A few days ago, Bruce Lisman’s entirely self-funded “grassroots organization” Campaign for Vermont announced an expanded board of directors. Big snore, right? Well, no; in fact, CFV’s press release included the laugh line of the week.
And it came from a guy not previously noted for a sense of humor: Tom Pelham, CFV majordomo and tireless advocate for the discredited ideas of the Jim Douglas Administration. (Official Health Warning: Do not drink or eat while reading the following paragraph. It may induce choking.)
“Campaign for Vermont is a grassroots organization of outsiders – a coalition of independent Vermonters who want to have a voice for both fiscal responsibility and compassion for those who need a helping hand,” said Tom Pelham, also a co-founder of Campaign for Vermont.
Yes, he actually said “grassroots organization of outsiders.”
In reference to the hideously establishmentarian Campaign for Vermont.
All righty then. Let’s take a closer look at the street cred of this public policy biker gang, shall we? With appropriate nicknames provided by Yours Truly, of course.
Let’s start with Tom “Roughhouse” Pelham himself. In state government pretty much continuously from the Snelling Administration onward, including a lengthy stint as Jim Douglas’ Deputy Secretary of Administration. He’s been an outsider since Peter Shumlin became Governor, but not by choice; if Brian Dubie hadn’t screwed the pooch, Tom Pelham would still be a happy insider.
Now we circle back to the head honcho himself, Bruce “Moneybags” Lisman, lifelong Wall Streeter and former top executive at the late unlamented Bear Stearns. Retired with his fortune to the rough-and-ready outlaw town of Shelburne, from where he has spent over a million dollars building his “grassroots” “outsider” organization.
Hey, this is fun! Let’s continue exploring this colorful cohort of rebels.
Bill “The Shiv” Sayre, longtime head of the Associated Industries of Vermont, the lobbying group representing our state’s biggest businesses.
Rich “R-Money” Tarrant, wealthy founder of IDX and spectacularly failed candidate for U.S. Senate.
Art “Numbers” Woolf, tenured professor at UVM and Vermont’s Loudest Economist(™).
Jason “Bigmouth” Gibbs, former Douglas Administration lackey turned unsuccessful PR consultant.
Ernie “Bulldozer” Pomerleau, high-powered realtor and developer.
Angelo “The Hammer” Pizzagalli, construction magnate whose family have been major Republican donors for decades. (Two other Pizzagallis are listed among CFV’s “members.”)
George “The Torch” Clain, longtime head of IBEW Local #300, shameless Vermont Yankee whore, now in a comfy gig as “lobbyist for the Vermont Yankee Development Trust, representing the mutual interests of IBEW Local #300 and Entergy.” Yeah, I guess it pays to be a whore.
Mary “Molotov” Evslin, co-founder of NG Advantage, a company that trucks compressed natural gas to businesses; her partner is, of course, Tom Evslin, former Douglas Administration technology czar responsible for some of Vermont’s notoriously disastrous IT contracts.
John “Digger” Powell, real estate developer and Chairman of the Board at Fletcher Allen Hospital.
Steve “Wrecking Ball” Wilk, owner of Wilk Paving, Inc. (Gee, there sure are a lot of construction/real estate types in this gang.)
Louise “Spike” McCarren, former chair of the Vermont Public Service Board and former Commissioner of Public Service, former executive at Verizon, etc., etc.
Edward “Capo” Zuccarro, former state representative and senior partner in a St. Johnsbury law firm, and former chair of the UVM Board of Trustees.
Mary Alice “The Blade” McKenzie, former president of McKenzie of Vermont, famed meat processor; also former General Counsel for Vermont State Colleges. She is now head of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Burlington; her arms must be getting awfully tired from carrying the “compassion” load for CFV.
I could go on, and on, and on. But that’s enough to prove my point, and prove the knee-slapping irony of Tom Pelham’s “outsider” claim. Campaign for Vermont is, if it’s anything at all, an organization of insiders: the well-connected, the wealthy, the influential.
And it’s a “grassroots” organization 100% bought and paid for by the Outsider-In-Chief, “Moneybags” Lisman.