Legislators parry with gov on VY
House Speaker Shap Smith
and Senate leader Peter Shumlin
on Monday called on the Douglas administration to:
a) Withdraw its support for Vermont Yankee to be spun off from Entergy Corp. into a new company, Enexus, in light of the discovery of radioactive isotopes in water at the plant. Those discoveries will jack up the price of decommissioning, the legislators say, and make Enexus’ ability to cover those costs more difficult.
b) Institute a transparent, independent process by which Vermonters receive information about the tritium leak at Vermont Yankee. Smith and Shumlin said they learned of tritium found in a concrete trench at the plan "through an offhand comment by a state official a week after the administration was informed;" learned that there was also cobalt-60 in that trench from the media; and learned of a 2007 underground pipe inspection program through an anonymous source.Gov. Jim Douglas
indicated last week, however, that he has no plans to change direction on Enexus. The Department of Public Service concluded that Enexus offers the state more assurance than Entergy does.
Douglas also indicated that he doesn’t see the need — and perhaps sees harm — in revealing everything that’s discovered at Vermont Yankee because not all findings are relevant. The governor did have the Health Department start posting updates on Vermont Yankee, but the cobalt findings were not among the items mentioned.
Lite gov grace beefing up
The 2010 governor’s race won’t be the only one where the list of candidates is long enough to field a basketball team. One more Democrat says he’s definitely in the race for lieutenant governor; another says he’s seriously considering it.Tim Palmer
of Williston said he’s running, with an official announcement coming in early February. Palmer said he wants to use his grassroots advocacy experience (he ran Vermont CARES and the Community of Vermont Elders, worked for Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and is now a consultant) to make the office a non-political resource for making connections for businesses, nonprofits and communities. "I’m not a politician," he said.
Nonetheless, Palmer has run three times for state Senate in Chittenden County without success. So what makes him think he should try for a higher office instead? "It’s a different race," he said. "The lieutenant governor’s race gives more opportunity to engage on a one-on-one or one-on-two conversation about the future of the state," he said.
Rep. Chris Bray
, D-New Haven, said he is thinking about a run for the office and will decide by Town Meeting Day. Bray is a two-term legislator who owns Common Ground Communications and helps run a horse farm at home.
"I see it as an opportunity to work year-round on important issues that are difficult to work on as a legislator," he said.
Palmer and Bray would join Rep. Steve Howard
, D-Rutland, among Democrats seeking the seat. More say they are considering it.
Republicans who are in the race are Sen. Phil Scott
, R-Washington, and businessman Mark Snelling
of Starksboro. There will be no incumbent running for the seat this fall as four-term Republican Brian Dubie
is running for governor.
olitics by poetry Huck Gutman
is taking a break from teaching literature at the University of Vermont to work as Sen. Bernie Sanders
chief of staff in Washington, but he has not left the bards behind as he barters over bills. Gutman was featured last week in the Washington Post for his habit of sharing poetry with his Capitol Hill colleagues. He’s accumulated an e-mail list with some 1,500 recipients to whom he parses out poetry. Republicans, Democrats, his list knows no partisan boundaries.
"I need the poems," Gutman says in the article. "I need to be connected to a world other than Washington."
To see the article, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/18/AR2010011803526.html.
The meat man was there
With so many candidates in the governor’s race, it was interesting to see who would show up at Doug Racine’s
campaign kickoff Saturday. Each candidate surely lays claim to his or her own set of political players.
Among those Racine has in his corner: former Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle
, who shares with Racine the experience of losing to Douglas and said Racine will be stronger for it; Rep. Bill Lippert
of Hinesburg, who said Racine supported same-sex marriage long before most others; and former Rep. George Cross
of Winooski, who said he’s among those who pushed Racine to run.
A candidate is bound to collect people along the way who are outside the usual political grounds. Christina Melvin
of Shelburne was in the Class of 1970 at Burlington High School with Racine. And Robert Root
of Milton knows Racine from the Hannaford supermarket on Shelburne Road, where Racine sometimes shops (it’s not far from Racine’s Jeep dealership). Root is the assistant meat manager who happens to be interested enough in politics to have introduced himself to Racine and chat him up.
Last week, the House cast the Legislature’s last vote for a constitutional amendment that would allow Vermonters to vote in a primary election at age 17 if they will be 18 by the general election.
It passed 80-56 on Friday, not entirely along party lines — a few Republicans voted for it and a few Democrats voted against. The amendment passed the Senate last year 24-6. As is required for a constitutional amendment to move forward, both chambers also passed the item last biennium.
Next stop, the voters. It’ll be on your ballot in November.
Will court ruling change election?
Last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that corporations can spend all they want supporting or denouncing candidates for Congress sent tidal waves through the political world.
The decision governs races for U.S. House and U.S. Senate. In Vermont in 2010, Rep. Peter Welch
and Sen. Patrick Leahy
, both Democrats, are up for re-election this year. They and Sen. Bernie Sanders, criticized the ruling.
"It has thrown open the doors to a cash-driven, pay-to-play political system, virtually assuring that the voice of the American people will be drowned out," Welch said.
Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz
, a candidate for governor, said: "Get ready for an avalanche of political advertising that will cause more bitter partisan fights that further manipulate and divide our country. And the very real danger is that elected officials will be more and more beholden to the corporations who put them into office."
What voters might want to watch for is whether this generates any new signs of opposition to Welch and Leahy.— Terri Hallenbeck