Shummy stages clever bit of messaging reinforcement

On a dreary, overcast day with very wet snow falling from the sky, the Governor’s weekly press conference was, naturally, held outdoors. It was originally supposed to be on the front lawn of the State House, where he would drive the ceremonial First Tap of the Mapling Season into a handy maple tree.

He did so as scheduled (purty pix for the teevee folks), but the presser itself was moved. But not indoors; instead, it was held on the portico of the Statehouse, between the giant pillars and the massive front doors.

Yeah, I guess the Governor of the State of Vermont couldn’t find a room inside. So instead, we all stood around a tiny lectern while he waxed rhapsodic about Vermont’s maple industry. (Photo: the good old Vermont boy quaffing a Mason jar of maple milk. Vermont syrup, of course, 2012 vintage.)

But then, we learned the method to the apparent siting madness. Shumlin announced that Vermont’s crisis-fuel fund is just about flat broke. He’s ordered his functionaries to find $900,000 (source as yet unclear) so the fuel fund would last another three weeks — long enough to top off recipients’ fuel tanks and get them through the remaining cold season.

And then it hit me. How better to drive home the message that Vermonters are suffering, than to make the press corps stand around outdoors for 45 minutes on a glum, cold, rainy/snowy day?  Brilliant stagecraft, right?

That’s the only explanation I can think of, for needlessly letting the state’s political media stand around getting thoroughly chilled.

Either that, or he hates us.

After the jump: hate.

The Gov had been provided with a teeny-tiny lectern for the event. Before the presser began, we dutifully piled our microphones and recorders onto every available inch of space.

A few minutes in, Shumlin invited a representative of the maple industry to say a few words. He settled behind the lectern, put down his notes, and BANG my recorder was knocked to the ground, batteries flying across the concrete.

Shumlin: “I’ve been wanting to do that for years.”


Fortunately, my recorder still works.

p.s. The Governor offerred no explanation for the shortfall in the crisis fuel fund, which is quite substantial. According to VTDigger, the fund’s budget was $2.8 million. And it’s come up $900,000 short — so far. That’s a one-third overrun, and it may need even more emergency funding. Shumlin admitted the shortfall came as a surprise to his administration.

And it’s not good news, when we’re facing the prospect of more federal cuts in the future. Better get that weatherization program running pronto.  

3 thoughts on “Shummy stages clever bit of messaging reinforcement

  1. That continued joblessness (both those who are counted in the unemployment roles, and those who are not, due to extended unemployment) and the increasing percentage of low-income jobs in the employment mix has led to a larger percentage of Vermonters with income within the designated range.

    Since funds are allocated by the feds based on the prior year’s needs, an increase in low- and no-income residents will result in need exceeding the allocation.

    From the LIHEAP fact sheet:

    The authorization provides that an eligible household’s income must not exceed the greater of 150 percent of the poverty level or 60 percent of the State median income (In FY 2009, 75 percent of the State median income). Grantees may not set income eligibility standards below 110 percent of the poverty level, but they may give priority to those households with the highest home energy costs or needs in relation to income.

  2. The fact that the Shumlin administration was blind-sided by the shortfall may remind the governor that he shouldn’t get too invested in the good news cycle; and when people are in need, they are in need across the board; and one need should not be made the enemy of another.  

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