Monthly Archives: December 2007

Racine: I am still thinking about running for governor

Seven Days’ Peter Freyne wrote in his "Inside Track" column today that State Sen. Doug Racine is not serious about running for governor next year.

Not so, said Racine, who I reached on his cell phone after he finished up some holiday shopping in Burlington Wednesday afternoon.

"I’m still strongly considering a run for governor," Racine said. "I don’t know where Freyne got that from, but he never called me about it."

Does Freyne know something we don’t?

Meanwhile, Anthony Pollina seemed to jump start his campaign against Gov. James Douglas this week with a quarter-page ad in Seven Days saying he is looking for campaign staff and volunteers. This move probably puts him a lot closer to an actual campaign (when an actual announcement will be made is still anyone’s guess) than any of the other major challengers out there.

-Dan Barlow

High-tech plant closing; 75 people to lose jobs

Alan Walker, the senior director of Qimonda’s Vermont operation, stood next to Gov. James Douglas and several other business leaders from the state’s high-tech industry several months ago and proclaimed his intention to expand the business here.

Now they are closing and laying off at least 75 people. Oops.

From the Associated Press:

Walker appeared with Governor Jim Douglas and other officials at a news conference in August, saying the company planned to grow in Vermont and needed more technically skilled employees.

The job losses are a tough blow to Vermont; many Qimonda employees were making in the range of $85,000 a year.

Vermont Economic Development Commissioner Mike Quinn said he and others in his department were "disappointed about the news." He said the state hoped to step up efforts to find another high-tech employer or employers to hire affected workers.

-Dan Barlow

Democrats to talk pot next year

House Speaker Gaye Symington and Senate President Peter Shumlin held a Statehouse press conference Thursday to talk about their health care plans.

But at least a few people there wondered what the two top Democrats thought of the recent scuffle between Gov. James Douglas and Windsor County State’s Attorney Robert Sand, who has made headlines for supporting the decriminalization of marijuana.

If you don’t remember, Douglas asked police to bypass Sand’s office on marijuana cases after he ordered diversion for a local attorney caught with more than 30 pot plants. But then last week a case surfaced in Orange County where the prosecutor ordered diversion for a man arrested with more than 100 plants.

And this week, Douglas rescinded his Sand policy after the prosecutor made it clear he does not have a policy of sending first-time possession cases to diversion. Douglas said the Orange County case had no bearing on his decision – but the news provided some ammo for his critics.

Symington and Shumlin seemed a bit reluctant to talk about the scuffle. But Symington characterized Douglas’ switch as a “retreat from his intrusion into the prerogative” of a state’s attorney.

“He was wrong on this one,” agreed Shumlin.

The Senate President added that he is interested in having a drug policy debate in the new session, saying the state “wastes tremendous resources prosecuting small charges and researching small charges.”

He said the Senate Judiciary Committee to look into the issue of marijuana prosecutions.

-Dan Barlow

Meet the new Commissioner of Public Safety

Tom Tremblay, the chief of the Burlington Police Department, is the new commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety.

The 46-year-old Tremblay has been with the Burlington P.D. since the early 1980s. He replaces Kerry Sleeper, who is retiring. Tremblay’s first day of work will be Jan. 7.

Here’s what Gov. James Douglas had to say:

"He is a proven manager and innovator in the growth of community policing.  I look forward to working with Tom to build on the progress we’ve made in combating substance abuse, protecting families from sexual predators and domestic violence, strengthening the fire service and enhancing the emergency preparedness of every community."

And now Tremblay:

"I welcome this exciting opportunity to work with Vermont’s public safety community, advance Governor Douglas’ public safety initiatives and continue to strengthen the services the department provides to the people of Vermont."

I know I’m interested in what Tremblay thinks of this.

-Dan Barlow

Truly, the Singing Senators are no more

Thanks to the Washington Post for reminding me that with U.S. Sen. Trent Lott’s upcoming resignation, the famous Singing Senators foursome truly are no more.

If you don’t remember who the Singing Senators are, here’s the quick explanation: They were a Barbershop quartet of Senate Republicans who formed in 1995 and sang at various functions in and around Washington, D.C. They even released a CD!

Anyway, a few of the members got quite famous, and not for their voices.

Founding member U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, now retired from Congress, left after he bolted the Republican Party in early 2001. John Ashcroft was forced to "leave the band" after he lost his seat in the 2000 election (although he went on to become attorney general, so don’t feel bad).

And of course there is Sen. Larry Craig. We all know what happened to him.

But with Lott’s upcoming resignation, the quartet is now a solo act. And probably not one that would have a huge fanbase with the typical Barbershop crowd.

Hopefully there will be a new fleet of golden-voiced Republicans (heck, why not make it a bipartisan affair … some of those Democrats have good pipes too!) who will carry on the tradition.

-Dan Barlow