U.S. Politics

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Vermont Delegation Divided Over Spending Bill Extending EB-5

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 12:19 PM

Left to right: Congressman Peter Welch, Bill Stenger, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Gov. Peter Shumlin, Ariel Quiros and William Kelly in Newport in September 2012. - COURTESY: BILL STENGER
  • Courtesy: Bill Stenger
  • Left to right: Congressman Peter Welch, Bill Stenger, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Gov. Peter Shumlin, Ariel Quiros and William Kelly in Newport in September 2012.
Vermont's typically unified congressional delegation split Wednesday on a key vote to fund the government through December 9. 

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) joined 25 of his peers in opposing the stopgap spending bill, which nevertheless passed the Senate with 72 votes in favor. The veteran Democrat pledged last week to vote against the so-called continuing resolution if it did not include reforms to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. Instead, the legislation simply extended it, as written, until December. 

According to Leahy spokesman David Carle, his "nay" vote was "a direct result" of his reservations on EB-5.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dean Doubles Down on Trump Cocaine Comment

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 10:29 PM

Former governor Howard Dean at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Former governor Howard Dean at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia
As Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sniffled away Monday night during the first debate of the general election, former Vermont governor Howard Dean posited a theory as to what was causing all the nasal activity. 

"Notice Trump sniffing all the time," he wrote on Twitter. "Coke user?"
Rather than apologize for the off-color tweet the next day, the former practicing physician doubled down on it Tuesday afternoon in an appearance on MSNBC.

"Well, you can't make a diagnosis over the television," he said. "I would never do that. But he has some interesting — that is actually a signature of people who use cocaine. I'm not suggesting that Trump does, but—"

"Well you are suggesting it, actually, in a tweet," MSNBC host Kate Snow interjected. 

"No, I'm suggesting we think about it," Dean said. Then he rattled off a list of symptoms he said Trump shared with cocaine users, ranging from "grandiosity" to "delusions" to "trouble with pressured speech."

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Former Burlington College President Unloads on Board, Jane Sanders

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 11:46 AM

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Updated September 6, 2016 at 5 p.m. with comments from Carol Moore.

Carol Moore, the most recent president of now-closed Burlington College, is publicly excoriating its board of trustees and People’s United Bank for backing previous president Jane O’Meara Sanders’ decision to buy a $10 million lakeside campus in 2010.

In a letter to the editor published in the Chronicle of Higher Education on Thursday, Moore describes the land purchase, which plunged the college into debt, as an “appallingly inappropriate business deal.” She blames it for the school’s demise.

Moore, a former Lyndon State College president who was appointed interim president of Burlington College in December 2014, demurred from criticizing her predecessors during her time in that post. (O’Meara Sanders was forced to resign in 2011. Her chief financial officer, Christine Plunkett, took the helm until she resigned suddenly in July 2014.)

But in her explosive letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Moore doesn’t hold back. She writes:

BC’s fate was set when its former board members hired an inexperienced president and, six years later, approved the imprudent purchase of a $10 million piece of property for campus expansion. Enrollment that year was about 195 and the budget just over $4 million, less than half of this ill-advised investment. What were they thinking? Where was the Finance Committee when these decisions were being made?
Former Burlington College interim president Carol Moore - FILE: ALICIA FREESE
  • File: Alicia Freese
  • Former Burlington College interim president Carol Moore

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Amid Turmoil, Sanders Launches 'Our Revolution' Political Group

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 1:35 AM

Sen. Bernie Sanders launches Our Revolution on Wednesday at Burlington's North End Studios. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders launches Our Revolution on Wednesday at Burlington's North End Studios.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) launched a new political organization Wednesday night devoted to electing progressive candidates "at every level" of government.

Speaking to some 200 supporters at Burlington's North End Studios, the former presidential candidate said he hoped that "hundreds of thousands of people" would join the new group, called Our Revolution. It would immediately get to work supporting more than 100 candidates and seven ballot initiatives this election cycle, he said. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders launches Our Revolution on Wednesday at Burlington's North End Studios.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders launches Our Revolution on Wednesday at Burlington's North End Studios.
"These are people who will be fighting at the grassroots level for changes in their local school boards, in their city councils, in their state legislatures and in their representation in Washington," Sanders said. 

According to Our Revolution executive director Shannon Jackson, Wednesday's launch was webcast to 2,600 house parties and 40,000 viewers across the country. But the event was overshadowed by an unusually public staff revolt within the fledgling organization, as well as questions surrounding its legal status. 

As Politico and BuzzFeed first reported Tuesday, at least eight employees quit Our Revolution over the weekend after Sanders' former campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, was brought in to serve as the group's president. They complained that Weaver planned to raise money from wealthy donors and spend it on television advertisements, rather than organize a grassroots political movement.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Bernie Sanders Buys a Summer Home in North Hero

Posted By on Mon, Aug 8, 2016 at 6:36 PM

Hero's Welcome staff pose with Sen. Bernie Sanders. - GABBY TIMMS
  • Gabby Timms
  • Hero's Welcome staff pose with Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the proud new owner of a summer home in the Champlain Islands, Seven Days has confirmed.

The Burlington resident last week plopped down nearly $600,000 on a lakefront camp in North Hero.

Sanders’ new crib has four bedrooms and 500 feet of Lake Champlain beachfront on the east side of the island — facing Vermont, not New York. The Bern will keep his home in Burlington and use the new camp seasonally.

“We’ve traveled up to the islands many times over the years — almost always on day trips,” Sanders’ wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, told Seven Days in a written statement. “We’ve been impressed with the North Hero community, eaten at the North Hero House and Shore Acres and have suggested them to friends who were looking for a beautiful place to stay or have dinner. St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle La Motte is my favorite church and it is nearby.”

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

In Race for LG, Sanders Endorses Zuckerman, Dean Backs Smith

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2016 at 3:11 PM

Undated photo of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. David Zuckerman from a previous campaign - COURTESY: DAVID ZUCKERMAN
  • Courtesy: David Zuckerman
  • Undated photo of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. David Zuckerman from a previous campaign
Updated at 8:49 p.m.

Two former presidential candidates weighed in Tuesday on Vermont’s Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed state Sen. David Zuckerman (P/D-Chittenden) for the No. 2 job. Hours later, former Democratic governor Howard Dean announced his support for House Speaker Shap Smith (D-Morristown).

Zuckerman, Smith and a third candidate, Rep. Kesha Ram (D-Burlington), are squaring off in an August 9 primary. Former state senator and auditor Randy Brock is running unopposed for the Republican nomination.

Statewide candidates have been eagerly awaiting word on potential endorsements from Sanders, whose recently concluded presidential campaign has made him a national star. But until this week, the only Vermont candidate he’d publicly supported this year was Rep. Chris Pearson (P-Burlington), who is running for the state Senate.

On Tuesday, Sanders broke his silence.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

At Clinton Coronation, Vermont Delegates See Hope for Unity

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 12:24 PM

Hillary Clinton accepts the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night in Philadelphia. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Hillary Clinton accepts the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night in Philadelphia.
On Tuesday night, Dottie Deans stood beside Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the stands of the Wells Fargo Center and delivered most of Vermont's votes to her "beloved" presidential candidate.

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By Thursday night, the devoted Sanders supporter and Vermont Democratic Party chair was ready to embrace newly minted nominee Hillary Clinton.

"Hallelujah!" she shouted as red, white and blue balloons settled onstage, signaling the close of the Democratic National Convention. "This is a celebration. Hillary Rodham Clinton is awesome. [Vice presidential nominee] Tim Kaine was awesome. We've got something to fight for."

Vermont delegates hold hands Thursday night during the benediction at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Vermont delegates hold hands Thursday night during the benediction at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
In the Vermont section of the Philadelphia arena, Deans and her fellow delegates reacted to Clinton's coronation with what Burlington resident Brian Pine called "mixed emotions." Still mourning the end of the Sanders campaign, they expressed optimism that Clinton had learned from it — and would carry through on the progressive commitments she had made.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Video: Barney Frank Still Feelin' Berned

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 7:02 PM

Former Congressman Barney Frank Thursday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Former Congressman Barney Frank Thursday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia
Former Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank has never been a fan of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Just nine months into the Vermonter's first term in Congress, his Bay State colleague dissed him in an interview with a home-state reporter.

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"Bernie alienates his natural allies," Frank told Chris Graff, then the Associated Press' Vermont bureau chief, for a September 1991 profile. "His holier-than-thou attitude — saying in a very loud voice he is smarter than everyone else and purer than everyone else — really undercuts his effectiveness."

Frank kept up the criticism over the past year as Sanders ran for president, calling him ineffectual and unelectable. And in a brief interview with Seven Days Thursday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, he wasn't ready to let it go.

"I think his approach to how you get things done is a mistake," Frank said at the Democratic National Convention. "I did think also that his criticisms of [Democratic nominee] Hillary Clinton were much too harsh and overdone." 

The former congressman gave Sanders credit for his recent embrace of Clinton's candidacy but said the senator was "running up against his own, I think, excess."

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Protests at Philly Convention Stir Memories of 1968 Chicago

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 11:37 AM

Antiwar protesters march in advance of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Antiwar protesters march in advance of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Reporting on protests this week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia stirred my memories of participating in protests at the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968.

This time, I was an observer on assignment for Seven Days. Back then, I was a 19-year-old activist from Fairfield University in Connecticut taking part in demonstrations sponsored by Students for a Democratic Society.

Despite profound shifts in political circumstances over the past 48 years, some strong similarities are evident between the context and content of the events in Philadelphia and Chicago.

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In both cases, Democrats were meeting to choose a candidate to succeed an incumbent Democratic president — Barack Obama now, Lyndon Johnson then. The party’s establishment was determined to nominate an experienced, moderate liberal — former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton now, former senator and sitting vice president Hubert Humphrey then.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

After Convention Star Turn, Vermont Delegate Leaves Philly in Protest

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 9:42 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders hugs Vermont delegate Shyla Nelson Wednesday morning in Philadelphia. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders hugs Vermont delegate Shyla Nelson Wednesday morning in Philadelphia.
On Tuesday afternoon, Norwich resident Shyla Nelson received a call from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

"He said, 'I need your help. Would you be willing to nominate me for president?'" the classical singer recalled. 

Nelson, who had traveled to Philadelphia to serve as a Vermont delegate to the Democratic National Convention, obliged. Hours later, she stood onstage at the Wells Fargo Center to formally second Sanders' presidential nomination. 

"I have never felt the Bern more than I do this moment," she told thousands of cheering Democrats. "We will never stop working for a future we believe in. We will never stop fighting for the change we need. And we will never forget the man who leads us."

The next afternoon — halfway through the convention — she was on her way home to Vermont.

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