February 16th, 2010

Let The Endorsements Begin: Ellis, Adrian

by Philip Baruth

With VDB’s own primary not for another long eight months, it’s easy to forget that others are under the gun, trying to leg out a tight vote for City Council. Or it would be easy to forget if we didn’t see our own Councilor, Russ Ellis, out knocking on doors every time we drive downtown these days. Russ is locked in a tough race in Ward 4, but he has a remarkably serene smile as he hits the bricks. The sort of smile you’d expect on the face of a one-time minister: patient, good-humored, powered by faith in the voters.

Russ is one of Burlington’s elder statesmen, an absolutely clear and level-headed City Councilor, unruffled by partisan wrangling, and undaunted in the service of his constituents. Tough to find an area Democrat for whom we have more respect, or one we endorse more strongly. If you’re a Ward 4 voter, and you can think of any way to smooth Russ’s path this cycle, it’s our own personal sense that the Heavens will smile upon you.

And as luck would have it, just minutes after seeing Russ going door to door in Ward 4, we drove by Democratic Councilor Ed Adrian doing same in Ward 1, just past the Campus Kitchen Deli.

Ed’s approach is radically different from Russ’s, as he will be the first to tell you. Ed specializes in asking the tough questions, the uncomfortable questions, and in confronting the most impacted problems. He has championed free wireless for the Church Street Marketplace, a move that should be a municipal no-brainer but has been anything but.

Most recently, of course, he was one of the lone voices for dragging the Burlington Telecom situation out into the light.

Seven Days called him “a tireless watchdog,” and that’s exactly right: Adrian takes oversight and accountability as seriously as any City Councilor we’ve ever seen.

He does not always make friends doing so, as Seven Days also noted. But given the Kiss administration’s absolute unwillingness to consider any change in course, any change in senior management, or any change in the pattern of closed-door meetings and reports that currently mark City government, it isn’t just Ward One voters that need Adrian on the Council.

It’s Burlington as a whole.

Taken together, Russ and Ed represent radically different but equally necessary approaches to the current political scrum, the yin and yang of Democratic Council politics. We heartily endorse them both.

February 13th, 2010

On God, Doors, Lieberman, Lamont

by Philip Baruth

They say that when God closes a door, He opens a window. Case in point: Joe Lieberman beat Ned Lamont in 2006 and saved his Senate seat by dissembling over the War and his intent to support a Democrat for President in 2008. And now Ned Lamont will run for Governor of Connecticut. Which is fine, and we’ll watch that race gladly. Still, they say that sometimes when God closes a door, He also hits Joe Lieberman in the seat of his Armani slacks with it, and VDB would greatly have preferred to see Lamont opt for a direct rematch. But we’ll take what we can get. Godspeed, Ned.

February 11th, 2010

In Which The Free Press Is Taken To Task In A Stern Bit of Tit For Tat, Um, As It Were

by Philip Baruth

Longtime readers will remember that back in August, Free Press reporter Terri Hallenbeck took VDB to task for using an epithet for Rick Santorum that “could not be printed in the pages” of her newspaper. She was right: although the epithet was Bob Kerrey’s, we did quote it, and with gusto. Still, we would be remiss if we failed to point out that the front page of yesterday’s Free Press carried the phrase “midget porn,” a phrase you will never ever read here at the Vermont Daily Briefing. After today, we mean. Just saying.

February 11th, 2010

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED (Now With Promised But Long-Delayed Update)

by Philip Baruth

The Eagle has landed: we’ve not only reached but slightly exceeded the $4,800 goal, and with 4 hours to spare. I’ll write more tomorrow about how it all shook out, and about how deeply touched I am by the various sorts of help and encouragement you’ve all shown over the last two weeks. But it is, after all, my birthday tonight, at least for those last 4 hours, so I’ll sign off now until then. Many, many thanks.

Late Update, Friday, 5:30 pm:

I promised a bit more on the fundraiser, so let me just add a few key details here. First, in addition to hitting and exceeding our $4,800 goal, we picked up an additional 55 donors, bringing our total for the campaign thus far to over 250 contributors.

Not much, of course, when compared to the gubernatorial campaigns.

But this is a State Senate race, remember, and we’re still 8 months out from the primary. Given those factors, 250 donors (most of them small contributions) is a major metric of support.

And that support comes not just from the County, but in no small part from the state at large. Why? Primarily the issue of Vermont Yankee, which we’ve been out front on for some years now, and on which we took a very strong stand from the beginning.

Add to that the occasional, deeply touching bit of help from old friends, brought close again by social media, and you have the recipe for an amazingly active and loyal group of supporters.

Some astoundingly generous types contributed for their third time during this fundraiser. And what can you say about that, except that they are the wind beneath the campaign’s wings, again and again and again.

Many thanks to all.

February 10th, 2010

The Last Fundraiser Thread, Because After Today The Fundraiser Will Be No More (Update: Believe it or not, $120 To Go)

by Philip Baruth

Last day of the “$4,800 Before I Turn 48″ State Senate fundraiser, which is to say about 1o hours left. Huge progress, and many individual epic saves over the course of the last two weeks, all of which have confirmed my deep faith in humanity. But the hard, cold fact is that we’re still $320 away from our goal. And failure is not an option.

It will take one more small handful of contributions, contributions from a certain type of person. The sort they call closers in baseball and in real estate.

Why should the closers contribute, beyond the sizeable kick of taking it over the top?

Best answer today: go to Baruth2010.com, and watch the video of our September 2009 kick-off. Note the way it’s built around the message that Yankee is leaking radiation, and that Entergy is doing what it can to obscure that fact.

Remember, that video was shot long before the tritium story broke, long before today’s headline that the contamination has reached the lovely Connecticut River, long before VP Jay Thayer admitted to misrepresenting the facts. Before opposing Yankee was a no-brainer. In short, this campaign got it right when it counted.

Bodes well, we believe, for performance in the Senate. But the Senate is out of reach for any candidate without the resources necessary to get the message out countywide. The $320 we still need is the cost of a standard ad in even a small town paper, let alone a major daily.

Which is where the closers come in, hopefully. The Act Blue link is here if you can help us get this thing done.

Update, 11:34 pm:

One closer heard from. Make that $220.

Possibly Penultimate Update, 1:27 pm:

Two more closers step up: we are now $145 away from the goal. And you will know when we reach it, because VDB’s front page will leave no doubt. Trust us on that.

And please don’t stop now.

Probably Penultimate Update, 2:58 pm:

So close you can taste the Gator-Ade: $120 left.

February 8th, 2010

VDB Gonna Fly Now, We Hope (Now With Updated Numbers and Rocky Training Montage Video!)/ Oh God Help Us, We’re Just Going To Liveblog This Grim Post Until The BGH-Free Cows Officially Come Home/** Just About $500 From The Target With Less Than 36 Hours Left To Endure **

by Philip Baruth

Where are we on the “$4,800 Before I Turn 48″ State Senate fundraiser, with six days left? Making good progress, as Bush liked to say: we are only about $1,500 shy of the goal. And that’s amazing, really. Of course, that’s when it begins to hurt the most, when you’ve drunk the glass of eggs, run to the top of the Philadelphia Museum steps, yet Burgess Meredith is still hitting you in the stomach to toughen you up because it’s not over yet. If you can help us raise this last chunk, help us be something more than just another bum from the neighborhood, thanks in advance. The easy Act Blue contribution link is here.

Late Update, Saturday, 4:00 pm:

A number of people have helped out since Friday, but we’re still just lagging the pace we’ll need to bring it home by lights out on Wednesday: about $1,300 shy now.

So we present this inspirational HD quality video montage of Rocky Balboa, running around in training pants that seem a little dorkier than we remember, but still trying hard and reaching the top of the steps and making up for all of the horrible sequels and action rip-offs that would later follow. An undeniably nice moment, emblematic of this dogged campaign, and now text-enhanced for Spanish-speakers [Meat-Punching Warning For Vegetarian/Vegans]: