Monthly Archives: September 2012

Governor says funding for Bennington veterans’ home will continue

The governor announced Wednesday that CMS has concluded that the state made the corrections that were necessary, and the funding will continue. The state could have lost $10 million a year from the federal government, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday at a press conference. As part of the reform efforts, several employees including an administrator were fired, Shumlin said. Continue Reading →

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Wilton hits Pearce over OT in treasurer’s office, Pearce hits back

State Treasurer Beth Pearce today defended her office against allegations of “mismanagement” after a records request showed that one deputy had clocked at least 1,000 hours of overtime in each of the past three years. Deputy Director of Retirement Operations Laurie Lanphear logged 1,132 hours of overtime in fiscal year 2012 alone, boosting her base salary of $58,219 by an additional $31,684, according to records acquired by Republican challenger Wendy Wilton. Lanphear’s overtime pay was nearly double the next highest recipient of overtime in the treasurer’s office, and Wilton seized on the number as evidence of poor oversight by the first-term Democratic incumbent. “Regardless of the reason, having an employee work 1,000 hours beyond the 2,080 work hours in any given calendar year reflects poor management,” Wilton said in a written statement. She noted that Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding earlier this year issued a government-wide memo urging department heads to keep overtime to a minimum, and that a state labor contract advises supervisors to distribute overtime as equitably as possible. Continue Reading →

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New TV ad for Republican AG candidate

Attorney general candidate Jack McMullen launched an ad campaign Saturday, which showed his ties to the U.S. Navy and Ivy League institutions as part of a “Do you know Jack?” question. A press release says future ads will deal with how he could deal with drug-related crime and how he plans to introduce modern business practices to the state office. The 30-second video can be seen at or through the YouTube video player in this post. Continue Reading →

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With Republican friends like Lauzon, who needs enemies?

Tom Lauzon has carved out a reputation as a bit of a political showman, and at a press conference this morning in which seven of the state’s eight sitting mayors endorsed Peter Shumlin, Lauzon did not disappoint. The Republican mayor of Barre City didn’t merely endorse the Democratic incumbent, he chided his party for even running a candidate against him. “I think (Republican challenger) Randy (Brock) is absolutely a fine man,” Lauzon said. “But I think quite frankly this was an ill-advised campaign and people are going to spend a lot of money to try to replace a leader who doesn’t need to be replaced.” Though he was the lone dyed-in-the-wool Republican on hand to endorse Shumlin, he was by far the most enthusiastic. Continue Reading →

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Early payments available again to towns affected by Irene

The State Treasurer’s Office issued a news release Monday, indicating how municipalities affected by Tropical Storm Irene can receive accelerated payments of state funds to assist with issues related to cash flow . Here’s a shortened version of the details:

Payments that are eligible to be released early are state aid to town highways and payment-in-lieu-of taxes, normally dispersed to towns in October; current use payments, typically disbursed in November; and state aid to education payments, which normally are released in December. The state has estimated that the amount of accelerated payments could total approximately $21.4 million. (more…) Continue Reading →

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In 30-second spot, Brock asks of Shumlin, “Who’s He Fooling?”

The ad opens with a grainy clip of Peter Shumlin standing at a podium, singing “Here Comes the Sun” to a crowd of cheering supporters. He’s no George Harrison, but Shumlin is game. “Here comes the sun, little darlin’… Here comes the sun, I say, it’s alright.” But the ominous music in the background, combined with bold-faced lettering reading “45th in business friendliness,” and “4th worst state in which to retire” suggest it’s anything but. Continue Reading →

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Former VPB staffer at center of right wing media/DOJ fracas

While flipping through channels the other night, one of our editors saw a familiar face plastered on the screen of Fox News’ O’Reilly Show – former Press Bureau and Rutland Herald reporter Tracy Schmaler, who is now a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs. It seems Schmaler has run afoul of some elements of the media who have written that she “conspired” with the left-wing blog Media Matters to discredit critics of the DOJ over the “Fast and Furious” debacle that has dogged Attorney General Eric Holder. She’s also been compared to elements of Hitler’s Nazi regime, and  the Tucker Carlson-associated web site The Daily Caller has  FOIA’d a series of emails between her and Media Matters bloggers. The emails certainly show communication between Media Matters and Schmaler, but mostly revolve around clarifying the similarities and differences between the “Fast and Furious” operation, which was basically an attempted sting carried out by the DOJ and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the prior “Wide Receiver”, also a joint sting. The two operations were similar in that undercover agents were basically feeding guns – including semiautomatic weapons – and more into the Mexican drug cartel system in order to track them to the bigger, higher-up fish up the chain. Continue Reading →

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Anti-single-payer group to take to Vermont airwaves

Four weeks after cutting its first television ad, the state’s leading anti-single-payer group has finally raised enough money to put it on the air. Vermonters for Health Care Freedom will spend about $12,000 to run the 30-second spot on WCAX and WPTZ between now and the end of the October. Jeff Wennberg, executive director of the organization, says that with Election Day on the horizon, it made sense for the group to bring the message to a statewide audience. The ad will run during “news and information” shows, he said. “The good thing is that prior to an election, people are thinking about policy matters and thinking about the direction state and our nation are headed,” Wennberg said this afternoon. Continue Reading →

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Former Statehouse reporter Alan Panebaker dies at 29 in kayaking accident

I only worked alongside him for a few months, but Alan Panebaker was a hell of a good guy to have known. He died yesterday in a kayaking accident in New Hampshire, and Anne Galloway, his former boss over at, has an obituary and details of the incident here:

Alan had a brightness to him. He was fun to be around. He had a huge, contagious smile. And he was whip smart – the kind of smart you don’t necessarily expect from someone with the laidback, surfer-bro vibe that Alan couldn’t stop emanating if he tried. Continue Reading →

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