Thumbs up, thumbs down, and a poke in the eye

Miscellaneous items from the past week or so, for good and for ill. Possibly the first in a regular series; no promises, tho.

Peter Hirschfeld of the Vermont Press Bureau, for getting the scoop on Governor Shumlin’s sweetheart land deal. Shumlin backers have complained that his private life should be kept private; but when he puts down $35,000 for a $700,000 property, there needs to be exposure and explanation. Which the Governor petulantly refused to provide. And an extra thumbs up to Hirschfeld for tolerating the Governor’s tantrum last Thursday.

Randy Brock, Republican gubernatorial placeholder, for his near-incoherence in explaining the most creative part of his economic-recovery plan, the Business In A Box. As Paul Heintz reported, he bumbled, fumbled, and stumbled his way through it, giving the impression that one of his consultants had come up with it, and that he’d never really given it much thought until he was facing the media. What’s next, Randy? A farm-assistance plan called “Pig In A Poke”?

After the jump: More thumbs and a finger poke, featuring Steve Kimbell, David Zuckerman, Jake Perkinson, and more!

Steve Kimbell, Commissioner of Banking, Insurance, And All Things Boring, for an overdue retraction of his attempt to prevent credit unions from uttering the sacred word “banking” in their advertisements. VSECU had been using the generic term in its ads, pointing out that it offers the same services as a bank. State regulations are designed to bar a credit union from pretending to be a bank; but the VSECU ads clearly identified it as a credit union that offered banking services. Last week, Kimbell finally backed off his niggling interpretation of the rules.

Chris d’Elia of the Vermont Bankers Association, for his weak-tea whinge in response to Kimbell’s decision. Banks have no monopoly on all iterations of the word “bank,” any more than Chick-Fil-A can claim all usages of the words “Eat More,” and d’Elia’s tired bleat changed no minds.  

State Senate candidate David Zuckerman, for putting together a really impressive list of Democratic supporters in response to his shunning by certain Democratic leaders. Which leads us to…

Vermont Democratic Party chair Jake Perkinson, for going along with Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell’s refusal to lend any support to Zuckerman’s candidacy because he dares to run as a Prog/Dem instead of a Dem/Prog. (Lite-Gov candidate Cassandra Gekas is doing the same, but no shunning for her.) Zuckerman ran as a Democrat; he won enough Democratic votes to gain a spot on the ticket; indeed, he finished fourth in the primary, better than two other Dems who are on the November ballot. Perkinson and Campbell are being small-minded, and their action seems designed to exacerbate simmering Dem/Prog tensions. And the liberal cause in Vermont is better served when the two parties set aside past offenses and manage to get along.

The Vermont political media, for pretty much ignoring the Campaign for Vermont Prosperity (?*)’s recently-released “energy plan,” a rehash of free-marketer complaints about the cost of electricity and how it’s making Vermont an unlivable hellhole, plus the usual “release the Kraken” bushwah about how the Markets Will Save Us All. Way back when the CFVP(?) was shiny and new, it promised to release detailed prescriptions for all of Vermont’s ills. Now, as the campaign season enters the homestretch, we finally see the first one. Too late to meaningfully impact public debate. Not that it would, anyway; it’s the same old stuff we hear all the time from the Republicans and their sugar daddies in the fossil-fuel industry.

*CFV can’t make up its mind on its own name: Campaign for Vermont, or Campaign for Vermont Prosperity? I’d suspect them of deviousness if (a) there were any pattern to the use of the names and (b) I thought they had the strategic capacity that makes deviousness possible.

Nancy Remsen of the Freeploid, for an unfortunate turn of phrase in her coverage of Randy Brock’s economic plan. In a story also undistinguished by her omission of Brock’s struggles to explain Business In A Box, she adopted the Republican phrase “common-sense health care reform.” Er, Nancy, that’s what Randy Brock calls it. It’s meant to draw a line between his market-worshipping version (common-sense) and Governor Shumlin’s plan (nonsense, I guess). If it’s not one of the Rules of Journalism, it ought to be: don’t adopt one side’s terminology. Makes it look like you’re putting your thumb on the scale.

Whoever’s responsible for the e-mails inciting Shumlin supporters to badger the news media. As I reported in this space, at least three commenters on a VTDigger story about the Guv’s fab new East Montpelier digs used the same phrasing. And one of them mistakenly cut-and-pasted his response to the e-mail into his VTDigger comment, thus revealing the scuzzy maneuver. And one of the comments strongly implied that the same tactic has been used against other media sources. This is an offense against the already-beleaguered practice of journalism, and it’s politically unnecessary in a race that Shumlin is certain to win.

That’s all for this installment. Feel free to brandish the Digit Of Your Choice in the Comments below.  

One thought on “Thumbs up, thumbs down, and a poke in the eye

  1. “Whoever’s responsible for the emails”?  Wouldn’t that probably be Kevin Ellis who, if guilty, would be like Karl Rove gleefully accusing opponents of exactly what he himself was doing.

    But someone please tell me why.  Was it just a slow day in the lobbyist shop over at KSE?  Why did Shumlin wheel out a nuke like KSE to swat a fly like that sweetheart real estate deal?      

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