Daily Archives: August 8, 2016

At my daily paper, questions are many and answers few

You know what I think? I think daily newspapers, even in this era of shrinkage, have an obligation to their “consumers” and the communities they serve. It’s an obligation more honored in the breach than in the observance, as a smart guy once said.

In my opinion, daily papers have a duty to be as transparent in their own operations as they expect other institutions to be.

They aren’t, of course. Oh, they have an excuse: they are private entitles, not bound by the same standards as public organizations (plus whoever they choose to hunt down with their journalistic blunderbusses). But to my eye, daily papers are a different animal. They occupy a unique and valuable parcel in our public common. This is especially true of the daily paper, but it’s also true of, oh, say, VPR, for instance.

If you don’t like the way a retail store does business, you go down the street. But a daily paper, even a failing one, occupies an unassailable position in its community. It is a de facto monopoly. In the way it operates, it is more like the Burlington Electric Department than, say, Walmart.

Plus there’s the principle of the thing, that newspapers expect others to abide by standards they themselves ignore.

Which brings us to today’s Mitchell Family Runaround at the offices of the Rutland Herald.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Eligibility, Schmeligibility

In honor of Primary Eve, I thought it’d be fun to recount a little trip I recently took. A trip deep into the heart of Vermont’s election law. Warning: some scenes may be unsuitable for those with a lick of common sense. Also, do not operate heavy machinery while reading this post.

It all began when a tipster told me that a certain candidate for the Vermont House of Representatives might not meet the residency requirement: to be a candidate, you have to have lived in the district for at least one full year.

Spoiler alert: turns out the candidate does qualify, so far as we can tell. In a way, it’s not a story at all; but the process was enlightening to a politics nerd like me, and It’s My Blog So I’ll Write If I Want To.

The candidate in question is Adam DesLauriers, Democrat running for the House in the two-seat Orange-1 district. Incumbents are Progressive Susan Hatch Davis and Republican Rodney Graham. DesLauriers and Davis are the only candidates on the Democratic ballot, so both are virtually assured of winning nominations.

Rumor had it that DesLauriers, a son of the guy who created the Bolton ski area, only registered to vote in Orange-1 in April of this year, far too late to qualify as a candidate. I confirmed this with the Washington town clerk’s office.

However…

Continue reading

The Lisman/Scott imbroglio

In its closing days, the Republican gubernatorial campaign has turned into a game of Crying Foul, in which accuracy takes a back seat to volume.

The latest round kicked off Friday evening, when Bruce Lisman’s campaign issued a press release crying foul over an alleged push poll aiming to convince Lisman supporters to abandon their man — and telling those who stuck with him “don’t forget to vote on August 23rd.”

The primary is, of course, August 9th. Team Lisman essentially accused Phil Scott of being behind the push poll, and called on him to denounce the apparent dirty trick.

Team Phil Scott responded by, yep, crying foul over what it called negative campaigning by a desperate opponent. And Scott’s chosen VTGOP chair, David Sunderland, waded in with an even louder cry of his own. He called on Lisman…

… to prove or withdraw an accusation that rival Phil Scott was behind a series of phone calls attempting to deceive voters.

His intervention might prove embarrassing should Lisman win the primary. Probably won’t happen, but the picture of Sunderland and Lisman shaking hands would be worth a thousand words.

So here’s what I think.

I think the push polls are real. I don’t think Phil Scott is behind them, or had anything to do with them. I suspect an outside Super PAC or some other agency unrelated to Scott. Lisman’s attempts to tie the push poll directly to Scott are very close to the line; but he’s right in saying that Scott ought to denounce the push poll instead of denying its existence and trashing Lisman.

Continue reading