The State Wants a New What?

Seven Days' Off Message reports an embarrassing but not a surprising oversight: Governor Shumlin failed to reimburse taxpayers for part of a day-long series of flights on Vermont’s state-owned airplane that directly involved his re-election campaign. The entire day of the Governor’s barnstorming around the state cost $322.76, while a whole $65.80 was charged to his campaign for the electioneering portion of the trip.  

But the real news for me lands toward the end of the Seven Days article: a plan has been under consideration for the state to spend $117,600 per year over the next ten years on a new Beechcraft Baron airplane to replace the Cessna currently in use.

The state-owned airplane has been the subject of some discussion in the Statehouse for the past week-and-a-half, since lawmakers caught wind of a budget request from the AOT [Agency of Transportation] to replace the 1962 Cessna with a 2013 Beechcraft Baron.

Given the administration’s ongoing cutting, juggling and general budget skimping, Governor Shumlin is downplaying that little budget item for the time being.

At a press conference last Thursday good Ol’ Governor Shumlin made a point that by the AOT’s reckoning the new plane purchase would have to happen “someday,” and the aging Cessna would have to be dealt with. Shumlin admitted,

“We don't have to do it this year, but at some point we're going to have to deal with it …”

Aw Shucks Shumlin continued in his new, meant-to-be-reassuring just-plain-beer way, stressing that he didn’t mind the ol’ Cessna ‘cause:

“You know, I don't have the fear gene, so I'm alright […]”

But still, Ol’ Governor Aw Shucks Shumlin  managed to point out that, you know, a door did pop open once, and the gas gauge is a bit finicky (although it does seem to respond to a good Gubernatorial thumping), and you know, he doesn’t mind but gosh [!] his staff gets sooo nervous whenever he uses that ol’ state airplane.  

Of course, if Aw Shucks were really the “regular Vermonter” he pretends to be, he’d be paying attention to the way the rest of us live, as in the old Vermont saying Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without.

And then there is the more recent Vermont adage: Don’t buy a new airplane for the state until you raise taxes on them that can afford to pay ’em.  

11 thoughts on “The State Wants a New What?

  1. I am so weary of calling-out Shumlin at this point that I just look at the paper and shake my head.

    Did you catch where he was flying to this time?  Lincoln.

    And if I am not very much mistaken, that wasn’t Lincoln, Nebraska.


    When Madeline Kunin was Governor, I remember standing  behind her in a lineup at O’Hare airport enduring the wait for help with an indefinitely delayed flight.

    She said she was returning from overseas and had experienced a series of these delays over the course of the previous twenty-four hours.  She was beat, but she was standing in line with a hundred other frustrated commercial passengers, just passing the time chatting with a fellow Vermonter whom she didn’t know from Adam.

    Since when did the governor of Vermont have to be ferried around the state in his own aircraft?  Am I very much mistaken or doesn’t aircraft use one hell of a lot more fuel than an automobile to make the same journey?

    Or is it just that he can’t spare the time away from his schmoozing with developers to hit the road like the rest of us?

    Lincoln?  Really, LIncoln??

  2. Former Governor Douglas’ comment when asked about Shumlin and the AOT airplane is worth a quick look. From the pay-walled Freep :

    Douglas said he never rode in the plane because his security detail advised him not to ride in any single-engine plane. “It’s obviously safer to have two,” Douglas said Monday.

    Douglas said he didn’t see traveling by plane as an appropriate option. “I got around the state quite a lot. I did it all on the ground,” he said. “I felt the plane was to be used by agencies for their work.”

    He can still hit an easy pitch like pro.It’s just gorgeous. You see he never used the plane. Why not? Because he was advised not to. Security issues about it being a single engine. Old Jim is no hotdog he listens to his security and doesn’t scare his staff etc. Check level: All clear

    He goes on… and this is where the artistry kicks in:

    “It’s obviously safer to have two,”[engines] Douglas said Monday

    On the off chance the need arises for a plane…Eh make that two engines please.Check level: Totally all clear!

    Finally Douglas closes with an effortless swat at Shumlin:

    “I got around the state quite a lot. I did it all on the ground,” he said. “I felt[sniff] the plane was to be used by agencies for their work.”

    Check level: Total all clear 99.9% pure art.      Flight 2014 (or 2016) Cleared to take off!

  3. needs a plane in a state that measures barely 200 miles North-to-South and 100 miles West-to-East at it’s widest point.

    Get a freaking Honda Civic, or better yet, a Honda CB750, you damn fool.

  4. Ill suited for Vermont topography.  When the storms hit the vehicle of necessity was a helicopter.   Probably a few of them hanging around a AirGuard base somewhere that the commander in cheese could appropriate?

  5. You can’t get there from here unless you spend half the day in the car. I guess if you calculate what 3 hours (*remembers speeding ticket*) two hours and 15 minutes of the governor’s time is worth, maybe time saved minus cost of flight more than out weigh the cost of gas for a car.

    There are some routes it’s impractical to drive in a day and still get stuff done.

  6. I’d say this is a good opportunity to have that difficult conversation about public transportation.

    Maybe if the Governor can find a flying  buddy to donate air time for his comings and goings, we might be able to apply some of that $117,000. per year to getting the rest of us around the state a little more efficiently.

  7. I can’t recall many of your posts reflecting such weariness.

    The need for a Vermont state plane extends well beyond Governor Shumlin’s “comings and goings” as every report on this (with the notable exception of BP’s post) has very clearly stated. This is about some of “the rest of us“. Sending Vermont state employees out in a 50+ year-old single engine 3-person plane to do critical work at our state-run airports is a liability for those employees and for the state of Vermont. Not replacing this plane because “austerity”, or because Shumlin used it 5 times last year is as strategically stupid as defending the purchase of a new plane to those who “are so weary of calling out Shumlin” on every issue.

    On the public transportation front, $117,000 represents about 21 feet of railroad construction costs. Over 10 years that would be about 210 feet, somewhat less than one football field. To his credit, Governor Shumlin’s budget proposal did include the investment of $11 million for the rehabilitation of the western corridor rail line to bring passenger rail from Bennington to Rutland to Burlington in an effort to create jobs and economic development.

  8. the Governor could agree to some revenue raising from those most able to contribute.

    Contrary to the popular myth, it is the well-to-do who benefit most from state services which allow commerce and population to flow freely through the Vermont marketplace.

  9. all about the ‘real man’s beer’ – why not pick up an oscar meyer weiner mobile? Beers and brats would be a gucci thing. Beers and dogs would be a RealVermonter(TM) thing.

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