We just got an email from Bill Sorrell, sent to media outlets and written as a letter to TJ Donovan. The letter asks Donovan to release the questions included in a poll (which Sorrell frames as a ‘push poll’ based on coverage by Seven Days, more on that in a sec) that had been performed by an out-of-state polling firm, and was reported by two Sorrell partisans. For the full Seven Days article by Paul Heintz, click here. Donovan denies the poll was anything but a rigorous survey.
From the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus today:
MONTPELIER — He’s still in the 1 percent, but a weak commercial real estate market has dealt a blow to the personal fortunes of Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has watched his income drop by nearly half since winning election to the office in 2010.
And though Shumlin’s presumptive Republican challenger isn’t in the same income bracket as the Democratic incumbent, Randy Brock pulled down a healthy $268,000 last year, the vast majority of which came from investment income.
According to tax returns provided to the Vermont Press Bureau Wednesday, Shumlin pulled down slightly more than $500,000 in 2011, a far cry from the approximately $950,000 he and his wife, Deborah Holway, earned in 2009.
We just got the following note from State Auditor Tom Salmon:
Salmon grateful for service to state; not running for re-election
I have decided not to run for the office of state auditor this November.
I have achieved the goal set when I took office in January 2007 to transform the Vermont State Auditor’s Office into a first-rate performance auditing shop. It is time for me to move on to new challenges.
I have a number of options presented to me, and some still out there, in God’s hands. It is most likely I will land in federal service in the IG or CFO communities as my passion continues to be improving government performance and better federal-state-local intergovernmental collaboration. I have an offer from a CPA firm as well.
I want to thank those I have worked with and the people of Vermont who elected me. It has been an honor to serve you with the talented staff at the auditor’s office. Because of them, our office has been able to transform to a high quality performance audit office, adding value to the state.
I also thank the Legislature and other partners that worked hard to bring embezzlement prevention tools to fruition. I am grateful for the many joint efforts of collaboration to improve Vermont (government) performance. I appreciate everything very much.
I expect to finish out my term and begin a new job in January, and continue to serve Vermont with great honor.
The Senate has just pushed the button on the nuclear option, approving in a voice vote an amendment that will prevent utilities from recouping in rates the $21 million they must repay to CVPS customers before any merger can go through.
It’s a move that utility executives have warned could kill the $702 million merger deal between CVPS and GMP. And the Shumlin administration – which has warned legislators against meddling in regulatory affairs – just shipped a press release unloading on the body.
“This matter is now in the hands of the (Public Service) Board. The Senate’s action today interferes with an open PSB docket, undermines the credibility of the regulatory process, and is an extreme overreach of legislative jurisdiction,” Shumlin said in a written statement. Continue reading →
LEBANON, N.H. — A Windsor County State Senator is hospitalized at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire after a major fall in her apartment last Thursday.
Alice Nitka of Ludlow was in her Montpelier apartment when she fell down the stairs and injured her spleen, according to her husband Martin Nitka. He said that Alice “saw a spider, reached over (to remove it), and fell down some stairs.”
Alice Nitka went transported to Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin and spent three nights in the hospital. Her husband said doctors “hoped it would heal on its own” but she was transferred to DHMC on Monday for additional medical attention.
“The doctors did a medical procedure where they plugged a hole in her spleen,” Martin Nitka said. “We have no idea when she will be released. It depends on how everything works out.”
– From Christian Avard of the Rutland Herald
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.”
Here’s the story from Thatcher Moats, with the court filings attached, published today in the Rutland Herald and Times Argus:
Vyto Starinskas photo / Brian Dubie campaigning during the 2010 gubernatorial race.
MONTPELIER — In a lawsuit that gives a glimpse at the inner workings of the bitter and expensive 2010 race for Vermont governor, the state attorney general is accusing former Republican candidate Brian Dubie and the Republican Governors Association of working closely together during the campaign.
The Vermont attorney general’s office sued in December, accusing Dubie’s campaign of sharing $93,000 worth of polling data with the RGA, which then used the information to create ads that supported Dubie and attacked his Democratic rival, Peter Shumlin, during the last weeks of the race.
The polling data Dubie shared counts as an in-kind contribution to the RGA and broke the $2,000 limit campaigns are allowed to donate to political committees like the RGA, the complaint says.
The illegal contributions also ran in the other direction as a result of information sharing, prosecutors claim. The ads the RGA created using the polling data were worth more than $242,000 and count as an in-kind contribution to Dubie’s campaign, exceeding the $3,000 limit groups like the RGA can donate to candidates during an election, according to the state’s lawsuit. Continue reading →
Last month, we told everyone to keep their eyes peeled for an intriguing venture at one of Montpelier’s marquis lobbying firms.
This week, KSE Partners officially unveiled its latest division, and it should add a fascinating new dynamic to Vermont’s electoral-politics landscape.
“KSE Campaigns” is being described as a “top to bottom campaign arm” that will develop, design and implement specialized political strategies for state and federal candidates and political action committees.”
The new division, according to Kevin Ellis – the “E” in KSE – transforms the 25-year-old operation into a “full-service political communications firm.”
“’We have political operatives with decades of campaign experience, communications specialists with new media expertise and fund raising professionals on staff,” Ellis said in a written statement. “We have exclusive relationships with pollsters and grassroots organizers. Or plan is to take our expertise and past success for clients and apply it to this emerging new political arena.”
KSE will shop its services to state and federal candidates for office, as well as PACs, SuperPACs and organizations engaged in more issue-oriented campaigns.
KSE executives see particularly high growth potential in the proliferation of SuperPACs, to which corporations and wealthy individuals this election cycle will invest heavily to influence the outcome of political campaigns.
“We saw that there was a need for a new breed of campaign consultant both in Vermont and nationally,” KSE staffer Nick Sherman said in a statement. “We spent the summer and fall developing strategies that will work in 21st century political campaigns. The Internet has changed the way messages are developed and delivered; the way money is raised and the way grassroots and get-out-the-vote campaigns are developed. For now, SuperPACs have altered the way messages are delivered. We will help candidates and clients use all these tools to be successful.”
KSE is already providing consulting services to a SuperPAC called “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Today.” “Vermont Priorities,” a soon-to-be-unveiled Montpelier-based advocacy organization, will also be among the early clientele.
The move isn’t without risk. Though KSE officials are promoting their services to all comers, their first two clients have a decidedly progressive bent. Advancing the partisan political interests of some clients, it stands to reason, might make it a less attractive business partner to others.
MONTPELIER — If the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant and the merger of the state’s two largest electric utilities are among the most important issues facing Vermont, James Volz is among the most important officials in the state.
Volz has been chairman of the Public Service Board for the past six years after being appointed by former Gov. James Douglas, and he is now seeking confirmation for another term following reappointment by Gov. Peter Shumlin.
Can I just say Town Meeting papers are my favorites?
It’s not like a federal election night, where many, many results are incomplete because we haven’t heard from East Wallingford, say, or Middletown Springs. There are always towns that are late getting in their results for one reason or another. But during Town Meeting, every time the phone rings or the fax goes off, it’s another 5 or 10 inches of copy.
And unlike national elections, most of the information we gather for Town Meeting isn’t available elsewhere. Last week in Rutland, we were a dead heat with PEG-TV to announce the mayor, slightly ahead on the treasurer’s race and way ahead on the aldermen. Then we put another 107 or so updates on the Web, including voting charts by ward for Rutland City and all those town-by-town results. We had almost 11,000 visits to www.rutlandherald.com on Town Meeting Day, and over 60,000 page views. During the evening, when traffic usually slows to a trickle, we were getting 2,500 hits an hour, so the community was turning to us for news about their world. It’s great fun and very satisfying work.