Return of the Memefaces, Special Derpface Edition!!!
Governor Shumlin, takin’ one for the team by jetting off to Florida on a three-day midwinter junket with Northeast Kingdom developer Bill Stenger. Shummy and Stengy (?) will be talking up the massive NEK development project that Stenger is hoping to fund through the federal EB-5 program, which allows wealthy foreigners a free ticket to US residency if they invest enough money in an American company. S&S are probably recruiting investors, although they might just be taking a meeting with potential troublemaker Anthony Korda, the British attorney who got US residency by investing $500,000 in “a ski resort in Vermont,” according to NPR. The report does not specify, but it’s not hard to infer that Korda’smoney went into Stenger’s EB-5 funded Jay Peak expansion.
Anyway, Korda is happy with his new Florida home but not with his ROI, which he estimates at “between 1.5 and 2 percent.” And now that he’s put out his shingle in the Sunshine State, Korda “now consults with other wealthy foreigners wanting to use the program to come to America.” Might he be advising potential immigrants about the substandard returns on Stenger’s projects? Might Shumlin and Stenger be advised to get on Korda’s good side?
Oh, and a side benefit to Shumlin’s excursion: he will, once again, be unavailable for his “weekly” press conference. It’s been a while since he actually had a full-scale presser; lately, he’s piggybacked his “press conferences” onto groundbreakings and other public events, which means his actual time answering media questions is relatively brief.
Lukas Snelling, carpetbaggin’ PR flack and head of Energize Vermont, for an underwhelming return on his Big Day at the Statehouse. He’d scheduled last Thursday as the cause’s big day to rally, lobby, and present EV’s plan for a green-energy Vermont without any additional wind farms. He even chartered buses to bring crowds from Rutland and the Northeast Kingdom. But the turnout wasn’t exactly overwhelming; EV claims “more than 100,” while I never saw more than about 80. Either number isn’t exactly compelling evidence of a “growing” anti-wind movement.
The media attention was spotty at best. As far as I know, VTDigger, the Freeploid, and the Mitchell Family Organ gave it a pass; there was some coverage on TV and radio, but overall, the publicity was less than plentiful.
EV’s plan also turned out to be underwhelming. At first glance it looked fine, but when compared to VPIRG’s plan, EV’s would create far less green power, take much longer to generate significant increases in green power, and be much more dependent on questionably green sources like nuclear and Hydro Quebec, And while VPIRG’s was a documented and fully written report, EV’s is nothing more than a Powerpoint demonstration.
To top it all off, even as the assembled dozens of activists lobbied for a three-year wind moratorium, Senate Natural Resources Committee chairman (and moratorium co-sponsor) Bob Hartwell was already de-emphasizing the moratorium in favor of a milder proposal to make decisions on new energy facilities subject to Act 250. All in all, not a great week for Master Luke.
After the jump: Bruce Lisman, Skip Vallee, The Huntsman, and pot calls out kettle.
Convenience store magnate Rodolphe “Skip” Vallee, for inadvertently gaining some effective camouflage for the much-criticized high gas prices in the Burlington area — because prices have suddenly shot up across the entire state. Coincidence? Conspiracy? Dunno, but the gas-price chart available at Bernie Sanders’ website shows that the persistent gap between prices in the northwest and in other parts of the state almost entirely disappeared about two weeks ago, and prices have tracked upward in lockstep ever since.
Hmm, what happened two weeks ago… Oh yeah, Costco got its Act 250 permit for a big gas station off I-89 Exit 16, down the street from one of Skip’s Maplefields outlets. Mebbe Skip sees the writing on the wall. Or perhaps it’s that higher nationwide prices are sufficient to quench Vallee’s thirst for profit.
Wall Street multimillionaire and cookie distributor Bruce Lisman, for finding out the hard way that Vermont Democrats have vivid memories. When top Dems held their news conference announcing a package of campaign-finance reform measures, the biggest surprise was their call for new disclosure requirements for nonprofit groups that engage in significant public-issue advocacy. And in doing so, they repeatedly mentioned Lisman’s Campaign for Vermont by name.
In recent months, CFV has been burnishing its nonpartisan credentials by more frequently using its plausibly bipartisan co-founder Tom Pelham as its front man. Not to mention spending a day helping out at the Vermont Foodbank, and launching a “listening tour” to gather Vermonters’ input about the challenges facing our state. But the Dems still recall the aggressively partisan CFV of last winter, spending tens of thousands on radio ads attacking the agenda of the Democratic majority.
Note to Bruce: It’ll take more than a few home-baked cookies to placate the Dems.
The anonymous perp who pulled off a 2002 armored car heist in Rutland, for getting away with it. The single gunman got away with $1.9 million, and eluded capture despite an intensive effort by local and state law enforcement plus the FBI. Last week, the FBI closed the case because the statute of limitations had expired.
Authorities insist that criminal charges could still be brought — for money laundering, or maybe tax evasion — but the case is formally closed, and nobody’s going to be looking for the guy.
Ace reporter Paul “The Huntsman” Heintz, for missing out on a big scoop that not only happened in front of him — he was involved in it. I refer, of course, to Beergate. Speaking to reporters last Wednesday, Governor Shumlin expressed a preference for Budweiser over them “Gucci beers” offered in upscale taverns to affluent foodies. Many of which are brewed right here in Vermont, natch.
The gaffe not only happened under Heintz’ nose, but he was involved in the key exchange. And somehow he didn’t rush to the nearest Wifi zone to post it online. I picked it up several hours later and posted a short but very popular bit, which produced a tsunami of pageviews for our humble website.
Paul, meanwhile, was left to do follow-up on a story that could have been his. He spent a good chunk of Thursday talking to Vermont politicos and beermakers, asking them about Shumlin’s statement and their own adult-beverage preferences. Sad.
The Rt. Hon. State Senator Peter Galbraith (D-Narcissism), for taking a minor offense and lovingly nursing it through a long week of lawmaking. I guess it must be tough, like an aging baseball player forced to hang on in Triple-A, hoping for one last shot at The Show. Once you performed on your profession’s biggest stage; now you’re riding the bus, playing under dim lights before minuscule crowds, and battling some snotnose kid for playing time.
Yes, it must be aggravating for a Global Peacemaker to be reduced to mere service in the Vermont Senate. That’s my best explanation for his protracted overreaction to comments by VPIRG chief Paul Burns. According to VPR, at Bernie Sanders’ pro-wind news conference last Monday, Burns compared anti-wind activists with climate-change deniers and creationists.
In the immortal tones of Jack Benny, WELL.
Burns testified before the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday morning — an unfriendly panel, three of whose five members are co-sponsors of the wind moratorium bill. (Thanks, John Campbell!) And Galbraith was just itching to question Burns on his comments, lambaste his incivility, and lecture him on the appropriate way to approach political debate.
Okay, fine. But now we move to Friday, and Galbraith still has his knickers in a knot. Y’know how those male-enhancement ads recommend that you seek medical attention for an erection lasting more than four hours? Well, that goes double for anyone who suffers a four-day outbreak of Bunched Knicker Syndrome.
And the Senator, rather than quietly seeking professional help, rises on the floor of the Senate to deliver a Point of Personal Privilege. To whit:
Earlier this week the Executive Director of one of Vermont’s environmental groups, in a public speech recorded by VPR, characterized those who disagreed with his organization’s position on a proposed wind moratorium, he characterized those people as deniers of the science of climate change, and the equivalent of creationists who deny evolution.
Mr. President, nine senators have co-sponsored S.30, which is the proposed wind moratorium. And I can say that Senators Benning, Hartwell, Flory, Kitchel, McAllister, Mullin, Rogers, and Starr, and also myself, are not creationists. We are not flat earthers. …We simply disagree on whether wind towers on Vermont’s ridge lines are the appropriate solution.
…It’s my hope that as this debate proceeds on one of the more contentious and important issues that this body will address, that it will proceed in a civil fashion, understanding that we all care about the environment, that we all recognize the danger of climate change, and that we have an honest disagreement about the solution. And frankly, the use of extreme language and name-calling is counterproductive to the side that uses it. Thank you, Mr. President.
I’ve addressed this bit of rhetorical legerdemain before. Paul Burns was arguably guilty of exaggeration, but I wouldn’t blame him if he was. Because he has been the target of far more “extreme language and name-calling” than anyone on the Committee or in the anti-wind movement. In spite of my efforts to close the name-calling gap.
Just look at any opinion piece written by an anti-wind activist, or read the comments below any online article about wind energy, and you’ll see a flood of vituperation aimed at Burns, VPIRG, other environmental groups, Bill McKibben, Bernie Sanders, et al. Burns and his allies have been accused of betraying their principles for financial gain, of lying, of hypocrisy, of violating the public trust, of being part of a Big Wind cabal, of “not knowing how wind energy works,” of plotting to “destroy Vermont’s mountains.”
And that’s just a small sample. As I’ve said before, the lion’s share of the “extreme language and name-calling” comes from Galbraith’s fellows in the anti-wind camp, not from the likes of Paul Burns. I wouldn’t blame Burns if he occasionally felt like firing back.
One final note. After the good Senator had discharged his bile, Sen. Mark MacDonald of Orange arose with his own Point of Personal Privilege:
I use extreme and say dumb things all the time. I say things I do not mean, and I sometimes cross boundaries. I know no one else ever does. [laughter]
But I will use my points of personal privilege to point out, explain, and apologize to you when I do such things, not when others do them to me.
Thank you, Sen. MacDonald. Spoken with far more grace, tact, and diplomacy than I could muster.