Gov. Phil Scott called it a “shortcoming.” I’d put it in the realm of “humanitarian disaster.” He said “we should have pressed harder.” I’d say his administration failed to press at all.
To be fair, Scott’s comments came yesterday, when there were *only* 85 known positive Covid-19 tests among Vermont’s 219 inmates housed in a for-profit Mississippi prison. Today that total jumped to 147.
So maybe now he’d rephrase his remarks. And maybe now his Susan Collins-style disappointment will spark some real action. Maybe some heads will roll.
But I doubt it. That’s not his style. After all, he gave no thought to replacing Melissa Jackson as head of the Vermont Veterans’ Home after she traveled to Washington, D.C. to give Congressional testimony in person (when she could have done it via Zoom) and then, upon returning to Bennington, spent five hours in her office before going into self-quarantine.
Jackson called it “poor judgment” instead of the more appropriate “dereliction of professional responsibility.” And Scott’s comms chief Rebecca Kelley issued a statement saying “the governor is not sure it warrants her removal but certainly deserves additional discussion.”
Yeah, let’s have additional discussion. Maybe appoint a committee or something. Or just express concern and move on. Nothing to see here, folks.
The official responsible for the Scott administration’s biggest clusterf*ck to date has been … rewarded with a promotion?
You can tell the Gov had no qualms about removing the “interim” tag from Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington’s business cards because he [checks notes] announced the news at 4:56 p.m. last Friday.
Yeah, the classic weekend newsdump.
Harrington, voted the administration official most likely to be featured in the Lands’ End fall catalogue in an imaginary poll, was named interim DOL chief last September in a Falling of the Cabinet Dominos — old-school hardass Tom Anderson stepped down as public safety chief, Commerce Secretary Michael Schirling replaced him, then-labor commissioner Lindsay Kurrle slid into Schirling’s seat, and then-deputy labor commish Harrington moved up the ladder.
His interimship has featured the failure of a long-overdue upgrade of unemployment insurance software, and the UI system’s collapse under the unprecedented demands of the Covid-19 pandemic. Neither can be fully blamed on Harrington; in many ways he was dealt a really bad hand at the worst possible time.
But still. When a team performs poorly, the coach gets the zig. You might say Harrington is the Hue Jackson of Team Scott. It wasn’t entirely Jackson’s fault that the Cleveland Browns had a 3-36-1 record — the front office was a disaster, and Jimmy Haslam may be the worst owner in the NFL. But the coach bore the brunt.