Tag Archives: John Klar

Bruce Lisman Plays the Field (UPDATED)

While we wait for the final September 1 campaign finance reports to trickle in, here’s a little thing I noticed. Bruce Lisman, failed (and self-funded) candidate for governor, founder of Campaign for Vermont, and former Bear Stearns executive who may have been portrayed as a real dummy in the movie version of “The Big Short,” has made a total of three donations* to Vermont candidates so far this year.

*Update! Phil Scott just reported a $1,000 contribution from Lisman. So, four.

Together, they could serve as the dictionary definition of “mixed bag.” Let’s see if you can discern a pattern here.

He gave $500 to Sen. Joe Benning’s campaign for lieutenant governor. Not surprising at all.

He gave $500 to Patricia Preston’s hopeless bid for LG as a sort of centrist.

So far we’ve got what used to be called a mainline Republican and a moderate Democrat. *Plus a putatively moderate Republican.

The third fourth gift? $1,000 to “Farmer” John Klar’s campaign for state senate.

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Well, This Would Be An Improvement

That just about sums up the brief, undistinguished legislative career of ultraconservative state Rep. Sally Achey. Which means it’s extremely heartening to see former representative (and Prog caucus chief) Robin Chesnut-Tangerman stepping back into the fray,

The news was first reported by Guy Page at the Vermont Daily Chronicle, which ought to be a little bit embarrassing for what’s left of the Vermont political press. I mean, Guy Page, Progressive insider?

Chesnut-Tangerman was chosen by the district Democratic Party committee after Democratic primary winner Chris Hoyt withdrew for family reasons. Smart choice.

In 2020, Chesnut-Tangerman lost to Achey by a mere 32 votes out of 2,809 cast. Achey was a Klar Klan ReKruit, a member of “Farmer” John Klar’s merry Agripublican band of extremists. Her victory was a calamity for the Progressive Party and for the district, since Achey has achieved nothing in her two years in office except sitting on the House Energy & Technology Committee, which seems like somebody’s idea of a bad joke, and complaining about climate change legislation.

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Upstairs, Downstairs in State Senate Campaigns

This, ladies and germs, is Jared Duval, the undisputed king of fundraising among candidates for the Vermont Senate. Best known as executive director of the Energy Action Network, a nonprofit that encompasses business, nonprofits and government to address energy issues and climate change, Duval is now running for Senate in the Washington County district. And as of the July 1 reporting deadline, he had raised $23,629.

He outraised the number-two finisher in the entire state by nearly $10,000.

In fact, only six Senate candidates have managed to tally five figures. And one of those, Erhard Mahnke of the Chittenden Central district, donated $10,000 to his own campaign, so he barely counts.

None of the other five-figure fundraisers are from Chittenden, Vermont’s most populous and most prosperous county. Two are from Washington County: Duval and Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson, who raised $10,815. (Bit of an asterisk there; Watson transferred $1,735 from her mayoral campaign fund and her husband Zach Watson, fka one-term state Rep. Zach Ralph, donated $1,580. Even so, she has substantial support.)

Two more are from Windham: Wichie Artu with $14,027 and Nader Hashim with $12,213. The other Parent Warbucks is a real surprise: Self-styled “Agripublican” and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate John Klar has raised $12,019 in his bid to unseat perpetual incumbent Democrat Mark MacDonald in the Orange district. While Klar topped five figures, MacDonald didn’t even file a report. I doubt that he will be much troubled by Klar’s surprising bankroll. Still, it’s a considerable feat for a marginal political figure to raise more than $12,000 for a Senate race. It’s a hell of a lot better than any other Republican Senate candidate has done.

These few success stories aside, the narrative in most Senate campaigns is “How can we do more with less?” The money is, indeed, thin on the ground.

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How Not To Be a Stealth Candidate

Gregory Thayer and John Klar are both running for office this year. Thayer, for lieutenant governor; Klar, for state senator. And as is the current strategery for far-right candidates, they are trying to present themselves as mainstream conservatives.

This can work for a relative unknown like Liz Cady, who lied her way to a seat on the Essex-Westford school board (and resigned earlier this year). But Thayer and Klar? They’ve been in the public eye far too long. What’s more, their hearts and minds really aren’t in it. The cray-cray leaks out all over the place.

Let’s do Thayer first. I thought I’d check in on the trainwreck race for the Republican LG nomination, which features serious human being Sen. Joe Benning versus Thayer, who attended the January 6 insurrection (heck, he helped organize a bus tour to the thing) and put together a nice little anti-critical race theory road show. Both VPR — err, Vermont Public — and VTDigger have hosted LG debates recently. Digger’s suffers from horrible audio quality, so I watched the Vermont Public Ra — cough, sorry — event.

Benning, of course, ran rings around Thayer logically. But Thayer’s demeanor was curiously subdued because he was trying to be someone he’s not.

It didn’t work very well.

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Alleged Moderate Endorses Extremist

Hey, is Jim Douglas getting crotchety in his old age? Is he sporting a tinfoil hat these days? First he turns his back (in a very limited, unimpactful way) on his alma mater Middlebury College for removing the name of eugenicist Vermont Governor John Mead from a campus chapel. Now he’s gone and given his imprimatur to state Senate candidate and certified extremist John Klar.

You know, the guy who ran against Gov. Phil Scott in the Republican primary two years ago? The guy who wants to recast the VTGOP as an ultraconservative, white supremacist-adjacent organization? That guy. “We need balance in Montpelier,” Douglas wrote of Klar. “We need real-world experience. John Klar has the energy and the background to tackle our problems.”

Hmmm. “The background,” you say.

This would be the same John Klar who’s been harassing the Orange Southwest School Board over a Black Lives Matter flag, which he calls “illegal,” and has accused BLM of practicing “reverse racism.”

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Wanted: Local Officials With Guts

We’ve got a disturbing trend on our hands: Small-town officials coming under heavy pressure from small groups of loud people. Or even one single person.

I’ve written at length about stealth conservatives running for local office, rabble-rousing over critical race theory and Black Lives Matter, and arguing over school mascots. But three more incidents have recently come to the fore: the Chester library board suspending Drag Queen Story Hour, the Canaan school board facing demands to remove books from the school library, and the Randolph school board voting to take down a “Black Lives Matter” flag.

This isn’t going away anytime soon. The American Library Association says it’s getting more reports of attempted book banning than ever before. The head of the ALA, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, says “It’s a volume of challenges I’ve never seen” in her 20 years in the organization.

“When you have organizations like Heritage Foundation and Family Policy Alliance publishing materials that instruct parents on how to challenge books in the school library or the public library, right down to a challenge form enclosed in the booklet so they can just fill it out, you’re seeing a challenge to our democratic values of free speech, freedom of thought, freedom of belief.”

It’s never been easy to be a local official. It’s a lot of work. You’re always on call. When things go wrong, you get the blame. But these organized movements present a new level of difficulty. Local boards of all kinds are facing loud, insistent demands from tiny cohorts of The Aggrieved.

Our local public servants don’t need any more headaches. But they’ve got ’em, and they’ll have to respond.

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Dregs of the Ballot: Katie Parent

This, ladies and germs, is Katie Parent, candidate for school board in Springfield, bragging about having “picked a fight against the district.”

Well, as long as you’ve got an open mind.

Parent has a conspiratorial view of critical race theory. She has posted messages on social media in support of the truckers’ convoy to Washington, D.C., which means she’s cool with closing down cities, being loud and obnoxious, harassing locals, and interfering with daily life. As you see above, she’s also identified herself as part of a closed Facebook group called “Vermont Against Excessive Quarantine.” So she covers the waterfront of far-right activism.

Funny thing, she doesn’t seem nearly so brave outside of her little right-wing bubbles. This week, Seven Days did a long and worthwhile story on far-right candidates for school and select boards, and Parent was one of several who did not answer requests for interviews. Braveheart!

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Law and Order: Discriminatory Intent

While the bulk of our attention was focused on Dan French’s abject surrender to the Omicron variant, we got hit with a double dose of bad news regarding the equity of our justice system. Or should I say the lack thereof.

The first hit was a study showing that Black people were six times as likely to be jailed in Vermont as white people. The second was the latest installment in a series of studies showing a substantial racial disparity in traffic stops, searches and seizures. Those are, respectively, the endpoint and the beginning of the so-called “justice” system.

Can there be any doubt that we have a big problem in our law-n-order process? Can there be any doubt that Black people are getting the short end of the stick?

Nope.

Well, unless your name is “John Klar,” but more on that later.

Stop me if you’ve seen this movie before. Statistics showing racial disparities are revealed. They are met with furrowed brows and Expressions of Earnest ConcernTM, along with determination to Get To The Bottom Of This. Time passes, another round of statistics is revealed, lather, rinse, repeat. Makes me tired, sad, and mad.

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Hello Stupid, My Old Friend

Now that the Olympics are over, let us return to our regularly scheduled awards for stupidity and/or obtuseness in the public sphere. Unlike Olympic champions, you won’t see these honorees standing tall and proud while their national anthem is played.

In the leadoff spot we have the Remind Me, Whose House Is This Again? Award, which goes to State Rep. Alice Emmons, for publicly pondering whether reporters should be barred from the Statehouse.

Emmons, chair of the House Corrections & Institutions Committee, is the longest-serving state lawmaker, and has a prickly attitude toward the media. I once saw her berate a reporter in front of a couple dozen people, because the reporter dared to record a committee hearing on his phone. Technically, people are supposed to check with the chair before recording, but that rule is never, ever enforced. Except when Emmons gets a bee in her bonnet. So reading this passage in VTDigger wasn’t much of a surprise:

Rep. Alice Emmons, D-Springfield, told the Joint Legislative Management Committee that while “we want to make sure the press is available to our work,” she is unsure “how that happens on their end.” She said that while it’s possible the press will be allowed to cover the Legislature in person in 2022, “they could also do it by Zoom.”

Yes, they could. But c’mon, if you’re reopening the Statehouse, you’ve got to let the reporters in. It’s a little thing called “freedom of the press.”

After the jump: A doomed attack line, a twisting of history, and the flimsiest felony,

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Hey Hey, We’re the Veepies!

This being midsummer in a non-election year, things are a little bit show in #vtpoliland. Or maybe there’s stuff going on, but since there are practically no reporters on the #vtpoli beat right now, we’d never find out about it.

As a result of this lack of news, this edition of the Veepies (our awards for stupidity and/or obtuseness in the public sphere) roams far afield into the realms of journalistic conflicts of interest, conservatives panicking over nothing, and even sports talk radio.

That’s where we begin. The Please Stop Talking About Something You Know Nothing About Award goes to Rich and Arnie, co-hosts of the afternoon talk show on Burlington’s 101.3 The Game. On Tuesday afternoon, the day Simone Biles withdrew from the team gymnastics competition, the boys pulled down their pants and showed their asses for all to see. (The show is archived on the station’s website and podcast.)

Arnie repeatedly referred to BIles’ mental health crisis as “having a bad day,” and accused Biles of costing her team the gold medal. Rich questioned “the timing” of her withdrawal, and asked, “Was she having a bad day first, or was she having a bad day after she messed up the vault?” (She withdrew after a subpar performance on the vault.)

This happens every time a societal or political issue intrudes on the Toy Department of Life. Sports talk radio is suddenly, horribly out of its depth.

Look, guys. You can’t schedule a mental health crisis. You don’t know what’s going to set it off. When it happens, it can be like a tsunami dragging you down. We know that Biles felt unable to compete safely, so withdrawing was the responsible thing — for her well-being and for the team’s prospects in the competition. So just shut up about issues that you can’t be bothered to learn about, and stop making fools of yourselves.

After the jump: Two cases of conservative hysteria, and a veteran reporter steps in it.

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