Category Archives: Sports

Old Veepies Never Die, They Just Get Stupider (UPDATED)

Note: Second item has a significant update. Press WILL be admitted to Winooski/Enosburg soccer game.

Oh, you thought you were done with this, did you? Yeah, my awards for stupidity and/or obtuseness in the public sector have been on sabbatical lately — it’s been harder to see the funny this fall, mostly due to the ongoing pandemic. But here we are again! On the docket: Noblesse oblige at the homelessness protest, barring the media from a soccer match, an especially stupid Covid rationalization from Team Scott, and Bennington Justice rears its ugly head.

We have multiple awardees for the It Was Quite Literally The Least We Could Do Award. The recipients include Gov. Phil Scott, House Speaker Jill Krowinski, and Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint. Brenda Siegel and Josh Lisenby, advocates for restoring the full emergency housing program, held what VTDigger helpfully called “a small rally” on Monday at the site of their Statehouse protest/campout. Apparently Siegel and Lisenby have cooties or something, because neither Krowinski nor Ballnt attended in person and Scott continues to resist meeting with them.

The Speaker and Pro Tem did issue a statement for Siegel to read, in which they endorsed full restoration of the program. Which is interesting since, as the governor points out on every occasion, they agreed to the springtime deal restricting the program. Nice of them to belatedly come down on the side of compassion. And while Scott could really use a spark of humanity, he refuses to meet with the advocates. But hey, as VTDigger put it, “they were granted an interview on Monday with Sean Brown, the commissioner of the Department for Children and Families.” Wow. “Granted an interview.” How noblesse oblige of them.

Brown reportedly said the administration would consider reopening the full program when/if (climate change, y’know) the weather gets really cold. Which tells you the administration sees this first and foremost as a PR problem. They want to be as stingy as possible, but they could do without pictures of freezing protesters or homeless people with hypothermia.

Onward and downward…

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While My Guitar Gently Veeps

It’s been a while. For most of September, we’ve had some high-level stupid (the governor’s scattershot search for consistent pandemic messaging) but a relative lack of the kind of mid- and low-level stupid in the public arena that is the bread and butter of The Veepies. But now, we’re back!

First, the Policy? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Policy Award goes to the Vermont Principals’ Association, last seen hiding its head in the sand over the racist slurs targeting the Winooski High School boys’ soccer team. In response to the appalling incidents during a game with Enosburg High, Winooski district Superintendent Sean McMannon called on the VPA, which oversees high school athletics, to adopt stronger measures against the use of racial slurs.

The VPA’s response so far? Well, they’re staying out of it until the Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union does its own investigation. Otherwise, well, all they’re doing is considering a season-long ban for a Winooski athlete for allegedly head-butting an opponent. VPA president Jay Nichols says the organization might conduct an investigation after FNSU’s is complete. Franklin, by the way, is investigating the slurs AND alleged violence by Winooski players, so we’re both-sidesing this thing.

Great. But the topper, for me, is that McMannon called on the VPA to develop procedures for reporting and investigating racial abuse. Which indicates that the VPA doesn’t have any such procedure now. Which is, well, stupid.

After the jump: Stupid trooper tricks, a Raider obsession, and a bit of myopic journalismism.

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How Many Schembechlers?

The Man They Called Goldfinger.

The University of Michigan, my alma mater, has been rocked by an unthinkable sexual-abuse scandal. Dr. Robert Anderson served as an athletic team doctor for thirty-five years and throughout that time, he sexually abused male students so frequently that it was a running joke among athletes. Except for those who were traumatized, of course.

This story has been out there for a while. But the latest disturbing turn is that several former football players — and many observers of Michigan athletics — say that legendary coach Bo Schembechler absolutely knew about Anderson’s abuse. Some say they told Bo; others say that he kept such a tight fist on his program that he couldn’t possibly have been ignorant. Just like Joe Paterno at Penn State.

And just like Paterno, the statue of Schembechler that adorns the athletic campus will almost certainly be removed sometime.

But what does this have to do with Vermont politics, you say?

These scandals have become so commonplace that I can’t help but believe that there are many more like them, so far undiscovered. And if you think this state is exempt, well, check your Vermont exceptionalism at the door.

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A Retraction

Sharp-eyed readers with too much time on their hands may have noticed that one of my posts from last week is no longer there. This is because, for the first time in my years-long blogging “career,” I’ve taken down something I posted.

I’ve made corrections whenever warranted. But this time, my mistake undermined the point I was trying to make and it can’t be fixed through a simple correction.

The post was about the new owner of the Vermont Lake Monsters, who heads up RockFence Capital, an investment fund that loans money to minor-league baseball players. If the player doesn’t reach the majors, he gets to keep the money. If he does make the big time, he has to repay the money with interest.

But I centered the post on Ozzie Albies, second baseman for the Atlanta Braves. And I’ve learned that Albies is not, and has never been, a client of RockFence. Other players in similar circumstances are RockFence clients, but not Albies.

In my judgment, the post is flawed beyond salvage. So I’ve taken it down, with apologies to RockFence.

Did Bill Stenger make a deal with the devil?

Previously in this space, I questioned if it was possible that an experienced businessman like Bill Stenger could actually be clueless to the rampant looting of his own project, and remain that way for several years running.

My conclusion: No, he could not.

Which brings us to this: If he knew what was going on, why did he let Ariel Quiros (who had illegally used EB-5 investor money to become Stenger’s boss) pursue this crooked scheme? Why did he put his own finances and reputation on the line, even when the signs of trouble became impossible to miss?

Two possibilities. First, he was getting a cut. Could be.

Second, he was in severe financial straits and needed a Quiros to bail him out. Call Quiros a “devil investor,” if you will. Certanly not an angel.

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UVM’s athletic priorities

The University of Vermont chose Friday afternoon, traditional bad-news dumping ground, to announce the firing of its women’s basketball coach, Lori Gear McBride.

It couldn’t have been a surprise; Gear McBride had compiled a miserable 46-134 record in six seasons. In her “best” campaigns, the team lost twice as many games as it won. Throughout her tenure, UVM was a consistent cellar-dweller in the America East converence.

So the real question isn’t “Why was she fired?” it was “Why did it take so long?”

And here’s another puzzler. After her first four seasons, coaching the team to a 32-89 record, she was given a four-year contract extension at an annual salary of $131,000. That seems, shall we say, out of proportion with Gear McBride’s performance.

No way a men’s coach with such a record would see his contract extended. No way a men’s coach would be allowed to lose that many games, period.

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