Tag Archives: Mark Johnson Show

A cup of weak tea… with Kristin Carlson

Last week, I reacted to the news of Vermont PBS’ new program, “Connect… with Kristin Carlson” with a measure of skepticism over the host’s dual role — as host of the show, and as lead spokesperson for Green Mountain Power, the state’s largest utility.

Since then, the show has had its premiere. And sorry, I didn’t watch. I did, however, listen to Carlson’s July 9 interview with WDEV’s Mark Johnson about the new show. During the interview, Johnson quizzed her about the conflict of interest questions. And her answers were surprisingly weak and one-dimensional. Uncharacteristically so, for a person with double digits’ experience in TV news who’s now one of the most prominent corporate spokesflacks in Vermont. I presume she does a better job when she’s representing GMP.

Anyhoo, kind of an underwhelming performance. Her fallback position, expressed several times, was that this is not an “issue” show, but a show about “sharing the stories of Vermonters.” She’ll avoid talking with people who would create an obvious conflict — which could include quite a swath of Vermonters, depending on how you interpret “conflict.” She wouldn’t interview GMP President Mary Powell — or anti-renewable activist Annette Smith, for that matter. But how far does she take it?

Is anyone involved in energy issues, or environmental issues, or business, on the no-show list? To be on the safe side, they probably should be; but the bigger that list becomes, the more incomplete the show becomes.

Johnson asked about potential guests who don’t have an obvious conflict, but “you never know where a conversation is going to go.” Her response?

… I do a lot of the pre-interviews with people, talk to them about what we’re going to talk about, and if I get into an area where I might think ‘Okay, this might be a little, mmmm,’ then we just won’t do it.

My prediction? If she plans to err on the side of caution, this will by necessity be a pretty toothless show. Or at best a deficient reflection of Vermont’s character.

But that’s not the real problem.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Bishop Coyne: “It’s gonna take us a long time”

Well, my substitute hosting duties on The Mark Johnson Show are over for this round. On my last day, Monday, came the interview I’d most been looking forward to*: The Most Rev. Christopher Coyne, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington.

*And that’s saying something; I had a lot of great guests, and I thank them all.

When Bishop Coyne was installed in January 2014, much was written about his career in the Church, including his years as chief spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese. But little scrutiny was given to that period, which was a crucial one in the history of the modern American Church.

The Archdiocesan spokesman in 2002, carefully choosing his words.

The Archdiocesan spokesman in 2002, carefully choosing his words.

He was the front man for Bernard Cardinal Law during the depths of the child sex abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese to its core. It ultimately forced Cardinal Law, one of the most powerful Churchmen in America, to scurry off to a well-appointed hidey-hole in the Vatican, where he still resides.

There were many things I wanted to ask the Bishop. But, in light of the continuing scandals in the Church, the one thing I most wanted to ask about was whether the Church has changed itself, improved, reformed — and how he reflects back on his time defending the seemingly indefensible.

I give him full credit. He answered with honesty and humility. Sure, he was a bit defensive about the institution to which he has devoted his life; but he admitted that the Church had dug its own moral cesspit, that it had no one to blame but itself, and that restoring the compromised moral authority of the Church will take a lot of hard work and a very long time.

It was much more than I expected from a Church lifer. And yeah, I believe he was being sincere.

Continue reading

Welch declines the honor

Okay, so I’m on the air live this morning on The Mark Johnson Show. House Speaker Shap Smith, openly considering a run for governor but waiting to see what Congressman Peter Welch would do, has just left after a 45-minute interview. I’ve got Randy Brock, once and (possibly) future Republican candidate, sitting with me in the studio waiting for his interview to start.

And then, in rapid-fire succession, the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality is released… and I find out that Welch has just announced he will not run for governor, but will instead seek re-election to Congress.

Trust me, I didn’t need any coffee to get through that hour. I missed the chance to break the news to Speaker Smith, which would have just been the most fun thing ever. (As of this writing, I’m seeking reaction from him.) I did get to break the news to Brock, which was pretty fun itself.

Live radio, I love thee.

Brock, by the way, said that Welch’s status was one factor in his consideration, but only one of “300 or 400” things he’s weighing. But he sure seemed like he’s rarin’ to go.

Back to the main issue here. How does the Welch decision affect the race?

Continue reading

Son of Return of theVPO Media Crossover Event!!!!! (UPDATED)

Yep, preparing to get back in the saddle again and host The Mark Johnson Show on WDEV radio the next three weekdays. 550 AM or 96.1 FM in north-central VT (the AM signal can be heard from Burlington to the Connecticut River valley) and live streaming at wdevradio.com. Dates and guests:

Thursday 6/25, 9 am. Jim Salzman, professor of law and environmental policy at Duke University, and expert on water issues and policy. He’s author of “Drinking Water: A History,” a book that explores the very vital — and frequently changing — role that water plays in human society. He just finished a visit to Vermont Law School as a visiting summer scholar. We’ll talk about drinking water’s past, present and future. The School has posted a YouTube video of a lecture given by Prof. Salzman; you can find it here.

Thursday 6/25, 10 am. Matt Dunne, former State Senator and gubernatorial candidate, now head of community affairs for Google. He’s actively considering another run for governor. Oops; last-minute cancellation. Dunne was supposed to fly home from an out-of-state trip Wednesday night; stormy weather prevented that. Or, as he put it in an email to me, “I’m stuck in Chattanooga.” Currently effecting a replacement guest. (Friday and Monday guests after the jump.) Continue reading

Return of theVPO Media Crossover Event!!!

Prepping for another hosting spot on WDEV’s Mark Johnson Show Monday morning. Also Thursday, Friday, and next Monday the 29th. Here’s the lineup for tomorrow and some notes on the rest of the week…

9:00 Monday: State Rep. Corey Parent, R-St. Albans. He was one of eight freshman state lawmakers chosen for the Canadian Embassy’s “Rising State Leaders” program, which included a tour of eastern Canada. We’ll talk about his trip and his reflections on his first year in the Legislature. And since he’s from Franklin County, I’m sure I’ll ask him about Sen. Norm McAllister.

10:00 Monday: Sarah McCall, executive director of Emerge Vermont, a group that trains aspiring women to enter the political arena. (Vermont has rarely elected women to statewide office, and has never sent a woman to Congress.) We’ll talk about the ongoing shakeup in Vermont politics and whether it creates chances for women to move up the ladder.

And later in the hour, we’ll catch up with State Sen. Becca Balint. She was a 2014 graduate of Emerge Vermont, who went on to win a Senate seat from Windham County. She’ll talk about what the program did for her, and her thoughts on Year One in the legislature.

As for my other upcoming days…

Continue reading

Rent-to-own abuses reined in

On Monday, Governor Shumlin announced something or other. Everybody paid attention.

On Tuesday, he signed a bill that will help a lot of people. Pretty much nobody paid any attention.

S.73 is a consumer protection bill whose primary purpose is to prevent rent-to-own stores from preying on the working poor. When I was a guest on the Mark Johnson Show after the legislative session and he asked me which piece of legislation would have the most impact, I said that for some, it wouldn’t be education reform or RESET or the budget or Lake Champlain; it’d be S.73.

Rent-to-own stores, at their worst, are a lot like payday lenders: they allow the poor to acquire consumer goods like furniture, electronics, and appliances with little or no money up front. Instead, they charge monthly lease rates. In some cases, a consumer will pay far more over the life of a lease than they would have if they’d paid cash (or had a credit card) up front. Like 200% more.

It’s usury by another name.

Continue reading

It’s looking like the vaccine bill will get a vote — UPDATED

Although I favor repealing the philosophical exemption for childhood vaccinations, I’ve been predicting that the issue will be pulled from the House calendar due to (1) time constraints and (2) unwillingness to tackle yet another controversy.

Looks like I was wrong.

House Speaker Shap Smith was on WDEV’s Mark Johnson Show this morning, and he indicated that the vaccine bill (H.98) would be up for a vote on Tuesday. In his own typically oblique way; if pressed on his answer, I’m sure he’d say that he didn’t promise a vote on Tuesday. Here are his exact words:

It’s very possible that it could come to a vote on Tuesday in the House. It’s not a caucus issue; I don’t think it’s a caucus issue on either side. It looks to me that there is signifant support to remove the philosophical exemption; I think there’s some room around that to maybe give people time to address that. I don’t know when the implementation date will be for it, whether there needs to be a transition plan for schools. There are a number of internal issues that we’ve got to deal with, but it would not surprise me to see that come to the floor next week.

Cute. The guy who’s in charge of scheduling the calendar says “it would not surprise me” to see the bill pop up on the calendar. Hahaha.

Continue reading