Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen
Douglas staff takes Shumlin to task
Gov. Jim Douglas’ senior staff unleashed a torrent of complaints Friday against Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin, taking him to task for inaccurate statements he has made in recent days.
A couple of things are at play here:
1) This comes in the same week a couple of people publicly said Shumlin is interested in running for governor in 2010.
2) Shumlin is prone to exaggeration.
Six agency and department heads sent Shumlin letters objecting to things he had said to the media.
Shumlin’s aide said he concedes misstating one fact, but stands by the others.
Finance Commissioner Jim Reardon said Shumlin erroneously told The Bennington Banner that the Legislature would save 14 percent of its budget by cutting two weeks off the session. It’s actually 11 percent, Reardon said. That may seem like a small difference, but it adds up to real money, he said.
Alex MacLean, Shumlin’s aide, said Shumlin misspoke in that case. "I find it very difficult to believe the governor has never misspoken," she said. MacLean said Shumlin would not be available late Friday to comment.
Among the other complaints from the administration was another comment he made to The Bennington Banner that "three-quarters of our roads and bridges are in bad shape."
Transportation Secretary David Dill wrote to correct Shumlin: "About 18.5 percent of our bridges are structurally deficient, while an additional 17 percent are functionally obsolete."
MacLean said Shumlin stands by his statement. "Most of our roads are in bad shape," she said.
Tax Commissioner Tom Pelham, Economic Development Commissioner Betsy Bishop, Tourism Commissioner Bruce Hyde and Human Resources Commissioner David Herlihy also sent Shumlin letters complaining about statements he’d made.
"It’s frankly shocking that the governor’s highly paid professionals are using time to play these political games," MacLean said.
If all our technical skills hold together, you can read the letters below.
Governor "No-No" I can't wait to vote in 2010. You have my "No" vote for Governor No-No.
# Posted by: Anonymous | 7:49 PM, February 27, 2009
Shumlin's a liar. Everyone knows it. What's most shocking is that Democrats keep supporting him and electing him as their leader. That says a lot.
# Posted by: Anonymous | 8:04 PM, February 27, 2009
The key statement above? "Shumlin is prone to exaggeration"
# Posted by: Anonymous | 8:10 PM, February 27, 2009
Douglas is the best leader this state has had in a long time. Shumlins comments seem selfserving and are presented without solutions. I hope we don't have to listen to him every week until the next election!
# Posted by: Anonymous | 9:12 PM, February 27, 2009
Shumlin has been in Montpelier as long as anyone NOW he is addressing these issues.
It is all about him not Vermont.
# Posted by: Anonymous | 9:16 PM, February 27, 2009
Those letters are fantasic! They are from Vermonters, about Vermonters working for the State of Vermont every day. I salute those people and it is a shame that someone feels they need to run down hard working Vermonters to further their political career. Shame on Peter Shumlin!
# Posted by: Anonymous | 9:26 PM, February 27, 2009
Looks as if Governor Douglas has re- activated his Truth and Re-election squad again.
Wasn't Shumlin the one (along with Symington) who waited until Dubie left town so he could pursue prosecution of Bush - in opposition of Dubie? Whether it was right or wrong to pursue Bush, I will never trust Shumlin again. I think that move showed he is a sneaky opportunist with a personal agenda.
# Posted by: Anonymous | 9:53 AM, February 28, 2009
He is what he is and always will be.
# Posted by: Anonymous | 11:07 AM, February 28, 2009
This Ms. McLean must be mortified having to cover for the emperor and his no clothes thing.
# Posted by: Anonymous | 11:12 AM, February 28, 2009
This is the direct result of the two-year term: An executive and legislative branch that are forced to be in campaign mode by each other's actions.
For those who complain that Douglas is in constant campaign mode, let's recap. Days after the 2006 elections, Shumlin made "global warming" the signature issue of the session, despite the fact that neither he nor anyone specifically campaigned on that issue. He then spent the next two years maneuvering to get Douglas to veto a bill with the words "climate change" in the title in hopes that someone (presumably himself) would be able to use the issue in the 2008 election season.
Fast forward to 2008: Days after the election, and before either he or Douglas has even been sworn in, Doug Racine announces he's running for Governor in 2010.
Anybody else think it's time for constitutional officers and state senators to be elected to four-year terms?
Douglas is a master at using taxpayer supported, state employees as his own private campaign team. This latest venture brings this political art form to a new team level. Previously, it has been one appointee at a time issuing the complaint. Office holder burn-out is really begining to set in. Maybe this is the beginning of the end?
# Posted by: Older is better | 7:16 AM, March 02, 2009
This action by the Douglas Administration is outrageous...
He's nitpicking over minor details!
I wonder if the Governor is taking 2 weeks off unpaid!
Oh yeah, he took a 5% pay cut after his salary has increased double inflation since Dean's last year!
Jim Douglas has a very, very limited pool of people to pick from to do his bidding. His fraternity of toadies is it for him. That's why you never seee any new faces or hear fresh ideas. The pool is stagnant. It has been for years. Jockey here, jockey there is getting pretty old.
If I were campaigning against Mr. Douglas I would tell Vt citizens that his inner circle is killing our state.
The Governor and his paid political team (aka political appointees) are the ones deceiving Vermonters.
For instance: Jim Douglas says the state workforce pay and benefits are unsustainable - yet he gives his political team increases beyond inflation and bonuses.
Jim Douglas says we must reduce the number of state workers - yet he hasincreased the number of exempt employees faster than state workers numbers and he just yesterday he gave another one of his supporters (Tom Evslin) a new position that never existed before.
Jim Douglas own salary has more than doubled inflation from Gov Dean's last year in office.
Jim Douglas says we need to reduce property taxes by killing school budgets - then he proposes a shift of $60 million dollars in expenses to the ed fund that were never there before.