Category Archives: Seven Days

Change of address

 

 

On a hill under a raven sky
I have no idea exactly what I’ve drawn
Some kind of change, some kind of spinning away
With every single line moving further out in time

— Brian Eno, “Spinning Away”

It’s been a hell of a ride.

I started blogging almost exactly five years ago, out of a kind of professional desperation. There’d been some dead ends, a seeming lack of opportunity in the ever-shrinking media landscape. So, on the invitation of John Odum, I joined the gang at Green Mountain Daily and started blogging about Vermont politics.

And I loved it. I loved using my brain and my experience to reflect on the political scene. I loved playing with language and form. So I just kinda kept on doing it, slowly building a reputation and an audience.

In the summer of 2014 I went solo, launching this blog out of a feeling that I was too dominant a voice at GMD. Too much of me, not enough of the variety of viewpoints that the blog was designed to provide.

And I wanted to captain my own ship.

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Movin’ on up

Got some news — about myself, this time.

In early December, I’ll be joining the staff of Seven Days as political columnist. I’ll be writing Web content for the first month; after the New Year, I’ll take on “Fair Game,” the paper’s weekly political column.

Rest assured, I did not depose Paul Heintz in a palace coup. In fact, they approached me, because Paul wants to be a full-time editor and reporter. (He’ll tell you more himself in this week’s column.) In fact, my hiring is one of several additions to the news staff at Seven Days. They’re building quite an operation, and I’m glad to be part of it. Check out Paul’s column online or in today’s print edition for more.

The bad news: once I join the 7D staff I won’t be writing The Vermont Political Observer anymore. They want my full energy and attention. Plus, it’d be weird to do political commentary in two places at once.

And they want me to do pretty much what I do now. They appreciate my voice and my writing skill.

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Skeleton hunt

Here’s a tidbit from Friday’s campaign finance filing deadline, first uncovered by April Burbank of the Burlington Free Press.

The Republican Governors Association gave $50,000 to a political action committee called “A Stronger Vermont,” which used the money exclusively for research at Old Dominion Research Group in Alexandria, Virginia.

Old Dominion Research Group promises on its website to provide “hard-hitting, precise intelligence based on the records of Democrat office holders and seekers.”

Technical detail: the RGA gave “A Stronger Vermont” $50,000; ASV spent $44K on Old Dominion Research Group, and still has the remainder.

But there’s a wakeup. 44 G’s on opposition research against Democratic (no, it’s not ’Democrat”) candidates.

Burbank pretty much left it there, but I did some additional Googling and turned up some fascinating information.

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A slanted report from a usually reliable source

Not sure what happened in the editorial process at VTDigger, but on Wednesday morning it published a terribly one-sided piece on the F-35 issue.

Those opposed to F-35s at Burlington Airport probably liked the article, and will probably attack me for the following critique. But really, no matter what your political persuasion, this is a clear and obvious example of slanted journalism at its worst.

By comparison, Mark Davis of Seven Days wrote a story that was fair and respectful to both sides and provided readers a clear understanding of the status of the issue.

The two stories provided very different versions of a court hearing in a legal challenge to the F-35 siting decision. At the end of the hearing, the judge said he would consider some extremely limited factors in the case, which was bad news for the plaintiffs.

The Digger article was written by Adam Federman. His name does not appear on the Digger staff listing; nor was he identified at the end of the piece, which is customary for a non-staff contributor.

Federman’s piece is a dutiful chronicle of one side of the issue — the anti-F35 side. The story is framed around their objections, and (unfairly to readers who want to stay informed) exaggerates the antis’ chances of success.

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The hottest potato in Vermont

Our political elites are still involved in the unedifying spectacle of desperately trying to create distance between themselves and a former best buddy. Unedifying, and beggaring belief.

The best bud, of course, is alleged EB-5 scamster Bill Stenger, who still denies  — also beggaring belief — that he knew nothing about the misuse of $200 million in investor funds, and that it was all the dark-skinned flatlander’s fault. Pretty much everyone in Vermont politics has cozied up to Stenger in the past, and anyone in a position to bestow favors did so on a regular basis. Democrats, Republicans, even Bernie. (Who has thoroughly ducked the issue, his endless narrative about the evils of corporate influence notwithstanding.)

At the head of the “run away from Bill” parade is none other than our esteemed Governor, Peter Shumlin. One of his worst attributes as a leader is his extreme reluctance to admit he screwed up, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. And that makes his frantic positioning in this case all the more incredible; you can almost hear him claiming that Vermont’s handling of Stenger was a “nothing-burger.”

Yeah, that phrase will be on his political headstone, and it’s largely his own fault. He’d be better off just acknowledging unpleasant realities and accepting responsibility. Because as the state’s chief executive, he is uniquely responsible.

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