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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Budget cuts and bags

A couple hundred or so people gathered at the Statehouse today to protest the proposed budget cuts. "Save Our Services. Save Our State," they chanted amid the snowbanks on the Statehouse steps, decrying cuts at a time when people need more services.

Before the noon-time rally, most of them funneled into the Statehouse. There, they were met by security guards asking to look into bags. One of the wonderful things about the Vermont Statehouse is that this sort of screening is not a regular thing.

Tuesday's rally, though, was bringing in an unknown number of people from a variety of groups, said Sergeant-at-Arms Francis Brooks, so he brought out the extra measures. He added security personnel from the state Buildings and General Services Department and from state police, including Oak, the bomb-sniffing black lab whose main function seemed to be that he was the cutest thing in the building.

Brooks, who had early in his tenure considered more permanent security measures at the Statehouse, said he beefs up the scrutiny for large gatherings, including the inaugural address. He didn't do it for Friday's even larger gathering of gay-marriage proponents because he and the organizers weren't expecting quite that many people, he said.

Brooks acknowledged he'd gotten some grief Tuesday from legislators for the searches.
"Change, whether it's right or not is absolutely the hardest thing for this building," Brooks said.

- Terri Hallenbeck

How come these "protesters" weren't at WORK today? Sitting around waiting for their "stimulus" handouts? Looks like you'll have to wait another week or so for that mule and 40 acres from the messiah.
Douglas's grand "facist state" plan is coming to fruition. What a nice message to the neediest Vermonters. Not only are we putting the screws to you, but we also regard you as a threat because you're not like the uppity, spolied sh*%s who occupy these halls daily. These groups should be very angry. I am.
Terri -

When you write your story, I hope you can get a sense of how many of these people:

(a) work for the government
(b) are on welfare
(c) work for or run a non-profit
(d) are on a trust fund
(e) are students

In other words - are any of these people actually working in the private sector and adding value to our economy?
People who aren't smart enough to attack the message attack the messanger.
These people have a perfect right to protest BUT, the ones who will escape with the smallest budget cuts are always the ones who cry the loudest and have time to go to Montpelier. The non-profits with the CEO's of the top 13 organizations make an average of $125,000 per year. They send their PAID staff to go and protest.
What and who are these protesters going to do when businesses keep closing and stop generating jobs and revenue?
One would think the only budget cuts are education and entitlement programs.
Care to back up your bs ... I mean "facts" with sources??
The Brattleboro Reformer would never do a story on this, but maybe the Free Press will pick up on it.

The taxpayer funded housing project in Brattleboro actually organized and paid for a bus to transport people from Brattleboro to the protest.

I am not making this stuff up - they advertised it here:


A taxpayer funded protest - unbelievable!
The article does not say that they are taxpayer funded.

I want some proof.
What's next? Putting armbands on people when they come to the State House? GPS tracking? What a crock!
Anonymous 1:51...since the Sgt.-at-arms is elected by and answers to the Legislature, and is in fact a Democrat, how does one conclude this is part of the governor's "grand fascist state plan" as you call it?
I think UVM beat the leftists to the star of David thing - sounds like Ben Stein would have to wear one to appear on campus.
Frances Brooks is a very nice and smart guy; however this was a dumb move. It is till legal to bring a concealed weapon into the State House, so what would tehy have done if they had found a gun?
Racine for Governor
What bothers me I guess is they could have issued a statement saying there was going to be a new policy and who it appealed to. And whoever is questioning the person blaming this on Douglas is right. This had to be ordered by one of the leg bunch.
applied to. sorry
Racine all the way
To anonymous of 3:42 yesterday:
I lied, the top execs of the non-profits did not average $125,000 per year - it was $140,000.
Pres- visiting Nurses Chittenden County $197k, Sr VP, VT Housing $111k, CEO, Howard Mental Health $195k, Efficiency VT (3) positions, $163k, $135k, $135k, Staff positions Planned Parenthood, 1 @ $148k 1 @ $117k, Exec Dir VT Superindendants Assn $122k, Exec Dir, Central VT Community Action, $117k, CEO Planned Parenthood $189k - and more if you care to investigate.
This is public record so you can look it up.
As for the attendees at all protest meetings just watch the news and see who is speaking.
These are ALL public funds - should we continue to give these agencies everything they wish for- OR should we give them what they need?
Frances "Bar the Door" Brooks.
It isn't what people make that matters it is what is getting done.
Racine for Governor in 2010
Douglas ought to be proud. Elimination of the prescription drug program which sustains the elderly and the poor will cause many to have to cut back on food or the medication they need, while he get 14k a year for lunch money and more than any governor in New England for a salary. Another "compassionate conservative." Unbelievable.
Why don't you pathetic whiners petition your reps to lower the governor's salary? Didn't notice any stir when both Leahy and Sanders gladly took their "raise" this year!
The point is not the salary; the point is the lack of compassion in the cuts proposed--just so you get it, Bubba. Another "compassionate conservative." What an oyxmoron.
The organizations listed above are not all funded by the state.

The VNA is a rip off. They wouldn't be operating in Vermont if it weren't for Jim Douglas.

But that CEO gives generously to his campaigns.
I’m not in the business of helping you to be a better troll Cooper.

If you are so profoundly stupid that you can not figure out why you keep tipping your hand that is no ones problem but your own.

Get a clue or get over it. Better yet, GET LOST YA FAT PIG.

Clear enough dull boy?
The positions on my list are all funded by taxpayers, either directly or with fees. You tell me which one is not a non-profit and I will tell them they should not fill out 501c3 forms.
Yesterday someone questioned such a list, today they don't question the list they just say these people work hard!! I believe there are 5 people with Inefficiency Vermont all over $100k- I listed 3 and they are lobbying to double their fees. This bunch are very expensive light bulb salespeople!
This comment has been removed by the author.
Racine for Gov.
Shumlin for Governor
Oh, sure if you are female.
Lets get some new Democratic leadership in Vermont!!!!
Losing Shumlin would help.
Getting the Free Press to enforce its written Terms of Service, and do what it said it was going to do last November, would be nirvana.
Get rid of Shumlin already!
"while he get 14k a year for lunch money and more than any governor in New England for a salary."

The Gov. of Vermont does not get a mansion provided by the state, as all other NE Gov.'s do. What's that benefit worth in dollar terms to the other Gov's? Maybe the gubernatorial salaries aren't that different when you factor that it.
That is not the fiscal problem in Vermont. The Legislature needs to start looking at fiscal policy realistically.
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