by Peter Freyne
**Update** 6 p.m.
Senate Democrats meet to choose new leader
By ROSS SNEYD
AP Political Writer
RANDOLPH, Vt. (AP) -- Democrats turned again to one of their former Senate leaders Tuesday as they began organizing the overwhelming majority they'll carry into the Legislature in January.
Peter Shumlin of Windham County, who served as Senate president pro tem for six years before stepping aside in 2002 for an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor, beat incumbent Majority Leader John Campbell of Windsor County as the Democrats' candidate for president pro tempore.
That's tantamount to winning the election, which will not formally take place until the Legislature convenes on Jan. 3, because the Democrats hold 23 of the 30 seats in the new Senate.
**Update** 4 p.m.
Quiet, quiet, quiet. But reliable sources say the 23 recently elected Democratic members of the Vermont State Senate convened at 3 p.m. this afternoon in Randolph. Word is they wanted a little privacy to work our their differences over who will be the president pro tem, i.e. Top Dog, in the coming session. Word is A.P. reporter Ross Sneyd found out in time and crashed their little out-of-the-way "secret" session. Should be something on the wire for the Six O'Clock News.
Yours truly hit the Vermont Milk Company presser in Montpeculiar.
Four-year old Maplebrook Farm of Bennington, an artisan cheese producer, signed a six-figure contract with the fledgling Hardwick milk processor that pays its farmers top dollar.
Cheesemaker Michael Scheps, a New Jersey transplant, said when they started they had a five-year goal of becoming 100 percent Vermont i.e. using 100 percent Vermont milk.
"We made it!" said Scheps.
Looks like we're in a wee bit of a wet and gloomy streak. At least weatherwise in Vermont.
Don't you just love November? The early dark nights!
Hey, it's Howard Dean's 58th birthday on Friday. Happy birthday, Ho-Ho!
This sweet and sunny shot of the Statehouse in Montpeculiar was taken last Thursday. It's a reminder of what a beautiful day looks like. The last few, and the forecast for the next few, don't exactly lift one's spirits. Yes, indeed, Virginia, there's bright light on the other side of those thick clouds above. We will see blue sky again. One day!
Hey, did you catch the story in the morning press on Judge Ed Cashman receiving an honor yesterday from the Vermont Press Association?
I wasn't there, but Lisa Rathke popped a story on the A.P. wire:
MONTPELIER — A judge whose initial sentencing of a sex offender sparked a national outcry said Sunday that the case has been a highlight of his career.
Vermont District Court Judge Edward Cashman said he was able to stand up for what he believed in – that he correctly sentenced Mark Hulett to the 60-day-minimum under the law.
"I think one of the risks a judge has to take is knowing that when you make a difficult decision it very well may be misunderstood. And then comes the real hard part: you gotta remain quiet," Cashman said in an interview Sunday. more here.
The memories from January do come back. The misreporting by WCAX-TV, which repeatedly told viewers Cashman had told the court he didn't "believe in punishment." That led to the AP's Chris Graff doing a story based on the court transcript - a story that showed the judge never said any such thing.
Too bad, WGOP, er, WCAX never admitted its mistake, eh?
Here's the top of "Inside Track" from January 11, titled "Crucifying Cashman":
It's the hot Vermont story of the day, and Monday night it went national on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor."
Teasing viewers at the top of the program, Bill O'Reilly flashed a picture of veteran Vermont District Court Judge Edward Cashman. The bombastic right-wing cheerleader told viewers, "You may be looking at the worst judge in the USA. He gave a child rapist 60 days in prison. We'll confront him!"
Appearing live on "The O'Reilly Factor" via satellite was freshman Republican State Senator Wendy Wilton of Rutland.
"The reaction from Vermonters is outrage," said Wilton. "People are just horrified about this. People think that Judge Cashman has basically flipped his lid."
Asked by O'Reilly if "impeachment" was deserved, the longtime choir girl at Rutland's Immaculate Heart of Mary Church replied, "This guy has to go!"
Funny. On November 7, Rutland County voters decided Sen. Wendy Wilton had to go!
Sen. Wilton did not win reelection.
Let the sun shine, eh?