by Peter Freyne
It was the official opening of the new environmentally-friendly Merrill Lynch office on the Burlington Waterfront Thursday. Yours truly was the only press that showed. No big deal, but I thought there just might be a gubernatorial ribbon-cutting, eh?
Gov. Jim Douglas noted Merrill Lynch is a "very large global corporation with annual revenues 7-times the state budget here in Vermont."
Gov. Scissorhands called Merrill Lynch "a great corporate citizen" for making a "commitment to a green building."
Steve Waltien of Shelburne, a UVM grad and bank president before signing on with Merrill Lynch 17 years ago, told the gathering of almost 100 that "Without the support of the local administration, this project for us would never happen. So we really appreciate your being here mayor."
Progressive Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss - the only socialist we could identify in the crowd, told the gathering that:
"Being a student of the Sixties, you know the question I have is: ‘Does business have a soul?’
"I think in a lot of ways Merrill Lynch is a pillar of the community...and we’re building the community together.
"We all know that the sub-prime mortgage rates are in trouble. We all know that there’s disparity between rich and poor and I think we’re all struggling with those issues to make sure we have a quality life and a better life."
"So what I see here is a dedication to green building, an investment in Burlington and a long commitment, I think, to social needs in the City of Burlington and the State of Vermont so I’m hoping that we partnership together so that we can build a better world."
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Merrill Lynch's Waltien told Freyne Land:
"There are a lot of Merrill-Lynch managers like me around the country who think like I do. Very frankly, I’m a liberal Democrat and there are many people who think like I do in this firm. I feel very comfortable in this firm.
"I think the impression from afar is that these are the right-wing Republican fat cats. Nothing could be farther from the truth."