Friday, August 31, 2012

debatable debates

Gov Shumlin's man has announced that the Gov is too busy for the traditional AARP debate.  Nope, he will only do debates sponsored by media organizations.  IF Annette should come out on top, how will they justify trying to keep her out of whatever debates he does have time for now that they've already used the excuse of busyness.  Will he consider Bread and Puppet's Mr-Everything-is-Fine a media organization?  

press clippings

VT Digger's editor Anne Galloway reported on the write-in race yesterday referring to the write-in campaigners as "NIMBY bedfellows".  Should we adopt this as the name of our group or does it sound too much like a club devoted to slumber parties?

How do they get off with this NIMBY thing?  They imply that when you flip the light switch, someone's backyard has been trashed.  Therefore it's anti-social to insist that it be someone else's backyard rather than your own.  Isn't that where they are coming from?  So that means they are leaving  no space for possible systems that don't really trash anyone's backyard, such as very localized generation like small wind turbines,  solar as a major component, etc.  The real problem is that a non-destructive system like this might not be massive enough to accommodate the needs of operations like the Jay Mtn's water slides.  Just about the biggest user of electricity in the state is the ski industry, devoted to making artificial snow and lugging tourists up the mountains and--key point--exporting most of the profits out of state.  Right up there is IBM.  Shouldn't we concentrate on the big fish, holding them to account, measuring their contribution to the state, its society and economy as against the huge amount of power they consume?

John Dillon at Vermont Public Radio did a decent balanced story on this race yesterday too.  This morning's repeat was edited down to exclude commentary from Stephanie Kaplan and thus was slanted quite differently.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

another discrepancy

Two friends of mine from Middlesex wrote to tell me that they had both voted Annette Smith for gov on the Prog ballot.  I just got off the phone with the Middlesex town clerk who told me that there were 10 Prog ballots turned in and all were BLANK on the governor's line.  I specifically asked if there were no write ins and she said, No, no write-ins.

What gives?  Much the same think in Sutton, Westmore, Waltham.  Is it the case that some towns just are even counting write-ins?

UPDATE  It seems that Middlesex recorded 5 votes for Annette Smith for LT GOV.

UPDATE 2:  Sutton has changed its total from 4 to 7 votes for Annette.

It's clearly time to think about a recount and for the Sec of State to get to the bottom of all these discrepancies.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

c l i f f h a n g e r

According to the Sec of State, some town clerks had a hard time with the electronic reporting system and still have not reported results to the Sec of State.  Clerks in a half a dozen towns have reported results to us and best we can figure at the moment the score is roughly:
Martha   304
Annette  308

This is really just an estimate as we cannot be sure that all of the write-ins are for Annette.  More puzzling:  it is certain that some valid write-ins for Annette haven't been counted for reasons we are seeking to determine.


hanging in the balance

At 1:25 pm the score is

Martha Abbott  299 (acc. to Sec of State) plus in particular 2 precincts in Burlington not yet reported

Annette Smith  259 (acc. to Sec of State) plus in particuar Craftsbury where Annette got 33 real but untallied votes for a total of 292.  Plus there are a number of undercounts, towns such as Walden where we know Annette got 8 votes even though they reported only 1.  

69 precincts have not yet reported.

discrepancy in Walden?

The town clerk of Walden said that the tally there on the Progressive ticket (1 for Martha Abbott) was what she was given by the vote counters.  We have reason to believe that there were at least 7 votes cast on the Progressive ballot for Annette.  It is also the case that Roger Fox, a board member of Washington Electric Coop, was counting votes in Walden.  He is a strong industrial wind advocate and not a supporter of Annette Smith.  Certainly nobody is making any accusations against Fox or anyone else but it does seem that there is a major discrepancy here.

There's a good article on the write-in at Burlington Free Press here


Everything you read on the Sec of State website is preliminary.  Nothing is final.

That said, it still appears that all write-in votes have not been turned in to the Sec of State for posting on the web.  For example, in Barre, Walden, and Jericho it seems that write-in votes for Annette have not been included in the results.  (State totals reported  as of 9am are:  288 Abbott vs 214 'write in".)

AP is reporting that almost all precincts have been counted but the Sec of State's page has results from only 184 of the 275 precincts.  That is because AP has a deal with the town clerks to send them results on contested races directly while the Sec of State's records depend on whether a town clerk is disposed to send in results electronically via very temperamental software.

In general, the Sec of State says, the results will not be final until they have been received by the Sec of State (deadline Friday), tallied by the Sec of State (Monday) and then certified (Tuesday).  The results posted on the Sec of State web page, Sec Condos stressed, are preliminary.  It is a voluntary system so it is up to each town clerk whether or not to send in results.

Still you are encouraged to consult the Sec of State's page, use the index to view the reported results in your town, and contact you Town Clerk if you suspect that all the write in votes haven't been tallied.  If you suspect there is a problem, please also contact us here.

stay tuned

At 3am Wed Aug 29, the Sec of State web page has the following total:

Annette / "Write in"  207
Martha Abbott          282

Precincts reporting:  184 out of 275

This result is preliminary to say the least.

For one thing, something must have gone wrong since votes in some reporting precincts seem not to have been recorded.  That is, we know that there were some votes for Annette in precincts that report zero write-ins.  What gives?  Are these places unable for some reason to report write-ins?  We will be contacting the Sec of State's office later this morning.  

Also, certain towns such as Hardwick where we would expect a relatively strong vote for Annette have not reported as of this writing.

It is interesting how many write-ins there were on the Dem ballot:   849 so far or 3% of the total Dem vote.  By contrast, write-ins on the GOP gov ballot amounted to only 1.6% of the vote.  It would not be surprising if a lot of those Dem write-ins were for Annette since we heard that some people were conflicted about turning in the Progressive ballot since they wanted to vote in the hot Dem AG race even though they preferred Annette to Shumlin.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

nail biter

Time 8:51pm election night.
94 Annette
92 Martha

one more reason

If you needed one more reason to register a protest against Shumlin and his Adm, it was on display last night in Sheffield.  First Wind, which has already been permitted to construct 16 turbines in Sheffield, is now applying for a permit to kill endangered bats.  The Agency of Natural Resources sent down a lawyer and a bat scientist to take comments from the public and a goodly number appeared.

But wait!  Nobody really could tell how many the Windy Ones wanted to kill or much of anything else since the proposed permit was only in rough draft form.  Oops, and few in the audience had even had the chance to read it.    

Well to be fair, it wasn't clear that the company really wanted to kill bats, just that with 16 rotors that sweep an area of 20 vertical acres it cannot avoid killing many hundreds of the tasty little animals.  The company claimed they would lose money if they took precautions to protect bats--stopping the turbines except between October and April when the bats are dormant for example.  That was good enough for the Shumlin Adm which will charge the company $200 per dead bat.  Why, the lawyer was asked, is the Shumlin Adm so all-fired worried about First Wind's bottom line?  "It's a statutory requirement" he replied.    

The Shumlin bat scientist passionately defended First Wind claiming that the company would generously, voluntarily fund a study to count the dead bats.  They called this generosity "mitigation" as in, studying the dead bats will mitigate the deaths.  It was so surreal I half expected that eventually he might distribute a list of recipes for cooking bat. 

When the state issues one of these permits to "take" (kill) endangered animals, which they do routinely,  they first run it past a citizen advisory committee on endangered species.  The chair of this kill committee, who has served there for 37 straight years, was asked:  How come the first words of your recommendation to grant the bat killing permit are: 
"Clearly this is an important wind project for Vermont"  Just let that one sink in for a second.  For the Adm's lawyer, their scientist, and their citizen advisors, the financial well-being of First Wind is the primary concern.

The low point of the evening came when someone in the audience got tired of fighting against an absent adversary.  "Why isn't First Wind here to respond to our concerns" someone asked.  Someone else said, "Why there they are over there."  And sure enough, a handsome young First Wind rep raised his hand a bit sheepishly and replied:  My role here is just to listen and observe.  But I do notice that most of the people here are not residents of Sheffield."  

First Wind rep

The audience did not take kindly to this crack.  One person said it was insulting and, worse, made the assumption that the bats in question were only the concern of Sheffield.  Another perceptively noted that he was using good, old-fashioned divide and conquer. 

Dont forget to vote. 


Monday, August 27, 2012

powwow on top of Vermont

a yoga break on top of Vermont

On Saturday a lot of people including Annette and Luke Snelling of Energize Vermont pulled together a rally of people from across the state and even from the state of Maine who have spent lots of time and energy down in the trenches trying to use the Public Service Board to avoid being squashed by utility developers.  Anti-industrial wind activists along with anti-Smart Meter people described their harrowing  experiences.  All this in the most amazing setting I’ve ever seen in Vermont—a mountain top in Wells approachable only by a very steep Class 6 road and also, in the case of a Maine activist and a Maine state representative, in a helicopter.  The spot was a small flat top with a 360° view of the Green Mountains and Taconics for maybe 50 mile radius. 

We all sat down after these testimonials to come up with a strategy on reforming or revolutionizing the permit process.  Annette facilitated this disucssion and, as I understand it,  will soon be summing up this interesting discussion on the VCE site.  Among the questions:  how can a board avoid “capture” by the utilities it is supposed to be regulating?  Would elected boards be better in general?  How do we get away from a process where the “market” only makes proposals with high private profits while often neglecting those with greater “public good” that don’t enrich developers as much?  Can consumer fraud law be used against wind developers who make promises during the permit process which they do not keep? 

Here's a clip of the panorama:


Friday, August 24, 2012

just in from the Stop F-35ers

Here's a message from George Cross and our comrades at Stop F-35:

 I have attached the flyer.  It is posted on the www.stopthef-35 website.  It is being sent out by a variety of groups within the Stop the F-35 Coalition, plus individuals.  The text may change a bit from group to group, but the write-in recommendations will be the same.  

Here's our thinking.  We are trying to accomplish two goals.  1. We need to have at least one write-in candidate get enough votes to be included in the debates.  Thus ensuring that the F-35 will be a topic of the debates.  This is the same for the "turbines on the mountain-tops" question.  We think that Annette as a Progressive candidate for Governor or our write-in candidates on the Progressive ballot for U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative have the best chance of meeting this goal.  2.  We simply want to cause a disturbance in the process for the Democrats and the Republicans.  Some people will not want to take a Progressive ballot, because they have a keen interest in a local race.  If they write-in on the D or R ballot for the two national races and the governor's race, it will send a message to Sanders, Welch and Shumlin.  

I hope your group agrees with us.  We have not cleared our use of Annette's name as a write-in with her.  Given her public comments about a write-in campaign, we did not think that was necessary. The primary is upon us so this all has to happen fast.

Please feel free to add to our list for your purposes.  We would ask, however, that people stay with the recommendation on our list for U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative, as well as your's for Governor so that we can maximize the possibility of achieving our goals.  

Teach the children well

Wednesday was for entering students of the Vermont Law School students at the Statehouse.  Among other events, there was a debate of sorts on the pros and cons of ridgeline industrial wind.  Aaron Adler of Legislative Council set it up with puzzling graphs on energy sources, usage, renewables, and the targets for renewables.  Here's my favorite head-scratcher:
I had trouble catching Aaron's drift:  are we facing a deficit in energy or in renewable energy?  If the latter, what part is wind supposed to play?  But, as one of the students noted, the major blocks of energy used are for transportation and heating where electricity plays a minor role.

Next up was Sandy Levine, a lawyer with Conservation Law Foundation.  Comfortable, relaxed in a VPR sort of way, she attacked the anti-industrial wind movement in the politest possible manner.  She asserted that if wind turbines were invisible, there would be no opposition to them.  But she knows that opposition has also been to the devastation they wreak on forest ecosystems, the damage to wildlife, and the insidious noise pressure and not just to the Beautiful Swans.  She seems to implicitly discount those issues, thus calling into question the opponents' sincerity.

She showed panoramas of Sheffield where the towers were portrayed as faint streaks on the distant mountain ridgelines, literally invisible from where I sat.  Then she asked for a show of hands on who skis, a fair number of students.  Then she produced a photo of Killington with its flanks streaked with snowy trails, raked as if by some nightmare where Preston Smith becomes a giant tiger.  That's what ski development looks like and of course we all love ski development, right?  Can I see hands?  Phew, I guess those turbines are really Swans after all, at least by comparison.

Then she talked about the regulatory process.  She said that although it shows "growing pains" it is a "fairly open process for the citizens of Vermont" where ordinary folks can become parties.  She did allow that lawyers and expert witnesses were a burden on citizens where trials could last for weeks on end.

What world does Sandy Levine live in?  I wonder when the last time was that she or anyone else at CLF actually represented a citizen group of scant means.  Only then would they drink deeply of the utter contempt that the PSB and the Supreme Court have for citizen opponents of what the Cronies mandate.  Only then would you realize that everywhere you turn, the Cronies in the Utilities, the Administration, and the PSB  just know the part they are supposed to play.  That's how cronyship works.

How could anyone regard the hell that Crony David Blittersdorf is making for the FitzGerald family dismissed as "growing pains"?  You wouldn't perhaps have had an inkling as a first year law student that they are merrily blasting rock all over the neighbors land, digging pits, showing them violent disrespect.

Finally, Sandy Levine told us that we need fairness:  Hydro Quebec unfairly targets First Nation communities in Quebec, ditto Yankee in southern Vermont, and ditto the numerous wind projects concentrated in the Northeast Kingdom.  In each case they heavily burden the local community but produce energy mostly for the benefit of people in far off places.  It wasn't clear to me how she suggested we redress this unfairness.  

Finally, after the wonkish Adler and smooth Levine, it was a relief to get straight-talking Joe Benning, Senator from the Northeast Kingdom.  He brought along 4 constituents from Newark, all concerned about who handed out gory photos that de-sanitized the destructive impact of installing the Swans.  His message was that there just isn't much undisturbed forest left in the world and we shouldn't rape what we've got.

In the Q and A, a law student noted that they had been addressed in the morning by Gov. Shumlin who gloried in the wind projects he and his Cronies have undertaken.  Did this, the student ventured to ask, perhaps indicate a degree of political conflict brewing between the legislature and the gov?

Benning answered that an industrial wind moratorium, opposed by Shumlin, had failed in the Senate by only a few votes last session but would be re-introduced in the coming session.

I wanted to ad, yes and we're doing a write in against Shumlin so that all this doesn't get swept under the carpet during the general election campaign.  However,  Aaron had made it clear he wanted to hear from law students only so I kept my peace.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

One thing for sure, Martha Abbott isn't sure

Peter Hirschfeld at the Vermont Press Bureau has a little more from Martha Abbott in his story of Sunday, August 19.  Abbott assures us that she actually does want to win and is "putting the word" out for people to vote in the Progressive primary.  She apparently said she was running to keep a "rogue candidate" from "hijacking" the primary.  But she makes one thing definite:  it is NOT definite that she will actually accept the nomination if she wins the primary.  If she does win but immediately withdraws, Shumlin's most unpopular policies could well escape attention during the general election campaign debates.     

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Leafleting at the Montpelier Farmers' Market

I hope people across the state who might be following this blog will have taken the initiative to print out leaflets themselves and distribute them at food coops, farmers' markets, wherever one or two gather together.  I wanted to let you know how it went for us in Montpelier at the Farmers' Market between 10:30am and 1pm.

It was a beautiful day and the place was jammed.  Two of us handed out maybe 150 or so leaflets about the write-in campaign, the one-sided piece that starts out:  "Had it with Shumlin?".  I'd say 10% got a look at that line there at the top and refused the sheet, always in good humor.  Then at the other end, about 15% seemed more or less well-informed and interested, positive, even mad as hell about one, several, or all of the issues they saw mentioned on the leaflet.  A lot of the rest took the sheet saying they would read it later, so we let them off easy with only a little proselytizing.  A surprising number of people were out-of-state tourists, many interested in the campaign.  Many had a look on their face that seemed to me to say, "Phew, at least it wasn't 7th Day Adventists!"  A lot seemed to be confused about how a primary works, where you get three ballots but only fill out one, etc.

I gave one to Tony Klein, chair of the Vermont House natural resources committee and fanatical supporter of ridgeline wind, the CVPS merger, and probably everything else we stand against.  He was already talking to some people but I did get a big snort and a derisive chuckle out of him.  That made me happy.

We printed out the one-sided leaflet and then also used a highlighter on the "Had it with Shumlin" line at the top and then the "write in Annette Smith" line at the bottom.  I think it really helped orient people to the basics of the message after we interrupted them eating or talking or shopping.

I'd love to hear about other people's experiences with getting the word out.  

The true face of the Public Service Board

This photo shows part of what Georgia Mountain "Community" Wind has done to its neighbors, the FitzGeralds.  This is what the Public Service Board really looks like.  The real business of the PSB is corporate destruction and business is good!

In this case, the developer has destroyed phone lines, cut internet service, shaken a home with high explosive blasts, thrown rock capable of killing someone onto their property, and obtained a Temporary Restraining Order against the neighbors to keep them off of LAND THEY OWN so that the blasting can continue.  The neighbors have zero resources to resist.

The PSB is normally deaf to the rights and needs of citizens whose lives are damaged or ruined by ridgeline wind projects.  And they have the active support of Governor "1%" Shumlin saying things like:  "I see no difference between large- and small-scale hydro, large- and small-scale wind, large- and small-scale coal."

He and his PSB obviously see what they want to see.  And they want to see is that their corporate cronies get rich.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sign the Petition!

This petition has been organized by Peggy Sapphire, an ardent anti-big-wind activist, through
Write-In Annette Smith

'We are encouraging Vermonters – independents, Democrats, Republicans, and Progressives alike – 
to vote in the August 28 primary election and draft Annette Smith of Danby as Progressive 
candidate for Governor by writing in her name on the Progressive primary ballot. Annette Smith 
has been an articulate voice for Vermont citizens for more than a decade as the head of Vermonters 
for a Clean Environment, an effective and independent environmental organization. She 
consistently stands up for ordinary Vermonters, helping them take on the big corporations and their 
lawyers and lobbyists. She is deeply knowledgeable about the corporate take-over of Vermont in all 
its many forms, and she is an excellent and passionate debater. (If you are voting Dem or Rep but oppose Shumlin, write in Annette Smith there.) 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

rumor mill

A little bird warbled in my ear on the subject of a male public relations employee of Green Mountain Power who paid a visit to Peter Schumann, soul of Bread and Puppet.  My bird's eyesight isn't what it used to be but sounds like it might have been Robert Dostis,  formerly of the Vermont legislature, now flacking for GMP.  It sounds like he was actually trying to sweet-talk Peter Schumann into harnassing his powerful imagination to extol the wonders of wind power, GMP and their contribution to the universe.

Are things slow over at GMP or what?  You'd think they would give Dostis the summer off after his being on overdrive all winter keeping the cattle together in the legislature on the CVPS takeover.  You have to admire him for taking on the likes of Peter Schumann.  And what a compliment to the effectiveness of the brilliant, spirited satirical work of Bread and Puppet.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


This blog is dedicated to drafting Annette Smith as a write-in candidate in the Progressive Party primary for Governor of Vermont.  The goal of this effort is to direct public attention to the dismal record of the Shumlin Administration in promoting several policies, including:

1.  The devastation of Vermont's mountain ridges by industrial wind developers

2.  The merger of CVPS and GMP into a single monopolistic utility controlled by a murky series of Canadian shell companies.  An additional unfairness is that former CVPS customers are being cheated out of $21 million to repay a bailout more than a decade ago.

3.  The basing of the F-35 aircraft in Burlington.

We ask that voters write in Annette's name on the Progressive primary ballot for governor.  There is a chance there for victory and with it the opportunity of raising these issues in the general election.  Otherwise these issues are likely to be totally ignored.

There is only one Progressive in the governor's primary race, Martha Abbott, and it seems that she actually supports Shumlin on most of his positions.

Annette Smith heads Vermonters for a Clean Environment, VCE, which fights for neighborhood groups being threatened by a variety of destructive developments or health impacts.  She is dedicated, independent, very well informed, and an excellent debater.

Peter Shumlin is in bed with the 1% especially Vermont's large corporations and most especially Green Mountain Power and its new corporate overlord, Gaz M├ętro of Canada.  He ardently supports big wind, ignorantly believing it will make a dent in global warming.  He supports the militarization of Burlington that has come with the F-35 basing plans.  And his Public Service Department along with the lapdog Public Service Board made the landmark disastrous takeover of most of Vermont's electrical distribution happen.

Shumlin invited the voters to "throw the rascals out" if they disagree with his misguided policies.  Take him up on it:  write in Annette Smith for Governor on the Progressive primary ballot.