Wennberg, we hardly knew ye

Well, well, what tidings does the Mitchell Family Organ (South) bring this fine late winter morning?

It seems that Jeff Wennberg’s in line for a new full-time gig: Mayor Chris Louras has nominated him to be Commissioner of Public Works for the City of Rutland. Real job, pays 80K per year.

Yes, this is the same Wennberg who stepped into Darcie Johnston’s ballet slippers at Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, becoming Vermont’s highest-profile opponent of health care reform. There hasn’t been any announcement from VHCF yet, probably because Wennberg has to be confirmed by the Aldermen. But he’s already talking about that job in the past tense:

He most recently served as executive director of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom. Wennberg said he was interested in getting back into public service and to management, which he described as “applied politics.”

“There’s a great deal of satisfaction that I have missed in these last five years from being able to not just influence decisions, but make them,” he said.

And I bet you dollars to gluten-free donuts I know what comes next: THE RETURN OF DARCIE!!!!!  

It’s been a few months since Our Beloved Hack stopped receiving bloated paychecks from the doomed Randy Brock campaign (well, it was doomed from the moment he hired Darcie). She’s gotta find herself another gravy train sometime, no?

This is sheer guesswork on my part. But if Intrade were still in business, and they could be bothered setting odds on the inbred world of Vermont conservatism, I’d be bellying up to the virtual window and placing a hefty wager on Darcie Johnston going back to VHCF.

And bringing all her (cough) political genius to the task of derailing Gov. Shumlin’s reform plan with her tasty blend of red-baiting alarmism and Randian free-marketeering.

There’s another whole aspect to this story, given prominence in the Herald’s account: the intense cronyism of Rutland politics:

With Wennberg’s successor in the mayor’s office, John Cassarino, rejoining to the Board of Aldermen on Monday, Wennberg’s confirmation would mean that every living former mayor of Rutland is involved with City Hall in some official capacity.

I’m absolutely clueless regarding the political tides of Jack City (well, Burlington is the Queen City, and Rutland’s the next-biggest town in Vermont, right?), but the Herald lays out a pretty convincing picture of intensive backroom deal-making. There is, after all, an incumbent DPW Commissioner, Evan Pilachowski. He used to be city engineer, a position that’s currently vacant. To hear Louras tell it, the demotion (and concomitant skid-greasing for Wennberg) is all Pilachowski’s idea.


Well, I can only hope that Rutland will continue its long-odds comeback in spite of the leadership skills of Jeff Wennberg and (Treasurer) Wendy Wilton. Maybe Louras can find a gig for Rob Roper while he’s at it.  

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