Tag Archives: Steve Zind

How to reverse course without changing position

… The Phil Scott Way.

Congratulations to our Lieutenant Governor for arriving at the right answer on Syrian refugees. It only took him eight days to do it, which is kind of unseemly for a guy who wants to be our take-charge, New-Direction chief executive. A bit more clarity and alacrity would seem to be minimal qualifications for the corner office. But congratulations anyway: he may have taken the scenic route (unusual for a veteran race car driver), but he did manage to arrive at the right destination.

Scott now says it’s okay for Vermont to accept Syrian refugees. Also, he dubiously claims that his position hasn’t changed.

Which, hahaha. Let’s look at the record.

On November 17, Scott said the following to VPR’s Steve Zind:

“I think it’s incumbent upon us to [bar Syrian refugees] until such time as the federal government can prove it’s meeting its national security obligations,” said Scott.

Need I point out that “can prove” is an awfully high bar? Can the government absolutely prove it’s meeting its obligations? Especially without, say, revealing information best kept on the down-low?

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Scott and Lisman go for the low-hanging fruit

Predictable but disappointing. As VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

Bruce Lisman and Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, Vermont’s two Republican gubernatorial candidates, say the state should hold off on allowing refugees from Syria to settle in Vermont.

Oh, hooray, yippee, huzzah. What leadership, pandering to our fears instead of our values.

The two candidates are also showing their ignorance. Well, either that or their willingness to lie through their teeth.

“I think it’s incumbent upon us to [bar Syrian refugees] until such time as the federal government can prove it’s meeting its national security obligations,” said Scott. “Making sure that there is a rigorous process to be sure that it’s just peace-loving Syrians and others that want to come into our states.”

Hey, Phil. The federal government is meeting its national security obligations. It has an extremely rigorous process for vetting refugees. So much so, that it forces us to basically default on our humanitarian obligations.

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A powerful display of self-interest, enlightened and otherwise

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott And Friends held their little Vermont Economy Pitch thingy last night. I couldn’t attend, more’s the pity. Scanning the available news sources, I see only two reports: one from VPR’s Steve Zind, and one from WCAX’s Eva McKend.

The event’s purpose was to solicit input from the business community on how to improve Vermont’s economy. (And, thinking cynically, position Scott as the business community’s leading advocate in Montpelier.)

Because, as we all know, no one in Montpelier ever listens to the business community. Truly, they are the voiceless among us. Cough, choke.

From what I read, the event failed to produce anything like a consensus. Quite the opposite: it seemingly delivered a parade of self-interest. Speaker after speaker suggested ideas aimed at helping his or her own sector.

Zind has a businessman from Stowe calling for more promotion of tourism. There’s a shocker.

On the other hand, representatives of manufacturing and technology called for the state to market itself less as a rural throwback and more as a great place to live and run a business.

Enough with the covered bridges already! Let’s fill our tourism brochures with pictures of factories, subdivisions, and strip malls!

Here’s my favorite:

Frank Cioffi of the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce suggested that up to 10 businesses in each county be designated strategic employers and the state should focus on helping them.

How about that. The number-one cheerleader for IBM says we should focus on the state’s biggest businesses. Seems short-sighted to me; for one thing, big employers often make siting decisions without regard to Vermont policy. Including IBM itself, of course. For another, it’s reactive instead of proactive: we’d be helping the already established, instead of encouraging the up-and-comers who are actually creating new jobs. But what else would you expect from Frank Cioffi?

And here’s a tidbit from WCAX:

Matthew Dodds of Brandthropology says the state has a branding problem…

Gee, the head of a firm that helps clients “steward brands intelligently” thinks Vermont needs better stewardship of its brand.

Next we have an educator who says the biggest problem is, you guessed it, education.

Vermont Technical College President Dan Smith… said employers are eager for the college’s graduates, but financial woes caused by the low level of state funding are preventing VTC from meeting the demand for skilled workers.

One more, and I hate to do this because he’s a good guy. But Cairn Cross of Fresh Tracks Capital, believes the problem is inadequate access to capital. (I do give him credit for spotlighting a single statute, the Licensed Lender Law, as a roadblock. Far better than the usual “cut regulations, lower taxes, permit reform” blah-blah-blah.)

I’m sure there’s some wisdom in all these suggestions, but it adds up to a “Blind Men and the Elephant” scenario, with speakers interpreting the situation in light of their own viewpoints.

VPR’s Zind does report that there were some “recurring themes,” including job training, making housing more affordable, and (yes) access to capital.

But there’s not much new there. And the business community isn’t helping its cause in Montpelier if they’re all preaching from their own separate Scriptures.

Pope Sal Spreads the Gospel of His Omniscience

Hey, remember Salvatore Matano, former Catholic Bishop of Burlington? He got promoted to the bishopric of Rochester, New York last year, and he’s already making waves in his new parish even as the effects of his Vermont tenure continue to reverberate. 

Matano is described thusly by the National Catholic Reporter

Matano is a classmate and friend of Cardinal Raymond Burke. Burke is well known for a certain rigid legalism during his tenure in St. Louis. In 2008, he was appointed prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the church’s highest canonical body, and would eventually become a member of the Congregation for Bishops. In this capacity, Burke had a hand in appointing his former classmate to Rochester.

Funny thing: Burke thrived under the legalistic papacy of Benedict, but was quickly tossed from the Congregation by Benny’s successor, Pope Francis. 

Back to Our Pal Sal, whose Vermont tenure featured a stout defense against any and all claims in the clergy sex-abuse scandal. Foot-dragging, denial of responsibility, pleas of poverty… Sal used the entire playbook. 

Well, now VPR’s Steve Zind reports another choice tidbit from the Matano Era. While Sal was still here, the Vatican issued a survey to gather input from the faithful and “encouraged bishops to disseminate it as widely as possible, including at the parish level.”

Instead, according the Concerned Catholics of Vermont, Our Pal grabbed the survey and filled it out himself. And is refusing to disclose the nature of his responses. CCOVT says: 

Vermont Catholics have no notion what was reported to Rome about how we access the surveyed issues and, given no information about the consultation undertaken, we have no grounds for knowing whether the report was accurate.

The survey covered hot-button topics like birth control, divorce, and marriage equality, and was meant to gather the views of Catholics in advance of an “extraordinary synod of Bishops” next month. 

Well, thanks to Matano, the views of Vermont Catholics are shut out of the process. 

Meanwhile, in his new posting in Rochester, Matano is imposing regressive policies. The NCR:  

Bishop Salvatore Matano, the new bishop of Rochester, N.Y., is in the process of ending a 40-year custom of permitting lay ministers to preach at Mass. Most are women commissioned to preach by the former bishop, Matthew Clark. All have advanced degrees in theology and all have served for many years in various diocesan leadership positions.

“Well, they might be tremendously gifted and qualified,” I can hear Matano saying, “but… but… they’re WOMEN! They have LADYPARTS! God forbid we should sully our pulpits with vaginal juices!” 

Yeah, semen stains on the robes are fine, but we can’t let GIRLS in our clubhouse!

The National Catholic Reporter sees Matano’s elevation to Rochester as part of Benedict’s efforts to promote conservative doctrine. Let’s hope Francis is paying attention to Sal’s medieval policies, both in Vermont and in Rochester.