Category Archives: Politics

Walz tapped for House seat

MONTPELIER – Tommy Walz, a former educator from Barre City, has been tapped by Gov. Peter Shumlin to replace former Rep. Tess Taylor.

Walz was picked from a list of three candidates submitted to Gov. Shumlin by the Barre City Democratic Committee.

“I am pleased to appoint Tommy Walz to fill this opening,” Shumlin said in a statement. “His long-term commitment and service to the Barre community will make him an excellent voice for his constituents in the Vermont House of Representatives.”

Walz first moved to Barre in 1967 to teach English and German at Spaulding High School. He and his wife Leslie moved several times, including a stint living and working in Germany. Walz came returned to Vermont in 1979 where he again taught English at Spaulding High School before working in computer sales and data consulting.

“I am proud to be joining the Barre contingent in the Vermont House of Representatives,” Walz said in a statement. “Barre has given us much and Leslie and I have had the chance to return some small measure through volunteering and serving on local school boards. Representing the people of Barre City in the Vermont House provides yet one more way for me to serve my community.”

Walz currently serves on the Barre Supervisory Union Board and the Spaulding High School Board.

Taylor resigned from her seat in the House last month to serve as the executive director of Vermont’s Coalition for Universal Reform. The newly formed group is planning a push for Shumlin’s universal, publicly-financed health care plan.

Shumlin’s office said Walz will be sworn in “promptly.”

GOP leaders seek federal investigation into exchange

MONTPELIER — Republican leaders in the Legislature are seeking a federal investigation into Vermont Health Connect based on an anonymous tip that a state contractor duped state officials last year.

House Minority Leader Don Turner of Milton and Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning of Caledonia County sent a letter Wednesday to Tristram Coffin, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont, requesting the investigation. The request is based on “whistleblower allegations alleging a fraudulent software demonstration on July 26, 2013 by CGI Technologies & Solutions.”

Newsweek published an article earlier this month in which an anonymous source said a demonstration by CGI last July designed to show connectivity with the state’s online insurance marketplace with a federal data hub was faked.

The exchange site, for which CGI has an $84 million contract to build, is still not fully functional, the GOP leaders wrote in their letter.

“We believe the unexplained and extensive delay, coupled with evidence suggesting the company in charge of designing the system may have duped Vermont officials into incorrectly thinking that the software system was working and on schedule, constitutes sufficient legal and factual predicate to begin a federal investigation,” they wrote. “If true, such a fraud prevented state officials from performing proper contractual oversight, prevented corrective measures, and helped CGI retain its multi-million dollar contract with the state.”

Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, has maintained that the July demonstration did feature a live connection with the federal data hub.

Linda F. Odorisio, vice president of communications for CGI, said in an emailed statement Wednesday evening that the demonstration did connect the state site to the federal hub.

“CGI confirms that the demonstration conducted on July 26, 2013 included a live interface to the Federal Data Services Hub, with the real time sending and receiving of data,” she wrote.

House approves campaign finance measure

MONTPELIER — The Housed passed a campaign finance reform bill Thursday on a bipartisan vote following a conference committee with Senate negotiators.

The legislation sailed through the House on a 124 to 15 roll call vote, but some members are disappointed in the final version of the legislation. The plan will raise some contribution limits.

House and Senate negotiators met out of session over the last several months after failing to reach agreement before the end of the 2013 legislative session. They  signed off on a compromise plan Tuesday, the first day of the 2014 legislative session.

The agreement will allow individuals, corporations and PACs  to contribute twice as much money — from $2,000 to $4,000 — directly to statewide candidates and PACs.

Meanwhile, political parties can now raise $10,000 directly from those same groups, up from $2,000, and up to $60,000 from their national parties.

Candidates for the Legislature will see a decrease in the contributions they can currently receive. Contributions to House candidates will capped at $1,000, while contributions to Senate candidates will be reduced to $1,500.

Political parties will be able to funnel unlimited amounts of money to candidates, however.

Independent and Progressive candidates said that provides an unfair advantage to Democrats and Republicans who can receive unlimited funding from their respective parties.

Some House members addressed the chamber to explain their votes, saying they voted in favor of the bill because it is time for the state to have limits in place.

Rep. Cynthia Browning, a Democrat from Arlington, said she voted against the bill because the contribution limits are too high and more disclosure should be required closer to elections. The bill is “not enough to even be called campaign finance reform,” she said.

The Senate will consider the compromise bill next week.

House Dems to get 7-4 edge on health care committee with reassigment of Republican

The balance of power in the House Committee on Health Care will shift in favor of Democrats next year when House Speaker Shap Smith drops a Republican from the 11-person panel and replaces him with a member of the ruling party.

Gone from the committee, Smith said late Friday evening, is Rep. John Mitchell, a Republican from Fairfax now headed to the House Committee on Education. Replacing him is incoming Democratic Rep. Kathy Hoyt, appointed by Gov. Peter Shumlin earlier this year to replace the seat vacated by Margaret Cheney.

House Speaker Shap Smith said the move is designed to make way for a newly minted lawmaker whose “breadth and depth of experience are critically important as we move forward with health care reform.”

House Minority Leader Don Turner, however, said the shake up amounts to partisan maneuvering designed to undermine the influence of the GOP as the Democratic supermajority prepares to face tough questions over the troubled roll out of the new health insurance exchange.

“I’m very concerned and I’m very disappointed,” Turner said late Friday evening. “I think Vermonters will see through this – that Democrats don’t like tough questions when it comes to health care, and that by taking away a person who is asking those like tough questions may make it easier for them.”

The personnel change comes during the middle of the two-year biennium, and isn’t the only reassignment Smith confirmed Friday. Rep. Patti Lewis, a Berlin Republican, will move from education to the House Committee on Government Operations. Incoming Democratic Rep. Marjorie Ryerson, who filled the Randolph seat opened up by the death of Larry Townsend, will be assigned to the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Rep. Rebecca Ellis, a Waterbury Democrat, will take over as vice-chairwoman of energy and natural resources, a position formerly held by Cheney.

Hoyt, who lives in Norwich, has a long career in government that includes stints as secretary of administration under former Govs. Madeline Kunin and Howard Dean. She was a also a member of a three-person panel that spent more than a year examining ways to overhaul the state’s tax structure.

With his “direct appointment” of Hoyt in September, Shumlin bypassed the conventional nominating process in which the local party committee forwards three names to the governor’s desk. Hoyt’s predecessor left when she accepted Shumlin’s appointment to a seat on the three-person Public Service Board.

“(Hoyt) is someone who has seen state government from every angle, and her experience will be invaluable on that committee,” Smith said.

Turner said that if Smith wanted to find room for Hoyt on the committee, he could have done so without eroding what little representation the GOP has on a panel that will be dealing next year not only with the exchange, but with the seeds of a public financing system for the single-payer system Shumlin has said will come online by 2017.

“I think it’s wrong,” Turner said. “I just don’t like that we’re going to have only two Republicans on one of the most important committees in the House right now.”

Smith said the composition of the Health Care Committee during the last session wasn’t reflective of the partisan make-up of the body. The six Democrats, one Progressive, one Independent and three Republicans, Smith said, didn’t mirror the near super-majority status of his party.

“It’s 6-5 committee right now, and the balance is different than most of the other committees, and that plays a role in the decision,” Smith said. “And it’s not an easy decision.”

That narrow margin led to some very public setbacks last session for the committee’s Democratic chairman, who saw his committee go against him on at least one high-profile vote.

Rep. Mary Morrissey, who will be one of two Republicans left on the Health Care Committee, said the change “disrespects” the work that Mitchell and the committee have done over the first half of the session.

Turner said he appreciated that the speaker called him earlier this week to inform him of his plan, and that Smith was willing to work with Republicans in determining which of the three would be sent to the education committee.

Turner said he thinks Hoyt’s experience on the Blue Ribbon Tax Commission, the panel that worked in 2009 to try to reform the income and sales tax, is one of the reasons Smith wants her on health care.

“From my perspective, I think they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to do single-payer,” Turner said. “And being a former member of that commission, I’m sure she has a lot of information about taxation.”

Smith said Hoyt’s facility with the tax code is one reason among many she’ll be a good fit on the committee.

“Certainly it helps that she was on the Blue Ribbon Tax Commission,” Smith said. “But it really is the breadth and depth of her experience.”

Darcie Johnston, head of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, which working to stymie progress toward single-payer, said the committee reassignments underscore the urgency of the opposition.

“This is a clearly partisan political move to rearrange the deck chairs to get the political result they want of moving single payer health care forward,” she said.

In speech at GOP fundraiser, Christie offers self up as “blueprint” for Republican resurgence

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (courtesy photo)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (courtesy photo)

“Candidates matter.”

That was the message from the Republican governor of New Jersey Wednesday night as he regaled nearly 700 members of the Vermont GOP with the story of his own unlikely rise to prominence in a state where politics tend to run the same shade of blue as in Vermont.

“Here’s our message: candidates matter. Candidates matter more than money. Candidates matter more than data mining… Candidates matter more than TV commercials and they matter more than mail pieces and they matter more than those incredibly annoying automated phone calls. They matter more than any of that,” Christie said Wednesday.

Media were barred from attending Wednesday’s fundraising gala at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction, but an audio recorder belonging to the Vermont Press Bureau made it past the gates. In addition to Christie, the recording captured speeches delivered by Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, who were among the lead organizers of an event they say marked the dawn of a new era in the Vermont Republican Party. Continue reading

Documents spotlight state’s escalating fight with exchange contractor

In a sternly worded letter to a top executive at the technology firm hired to build Vermont’s new health insurance exchange, the Shumlin administration late last month served notice that it plans to withhold more than $5 million in payments as a result of CGI’s “failure” to meet key deadlines.

The Nov. 21 correspondence represents the first formal move by the state to impose the “liquidated damages” that CGI Technologies and Solutions could face for missing at least four “critical milestones.”

Larson_letter1

Larson_letter2

And it comes as the state seeks new bargaining power over the company on which it’s relying to fix the problems that will otherwise prevent Vermont from having a fully functioning exchange.

“What we’re focused on now is making sure we exercise the rights we have under the contract … and making sure Vermonters get what they were promised,” Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, said in a phone interview Tuesday. Continue reading

Christie fundraiser sells out

MONTPELIER — The Vermont GOP’s Welcome Winter Gala featuring New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has sold out, according to a party official.

Brent Burns, the state GOP’s political director, wrote to supporters Monday with the news. Party officials “have been absolutely overwhelmed by the excitement it has generated among Vermonters across the political spectrum,” he wrote.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

The event, set for Dec. 11 at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex, is being hosted by Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and Stowe Rep. Heidi Scheuermann. Christie, who easily won a second term earlier this month over Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, is likely to headline the Vermont GOP’s most successful event ever, according to Burns

“It has been a long time since we’ve enjoyed this kind of enthusiasm, and we couldn’t be more proud. We have already sold more than 600 seats and this event promises to be the most successful VTGOP event of all time,” he wrote.

No additional tickets can be reserved at this time. But Burns said the party is looking at options to allow more people to attend and is generating a waiting list if additional tickets can be sold.

The Vermont GOP recently reorganized and elected a new party chairman following a public, intra-party spat between party factions. The Christie fundraiser is “just the beginning of the revitalization of the Vermont Republican Party in Vermont,” Burns wrote.

Democratic PAC settles with state

MONTPELIER — A Democratic PAC must may a $30,000 penalty for violating the state’s campaign finance law during the 2010 election.

Green Mountain Future, a political action committee created by the Democratic Governors Association has settled with the state for the $30,000 penalty, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell announced Wednesday.

The settlement, which has been approved by the Vermont Superior Court, requires GMF to pay the state a civil penalty of $20,000 for failing to include its address on its website or in television ads that ran during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. GMF must also pay a $10,000 penalty the court had previously imposed for not registering as a PAC and filing campaign finance reports.

“Voters are legally entitled to know who is seeking to influence them,” Sorrell said a statement. “PACs need to obey the laws. They cannot hide. They must disclose their identity, including their address, their donors, and their expenditures, to the extent required by law.”

GMF spent more than $500,000 during the 2010 campaign on political ads. Television ads attacking Republican candidate Brian Dubie, the state’s former lieutenant governor, aired thousands of times but did not include complete identifying information. The public had no way of knowing who was behind the ads because GMF did not file required reports, Sorrell said.

The Vermont Superior Court determined that GMF violated Vermont’s campaign finance laws in Dec. 2011 but did not impose a financial penalty for its failure to fully identify itself in ads.

The Vermont Supreme Court then ruled in September that the lower court erred in not imposing a penalty. In its decision the Vermont Supreme Court said “the difficulty of calculating a penalty [does not] mean that no penalty can be awarded.”

The case returned to the trial court for consideration of an appropriate penalty. The settlement announced Wednesday closes out the only remaining issue in the enforcement action, Sorrell said.

Sunderland elected chairman of GOP, promises to “change the way we do business”

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo  Former Rutland Town representative David Sunderland gives a speech before being elected chair of the Vermont Republican Party during their convention in Montpelier Nov. 9.

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo
Former Rutland Town representative David Sunderland gives a speech before being elected chair of the Vermont Republican Party during their convention in Montpelier Nov. 9.

Escalating discord within the Vermont Republican Party came to a head Saturday in Montpelier, where the organization’s state committee rebuked current leadership by selecting a new chairman who promises “to rebuild.”

Former Rutland Town Rep. David Sunderland won a decisive victory over John MacGovern on a platform that hews to the fiscal issues – taxes, health care and spending – on which he said all Republicans can agree.

The race between Sunderland and MacGovern was in many ways a proxy war between two factions that have been battling for nearly a year now. And it represents a win for a bloc of disaffected Republicans who faulted outgoing chairman Jack Lindley for his allegiance to a Republican National Committee whose social conservatism, they said, repelled the centrists that swing elections Vermont.

“At this critical, pivotal moment in our party’s history, we have a unique opportunity to change,” Sunderland told the nearly 200 GOP diehards crowded into the Elks Club in Montpelier. “We can change the way we do business, shedding the past legacies of top-down management and opting instead for teamwork, openness and transparency.”

Candidates for positions on the party’s governing board offered kind words to Lindley, who nearly died last month after falling suddenly ill. But their remarks about the state of the party amounted to a stinging indictment of his tenure. Continue reading

Snelling apologizes to Lisman, but says he believes CFV founder’s gubernatorial hopes are real

Hours after alleging publicly that Campaign for Vermont founder Bruce Lisman has his eyes on governor’s seat, Mark Snelling apologized to the former Wall Street executive for the “mistake.”

In an email to Lisman Thursday night, Snelling wrote:

Bruce,

I owe you an apology.

I was doing an interview and I was trying to make a point about future elections and the dynamics of the various parties and how they can interact along with possible third parties.

To make my point, I spoke about your organization and made statements about which I have no first-hand knowledge.
It was a discussion where CFV was a tangent and I should not have gone down that tangent.

It was a mistake and I apologize.

Mark

The mea culpa arrived in Lisman’s in-box at about 8:15 p.m., about two hours after Snelling’s claims were broadcast in a news bit on this site.

“The reality is that within the last eight weeks, Bruce Lisman has considered running for governor,” Snelling said Thursday afternoon. “He’s had a budget put in front of him, saying that it would cost $3.2 million to run for governor. And he sat through a three to four-hour meeting and thought about it and looked at all sides of it and decided against it.”

Snelling, who confirmed this morning that he sent the apology to Lisman last night, said he stands by his assertion about Lisman’s gubernatorial aspirations.

“I fully believe that what I said was true,” Snelling said this morning.

But Snelling said he felt that the story was devoid of the context in which he’d made the comments. Snelling said that if Lisman chose to pull the trigger on a bid, then he would, as Snelling understands it, run as an Independent. And as part of that candidacy, Snelling said, Campaign for Vermont would send an emissary to the Vermont Republican Party, and prevail upon the organization to leave the top of the ticket open to give Lisman a one-on-one shot against Shumlin.

Snelling said he thinks that could be terrible for the party. And he said it’s a potentially relevant piece of information as it relates to the current battle for the GOP chairmanship between David Sunderland – the choice of Lt. Gov. Phil Scott – and John MacGovern, who is favored by Snelling and outgoing incumbent Jack Lindley.

As a member of Campaign for Vermont, Snelling said, David Sunderland might be willing to leave the top of the Republican ticket open for Lisman, lest he split the conservative vote with an ‘R.’

(Snelling had earlier called Sunderland a “founding” member of CFV – a designation given by the group to its earliest members. But according to CFV, Sunderland isn’t a founding member,  but a “partner,” as the organization refers to its regular members.)

Fueling his concern, Snelling said, was Scott’s lack of public enthusiasm for the last Republican gubernatorial candidate, on whose behalf Scott, the most popular Republican in Vermont, seemed uninterested in stumping for on the campaign trail.

Snelling, Lindley, and Darcie Johnston, a longtime Republican operative and a part of their inner circle, have amped up their criticism of Scott in recent days for what they say is his too-cozy relationship with the Democratic governor.

The noise about a Lisman run, combined with Sunderland’s ties to the man, combined with Scott’s perceived ambivalence toward Republican candidates, Senlling said, make him wary of putting Sunderland and Scott in charge of the party’s statewide apparatus.

“I felt like my comment about Bruce ended up out of context of that initial discussion,” Snelling said.

Whatever the context, Snelling said he “felt badly” about bringing Lisman “into a greater discussion about the party when I could have made my point more effectively by speaking in more general terms.”

“I’ve had a relationship with Bruce for many years,” Snelling said. “And I very much value that relationship.”

With new appointment, women outnumber men in House Democratic caucus

For the first time in the history of the state, women will outnumber their male counterparts in a major-party caucus of the Legislature.

Gov. Peter Shumlin Friday announced that he’ll appoint Marjorie Ryerson, of Randolph Village, to the House seat formerly held by Rep. Larry Townsend, a Democrat who passed away after an illness earlier this year.

Ryerson, a 40-year-old selectboard member who is a poet, writer and editor, according to an administration release, beat out two other candidates forwarded to Shumlin by the local Democratic committee.

“It was a difficult choice because there were three exceptional candidates,” Shumlin said in a release. “I am excited to make this appointment and I look forward to working with Marjorie in the upcoming legislative session. I know she will do a great job representing the district and working for all Vermonters.”

Ryerson’s appointment means women will hold a majority of the 96 House seats occupied by Democrats, the first time that’s happened in a caucus of either party in either body of the Legislature, according to the administration.

“It is both amazing and sobering that we should celebrate such a milestone only now in 2013,” House Speaker Shap Smith said in a written statement. “But it is a reflection of the tremendous strides that women have made in the last 30 years and is something that all Vermonters can and should celebrate.”

Ryerson, according to a press release, has been a writer and editor at a number of Vermont publications, including Vermont Life, the Barre Montpelier Times-Argus and the Burlington Free Press.

Mark Snelling says Bruce Lisman eying governor’s seat; Lisman’s people say “not true”

Bruce Lisman has dismissed as groundless the frequent speculation in the media about his political ambitions.

But Mark Snelling says the founder of Campaign for Vermont is far more interested in running for governor than he’s let on publicly.

According to Snelling, a longtime member of the Vermont GOP who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2010 and now serves as the party’s treasurer, Lisman in recent weeks gave serious thought to a 2014 bid against Peter Shumlin.

“The reality is that within the last eight weeks, Bruce Lisman has considered running for governor,” Snelling said today. “He’s had a budget put in front of him, saying that it would cost $3.2 million to run for governor. And he sat through a three to four-hour meeting and thought about it and looked at all sides of it and decided against it.”

Asked to source his tip, Snelling would say only that Montpelier has “very thin walls,” and that “Vermont is a very small place.”

He hinted that the alleged information came from within the ranks of Campaign for Vermont, the issue-advocacy outfit into which Lisman has poured about $1 million of his own money.

“Not everybody in Campaign for Vermont thinks that it would be a good idea,” Snelling said. “They think that Campaign for Vermont would be best served not being involved in electoral politics.”

Lisman was in Washington, D.C., Thursday and unavailable for comment. But Shawn Shouldice, a Montpelier lobbyist who works with Lisman’s organization, said there’s absolutely no truth to Snelling’s claim.

“It’s not true. There’s no discussion about running for governor,” Shouldice said. “Campaign for Vermont is a self-sustaining organization, and maybe this speaks to the success we’re having.”

Lisman’s alleged gubernatorial dreams are emblematic of the broader influence that Campaign for Vermont, according to Snelling, is hoping to exert on Republican politics in the state. Snelling’s evidence: David Sunderland, the GOP chairman candidate representing the Phil Scott wing of the Republican Party, is a “founding member” of Campaign for Vermont.

Christie to headline GOP fundraiser

MONTPELIER — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be the featured guest at the Vermont Republican Party’s “Welcome Winter Gala” fundraiser next month.

The event, hosted by Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and Stowe Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, will be held at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction on Dec. 11. The invitation, which went out Thursday morning, promises Vermont food, beverages and entertainment.

Christie won re-election on Tuesday by a comfortable margin over his Democratic challenger Barbara Buono.

Tickets to the event are $50 per person. For $1,000, a couple can attend a private reception with Christie.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (courtesy photo)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (courtesy photo)

Lindley will not seek re-election to Vt GOP leadership post

Jack Lindley

Jack Lindley

MONTPELIER — Vermont Republican Party Chairman Jack Lindley said Wednesday that he will not seek re-election to the post and will instead back John MacGovern.
Lindley had been considering a bid to remain chairman despite a recent illness that left him hospitalized for about a month. He was released from the hospital and returned home last week.
As recently as Wednesday morning, political allies including Mark Snelling, the GOP’s treasurer, said Lindley was planning on trying to retain his chairmanship at the party’s state convention Saturday.
“Yes, it’s my expectation that he’s going to run,” Snelling said Wednesday morning.
But Wednesday evening Lindley announced via email his intention to step aside and back MacGovern, best known for losing to independent Sen. Bernard Sanders last fall.
“I’m writing to let you know that although my recovery is going well, I will not be a candidate for Chairman of the Vermont Republican Party. My time and energy is best spent working on building my strength and fully recovering,” Lindley wrote.
For more on this story, read it in the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus on Thursday.

In September report, Shumlin administration told of “critical” problems with insurance exchange

Acknowledging the severity of the technological glitches in Vermont’s new health insurance website, Gov. Peter Shumlin Thursday issued a surprise announcement extending the deadline by which residents will have to enroll for policies in the new marketplace.

But key members of the administration have known since at least the middle of September of defects in Vermont Health Connect, some of which, they were told by outside consultants, were potentially substantial enough to derail the enrollment timeline.

In a 192-slide Power Point presentation, conducted on Sept. 11 and 12 and prepared at the behest of the federal government, managers at the Department of Vermont Health Access detailed a range of “risks” in the online marketplace, and presented “workarounds,” “mitigation” plans, and “contingencies.”

The so-called “Operational Readiness Review” also includes a presentation from Gartner, Inc., a Connecticut-based tech consultant hired to review the website. Gartner concluded that Vermont Health Connect should be given “RED” status – as opposed to ‘yellow’ or ‘green’ – “due to significant risks to meeting the October 1st deadline for Go-Live.”

The most “critical risks,” according to Gartner:

  • “Time in the schedule to remediate errors found in testing is minimal and unexpected difficulty in resolving system issues will put the schedule at risk. Concurrent System and User Acceptance Testing will be occurring in the Staging environment, which creates complexities in test execution (data management; user management; etc.).”
  • “The project schedule continues to be compressed as environment availability issues delay deployment and testing. Additional delays will put the Go-Live date of 10/1 in jeopardy. The project schedule must be updated to account for delays and changes immediately communicated to project stakeholders to determine resource and schedule impact.”
  • “Delivery of the production environments has been delayed and there is a risk there will not be sufficient time remaining in the project schedule to adequately test or address defects, potentially delaying the ability to go live on 10/1. Significant configuration issues delayed the availability of development environments and the production environments are significantly more complex.”

Verbiage used in the Gartner analysis is typical of the technolog-ese employed through the slide show, a copy of which is attached below. The document was requested first from the administration by former Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock.

Portions of the slide show – provided to the Vermont Press Bureau in a separate records request – have been redacted, because they contain information that could compromise the security of the site.

The slide show also features concerns about things like insufficient training for navigators; the ability of consumers to enroll through the web; and the lack of in-house manpower that might be needed to deal with the volume of paper applications in the event of online dysfunction.

That the administration knew about possible defects on the site isn’t revelatory – Shumlin, his health care czar Robin Lunge, and Commissioner of Vermont Health Access Mark Larson have long said there would “hiccups” and “bumps in the road.”

More surprising, perhaps, is the confidence Shumlin was conveying publicly as recently as last week, when he told a gaggle of skeptical reporters that everything was under control. Amid growing concern over problems being encountered by small businesses and individuals, Shumlin reassured the press that his team would have the problems solved in time to meet the Jan. 1 deadline by which Vermonters needed to have new plans, lest their existing policies lapse.

The new deadline gives residents until March 31 to make the transition, and will allow them to renew their existing policies for another three months. That move has prompted its own set of questions, including whether or not people who take advantage of the extension will be subject to a full yearly deductible for the three-month extension, or if it will be pro-rated based on the length of the term.

Asked on Vermont Edition today by Bob Kinzel whether he knew ahead of time how problematic the roll out might be, Shumlin said “we did not know the magnitude the challenges we were going to face.”

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