by Peter Freyne
On Friday, Tony da' Pom, sorry, Antonio Pomerleau, celebrated his 90th birthday.
What a guy!
"So you gotta, you gottatake a gamble," he told Channel 3. "You gotta have a vision. You gotta look ahead.Yesterday's gone by. Today's gone by. So you gotta think of tomorrow."
Tony's a rags-to-riches story. Landed in Burlap in 1939, gifted in the ancient art of buying-and-selling. Real estate was his shtick.
Was running the city police commission when Bernie Sanders pulled off that historic, miracle mayoral victory in 1981.
"I owe my victory as mayor to Tony Pomerleau," Bernie told me the other day, "because we campaigned against his disastrous waterfront development!"
Every vote counted and Bernie won by just 10.
"But the truth is," said former mayor, now U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, "as soon as I won, uniquely from the opposition, Tony Pomerleau called me up, came to city hall and said, 'How do we work together?'
"And the truth is," said Sanders, "we worked to make major reforms to the police department, significant reforms."
"Tony helped me on a number of key economic issues. We killed a trash-burning plant that would have been a disaster. I appointed Tony to be head of a committee to look into that and he did a very good job on that."
Some may forget that back in those days - the early 1980s - the wall between Mayor Bernie Sanders and the Democratic/Republican establishment in the Queen City of Burlington was both tall and thick, at times resembling an Iron Curtain. And the fact Police Commission Chairman Pomerleau spoke with and worked with Mayor Sanders cost him.
"The Democrats and Republicans who had voted year-after-year for Tony to be a police commisioner abandoned him ‘cause he was working with my administration," said Ol' Bernardo. "What is not well remembered is that Tony Pomerleau won reelection as a police commisioner with the support of all the Progressives. He got his position because of Progressives!
"Here’s a guy who was in his seventies. Worked with Democrats and Republicans his whole life, and yet he thought that it was more important to do what he believed to be right and stand up to people who had been his political friends and allies. That takes a lot of guts!"