spouting the dubious corporate contention (in the case of industrial wind) that a greater good is being served, does so at their peril.

      4. John S. Walters Post author

        Oh, come on, Joe. You know there’s a difference between statewide support and the sentiments of a community swayed by anti-wind activists. And it’s awfully rich to hear a Republican complain about corporate interests.

      5. Thump McDougal

        Yeah, Joe. You know there’s a difference between supporting wind someplace else and supporting wind in your own back yard.

        Walters supports it in his own back yard, but his back yard is unsuitable. So, he’d like to force you to have wind in your back yard.

        Get it?

  3. Mark Trigo

    And yet Dunne’s profile on the VTDigger primary guide that was posted today states that he is in support of wind. He’s definitely getting plenty of milk from a cow that he just slaughtered.

    Reply
    1. Mark Trigo

      The VPO is respecting the overwhelming scientific consensus. At this point, anti-wind advocates are no better than anti-vaxxers or climate change deniers. There is ample scientific research demonstrating that windmills don’t make people sick. It’s the power of suggestion that is making people sick. When you look at reported illnesses, they all cluster where anti-wind advocates are the most vocal. The more vocal, the more reported illnesses. Where there isn’t opposition, people report being perfectly healthy. The simple reality is that people like Anette Smith are making sick by convincing them that they should be sick. Here in the NEK, it’s been just a couple of families that report being sick. If Anette Smith’s claims are correct, hundreds should have come forward by now.

      And where are all of the dead birds? The number of birds killed by windmills is statistically insignificant. Annette Smith is much more of a threat to birds each time she gets in her car to go protest a wind site.

      Are they an eyesore? Yes. But is science on the anti-wind side? Absolutely not.

      Reply
  4. Jessica, Communications Director, Matt Dunne for Governor

    John – Responding to your post as a comment to be sure you see it and your readers do, as well. Your post is inaccurate on two key points, and we’d like to correct the record. Matt did not come out against ridgeline wind on Friday, and he has not changed his position on this issue. 

    In the press release issued on Friday, Matt makes the case for giving the host community a direct say in the siting process: “While I won’t close the door to new wind projects, large-scale wind projects are not right for all parts of the state. Unless supported by the local community, it is difficult to justify the divisions and controversy they create.” He also restates a commitment to achieving 90% renewables by 2050 and that we should do so in a way that accommodates community concerns, consistent with his position throughout the campaign. 

    In fact, this is consistent with the very VTDigger candidate profile you link to, where Matt is quoted as saying: “There are ways to do it that don’t need to lead to significant levels of anger and consternation, and I believe if communities feel like they have to take on the burden of energy production for everybody else, that’s not a good setup.” 

    Furthermore, in candidate questionnaires he completed for The Campaign for Vermont and The League of Women Voters — both submitted prior to his press release on Friday — Matt responded to siting questions by saying that he strongly believes the interest of the community needs to be taken into account when siting renewable energy projects and will appoint a chair of the PSB who understands the importance of listening to communities. 

    The fact that this question keeps coming up is the very reason he highlighted his policy on Friday. And truly, that’s what campaigns are about: staking out a position and making it clear so voters have the information and can make an informed choice. That’s what Matt has done on this issue throughout the campaign – in forums, including the one he attended in the Northeast Kingdom in June; in person; in interviews and on questionnaires. If that’s considered a flip-flop, then I’m taking my trusty Merriam-Webster back for a full refund.  

    Now, with the record corrected, your readers will be well informed on Matt’s position on siting. You’ve also noted Peter Galbraith’s position on this issue. But I haven’t read anything in this space on Sue Minter’s stance. Given your interest in making sure voters are informed on the candidates’ positions on the issue as they vote over the next ten days, I’m sure your readers would appreciate hearing more about where Ms. Minter stands, as well.  

    Reply
    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Your comments are welcome, but Matt’s new position allows for a local veto of wind farms, which is almost the same as a ban, given the toxic anti-wind discourse happening in many communities.

      And to change his position so close to the election is dirty politics. And a whole lot of Democrats agree with me. Good luck to your candidate; he’s gonna need it.

      Reply
    2. Dave Katz

      “Unless supported by the local community, it is difficult to justify the divisions and controversy they create.” Okay, flak lady. Y’know what? That stinks as bad as the states’ rights crap ginned up by segregationist white supremacists objecting to the Voting Rights Act back in the Sixties. Shame on any allegedly educated politician–who’s not a Republican– like Dunne to not be entirely aware of the historical analogy and not to have assimilated the lesson of said analogy, to wit: It is clearly not the right of a localized minority, in a representative democracy, to thwart the informed will of a majority of citizens seeking to institute for the greatest good of the greatest number, any improvement or change to the shared commonwealth as expressed by survey or legislated approval of said improvement or change. Also, too, that’s why courts are the third branch of government. Stick it, Dunne, ya opportunistic weasel.

      Reply
      1. Paul Denton

        The “informed will of a majority of citizens” is a fraud when it comes to this issue. It’s an invention of the wind developers, VPIRG, etc. Maybe a majority of people of people surveyed like the concept of “renewable energy” but when it actually comes down to a real vote on the subject in an affected community the opposition is overwhelming. And concrete, and real; not a skillfully manipulated survey.

      2. Jill Michaels

        Before you question Matt’s commitment to and knowledge of civil rights you might want to know a bit about his dad, John Dunne. This is excerpted from a Google entry: John Dunne was a key leader in the demonstrations to bring about equal accommodations in Chapel Hill, NC. Dunne became involved with the civil rights movement, helping to establish a UNC chapter of the Student Peace Union. In spring 1963, Dunne traveled to Birmingham, Ala., where he worked briefly as an activist. While in Birmingham, Dunne was arrested and jailed. After his release, Dunne returned to Chapel Hill, but by December 1963, he gave up all pretenses of finishing school and devoted his time to the Freedom Movement. Dunne joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and led protests against local segregated restaurants. Dunne’s involvement with the civil rights movement culminated in a Holy Week fast on the lawn of the Franklin Street post office in 1964. Soon thereafter, Dunne was convicted on charges of trespassing and obstructing traffic from an earlier demonstration. He began serving a two-year sentence, until the summer when he was paroled to Connecticut. He went on the finish his schooling and returned to Vermont to practice law until his death in 1982.

      3. Mark Trigo

        What does Dunne’s father have to do with anything? You know that you are scraping the bottom of the barrel when this is as good as you can come up with. Lots have awful people have had great fathers. And lots of great people have had great fathers. As a metric, it’s utterly meaningless. I’ll focus on the actual candidate and the actual issues, thank you very much.

  5. Dave Katz

    And GoogleGuy triangulates, pivots a 180, and nails the dismount! Come to Jeeeeebus, Sister Souljah! Take that, silly trusting Lie-bruls! Why, truly, it’s Bill Clinton, redux!
    Waddya disgruntled voters mean, you’re disenchanted with the PlasticMan nature of many centrist Democrats vying for elected office, who once again show the moral, principled perspicacity of Jimmy Lee Swaggart combined with the likability quotient of the Zika virus?

    Reply
    1. Dave Katz

      Well, Jill, then you’d think Dunne would know, better than most, not to pander to hysterical know-nothingism, wouldn’t you?

      Reply
  6. Kay Trudell

    My husband and I drove past numerous large solar panel “farms” on a recent drive from northern Vermont to Manchester. They are really UGLY and ruin Vermont’s beautiful green landscape. They are not turning Vermont green. They are turning it black and silver.

    Reply
    1. Dave Katz

      “Ugly” is no comparison to “poisoned”, which is what happens to us as a result of midwestern fossil fuel generated electricity; nor is “ugly” the same thing as “flooded out”, which is what is happening around the globe from our heedless, indiscriminate heating of the atmosphere–and yes, the US is one of the largest generators of greenhouse gas, so we do owe a much larger debt than Micronesian Islanders or Inuit Eskimos, wouldn’t you say? Or just “Tough luck for them, I can’t bear ugly!”

      Reply
  7. Kay Trudell

    David, I have lived in Vermont all of my life — quite a few years. And I have not been poisoned, thank you very much. I am pretty doggone healthy. Everything is a crisis with liberals. Quick! It’s a crisis! You are being poisoned! We must legislate this for your own good. What a great way to take our liberty away from us. And the liberals always know what is best for the rest of us. Solar farms are just another way to funnel government subsidies to favored crony friends of liberals in exactly the same way liberals accuse political supporters of gas and oil and coal of doing. Same circus, different clowns. But at least the producers of gas and coal and oil weren’t trying to foist socialism on us and take away our liberties as the greenie liberals are. The mandated green agenda is very socialist and ultimately a method of people control.

    Reply

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