it looks as though Vermont’s best nonprofit news organization has stepped away from the hot-button issue of the Stiles Brook wind farm on the Windham/Grafton border.
From what I hear, VTDigger decided a couple weeks ago that it would stop covering the story. At least until after Tuesday’s advisory vote.
Which is too bad. I mean, from my point of view, better no coverage than the badly one-sided anti-wind stories Digger had been posting. But I’d much rather they examined their product and took steps to improve it. Dropping the subject like a hot potato looks like timidity, not a desirable quality in a journalistic enterprise.
Plus, in calling a halt to its coverage, its earlier slanted material stands as VTDigger’s official record.
On the news side, I understand that Digger editors declined to pursue a story about apparent bias in the Windham town clerk’s office. The clerk is a vocal opponent of Stiles Brook, and was accused of misusing her position to sway the town’s advisory vote on the project. The issue was covered by the Rutland Herald’s Susan Smallheer and Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck; the latter is a fuller account. Nothing from VTDigger.
You could excuse Phil Scott for feeling down in the dumps these days. There was the ice-bath shock of the VPR Poll, showing a dead heat in the race for governor. Then came a huge weekend of high-energy unity rallies for the Democratic ticket featuring Bernie Sanders, Pat Leahy, and Peter Welch thumping the tub for Sue Minter ad company, plus President Obama cutting a radio spot for her.
And now comes an ABC News poll showing Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 12 percentage points.
The growing gap is bad enough, but the worse news for Scott is deeper in the poll results.
The previous ABC/Post poll found a sharp 12-point decline in enthusiasm for Trump among his supporters, almost exclusively among those who’d preferred a different GOP nominee. Intended participation now has followed: The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October.
That’s a tangible sign that Trump is becoming a dead weight on down-ballot Republicans. And more evidence that Phil Scott has his work cut out for him, in what was once thought to be a cakewalk for the VTGOP’s King-in-Waiting.
The Republican candidate for Attorney General, Deb Bucknam, has a… shall we say unique… approach to the issue of money in politics. The problem, in her eyes, isn’t corporate donations or Citizens United or the Koch Brothers or dark-money SuperPACs or outside interests flooding Vermont with their barely regulated and lavishly funded nonprofits.
None of that. The real problem is Pat Leahy.
Hey. You in the back, stop laughing.
Bucknam laid out her reasoning, if that’s what you can call it, in an interview with Chris Lenois of Brattleboro’s WKVT Radio. (The interview also ran on Brattleboro’s community access cable channel and can be seen here.)
It should be noted that elsewhere, Bucknam has offered a full-throated defense of the Citizens United decision. In fact, she claims that overturning Citizens United would inevitably involve limiting the First Amendment rights of all Americans.
Back to the Lenois interview. He asked a question about regulating money in politics. She began by asserting that money is a necessary part of politics and trying to regulate it is doomed to failure. But she sees one ray of hope:
If we limited — not donors so much — but candidates themselves, how a candidate can spend the money they receive, that may help solve the money in politics problem.
At this point, I was honesty puzzled. What in the Sam Hill was she driving at?
A couple of business items on this Monday morning…
First, for those who don’t already know, I do a regular Monday morning chat with Chris Lenois at WKVT radio in Brattleboro — a fine station that, among other things, is an outlet for liberal radio talkers Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann. I appear live every Monday at about 7:35 pm. After the fact, our conversations are posted on WKVT’s website. This morning, you can catch us talking the primaries, including the different dramas in Vermont Republican and Democratic circles; also, Vermonters’ overwhelming approval of school budgets and what it says about Act 46, and the latest disturbing revelations about suspended Sen. Norm McAllister (R-Limbo).
Second, blogging may be more sporadic than usual for the next two weeks. I’ve got some family-related obligations that will take me in and out of Vermont. Nothing urgent, just some business that has to be taken care of. Thanks to the Internet I’ll be keeping up with Vermont politics and chiming in when my schedule permits.
This is also a good time for a reminder that you can sign up for an RSS feed. You’ll get a short email every time I post something. Your email address will be used only for that purpose; it won’t be sold for commercial or even nonprofit purposes. The sign-up thingy is in the right-hand column of this page.
Got a new gig. Pays just as well as this one, but it should be fun.
Every Monday morning at about 7:35, I’ll be talking politics and government on WKVT Radio, 100.3 FM and 1490 AM in Brattleboro. WKVT has a local morning show from 6-9 weekdays hosted by Chris Lenois. It’s always fun to talk politics; I’m also hoping this will give me a bit of a window on the concerns of southeastern Vermont, a place I seldom get to visit.
And this Monday only, for central Vermont listeners, I’ll be a guest on WDEV’s “Open Mike” with Mike Smith sometime during the 9:00 hour. (Will update when I know more.) You may recall that I’ve been critical of Mike in the past, and particularly slammed WDEV for replacing a real journalist, Mark Johnson, with a longtime Republican functionary. Well, they hired him, it’s their business, and I’ve said my piece.
Despite my occasional unkind words, Mike occasionally has me on to talk politics, which is the kind of politeness across the trenches that you often find in Vermont.
As we all eagerly await the arrival of Our Benevolent Overlord Donald J. Trump and the potential shitshow of a rally in a 1400-seat theater for which more than 20,000 tickets have been issued, there’s another high-profile political event tomorrow in Vermont. That would be, of course, Peter Shumlin’s sixth and final State of the State address.
He’s set the stage with a self-congratulatory website chronicling the progress made during his tenure. It’s chockablock with conveniently-limned graphs designed to emphasize the positive markers, sometimes sacrificing the nuance of truth in the process. And he has said this last year will be a process of consolidating the advances of past years, not an occasion for new initiatives.
Which would seem to imply a somewhat minimalist address. That makes sense, given his status as a lame duck dependent on the cooperation of Democratic lawmakers who will be campaigning without him in November. However…
Peter Shumlin isn’t exactly a shrinking violet. He has used past S0S addresses as springboards for major policy initiatives. Would he really go out with a whimper, not a bang?