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?