May 2, 2010 -- Political analyst Chris Graff and Mark Johnson of the Mark Johnson show join Kristin Carlson and Darren Perron to discuss the politics of the end of the legislative session.
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>> And good morning everyone I'm Darren Perron.
>> I'm Kristin Carlson.
Thanks for joining us this.
week lawmakers are trying to wrap up work and go home so what's left could be the stumbling belongs and what's the political impact of it all with so many running for office.
>> We will have your neighbors in the news.
Meet a man who is keeping people healthy.
A pup pitches in to make reading fun for kids.
We will check in with a friendly crossing guard in Burlington who is spreading smiles.
And why one shipyard just won the title of Vermont's first clean marina.
All coming up.
>> But first our news makers, mark Johnson the weekly host of the mark Johnson radio show.
You can catch it from 9 to 11 on WDEV.
Also Chris Graff is joining us, a political observer and expert for decades and thank you both for being here.
>> Our pleasure.
>> We will start off and throw this one out here.
Are they going to be done by Saturday, may 8?
>>> The hardest time to predict the end of the session is the end of the session.
Nobody can ever tell because they are literally thousands of decisions that need to be made by hundreds of people and they are all percolating and you just could not predict.
So truly this is the worst time to try to predict.
>> All right.
So now predict.
>> I think if it is not a week from Saturday as we ‑‑ we are going to be showing this show, but it will be very close to that.
I think that there is an understanding that any time after that is going to be money on the meter and that Vermonters want them to wrap up their business.
Unless it is something really compelling, I see them going home around that time or a short time after.
>>> The governor came out and sort of blasted lawmakers on a whole host of bills.
It was probably easier to ‑‑ you look at the tax bill, capital bill, budget bill, challenges for change bill, trust fund has been causing problems.
Last year it ended in that budget veto showdown.
What do ‑‑ look into your Crystal ball and what's going to happen here?
>>> The dynamics are so much different than they were one year ago.
A year ago at this time, everyone thought that Jim Douglas was running for re‑election and in the democrats best interest to beat them up and they did.
And you know they won that veto fight this.
year I think that governor Douglas holds the higher ground.
The democrats have a lot to prove by showing that they can govern, that they can be adults here.
They can get home and they want to get home.
They want to go campaign.
Everybody in that building is running for something or other.
And they just want to get it done and they need to get it done.
>> I spoke to the governor last Friday, and I was really struck by, well, he was critical that the legislature had not gone far enough on things such as challenges for change or enough in budget cuts.
It almost seemed like it was an obligatory criticism that he was making at about this time of year when the governor has to criticize the legislature.
Howard dean use the to do do it to the democrats but not the same as last year.
I mean, last year there was a lot of grumbling under lawmakers' breaths.
I sense that there really is a lot more of a feeling that let's get the job done.
I mean, there is this rhetoric that goes on but it just doesn't having the passion that it seemed to have had in the past.
>> Do you think governor Douglas has had passion when he criticizes lawmakers?
>> I think he ‑‑ he is not a passionate person in a political sense.
But I think he feels strongly about these financial issues and in the past, has truly sincerely felt that the legislature is not ‑‑ has not addressed these in a serious enough way and that he has seen these financial Tsunamis coming while the legislature has been dealing really more with what is right in front of their face.
So, I think passionate, not in a rhetorical Obama kind of way, but in a true belief way, absolutely.
>> The financial issues as mark said, he truly has a line in the sand about no new taxes.
And I think that he really, his favorability is higher right now.
He has nothing to lose.
If he wants to veto something and keep ‑‑ make them come back with a veto session, I don't think it would bother him too much.
But it really would, I think, hurt the democrats, not only in the level of having to fight that fight, but also on the people who want to campaign for governor.
Want to get out and campaign for governor.
They want to raise money.
They need the session to end.
>> Of course that, would include Bryan do you know eat Lieutenant Governor.
And I think you know, on a practical level that one of the governor's considerations in all of this will be how would it affect Brian Dubie, who he hopes to be his ‑‑ his successor.
>> How do you guys think this has played out with so many people running for higher office, whether it is governor, Lieutenant Governor, the governor not running for re‑election, there is a lot of speculation on what the tone and dynamic would be.
We are almost at the end here.
Has anything been different than you expect, nick stand out?
>> Well, clearly if the governor were running for re‑election we would have seen a very different session.
Him not running for re‑election really does change the dynamics.
>> You think he would be more aggressive or ‑‑
>> I think the democrats would really be fighting much harder against him.
I don't think he would be more aggressive.
But I think that the ‑‑ you would be seeing the general election play out in this legislative session and you are not because he not object the ballot in November.
That said, there is also a lot of very high‑ranking democrats who have a lot at issue here.
And generally, I think they have come out looking good in this session.
We saw in this last week, though, a couple of times where the democrats running for governor are drawing some distinctions.
Whether it is Susan Bartlett and Peter Shumlin fighting over one issue, or dug Racine on using the rainy day funds.
>> Or Shumlin and Racine and that dynamic on the whole health care debate.
I guess I've been surprised that it took as long as it did for that kind of little rubbing to go on.
Know ‑‑ though I guess it makes sense because it would come out more in a financial kind of question.
That seems to be really where these three have parted ways with Racine clearly being on the more liberal consider raising taxes, consider raising rainy day funds.
Wanting to push a health care reform package.
So I guess I was surprised that it took him until this week for things to really kind of get a little friskier.
>> What about the fact that the governor isn't running?
do you have any ‑‑ some people thought getting into this market that that might free up the governor to be a little more candid to strike back a little harder because he didn't have the threat of re‑election over his head and seems like we didn't see a different governor Douglas.
>> No, I would agree.
I don't think he was remarkably different on this.
I think really the overwhelming issue this year has been just how big this hole is, and how poorly things went last year.
I think that there really was a consensus among the governor and the leadership and the legislature that a repeat of last year would not be acceptable to Vermonters and to have this acrimony.
So I think ‑‑ I think that has played a bigger part of this than his decision to not run again.
>> And there are a lot of ‑‑ you take the challenges for change, everybody looks at that differently at what it means.
But it was sort of a common ground for some of the democratic leaders and the governor.
And I think that you are seeing really what mark is saying, which is that the ‑‑ the issues are so complex, the budget cutting and the shortfalls so immense, that everybody feels they have to work together to pull it off.
Because nobody out in Vermont, you note citizens of Vermont, everybody is unhappy about some decision that is being made by this legislature.
>> And I think that there were a number of people that thought that the democratic leadership would fight for challenges for change but may eventually cave, might consider raising taxes, might consider using the rainy day fund.
And you know, think one of the dynamics that is held ‑‑ that has held the leadership together and the governor and the legislative leadership is their consistent belief in this challenges for change.
And they have not waivered on that.
>> House speaker Smith, we have not talked about him yet.
He is not running for higher office.
He said he will run again to be back and be house speaker and made the comment to me, I'm the only one coming back at this point.
I have to deal with what could be a 100 million dollar deficit at least.
How has he done in his first term as house speaker?
>> I think he has done a remarkable job.
Anybody that can keep the cats as herded as that with the kind of numbers.
>> 93 democrats?
>> That's right.
>> Independent, yeah.
>> That's impressive.
He has had a couple of test votes where that really has come to pass.
I think he has been viewed by Vermonters as somebody who has credibility because he is not running.
And I think that that has ‑‑ has made him more effective.
>> He has to be the top winner of this legislative session.
He really has come off well.
His success last year with getting the 200‑vote victories, truly remarkable victories.
What you have seen this year is a little more maturing, more comfortable in the role and willing to negotiate more.
He really is the person that when you listen to all of them talking, that has the greater credibility because as you say he is not running for higher office.
>> You think he could be a candidate for governor in the future?
I have heard lobbyists, insiders talk about him as a possibility.
>> Oh, sure.
I think he is the bright star.
>> Who do you think emerges from this?
I have heard that some of the democratic financial candidates who are not in the legislature are trying to distance themselves because they think that anyone connected to Montpelier is at a disadvantage.
Does that hold true?
and Lieutenant Governor who is in the senate, distanced themselves from what happened but then take dread it ‑‑ credit for what they would like to have happened?
that's a tough one.
>> It is a tough one.
I questions it depends ‑‑ I guess it depends on how Vermonters react to the legislative session.
Frankly, I think by the time August comes around that, what we are talking about now will have become so blurred that we ‑‑ that people may remember one or two things of each of these legislators who are running.
But I really think that they are going to have an endless series of debates between now and then.
And I think frankly, there are legislative ‑‑ their legislative work will just kind of move to the background
>> And this is really about two elections because there is the primary election and then the general election.
And moving the primary election to August really has changed the dynamics of it.
I think that decision alone depresses turnout by maybe 20,000.
If you have the primary in its normal time after labor day, there is a little time when people are back from vacation and they get caught up in it.
But having it at the end of August, you really do get more of your core faithful people.
So that primary election for the democrats is going to come down to organizational strength and it is going to come down to appealing to a certain segment.
And so how people acted in the legislative session could make a difference on some of those single issue people but will be entirely different in the general election.
>> And running as an outsider, is a double‑edged sword.
On the one hand you can say that I would have done things differently.
I wouldn't have done that.
but the people that are there on the legislature can also say look, we have been in this position, we have made difficult decisions, and we have the experience.
So I think it kind of ‑‑ I think it really kind of washes itself out.
>> Mark you broadcast your show from the statehouse every Friday if not even more frequently when something comes up.
With the final week on us, is there sleeper issue?
it seems there is this one issue that no one is paying attention to and pops up and could delay even adjourn: Do you see anything like that on the horizon?
>> There is no way to know what might come up in the last week.
Given what's happened in this session, for example, this proposal that senate president Shumlin put out, the millionaire asset test, whether or not you continue to qualify for income sensitivity on education payments, I mean, that came really kind of out of nowhere so who knows if there may be another one lurking like that.
They've dealt with Yankee, that could have potentially been a big one.
I don't see this whole cell phone texting controversy being something that they ‑‑ that is one that if they stay overtime for, I think Vermonters are going to say it is too many for you to go home.
It will have to be a substantial issue in the challenges for change category that sends them into overtime.
>> What always throws the end of the session off is the little issue, and the dynamics.
the end of the session is it really does come down to the house versus the senate.
And yes you have the governor over here.
But that is what these conference committees are all about.
And it could be something as little as who gets to use the Ethan Allen room, that room off the statehouse cafeteria.
it is ‑‑ it can be a tiny thing.
But because people's patience are so frayed and they are exhausted and it is the end of a long session, little things become very big things.
>> And any top surprises?
you put ‑‑ you any top surprises from the session?
something that surprised you so far?
>> Should I give the answer you gave me on my show?
>> Did I ‑‑
>> I believe you said no.
I have been surprised that there wasn't more done on education restructuring.
It may very well be that they walk away at the end of this with ‑‑ with ‑‑ they will have some money that they book as savings at local communities have done good work on but really nothing that I think could be termed substantial.
That surprised me.
I think the atmosphere has surprised me.
So far and again we don't know how the final days will work out.
But I ‑‑ I did expect more whether you call it bickering or posturing, that there would have been more that of by those seeking higher office.
>> Well, thank you both.
And we will continue to catch up as the campaign season starts.
>> Here is Darren with our neighbors in the news.
>> Thank you.
Want your children to read more, see how this pup is getting kids to pick up books.
>> Vermont is one of the biggest states in the nation when it comes to horse ownership.
As jack Thurston tells us, the animals have inspired a line of products that keep their hooves healthy.
>> On this quiet hillside farm in Stowe ‑‑
>> This is horse country.
>> Jim is doing just what he loves to do.
>> But I'm the type of guy that likes to get my hands dirty and do anything I can.
>> He is getting his hands dirty working on his line of knives.
>> People like the idea that it is made in America.
>> Meant to use caring for horses.
>> Been shoeing horses for 20‑plus years
>> He is a someone who trims horses hooves and puts on shores shoes.
It is work that needs to be done every 6 to 8 weeks.
>> And I do really enjoy working with horses.
>> Joe recently showed us what it takes to be one and it is this step here that inspired Jim's business, JH forge.
>> I actually shoe horses by day and make knives by night.
>> He wanted a single tool that could both pick manure from the horses fingernail‑like hoof and then trim the hoof too.
So he developed this knife as a sideline between stops into barns.
The furrier has tinkered and made tools since he was a kid on a dairy farm.
>> There when something breaks you got to fix it.
>> If you think this might be a tiny little industry then think again.
Jim travels to trade shows around the country, advertises in specialty magazines and over the past 6 years, has shipped more than 2500 of his 85 to 100 dollar knives around the world.
>> I have people in the midwest, I have dealers in Colorado, California, Seattle, Washington.
I have a dealer in England.
>> Do you make smaller handle blades for females?
>> Well, here is one right here.
>> Wherever there are horses, Jim says there is a need for his product and he hopes they will choose his blade that is made in Vermont.
>> You got to keep things local.
I think that's the best thing.
>> Jack Thurston, channel 3 news in Stowe.
>> It can be a challenge to get kids to sit down and read books.
But a Vermont library found a way to make it a lot more exciting.
Linda davenport has that story.
>> Meet a Corgi and a therapy dog that visits the library in downtown Burlington so that children can read to him.
The kids adore him and feel he is easier to read to than some of their peers.
>> I kind of like ‑‑ I've never done this before, so I kind of like it.
The dog is calm.
So I can read better.
>> The best part is it just feels like they listen really well, I guess.
>> Studies show that therapy dogs seem to boost the health of the sick and morale of the lonely.
So his owner feels they can also help kids become more comfortable with reading.
>> I think there is no doubt that if they haven't had an experience with a dog like this, this is going to be something they are going to remember and they associate with libraries and books.
>> The library becomes a little more lively when he is in the building.
>> I'm not sure the library is the most exciting place in the world and kids are lively and interested in many things and just like an adult, going up to the Zimmerman to do research, it is not like ‑‑ and I think this adds an element of gee what's he doing in here and you know what can I do.
Makes it very interesting for them.
>> For the dog it is a dog's life.
>> The Fletcher free library will host the dog every Saturday in May from 1 to 2 in the afternoon.
Free of charge.
If you have ever driven down Shelburn road in the afternoon chances are you have seen the friendly crossing guard who waves at every passing car.
Scat waterman spent an afternoon with him to see why he does what he does.
>> My name is Bob Garvy.
I came because I love kids and I want to be sure that they are safe
>> Hi how are you.
I try to treat them as would I my own children.
I have a whistle and the only other thing I have is this trustee little stop sign.
How are you doing today?
and I wave.
Some will wave back.
Many people wake up and they had burnt toast for breakfast.
They are not happy.
So just to find somebody that's smiling and not judging them.
I'm not sure how effective it is.
Except that it probably gets rid of my frustration when the cars zip by here going 40, 45 miles an hour.
>> You shouldn't get hit by a car.
Crossing guard helps you cross.
>> Bob will lead the way.
>> Wait until he says.
>> Come along.
>> Here we go.
>> Thank you.
>> Thank you, Bob.
>> Thank you.
>> We do our best to keep them safe.
>> Now I can walk.
>> Wait until they get out there.
Go right ahead.
>> Have a good day, Bob.
>> Thank you.
>> They are all delightful.
As far as I'm concerned
>> What you doing here, huh?
I like these.
>> Always reading a book.
>> Such a nice guy.
Boating season is just around the corner.
And one marina on lake Champlain can now claim the title of Vermont's first clean marina.
Bianca Slota takes a look at what that means.
>> On the warm spring day the waters around shell shall urn shipyard look pristine and the marina says it is doing everything to keep them that way.
Over a year ago the bills started on the path of being designated the state's first clean Marine app.
Just last week it goes the ‑‑ got the designation.
>> A goal we set ourselves and our owner set for us a year ago and really satisfying to be able to have the letter from the state sayings we have achieved this status.
>> The clean marina program is operated nationally by NOAA and the EPA and Vermont just started implementing it.
The shipyard worked with the state to figure out exactly what the criteria will be locally.
One of the things the state is special Le liked was the shipyard's hazardous waste disposal center where customers can get rid of everything from fuel oil to thinner.
Contained in a bunker so nothing can run off into the lake.
>> None of these in and off themselves were huge.
Just a collection of small little refinements and steps to make it even better than it was from what we were doing anyway.
>> The shipyard also built a cover for its gas pumps.
So rain water won't carry fuel into the lake.
Water quality is tested quarterly and state inspectors checked out the marina three times before giving it the green thumbs up.
>> Well, it means that we are doing what we should to become the best, most responsible steward of this resource this we call lake Champlain.
>> While the shipyard is the first clean marina they certainly don't want be ‑‑ to be the only one and working with the state and marina association to get everyone on the lake to be clean.
Bianca Slota, channel 3 news.
>> Well state inspectors will be back to the shipyard once a year to make sure it maintains its clean environmental practices
>> Good for them.
>> Coming this up week on the channel 3 news at 6:00, tomorrow photographer Scott waterman takes us into a day in the life of house speaker Shap Smith.
Should be really interesting.
Scott got great act sells and followed speaker Smith all around during this crunch time at the statehouse.
>> Also this week we continue our road shows.
People places and politics.
Channel 3 news will be broadcasting live from Richmond on Tuesday.
And Montpelier on Thursday.
>> And until then thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
I'm Kristin Carlson.
>> I'm Darren Perron.
Have a great day he of ‑‑ everyone.