Friday, December 5, 2008

Next Meeting: Holiday Party! Thursday, December 11th (5:30pm - 7:00pm)

Hi All,

Hope you can join us for a Northfield Democrats Holiday party/monthly meeting at the home of Christopher Curtis and Abby White (309 South Main Street in Northfield) on Thursday evening, December 11th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

We'll provide non-alcoholic beverages and some light snacks. If you would like to bring an appetizer and/or a holiday treat, please feel free.

We'll re-cap our activities for the year, talk about plans for next year and we're doing a food drive for CERV, so please bring non-perishable food items to donate.

We are also taking donations to help defray the costs of the mailing we did just before the election.

Hope you can join us!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote!

Tomorrow is election day. Should be a great day for Democrats everywhere. But it doesn't happen without YOU.

V-O-T-E!

For a little election day fun, you can check out my predictions on the presidential race, and the balance of power in Congress - and make your own.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Douglas Lacks Business Experience

More letters from Northfield Democrats... check out this gem from Gordon Bock published in the Times Argus. Gordon points out the Governor's lack of any experience in the private sector. Douglas has spent 30 years as a bureaucrat with little or no real-world experience to his credit. Thanks for your letter, Gordon. Here's an excerpt:

“(S)erving (his words, not mine) the people of Vermont for more than 30 years. Elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1972 … in 1979 … become(s) a top aide to Governor Richard Snelling … elected Secretary of State … elected State Treasurer … served as Treasurer until his inauguration as Governor in 2003.”

Hmm … nothing about Douglas’ ever having bothered to try working in the private sector, much less attempting to make a go of it as an entrepreneur. It is easy to criticize how someone runs a business when you have no concept of what that is actually like - having to deal with budgets, taxes, government regulations and legalities, sales and marketing, payroll, personnel, production, profitability.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Are you better off now...?


Today's Free Press contains an op-ed I recently submitted about how we are not better off now than we were before the Republicans took over the presidency and the governorship in Vermont. You can check it out here.

Thanks to everyone who helped out with our mailing. If you received a "get out the vote" postcard and are just coming to this website, please get involved. While this election is now in the homestretch we want to be planning ahead for Town Meeting Day and future elections, too. We need your help. Please get in touch by emailing me, or by writing to:

Northfield Democrats
P.O. Box 41
Northfield, VT 05663

Change is coming!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Letter: Moore has needed energy

This letter was written in support of Laura Moore's candidacy for State Senate in Washington County by our very own Carolyn Stevens. It appeared in the Times Argus on October 21st.

I also submitted a letter in support of Democrats generally, and specifically for Barack Obama, Gaye Symington, and Rep. Maxine Grad. You can read it here.

********************************************************

Laura Moore, candidate for state senator from Washington County, has caught my attention with her energy and dedication. Her experience in environmental issues, combined with her well-grounded, practical experience as a working mother and Chairwoman of the Barre Town School Board, have prepared her to deal with the difficult issues that will face the senate this year in a realistic and responsible way. Economic development, education funding, health care, clean, safe, and reliable energy, the environment - all are critical to making this state both affordable and livable for Vermonters.

Laura will be a valuable addition to the state Senate as they work on these challenges, and will work to bring a new and creative perspective to Montpelier.

We can do better than relive the past. We must. Laura Moore is ready to join Ann Cummings in the Senate, to work toward a better future. I urge my neighbors and friends to vote for healthy, energetic change, in this year of change and hope.

Carolyn G. Stevens
Northfield

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Powell Endorses Obama

Talk about "putting country first"... Gen. Colin Powell did so today by endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for President. This is perhaps the best 7-minute summary of why Obama is the right candidate at the right time.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Meet Your Legislators!

Aaron Rhodes sent this recent notice. Turn out to support Rep. Maxine Grad and to let both Rep. Grad and Rep. Donahue know what YOUR priorities are for the next legislative session!

***********************
NOTICE

The Northfield Boards of Town Selectmen, Village Trustees, and School Directors will hold a Tri-Board Meeting on Monday, November 17, 2008, at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room located in the Brown Public Library (93 South Main Street).

All interested Northfield residents are encouraged to attend. Northfield's state legislators also have been invited to attend this meeting.

This will be an opportunity for Northfield residents to voice their views on what should be the priorities of the upcoming legislative session.

For more information, please contact Municipal Manager Nanci Allard at 485-6121

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Support Gaye Symington! Help Needed At Barre Debate on 10/2!

IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO VOLUNTEERS FROM THE SYMINGTON CAMPAIGN:
***************
Hi all,


We have a debate coming up in the crucial swing-town of Barre VT. It's sponsored by the Builders association and other business groups that have been Douglas-friendly before. But Gaye has said right from the start that this election is about going after moderate business groups - and that's what we're going to do!

Best of all I have FREE TICKETS to next Thursday's debate, so you can join us if you RSVP in time. I need 50 people to join us in the crowd, and as many as possible to join us before the debate holding signs and banners and otherwise being visible in the park and in front of the post office. Please forward this email and bring friends

Here are the details:

When: Thursday October 2
5-pm meet by the post office for visibility set up
Debate starts at 6pm
Where: Barre Opera House (map)
Who: Gaye Symington, Jim Douglas, Anthony Pollina and YOU!


FOR DETAILS AND TO RESERVE TICKETS - email drew hudson.
Thanks!
Drew Hudson
Field Director
802-272-9763

Obama's TKO...

Friday's debate between Barack Obama and John McCain was anything but decisive.

Still, polls and pundits are giving the edge to Obama because he passed the "presidential fitness" test (that is: can you picture this person as President of the United States), and because of the Wall Street meltdown that has left Republicans holding the bag after a decade of deregulation and letting the robberbarons rule the roost. It also helped, perhaps that McCain came off like something of a Grumpy Gramps by not even bringing himself to look Obama in the eye, and adopting a condescending tone in his analysis of Obama's ability.

On the issues, the fundamental question voters must ask themselves this year is a version of Ronald Regan's famous question in his first debate with Jimmy Carter in 1980: Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?

For the vast majority of Americans the answer is a resounding "No!"

Based on their responses to the economic crisis at the debate and how voters responded to their answers, it appears that most Americans realize that Obama's vision of tax cuts for the middle class and regulating the financial markets is the best opportunity to get our country back on the right track.

There were no knockouts at the debate, probably no memorable lines, even. But it appears that in passing the "presidential fitness" test, by appealing to the voters on Main Street, and by appearing more empathetic Obama scored a much needed TKO.

September 27 Meeting

Thanks to all who came out to Village Pizza (formerly the Red Kettle) for the 9am Northfield Democrats meeting.

We discussed a GOTV mailing... and making it a postcard with email and/or website information.
Please note per others' suggestions, I've added links to the Obama, Symington and Costello campaigns.

Finally, we discussed sending in letters to the editor supporting our Democratic candidates and Democrats' plans for turning the economy around, etc.

Please send your letters to the Northfield News and the Times Argus.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Next Meeting: Saturday, July 26, 2008

See you all at 9am at Common Cafe!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Grad Announces Re-Election Bid

Northfield Democrats were delighted to welcome Rep. Maxine Grad to our last committee meeting. She detailed some of her accomplishments from this past session, and outlined her hopes for areas to build on in the future. We are lucky to have her representing us at the Statehouse.

Her announcement for re-election follows below.

CC
******************

Maxine Grad of Moretown announces her re-election campaign seeking a fifth term for state representative for the district representing Moretown, Northfield, and Roxbury. “I am proud of my accomplishments and want to do more to help keep Vermonters safe, healthy, and help our communities thrive.” Her accomplishments have been recognized throughout her five terms of service.

Grad’s impressive record marks her as an advocate for public safety, crime victims, children and youth, and veterans. As the Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Grad was a leader on landmark public safety laws that strengthened prevention, investigation, sentencing, and treatment of sex offenders, and expanded the community sex-offender registry. This past session Grad provided leadership on the rewriting of Vermont’s juvenile and child abuse laws. Grad championed the passage of a law that will grant the public greater access to criminal records. Vulnerable adults’ safety will now be better protected due to Grad’s leadership on a law that criminalizes abuse and neglect of the elderly and disabled adults. "On any issue relating to public safety, Representative Grad has been an unwavering and compassionate advocate for the needs of Vermonters and communities impacted by crime. Her leadership on initiatives to protect children, the elderly and vulnerable adults have been particularly impressive" stated Jennifer Poehlmann, Esq. Director of Public Policy, Vermont Center For Crime Victims Services.

Grad’s strong advocacy for crime victims was recently recognized by the Vermont Center for Crime Victims Services and Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. Grad received the Legislative Leadership Award for her work last session that led to laws on voyeurism, stalking, sexual assault, and crimes against minors. “Victims and survivors of violent crime are so fortunate to have an ally like Representative Grad in the legislature. Her compassion, wisdom and experience make such a difference in crafting smart, tough laws and policies related to domestic and sexual violence. From preventing domestic violence to improving the sex offender registry and protecting kids from abuse, she has consistently been a leader in championing the rights and safety of victims of crime - and we can't thank her enough!” stated Sarah Kenney Public Policy Coordinator VT Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

“As a mother and policy maker, children’s health and safety is a priority to me,” says Grad, who was named legislator of the year in 2002 by the Vermont Children’s Forum. Grad has been recognized as a leader on teen highway safety issues. She was the lead sponsor of a bill that strengthened Vermont’s child restraint law. Grad was lead sponsor of a bill that supports breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. “When we support working women, we are supporting, children, employers, and contributing to a sustainable workforce.” Grad, last session helped secure funds for the Northfield based parent-infant support and resource group Good Beginnings of Central Vermont.

Grad is a strong advocate of local government and communities. She helped secure $100,000 last session for Roxbury to address the environmental and health issues caused by beaver dams. She also supported the Moretown selectboard and community leaders in gaining the designation of the Mad River Byway and continues to serve on the By-Way committee. She serves on committees addressing local issues such as the creation of Moretown Village sidewalks, participates in the Moretown Energy Group and has been a strong supporter of her district’s public libraries.

“The transfer of the National Guard Armory to Norwich University and securing funding for Vermont Environmental Consortium hosted by Norwich University are other accomplishments I am especially thrilled about. Norwich is an economic engine in Northfield that plays a key role in the health of the community,” declared Grad.

Grad is known as an effective leader in public safety. As lead sponsor, Grad worked closely with the Northfield Ambulance Service and Moretown Fire Department and the Vermont Police Association to pass a law that protects ambulance, police, and fire personnel while acting in the line of duty. Northfield Ambulance Volunteers gave Grad an award for her commitment to public safety and named her as an honorary advisory board member. “Grad has been at the forefront of the public safety effort for many years. Her positions on highway safety and criminal matters are always based on a good deal of thought. She is a proven leader in Montpelier, with proven results” says Carolyn Fredette, President Vermont Police Association.

Grad’s efforts to honor veterans were recognized when she received a citation from the Military Order of the Purple Heart for her work establishing the Vermont Purple Heart Trail. She sponsored legislation that expanded scholarships for children of National Guard members who died while in active duty, and helped secure extra funding for the Veteran’s medal program. Grad pledged to continue her support for veterans, “I will re-introduce legislation that will exempt military retirement pay from income tax. Our veterans are a key component to our workforce, and we are losing highly qualified veterans to other states who have such benefits.”

Grad is recognized for her strong constituent work. “Maxine Grad knows how to "represent" and that is what it's all about! She listens to my concerns, responds thoughtfully, communicates effectively and seeks my opinion. On top of that, she genuinely cares about the people she is representing. What more could you ask for?” stated Doreen Allen, banker and long-time central Vermont resident.

“If re-elected I look forward to continuing my support for enhancing our public safety, better access to health care, lower property taxes, economic development, environmental protection, children, and youth issues. These are the elements needed to help our communities thrive,” Grad vowed.

Grad is a Mad River By-Way Committee member, board member of the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont, Northfield Rotary Club member, board member of Mayo Health Care, Inc. She served a Northfield Recycling Volunteer, member of the Friends of the Mad River board of directors, contributing writer and editor of Moretown Matters, member of the Moretown Community Activities Committee, and Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Women.

CONTACT: Rep. Maxine Grad, 496-4244, maxjg@wcvt.com

Freeman and Costello Announce for Lt. Governor: Dubie Auditioning for General Hospital?

Northfield's own Nate Freeman has announced his candidacy for Lt. Governor. Hot on his heels, another Democrat, Tom Costello, of Brattleboro has also jumped in the race. A primary to get the word out about two strong challengers to incumbent Brian Dubie, is probably a good thing.

Check out the Times Argus story on Nate's announcement.

You can also check out his campaign website, here.

Tom Costello hasn't made his formal announcement, but he has definitively said he will run.

Is it possible that just as with this year's presidential candidates we have an embarrassment of riches in the Lt. Governor's race? Better late than never!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Next Meeting: Saturday, June 21st!

Our next meeting is this Saturday at 9:00 a.m.

Please join us at the home of Denise MacMartin, 43 Traverse Street (just off Vine Street) in Northfield.

Agenda:

1) Approval of Minutes
2) House Races
3) Mailing to Northfield Democratic Primary Voters
4) Fundraising
5) Adjourn

Hope to see you all there!

Monday, May 26, 2008

State Convention Diary

Last Saturday, May 24, 2008, hundreds of Vermont Democrats flocked to Barre from the far corners of the state. The reason? The Democratic State Convention from which national delegates to the National Democratic Convention in Denver were to be selected.

For the first time in recent memory, Northfield sent a hale and hearty contingent to the state convention: Carolyn and John Stevens, Denise MacMartin, Brad and Mary Denny, Aaron and Sonya Rhodes all joined me to cast our votes for the national delegate slate. You can read about the convention in yesterday's Times Argus.
Elected to go to Denver as delegates representing Vermont for the National Democratic Convention were:
Obama delegates: Rachel Weston Carolyn Dwyer Daria MonDesire Arshad Hasan Taylor Bates Philip Baruth Alternates: Michael Gaffney & Mary Sullivan

Clinton delegates: Madeleine Kunin Don Hooper Michael Pieciak Beth Robinson Alternate: Nancy Richardson
Below are some of the photos of the event:
Denise MacMartin, Christopher Curtis, and Carolyn Stevens enter the convention hall.
Aaron Rhodes gets into the swing of things on the Convention floor.
Rep. Mark Larsen, State Chairman Ian Carleton, and Chris Curtis at the Convention.


Vermont's Secretary of State, Deb Markowitz!

Former Secretary of State and Clinton Delegate, Don Hooper with former Speaker of the House, Rep. Michael Obuchowski of Bellows Falls. Hooper was elected a national delegate and will be going to Denver as one of the delegates representing Clinton's share of Vermont's votes.

Dr. Deb Richter, single-payer health care champion confers with former State Senate candidate Tim Palmer.

Friday, May 23, 2008

State Convention: Saturday, May 24, 2008

Below is the draft agenda for Saturday's Convention. Thanks to our delegates for attending (those of you who can). I look forward to seeing you all there. Let's plan to meet at 8:30am outside the main entrance to the civic center. If you need directions to the Civic Center, just go to the Vermont Democrats website.

There has been some discussion about carpooling, but as the weekend arrives I understand more and more people have family/travel/other obligations. If you do need or want to carpool, please send me an individual email and we can see about carpool options.

Thank you, and see you soon. For those of you not attending the State Convention, enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend!

DRAFT AGENDA
2008 Vermont Democratic Convention
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Barre Civic Center, Barre, Vermont
________________________________________
7:30am Volunteer Briefing

8:30am Delegate Registration Opens—Convention Hall
Meeting of Rules, Procedures and Credentials Committee

9:00am Call to Order: Ian Carleton, State Chair
Remarks: U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy
Remarks: Senator Peter Shumlin
Report from the 2008 State Convention Rules, Procedures and
Credentials Committee
Convention Chair, Ian Carleton, assumes duties

10:30am Delegate registration closes

10:45am Presidential Preference Sub-Caucuses Convene
Election of District Delegates and Alternates
Obama—Location: On the main floor—Convener: Chuck Ross
Clinton—Location: Downstairs — Convener: Billi Gosh

12:15pm LUNCH –Box lunches are available downstairs

12:15pm Young Democrats Meeting – Planning for Elections & Election of Officers.

1:15pm Convention Reconvenes—Convention Hall
Remarks: U.S. Congressman Welch
Remarks: Speaker Gaye Symington
Remarks: Former DNC Chair Joe Andrews
Remarks: Governor Madeline May Kunin
Announcement of District Delegate and Alternates results
Election of National Committeeman & National Committeewoman
Remarks: Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz
Remarks: State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding
Remarks: Attorney General Bill Sorrell

3:00pm Consideration of Resolutions

4:30pm Adjournment
________________________________________________________

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Police Station Vote Coming Up!

Aaron Rhodes is doing his part...



... have you put your lawnsign up yet?!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Next Meeting: Saturday, April 26th @ 9:00 am - Common Cafe

Hi Folks,

A friendly reminder that our next meeting is coming up. We're hoping that Rep. Maxine Grad will be on hand to meet everyone, to hear from you, and perhaps to give an update on what's cooking in the legislature.

It will also be the morning after the Curtis Awards with Keynote Speaker, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut). Should be a great evening, and no doubt there will be reports from the event.

See you all soon!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Northfield Delegates Selected for State Convention

Northfield Democrats caucused at the Common Cafe this Saturday morning, March 22, 2008. We joined our fellow Democrats around the state meeting up to decide who will represent our town at the Vermont Democratic State Convention on May 24, 2008. Delegates to the State Convention will elect delegates to the National Convention August 25-28 of 2008.

Based on voting results at Town Meeting Day, Northfield is entitled to 14 total delegates to the State Convention: 8 for Sen. Obama; 6 for Sen. Clinton.

Members of the Northfield Town Committee met for an hour Saturday morning and elected the following slate of delegates:

Obama Delegates: Denise MacMartin, Carolyn Stevens, Brad Denny, Mary Denny, Aaron Rhodes, Christopher Curtis

Clinton Delegates: Mike Kerin, Sonya Rhodes, John Stevens, Siobhan Smith

Our delegate selection sheets will be filled out and returned to the State Democratic Party and we will be seated at the State Convention for the first time in recent memory. Congratulations to our delegates!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Town Meeting Day!

** Cross-posted at Exit Voices. Worth checking out to post your own town meeting day stories.

*******************

Just finished up Northfield Town Meeting. My son’s first town meeting day (he’s just 5 months old)! Felt great giving him a front-row seat to democracy in action.

Most items passed without much debate. The exception? A proposal to establish a $500 fund for picnic tables at recreational areas in town. Small town democracy at its finest!

I was particularly pleased that the town voted in favor of establishing a conservation commission, something a small, dedicated band has worked on for about a year now. They’ve already secured some grant funding for surveys of the Dog River and trail- work on Payne Mountain. Commission status will boost their grant potential for other projects in the future.

It’ll be interesting, too, to see how the other big items fare: There’s a ballot item for a new police station, and of course the school budget. The former went down last time, but there is renewed interest b/c of the building’s dilapidated condition; the latter is almost always a close, 50-50 vote with one side or another eeking out enough to carry the day (followed by a series of re-votes, ugh!).

Rep. Anne Donahue was there… so was Sen. Bill Doyle. Didn’t see any other political glitterati, however.

I was pleased to see most members of our Democratic Town Committee were present for the meeting.

Wonder how much a meaningful, contested primary this year boosted town meeting attendance. It would be interesting to find out. Do people just turn out to vote? Or, do they stick around to discuss the details with their neighbors at the town meeting? What do you think? Anybody else observe greater numbers at the meeting? I’m sure the overall vote tallies will be substantially higher - probably record numbers.

As for a wish list item for the ballot, here’s mine: One thing I would love to see is the elimination of the recall rule. It requires a legislative fix, but currently Northfield voters can overturn a result by getting a small number of petitioners to call for a re-vote (think it’s 5 or 10%, or something). This means that even when we get a majority vote, a tiny minority can call it back and rely on a much smaller turnout the second time around (because special elections frequently have smaller turnout either because folks don’t know, or forget a special vote is happening, or because there aren’t other elections/candidates/ballot items to bring people out to the polls). This happens frequently when we do happen to pass the school budget. It’s a real thwarting of democracy, and a deceptive way to go about doing town business.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Obama in Vermont?

According to the Washington Post, Sen. Barack Obama is taking time out of his Texas/Ohio schedule to campaign in both Rhode Island and Vermont. Here's what the Post had to say:

"In a testament to the importance being placed on every state and delegate in the hard-fought Democratic contest, the candidate will take time away from Texas and Ohio to stump in this state as well as in Vermont, which will also hold a primary on Tuesday."

Anyone else out there have any information on this?

Friday, February 29, 2008

G-O(Bama)-T-V

Thanks to everyone who turned out for our snow-covered meeting on Wednesday night. Special thanks to Emily Polak and Ben Palkowski, our guests. If anyone would like Obama materials please contact me as Emily left some for us at the meeting.

Just received this message from Matthew Lesser, one of Obama's Vermont staffers:

The Obama Campaign needs volunteers to get out the vote in the last 72 hours of the campaign. These last 72 hours are absolutely crucial to the campaign's success, as we will be working to make sure our supporters turn out. If you have any time at all on Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday we can use your help. Volunteers will be assembling at 10am. We need volunteers for our Barre and Montpelier offices.
If you are interested in volunteering in the Barre Office, please call Matt Lesser at 802-881- 4961. The Barre Office is located in Martin & Associates, at 104 N. Main Street in Barre City.

If you are interested in volunteering in the Montpelier Office, please call Emily Polak at 603-521-5588. The Montpelier Office is located above That's Life Soup, at 41 Elm Street in Montpelier.

We really appreciate the strong support we've received in Northfield, and just need to make sure we have the volunteers on hand to win the election.

Best, Matt
Matthew Lesser
Washington County (VT) Organizer
Obama for America
41 Elm Street, Second Floor Montpelier
(802) 881 4921

****************
If anyone has information from, or about the Clinton camp, I welcome it. I got a phone call from one of their staff people, but have not heard back. I post this because the Obama folks have reached out to us, but I am sure there are folks in town supporting Hillary Clinton and I welcome submissions, or posts, or other information that could help her camp before Tuesday. CC

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Legislative Update by Rep. Maxine Grad

Here is Rep. Maxine Grad's most recent Legislative Update:

Committee Work:

H.859 An Act Relating to Increasing Substance Abuse Treatment. We are looking at this bill from the Institutions and Corrections committee. This would create a pilot project for court ordered substance abuse screening of those accused of a crime. The questions we addressed are: should this screening should be mandatory from the court, voluntary, and at what point in the judicial process? For example, should it be prior to conviction for use in pleas bargaining or should it be post conviction to use only for sentencing purposes. The Court Administrators office would like to see a screening project used early in the process to get people identifiend, the help they need and divert them from the court process. Therefore, the Court Administrator wants to consider if a judge should have the authority to mandate at arraignment if screening can be a condition of release into the community.

Probate Judges, Sherriffs and Deputy States Attorneys and Constable Qualifications

We voted out a bill that would require a candidate for probate judge to be an attorney admitted to practice in Vermont at time of election; a deputy state’s attorney and assistant attorney generals be an attorney admitted to practice in Vermont at time of appointment; and constables and sheriff meet minimun training standards established at the Vermont criminal justice training council parior to exercinsing law enfoecemnt authority. Elected officials who are in office on the effective date of the act are grandfathered. Currently, there are no sitting sheriffs who are not trained.

The bill originally did not include probate judges. However, the president of the probate association asked that the judges be added.

Constables were also not included, but my committee received requests from those in the law enforcement community, municipalities, and the constable association asking us to require that constables have law enforcement training if they are to engage in law enforcement duties.

We received the following email testimony that was read into the record.

The first is from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns:

“Representative Lippert had asked if we supported requiring law enforcement training in order for elected constables to perform law enforcement responsibilities. We do support that requirement and our board of directors has voted to support the measure.

We are concerned that if an elected constable does perform a law enforcement activity for which he or she is not qualified, that the towns be protected from liability for his or her actions.”

From Colonel James W. Baker, Director, Vermont State Police:

“As the Director of the Vermont State Police I support the elimination of the training exemption for Constables and Sheriffs.

In the current environment that law enforcement operates in no person should be allowed to function as a law enforcement officer without a minimum amount of training.”

From R. J. Elrick, Executive Director, Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, Vermont Police Academy:

“I support the elimination of the current training exemption for elected law enforcement officers (Constables and Sheriffs). At present, the law makes training for Constables and Sheriffs "optional". In this day and age, it is unfathomable that we have individuals who may be performing law enforcement functions without requisite training and certification.
At a minimum, this creates the opportunity for tremendous liability to municipalities and the potential for unknowing violation of the rights of our citizens. The elimination of the last sentence in Section 2358 of Title 20 will be a huge step forward in furthering the
professionalism of the Office of Sheriff and Constable. If an individual is to perform law enforcement functions in our state, they should be held to the same basic training and certification standards.

I have personally spoken with the leadership of the following organizations who support this action:

Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police
Vermont Sheriffs' Association
Vermont State Police
Vermont Constable's Association
Vermont Police Association
Vermont League of Cities and Towns.”

Finally, from Nelson Tift, President Vermont Constables Association, President Rutland County Law Officers Association:

“I have spoken with the Elected officers, past president and several current members of The Vermont Constables Assoc. and we all favor the elimination of the current exemption of mandated training for elected constables, with the provision that there be a method in place that would insure that once Constables have completed the part one phase that there be in place a method for them to complete parts two and three. Currently it is nearly impossible, as few, if any agencies are will to field train personnel that are not hired for their department. This is largely due to liability, currently only one Vermont Constable is a certified FTO. Obviously the fact that the constable has only authority in his elected jurisdiction is also a problem in that if an agency in another town would be willing to take on the training, the constable would still not have enforcement powers in their town to work with their training officer. If these obstacles can be overcome, we would wholeheartedly support this move.”

We appreciated Mr. Tift’s testimony and determined through conversations with Mr. Elrick that we can resolve his concerns. We have also made the effective date of the bill 2010 to help people get trained and learn about the law.

We also continued our work on guardianship, juvenile proceedings, and lead in housing, and death certificates.

Please stay in touch. I look forward to seeing you at Town Meeting. 828-2228 or maxjg@wcvt.com

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Damn the Torpedoes Edition!

It's snowing... hard. Old Man Winter must be a Republican! But our efforts to meet will not be thwarted!

I've been following the storm and it appears that it will subside sometime late tomorrow afternoon. As a result, we are going to stick to our plan and try to squeak in a February meeting. I'm bringing the pizza.
Hope to see you all at the Brown Public Library from 6pm - 7:30pm tomorrow evening.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dodd to Keynote DWC Awards

The Vermont Democrats announced today that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) will headline this year's David W. Curtis Awards dinner on April 25th at the Hilton in Burlington. The annual fundraising event is Vermont Democrats' premier event and the biggest fundraiser of the year.

Quick, name three things you know about Chris Dodd! Well, you probably know he's a Senator for Connecticut. You probably know he was a recent presidential candidate; and you may even know he was widely supported by the firefighter's unions during that contest. All of the above are widely reported and were fairly recently in the news.

Here are three cool things about Dodd that maybe you didn't know:

1) He worked to ensure passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act ensuring that working families don't have to choose between their job and their family (he's now working to try to encourage that time off be paid time-off according to his Senate website) - as my wife and I recently had a baby I can attest to the importance of this federal protection;

2) He helped establish the "pay as you go" rules back in 1983 which ensured that any programs requiring budget increases enacted were disciplined by accompanying tax increases or budget cuts. It was this kind of fiscal discipline that enabled the Democrats and Bill Clinton to finally balance the federal budget, and later to begin an unprecedented era of budget surpluses (until the Bush Administration took a wrecking ball to their handiwork), and sound fiscal management. His work on this has helped to ensure that Democrats are now more trusted to handle economic matters than Republicans.

3) He served his Peace Corps stint in the Dominican Republic in Moncion, a tiny hamlet in the northwest part of the country. I traveled extensively in the D.R., living there between 1998 and 2000 and teaching 5th grade in Santo Domingo. But, I also lived in Santiago for awhile (the second largest city in the heart of the country), and traveled to that area up near Monte Cristi and Dajabon (the northwest crossing into Haiti). It's a fantastic, rugged country. Most folks associate it with the fine beaches, but I associate it more with the interior: miles of friendly people, rugged mountains (the highest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte - Just over 7,000 feet and named for the father of the country), and backpacking everywhere. It's a wonderful travel destination if you enjoy getting off the beaten path.

You can find out more about Sen. Dodd at his Senate website.
Should be a great night for Vermont Democrats. My dad would be delighted.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Next Meeting: Wednesday, February 27th @ 6pm

All Northfield Democrats are invited to participate in the next town committee meeting at the Brown Public Library next Wednesday, February 27th from 6pm - 7:30pm.

We'll be talking about our local legislative races. Our guest will be Ben Palkowski who heads up the Vermont Democratic Party House Campaign Committee. He'll give us the low-down on progress we're making statewide, and share information about upcoming events. Together we'll discuss recruiting efforts in our district.

Hope to see you there!

Obama Wins Wisconsin/Hawaii; Field Staff Reaches Out to Vermonters

Sen. Barack Obama continues to pick up big momentum ("Obamo-mentum?"). Last night he won his tenth consecutive primary victory over Sen. Clinton by winning the crucial states of Wisconsin (a primary) and Hawaii (a caucus state).

Coincidentally, I received a friendly phone call from Obama's Washington County field organizer the other day. She asked that I post the following information for folks who want to get involved:

Please join the Obama campaign over the next two weeks to help drum up as much support for Senator Obama in Vermont, and Washington County as possible. If you are able to help out at all, from making phone calls to knocking on doors, we need you. Every vote will matter, and we're eager to have as many Obama supporters at the Primary on March 4th as possible.

We will have an office in Montpelier at 41 Elm Street, Second Floor, and a phone banking location in Montpelier as well, though we can also email you some phone calls to make from home.

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Washington County Field Organizer, Emily Polak at (603) 521-5588 or by email at epolak@barackobama.com. You can also check out the campaign website for news and events, here.

We're looking forward to working with you!
**********
Note: don't be fooled by the New Hampshire exchange. Many of Sen. Obama's northeast region folks have been moving between New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.

UPDATE: Just found out there is a "grand opening" for Obama's Montpelier office. Details below.

Montpelier Obama for America Office Opening
Thursday, February 21st - 7 pm
41 Elm St., Second Floor (Above the Soup Restaurant)

All are welcome

I have not heard from any of Clinton's people, but the Times Argus reports they are having a news conference today to kick off their efforts.

Legislative Update by Rep. Maxine Grad

My committee continues to work on a number of complicated bills, many of which I have discussed before. I am glad we are taking the time to take full testimony, and engage in a thoughtful deliberative process. Here are some highlights of what we have been working on.

H.615 Juvenile Judicial Proceedings. We continue to wrestle with many policy decisions in this bill. Here we are making decisions about when a court finds that a child is in danger, how far can the state go in removing the child from the home and determining a placement for that child, whether it is temporary or permanent.

We have therefore spent the past two weeks on definitions of terms like parent, custodial parent, noncustodial parent, parent child contact, guardian, custodian, care provider, legal custody, and residual parental rights and responsibilities.

How we define these terms needs to recognize that families are very different these days, children may have meaningful relationships with adults other than their parents who could serve as a placement instead of foster care, and while a parent may not have been involved in a child’s life and may not have custodial rights to the child, that parent may be able to play a meaningful role in that child’s life if a court determines that the child should be removed from his or her current home.

Some of the most helpful testimony was from a law enforcement officer who has handled many of these cases. As some of us pushed to require notification to a number of people when the child is removed, she reminded us that often these situations occur at 3 AM and the first order of business is to get the child or children out of the situation and away from imminent harm.

H.636 An Act Relating to Embezzlement By A Public Official. This bill was introduced in response to the unfortunate instances of embezzlement and other crimes committed by town and county officials. As first introduced, the bill focused primarily on sheriffs, due to the recent events in Washington and other counties. However, as the League of Cities and Towns and others testified, there are other town officials like town clerks and town treasurers who have been indicted for crimes and should be held accountable.

One issue we have been looking at is if a court has found probable cause of embezzlement, should the court have the authority to remove or suspend or remove the officer pending the criminal investigation. My committee concluded the court should, if it finds that permitting the officer to maintain his or her official duties will result in harm to the public. We heard testimony that these cases result in an erosion of public trust and the integrity of the municipality or county must be upheld.

The League of Cities and Towns has legislative policy that would support legislation that addresses other crimes beyond embezzlement. There is also a Senate bill that would allow a town to appoint the town treasurer instead of having the treasurer an elected position.

H.267 Industrial Hemp. This bill passed out of House Agriculture Committee and was sent to my committee for review on matters such as crimes and penalties. This bill is a good illustration of why it is important for my committee to review proposed legislation before it gets consideration by the full House.

The bill as it passed out of the Agriculture committee stated that a person with a prior felony conviction is not eligible for licensure to growing industrial hemp. We discussed if it should be any felony or just a drug related felony. Also, a felony in Vermont is a crime punishable after two years in prison, while in most states it is one. We took testimony from a member of the Agriculture committee on these issues to understand the legislative intent and create a clear legislative record on these issues.

H.617 Guardianship. We continue look at revisions to our current law on court appointed guardians. Here, our challenge is balancing personal autonomy, capacity, and health. We had the opportunity to take testimony from Representative Anne Donahue on this bill. She represents a dissenting view from the working group that drafted the bill that we have been considering. Her testimony has been very helpful is raising issues of possible discrimination in the bill as drafted and other issues that have caused us to pause, take more time and testimony to fully consider these issues. The appointment of a guardian especially in terms of involuntary medical treatment can be a serious infringement of a person’s liberties and any legislation we pass must be mindful of this.

H.352 An Act Relating to Reducing Lead hazards in Housing. This bill has gone through House Committees on Housing and General Military Affairs, Human Services, and is now in my committee. Despite the findings on high lead exposure in children and the serious adverse health effects, our health department does not support this bill.

H.397 An Act Relating to Death Certificates. Here we are balancing the privacy rights of the deceased and family members and the public’s access to information. Proponents of this bill that would remove the cause of death from death certificates as a matter of privacy. Examples we heard are is it the public’s right to know that a cause of death was a self-inflicted gun wound? Should depression be listed instead, or should that be hidden from the public? Should HIV be disclosed to the public? The bill would have the information available, put at the department of health instead of the land records. Historians, newspapers, genealogists and others have concerns about the bill and restricting access to the information.

Please stay in touch. 828-2229 or maxjg@wcvt.com. It is an honor to represent you.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Barack Star!

** Cross-posted at Mulish Behavior **

I've been remiss in not posting sooner on Sen. Barack Obama's tidal wave/tsunami/earthquake (choose your metaphor) in South Carolina. This was a victory he desperately needed - most important it showed he can take a punch (Bill's, not Hill's), absorb it, counterpunch, and win. Nice.

Obama's star is on the rise after a huge victory in South Carolina and being handed the key to Camelot by the Kennedys.

Not only did he take apart the Clinton machine in South Carolina (a stunning 55%-27% victory), but he laid claim to the Democratic establishment's mantle of leadership. The real Democrats. Remember how Bill and Hillary were the "New Democrats" (you know, the ones who "ended welfare as we knew it" and declared "the era of big government is over"?). Well, the "Old Democrats are back. And, they're back with a vengeance. Sen. Ted Kennedy (along with Caroline and Rep. Patrick Kennedy) gave perhaps the best (and most damning, as far as the Clinton's are concerned) endorsement speech of the year so far. At least that's certainly what David Brooks thought.

Obama is reaching out to Americans... and has them believing again.

Can he restore our faith in government? Kennedy's speech was good. Obama's was better. This guy is good. I'm starting to believe. See for yourself:


Letter to the Editor: Brad Denny

Great letter to the editor in yesterday's Times Argus by Brad Denny. As the primaries and town meeting day (and later on, the general election) get closer, I encourage you to do as Mr. Denny has done and take pen to paper, or keyboard to email box and send your own letter on Democratic issues or themes.

CC
*********************

George Bush asks for perseverance from the American people. The president himself is the best evidence for our capacity to "persevere."

We have persevered through seven years of inept, misguided, dishonest and destructive policies promoted by an administration which he leads.

We have persevered through one high-sounding moralistic pronouncement after another designed to cover up the reality of policies that have had no higher purpose than securing more wealth and power for the already wealthy and the already powerful.

We have persevered through the loss of 4,000 American lives, 150,000 Iraqi lives, 10 times that number of shattering injuries, hundreds of billions of dollars in wasted war expenses and a crippling loss in American prestige and good will around the world, all in a war that has accomplished nothing and should never have been fought.

If we can persevere through seven years of George Bush as president, we can persevere through anything.

Brad Denny

Rep. Maxine Grad: Legislative Update

It has been a busy few weeks in my committee. The following is a summary of the bills we are currently working on.

H.617 Guardianship. This bill is a product of a study commission’s rewrite of our current law. The bill recognizes that people who are under guardianship, which is a court ordered relationship, are some of the most vulnerable Vermonters. It also recognizes that if a person is under guardianship, it does not mean that the individual should lose all of his or her rights. Instead, the guardian’s goal is to help the person under guardianship to maximize his or her potential and function as best as he or she can. Generally, there is consensus on this bill from the mental health advocates, legal community and administration.

The one area of disagreement is the ability of the guardian to consent to the administration of involuntary medication.

We took testimony from Judge Mary Teachout for the need for the legislature to clarify the authority of the probate and mental health courts in involuntary medication cases where the patient refuses medication but the guardian consents. This issue arose out of recent cases where Judge Teachout’s ruling had the effect that involuntary medication decision should be made by probate courts instead of the family court. The state mental health agency disagreed. According to mental health law, these cases are decided in family court. The probate courts generally do not have a role in these proceedings. There are no due process standards in probate court for making these decisions. Further, Probate court tends to defer to the wishes of the family that isn’t always consistent with patient’s.

This issue is of great concern to the mental health community. The Vermont Supreme Court recently held that involuntary medication is an even greater intrusion on a patient’s autonomy than involuntary commitment to the state hospital. We will continue to consider which court is the most appropriate.

H.203 Surviving Spouse’s Rights When There is Not a Will. Most people assume that if a person dies without a will, the surviving spouse gets everything. Currently, unless there are no kindred—i.e. cousins, kids, etc. the surviving spouse is not entitled to the whole estate, but one third. We need to recognize that seeing a lawyer for a will can be very expensive. When people do wills on their own, the wills are often not executed properly and are therefore invalid. We will continue looking at how to remedy this.

H.180 Qualifications for the Attorney General, States Attorneys, Assistant Attorney Generals and Deputy State Attorneys. Currently the attorney general does not need to be a lawyer. This bill would require it. It would also require that the other listed positions be attorneys who are licensed in Vermont. According to the Executive Director of the State’s Attorneys, “We would be crippled if we had nonlawyer state’s attorneys” given our case law. The Attorney General testified that he takes no position on whether his position should be an attorney. He said he has so many layers in his office; it would not present a problem if we continued with current law.

H.615 Juvenile Proceedings for children In Need of Supervision and Care Due to Abuse or Neglect and Delinquent Children. This is a rewrite of our juvenile laws that I have discussed in my articles before. We continue to spend each Tuesday and Thursday learning about the contents in the bill with the testimony of Administrative Judge Amy Davenport and representatives from the department for children and families and the juvenile defenders office. All of them served on the committee that proposed the bill. Here are some of the things we reviewed this week:

1. Bill changes the name of the emergency hearing where a child is taken into state custody from detention hearing to care hearing. This is a national trend that recognizes that detention is more like prison and the criminal system, which this isn’t. We noted that schools are still using the term detention for violations such as not having homework done.

2. Changed the manner a child is taken into custody—used to be always to court, but is this the best thing for a baby or small child? Is there a better place to take an infant or young child than the courthouse? The goal is to minimize trauma to child.

3. A hearing must occur within 72 hours of issuing an emergency a care order. Attorneys are appointed for the child and parents. Judge Davenport discussed the challenges of our rural areas and lack of cell reception's impact on the ability to obtain counsel ASAP.

We will continue our work on this very important issue.

We are also working on a bill that looks at when there has been embezzlement or crime committed by a municipal official or sheriff. In the next few weeks, we will take up bullying in schools and cyber bullying.

Thank you to Brenda Cruickshank for coming to the State House in her capacity as Legislative Liaison for the VFW. Ms. Cruickshank has been a mentor and advisor to me on veteran affairs.

Congratulations to the Moretown Town Hall committee for a great event on Saturday. The Town Hall is a jewel of the community. Thank you to the town and committee for its leadership in helping to p reserve this vital resource.

Please stay in touch. maxjg@wcvt.com. 496-4244 (home) or 828-2228 (State House). It is an honor to represent you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Galbraith Dips A Toe Into Gubernatorial Waters...

Anthony Pollina's day just got a little worse... and Jim Douglas probably thinks he's got it made (although that false sense of security may be his undoing) as Peter Galbraith takes another step towards running for Governor.

Today Galbraith sent out an email touting his "Vermont Leadership Fund" which will support candidates at all levels, but presumably serves as the official "dipping of the toe" into gubernatorial waters. "Interesting," as Peter Freyne would say. You can check out the message and contribute at: http://www.vermontleadershipfund.org/.

Maybe this guy CAN give Douglas a run for his money. At least he's got the guts not to be scared off by Douglas and/or Pollina (yet). The conventional wisdom that Douglas cruises in a 3-way race. But the conventional wisdom is wrong: Douglas has it much easier in a head-to-head race against Pollina.

Here's why:

For starters, there are a large percentage of old-guard Democrats who simply WILL NOT vote for a Progressive, regardless of how much courting goes on, and regardless of whether the Democratic leadership could convince someone from running to give him a free pass (which won't happen). In that case, Douglas either picks up those folks ("Douglas Democrats"?), or they take a pass on voting in that race. So, Douglas stands to win with anywhere from 55%-45% (best case for Pollina), or perhaps in a landslide somewhere around 65% or 70% to Pollina's 35% or 30%) (more likely).

Second, in a 3-way race, the Democrats will vote, and turnout will be high in a hotly contested presidential election year. So, it does provide the opening to keep Douglas with a plurality of the vote - either throwing it to the legislature and allowing the 3rd place candidate to make a public appeal to throw their votes to the 2nd place candidate), or at a minimum hampering him by denying him a mandate.

Lastly, might I suggest that if the Dems put forth aggressive energy and health plans this session and Douglas vetoes them, or if the economy continues to worsen, OR, any number of other X-factors come into play (suppose Galbraith outraises Douglas using his national/international connections - who knows?!), then perhaps, just perhaps, the Democrat finishes first. Not entirely outside the realm of possibility if all the stars align.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Tiny Constituent's First Visit to the Statehouse

Yesterday was my son's four-month check-up at the pediatrician. After braving the elements and a round of immunizations, we trekked up to the Statehouse for his first visit to our fine capitol. There, we checked in with some of the movers and shakers, including our own Rep. Maxine Grad. Based on the hustle and bustle in the building, we could already see there will be plenty of action this session.

My son, William White Curtis ("Will") is David W. Curtis' grandson. Since his grandfather was a former state representative, State Party Chairman and longstanding member of the Vermont Democratic Party, it was only fitting that Will become acquainted with the building. He was made to feel right at home.

Here's little Will with Rep. Bill Lippert (D-Hinesburg), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee - the same committee our own Maxine Grad sits on (see her report below):

And, with Rep. Jason Lorber (D-Burlington):

He's a little shy, and he didn't say much during our visit, but this little Northfield resident later told me that he's hoping that Vermont Democrats will make sure there is a strong economy, health care for all, and a reliable energy plan for the future!

I'm certain that if we work together we can accomplish those goals to secure his, and every Vermonter's, future.

Rep. Maxine Grad's Legislative Update

My committee, House Judiciary started in full swing this week. The following is a summary of issues we began to consider.

Boating While Under the Influence: The Vermont Supreme court recently issued a decision that calls into question charging and sentencing within our BUI laws. The court stated that when there is one incident of BUI and multiple deaths, a person could only be charged with one count of boating while intoxicated with death resulting even though there is more than one death. The court called on the Legislature to clarify the law.

The Supreme Court’s decision was in a case that involved the tragic death of two children while watching fireworks at Basin Harbor on the 4th of July. The court’s result, according to the prosecutor and the family of one of the children who died, sent a message that their child’s death didn’t count. During testimony, the example came up that if a drunk driver hit a school bus and 20 children died, there should be the ability to charge the defendant for each death.

There also isn’t any law regarding BUI with serious bodily injury resulting as we do in DUI law. We also discussed the need to distinguish in our law penalties for serious bodily injury and death.

Further, there is law prohibiting driving while intoxicated while operating a commercial vehicle or school bus, but nothing for commercial drivers of boats. The committee is considering changing that.

Additionally, the question of snowmobiles arose. Current law brings snowmobiles into the DUI laws. We heard testimony that boats and autos present the same risk and should be consistent, as they present similar threats to public safety.

Judiciary Budget

We heard testimony from the court administrator that the judiciary is 2 million dollars in the red. As an attempt to remedy this, certain important positions like judges, family court staff and educational and outreach staff positions are not being filled. The committee is very concerned that if our judiciary isn’t properly funded it seriously undermines our citizen’s access to justice and the courts, a foundation of our constitutional system.

Police Line Ups, Photo Identifications, Custodial Interrogations of Suspects and Preservation of Evidence in Criminal Cases Study Committee Report:

The committee is comprised of members from the law enforcement, victims, legal and defense community. The need for the report came out of my committee’s work on the Innocence Protection Act.

1. Eyewitness Identification of Suspects: While listening to this testimony, I realized I watch too much Law and Order! In Vermont, law enforcement rarely uses line-ups. We simply do not have the population base to find enough people that look like the suspect to eliminate any possibility of suggestiveness.

Photo line-ups aren’t used very often either. The committee did however recommend that there should be policy regarding the use of a neutral law enforcement officer, one not involved with the case to show the victim or witness the photos. Body language and unconscious messages are very common and could prejudice the integrity of the procedure and lead to suppression of evidence and dismissal of the case.

The committee is concerned that as Vermont becomes more diverse, cross-racial misidentifications will become an issue.

2. Custodial Interrogations: currently there isn’t law on mandatory videotaping of when a suspect is in police custody and is being interrogated. The best practice is to at a minimum audio record the interview, but also videotape. The committee stated that videotaping should be used whenever possible, is part of the best practice, but should not be mandated. However, if the technology fails, which it often does, failure to have the taped interrogation could lead to problems in court with suppression of evidence. The committee requested that adoption of best practices through some sort of policy, not legislation.

3. Best Law Enforcement Practices for Preservation of Evidence. Currently, there is not statewide policy on preservation of evidence. The proper preservation of evidence can make or break a criminal case. The committee recommended that the procedures taught at the police academy should be recognized as best practices. The committee also said that ideally, there should be one, new statewide evidence repository, with climate control, specialized support, and for budgetary reasons, be housed in an existing facility.

My committee will continue to look at all of this. We have a series of options from having shed light on the issue through the report and this week’s testimony, to enacting legislation, recommending policies, and working with the Judiciary and or the executive branch to adopt a rule or policy. Other states have done it many different ways. I would like to have a dialogue with the members of the judicial and executive branch on ways to address these issues as a starting point.

I, as vice chair of the judiciary committee feel very strongly that the role of my committee is to help support the integrity of our criminal justice system by ensuring our courts, law enforcement, prosecutors, defense, and victims all have the support they need to properly charge, investigate, litigate and decide cases. The healthy functioning of our criminal justice system goes to the core of a healthy democratic society, and therefore significantly impacts the health of Vermonters and our communities.


KUDOS:

Congratulations to the Roxbury Free Public Library for its receipt of a cultural facilities grant for the construction of a bathroom and ramp.

Congratulations to James Donahue of Northfield for his selection as a Legislative Page. James started the session with us in the first group as pages.

Please stay in touch: maxjg@wcvt.com, 828-2228 (State House), 496-4244 (home). Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you. It is a privilege and honor, Representative Maxine Grad

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hillary Wins in New Hampshire... What Now?!

The election returns from New Hampshire are in, and Hillary Clinton has pulled off a remarkable comeback win. She has narrowly bested Barack Obama, 39% to 36%. Edwards is a distant third with about 17% of the vote. While this likely dooms Edwards (and certainly Richardson will be dropping out soon, despite his claims that he can compete in Nevada), what does this mean for the race generally?

One thing it might mean is that the reports of Hillary Clinton's demise are premature. The Clinton's are well loved by rank and file Democrats. What is so surprising is that she is doing so well in a place rife with Independents, like New Hampshire. Time will tell how the voters broke. One theory is that Edwards' folks decided he just wasn't viable and ended up breaking for Clinton... they are blue-collar rank and file Democrats more likely to support her than the cerebral Obama. Another theory is that women ended up breaking heavily for Clinton after her performance in the debates and the "Diner Sob." Finally, Obama's youth brigades may have told pollsters they were for him, but then ended up not turning out (that's what you get for inspiring frat-boys, Barack).

But seriously, the other thing it might mean is that rather than coasting, Obama may, in fact get the proper vetting and scrutiny that his campaign will need if it is to survive a general election campaign - particularly if McCain emerges as a consensus candidate (the only one who might be able to pull out a win against the Democrats in 2008). I think Obama (or Clinton, for that matter) would make a fine nominee. However, his campaign to date has largely centered on platitudes and variations on the "change" theme. That won't hold up for the next 11 months. We're going to need more... "beef" as Walter Mondale so eloquently put it to Gary Hart back in '84.





Slate ran a post on this topic that is worth checking out. It's clearly a huge victory for Clinton if she pulls it out, but it isn't a death knell for Obama, just a reality check. Getting the nomination against the caliber of opponent he is facing shouldn't be easy.

Apparently, it isn't.
There is more analysis on this race (and others) at Mulish Behavior and Green Mountain Daily. There are pictures and video footage of Vermonters canvassing for Edwards from last weekend as well.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Obama-Time: Sen. Barack Obama Wins in Iowa; Edwards 2nd, Clinton a close 3rd

Obama-philes everywhere are celebrating their man's victory in the first meaningful vote of the presidential election season. Congratulations to Sen. Obama on a hugely important win in Iowa.

There is plenty of analysis on the race and what this means to the other candidates, but for now it's Barack Obama's day. A well-fought, well-earned victory.

I will say that the other interesting development is Edwards' second-place finish. While a third place finish would probably have doomed him, he now has a claim to being the "alternative" to Obama in a way that Hillary is not. But he now has to win or come in second in either New Hampshire (unlikely) or South Carolina (more likely) in order to stay alive until Super Tuesday. His biggest problem (that Clinton doesn't face) is cash. He doesn't have enough of it compared to his rivals. Will he get any kind of bounce? Can shoe-leather and message make up for lack of money? Traditionally, of course, the answer is no but if Edwards continues to present an obstacle for Clinton then Obama may cruise to the nomination.

And, what about Sen. Clinton? She is a savvy, well-financed candidate with more than a few tricks still left up her sleeve. No doubt she will be much tougher to beat on Super Tuesday when large states (California, New York, Florida, Michigan, etc.) start to vote.

And, what will Vermonters decide to do if the race is still up for grabs in March? Maybe our little primary won't be so inconsequential after all?!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

John Edwards Campaigning in Lebanon, NH

For those of you interested in getting a taste of presidential politics in a key state, you might want to scoot down I-89 and check out John Edwards' final push in New Hampshire. This weekend, Saturday, January 5th, the Edwards campaign is coming to Lebanon, NH. The event begins at 9am and commences with about 4 hours of canvassing door to door. After that, there will reportedly be a rally in the afternoon. Here's the known schedule so far:


This Saturday (5th of January) a group of Vermonters will be banding together and heading to New Hampshire to canvass for John Edwards.

There will be a Vermonter kick-off event at 9:00 a.m. hosted by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's .
January 5, 2008 - 9:00 AM
Lebanon Canvass Kick-Off
Rivermill Commercial CenterBuilding #5, 85 Mechanic StreetLebanon, NH (Head into NH on I89; Take exit 19 for RT-10/US-4 toward W Lebanon/Lebanon, turn right off the exit onto Mechanic St/US-4. Rivermill Commercial Center is a big old brick building about a mile on the right, #85 Mechanic St.)

There may also be a rally/event with John Edwards in the early afternoon in the river valley area although that is in flux and I do not expect to see final plans until after the Iowa caucus.

Look for more details and updates on this event from our friends at Green Mountain Daily.

It is likely that the Edwards campaign will either be riding high from a first or second place finish in Iowa, or could needing more support if he does poorly there. Either way, New Hampshire could be make or break for Edwards, so it should make for an interesting event, and obviously their campaign would welcome the help.

** Full disclosure, I support Edwards based on his economic populism (he's the only one who actually talks about poverty in America), his health care plan, and his plan to pull troops out of Iraq. However, Democrats are lucky to have any number of exceedingly well qualified candidates (including those who aren't really polling at all: Richardson, Biden, Dodd), especially Hillary and Obama. I am completely committed to helping whoever the eventual nominee is re-take the presidency. I am merely passing this along as an opportunity for others who may be supporting Edwards' candidacy. If you know of other Democratic candidates campaigning in the area and want to post that information here, please let me know and I will do so.