September 24th, 2010

Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy For America, To Headline 10/7 Baruth State Senate Event

by Philip Baruth

Some pretty exciting news: Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy For America, will be the special guest at an event we’ll be holding on Church Street just a couple of weeks from now. Some of you may remember that we very narrowly scraped out a victory in the competition for DFA’s Grassroots All-Star endorsement, and Dean’s visit with us comes as part of their continuing support. That’s Jim Dean below right, refuting Chris Matthews’s assertion that he, Jim Dean, was trying to “kill” Ben Nelson. (Not sure why, but I really like the ring of the last half of that sentence somehow.)

Hopefully Jim can fill us in on the state of the national races, as well as offer some words on what’s happening here at home. If you’ve never heard him before, Dean is refreshingly blunt, the kind of straight-up political voice you find yourself applauding before you realize you have a plate of food in your hands.

The details for your calendars, Google and otherwise: the event will be held at the Dream-Like Pictures studio, 130 Church Street, upstairs and across the street from Ri-Ra’s, downtown Burlington, October 7, 7 - 9 pm. Suggested contribution is $20. Your host will be Art Bell, Burlington filmmaker and digital entrepreneur.

RSVP’s would help us a great deal. If you’re coming let us know as soon as you can. Contact Selene Hofer-Shall either by email () or via cell phone.

If you’re looking to get involved with this political cycle now that the endgame is upon us, it won’t get more political or intriguing than this gathering. Hope to see you then.

September 23rd, 2010

The Last Update On The Final Online Fundraiser: Approaching A True Milestone

by Philip Baruth

Here’s a screen-shot of our Act Blue page, as it stands right now, a little before noon, Thursday, September 23rd, 2010, some 40 days or so before the November election. As you can see, we’re now just inches away from the $20,000 mark, which, if you stop to think about it for even a second, is remarkable. Truly remarkable.

Those resources have allowed us to run a serious, full-throated, 16-month campaign for the State Senate, to take stands on tough issues and to force other candidates to declare their own positions. It’s allowed us to give the issues and the voters the attention they deserve.

And it has all come directly, without the need for middle-men, over the Internet, in support of political sympathies we share.

Which is to say, if you’re one of those people who like to watch all the digits on the odometer in your car roll over at once, today’s the day to make your contribution. The Act Blue link is ready and waiting, right here.

Because we’re taking this final fundraiser over the top by lights out today. And then we’re going to win this election.

September 22nd, 2010

What We Fight For (And Against) In 2010

by Philip Baruth

If you thought the radically ugly wing of the Tea Party movement was something that only folks in the Midwest and Deep South could enjoy, well, best think again. Here in Burlington, the School Board has been occupied for the last couple of years in a bid to diversify the teaching ranks, where teachers of color still number only a few percent. Minority students in Burlington, on the other hand, now make up about a quarter of the population overall. Not best practice.

So as a Board, we’ve tried our best to increase recruitment and retention of minority candidates, while staying well within the sometimes hazy lines drawn by the Supreme Court. Not an easy task, but one clearly in need of doing. Or at least clear to the Board.

And the fact is that we’ve been making headway, which even the Free Press, not normally a Burlington School Board booster, was kind enough to acknowledge.

But not everyone agrees with the Board’s view, of course.

Here’s a cute little email we received just the other day, from a gentleman in the Northeast Kingdom, whose name and town I’ve redacted more out of embarrassment for him than for any privacy concerns. It’s addressed to our district Superintendent, but consider yourself also a partial recipient. I know I do. All liberties with typography and language have been preserved. Enjoy:

Jeanne Collins
Superintendent of Burlington Public Schools
September 19, 2010

Dear Jeanne Collins

I don’t read news papers or watch or listen to news on tv or radio. Benjamin Franklyn followed the same practice, and to quote him ” I consider myself non the less educated or informed.” Your article in the “Socialist Rag” the Burlington Free Press, entitled ” SCHOOLS MAKE HEADWAY WITH DIVERSITY HIRING”, left me feeling nauseous, to the point of regurgitating up my breakfast! What a wast you are! How dare you wast taxpayers money in this, the effort of all liberals, to give yourself “that huggy, touchy, fuzzy, warm” feeling!

It is becoming more obvious every day that “The American People” are fed up with bureaucrats like you. Have you watched the growth of The Tea Parties? They are protests aimed at people just like YOU! The vast majority of your students and their families are white, so why are you forcing minorities on them, to teach and control the majority? Your liberal minded socialist belief that you know whats best for the majority, is disgusting and if America is to survive, hollow socialist wasters like you, HAVE GOT TO GO !!!!!!!


[Name and Address Withheld]

September 13th, 2010

A Few Thoughts on the Netroots (Now With Most Recent Final Fundraiser Update!)

by Philip Baruth

Let’s pull back from the campaign for just a second, and remember what’s at stake here. There’s the meat of the issues, of course: closing Vermont Yankee and making sure Entergy bears the cost of decommissioning; piloting single-payer so that everyone is covered and small business is freed of the health-care burden; igniting job growth with investments in high-tech infrastructure, and educating a 21st-century workforce to fill those new jobs. But there’s also the idea that the internet can move these ideas, and candidates who are passionate about them, up from the grassroots and into the centers of political power. Move them directly, without waiting for permission, or sanction.

That’s the netroots: committed people sitting at computers who are tired of things changing slowly. People who are tired of a systemic lack of transparency and openness in government.

Those principles have defined this campaign, and you’ve funded us from the beginning, funded us directly through Act Blue, rather than having your dollars routed through two or three central committees. Just your politics and desire and ideas routed directly to this campaign.

Simple and beautiful.

And we’ve provided you with an unprecedented amount of transparency, in terms of what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we can better incorporate your ideas. You know, the way Democracy is supposed to work, but typically doesn’t. Direct communication, rapid change.

But in order to cross the finish line, the netroots works (or doesn’t work) like any other group: the push can’t stop before we cross the finish line. We’re about $1800 away from our last fundraising goal, and that’s all slated to pay for actual ads in actual local newspapers. It’s money that’s designed to translate the digital into the three-dimensional, which is where the votes still are.

And it’s crucial. This race is winnable, no doubt. This campaign can be a success story for the netroots here in Vermont, here in the early days of the 21st century. Click here if you can help us make it happen today. And then we’ll make it happen on November 2nd. Oh yes we will.

Late Update, Wednesday, 6:30 am:

A good day yesterday: we’re now just $1150 shy of our goal. We’ll need you most in November, no doubt. But second only to that, we need you most right now. Thanks to all of those who’ve given this time out, and especially those who have given for the second or third time.

It defies physics, but you’re both our rock and the wind beneath our wings.

Later Update, September 22, 7:16 am:

Now lacking just about $700 to finish off this last online drive. It’s funny: you get so used to it over a year, people contributing via Act Blue, that you stop seeing it for the miracle it is. People decide they want to join the effort, they click a few buttons, and their contribution is in the campaign bank account.

Automatically. Safely. And without intervention by any central committee or organization. You to us, in support of the ideas we share. Bam. That’s a thing of beauty.

September 7th, 2010

We’re About Halfway Home, Folks

by Philip Baruth

A quick update on the Final Fundraiser: we’re at just about the halfway mark, having raised around $2500 at this point. Of course, all of those resources will vanish in a single mailing to County voters, so we need to press ahead to the finish line, and as quickly as we can. Again, if you’ve ever considered donating to this campaign, now is the time. One more time: now is the time. Just click here to donate instantaneously online. We can win this thing. But not by stopping now. In fact, not by stopping ever.

September 2nd, 2010

Fundraising Update: Steady, but Slow

by Philip Baruth

Our last fundraising push is off to a start, but honestly not an amazing start. And there are good reasons for that, not the least of which is that typically people don’t re-engage with the political process until mid-September. But it’s worth remembering that candidates who want Yankee to remain open, who favor economic development even where it significantly impacts Vermont’s highly marketable environment, and who oppose a woman’s right to choose and a same-sex couple’s right to marry — those candidates raise plenty of money no matter the season. So please help us pick up the pace on this last drive, if you can. The Act Blue link is here to donate any sum, large or small. Thanks in advance, not just for digging deep, but for being engaged before the traditional calendar says it’s maybe about time.