Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Have you Seen Our Governor?

Today I choose another day-in-the-life of our “never stay in one place too long” Governor. The day is tomorrow, Thursday December 6. The Governor will be in Brattleboro all day.

His schedule will look something like this:

7:00 a.m. -- Hop into the trusty Impala (which gets 26 miles to the gallon) and drive the 105 miles to Brattleboro.

9:30 a.m . -- New Chapter, Inc. Tour, Technology Drive, Brattleboro

12:30 p.m. -- “Fostering Our Vermont” Symposium and Lunch, New England Youth
Theatre, Flat Street, Brattleboro

5:30 p.m. -- Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce/Chittenden Bank Holiday Mixer,
Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Vernon Street, Brattleboro

7:00 p.m . -- Hop into the trusty Impala (21 State/31 Highway) and drive the 105 miles back to Middlebury

Again, the Governor will have spent an admirable amount of time driving around the state, almost 5 hours. There is no question he is working hard, but is he working smarter for Vermonters? Is this a new management technique-MBBA(Management By Being Away)? Add to that the weak cell phone coverage in the areas he is traveling . . .that phone he was waving around at the State of the State address must have special powers!

Second there is the issue of all that down time between events. Is he making fundraising calls? Speaking with the President on matters of state? Urging Skip Vallee to run for Lt Governor? Vermonters need to know.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bucket List

Bucket List

I just saw the previews for a new movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called “The Bucket List.” The premise is that before you die or kick the bucket you need to make a list of do all the things you’d like to do in life before you “kick the bucket.” Part of my list includes taking my wife on a grand tour of Europe, riding my bike across the US and getting a Democratic governor for the Vermont, but I digress.

Governor Douglas has been a governor for three terms and prior to that the Secretary of State, a state legislator, Auditor and candidate for US Senate. He will soon reach the end o f this remarkable run as a bureaucrat, so I thought it might be worthwhile to help him set his agenda, (his bucket list) before the end of his time in elected office.

I thought I would ask my readers to create a “bucket list” for Governor Jim Douglas.

Here are a couple of things to get it started.

-A real energy policy that includes a 10-20 year plan for how Vermonters are going to heat their homes get to their jobs, school etc, light their homes and all those other needs that we have for energy.

-Stop saying “no” for one week.

-An equitable plan on taxes

-Find the beauty in bi-partisanship

I am looking forward to reading your additions to the Governor’s bucket list.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Good Writing-Good Listening

I am not a particularly good writer, but I know good writing when I read it. After years of reading the Burlington Free Press, I was directed to the Rutland Herald Editorial Page. Frankly, I was humbled -- the writing was insightful, fresh and interesting, all of which are traits that are in short supply at the Burlington Free Press.

The Burlington Free Press editorial on the proposed merger between Verizon and Unicel is a prime example.(

Most of the information and commentary is reworked press releases. The opinions echo what US Senator Sanders said at his press conference.

Since this is a blog on Governor Douglas’s travels around the state, I thought I would use two recent Rutland Herald editorials which clearly highlight the high level of commentary.

Climate Action

This editorial cuts right to the heart of the matter. Governor Douglas knows we have a problem with our environment; he has even in his own half-hearted way begun to do something about it, but it highlights the fact that Governor Douglas clearly has selective hearing. It is one thing to talk about high taxes keeping businesses away, but no snow, no leaves and no recent college graduates will do the same thing.

Echo Chamber

This editorial really speaks to the inherent problem with Governor Douglas’s “listening tours”. If you travel around the state and limit the attendance at this events to supporters, then you aren't really listening, but gathering people in a room to tell you what you want to hear.

The Governor publishes his schedule. Click on the link to the right. If he is in your area, go and ask him about climate change, telecommunications etc and what he is going to do about it. Maybe his hearing will get better.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Maybe Ribbon Cutting is not Cutting It

As Vermonters we are lucky -- we have all the amenities a small state can offer, including less political polling per week than almost any other states in the United States. In other words, savvy out-of-state pollsters are not asking us every day how we feel about this presidential candidate or gubernatorial candidate and thus ruining our harmony.

That is, until earlier this week WCAX and Research 2000 conducted a poll and ran amok among those feelings of calm and quiet. Today those feeling of calm and quiet may solely belong to the Democrats. Governor Douglas, in the midst of his ribbon-cutting frenzy, may have to face the fact that his formerly high approval ratings and re-election numbers are moving in the wrong direction.

A recent poll conducted by WCAX and Research 2000 with 400 Vermonters has shaken his world. A couple of things to note about this poll before I discuss Governor Douglas’s nightmare: the poll of 400 likely voters has a 95% degree of confidence and poll numbers are correct within at +/- 5% degree of accuracy.

In short, what this means for Jim Douglas is that he is positive 95% of the time that between 37% and 47% of Vermonters will reelect him to be Governor.

Why should the Governor be nervous?

-If Jim Douglas does not receive over 50% of the vote the legislature gets to decide. Note that is a democratically-controlled legislature.

-He cannot compare apples to oranges because the poll was done without a clear Democratic contender. And, last time Scudder Parker was in the race and running hard.

-Matt Dunne is a clear favorite and a well-known as a tenacious campaigner.

Now the Governor has countered that his internal polling says otherwise, that he is still widely popular and beloved, but frankly he lost all credibility when he quoted the 550 people he talked to during one of his trips around the state as proof that he is headed in the right direction. As any market researcher will tell you, this is purely anecdotal and not scientific.

How is the ribbon cutting working now, Governor?

Monday, October 29, 2007

On the Road Again

This blog is based solely on the premise that I believe that the Governor is spending more time on the road cutting ribbons than he is doing the people’s business. So today I set out to prove (or disprove) this premise.

I have randomnly selected a day in the life of Governor Douglas, Friday November 2.

According to his web site his schedule is as follows:

Friday, November 2, 2007
8:30 a.m. Ethan Allen Facility Tour, Railroad Avenue, Orleans
10:00 a.m. Orleans Elementary School/NASA Partnership Ceremony and Reception, School Street, Orleans
6:00 p.m. Vermont Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, Hilton Burlington, Battery Street, Burlington

The schedule bears a closer look, so armed with a Google map lets fill in the blanks:

5:55 am Governor leaves Middlebury in state car driven by State Police. If he uses the same Google directions I did and his driver obeys the speed limit the trip should take 2 hour and 35 minutes.

8:30 am Ethan Allen Facility Tour, Railroad Ave, Orleans. The tour will take approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. This leaving him 10 minutes to drive to Orleans Elementary School

10:00 am Orleans Elementary School -- assuming he spends the requisite 90 minutes there.

11:30 am Governor leaves Orleans and drives the 1 hour and 20 minutes back to Montpelier.

1:00 pm Lunch, while the lunch is not officially on the schedule. In the Governor business if you eat lunch you are lunch.

5:00 pm The Governor logs some serious office time-4 hours after logging about 4 hours and 5 minutes of driving.

5:00 Governor leaves for Burlington for the Vermont Farm Bureau and drives 45 minutes

6:00pm Vermont Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

7:30 pm Governor Leaves Burlington and drives 1 hour

8:30 pm Arrives Home

While I would be the first person to say that this is a long day and there might be a good justification to one of these events, Governor Douglas was elected to put long days in at the office trying to solve Vermont’s most pressing problems -- such as the environment.

Normally, if he restricted his driving to commute to Montpelier from his home in Middlebury the round trip is 3 hours. His schedule calls for almost twice that amount of road time to events that are of dubious importance in solving the state’s most pressing problems and keeping his promises.

This is a typical day for the Governor. Call his office and ask him to put in a full 8 hours at his desk like the people he has been elected to serve.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jim Douglas "The Promise Keeper" ?

One of my readers asked “I was just wondering this morning whatever happened to the e-State initiative. What concrete steps have been taken to realize this dream?”

Well I decided to look into it. What has the Governor done to realize his dream of an e-state. His detailed plan is described in detail here:

During the 2007 session the Vermont Legislature created the Vermont Telecommunications Authority. The mission of the authority is described by Tim Murray in a piece on the Department of Information and Innovation website.

Both of these documents detail out what needs to be done, but has anything besides the creation the Vermont Telecommunications Authority really been done? Is the Vermont Telecommunications Authority going to end up like the Vermont Opportunity Fund that the Governor promised four years ago?

The governor needs to deliver on his promises. Taxes are not keeping businesses away, but the lack of a real telecommunications infrastructure is. They are not coming because they cannot get a reliable telecommunications with enough band width to run their companies.

This lack of real leadership on the part of the Governor has forced cities and towns all over the state to research building their own telecommunications infrastructure. Not only are we facing a digital divide from outside our state’s borders but we are creating a case of broadband have and have nots, right here at home. If the Governor Douglas does not stop cutting ribbons and start leading Vermont will not make progress for the future.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Succeeding by Helping Others Succeed

This is a motto that Jim Douglas is not even remotely familiar.

The Burlington Free Press did a great review of all the candidates who endorsed Barack Obama at a recent Burlington event, but noted that if any of them gave money it did not show up on the reporting sites. One comment said that these sites do not list donors of less than $200 which is true.

The blog did set me to thinking. What about Governor Douglas? Who is he supporting? Who is he giving to?

Well if you go or any of the other reporting sites. You will find that Douglas supports no one not Bush, not event fellow Republican governor Bobby Jindhal. If money is the lifeblood of politics, then Douglas is cutting the supplies to his allies. Maybe he gives less than $200, and maybe he does not.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Governor's Schedule

I have posted the link to the Governor's schedule so that you can find out what ribbons the Governor will be cutting next. Frankly I use the term cutting ribbons very loosely. "Cutting Ribbons" refers to any activity that the Governor undertakes that looks more like a reason for the Governor to be out and about.

Once you start to really look into his schedule there are a couple of things that really grab your attention.

The first is how does the lay person differentiate between a political/campaign stop and his work as Governor. Admittedly this has been a gray area for incumbents since the first elected office back when our pols wore togas instead of suits. Does a ribbon cutting at a gas station really constitute a political exercise or a recognition of the entrepreneur who raised the money to build the station and will be manning the pumps?

The second is the schedule shows the Governor is out and about, all over the state which begs the question when does he actually have time to work. Some of that work might include : meeting with his party leaders in the house and senate as well as with the majority leader to work on important aspects health care, tax reform etc.

The third and final question would be: "Where is the beef." I am sure all of wanderings are very important, but I want to know when he is meeting with house and senate leadership, talking with the Commissioners about issues facing all Vermonters.

We know that Governor Douglas is a good politician, but Vermonters need a great leader.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Governor Douglas at Press Conference

Here is a commentary by Peter Freyne on Governor Douglas's press conference.


Wireless vs Fiber Optic

Remember when the Governor waved around his phone at the state of the union saying we were all going to go digital by 2010. Well Governor while you were off cutting ribbons and driving the back roads of Vermont. Cities like Burlington are creating their own broadband infrastructure with organizations like Burlington Telecom .

Burlington Telecom is doing it with fiber optic meaning that these towns and cities will have download(and upload) speeds similar to Japan and S. Korea. Good fast broadband means jobs(not service job but high tech jobs). Cities like St Albans have a real shot at revitalization with true high speed internet not just wireless which at its best is slow and unreliable.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Where in the heck is Governor Douglas

This is my first attempt at a blog, but if you are like most Vermonters you wonder what Governor Douglas does all day. We know he has an official schedule more on that later, we know he cuts ribbons and does that once a week press conference with the mainstream press, but what does he do the rest of the day.

Does he eat lunch alone at his desk, long walks with his wife in the Middlebury country side, hard nose strategy discussions with his growing number of state paid pr flacks?

This is a chance for all Vermonters to join me to give their thoughts on what Jim Douglas is doing today for Vermonters. Is he cutting a ribbon at a gas stations? Wandering the hills of Vermont or contemplating his legacy.

If you want to comment on Jim Douglas as governor, have a Jim Douglas sighting or have suggestions about how he can make Vermont better let us know.