Tag Archives: Republicans

Tayt Brooks finds a job

Guess who’s getting his hands on the cookie jar?

Governor Elect Phil Scott announced a number of appointments today, but the one that really piqued my interest was that of St. Albans’ own Tayt Brooks who will serve as “director of affordability and and economic initiatives.”

As you may recall, Brooks occupied space in the Douglas administration as “economic development commissioner.” It sounds pretty much like his old job has simply been rebranded to protect the innocent.

It’s an interesting position for Brooks who formed his own superPAC, Vermonters First, and famously coaxed Leonore Broughton into parting with north of $100,000. in 2012, laboring and bringing forth a goose egg for Republicans in statewide elections…other than that of incumbent Lt. Gov., Phil Scott.

As director of that superPAC, Brooks got himself into hot water over having dinner with gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock during the 2012 campaign.  That’s strictly a no-no, as it has the optics of coordination between the campaign and the supposedly “independent” superPAC. Of course we believed that the topic of the election campaign was never even mentioned!

In that same election cycle, Vermonters First sent Franklin County voters an absentee ballot request to complete that resembled an actual ballot and apparently confused many voters.

As I recall, the activities of the superPAC belied the notion of anything that could remotely be considered“coordinated”…or even competent!

One ham handed-flyer distributed by VF-PAC was so garish and badly designed that we at GMD speculated that Brooks had amateurishly designed it himself on his own computer, so that less of Ms. Broughton’s dough went out the door. Would that was all! The flyer also featured the Seal of the State of Vermont. On campaign literature, that is also a big “no-no,” and even caught national attention.

Leonore was at it again in the 2016 cycle, even though Vermonters First appears to have evaporated. The entire superPAC depended upon one donor, and I suspect she figured she could do just as well (or poorly) without Brooks ministrations.  At least she bagged herself a governor this go-round.

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but I plan to put the office of “affordability and economic iniitatives” on speed-dial at my house.

There are a whole lot of affordability challenges that Mr. Brooks ought to be tackling, like telephone, cable and internet service; prescription drugs, textbooks…and fresh fruits and vegetables! The list goes on and on.

Somehow I suspect Mr. Brooks attention will not be devoted to making ordinary Vermonters’ lives more affordable; the ones who are just struggling to get by.  It’s pretty easy to guess that this office will have its laser focus on making business (and I don’t mean Mom & Pop operations) more “affordable.” That’s where the “incentives” come in. We’re not talking free in-state tuition for students who commit to living and working here after college graduation. We’re talking tax cuts, custom infrastructure and other goodies for the likes of IBM.

I suppose Brooks was bound to get office space from Scott.  Hopefully, the governor won’t  allow him to play with scissors.

 

Syrian Refugees and Scar(e)city

I’ve had occasion to spend some time driving around the state for work and I’ve been listening to reports on VPR about Syrian refugees- and our politicians responding to the situation. It’s been a divisive issue, with a few leaders stepping up to welcome refugees- like Governor Shumlin and President Obama– and a few leaders fanning the flames of fear- like Sen. Lindsey Graham, Gov. Bobby Jindhal, and our own Vermont Republican gubernatorial candidates.

The UN estimates there are over 4 million refugees from the civil war in Syria. Most of them are in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. In recent months tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have left crowded camps in the region and struck out for Europe- often paying smugglers to guide them on dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean. Many have died just trying to make the trip.

So what is our response? Many politicians have engaged in disgusting pandering and fear-mongering- including gubernatorial candidates Bruce Lisman and Lt. Governor Phil Scott. I applaud Gov. Shumlin for his leadership on this issue, and I was glad to see Matt Dunne making a strong statement of support for Vermont hosting Syrian refugees.

“I would have hoped that Phil [Scott] would be someone who would not just fall in line with the right-wing Republicans in Congress.”- Matt Dunne

President Obama has been making the case for welcoming Syrian refugees to the United States, but he was defied by 47 Democrats in the House who sided with Republicans in an effort to halt refugee resettlement in the wake of the attacks in Paris last week. It turns out the “Syrian” in the group of attackers probably wasn’t Syrian at all and was in the possession of a forged passport.

Over the last few weeks in my church, our pastor has been talking about moving out of an attitude of Scar(e)city into an attitude of Abundance. Is it good for us to protect what we have at the expense of our neighbors? Are we really willing to reject our obligations to other human beings when we have been blessed with so much? I can’t imagine that our free society, with all of its diversity, could be diminished by including a few thousand people who are fleeing a war-ravaged land. With all of the abundance in the United States of America, and here in Vermont, can we really turn away these refugees with a clear conscience?

My answer is emphatically no. We’ll all benefit from having open doors and open hearts in a world that has seen so much violence. If we turn our backs on Syrian refugees, like we did so many Jewish refugees fleeing the rise of the Third Reich in the late 1930s, we sacrifice all of the moral high ground and good will that we so often claim in the world.

I hope compassion wins out, and that we do take in a good number of Syrians who want safety and freedom and have had to wait, fight and sometimes die to have a chance to get it. We have so much to be thankful for in America, and in Vermont. How dare we pretend to live in a world of scarcity when our freedom, compassion and opportunities are so abundant?