Tarrant-Inspired Memory Lane | Freyne Land

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bernie Sanders
Tarrant-Inspired Memory Lane

Posted By on Wed, Oct 25, 2006 at 9:02 AM

*Updated* 4:50 p.m. Where's Randy?

If your head’s spinning from trying to keep up with all the radio/TV candidate debates you aren’t alone.

Catch any of Bernie vs. Tyrant, er, Tarrant on VPR with Bob Kinzel?  Good lord, Richie’s in a fricken time warp! Pour moi, listening  was a flashback to the early 1980s. I first became a Burlington renter in 1979. Bernie won the mayor’s race - a three-way - in March 1981.

By 10 votes.

It felt like an earthquake hit this town, er, city.

The “Old Guard” Democrats led by Mayor Gordie Paquette got tossed out the door. The rest is history, but I thought they’d gotten over it? Really.

It sure looks like Richie Tarrant is funding the Old Guard’s last primal-scream session. A $7 million primal scream.... doesn't it? 

Certainly the pettiness and bitterness, distortion of facts and overall immaturity that Candidate Tarrant exudes is straight out of those "Old Guard" Days of a quarter century ago. I close my eyes. It's 10 in the morning. And there’s Mayor Gordie Paquette at the round table in Nectar’s. There’s City Clerk Frank Wagner. City Treasurer Lee Austin. Former Lt. Gov. Brian Burns (covered his federal trial in the 1990s - guilty), and St. Mike’s Professor and pollster Vincent Naramore. In 1978, Freeps writer (now Providence Journal) Scott MacKay debunked Naramore’s “Salisbury Poll.”

Accuracy should count in political polling, right?

And yours truly had the privilege of exposing Ol’ Vincent in August of 1981 as the secret author of the weekly anti-Mayor Bernie Sanders “Flea Press.”

It was an anonymous one-page political "slander sheet" that got mailed to the city clerk’s office and handed out at  Board of Alderman’s meetings on Monday nights. The new kids in the building were the target.

You see, The city’s of Burlap’s new Brooklyn-born, left-wing, Jewish mayor and his blue-collar, long-haired supporters were the target. To Burlington’s Old Guard, Bernie was a wacko, loudmouthed foreigner. Someone with no right whatsoever to take their little city away from them! I mean just look at him! Listen to him! Oh, my God!

It’s been 25 years, folks. I thought they’d learned their lesson. Adapted. Grew up. But it’s obvious Richie Rich Tarrant, who was watching all that from the sidelines of the business world back then, is determined to give the Paquette-Naramore Old Guard’s descendants one last, expensive primal scream. I mean, what’s Rich Tarrant’s message other than “Fuck You, Bernie!”

Tarrant, despite his estimated $300 million IDX fortune, really had nothing else to say. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t hold press conferences on issues of the day and take questions? He’s only had about three or four since January! I wonder if he can even find Iraq on the map?

Whatever turns you on. It’s a free country.

Oh, and how was Prof. Naramore caught?

Carelessness. Vinny left his new edition of a late August  1981 “Flea Press” on the copy machine in the basement at Capitol Stationers Inc., then on Church Street. I was the next customer to use it.  Was making copies of an early “Inside Track.”  The weekly was the Vanguard Press. Remember? No computers back then. No e-mail.

Remember typewriters, paper and triple-spacing?

My lucky day it was. Then it was just a matter of basic detective work. Got the clerk to pick Vinny out of a photo line-up - a St. Mike's yearbook. A few days later I ambushed the professor as he was leaving Nectar’s with ex-Mayor Gordie one morning. Photographer Rob Swanson was at my side. We were a good team in those days.

Nailed him.

And that was the end of the “Flea Press.”

Listen, I started off with a Jim Barnett photo I was going to post, but ended up going down a different path - Memory Lane.

Now I'm heading down to the Statehouse for a Martha Abbott presser at 10:30.





Back from Montpeculiar. They were talking about cheap gasoline sightings on "The Mark Johnson Show" on the way down. Well, here's Vermont # 1 Pump Jockey Robert Bartell proudly waiting to provide you friendly, affordable full service until after the November 7 Election when prices go up, eh?

Back to business....One of the challengers for the job currently held by Republican Randy Brock was at the Statehouse Monday with a question: Where is the state auditor?

Former Vermont Progressive Party state chair and co-counder Martha Abbott of Underhill - not to be confused with Martha Rainville - told reporters at the Statehouse Wednesday (10:30 pressser - no TV coverage, but the rest of the gang), that it’s tough to figure our how Republican State Auditor Randy Brock spends most of his working hours.

Abbott - who by trade, operates a tax preparation service and just started running three funny radio ads -- requested and received a copy of Brock’s personal schedule from February of 2005 through September of 2006. The Progressive said it shows that 20 percent of the time Brock is clearly not at work,  another 38 percent is blank. 11 percent  is devoted to public appearances and only 31 percent of the time was he clearly doing some job-related activity.

I think it’s important to be accountable to the voters and the taxpayers and I want to know what these 40 percent of blank days say. I would like some answers. I would like to know where he is. It may be that you’ll call him up this afternoon and he’ll say 'Everyone of those blank days I’m working the the Montpelier office without a schedule. That’s why it’s blank. That’s where I am.'

"That’s fine. I would like to know that. I think we deserve to know that.”

We did call Auditor Brock at his office this afternoon at 2:07. He wasn’t in. Really.

Left a message with Felix the veteran business manager.  {We’re also filing a radio news report.) Brock expected back by 3 o’clock.  It’s now 3:51.

Should have checked his calendar?


UPDATE :4:10  Randy the Auditor just called. Was on his car phone. He denies the Martha Abbott charges. We'll update after we do the radio....

That's WDEV 550 A.M. and 96.1 FM if you listen at 5:05.

Said Vermont's current state auditor:

Since [Abbott] has nothing bad to say about the quality of my audit work, it’s reduced to grasping at straws. She’s wrong on the facts, wrong on the analysis and wrong on the conclusions. And if this is an example of her analytical skills, she herself has proven she’s not much of an auditor."

Brock told us he reads reports, reviews thousands of pages of documents, makes phone calls  - “even to reporters,” he humorously noted - but does not write those things down as “appointments.”

Randy the Auditor said he also "deals with staff, travels around the state and meets anually with thousands of Vermonters."

It pays $91K per annum.

Remember who he defeated in 2004 and replaced?

Long-time-no-see Chainsaw Liz, eh?

Actually, two very bright people are Martha and Randy.  Did you know Martha Abbott was the first woman in Vermont to run for governor?

1974. She got 5.4 percent of the popular vote. Incumbent Democrat Gov. Tom Salmon won. This year his kid, Tom Salmon, is the Democratic Party candidate for auditor.

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

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