Category Archives: Uncategorized

For Nolan, It’s Bad News All the Way Down

Christina Nolan’s longshot bid for U.S. Senate got quite a bit longer last week, with the filing of first-quarter campaign finance reports. For starters, as expected, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch did what he’s always done — fundraise the hell out of his opposition. He pulled in $839,000 and spent roughly half of that, bringing his total warchest to a daunting $2.96 million.

Nolan? She received $157,000 in donations and spent about one-third of that, leaving her a smidge over $100K in cash on hand.

Sort of.

Thirteen of Nolan’s donors gave the maximum $2,900 for the primary campaign. Eight of those 13 also gave an additional $2,900, which must be reserved for the general election. That adds up to $37,700. One other person gave $5,000, of which $2,100 must be spent on the general. So her effective cash on hand — money she can spend between now and August 11 — is only $61,747. Which means that right now, today, Welch’s kitty is effectively an astounding forty-eight times as large as Nolan’s.

Ouch. Double ouch with nuts. I was going to make a David v. Goliath reference, but this is more like Bambi v. Godzilla. If this race wasn’t done and dusted already (hint: it was), these filings remove any remaining whispers of doubt.

But wait, there’s more! Bad news, that is.

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Lightning Round!

As the Legislature winds down, the political news is coming thick and fast. Got several items worthy of comment including Gov. Phil Scott’s generic condemnation of persons unknown, a better use for the state’s “extra” money, three potentially interesting House races, and a depressingly rote report on last night’s Congressional debate. Let’s GOOOO!!!

Scott condemns… somebody. Perhaps because of the killing of Fern Feather, the governor (or his comms staff) took to Twitter and amped up his language condemning hate speech in the political arena. He cited “disturbing hostility toward the transgender community” and lamented that Vermont “is not immune to this.” It was a good statement, as far as it went.

But he failed to mention the source of all the hostility: his own Republican Party. He also failed to name the two individuals responsible for bringing the hate home: VTGOP chair Paul Dame and Burlington Republican Committee chair Christopher-Aaron Felker. As long as the governor refrains from identifying those responsible and refuses to step into his own party and deal with this garbage, his words are sadly empty, In the vernacular, it’s time for him to grow a pair.

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Dregs of the Ballot: The Essex Brigade

Three seats on the Essex-Westford School Board are up for grabs on April 12, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a trio of stealth conservative candidates hiding their true agendas behind a thicket of bland rhetoric. It’s the usual stuff: Parental involvement, transparency, focus on basic education, financial responsibility, defusing “tension” and “divisive issues” in the schools.

This stuff is right out of the national conservative playbook: Right-wing candidates running for school board behind the same list of inoffensive ideas.

And concealing their true beliefs and agenda.

As I have before, I will state again: Conservatives have every right to run for any office. But they ought to be transparent about who they are and what they believe. When they hide their true selves, they are subverting the electoral process — and tacitly admitting that they can’t win if they are open about their agenda.

The three hopefuls from Essex and Essex Town all have military backgrounds. Two of them are people of color. Great, a little diversity — but only in heritage, not in platform.

The election is nonpartisan, but the Essex Republican committee has endorsed them and referred to them as “our candidates.” This is the committee that thinks the civic embarrassment Liz Cady is a peachy keen school trustee.

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Racine Mulls Run for Governor

Doug Racine, the former lieutenant governor, state senator and Human Services secretary, is considering a third run for the state’s top job. Racine had been considering a candidacy for lieutenant governor, but that field has gotten crowded. He told methat as he was gauging potential support for an LG run, he was encouraged to set his sights higher.

His willingness to run, he said, depends on assurances that he’d have the necessary support from state and federal Democratic donors and organizations. “The question is, is it a viable race or not?” Racine said. “The answer depends on the level of support.” He said he’s getting “a lot of enthusiasm” for his potential candidacy, but “that doesn’t pay the bills.” Especially since, he pointed out, the Republican Governors Association has spent millions on behalf of Gov. Phil Scott in 2016 and 2018.

Although, he said, there’s bit of uncertainty on that front. “I don’t know if Trump would let them” spend on Scott’s behalf, Racine said. “Phil is not the most popular guy in Republican circles.”

“Others who have explored a run for governor have something to lose,” he noted. “I’m retired. It’s not like I’d have to leave my job.” That’s a very real consideration for many — especially since a race against Scott is a risky endeavor.

The 69-year-old Racine was the Democratic candidate for governor in 2002; he lost narrowly in a three-way race with Republican Jim Douglas and independent Con Hogan. He sought the party’s nomination again in 2010, but lost a squeaker of a five-way primary to eventual governor Peter Shumlin, whose margin of victory was a mere 197 votes. He was Shumlin’s human services secretary from 2011 to 2014.

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Dregs of the Ballot: Say, Did You Know That Sarah Fair George Is a Globalist Puppet?

Oh, maaaan. I hear and read a lot of outlandish stuff while checking out the far-right zealots clogging up Town Meeting Day ballots around Vermont, but this one takes the cake.

According to the gent pictured above, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah Fair George “may have been funded by George Soros. I don’t know that for a fact, but she isn’t doing her job.”

Ah yes, the globalist conspiracy, dipping its toes into the Chittenden County justice system for who knows what nefarious purpose.

This man, who doesn’t know how to center himself on a Zoom call, is David Xavier Wallace, candidate for Winooski City Council, speaking at an online candidates’ forum earlier this week. Seriously, he spent almost the entire event looking downward.

I don’t know why he’s running for office in progressive, cosmopolitan Winooski, of all places. He’s got about as much chance of winning as David Foster Wallace.

Mr. X, as we might call him, makes no bones about his beliefs. But the voters of Winooski should know that he has a much subtler kindred spirit on the ballot: Chad Bushway, who loosely wears the cloak of Concerned Moderation but whose true colors show through from time to time. We’ll consider him in a moment. First, let’s hear more from David Xavier Wallace.

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Food Taxonomy for Beginners

Mmmm, donuts

VTGOP chair Paul Dame is out with his weekly rumination, which appears every Monday in your inbox if you’ve given the party your email address. (I gave them one that I only use for mailing list.) The latest installment is entitled “Donut Democrats & Gun Control.” The joke, see, is that the Democrats don’t have a middle, only two extremes! Just like a donut!

Yeah, I get it. But…

It’s not really accurate, izzit?

I mean, in a donut there’s a continuum of delicious, fatty, sugary pastry on all sides. What Dame has in mind is something more like a pair of parentheses. Now, there’s a hole in the middle.

Also, too. Dame’s conceit is that the Democratic Party (well, he says “Democrat Party,” but I don’t) has lost its moderate side. That’s not a donut; it’s more of a crescent roll.

I’m getting hungry.

Now, let’s see how Dame defines “moderation.”

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I Believe the Technical Term For This is “Ten Pounds of Shit in a Five-Pound Bag”

I’ve read a lot of damaging political reportage in my time, but rarely have I seen a single piece as devastating as this.

In the latest installment of VTDigger’s ever-unfolding saga of EB-5 corruption, Anne Galloway and Paul Heintz have poured gasoline on the tattered remains of former governor Peter Shumlin’s reputation, tossed in a match, and stood back to watch the flames soar to the sky.

The story, based on FBI interview notes released by a federal judge, shows that Shumlin acted recklessly, flouted ethical standards, ignored the rising tide of evidence that the investment projects run by Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger were deeply fraudulent, and ignored the counsel of close advisors that he was flying far too close to the EB-5 sun.

I have said before that Shumlin must have been either “complicit or stupid” about the scandal and I’m not sure which would be worse. Well, it’s looking more and more like complicity driven by the unmediated gall of the man.

The story is so rich with damning detail that it’s tough to know where to start. I’ll hit a few high points, but I urge you to go and read the whole thing.

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Tom Evslin Has a Cunning Plan

Tom Evslin, the very active Vermont technology guru, has a brilliant idea for climate action. It’s quite simple, not unlike abdominal surgery with a broadsword.

Here it is: Buy up all the dairy farms, close ’em down, and plant trees on the land.

That’s it.

In an op-ed posted by VTDigger, Evslin says that move alone will more than meet the Global Warming Solutions Act’s 2025 emission reduction targets. So we don’t have to do anything else.

Well, we’d have to carry out his complicated, politically fraught plan within a mere three years, but.

Let’s pause for a moment and remind ourselves that this is the Tom Evslin who was a founder of NG Advantage, a natural gas distribution company. Yep, fossil fuels.

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Democrats Like Phil Scott, But Not His Covid Policies

Would it surprise you to hear that Gov. Phil Scott remains overwhelmingly popular among Vermont Democrats? Our Bernie-inspired reputation for red-raggery notwithstanding, the Duke’s Mayo VPR/Vermont PBS 2022 Poll once again shows that Democrats have a strong preference for Scott’s brand of plausibly moderate Republicanism. This, despite the fact that they strongly support the tougher pandemic measures that Scott has resisted.

WTF, Democrats? Is it just the NICE GUY Effect?

Numbers! According to the Famous Idaho Potato VPR/Vermont PBS 2022 Poll, Democrats approve of Scott’s Covid performance by a whopping 77-14 margin. At the same time, 82% of Democrats support a statewide mask mandate, 76% would be fine with a state of emergency, 84% favor a vaccine requirement for eligible schoolkids, and 68% favor a vaccine requirement for indoor public spaces.

Here’s another oddity. Democrats like Scott’s Covid policy more than they like his overall job performance. It’s 77% on Covid and 71% overall, per the VPR/Vermont PBS 2022 Poll Presented By TaxAct.

There is not a rational explanation for those results. Well, maybe it’s that Scott’s recent performance hasn’t sunk in yet. His policies worked before the Delta variant, but he’s stumbled badly since then. Maybe the public simply hasn’t caught up yet.

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State Economists: Smooth Sailing for Now, Storm Clouds on the Distant Horizon

All smiles for another 12-18 months

Thursday marked the semiannual Festival of Numbers that is the consensus economic forecast, prepared as always by Vermont state economists Tom Kavet and Jeffrey Carr. The topline: Happy times will continue for another year and a half or so, but after that there’s tremendous uncertainty and huge downside risk.

Or, to put it in purely political terms, Phil Scott will enjoy smooth financial sailing through fiscal year 2024 (assuming he wins another term, and there’s no reason to think he won’t), but whoever is governor in 2025-26 may have a real mess on their hands.

The very short-term forecast is for even more money to flow into Vermont’s coffers. Carr and Kavet upgraded their revenue forecast for the rest of FY2022 (ends June 30) by $44 million.

The reason: Vermont’s economy and state revenues continue to be buoyed by the flood of federal Covid relief dollars — more than $10 billion in all. “We had a [fiscal] hole and we’re filling it five times over with federal stimulus,” said Kavet. Those dollars will continue to flow for 12-18 more months. Then comes a return to Earth, and a landing that might be soft, or… a splat on the landscape.

“There is no playbook from the last time the feds dropped $10 billion on our economy,” said Carr, meaning that it’s never happened before. When the money dries up, Carr said, “the amount of risk, especially on the downside, escalates… The economy will transition into something new and different.”

And while the short-term outlook is rosy in the aggregate, that doesn’t mean everyone is doing well. “One hand’s in boiling water, one’s in ice water,” said Carr. “On average, you’re okay.”

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