Bye, Bye Mayor Moonie! | Inside Track | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Bye, Bye Mayor Moonie! 

Inside Track

Published September 7, 2005 at 4:00 p.m.

Longtime Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle will announce at a Wednesday press conference, shortly after Seven Days hits the streets, that after deep and careful reflection he has decided not to seek reelection in March 2006.

According to a draft of Clavelle's speech obtained by "Inside Track," Mayor Moonie will tell the gathering, "I love this job. Being mayor of Burlington is one of the best jobs in the State of Vermont. Coming to a decision as to whether to seek reelection has been very difficult.

"Today I share that decision with you. I am not planning to seek an eighth term. I am prepared to pass the torch in April of 2006 to Burlington's 35th mayor."

Clavelle, the Progressive who switched to Democrat in 2003, will highlight his contributions in waterfront development, affordable housing and keeping democracy alive and well in the Queen City.

"Sometimes it's messy, usually it's noisy, and often it's chaotic," Clavelle will say. "But the citizens of Burlington are actively engaged in neighborhood decision-making and city governance."

As for his future plans, da mayor will tell the TV cameras, "I have no specific plans. I hope to make the transition to a career in international development. I hope to teach a little and learn a lot. And I intend to remain a resident and citizen of Burlington, and to participate actively in the civic affairs of this community and this state."

The announcement will set off a political cluster . . . er, bomb. Already there's no shortage of contenders. On the Democrat side, State Rep. John Tracy let the word out right here last March that he intended to run, even if Clavelle sought reelection. State Sen. Hinda Miller, Councilor Andy Montroll and former State Rep. Karen Lafayette are also game. Unlike Tracy, they've been polite about it.

On the Republican side, Councilor Kevin Curley has been saying for more than a year that he's going to run. Among Progressives, CEDO Director Michael Monte and Councilors Jane Knodell and Phil Fiermonte are the names most often mentioned.

There'll be time for all of them later. Right now, let's give Mayor Moonie his moment. Yours truly has lived in beautiful Burlap for the last 25 years. To have watched the dusty, old, forgotten town of 1979 with a junkyard for a waterfront transformed into the vibrant, dynamic, people-friendly town it is today is to have watched a legacy in the making. And it's a legacy that will always have Peter Clavelle's name on it.

Thanks, Mayor Clavelle.

Public Enemy No. 1 -- Even before Hurricane Katrina, George W. Bush was well on his way to being remembered as one of the worst presidents in American history. Now it looks like he'll be enshrined as the worst of all.

George II has led America into a fraudulent "War on Terror," saying we must stop the worldwide spread of terrorism in the post-9/11 age. Never mind that Iraq, the country he invaded, had no connection whatsoever to 9/11. It does, however, have immense oil under its boundless sand. And this is an administration bought and paid for by Big Oil, with Halliburton's former CEO sitting in the vice-president's seat.

The bombings from Madrid to London prove Mr. Bush's War on Terror has actually promoted both "terror" and worldwide terrorism!

And now we have New Orleans and the ravaged Gulf Coast. With his new Homeland Security Department in charge, our homeland has been attacked and ravaged like never before. Not even Pearl Harbor compares to this. And we all know how America's president fiddled while New Orleans drowned, working the photo-op and fundraiser circuit out West.

While tens of thousands of Americans begged for water for days, Bush, when he finally spoke out, told them to "be patient." Surely, federal help would have arrived sooner had they been in Iraq, which is where most of the Mississippi and Louisiana National Guard is, their lives already on the line for the Big Bush Lie.

Instead, ordinary Vermonters were buying bottled water to ship to their fellow Americans, dying right before their eyes on network television. About 50 nations, including Ireland, Cuba, Russia and Afghanistan, have offered us emergency aid as if we were a third-world country. We've heard no acknowledgment from the White House.

Since the days of World War II, the USA has never been in such dire straits. The national debt has gone through the roof. Our president believes government exists to make the rich richer, ramming two major tax cuts through our GOP-controlled Congress that made even many millionaires say, "Enough is enough!"

Meanwhile, since the Bush team took power, there have been dangerous funding cutbacks in the areas of education, health care, environmental protection and, oh, yes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA Director Michael Brown was deservedly under fire for his demonstrated incompetence, yet Mr. Bush made a point of praising him on TV when he finally touched down in the evacuation zone. A team player is he.

Brown subsequently told a stunned national audience on Thursday that he had not been aware of the 25,000 victims trapped at the Convention Center since Tuesday. Yet everyone in America with a TV or radio knew about them, and had their hearts torn out watching their fellow citizens beg for their lives.

As you may know, Brown's previous experience was running the Colorado-based International Arabian Horse

Association. Ran it into extinction, in fact. Not enough experience to run FEMA, you say? What are you -- a partisan Democrat?

Mr. Brown, you see, has excellent qualifications. He's an old college buddy of Joe Albaugh, the previous FEMA director who hired him. Heck, horses, hurricanes -- what's the difference?

Albaugh ran Bush's 2000 campaign. And, according to the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Brown donated $1000 to that campaign.

Good investment, eh?

P.S. Our own Skip Vallee, recently appointed ambassador to Slovakia, gave $2000 to Bush that year. Besides being incompetent, Brown is also a cheapskate.

Seeing the Light -- One by one, Americans who supported Bush's fraudulent "War on Terror" are realizing it's more aptly called the "War to Spread Terror." On Sunday, retired ABC-TV "World News Tonight" Middle East correspondent Barrie Dunsmore of Charlotte joined the club.

Dunsmore told Times Argus and Rutland Herald readers he had been wrong in supporting the Bush administration's military intervention. The key for him, he said, had been then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's assertion to the United Nations that the U.S. had evidence of Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction."

From personally dealing with Powell over the years, Dunsmore had come to trust him. He was not alone.

Unfortunately, we now know Colin Powell stuck to the party line, presenting phony evidence to the U.N. He subsequently retired and has quietly disappeared from view. Gen. Powell had a distinguished military and diplomatic career trashed by putting loyalty to a dishonest commander-in-chief over loyalty to his country.

"It is clear to me that 'the course' we are now following is doomed to fail. That said, we can prolong the agony, as in Vietnam, and as the Soviets did in Afghanistan. Or we can cut our losses -- sooner, I would hope, rather than later."

It takes honesty and courage to admit you've made a mistake. Lacking those qualities, the current president will never do likewise.

Washington's Choice! -- House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland dropped into town on Friday to let Vermonters know the Democratic leadership in our nation's capital isn't waiting for the locals to cast their ballots in the September 2006 primary; they've decided State Sen. Peter Welch is the man!

Hoyer, a polished, silver-haired slicker with the tongue to match, noted the timing was indeed "unusual," since "there are other candidates who are discussing the possibility of running who are Democrats."

No names were mentioned, but everyone knows former State Sen. Peter Shumlin of Putney has already signed up Howard Dean's longtime guardian angel, Kate O'Connor, as his campaign manager.

Welch, meanwhile, has hired U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy's former campaign manager, Carolyn Dwyer. Earlier this year, Dwyer had signed on with U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords' reelection campaign, but Jeezum Jim's decision to retire left her available, and Welch quickly grabbed her.

"We in Washington," said Ol' Steny, have made a determination that because Peter Welch brings such extraordinary ability to this campaign, we believe it's in the best interests of our caucus, but for our country, too, to come out early."

Asked just who the hell the folks in Foggy Bottom thought they were to "determine" who should be the Democratic Party's candidate in Vermont, Ol' Steny went into damage-control mode.

"No, no, no, no," cried Hoyer. "You're making too much of that. We cannot, nor should we, determine for the voters of Vermont, but every person has to determine for himself what he or she thinks is the right thing to do, and neutrality, in my opinion, is not an option in these times. The stakes are so high," said Steny. "The country is going so wrong."

Thanks for the clarification. Certainly, Vermont Democrats will follow the party line.

God bless America, eh?

Ben & Jerry's Bust -- When it comes to corporate America, we were reminded last week, not all the crooks work for Enron-style companies. The U.S. Attorney announced the former chief financial officer for Ben & Jerry's has been busted for stealing more than $300,000 from the socially conscious ice cream maker.

Mickey Wiles of Shelburne worked there for nine years. He left voluntarily in 2004. "Inside Track" has learned that he then became the chief financial officer at Burlington-based Seventh Generation.

"As soon as we learned of his alleged actions," said spokesman Nancy Sterling, "we immediately asked him to offer his resignation in June." The company quickly brought in an outside auditor and found no funds were missing.

P.S. According to, Seventh Generation CEO Jeffrey Hollander is available for speeches on the topic: "What Matters Most: The Next Generation of Responsible, Values-Based Business Leadership." The website indicates Hollander's speaking fee is in the $7500 to $10,000 range.

Bet Mickey Wiles could give a hell of a speech, too, eh?

Our Shackled Press While we were "on holiday" the Vermont Supreme Court sure straightened everyone out on where it stands regarding freedom of the press. What freedom?

In a 5-0 decision written by Associate Justice Denise Johnson, the court supported Chittenden County State's Attorney Bob Simpson's demand that WCAX-TV turn over "all" video shot at UVM's World Series riot last October.

The Supremes have officially turned the Vermont press into evidence-gatherers for law enforcement. But there are at least three little ironies here, folks.

First, on its website, UVM Police Services boasts, "Our investigators took the aired footage from WCAX and captured digital stills. They then posted those digital stills to our web page, and we asked the campus community for help in identification. By all accounts, we were successful in doing so. A dozen people were identified and arrested for their participation in the destruction of university property."

Second, State Rep. Stephen Green of Berlin introduced a bill last year designed to address the First Amendment issue at hand. H. 379 "proposes to prohibit any governmental body from compelling the news media to divulge a source, while providing limited protection to the media with regard to news and information obtained in the course of official news gathering."

H. 379 received no, repeat, no media interest, according to Green.

And, third, State's Attorney Bob Simpson, we've learned, has a rather interesting past. After he got out out of the Army, Bob was -- get this -- a reporter at the Times Argus for a few years (1972-1974). He covered everything from sports to the Montpeculiar City Council.

And it gets worse: His wife was a reporter, too!

Surely, next year the legislature will take a close look at the loss of press freedom in the Green Mountains?

McMullen Burned -- Yours truly got wind of it just before the great vacation kicked in. Sources told us a car owned by the former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jack McMullen had been torched in South Burlington. In fact, we were told, McMullen's car had also been vandalized -- its side windows busted out -- several days earlier while parked on a residential street near the Burlington Airport. The word was, McMillions parked on a side street to avoid paying airport parking fees.

McMullen confirmed both incidents this week.

Jack told "Inside Track" he had indeed parked his 1993 Dodge Intrepid on Dumont Avenue, apparently the closest free parking to the check-in counter, while on an out-of-town trip.

"It's legal parking," said the former Republican candidate. "I've done it before on occasion." Added Jack, blaming his Scottish heritage, "I guess frugality didn't work." Not bad for a guy with a reported net worth in the range of $20 million, eh?

A few days later, the Intrepid was vandalized. Since the owner wasn't reachable, police had it towed to Spillane's (recently purchased by Ambassador and former GOP state senate hopeful Skip Vallee).

When Jack returned, he had it towed to the lower level of the parking garage on Dorset Street behind Barnes & Noble. The following morning, August 6, shortly after 5 a.m., the call came in to the South Burlington Fire Department.

It was a total loss. Kind of like Mr. McMullen's political career, eh?

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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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