Monthly Archives: April 2010

Comings and goings


WCAX reporter Kate Duffy is the first journalist in Vermont's 2010 gubernatorial campaign to join "The Dark Side." She'll give up the job she's held since 2002 to become Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie's communications manager in his bid to replace his boss, Gov. James Douglas, who is retiring this year.

Meanwhile, Jason Gibbs, Douglas' first press secretary and now the commissioner of the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, announced Thursday that he'll step down from state government in mid-May to run for Secretary of State, the spot being vacated by Deb Markowitz (who is also running for governor).

– Dan Barlow

Rutland Herald: We won’t let VY censor us

Buried in the good news that Entergy will allow a documentary filmmaker to attend the Vermont Yankee site meeting of the Public Service Board is the announcement that the company is also instituting some draconian rules about media coverage.

Entergy now says that all reporters can bring cameras on the tour – but the company has the right to first view the footage and delete anything they don't like.

Rutland Herald editor Randal Smathers says that's why the paper will not be sending a photographer. Here's what he said, as quoted in Susan Smallheer's story today:

We will not be sending a photographer under the rules as presented by the company. We have shot under security restrictions at Vermont Yankee before. But the idea that a 'camera caddy' would be deleting images before handing our equipment back is unacceptable. What happens if we get a photo of something embarrassing and newsworthy but not sensitive from a security standpoint? We're not going to put ourselves into the position of giving a censor control over our work."

– Dan Barlow

Dunne endorsements roll in

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne announced today that the Republican who once ran against him for the Vermont House has endorsed him. You don't get more bipartisan than that.

Dunne's campaign announced last week that famed environmentalist Bill McKibben had endorsed him as well.

– Dan Barlow

Cheney: Swearing at Leahy was “the best thing I ever did.”


In a new interview, former Vice-President Dick Cheney reflects on telling Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy to "go f— yourself" on the floor of the Senate several years ago.

"That's sort of the best thing I ever did," he said.

– Dan Barlow

Deb Richter comes out against S.88

Deb Richter – the Vermont doctor who has been organizing for a single-payer health care system – came out this morning against the House version of S.88, the omnibus health care bill that, among other things, designs a single-payer system for Vermont.

Here's what she had to say:

The House Health Committee's experimental programs may sound good but they have no way to pay for them. How to pay for our health care comes first. That's what the Senate's version of S.88 is all about. It is about our costs and health care. The over-loaded House version is about changing the delivery of our health care by adding layers of costly bureaucracy. The House Health Committee's claims that this will save money are disingenuous. No evidence of cost-saving exists.

It's fascinating that this is the same argument used by House GOP members against the bill. It's not too often that Richter and Vermont Republicans are on the same page.

S.88 started out as Sen. Doug Racine's bill. Many new provisions were added in the House and those changes seem to be the focus on the new debate.

– Dan Barlow

McKibben endorses Dunne


Bill McKibben, the famed environmentalist and Ripton resident, endorsed Matt Dunne for governor today.

Here's what he had to say:

To listen to Matt talk about the possibilities for self-insuring the State of Vermont, well, that's the most creative way out of the health care mess that anyone's come up with in a while. It really makes sense.

– Dan Barlow

Knives come out


 "They're hippies from the '60s who want to be against something, and it's nuclear power," said Larry Smith, Vermont Yankee spokesperson, talking about anti-nuclear activists in USA Today.

– Dan Barlow

Markowitz releases her income tax info

Secretary of State Deb Markowitz – a 2010 Democratic gubernatorial candidate – is the first out of the gate Thursday to release her personal financial information.

Check it out below.

Download Markowitz 2009 Form 1040

Lt.Gov. Brian Dubie – the Republican running for governor – promises to release his info today as well.

– Dan Barlow

Giving up the Internet


James Sturm, the founder of White River Junction's Center for Cartoon Studies, took to Slate this week to explain why he is giving up the Internet.

Sturm explains his problem:

But essential online communication has given way to hours of compulsive e-mail checking and Web surfing. The Internet has made me a slave to my vanity: I monitor the Amazon ranking of my books on an hourly basis, and I'm constantly searching for comments and discussions about my work. I follow the Knicks on a daily basis (perhaps my most shameful admission).

His concerns should resonate with many people. How many hours each day do we waste checking e-mails, Facebook, watching lame YouTube videos or catching up on gossip or political Web sites? What else could we do with our time? Should we be creating more instead of consuming all the time?

– Dan Barlow

Report: Drug companies spent $2.6 million in Vermont

The Vermont Attorney General's annual report on cash gifts, dinners and other items given to doctors by the pharmaceutical industry came out Monday. And while the total gifts are down, the number – $2.6 million in 2009 – is still pretty shocking.

Here's what the Associated Press wrote:

The $2,599,589 spent by 85 pharmaceutical companies was about $400,000 less than in the previous year, according to the annual report of drug company marketing expenditures released by the office of Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell.

The biggest spenders: Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Forest Pharmaceuticals, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline.

You can read the AG's new report and others dating back to 2004 at their Web site.

– Dan Barlow

U-Haul: VT is a good business state

UhaulU-Haul  has ranked Vermont as one of the top two locations to do business in because of the high percentage of people moving into the state.

That's in. Not out.

According to the company, Vermont had a growth rate in 2009 of 16.67 percent.

– Dan Barlow

Entergy pulls Enexus spin-off plans

Confirmed by Larry Smith, the communications director at Vermont Yankee.

And here's a Reuters account out a few minutes ago:

Utility owner Entergy Corp (ETR.N) said on Monday it had canceled the planned spinoff of several of its nuclear units just two days after regulators declined to renew a permit for a plant in New York.

The idea was never really very popular in Vermont. And once New York State turned down the idea, it was 100% toxic.

– Dan Barlow

New York denies Entergy plant new water permit

From the New York Times this weekend:

In a major victory for environmental advocates, New York State has ruled that outmoded cooling technology at the Indian Point nuclear power plant kills so many Hudson River fish, and consumes and contaminates so much water, that it violates the federal Clean Water Act.

Vermont Yankee is also waiting to hear if the state of Vermont will approve a new water discharge permit. Here's my story on that from a few weeks ago.

– Dan Barlow