Tag Archives: Deb Markowitz

… and now the hard work begins.

The next governor of Vermont will find a big turd in his or her punchbowl next January. The loaf was delivered this week, courtesy of the EPA: detailed new limits on phosphorus pollution in twelve discrete areas of Lake Champlain.

This is one of the most impactful political stories of the year, but it got scant coverage in our political media; only VTDigger and VPR produced articles, and both lacked a comprehensive assessment of the new rules’ impact. The EPA is now in charge of a cleanup that Vermont has ignored for decades, and is only now addressing because it was forced to by the federal courts.

Yes, good old green old Vermont has been smothering its crown jewel in nutrient runoff for decades. The problem has been ignored by all previous governors; Peter Shumlin has taken a few initial steps, but nothing that will come close to meeting the EPA’s targets.

The piddly $5 million real estate transfer tax the Legislature enacted in 2015 to great fanfare is a drop in the algae-befouled bucket. The cleanup cost will be in the hundreds of millions, and we will also have to impose tough new limits on discharges from farms, developments, roads, and municipal wastewater treatment systems.

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He shoots — and misses! Again!

In basketball, there’s a derogatory term often applied to very good players: “Volume shooter.” It refers to a skilled offensive player who hogs the ball and shoots a lot. If most of ‘em go in, it’s good. But when he’s missing, he keeps on shooting, often to the detriment of his team.

The NBA’s current king of volume shooting is the formerly great Kobe Bryant, limping through his final season with stat lines like 7 for 26 (12/1 loss to Philadelphia), 4 for 20 (11/29 loss to Indiana) and 6 for 22 (11/22 loss to Portland). Enough bricks to build a full-scale replica of the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

The #1 volume shooter in Vermont politics is David Sunderland, chair of the Vermont Republican Party. He’ll fire off a press release whenever he sees the faintest opening to score a political point. Like the 2015 Kobe, he shoots a lot but seldom scores. Unlike the real Kobe, he doesn’t have a Hall of Fame career in the rear-view.

Sunderland’s latest desperation heave is a thoroughly nasty (even by his standards) attack on Governor Shumlin for having the audacity to attend the Global Climate Summit in Paris. He begins by totting up the imagined sins and shortfalls of the Shumlin administration, and then gets to the red meat:

While we can appreciate why you would want to leave your many problems behind for a few days, that’s not leadership. And it’s certainly not the job you were narrowly re-elected to do.

It is not necessary for you to attend this meeting. It would be far more economical — and far more environmentally responsible — to send your thoughts in writing or attend by video conference. You’ve frequently touted the state’s telecommunication advances — you should be taking advantage of them now.

The whole thing reads like that. Never does Sunderland pass up an opportunity for snark.

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Story Time, 2010 Primary Edition: in honor of Deb Markowitz

Well, the briefest of gubernatorial trial balloons has settled to the floor, like the birthday balloon that got a half-shot of helium. Deb Markowitz, Agency of Natural Resources Secretary throughout the Shumlin administration, has taken her name out of the running. In an email to Seven Days’ Paul Heintz, she wrote:

“I will not be running for Governor this time around. I want to be able to continue to fully focus on the important work of the agency to address the important environmental, energy and economic issues facing Vermont.”

Fair enough. It kinda seemed like she was a token woman on everybody’s list rather than a real top tier contender. Which is a shame, because she could very easily have been Governor instead of Peter Shumlin. And the way his administration has turned out, we might have been better off with Markowitz.

We’ll never know, of course. But let’s take a stroll down Memory Lane, just to show how close we came to that particular alternate reality. And how a possible bit of trickeration (the Nixon folks called it ratf*cking) might have kept her out of the corner office.

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Sue Minter is building herself quite the resumé

Rockin' the hard hat.

Rockin’ the hard hat.

Deputy Transportation Secretary Sue Minter is usually the first female in otherwise male-dominated lists of Democratic politicos on the rise. (ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz, who finished a strong #3 in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, deserves mention as well; but the grapevine says she’s unlikely to make another run for elective office. That could change, of course.) She briefly broke through the GruberGruberGruber wall of news noise this week, with the announcement that AOT Secretary Brian Searles is retiring and Minter will take his place.

This is notable enough. But what I hadn’t realized until I read media accounts of her promotion is that she is building a very strong political resumé, putting her in a good position for a future run at statewide or Congressional office. Let’s look at some highlights, and my apologies if I missed anything:

— Four-term state representative who served on the Appropriations Committee as well as the Transportation Committee. Generally considered a key member of the Democratic caucus. That’s eight years of legislative experience.

— Named Deputy Transportation Secretary at the onset of the Shumlin Administration, so there’s four years of administrative experience in a big, sprawling, crucial agency. Plus, since a lot of transportation funds come from the feds, four years of experience dealing with our Congressional delegation and the D.C. crowd.

— Named Irene Recovery Officer in December 2011, replacing Neale Lunderville. Had to deal with the tough slog of rebuilding infrastructure — which also involved a lot of work (and facetime) in Washington, D.C.

— Member of the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. More credibility and connections in Washington.

— Now being elevated to full Cabinet status, and a high-profile Cabinet post at that. Speaking purely politically, lots of opportunities for ribbon-cutting and other feel-good news, making connections with local officeholders, and looking tough and managerial when something bad happens. (AOT is much better for this kind of stuff than, say, Human Services.) Nothing like wearing a hard hat and reflective vest to counteract stereotypes about women in politics.

Transportation’s mission also enjoys broad tripartisan support: nobody’s against roads and bridges.

— Married to David Goodman, writer, broadcaster, and brother of progressive radio icon Amy Goodman. I’m not falling back on the tired trope of defining a powerful woman by her marriage; in this case there’s some relevance.

(Also, her teenage son Jasper is a sportswriter for the Times Argus and sportscaster for WDEV Radio. Good grief.)

That’s an extremely impressive list in a period of about ten years. It’s a crying shame there aren’t more Vermont women moving upward in liberal politics, but if we only get one, Sue Minter’s a damn good one.