Please note update below; new information from the Vermont Foodbank.
Looks like Jason Gibbs has his thinkin’ cap on. The former Douglas Administration utility infielder turned political PR flack, now representin’ Bruce Lisman’s Campaign for Vermont, is presumably trying to relaunch CFV in a more convincingly nonpartisan way — following its rather disastrous 2012 debut as a stalking horse for Republican talking points.
So I sense the fine hand of “gowithgibbs” in a press release announcing CFV’s latest publicity stunt — er, display of compassion:
More than a dozen partners of the independent, non-partisan advocacy organization Campaign for Vermont met Jan. 16 at the Vermont Foodbank to volunteer and talk with human service providers about the growing demand for services, the importance of post-holiday giving and the need for a more vibrant economy where no one is left behind.
We trust it was a more productive visit than Paul Ryan’s infamous 15-minute photo opportunity at an Ohio soup kitchen, which backfired on Ryan because it was transparently phony, and backfired on the charity because some donors objected to its politicization.
The Lismaniacs did actually do some work, unloading “dozens of donated boxes of food. The use of “dozens” implies a figure between 24 and 99 boxes. With “more than a dozen” Lismaniacs on hand, that must have taken at least several minutes of hard labor.
(See note below; per Vermont Foodbank, the Lisman crew did actually do a significant amount of work.)
And then came the talking, which is what this little Potemkin set-piece was really all about.
As Lisman explains, the poor and needy provide a useful backdrop for CFV’s vision, in which an unleashed free market brings an end to hunger and want:
“The increasing demand for the Foodbank’s services, and assistance provided by countless other organizations, is an important reminder of why we founded Campaign for Vermont.”
…”The Vermonters who will benefit most from our policy work are those who currently rely on the Foodbank and other compassionate service providers to get them through the challenges of today with hope that there will be more opportunities for them tomorrow.”
Yeah, well, unless your “policy work” has changed dramatically from the free-marketeer-inspired rhetoric of Lisman 1.0, “the Vermonters who will benefit most from our policy work” are the rich and powerful. Those are the people who benefited most from the untamed Wall Street gold rush of the last few decades; and it was in the canyons of Wall Street where Lisman made his fortune and formulated his ideas.
But hey, the visit to the Foodbank wasn’t just a one-time publicity stunt. It was the first in a series of publicity stunts, as CFV plans to hold public policy forums around the state — and will accept donations to local food pantries at each event.
How kindly. And how apropos: bring a can of beans, and get a load of CFV’s ideological beans.
UPDATE. I received the following message from John Sayles, head of the Vermont Foodbank. In light of this, I admit I was too harsh on the CFV gang; it was more than just a Paul Ryan thing. (I sitll question CFV’s viewpoint and platform.)
Bruce Lisman himself and more than a dozen people who support Campaign For Vermont did indeed come to the Vermont Foodbank and spent about 3 hours sorting 4000 pounds of grocery salvage product. It is a task that the Foodbank relies on volunteers to accomplish.
Dozens of groups – churches, businesses, civic clubs, and groups of friends – come to our Barre and Brattleboro locations to sort hundreds of thousands of pound of salvage every year. We thank every group and never ask their motives or political affiliation.
In fact, I would invite the bloggers of GMD to come in, bring their friends and see if they can beat the CFV total!
Thanks to John Sayles for the information. I don’t know if we’ll be able to meet his challenge; we at GMD can hardly organize our way out of a paper bag.