Updated: Shame on you, Mr. Shumlin!

Here is a link to Al Norman’s article on Sprawl-Busters about the Governor’s endorsement of Walmart.


Good for the Vermont Natural Resources Council, once more doing the dirty job that no one ever seems to want to do!  

They’re calling out the Governor for endorsing developer Jeff Davis’ plan to put a Walmart in the little town of Derby.  He’s comparing location of that gargantuan poverty mill to Bill Stenger’s high-end plans for neighboring Newport.

All I can say is, if they are in any way the same, we’d better take a much closer look at Mr. Stenger’s intentions.

The VNRC’s remarks are far more polite than my thoughts at the moment:

We’re especially disappointed to see the Governor supporting big box sprawl. We are very concerned that this development – which is the wrong scale in the wrong place – will undermine Newport City, one of the many downtowns that the State and so many others have been working hard to revitalize.

Governor Shumlin is making precisely the same statements about Walmart coming to Derby that Jim Douglas made a decade ago about St. Albans.  

To this seasoned veteran of the Walmart wars, Peter Shumlin might as well be a Republican.

Let’s review:

.He opposes increased tax contributions from the wealthy.

.He avoids offending the NRA

.He would fund education by reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit upon which poor families depend.

.He has demonstrated contempt for rules protecting our streams

…And now he endorses the “Walmartification” of Vermont.

He even parrots the same lie about folks being unable to buy underwear locally that was a feature of the ignorant arguments for Walmart in St. Albans.  

It is beyond me to guess what kind of special underwear Mr. Shumlin imagines is available only at Walmart; but those of us who live and shop in the real world are fully capable of buying cheap underwear and socks in either St. Albans or Newport.  My guess is that he gets his own knickers from far pricier places than JC Penney and the dollar store.

The Governor has disappointed me a-plenty over the past couple of years, but never more so than when he endorsed the completely false premise that Walmart means local prosperity.  

He’s “hopeful it won’t be greeted with lots of opposition” and hints darkly at “forces outside the Kingdom” which he fears might get involved.  

I’m hopeful that there will be plenty of opposition; and as someone “outside the Kingdom” will welcome the opportunity to share all that we in the Northwest Citizens For Responsible Growth have learned throughout the past decade about how Walmart impacts communities and how Mr. Davis works his way through the permit processes.

I wonder whether, over in the Kingdom, the Governor has as casually appointed District Commissioners as he did here in District 6?

When he had barely assumed office, aided in no small part by the efforts of progressive minded folks like myself who abhor the exploitation of Walmart,  the Governor made it clear that his loyalty is to the monied class of developers and pocket padders.  

Brushing aside our objections, he reappointed as commissioner, a man whose family business has recently re-located from downtown St. Albans City to Exit 20, so as to take advantage of the Walmart and other potential development out there; all of which has been and will be under review by that commissioner.  

Not surprisingly, Davis’ Walmart slipped through Act 250 like butter.

Anyone like that on the District Commission for Derby?

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

21 thoughts on “Updated: Shame on you, Mr. Shumlin!

  1. When was Shumlin not a Republican?

    “He opposes increased tax contributions from the wealthy.

    He avoids offending the NRA

    He would fund education by reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit upon which poor families depend.

    He has demonstrated contempt for rules protecting our streams

    …And now he endorses the “Walmart-ification” of Vermont.”

    If it walks and talks like a Republican…

    Endorsing the impoverishment of an entire region and the Detroit-ification of an entire town’s economic downtown is NOT a Democratic or Progressive proposal.

    WalMart’s business model is to crush all local small businesses into dust and impoverish the American people by outsourcing well paying manufacturing jobs to slave-labor nations and then ordering all US companies to compete with overseas zero-wage jobs, while paying their ‘associates’ as little as is legally possible so that they qualify for foodstamps, all so they can use Capitalism to steal every penny the Walton Family can get their greedy hands on from their employees and vendors.

    Why does Shumlin want that for Vermont?  This is the opposite of Vermont’s local support tradition, and the opposite of the downtown revitalization programs, and the opposite of bringing good paying jobs to Vermont and the opposite of all plans to reduce poverty in the state.

    I keep hearing people say that Shumlin is a Democrat and that we don’t need the Progressive Party anymore because the Dems are more enlightened now .  But reality doesn’t bear that out.

  2. And Shumlin is pushing the natural gas pipeline tearing up Chittenden county communities in the name of public good for Vt when in reality the majority of the gas is going to Int Paper in NY?

  3. Not alone in your takeaway re the import of his recent activities. Totally on the same page as the Herald/Times Argus, they both had this in today’s editorial:

    Impersonating a Republican

    January 17,2013

    Gov. Peter Shumlin may think he is pulling a Howard Dean-like maneuver, confounding liberals in his own party in order to demonstrate a fiscally conservative approach to social problems and establishing credibility with the business community.


  4. I understand that the voters in this community have voted multiple times on this and have expressed a desire for this development. One such “non-binding” vote confirmed overwhelming support with voters voting 2,592 to 411 to support the store. While it may be argued that voter referendum is somehow a usurpation of the development processes required, it should hold some weight. These votes aren’t even close. I’m not a supporter of Wal-Mart philosophically or monetarily, but I’m uncomfortable with my objections/opinions trumping the will of those community members who participated in a democratic process. Why am I wrong to think this way? Am I dismissed as a Republican, too?

  5. I missed the full press conference, but I assume the Gov’s excited endorcement of another Wal-Mart went along side a proposal to increase funding to the EITC, LIHEAP, food stamps, Medicaid/Catamount Health, higher ed grants, and public transportation (as well as increased hiring in the state agencies which oversee each program), as nearly all the jobs created at Wal-Mart are for low wages and part-time hours, ensuring an increased need for these programs (ie, the public subsidizing of the profits which will go to the Walton family).

  6. Another scoop Sue, I think ya started something:

    Margolis: Walmart’s low-cost goods come at a high price

    by Jon Margolis | January 22, 2013

    The Great Northeast Kingdom underwear hoax returned to Vermont last week.

    The hoaxer-in-chief was Gov. Peter Shumlin.


  7. The function of a vote depends very much, for one thing on how the ballot issue is worded and how successful either side is at carrying their message to the voters.

    Walmart and the developer poured tons of money into “persuasion” over here in St. Albans; and opponents were handily outmatched in opportunities to get folks to look at the devil in the details.  

    I still can’t understand how the Town of St. Albans keeps reelecting the same band of neanderthals who oppose everything from sidewalks to alternative energy.  But they belong to the power families who are good at getting out their voters.

    If we left things like recycling, seatbelts, run-off control, infant seats, minimum compulsory education and tolerance of minoritites to local referendums, there are a great many places where these things would be resoundingly defeated.

    Ignorance and money are powerful enemies of responsible decision making.  That is why, a long time ago, we decided that we should make educated specialists responsible for some decisions.  

  8. I find it odd that you then don’t support the ability of these “educated specialists” to force development on a community that’s “in their long-term best interest” even if it’s currently against their collective will. I’ve read numerous posts on this blog of people expressing dissatisfaction with the “educated specialist” on the PSB and their perceived embrace of industrial wind.

    It’s not very productive to call members of your community “Neanderthals” for voting and thinking differently than you. The Town of St. Albans keeps reelecting the same people to serve them for whatever reasons they do. I think you’d agree that that is their right to do so in a democracy, unless you support “educated specialists” deeming whom the electorate should elect “in their long-term best interest”.

    I don’t find these referendum votes in any way analogous to those you cite, especially “tolerance of minorities”. Are corporations people now? Shouldn’t a town collectively have a say in the way they’d like their community to be developed, or should all such decisions be held up to a different standard that you deem acceptable? Where do we draw the line? Will we be allowed to make development decisions in our communities, counties, states, New England, East Coast, United States?

    I know this is blunt, but much of your criticism of the community’s support for this project is somewhat akin to “I know what’s better for them then they do”, which I find disconcerting.

    Dismissing these votes as byproducts of “ignorance and money” seems intellectually lazy and unnecessarily condescending.  

  9. We vote all the time on things not in our interest, and a lot of those votes are made without the voters knowing all the facts. And with Big Business development, it’s always the same–it’ll bring lower prices and JOBS, blah-blah.  And it’s always the same–it destroys small business (and jobs) and creates LOWER-PAYING jobs.  It’s almost like WalMart ‘forces’ people economically to shop there.  Me, I go to our Great Corner Store here in Montpelier, The Uncommon Market.  We should always consider what’s at stake with WalMarts or any other Big Box/Big Business ‘development’ proposed for the ‘greater good’ of the community–it is NOT for the greater good of the community; it is for the GREATER GOOD OF THE BIG CORPORATION.  When our community loses its ‘Community’ Corner Stores, our Community is diminished.  Our sense of belonging to something, of enjoying our contribution to and interaction with what is ‘special’ to our neighborhoods.  So, it goes without saying, to me anyway, that resisting the move to herd us all into the Malls, to herd our children into Big Regional Schools, to rip apart the texture of our belonging to a community, is a GOOD FIGHT, and I thank you , Sue, for pointing the finger at our Governor, who is now being praised in some circles as the most Progressive sonofabitch around since Bernie Sanders took the subway from Brooklyn to Burlington.  Bullshit is still Bullshit.  Hey, WalMart ought to have a SALE on that–before there are no cows or bulls left in our fields, only Mall Droppings.  Good For You, Sue!  Keep It Up!  I’m right behind you.  And, thank God, not in a line at WalMart!    

  10. I have had some experience with voter referenda in North Dakota, where voters have the ability to initiate a law, a referendum, and also to sustain or reject a law that has been passed, a referral.  Generally, referenda/referrals are more prevalent in western states.  Eastern states largely had more confidence in representative governmental structures; western states, farther from the power centers, were much more skeptical and tended to rely more on these popular initiatives.

    Vermont has had referenda over the years, and you can learn more at the State Archives website:  http://vermont-archives.org/go…  Referendum power is quite constrained here, however.

    Like any other political mechanism, it can cut both ways,  good and bad.  California is still living with the general debacle that was Prop 13 back in 1978.  Attempts at direct democracy have their understandable appeal, but, as witnessed by California’s tumultuous record, they can destabilizing.  

    Someone once said that, of the three levels of government, state government was the best.  The federal level was corrupted by money; the local level by cronyism.  Having been at those two levels, I readily agree. Yet, I also believe that state governments are becoming pinched by both cronyism and money, and Vermont is no exception.

    What’s my solution?  Beats me!  Certainly, I believe Vermont needs better conflict-of-interest laws, better financial disclosure laws, better procedures governing the revolving door as recently highlighted by the Karen Marshall move, although what happened there is nothing new and has certainly been a bi-partisan trait.  We also must provide a greater measure of transparency and adherence to our Open Meetings law, with more severe penalties for those who break it. Perhaps better whistle blower protections.  That’s a start.  I also feel that the oft-cited claim — “we don’t need these laws here because everybody knows each other” — is baloney and a way of minimizing the need for reform.  

    Now, I will get off my soap box.  Thanks.

  11. The damage done to local economies by Walmart should (imo) be looked at from a distance.  Cumulatively they have been a disaster for local economies, human rights and ecosystems not just here but globally, in the sweatshops they exploit.  So I understand the outrage here felt by someone with a worn finger in the corporate dominance dike.  Just as with big wind, better alternatives exist and once WalMart (or ridgeline wind) is built, the damage is done.

  12. The reference to the Town Selectboard was simply as an example, and there has been much local discussion about the incongruity of the vote in the Town.  It impacts us in the City as well as the folks in the Town, so I do not speak out of turn.

    I don’t even understand your first paragraph, so that will require some explanation if you expect a response.

    Sometimes, people who have informed themselves over a long period of time, through experience, education and investigation, actually do know more than those who have not.

    May I take it that you do not agree that ignorance and money often influence voting?

  13. I don’t even understand your first paragraph, so that will require some explanation if you expect a response.

    Should the PSB vote to approve an industrial wind project, or to approve the extension of VY’s permit because they believe “it’s in their (the communities) long-term best interest”, even though the communities impacted don’t support their conclusions, are these “educated specialists” akin to those you’re referring to with this statement from you, “a long time ago, we decided that we should make educated specialists responsible for some decisions”, or are they easily dismissed as captives of big wind and/or the nuclear industry?

  14. If those with whom we disagree are labeled “ignorant”, “bought off”, or dismissed as “captives of big business” it isn’t that far of a logical leap for those “educated specialists” you describe as “responsible for some decisions” regarding control over development to be dismissed by their critics as condescending idealist who seek the intrusion of “big government” in the operations of our local communities.

  15. There are many avenues of discussion with regard to the PSB’s role.  I do think there would be benefit in a more specialized agency to deal with energy issues, but I would certainly not eliminate the review process in favor of a public referendum!

    I may disagree with decisions made by a knowledgeable board; and might participate in the legal appeals available within the process; but I would certainly never replace even a deficient board of qualified reviewers with a public referendum.  

    Referendums have a role to play in gathering public input, as should happen in any review process; but they are no substitute for a board of qualified professionals doing their homework and staying abreast of the latest findings.  

  16. it is another frustrating, mystifying & maddening fact of life-watching those around us supporting that which is to their detriment while thanking those who pull the wool over their eyes, and come out smelling like a rose.

    Then, lauded & extolled by our very own supposedly progressive-leaning guv.

    I need a shot of 101 in my coffee. Won’t change a thing but I’ll feel a little better.

  17. ‘Couldn’t agree with you more!

    …and thanks for the grammatical tip on “referenda“…I kind of thought it might be so, but had already hit “post” after typing “referendums.”

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