Monthly Archives: July 2009

Vermont: A Health Care model?

USA Today takes a closer look at Vermont's health care reform measures … and seems to like what they find.

The Green Mountain state took a different route. Officials decided they couldn't afford to cover everyone, so they focused on cutting costs and improving care, with the goal of insuring more people. They won over critics in the Legislature and the public by not raising taxes.

Instead, the state convinced insurance companies and hospitals to kick in. The federal government gave Vermont flexibility in how to spend Medicaid dollars. The only hit to the public: a tax on cigarettes that is 80 cents per pack and a $365 per employee penalty for businesses that don't offer health insurance.

With President Obama's plans for a public health insurance option losing steam in Washington, D.C., could a Catamount-style program win over the critics?

-Dan Barlow

John Stewart takes on Pat Leahy

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
White Men Can’t Judge – Sotomayor: Judgment Days

Daily Show
Full Episodes

Political Humor Joke of the Day

The ribbing begins at about 1:28 minutes into the video.
-Dan Barlow

View from a Senator


Sen. Patrick Leahy posts his personal photos from the Sotomayor hearings. Check 'em out here.

– Dan Barlow

“FairPoint sucks”

One angry Vermonter takes to Craigslist to rant about his FairPoint problems.

Meanwhile, the troubled telecommunications company has announced it is reorganizing its executives to better respond to the problems in northern New England.

-Dan Barlow

Vermont unemployment at 12 percent?

Yes, according to the New York Times.

Vermont's official unemployment level is still at 7 percent. But once you factor in people working part-time who want to work full-time and everyone who has looked for work in the last year (the official number only includes people who looked for work in the last four weeks), that number jumps up to 12 percent.

Still, the state look okay compared to its neighbors. New Hampshire and Massachusetts are at 13 percent; Maine is at 15 percent and New York State is at 14 percent. California, for comparison, is at 20 percent.

The NYT has a handy interactive map you can check out here.

-Dan Barlow

Wednesday link round-up

Entergy renews plans to sell the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to a spin-off company.


Secretary of State and 2010 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deb Markowitz starts posting on Daily Kos, one of the largest national political blogs.


Chittenden Senate candidate Philip Baruth hopes Sarah Palin comes to Vermont and campaigns for him.

Citizen journalism Web site celebrated a milestone Tuesday: More than 20 million page views.

Lawmakers in the state of West Virginia will consider a ban on same-sex marriage this year.

-Dan Barlow


Must be doing something right

Vermont blogger Philip Baruth convinces 25 people in less than 36 hours to donate to his campaign to represent Chittenden County in the State Senate.

-Dan Barlow

The 2010 gubernatorial race has begun

Earlier this aafternoon, the Vermont State Employees Association released some findings on the cost-savings of laying off more than 100 state workers earlier this year.

Of the 123 employees cut, annual savings to the state totaled about $6 million. However, of that amount, nearly half – $2.4 million – was money from the federal government.

The VSEA said these are wasteful cuts. Who else agrees?

Sen. Doug Racine, D-Chittenden, who is also running for governor next year.

Within minutes of the VSEA press release Monday, Racine had already weighed in. In an e-mail to Vermont media, Racine called the cuts made by the administration of Gov. James Douglas – the Republican he may or may not face at the polls next year – were "disappointing."

The Vermont primary is still 14 months away. The general election is 16 months away. But the campaign starts now.

-Dan Barlow

More cuts coming at Burlington newspaper

Burlington Free Press City Hall reporter John Briggs has a surprisingly frank blog posting today about upcoming lay-offs at the Gannett-owned newspaper.

It's a tough time in the industry – the Times Argus and the Rutland Herald had our own cuts back in January that saw about 14 people leave the company – but the Free Press seems to have been hit the hardest in Vermont.

In the last year, the Freeps have had one round of lay-offs and two rounds of furloughs.

Here's what Briggs had to say:

"After weeks of rumors, Free Press employees got the bad news this afternoon. Bob Dickey, president of Gannett U.S. Community Publishing, told us that despite two quarters of company-wide furloughs and rounds of lay-offs last year, "we will need to implement job reductions to align our resources with the revenue realities we face. The news broke on the national wire well before it was given to employees."

Journalism is a tough job. But it's even tougher when you're not sure if you'll be paid for it next week. Our thoughts are out to our colleagues at the Free Press.

– Dan Barlow