Queen of Slander | Inside Track | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published July 10, 2002 at 4:00 a.m.

The current female darling of the right wing, Ann Coulter, unloaded on Vermont’s U.S. Senate delegation Monday during a brief interview on local talk radio. Coulter is the author of the current No. 1 best-seller, Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right.

Proving no slouch at slander, Ms. Coulter called U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords “a half-wit,” and pooh-poohed the significance of his courageous departure from the Republican Party last year.

Hey, it only shifted the balance of power in America, Ann!

When the incredulous host, Mark Johnson (WDEV/ WKDR), asked her about the fact that Jeffords’ defection elevated U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy to the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Slander replied that Leahy’s chairmanship has been “a disaster.”

Calling St. Patrick “Sen. Do-Nothing,” Coulter complained that Leahy is slowing down the War on Terrorism by demanding internal guidelines for the Homeland Security effort.

“We’ll be an Islamic Republic,” she said, “by the time he gets around to it.”


Back in the real world, however, Sen. Leahy picked up a ringing endorsement this week from a brave appointee of President George W. Bush — Immigration Commissioner John Ziglar. Ziglar visited Vermont Monday and spoke to the workers at the Eastern Regional HQ in South Burlington.

“My friends in the Republican Party back in Washington might be upset with me,” said Ziglar, “but you couldn’t have a better senator in Vermont than Pat Leahy. Nobody is confused in Washing-ton,” he continued, “that Pat Leahy is there representing Vermont. And nobody is confused in Washington that Pat Leahy is also there representing the country and he does that extremely effectively.”

When word of Commissioner Ziglar’s praise for St. Patrick reaches the Bush White House, we hope it doesn’t cost him his job. But if it does, we’ll understand.

DeanWatch 2004 — After all these years, we finally had to get the news about Gov. Howard Dean’s blueblood roots from the Los Angeles Times. The paper reported in its recent “Rumblings in Vermont” story:

“Sometimes Dean is known as ‘the Yankee Jimmy Carter,’ and sometimes he is likened to Harry S. Truman — a governor who enjoys bucking the tide. But he also shares qualities with George W. Bush — Dean’s blueblood runs so thick that Bush’s grandmother was a bridesmaid at Dean’s grandmother’s wedding.”

Small world, eh?

The article also included the first national mention of yours truly’s nickname for Dr. Dean — Ho-Ho. And it concluded with a public mea culpa from our buddy, Garrison Nelson, UVM political science professor:

“Nelson, a longtime antagonist of the governor, at first dismissed Dean as ‘a twerp.’ But in the course of a long interview, he concluded: ‘Basically, I have underestimated this man for 20 years, and I have been wrong most of the time. Howard is the master of good timing, and lightning may just strike Howard this time.’”

Campaign Notes — The chairman of the Democratic National Committee will be in town next week as the headliner for a July 18 fundraiser for the Vermont Senate Democrats. Terry McAuliffe, the man Al Gore once called “the greatest fundraiser in the history of the universe,” will speak at a $100-per-person “cocktail reception” at the Shelburne Farms hacienda of Phil and Crea Lintilhac.

• Word is the latest direct-mail fundraising pitch from Republican Jim Douglas will include an offer of Doug Racine flip-flops in return for a contribution of $99.99. One size fits all.

• Democrat Gov-Lite hopeful Peter Shumlin’s new campaign manager started this week. He’s Narric Rome, son of Republican Bernie Rome. Bernie lost to Ruth Dwyer in the 2000 GOP primary. Narric described his dad as a “Jim Jeffords-style Republican.”

• One Democrat candidate for state treasurer, Jeb Spaulding, is losing his campaign manager. Ethan Ready told Seven Days that his last day with the Spaulding campaign is July 15. Buzzsaw, son of Chainsaw Liz, has landed a full-time organizing job with the Vermont State Employees Association.

“I wish he wasn’t going,” said Spaulding. “The timing isn’t perfect for me, but for him it’s an opportunity he shouldn’t pass up.”

Spaulding, who faces Ed Flanagan in the primary, has picked up the endorsements of all four of Vermont’s Democrat governors: Phil Hoff, Tom Salmon, Madeleine Kunin and Howard Dean.

Adelphia Update — Like WorldCom and Enron, Adelphia Communications, Vermont’s largest cable TV provider, is getting a lot of coverage these days in America’s emerging Corporate Greed Sweepstakes.

As everybody knows, Adelphia’s owners, John Rigas and family, loaned themselves billions while shareholders were kept in the dark. The company’s stock has been delisted and Adelphia’s under investigation by the SEC while navigating the waters of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

Adelphia has consistently refused to comment to the Vermont press about its situation. But they have talked to customers. Sort of.

A recent letter sent to Vermont subscribers mentioned not a word about the company’s financial scandal. Instead, the letter touted Adelphia’s 50th anniversary and informed customers of a price increase starting in August!

Subscribers who use Adelphia’s Internet link will see their bills rise by $5 a month. The increase is needed, stated the letter, to cover “increases in expenses such as wages, specialized training for our customer service representatives, utilities, fuel insurance and equipment.” Not a word about legal fees.

Everyone has their favorites, but when it comes to greed, Adelphia’s John Rigas will always be at the top of our list.

The Other Prog — Ah, yes, the Progressive Party is a funny bunch. Its hero, Rep. Bernie Sanders, declines to run under the party label. Ol’ Bernardo runs as an Independent.

The Prog Party’s current ready-for-prime-time star, Anthony Pollina, has lowered his sights this year. Tony’s on course to play spoiler in the lieutenant governor’s race, a race he cannot possibly win. Meanwhile, the only candidate for the Progressive Party nomination for governor is being treated like a leper.

“The party hierarchy,” said Michael Badamo, 56, of Montpelier, “would like me to disappear and go away.”

Badamo told Seven Days that nothing’s been said directly to him about dropping out of the race, “but it’s been hinted.”

“I am convinced,” said Badamo, “and a lot of other people are convinced, that the party needs somebody to run for governor.”

You may recall that as the New Year dawned, it appeared almost certain Mr. Pollina would mount a rerun of his 2000 bid for governor.

But a few party insiders balked. The pragmatists believed a Pollina candidacy would split the left and turn the keys to the governor’s office over to the Republican candidate — Jim Douglas.

Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle led the pragmatists. He pushed the idea of doing a poll. And the poll showed the only possible shot for a Prog win was in the Gov-Lite race. Clavelle let it be known early he fancied Democrat Doug Racine for Guv.

Pollina got the hint. But St. Anthony’s decision left the top spot on the Prog Party ballot vacant. Into the breach stepped Mr. Badamo.

Michael Badamo is not a household name in Vermont politics. But his comings and goings have been visible for years on the local Montpeculiar scene. He’s intelligent and thoughtful and believes the Progressive Party, officially a “major” party like the R’s and the D’s, must have a candidate for the top spot “so the little guy has someone to vote for.”

In a Seven Days interview, it was apparent Michael’s political views are perfectly in sync with the Prog message. But he’s got a problem. A big problem.

Badamo is an outsider in a party that is tightly controlled by a core group of insiders. Folks like Pollina, Martha Abbott of Underhill, the party’s state chair, union organizer Ellen David Friedman, Chris Pearson, who’s taken a leave as party director to run Pollina’s campaign for Gov-Lite, and the infamous Self-Righteous Brothers: former Burlington State Reps. Dean Corren and Terry Bouricius.

On its Web site, the Progressive Party bills itself as the “fastest growing” political party in Vermont. And you will find plenty of information about Mr. Pollina, including his mug. But you won’t find a mention about the only Progressive Party member in Vermont who’s running for governor.

“Party central is hostile,” said Mr. Badamo. “I’ve been trying to argue for party unity, but they won’t allow it.” In fact, he said, he’s heard there may be a move afoot to write-in Bernie Sanders’ name in the Progressive gubernatorial primary. Badamo said that if Bernie were to win on a write-in and then refuse the nomination (which he surely would), the Progressive Party would be left with no candidate for governor on the November ballot. Bye-bye, Badamo!

During a recent interview at Montpelier’s farmers’ market, Badamo gave his analysis of Vermont’s “fastest growing” political party.

“There are Communist Progressives and Libertarian Progressives,” he explained. The Communist types, he said, “want to control everything.” The Libertarian types “don’t want to control things. I’m a Libertarian-type,” said the soft-spoken Badamo.

Despite the ice-cold reception he’s received from the Progressive elite, Badamo told Seven Days this week he’s staying in the governor’s race.

“I’m plugging away. I’m still here. I’m still campaigning,” he said. “I haven’t dropped out, but I can’t say I’m picking up steam.”

As for Tony the Phony, have you noticed the way Mr. Pollina has been cozying up to Republican Brian Dubie? Appar-ently he’s following the principle that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Pollina recently teamed up with Doobie-Do to blame Democrat Peter Shumlin for not agreeing to a spending cap in the Gov-Lite race.

How quickly Pollina forgets that Doobie-Do was Ruthless Ruth Dwyer’s running mate in the last election. In reality, Anthony has about as much in common with Brian Dubie as he has with George W. Bush.

Apparently, Pollina’s only goal in campaigning this year is to replicate Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign and deny victory to a Democrat.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Shumlin, “because Anthony and I agree on almost every issue.”

As it stands, Pollina is the best weapon the Dubie Campaign has in its arsenal. Way to go, Tony!

Bye-Bye Carina — More bad news for the “fastest-growing” political party in the Green Mountains. State Rep. Carina Driscoll (P-Burlington), one of four Progs serving in the Legislature, tells Seven Days she has received a legal opinion from the attorney general’s office, and the news is not good.

Carina’s legislative district in Burlington’s Old North End disappeared under reapportionment. She had been eyeing the possibility of moving a few blocks and running in the two-seat district of Democrat John Tracy and Prog Steve Hingtgen. However, the AG’s office told her, she’d have to live there for a year first before being eligible to run.

Carina represents something the Proggies desperately need — younger blood. Without her, the “fastest growing” party loses 25 percent of its legislative delegation.

Clean Water? — The recent wet weather prompted beach closings in Burlington. Ch. 3 even went live at six o’clock from Oakledge Park when the beaches were reopened.

But what everyone missed was the fact that South Burlington’s Red Rocks Beach on Shelburne Bay remained closed to swimmers. And the source of the contamination was Potash Brook, the struggling stream that winds through South Burlington carrying with it stormwater run-off from shopping center parking lots and highways.

South Burlington recently completed a study of the sources of Potash Brook pollution and identified five major sources, including the Price Chopper lot on Shelburne Road. When it pours, everything gets washed down the drain into the brook. (Incidentally, University Mall was not on the list. That’s because the mall has its own stormwater treatment facility.)

The Price Chopper shopping center is owned by Pomerleau Real Estate. Ernie Pomerleau is also chairman of the board of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation. At the GBIC’s recent annual meeting, Ernie was effusive in his praise for the new stormwater legislation that’s made so many developers smile. The GBIC even handed out leadership awards to 15 legislators for jobs well done.

Pomerleau acknowledged his shopping center’s untreated stormwater is dumped directly into Potash Brook. “We know we need to do something,” he said. The reason Ernie hasn’t done anything so far, he explained, was because he’s been waiting for South Burlington to complete its study.

That explains it, eh?