Monthly Archives: February 2008

Chelsea hearts Vermont

Chelsea Clinton will be coming to Vermont Friday to campaign for her mom, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. The visit is four days before the state’s presidential primary, which could be key for either of the two top Dems to secure the nomination.

A time and a place for the visit should be announced by the Clinton camp soon.

-Dan Barlow


I laughed a bit this morning while reading the latest "Wally Edge" column on on the "rumor around the Statehouse" that Rep. Daryl Pillsbury would be challenging Sen. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Jeanette White for one of their seats in November.

Now pushing aside the obvious question of when "legitimate" blogs began running rumors, had this Web site had any actual reporters at the Statehouse, they would know this is far more than a rumor (for more on the out-of-state PolitickerVT and its anonymous editor-in-chief, check out this recent Seven Days article).

Not only did Pillsbury announce LAST YEAR that he would probably be running for the state senate from Windham County, but he officially announced last week, one day before Wally’s column ran, on a Brattleboro radio station. Later that day, Pillsbury trekked up to the reporter’s balcony in the House chambers to give me his official press release.

I don’t normally like to slog on other media outlets for their reporting ’cause we all make mistakes. But this was on my mind this morning as I sifted through old town meeting poll questions that Sen. Bill Doyle had sent along … and I found this gem from 1988: "Do you believe the Vermont news media is doing a good job?"

In the previous decade, the trend has been consolidation and a focus on national news in newspapers. That pendulum is swinging the other way now, I think, and while consolidation won’t be going away, there is an increased focus on local news and local content.

PolitickerVT, along with its sister sites for other nearby states, are trying to exploit that new paradigm with the new technology of blogging, while still sticking to its old guns. I guess we are now at the point where we have to ask ourselves, what is the Vermont media in an age where your news could be coming from a pseudonym with out-of-state masters?

-Dan Barlow

Fund Raising in Vermont

Is your neighbor funding the Obama campaign or Clinton’s bid? Did a local official throw money away last year to Giuliani’s failed drive? Find out by simply selecting the Address Search tab below and entering a zip code or town to find out who is donating to whom in the 2008 election. Courtesy of the


or try out this widget – select the Address Search tab and enter your zip code for best results.

Sex sells?

When I sat down yesterday with the two Sunday papers I read, I was a little surprised to see a picture of a female stripper in the Times Argus/ Rutland Herald (a story about bachelor parties) and a picture of female prostitutes in the New York Times (a story about Amsterdam trying to clean up its red-light district).

Papers run photos and stories all the time about war and death and we don’t blink an eye. But stories on sex printed on newsprint gives us pause. Strange little world, isn’t it?

Still, it was nothing nearly as graphic as what FOX stations apparently aired back in 2003.

-Dan Barlow on those Vermont Clinton ads

Have you seen the Sen. Clinton for president ads running in Vermont now? Yeah, me neither. But that’s just because I don’t watch TV.

But I do read, the political satire Web site. And today Wonkette reminds us of what the rest of the country thinks of Vermont.

Here’s what they had to say:

Hillary is finally starting to act like the humans and is competing in more than two states. This ad, for example, is running in the French Canadian province of Vermont. Big mistake — how can she possibly win over the state’s 90% black population?

Ha, ha. OK, back to work now.

-Dan Barlow

Rock star at the Statehouse

021908_1134 If you saw a man making muscle poses around the Statehouse Tuesday, don’t worry: It was only Jon "Bowzer" Bauman, formerly of the doo wop revival group Sha Na Na.

Being from a younger generation, I admit I had to Google Bowzer before I knew who he was (unfortunately I did that AFTER Sen. John Campbell introduced us outside of the Vermont House chambers this morning).

But I’ve since learned that Sha Na Na performed at Woodstock and wrote lots of songs for the "Grease" film soundtrack. Bowzer also hosted Hollywood Squares for a year or so in the 1980s. Not bad, huh?

Anyway, he certainly was treated like a rock star at the Statehouse, where he was testifying on a bill that would protect older music acts from fraudulent groups that steal their names and songs. Right after his testimony, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill 5-0.

And then came the photos. Bowzer posed with senators, he posed with legislative staff and he even posed with Bob Stannard, a Vermont blues player and lobbyist at the Statehouse (that’s the two of them above).

It may have been the most fun I’ve had in a committee meeting, well, ever.

-Dan Barlow

Why I love being at the Statehouse

Because I can walk into the House chambers on a Tuesday morning to find Majority Leader Carolyn Partridge leading lawmakers in a reading of Sojourner Truth’s famous 1851 speech, "Ain’t I A Woman?"

-Dan Barlow

Leahy talks super-delegate count

021808_1054U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy swung through Montpelier Monday morning to announce new federal funds for anti-drug efforts.

But when the presentation at the Montpelier Police department (above is a picture of Leahy chatting with State Police Capt. Thomas L’Esperance), the press moved onto more national issues, such as what the heck is going on in the Democratic primary for president?

“You don’t want to hear about my role in the upcoming Batman movie?” Leahy joked, referring to his cameo in the new movie based on the DC Comics character, which comes out later this year.

Leahy, a super-delegate who has pledged to support Sen. Barack Obama, said he hopes the nomination is not still an open question when the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Denver in late August.

Vermont’s senior senator added that he doubts that super-delegates would vote as a block. If either Obama or Sen. Hillary Clinton wins overwhelmingly in a state, he expects the supers to fall in line. If it is a close race in their state, their pledges would also reflect that, he added.

“They’re not a monolithic block,” he said. “It’s not going to happen anywhere.”

-Dan Barlow

Dubie: Vermonters too stoned to work

OK, I’m having a bit of fun with that headline. But that is essentially want Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie told a gaggle of reporters during an anti-marijuana press conference at the Statehouse Friday morning.

Dubie presides over the Vermont Senate, which this week easily passed a bill lowering criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana. And now as the bill heads over to the Vermont House, Dubie stepped down from his podium to speak against the measure.

In explaining his opposition, Dubie mentioned a recent visit he had to a machine shop in Lyndonville. The shop owner complained that he has jobs open, but can’t fill them because "seven out of 10" of his applicants fail a drug test, Dubie told the reporters.

A few of the reporters – including me – were a bit taken aback by that number. Seventy percent of job applicants using drugs seemed very, very high.

"That’s what he told me," Dubie said, when reporters asked him about the piece of info again.

Throughout this debate, I’ve heard many concerns, some valid and some not-so-much, that changing the penalties for marijuana will lead to more kids smoking the plant, higher health care costs and increased mental illness and substance abuse.

But this may have been the first time I heard some one suggest that it is affecting the quality of the available workforce.

-Dan Barlow

Looks like the campaign has begun

When Gov. James Douglas announced his joint appearance with Sen. John McCain this morning, the e-mail carried something most people probably haven’t seen yet: a Jim Douglas for Governor ’08 logo.

Looks like the "games" have begun.

Meanwhile, Democrats (who I’m sure are smarting a bit that a Republican presidential candidate is touching down in the state before either of the two major Democratic candidates have) have been quick to hit McCain and Douglas today, many of them highlighting McCain’s support for the Iraq War.

Here’s Vermont Democratic Party Chair Ian Carleton:

Unlike John McCain and Jim Douglas, Vermonters think it’s time for Iraq to take care of Iraq and for America to confront the challenges we face at home and refocus our energies on building a brighter future for all Americans. On the war, SCHIP and tax cuts, McCain is out of touch with Vermonters and the majority of Americans who are demanding a real change in priorities. McCain’s policies offer little more than a third term for President Bush. It is troubling, if not surprising, that Vermont’s governor would put partisan allegiances ahead of the best interests of Vermonters. Why is our governor supporting four more years of the Bush policies that have done real damage to our state?

And Democrat Peter Galbraith (who is sounding more and more like a candidate for governor each day):

Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign rests on the false premise that the surge in Iraq is working.  As part of the surge, the Bush Administration began financing Sunni militias called the Awakening.  While they have fought al-Qaeda, they consist mainly of unreconstructed supporters of Saddam Hussein.  They have no interest in democracy, a supposed American goal in Iraq, and bitterly oppose Iraq’s government.  Senator McCain boasts of a drop in violence in Iraq but this may be only temporary.  After a brief lull, suicide bomb attacks and sectarian killings are again increasing in Iraq.  Senator McCain, who has spoken of a hundred year U.S. presence in Iraq, would have the U.S. continue to support an Iraqi government that is Iran’s closest ally in the world and a Sunni militia filled with supporters of Saddam Hussein as these two groups prepare to fight a civil war against each other.  Vermonters sensibly reject President Bush’s disastrous Iraq War that John McCain would continue.

Personally, I’m excited to hear McCain speak again tomorrow. He was the first presidential candidate I met when I was still a college student and interning at a New Hampshire weekly newspaper in 1999. But I’m betting there are some Vermonters less excited about one of the loudest supporters of the Iraq military surge coming to a state where support for that war is scant.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see a protester or ten in Burlington Thursday.

-Dan Barlow

Meet the (possible) Democratic candidate for governor

Peter Galbraith will be making the rounds next week as he continues to think about running for Vermont governor.

Party faithful can hear him speak at the following times and locations:

Franklin County, BFA St. Albans Cafeteria, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.;

Orleans County, Glover Town Hall, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m.;

Orange County, Bradford Academy, Feb. 13.

-Dan Barlow

Rutland, pot and crime

One of the first things I wondered to myself early this week was how the fatal shooting in Rutland – which allegedly occurred during a deal for a small amount of marijuana – would affect the conversations in Montpelier over decriminalization of the plant.

And after sitting through the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on pot Thursday, it’s clear that it probably won’t be much.

Sen. Kevin Mullin, a Republican from Rutland County, voted for the bill that came out of the committee yesterday. Interestingly, the lawmaker that voted against the bill is a Democrat from Windsor County, the same place that prosecutor Robert Sand (who kicked off these debates with his calls for new drug policies) hails from.

Mullin did raise the Rutland criminal case during talks Thursday, but only in his arguments to lower from two ounces to one ounce of marijuana for the proposed new regulation to kick in. The chair of the body, Bennington County Sen. Richard Sears, had suggested two ounces in his original rewrite of the bill, but clearly walked into Thursday’s meeting willing to compromise.

But the shooting clearly gave ammo to both sides of the debate this week. Opponents of decriminalization can point to the tragic situation as evidence that the plant is dangerous. Supporters can point out that it marijuana was decriminalized, folks might not have to interact with dealers who also carry guns and crack cocaine to get their dime bags.

-Dan Barlow

Dunne makes it official: He is NOT running

As each day passes, it looks more and more like Peter Galbraith will be the Vermont Democratic Party’s pick for governor this year.

Today, Matt Dunne announced that he will not seek out that office this year. Chittenden County Sen. Doug Racine has said he won’t run either with Progressive Anthony Pollina in the race. I haven’t checked in on Windsor County Sen. John Campbell recently on his plans, but there have been few whisphers about his candidacy in recent weeks.

Anyway, here’s the letter that Dunne sent to supporters.

Dear Friends,

Over the last six months, I’ve been honored to receive your thoughts and encouragement as I contemplated the possibility of running for office in 2008.  My run for Lt. Governor was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. I met thousands of incredible people across the state of Vermont who shared a new vision for our state. Through our service approach to campaigning, together we found a new way of doing politics that spoke directly to the overwhelming cynicism of our time. Despite the loss, I came away from the election with a stronger belief in the potential of politics than when I started the campaign.

However, for reasons that will become clear in the near future, I have decided not to run for office in 2008.

In this year away from the golden dome, I have enjoyed reentering the private sector as a consultant, spending time with my family and helping others who are passionate about the need for change in our state and country.

My most fulfilling work has been helping to build the Service Politics Institute, a non-partisan organization committed to building a bridge between people committed to change through service and those who pursue change through politics. Over the years ahead, I will devote my volunteer time to building this organization in the hopes of bringing this powerful approach to people of all political persuasions and to all parts of the country. 

I firmly believe that giving a voice to the millions who serve in our community nonprofits, particularly younger people who serve much more than they vote, can help change public priorities and create innovative new approaches to solving the challenges facing our society.

I encourage anyone who is interested in this new approach to check out, make a contribution, and join our efforts.

Despite my decision to not run for office this year, I am excited about possibility of another Vermonter entering the race for Governor.  Like me, Peter Galbraith found his political inspiration as a young person growing up in our state.  His distinguished career allowed him to take the spirit of our communities to the international front, taking on, with extraordinary success, some of the most difficult international challenges of our time. 

Now Peter wants to bring his leadership and experience home to help restore civility and progress in the state that he loves. I am delighted he is considering this race and look forward to helping him in any way I can.

Those of you who have known me for a long time know that I am not leaving politics forever.  I am excited about new adventures on the horizon this year and beyond. But public service, particularly on behalf of Vermonters, is the greatest honor one can ever experience. The path of life is never certain, but I am confident my work for our state has only just begun.

Thank you for your support and inspiration. 



-Dan Barlow