Happy memeface, sad memeface, RAGEFACE

As if I needed to tell you, it’s the Special Memeface Edition of “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down…”

Two milestones on the road to recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. On Saturday, there were public celebrations in Duxbury and Bartonsville. The former marked the closure of Rebuild Waterbury, an Irene recovery effort for Waterbury and surrounding communities.

And in Bartonsville, a new wooden covered bridge was dedicated. It replaces the old Bartonsville bridge, which was swept away in post-Irene floods. The ribbon-cutters included the usual suspects, Gov. Shumlin and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch; but the brightest face belonged to Sue Hammond, the Bartonsville native who caught the bridge’s collapse on video, complete with her unfiltered cries of dismay. She recounted for WCAX her childhood memories of crossing the bridge and swimming in the river below. Its reopening is a positive sign for all Vermont, but it’s most welcome for the people who live in and around Bartonsville.

Devoted environmentalist Skip “Gasoline” Vallee, for continuing to fight the self-interested fight against a proposed Costco gas station off I-89 Exit 16. Last week, the Costco plan won a land-use permit under Act 250 — and Vallee immediately promised to appeal the ruling.

Not that we would ever question the environmental bona fides of a guy who made his bones selling fossil fuel… but let’s be real: the only reason he’s fighting Costco is that it would provid stiff competition for his Exit 16 Maplefields station, and threaten Burlington-area profit margins that are among the highest in the nation. It seems certain that Skippy will spend plenty of those profits on lawyers, as he takes his battle to every possible tribunal in an effort to delay the inevitable as long as possible.

After the jump: One fond farewell, one good riddance, and Jim Doesless saysless.

Avram Patt, General Manager of my electricity provider, Washington Electric Co-op, who just announced he will retire at the end of June after 16-plus years on the job. The Co-op has been a pioneer in renewable power generation, and they go out of their way to help their customers. At least I think so.

But there’s a lot more to Mr. Patt than a career spent in utilities and public service. In his younger days, he spent two years performing with the Bread and Puppet Theater, and he’s the singer/storyteller/drummer of the Nisht Geferlach Klezmer Band. And hey, a touch of Yiddish is just what Vermont culture needs.

 Wayne Leonard, CEO of Entergy Corporation (owner of Vermont Yankee), on the occasion of his much more welcome departure. Leonard is retiring at the end of this month after 14 years at the top of Entergy. If you read the New Orleans Times Picayune, you learn that Leonard helmed the company through some very tough times to a much more prosperous present.

Guess the Times Picayune hasn’t heard about that grim UBS Securities forecast on Entergy’s cash-flow troubles.

But here’s the best part:

Leonard… has developed a reputation as a chief executive with a conscience, who’s relied on a range of personality traits to motivate others and promote his vision of a better society.

Oh yeah. This is the same guy who let Yankee’s decommissioning fund dwindle, who’s failed to bolster Yankee’s poor reputation in these parts, who tried to pull off a financial shell game by spinning off Yankee (and Entergy’s other nukes) into a new corporation with no assets, who continues to fight tooth and nail against Vermont’s efforts to enforce the terms of its operating license, and who’s stoutly defended Yankee throughout its myriad technical and maintenance troubles. “Chief executive with a conscience,” my Aunt Fanny.

The Brookfield floating bridge, which is finally on the road to reopening. The unique bridge carried Route 65 traffic — and many a curious tourist — across Sunset Lake for decades has been closed to vehicles and pedestrians since 2008 due to a loss of buoyancy.

Last week, an Agency of Transportation official told Brookfield residents that the bridge was on the AOT’s budget for 2014. If all goes well, construction would begin in the spring of 2014 with a projected opening in the fall of that year. The new bridge should have a life expectancy of 100 years. The feds will cover 80% of the estimated $4.7 million cost of the new bridge, with the state picking up the remainder.

Noted socks and underwear connoisseur Peter Shumlin, for staging a photo-op today at the Northfield mill that produces Darn Tough Socks less than two weeks after he trumpeted a proposed new Walmart in Derby.

Why does he get dinged for two random promotional events, you may ask?

Well, on the one hand, Shumlin seeks to highlight local manufacturing; on the other, he talked of Newport-area residents’ need for a place to buy socks and underwear — at a mega-chain retailer that doesn’t carry Darn Tough Socks. Oopsie.

Governor-turned-pundit Jim Douglas, for a series of VPR commentaries that are either dreadfully shallow and bland, or completely self-serving.

Last week, I wrote a post about Douglas’ latest VPR emission — an ego-driven bleat about how Gov. Shumlin stole all his education-reform ideas. And how the cretins in the Democratic Legislature torpedoed all those ideas back in the day. In response to my post, frequent commenter “terje” noted that all of Douglas’ VPR commentaries are pretty much like that.

So I checked, and terje is right — sort of.

Douglas’ commentaries basically fall into three (equally useless) categories:

— The grumbling-in-his-drink stuff, wherein he explains how he would have solved all our problems if only the shortsighted Democrats hadn’t stymied him.

— The shallow and uninteresting recitations of historical and political trivia.

— Complaints about the divisive partisanship of today’s politics. He usually leaves unspoken the obvious undercurrent: “It’s not like things used to be when I was in office.” The problem is that Douglas was the one who first imported the corrosive carpet-bombing political playbook of the Karl Rove types.

Remember a guy named Jim Barnett, last seen driving Scott Brown’s campaign off the cliff? (Barnett ran a harshly negative campaign against Elizabeth Warren, in spite of the fact that his candidate’s only real asset was likability.) Well, Jim cut his political teeth in the mid-Aughties as Jim Douglas’ pit bull. Or, as Peter Freyne called him, “Mad Dog.”  

Here’s another Freyne nickname: the Nasty Boys, given to Barnett and Neale Lunderville for their relentlessly negative approach to partisan politics. They did the dirty work, while Douglas enjoyed plausible deniability as he pretended to be a nice-guy conciliator.

And now he’s mounted his high horse to condemn all the angry partisanship he sees around him.

To sum it all up, there’s a bit more variety to Douglas’ VPR commentaries than terje said. But terje’s underlying point is certainly true: they’re a waste of perfectly good airtime.  

One thought on “Happy memeface, sad memeface, RAGEFACE

  1. and he did locate his Maplefield’s at that intersection of his own free will, in order to take advantage of Costco customers;  but he actually has a point about the problem of exiting Costco during rush hour traffic.  

    The Maplefield’s driveway has long served as a bail-out lane for people who can’t wait interminably to get to the intersection to make their left-hand turn.

    Nevertheless, he hasn’t a leg to stand on with regard to environmental impact; especially since the run-off from his gas-pumps heads straight downhill to the Costco property.

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