This week, we’ve already “honored” Gov. Phil Scott with one of our not-at-all-coveted Veepie Awards (given to those guilty of stupidity and/or obtuseness in the public sphere). But our Selection Committee hasn’t been sitting on its hands. No, it’s been out there scouring the highways and byways — ahh, who am I kidding? Potential Veepies are abundant. They practically come a-knockin’ on our door.
So, our first regularly scheduled Veepie is the What? A politician is fundraising? Oh, my heart! Award. It goes, not to an individual or group, but to a concept. This week, VTDigger published one of those “Oh well, we gotta do this” stories about the July 1 campaign finance reports. The only nugget of news was Lt. Gov. Molly Gray raising $50,000 so far this year. And there was a distinct undercurrent of disapproval.
This is partly because Gray stood out among her fellow statewide officeholders. But it also feeds into the widely-held view of Gray as a political opportunist who hasn’t paid her dues. Well, folks, I have to tell you I have no problem with Gray raising money in an off year. Those other officeholders are established in their positions. Gov. Phil Scott does as little fundraising as he can. The Democratic statewides are politically bulletproof.
Gray isn’t firmly established, and she had a surplus of only $20,000 from her 2020 campaign. She can use a bigger war chest. And sure, it feeds into the perception that Gray is a climber with her eyes set on higher office. I see nothing wrong with that, either. A politician being ambitious? Get the smelling salts!
After the jump: An extremely belated make-good, an outbreak of NIMBYism, and a media misstep.
Next, it’s the Finally Getting It Right After a Mere Quarter Century Award to the offices of attorneys general Bill Sorrell and TJ Donovan for their handling, or should I say failure to handle, the case of Leonard Forte. Forte has been hoodwinking state authorities since 1997, when he got out of facing trial for raping a 12-year-old girl by claiming poor health. He was set free with the requirement that he provide health updates every six months. Which he did — and which prosecutors took at face value.
There was no checking on Forte’s claims until the Burlington Free Press reported in 2019 that he’d been falsifying those reports. He’ll now face new charges of lying to authorities as well as the original counts of rape. But good grief, Our Paragons of Law Enforcement took his word for 20-plus years? The word of a guy with every reason to postpone a trial as long as possible?
It raises the question, was this an unfortunate outlier or standard practice? I’d hate to think it’s the latter.
Now it’s on to the Our Community Is a Perfect Little Shining City On a Hill Award to certain residents of Ludlow, Vermont who are opposing a planned addiction treatment center in their town. They’re basically throwing everything against the wall and hoping something sticks. They’ve raised concerns about parking, water and sewer systems, patients wandering away and wreaking indescribable havoc, and the worry that the center would change “the character of the area” and its “quality of life people have come to appreciate and expect.”
In other words, keep those dirty addicts away from us!
The problem — well, one problem among many — is that Ludlow is not immune to the problem. As one supporter of the center said, “They have had Okemo employees OD in the parking lot.” If you Google “ski areas drugs,” you get abundant hits describing the close connection between ski resorts and substance use. For that reason, Ludlow’s “character” might actually benefit from a treatment center.
Finally, for the first time we’re giving the same award on a second occasion. It’s the return of the Context Ain’t Nothing But a Book Written By an Inmate Award, which goes this time to VTDigger reporter Justin Trombly for Monday’s piece about “environmental groups” raising concerns about Kingdom Community Wind in Lowell.
That implies a broad array of environmental groups. In truth, it’s two groups that have perpetually opposed Kingdom Wind and every other large-scale wind farm in Vermont and raised every possible objection in the process. But the story presents their objections with absolutely no hint of context.
Some of their concerns may be legitimate. But without reference to these groups’ loud and consistent opposition to all wind projects, the article is deeply misleading. This kind of context-free reporting is common in Today’s Journalism. Apparently, context equates to bias.
Not in Veepie Land.