1-8-15 – Peter’s Paralysis

Posted by Chris Campion

Winners.  They do whatever it takes to win.  If that fails, then they go back and try to change the rules so they can win again.  Putney’s semi-favorite son, Governor Peter Shumlin, recently suggested that Vermont change its Constitution so big guys like Peter who can’t seem to convince Vermonters as to how fantastic a job they’ve done as governor can get a pass when it comes to, well, getting elected:

The Vermont Constitution should be changed according to Governor Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

He made the comment after the tight race for governor that will be decided by lawmakers. Shumlin suggests that any statewide candidate who wins a plurality over 40 percent is deemed elected. The current law is 50 percent. And since Shumlin did not get there on election night, lawmakers will decide the winner on Thursday. Shumlin also questions whether Republican Scott Milne is prepared to govern if he wins the legislative vote.

Hey, don’t let a little thing like people voting get in the way of you staying governor, Peter.  As massively ego-centric a desire this is, what’s truly stunning is that it comes just weeks after this same Peter, the guy who says he cares so much about Vermonters that he spent 141 days out of Vermont from January 2013 through September 2014, said that last fall’s election results left him “humbled”.

So quotes from just a few months ago like this one, from the guy who in 2012 won 57.8 percent of the vote –

“We have faced our share of setbacks in the past couple of years, and I know people are disappointed in how I have handled some issues,” Shumlin said. “I recognize I have work to do to regain the confidence of many Vermonters in the coming weeks and months. I will work with my team as well as legislators from all political parties to assess our coming legislative agenda to ensure that we are representing the will of Vermont voters.”

– is now using this convincing language (below) to tell us all how critical it is that he get back to the fine work of dismantling the state’s economy, er, passing a budget:

“I mean I gotta tell you, how hard we’re working here to try to get a sensible budget, we put together a team before we got here, but we would be scrambling to put a team together, Government would literally be paralyzed while this candidate tried to suddenly pull it all together in a really short time,” said Shumlin.  

Then let’s take a look at the last budget Shumlin put together, since he thinks it’s critical that he does this again, because, y’know, he’s got a “team” and all.  The same budget that, based on the Governor’s own proposed budget assumptions, forced the legislature back into session one month after the budget was passed to make budget cuts, cuts forced by declining tax revenues that stubbornly refused to adhere to the governor’s forecast.  That budget was built on the consensus budget, one using forecasted revenue growth percentages that can only be described as “optimistic”.  Another way of describing them might be “catastrophically stupid”, and the result has been yet another call to cut the budget.  The same budget that Peter so proudly touted last year, and now Peter says his experience in putting a budget together is the reason to vote for him over Milne?

Since Shumlin’s going to tout his simply fantastic record – a record that earned him just a bare percentage point or two more votes than his competition, compared to a couple of years ago when he was winning by 10-20 basis points – let’s look at the latest unemployment numbers (prepare to put on your shocked face).

While the unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a percent from October to November 2014, and the number of unemployed is down, there are still 100 more people unemployed in November 2014 than there were in November 2013.  Shumlin’s economic miracle, perhaps, or perhaps his current budget is on fire because he has no idea what he’s doing:

Mediocrity unchained.

Vermont’s legislature will now be forced to vote for Vermont’s next governor because the sitting governor, the incumbent, couldn’t muster enough votes, after getting his signature legislation passed and put into place, to beat a Republican candidate who came in very late in the race, had just a fraction of Shumlin’s campaign spending to rely on, and had little name recognition.

Shumlin fears that government would be “paralyzed” if Milne were elected.  What Shumlin fails to understand, and never will understand, is that a government that does less – especially as Shumlin’s destructive record attests – might be the best thing to happen to Vermonters in the last 4 years.  Funny how Shumlin never seemed to be paralyzed when it came to raising money for his campaign, and traveling all around the country seeking out-of-state donations.

I guess being “personally humbled” means something different to Shumlin than it does to the rest of us.  As Calvin Coolidge once said, “No man ever listened himself out of a job.”  If Shumlin heard a message loud and clear last November, as he told us he did, then why is he almost out of a job?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

H. BrookePaige January 10, 2015 at 12:06 am

Putney Pete surely views himself as deserving to be Potentate of Vermont for life. He shouldn’t have to endure these pesky elections every two years!

Below is my response to Tom Koch’s “Time for a Modern Election!” suggesting that Pete shouldn’t have to endure the inconvenience of the Legislative Election. It ran last Saturday’s Times Argus, just before the Legislative Election:

The system is just fine !

Tom Koch’s recent “scribbling” was interesting primarily in its attempt to distance him from responsibility for what he sees as a problem with our current election process.

Having served in the Vermont Huse for 22 years, Mr. Koch has seen the legislative election process discussed and conducted many times over his term in office. Specifically:

1998 – Lt. Gov.- Racine 48.7, (Barbara) Snelling 48.2
2002 – Governor – Douglas 44.9, Racine 42.4
2002 – Lt. Gov – Dubie 41.2, Shumlin 32.2, Pollina 24.8
2010 – Govrnor – Shumlin 49.5, Dubie 47.7

In each of these races the legislature was required by the Vermont Constitution to elect the next officeholder. Of even greater interest to the current controversy is the 2000 three way race for Governor in which Howard Dean, Ruth Dwyer and Anthony Pollina were all expected to have significant support. As election night drew near; many Progressives, as well as Democrats, openly announced that if Dwyer was the highest vote-getter, but failed to receive the required majority, they would not “rubber Stamp” Dwyer’s election, as they saw her as “too divisive” to serve. Ultimately the election resulted in Dean receiving a majority of the vote and no Legislative election was required (Dean 50.4%, Dwyer 37.9, Pollina 9.5)

Through all of these elections; there has been little concern expressed, by Mr. Koch or others, as to the equity of our well tested election process. Now having stepped away from his responsibilities in the Legislature, Mr. Koch questions the process that he has been involved with numerous times over his 22 years of service.

Mr. .Koch informs us that he sees the process as the residue of ancient history, a procedure “useful in another time, … out of date” and in need of change today. He mentions that the language of the Constitution is little more than verbiage from a time long ago, unpracticed for nearly 100 years – “where the constables delivered the ballots to the General Assembly where they are opened and counted.” He fails to mention that the Legislature through Title 17, Vermont’s Election Law, has replaced many of the details with more up-to-date procedures. Should this have been done without amending the Constitution to be consistent with the current practices? Probably not, however the mechanism that our Constitutions framers had in place to assure consistency between the Constitution and the laws promulgated by the Legislature – the Council of Censors – was itself, unfortunately, a victim of “change” over one hundred and fifty years ago. If this was such an important issue, the incongruity that exists between the election law and the Constitution should have been adjudicated through the state courts in order for the issue to be resolved – ultimately by the Vermont Supreme Court, the final arbitrator and interpreter of the Vermont Constitution l

Mr. Koch suggests a couple of alternatives; we could institute a December run-off election for offices for which no majority winners were chosen OR we could just lower the bar and accept a plurality vote of 45%, 40% or possibly 37% or less. Both of these options, while easier for the uninformed and the partisan to accept, are inferior to our current system. A run-off would be no improvement over the current procedure igniting a partisan rally on both sides with little new debate or information to improve the “election” and “lowering the bar” would produce the same result as the “rubber stamp” enthusiasts currently are calling for – resulting in our Chief Executive being chosen by a small faction of our citizens. In the case of Shumlin vs Milne – 46.4% of those voting in the election chose Shumlin (89,883), this translates into a mere 20.3% of registered voters (442,593) going to the polls and choosing Shumlin. This is not only constitutionally insufficient, it is inadequate by any reasonable measure and certainly any lesser percentage would be even less acceptable.

Just because our current election process was designed nearly 200 years ago does not make the procedure archaic or outdated – rather it speaks to the genius of our Constitution’s authors. They believed, as I do, that in cases where no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast that the selection should be assigned to the Legislature, not to merely “confirm” the insufficient balloting on Election Day, but to use their best judgment to select the individual they believe will best serve the citizens of our state. It is a noble and logical design that resolves the incongruity produced by the insufficient Election Day result by placing the responsibility into the hands of those we have elected to conduct the business of the state on our behalf. This is the essence of representative democracy

I think what Mr. Koch really doesn’t care for is the controversy and rather than stand for an inspired, innovative process for resolving the frequent problem of the failure of the voters to select a majority winner prefers to sail with the prevailing winds. Mr. Koch is wrong in saying that it is “Time for a modern election” since we already have a thoroughly contemporary election process that just happens to have been conceived 200 years ago.

H. Brooke Paige

H. Brooke Paige, a writer and historian, was Peter Shumlin’s opponent in the 2014 Democratic Primary. The opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the publishers. Brooke can be contacted at: P.O. Box #41, Washington, Vermont 05675 or at: donnap@sover.net

My response ran in Tuesday’s Times Argus (01/06/15)

Reply

H. BrookePaige January 10, 2015 at 12:08 am

Putney Pete surely views himself as deserving to be Potentate of Vermont for life. He shouldn’t have to endure these pesky elections every two years!

Below is my response to Tom Koch’s “Time for a Modern Election!” suggesting that Pete shouldn’t have to endure the inconvenience of the Legislative Election. It ran last Saturday’s Times Argus, just before the Legislative Election:

The system is just fine !

Tom Koch’s recent “scribbling” was interesting primarily in its attempt to distance him from responsibility for what he sees as a problem with our current election process.

First elected to the House in 1992, Mr. Koch has seen the legislative election process discussed and conducted many times over his term in office. Specifically:

1998 – Lt. Gov.- Racine 48.7, (Barbara) Snelling 48.2
2002 – Governor – Douglas 44.9, Racine 42.4
2002 – Lt. Gov – Dubie 41.2, Shumlin 32.2, Pollina 24.8
2010 – Govrnor – Shumlin 49.5, Dubie 47.7

In each of these races the legislature was required by the Vermont Constitution to elect the next officeholder. Of even greater interest to the current controversy is the 2000 three way race for Governor in which Howard Dean, Ruth Dwyer and Anthony Pollina were all expected to have significant support. As election night drew near; many Progressives, as well as Democrats, openly announced that if Dwyer was the highest vote-getter, but failed to receive the required majority, they would not “rubber Stamp” Dwyer’s election, as they saw her as “too divisive” to serve. Ultimately the election resulted in Dean receiving a majority of the vote and no Legislative election was required (Dean 50.4%, Dwyer 37.9, Pollina 9.5)

Through all of these elections; there has been little concern expressed, by Mr. Koch or others, as to the equity of our well tested election process. Now having stepped away from his responsibilities in the Legislature, Mr. Koch questions the process that he has been involved with numerous times over his 22 years of service.

Mr. .Koch informs us that he sees the process as the residue of ancient history, a procedure “useful in another time, … out of date” and in need of change today. He mentions that the language of the Constitution is little more than verbiage from a time long ago, unpracticed for nearly 100 years – “where the constables delivered the ballots to the General Assembly where they are opened and counted.” He fails to mention that the Legislature through Title 17, Vermont’s Election Law, has replaced many of the details with more up-to-date procedures. Should this have been done without amending the Constitution to be consistent with the current practices? Probably not, however the mechanism that our Constitutions framers had in place to assure consistency between the Constitution and the laws promulgated by the Legislature – the Council of Censors – was itself, unfortunately, a victim of “change” over one hundred and fifty years ago. If this was such an important issue, the incongruity that exists between the election law and the Constitution should have been adjudicated through the state courts in order for the issue to be resolved – ultimately by the Vermont Supreme Court, the final arbitrator and interpreter of the Vermont Constitution l

Mr. Koch suggests a couple of alternatives; we could institute a December run-off election for offices for which no majority winners were chosen OR we could just lower the bar and accept a plurality vote of 45%, 40% or possibly 37% or less. Both of these options, while easier for the uninformed and the partisan to accept, are inferior to our current system. A run-off would be no improvement over the current procedure igniting a partisan rally on both sides with little new debate or information to improve the “election” and “lowering the bar” would produce the same result as the “rubber stamp” enthusiasts currently are calling for – resulting in our Chief Executive being chosen by a small faction of our citizens. In the case of Shumlin vs Milne – 46.4% of those voting in the election chose Shumlin (89,883), this translates into a mere 20.3% of registered voters (442,593) going to the polls and choosing Shumlin. This is not only constitutionally insufficient, it is inadequate by any reasonable measure and certainly any lesser percentage would be even less acceptable.

Just because our current election process was designed nearly 200 years ago does not make the procedure archaic or outdated – rather it speaks to the genius of our Constitution’s authors. They believed, as I do, that in cases where no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast that the selection should be assigned to the Legislature, not to merely “confirm” the insufficient balloting on Election Day, but to use their best judgment to select the individual they believe will best serve the citizens of our state. It is a noble and logical design that resolves the incongruity produced by the insufficient Election Day result by placing the responsibility into the hands of those we have elected to conduct the business of the state on our behalf. This is the essence of representative democracy

I think what Mr. Koch really doesn’t care for is the controversy and rather than stand for an inspired, innovative process for resolving the frequent problem of the failure of the voters to select a majority winner prefers to sail with the prevailing winds. Mr. Koch is wrong in saying that it is “Time for a modern election” since we already have a thoroughly contemporary election process that just happens to have been conceived 200 years ago.

H. Brooke Paige

H. Brooke Paige, a writer and historian, was Peter Shumlin’s opponent in the 2014 Democratic Primary. The opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the publishers. Brooke can be contacted at: P.O. Box #41, Washington, Vermont 05675 or at: donnap@sover.net

My response ran in Tuesday’s Times Argus (01/06/15)

Reply

jim bulmer January 10, 2015 at 1:43 am

Two questions: 1. Where has the governor been these last four years? Question 2. Is it a coincidense that the anticipated. $1,000,000 budget short fall equals the amount of dollars Shumlin and his inept cronies squandered on his single payer health care fiasco?

Reply

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