31 Dec

Digger Tidbits: Shumlin puts Sorrell on hold; rep seeks legislative say in utility merger; Romney endorsed

first_imgby vtdigger.org Attorney General Bill Sorrell is running for re-election this fall, but his main man in office (Governor Peter Shumlin) is holding off on endorsing a candidate until after Labor Day.When asked at his weekly press conference whether he would endorse Sorrell, Shumlin paused for a few seconds, then said, ‘The attorney general is doing a great job for Vermont. I’m not going to get involved in electoral politics until past the filing date in any of the offices statewide in Vermont to see whether or not anyone â ¦ There are other people seeking those offices, so we’ll have plenty of time for politics after Labor Day so we’ll discuss it then.’Sorrell currently has no official opponent, but prominent figures like Sen. Vince Illuzzi, R-Essex-Orleans; Speaker of the House Shap Smith and Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan are all rumored to be mulling taking up the challenge.Sorrell, who was appointed by Gov. Howard Dean in 1997, has seen attacks from critics who point to two recent losses in the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal district court loss in the high-profile Vermont Yankee case.While Shumlin has defended Sorrell throughout the process of deciding whether to appeal the Yankee decision, his lack of endorsement opens the door for much speculation.~ Alan PanebakerBill would require legislative approval of utility mergerWith the merger of the state’s two largest utilities up in the air, one Democrat is pushing an amendment that would require legislative approval for such an arrangement ‘ which currently only requires a nod from the Vermont Public Service Board.Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, entered an amendment into an obscure housekeeping bill that would allow the Legislature to get into the pending proceeding as the board considers a merger between Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service. It would also, Browning said, require legislative approval if, in the future, the new Green Mountain Power, which would control about three-quarters of the state’s electricity, bought another smaller utility.Browning introduced another amendment that would require Central Vermont Public Service to pay ratepayers back in cash for a windfall that occurred in the early 2000s rather than by creating an efficiency program as the utilities propose.While some may be concerned that meddling in the Public Service Board process smacks of the kind of thing the Legislature tried with Vermont Yankee (a court case is pending in a federal appeals court), Browning said she doesn’t know why the state would be OK with getting involved then but not now when a federal law would not pre-empt legislative action.The main motivation, Browning said, is to strengthen the Public Service Board’s hand.‘I’m concerned, given the nature of Green Mountain Power’s offer, which really tries to shift the cost of the merger onto the Vermont ratepayers and keep the benefits themselves,’ she said. ‘I’m concerned the Public Service Board won’t be able to push back against that enough.’~ Alan PanebakerVermont Republicans endorse RomneyVermonters casting ballots on Town Meeting Day will have the opportunity to weigh in on the national presidential primary race, and some local Republicans are pushing for them to back Mitt Romney.Prominent Republicans like Sens. Vince Illuzzi and Randy Brock spoke in favor of the former Massachusetts governor at a press conference Wednesday.Vermont is one of 10 states that will cast ballots on ‘Super Tuesday.’Illuzzi said he thinks Romney has struck a balance between conservative values and the need to help struggling Americans.‘He really has balanced Republican goals which he has so well articulated through his campaign as well as being sensitive to those in the country who are in need of a helping hand,’ Illuzzi said.Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu lent a hand to Republicans in endorsing Romney.‘We’ve got to keep our eyes on prize,’ he said. ‘The prize is making sure that in November America replaces an administration that has moved the country in absolutely the wrong direction under President Obama and replaces that presidency and that administration with a Republican leader who has the experience, the capacity, the discipline, the will and the commitment to make the hard decisions to undo the mess we have developed within our country over the last four years.’Bob Stannard, founder of the Montpelier-based Super PAC Americans for a Better Tomorrow Today fired back a response to the Romney endorsement. Stannard’s political action committee claims to endorse candidates who address issues brought to light by the Occupy Wall Street movement like income inequality.Stannard said Sununu’s attack on Obama is off base.‘I heard former Governor Sununu make a statement that Obama’s been bringing the country in the wrong direction,’ Stannard said. ‘I would argue that what Obama’s been trying to do is pull back from the wrong direction that we were led down by the previous president that created the morass we have found ourselves in for the last four years.’The group produced a video that addresses current tax policy and the effects of the Bush era tax cuts, which Romney supports and, Stannard said, personally benefits from.~ Alan PanebakerTowns to consider corporate personhood resolutionsOn Town Meeting Day at least 50 Vermont communities will consider resolutions urging Congress to pass a resolution for a constitutional amendment banning corporate personhood. The list features some of the largest municipalities in the state, including Brattleboro, Burlington, Montpelier, Rutland, Williston, South Burlington and Winooski.According to The Rutland Herald, 50 communities have developed some form of resolution in response to the Supreme Court Citizens United case. They include Albany, Barnet, Brattleboro, Bristol, Burlington, Calais, Charlotte, Chester, Chittenden, Craftsbury, East Montpelier, Fayston, Fletcher, Greensboro, Hardwick, Hinesburg, Jericho, Lincoln, Marlboro, Marshfield, Monkton, Montgomery, Montpelier, Moretown, Mount Holly, Norwich, Plainfield, Putney, Richmond, Ripton, Roxbury, Rutland City and Town, Sharon, Shrewsbury, South Burlington, Starksboro, Sudbury, Thetford Center, Tunbridge, Waitsfield, Walden, Waltham, Warren, Williamstown, Windsor, Winooski, Woodbury, Woodstock, Worcester, and Williston.~ Greg GumaFree Speech TV gets channel on Burlington basic cableBurlington Telecom is adding Free Speech TV to its basic cable line up. On March 1 it becomes Channel 122 for thousands of subscribers. Although FSTV already reaches more than 37 million people via satellite and DIRECTV, this will be its first US appearance on a basic cable line up.It wasn’t a certainty until the last day, February 29, when a Kickstarter fundraising campaign finished raising almost $3,000 in less than a week.To insure carriage on the basic tier received by all cable subscribers, FSTV and its supporters agreed to raise $10,000 to cover some start-up costs by the end of February. A Friends of Free Speech TV group was organized by local BT subscribers, a $5,000 match was offered, and the rest was raised in the final days of the month.If the goal hadn’t been reached, the match would have been lost and the basic cable deal might be jeopardized.FSTV airs Democracy Now! three times daily, covers cutting-edge current affairs, and airs a wide variety of independently-produced documentaries that otherwise might not be aired. A daily talk show hosted by Thom Hartmann features’Brunch with Bernie,’ a Friday noon discussion and call-in segment with Vermont’s Independent US senator.The mission of FSTV is to ‘inspire viewers to become civically engaged to build a more just, equitable, and sustainable society,’ says Greg Epler-Wood, a former member of BT’s Community Advisory Council and member of Friends of FSTV.- Greg GumaVDP communications director leavesAlicia Alessandro, communications director for the Vermont Democratic Party, parted ways with party officials last Friday. Her departure was amicable, according to sources. Allesandro, who came from Washington, D.C., was hired last summer. Her highly partisan press releases ‘ particularly one about GOP candidate for governor Randy Brock ‘ raised eyebrows, though sources say there wasn’t anything in particular that precipitated the party’s decision to let her go. The move comes as the Burlington mayoral race nears an end. vtdigger.org 2.29.2012last_img

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