Daily Archives: January 26, 2021

The Luckiest Man in Vermont

Gov. Phil Scott issued his budget address today (YouTube video here). It was an astoundingly pain-free occasion, considering that we’re in the throes of a pandemic that’s been holding our economy hostage for almost a year now. In fact, rather than proposing painful cuts, Scott offered a generous scattering of funds for a wide variety of programs that, he said, will put Vermont on a sounder footing going forward.

How? Simple. The tsunami of federal Covid relief money. Scott’s budget includes $210 million in one-time money from the feds. As we heard from state economists Tom Kavet and Jeffrey Carr last week, federal money has prevented an economic collapse and even contributed to a boom in some sectors.

Throughout his political career, Phil Scott has benefited from little-known and/or underfunded Democratic opposition in races for state senate, lieutenant governor and governor. In his six races for statewide office, the closest result was the 2010 contest for lieutenant governor — seven percentage points over Steve Howard. He gets credit for being an appealing political figure, but he sure hasn’t had to fight very hard.

And now, once again, he’s the luckiest man in Vermont. You’d think a shattering pandemic would lead to massive cutbacks, but no. Scott could once again boast of a budget that wouldn’t increase taxes or “existing fees.” And according to Kavet and Carr, the state economy will continue to be buoyed by federal infusions for the next two fiscal years. Which will make it a lot easier to craft a pain-free state budget again next year and, if he runs for a fourth term, he may well be unbeatable once again.

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Racism wins again

Look out, kid, no matter what you did

Great. Another person of color has been harassed out of public office. It’s like Vermont is living in a racist Groundhog Day.

This time it’s Alicia Barrow, resigning from the Hartford Selectboard. Funny, I thought the Upper Valley was pretty progressive. Guess not.

“Blatant bigotry,” she wrote in her resignation letter, caused her to “no longer feel safe nor welcome in a place I have called home for 15 years.” She has received, wrote the Valley News, “racial slurs and death threats over the phone, in person and by email during her time on the board.”

And what did local authorities do about it? Jack shit, apparently. Barrow reported one specific threat to the police, who did nothing. In fact, she fears “retaliation” by the Hartford PD because of her advocacy for defunding the police.

Tell me again how Vermont is all open and welcoming and tolerant.

Tell me why law enforcement, up to and including Attorney General T.J. Donovan, can’t help Vermonters of color live their lives in peace and security, and maybe even hold elective office without fearing for their safety.

Because Vermont will not be open or welcoming until we figure this out.