Lock and load, gang, the French and Indian War is enjoying a revival. And keep your powder dry!
"I have not yet begun to fight," was the battle cry U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords borrowed from John Paul Jones on Monday to threaten Hydro-Quebec with a nasty international trade war with the former crown colonies to the south.
Bon Homme James, who earned his captain's bars in the U.S. Navy reserve, warned Quebec's Hydro Godzilla in no uncertain terms to renegotiate its 30-year power contract with 15 Vermont utilities (only Burlington had the wisdom and foresight not to sign on the dotted line), or else figure out a way to sell their overpriced hydro power to the Chinese.
Commodore Jeffords' battle cry echoes the recent Montreal Gazette editorial that warned the provincial power house that it's "not smart for Quebec to alienate current and potential customers in the United States. Nor will tough talk help very much ... Hydro-Quebec may well be right in arguing that a contract is a contract. But it's not in the utility's interests to see weakened and potentially crippled utility customers in Vermont. The terms of the deal impose above-market costs of $75 million to $100 million a year on Vermont utilities.
The best outcome to this dispute would be a negotiated solution — one that could preserve a valuable business relationship and avoid the possibility of a nasty trade war."
And to think, all little Vermont's done for them! Merci beaucoup. The tons and tons of hashish Vermont's Billy Greer & Co. smuggled into Quebec to keep spirits bright during the long, dark Canadian winters. And what about the two overtime goals Vermont's John LeClair scored to win the 1993 Stanley Cup pour le bleu, blanc et rouge of Montreal?
Now, Hydro Godzilla thinks it can get away with charging Vermont the highest electric rates in North America just so we can have the privilege of watching "Hockey Night in Canada."
Dream on, mes amis. Besides, since you traded LeClair to Philly, the Canadiens suck and Big John's a perennial all-star. Was the trade another brilliant Hydro-Quebec idea, too?
BernieWatch 2000 — Appearing live on Vermont Public Television Monday evening, Congressman Bernie Sanders spoke openly for the first time about the factors he's weighing in deciding on a possible run against Jeffords next year.
"The issue for me is how I can be more effective," explained Ol’ Bernardo. He noted the House is "a more progressive institution" than the Senate.
On the other hand, said Bernie, over in the Senate, "very few people have my politics." However, "the rules in the Senate are wide open." Senators can filibuster. "It would be kind of interesting," he said, "to bring the U.S. government to a halt for a few days!" He suggested it "might be fun" to force the high and mighty United States Senate to deal with some of the issues he's been raising, with increased success, throughout his adult life.
Only Bernie can judge if he has the juice left in his batteries to take his battle for economic justice to a new plateau.
Men Only at Work — Quite the line-up of pinch-hitting hosts filling in for Tim Philbin every morning next week on 92.1 FM. All Republican operatives. All guys. The Monday to Friday batting order is: Jim Douglas, Mark Candon, Skip Vallee, Jack McMuffin, er, sorry, McMullen, and Pat Garahan. The program airs from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Call in. Dare ya. Tell a Vermont Republican what you really think about George W. Bush or Ruth Dwyer. Suggestions will surely be appreciated by the party out of power.
Gasoline Vallee should be a real treat Wednesday. He's the new kid on the Vermont political block in a party desperate for new blood. But so far, Skip can't even get the political columnists at the dailies to spell his frickin' name right. Skip runs R.L. Vallee, the fuel business started by his grandpa, but his name is R.M. Vallee, as in Rodolphe Meaker Vallee.
By the way, Mr. McMullen, the charming Massachusetts millionaire consultant made internationally famous by Fred Tuttle, remains a Vermont resident. He really does like it here. Jack's a regular sighting around Burlap. In fact, the graduate of Harvard Law School is in the midst of a three-month clerkship at Clark & Longshot, er, sorry, Clark & Long. Jack Long, former statewide congressional loser — both as a Democrat and as a Republican — says his partner, Catherine Clark, "is keeping an eye on Jack." McMullen hopes to take the Vermont bar exam this winter. Great! Vermont needs more lawyers. And the Vermont GOP sure needs more men in leadership roles.
TV News Race — Drivers, start your engines! Starting this Thursday, Vermont's TV News Superbowl begins. The four-week fall sweeps will be the first test of "22 News Now" and the brand-spanking-new, high-energy news team fielded in September by WVNY, our local ABC affiliate.
Pre-season is over. Reports from the three training camps indicate the talent is well-rested and raring to go. Ch. 3's Marsillyiss and Princess Congi vs. Ch. 5's Stephanie Boring and Thom Halibut vs. Ch. 22's Eric the Eager, last of the solo six o'clock anchors. And don't forget the special teams players in weather and sports.
Will Marselis Parsons and Sera Congi make people forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers? Will Ch. 22's seven-day forecast simply outscore the opposition's five-day window? And can Randy Mann tell if the world will end in six? Are live cams and weather up the yin-yang the winning TV news recipe for the future?
Sure hope not.
Traditionally Ch.3 and Ch. 5 have battled nip and tuck in the Burlington/Plattsburgh metro market, while Ch. 3 is traditionally the king of the mountain beyond it. Since forever, Ch. 22 has been little more than a tiny blip in the news ratings.
That should change.
"We're just hoping to get on the board," said Ch. 22 News Director Ken Schreiner. "At this point in our young life," he told Seven Days, "we have realistic expectations." And they've also come up with a rather cheesy way to get folks to tune in — have a contest!
Breaking new ground in Vermont TV news, "22 News Now" is giving away a brand new GMC Jimmy to some lucky viewer. Actually, it's only a three-year lease, and you have to watch their news to hear your name called so you can call in and have a shot at the prize.
Linda Noyes, promotions director at Ch. 22, told Seven Days each weeknight during the fall sweeps two names will be announced during the evening newscasts. One at six, the other at 11. The named viewer has 22 minutes to call 658-8025 to qualify for the big drawing on December 2. The station accepts one entry per individual per day by fax, e-mail or standard post. The e-mail address is con email@example.com.
"Ch. 3 does not engage in that kind of nonsense," scoffed Marsillyiss.
Not yet, anyway, but you know how things have a way of changing. It's a real jungle out there. Let the games begin!