Monthly Archives: June 2010

Leahy talks Kagan nomination


Vermont Press Bureau chief Louis Porter caught up with U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy yesterday to talk about the Kagan nomination before his Judiciary Committee.

Read the full interview here.

– Dan Barlow

Vermont politics in Arizona

This attack ad by John McCain against his primary opponent in Arizona contains a quote from a press release by Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell.

Small world!

– Dan Barlow

Breaking news: Politicians sometimes drive fast

WCAX has the the scoop of the decade – or maybe the whole century?

Senate President Peter Shumlin was pulled over for speeding.

Shocking, I know.

– Dan Barlow

Racine gets another key endorsement


State Sen. Doug Racine today was endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters.

It's another huge boost for Racine's gubernatorial bid and a bit of a blow to Senate President Peter Shumlin's campaign, the dark horse for the nomination.

Official word from the Racine campaign hasn't come out, but here's what Shumlin had to say:

While Peter respects today's VLCV decision, he believes that his solid record of getting tough things done on environmental issues, including his consistent protection of Act 250, leadership on Vermont Yankee, and outspoken advocacy for doing Vermont's part to address global climate change, is without peer.

State Sen. Susan Bartlett also lamented that she wasn't endorsed:

I am disappointed not to get the endorsement of the Vermont League of Conservation Voters with my long record of being the go-to person on environmental issues when it comes to spending and policy.It is becoming clear that moderates don't get endorsements from special interest groups. I'm counting on the independence of Vermonters to give me the endorsement that I need, that of the voters.

Calling environmentalists a "special interest group" in a Democratic primary probably isn't a great idea – even when they don't endorse you.

– Dan Barlow

“I think you need an economic lesson here.”

I missed this a few days ago, but U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., went on FOX News last week to talk about the BP oil spill and instead gets yelled at by the host for about five minutes.

Seriously, I think Welch got about three sentences in before Neil Cavuto started yelling about how his plan would "kill the goose."

As opposed to killing sealife, I guess.

The video can be found at this link.

– Dan Barlow

The future of newspapers

Vermont Public Radio talked with Catherine Nelson, the general manager of the Times Argus and the Rutland Herald, about the papers' plans to soon gate their websites and charge on-line readers for access.

And here's Rob Mitchell, the special projects editor at the papers, talking about this dramatic upcoming move:

There are two things we're facing in news today: the changing business model, and sustaining the journalism model. As a locally-owned newspaper, our business model is built to support our journalism, not to support shareholders.

Gating our web site will support our business model, which will support our journalism. A strong parallel is your local farmer's market. You can get just abouteverything from the farmer's market at a chain grocery store, but you can't get local produce grown with care, with the personal connection with the grower.

My grandfather believed, as do my father and I, that local ownership sustains that connection with the local community in the same way – we are not here just to make a buck. We make a buck to support our mission, which is to tell the story of our communities and defend the public's right to know.

In our internal discussions, we decided that if people will pay for news in print, they will pay for news online. We are working extremely hard to make it available in alternative formats like a replica edition of the print edition, the web site and mobile sites and apps – to make it available the way people want it. They will pay because what reporters do is very valuable.

Finally, there are non-profit models out there that in effect have a paywall. The VPR model is one – the paywall is the fund drive.

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this. Will you pay for local news? Will you pay to read local stories on-line?

– Dan Barlow

Race and the 2010 gubernatorial campaign

The Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity (formerly known as the ALANA Community Organization) sent questions about race, diversity and hate crimes to all the candidates running for governor in Vermont this year.

Since the topic is race – these are questions that one might not usually hear asked of Vermont's candidates for higher office.

What I found more interesting, however, were the campaigns that did NOT respond to the questions.

Those were: Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, Democrats Sen. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Susan Bartlett and independent candidate Cris Ericson.

You can read the answers from the candidates who did respond in the PDF below.

Download Eforumresponses

– Dan Barlow

Did the earthquake cause problems at VY?

This just in from Vermont Yankee:

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon declared an unusual event at 2:25 p.m. today.  The declaration was made after a seismic event was felt at the site.  Per the U.S. Geological Survey, the seismic epicenter was located 33 miles north of Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.  Surrounding states were notified of this declaration at 2:39 p.m.  There has been no radioactivity released, related to this event.  The Plant continues to run normally at 100% power and there has been no damage based upon an ongoing walk down of station equipment.

An unusual event is the lowest of four emergency classifications of events that apply to nuclear power plants as defined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

More information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

– Dan Barlow

Vermont hit by earthquake


I felt my office chair shake a bit around 1:45 p.m. today. Thought it was just my imagination (or my stomach calling for lunch). Turns out Vermont was hit by a small quake.

From the Associated Press:

A 5.5 magnitude earthquake shook buildings across upstate New York and into Canada and Vermont. There are no reports of any serious damage.

Federal officials say the quake was centered just north of Ottawa.
Everyone safe out there?
– Dan Barlow

VY has cooling tower problems (again)


Vermont Yankee's problems continue. Here's what the Rutland Herald's Susan Smallheer reported this morning:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirmed Tuesday evening that a large fiberglass pipe in the recently rebuilt cooling towers at Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor had developed an 18-inch crack and was leaking water.

Another crack developed in a joint in another location along the same pipe, a spokeswoman for the NRC said.

The disclosure of the cracks in the large distribution or header pipe in the east cooling tower comes after Entergy recently completed rebuilding the infrastructure of the two cooling towers over the past three years, after the western tower partially collapsed in August 2007.

The news came up at a NRC meeting in Brattleboro Tuesday night. I'm sure it was the focus of the meeting. Right? Oh, wait.

Until the issue was brought up by Raymond Shadis, senior technical advisor to the nuclear watchdog group The New England Coalition, about two hours into the meeting, neither Entergy nor NRC officials had mentioned the problem, which was discovered Thursday by Entergy. The leaks have already undergone a temporary repair, according to Entergy spokesman Larry Smith.

The above photo is from the 2007 cooling tower collapse.

-Dan Barlow

Brian Dubie conquers Facebook


If this year's election was held only on Facebook, Republican Brian Dubie would be the clear winner.

His campaign announced Tuesday that it had hit 7,5000 fans on his official Facebook page. Of course, some of them might not be voters or Vermont residents, but he has outpaced his Democratic rivals in the world of social media politics.

But then you also get odd comments like this one:


Maybe it is a statement on the quality of Vermont's public schools?

– Dan Barlow

Spaulding endorses Shumlin

State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin this morning at a Burlington press conference.

-Dan Barlow

Peter Welch vs. BP

Here's some footage from yesterday's congressional hearing with BP CEO Tony Hayword. It goes without saying that U.S. Rep. Peter Welch did not apologize to BP for President Obama securing $20 billion in clean-up funds.

– Dan Barlow

Well, this oughta shake up the race

The Vermont Press Bureau's Peter Hirschfeld reported today:

A grassroots effort to decriminalize marijuana has the backing of a Democratic candidate for governor.

Peter Shumlin, a Windham County senator in the thick of a five-way primary, said he’ll throw his support behind a burgeoning decriminalization movement sparked by a former legislator from Brattleboro.

“Here’s the difference between Pete Shumlin and other candidates: I think the public is turned off by politicians who don’t stand for what they believe,” Shumlin said this week. “Vermonters won’t always agree with me, but they know I’ll fight for what I believe in.”

Meanwhile, another Rutland Herald letter writer stands up to defend Rep. Steve Howard from accusations that he is, uh, a commie?

Steve Howard has been a brave and tough legislator willing to endorse, promote and stand behind new ideas in governing, but a “commie”? I don’t think so.

– Dan Barlow

Famous authors to raise money for Shumlin


Stephen King and John Irving will host a private fundraiser in Boston this Friday for Senate President Peter Shumlin.

Download King Evite FINAL

-Dan Barlow