Monthly Archives: February 2012

House Speaker Shap Smith becomes target of internet offensive from backers of marijuana bill

Speaker of the House Shap SmithHouse Speaker Shap Smith is accustomed to facing blowback for the marijuana decriminalization bill stalled indefinitely at his behest in the Legislature. But he was taken aback Tuesday when critics of his anti-decriminalization stance posted detailed personal information about his wife and children online.

In a form of online activism known as “doxing,” anonymous internet users have compiled a comprehensive list of information about Smith and his family, including his home phone number, home address, a link to a Google map image of his house, and the address of his wife’s physician practice in Stowe. Continue reading

Sununu stumps for Romney (the outtakes)

MONTPELIER — Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu came to Vermont on Wednesday on serious business: to urge residents here to cast their ballots on Super Tuesday for Mitt Romney and not that evil Rick Santorum.

Serious business, yes, but the press conference at the Statehouse with Sununu and nearly two dozen Republican lawmakers and other GOP officials had its light moments.

The event was all about Romney — there were signs, etc. — and that got Sen. Vince Illuzzi a bit crossed up as he introduced Sununu.

“I now introduce Gov. Romney,” Illuzzi said.

After some laughter, Sununu stepped to the mic and said he and Romney look alike (they don’t) but said a key difference between him and Romney is that “my hair moves.”

Flanked by Vermont Republican legislators, Sununu then proceeded to insult, well, legislators.

“There’s a horrible disease that comes upon people when they join a legislature,” said Sununu.

Sununu said the way lawmakers show success is by spending more money and launching more programs. His point was that former governors such as Mitt make better chief executives than former lawmakers such as Santorum.

“Rick Santorum has caught the disease of spending,” said Sununu.

Then he suggested many Vermonters must be sleep-voting if the state keeps casting a majority of ballots for Democrats in presidential elections. Sununu believes Vermonters will one day arise from their stupor, which gives him hope, despite the fact that President Barack Obama is expected to win here easily no matter who the Republican candidate is.

“I am absolutely convinced that one day folks in Vermont will wake up and one day understand that there is a better life ahead if they do the right thing, so I’m not going to concede any state in the country to President Obama,” said Sununu.

Bob Stannard, a Statehouse lobbyist, is also the founder of the new progressive Super PAC called “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Today,” which pushes for policies that are un-Romney-like.

Stannard had honed his act before offering a rebuttal to reporters after the press conference.

“I’m trying to figure out what this guy’s endearing qualities are,” said Stannard, referring to Romney. “He’s a corporate raider, who has flip-flopped on every issue, and strapped his dog to the roof of his car.”


Sorrell: No violation by Lisman, Campaign for Vermont

This gallery contains 1 photos.

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Attorney General’s office announced today that an ad run by the group Campaign for Vermont did not lead to a violation of state campaign finance law. The Vermont Democratic Party called on state Attorney General Bill Sorrell … Continue reading

Controversy brews over mental health as Senate preps for vote

Senate lawmakers this morning are frenetically preparing for a floor session this afternoon during which leaders aim to pass out, at long last, the mental-health bill that Gov. Peter Shumlin says will alleviate the “crisis” unfolding in hospitals across Vermont.

It’s been a long road for the legislation, which lays out a replacement plan for the 54-bed psychiatric hospital flooded out in Tropical Storm Irene. Seven weeks of legislative debate have done little to quell dissent over the administration’s plan. And a spate of amendments on the Senate calendar today spotlights the major areas of disagreement.

The size of the replacement hospital remains the biggest sticking point. Shumlin has demanded a bill that calls for a facility, to be located somewhere in central Vermont, with no greater than 16 beds. Exceeding that number, Shumlin says, will cost taxpayers nearly $10 million in foregone federal revenue annually. That’s because new rules in place at the Center for Medicaid and State Operations, he says, prohibit federal Medicaid matches for facilities with greater than 16 beds. Continue reading

Could 7-term incumbent Bill Sorrell face challenge in Democratic primary?

Hard to believe, but the rumor mill is certainly churning.

For the past 15 years, the race for attorney general has been a sleepy down-ticket affair won by almost laughable margins by Democratic incumbent Bill Sorrell. As the 2012 electoral landscape comes into focus, however, the contest to becomeVermont’s top prosecutor could shape up as the season’s hottest race.

And the most viable challenger might come not from the ranks of the GOP, but from within Sorrell’s own party.

Read all about it here:

Peter Shumlin, unfiltered…

Peter Shumlin

File Photo

At his weekly press conference earlier today, Gov. Peter Shumlin, as per usual, offered thoughts and opinions on a range of questions posed by the press. A rundown for you:


“I had incredibly productive conversations with fellow governors as well as three lengthy conversations with the president and several conversations with the vice-president. Really the focus was on jobs, education and renewable energy.”

Shumlin said he talked “extensively” with Barack Obama about extending the production tax credit for renewable energy industries. The credits, he said, have resulted in Vermont companies “building windmills in Barre, solar trackers in Burlington. And we need to have … (renewable energy) tax credits in order to grow and prosper and get off our addiction to oil. (Members of the NGA) urged Congress to extend the current renewable tax credits and incentives for four years, giving the industry predictability and allowing manufacturing jobs to continue to prosper.”


“We’re thrilled he’s coming, and he’s excited about coming. I made it clear to him he’s the first president in 17 years to come to Vermont… I have a close relationship with the president. Continue reading

Former N.H. governor to stump for Romney in Vt.

MONTPELIER — Mitt Romney is engaged in a fierce battle for the Republican presidential nomination, and GOP officials from Vermont and New Hampshire will make the case for Mitt during a Statehouse press conference Wednesday.

Sen. Randy Brock, who is running for Vermont governor, and Sen. Vince Illuzzi will join former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu in the Cedar Creek Room “to discuss Mitt Romney’s bold vision to turn around our economy.”

Vermont is already Mitt-friendly state, according to a poll released this week by the newly launched Castleton Polling Institute.

According to the poll, Romney is the top choice for 34 percent of likely voters in the Republican primary, followed by Santorum, with 27 percent. With 14 percent of the vote Paul came in a distant third, and Gingrich trailed the pack with 10 percent.

But Vermonters still love Barack. According to the poll, Obama still leads Romney by 26 points in a head-to-head match up.

CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this post, the headline suggested Sununu was the current governor of New Hampshire.

With buttons, Shumlin tells GOP to ‘cheer up’

MONTPELIER — Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin is down in Washington, D.C. meeting with fellow governors from around the country and the president, and he’s getting a bit of national press attention at the expense of Republicans.

According to the Huffington Post, Shumlin had buttons made that said “cheer up,” a reference to what he and another governor referred to as the doom and gloom espoused by Republican presidential candidates.

Here are links to the Huffington Post article and a related article from USA Today.

Sorrell seeking re-election

MONTPELIER — Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell announced last fall at a Democratic Party fundraiser he would seek another term and try to retain control of an office he has occupied since 1997.

Since then, however, the state lost the Vermont Yankee case, leading some to see Sorrell as vulnerable. (Sorrell has decided to appeal the VY decision).

That has led to chatter about Sorrell facing a primary from another Democratic opponent, along with the possibility that a strong Republican candidate would see a chance to become AG, though no challengers have emerged.

None of this has dissuaded Sorrell.

Asked Monday if was running this year, he said: “I definitely am.”

Sorrell said he has never faced a primary challenger in his seven previous races and said he doesn’t know if he will this time.

“Oh, you know, there are rumors,” he said.

Whether it’s consumer protection, criminal enforcement, environmental law or civil rights, Sorrell believes he has served Vermont well.

“I’m proud of my record,” he said

But voters will ultimately decide, either in a general election or a primary, Sorrell acknowledged.

“If I have a primary then Democratic voters will have a chance to decide whether they want me to continue in office or not,” he said.

State police to announce policy changes after hiker’s death

MONTPELIER — The Vermont State Police plans to announce policy changes this afternoon that stem from the death of a 19-year-old hiker from New Haven who was found dead in Ripton on Jan. 10.

The death of the hiker, Levi Duclos, has raised questions about backcountry search and rescue missions in Vermont. The state police received a report that Duclos was an overdue hiker on the evening of Jan. 9 but didn’t begin the search until Jan. 10.

John Wood, the Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety, confirmed Monday that the state police is changing its policies. Wood said a news release would be issued “in a couple hours” that explains further.

Romney favored in Republican primary, but Vermonters still love Obama

Vermonters oppose Citizens United, love Obama and would prefer to see their governors serve four-year terms, according to the results of a poll released today by the Castleton Polling Institute.

It’s the first survey to come out of the newly formed institute, and it taps the pulse of registered voters on issues ranging from presidential politics to Town Meeting Day ballot issues.

The results, based on interviews with 800 registered voters conducted between Feb. 11 and Feb. 22, indicate that 76 percent of Vermonters favor a constitutional amendment to limit spending on political campaigns. Even a majority of Vermonters who identify as Republicans, 57 percent, would support such an amendment, according to the poll.

Likely voters in the March 6 Republican presidential primary say they prefer Mitt Romney over Rick Santorum, Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich.

But Barack Obama still ownsVermont. In the state that handed him one of the highest margins of victory in the state in 2008, Obama, according to the poll, still leads Romney by 26 points in a head-to-head match up.

Look for complete poll results, and an interview with Rich Clark, the political scientist heading up the CPI, in tomorrow’s editions of The Times Argus and Rutland Herald.

The Rundown – Week 8

Pete and Thatcher review the week’s top three stories.

The Rundown – Week 8 from 802 Live on Vimeo.

**stay tuned till the end for some priceless bloopers.**

Bill to require GMO labeling coming up

MONTPELIER — Lawmakers plan to take up a bill in the coming days designed to help Vermonters know whether the food they pull from grocery store shelves has ingredients that have been genetically engineered.

But one legislator, who is also a dairy farmer in Canaan and uses genetically modified corn seed, says the effort by legislators and advocates is a stunt that drives a wedge through Vermont’s farming community.

Neither the federal government nor other states require the labeling of all genetically modified foods, but Vermont’s bill is part of a national movement to change that. Nearly 20 states are considering labeling measures, according to The Associated Press, amid health concerns about genetically modified organisms.

Vermont’s bill would also ban companies from calling food with genetically engineered ingredients “natural.”

Read the full story by Thatcher Moats here at the Times Argus >>>

Hinda Miller to step down after 2012

Hinda Miller, a five-term Democratic senator from Chittenden County, said today this term will be her last.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, Miller has been embroiled over the past year in the heated debate over single-payer health care. She’s been a go-to lawmaker for Vermont employers seeking to add business-friendly amendments to various pieces of health care legislation. It’s won her some notoriety among fellow Democrats, but Miller has made no apologies for voicing opinions sometimes used as talking points by anti-single-payer groups.   Continue reading

Lisman responds to Dems’ attack

MONTPELIER — Bruce Lisman, the former Bear Stearns executive who has became the face and the voice of the “Campaign for Vermont,” said in a written statement the group is “factually and legally informing and engaging Vermonters” about important political decisions being made in the state.

The claim about “legally informing” is key here.

Lisman issued the statement in the wake of the Vermont Democratic Party’s complaint that Campaign for Vermont violated state campaign finance laws. Continue reading