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



Tuesday political buzz: Bridging politics

Push the button or not?

If you are the governor of a state, there are constant decisions to be made about whether to accept this invitation or that invitation. You, or your staff, ponder what you can fit into your schedule, of course. but you also consider who you want to please and ultimately, how it’s going to make you look.

When Elton John comes to the fairgrounds, you go.

When the Rotary Club asks if you can make it, you go.

What do you do, though, when somebody asks you if you’ll push the buttons to blow up a bridge? Keep in mind that government has allowed this bridge to deteriorate so badly that it had to be closed without warning, creating arduously long drives for commuters, hospital patients and others, some of them in your own hometown. States will have to shuffle budgets, put other projects on hold and shell out extra money to pay for temporary ferry service. Does a politician want a photo opp like that?

Gov. Jim Douglas chose to go for it. Standing hatless in an open field with snow steadily falling, he pushed the two buttons that were said to ignite the implosion of the Lake Champlain Bridge on Monday morning.

More than one person expressed surprise over that Monday, but Douglas declined to characterize the implosion as an indication of how things went awry with a historic bridge once heralded for its cutting-edge design. He called it a step forward, a step toward construction of a new bridge.

“It’s the first step toward a new beginning,” he said.

Even those lives have been disrupted by the bridge’s closure and are angry at government officials who let it agreed Monday that they’re ready to move on.

And just in case not everybody’s ready to see it that way, Douglas is not running for re-election. This photo opp won’t show up in an opponent’s campaign ad. There has to be something freeing about that. Plus, plenty of people probably think it’d be cool to push the buttons that blow of a bridge.

- Terri Hallenbeck

Republican grip

In an article this week, FoxNews.com looks at whether Republicans will lose their hold on all New England governor seats in 2010.

According to the article, “Jennifer Duffy, an editor with The Cook Political Report, said Republicans could face a total wipe-out in New England, though they do have some chances to keep a foothold. ‘If these races had taken place in 2008, they'd all be gone, but it's still possible,’ Duffy said.”

You can read it here: www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/12/17/republicans-struggle-hold-new-england-governors-races/.

- Terri Hallenbeck

Memorial services

A memorial service for Rep. Ira Trombley, D-Grand Isle, who died Dec. 20, will be held at 11 a.m. Jan. 2 at the South Hero Congregational Church, South Street in South Hero.

A memorial service for Rep. Rick Hube, R-Londonderry, who died a day later, is expected to be held Jan. 31. Details are to be posted at www.rickhube.com.

- Terri Hallenbeck

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I was suprised Douglas agreed to push the button blowing up the bridge. But it is an appropriate metaphor for his failed leadership.
How symbolic of Governor Douglas' governorship. Glad there are photos capturing it.
Was Douglas invited to blow up the bridge or did he seek the opportunity?
A useful question for a reporter to ask ,no?
This says it all about Jim Douglas -

The state has imploded around him - just as the the Champlain Bridge did!

Common denominator - Douglas' finger on the button!
Gov Douglas campaigned in 2002 on a Jim=Jobs platform AND since that time Vermont has continued to hemorrage jobs.

He never really brought forth any kind of vision for the state - only that the damned lagislature was holding him back.

Well, when he was first elected he had a GOP Ccontrolled House and still offered no vision.

Jim Douglas has been a huge disappointment.
The state of Vermont will be better off with Jim Douglas gone!
Douglas has done an outstanding job keeping the wheels on the car wreck the Dem controlled legislature has delivered us. It's tough to think of one unfunded entitlement they could enact that they haven't already.

2010 is the year the big tax and spend chickens come home to roost. I can't wait to hear all the solutions the Dems have to offer. It could be better than reading the funny papers.
With the exception of last year's budget veto - Gov Douglas has SIGNED every other budget and 99% of the laws passed by either the split legislature or the Dem controlled legislature.

Don't blame the legislature when the GOP Governor signs the bill.
If Jim Douglas had his way, he might have cut a lot of state costs - by passing on the costs ot local governments.

That means only one thing - higher property taxes.

The way I look at it - the legislature saved us from even larger increases in property taxes.
"The way I look at it - the legislature saved us from even larger increases in property taxes."


1. By giving you higher income taxes?

2. And by guaranteeting a much higher property tax increase this year?

The Legislature acted irresponsibly by not reducing spending.

Shame and disgrace.
Quit hiding from reality and tax the wealthiest in our state. If they leave in droves, we will have learned a lesson and will adapt like the vermonters we are. The path of least resistance isn't working any more.
Is it any surprise the State is in the mess it is in? Just look at the qaualifications of the legislators you have elected. It is predominately a group of retired school teachers, farmers, shopkeepers and local yokels with little experience in successfully running an organization or managing a budget of any complexity.

We take more time licensing nail technicians, tatto artists and well diggers than we do ensuring our representatives are qualified for the job. Until you each accept your vote has consequences and you vote for qualified candidates, not your buddy down the street we will continue flounder away letting a big problem get even bigger.

Throw all the rascals out. They aren't serving us in the least.
Throw out the Great Liar Shumlin.
Oh come now "10:18AM, December 30, 2009", there are numerous very bright legislators and many solid business types serving. The whole idea of democracy is to have a governing body that represents all segments of the population and not to simply have a cadre of self-appointed management experts in charge. The whole country is a bit of a mess today. Vermont, however, is in much better shape than most states. We will again endure and prosper. What we do not need is a bunch of nay-sayers who are absolutely sure they are right and all other Vermonters are wrong!
"Vermont, however, is in much better shape than most states."

In what ways?

In business development? Probably at the bottom.

Good paying employment? Forget it.

Keeping our young talent here? Wrong. They flee so they can make a living.

In educational achievement? We spend more than any other state per pupil ($14,000) and yet our achievement rankings are in the middle, at best.

In total tax burden? We are at the top. And what services do we get for that burden?

Sure, we've got a nice environment. But that doesn't matter if you're not one of the rich, latte-drinking, trust-funded flatlanders who can afford to live here and treat Vermont as if it were their own personal vacation retreat.

The poster is right: we need fewer social worker/liberal do-gooders in the Legislature and more people who know what's involved in starting and running a business -- a business that actually employs lots of people at good wages, not a businesses that make homemade jelly, composting, or fake farming.
To be fair, under an agreement between the two states, the state of New York was responsible for maintaining the bridge, not Vermont.
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