email@example.com On Apr 5, 2013, at 12:56 PM, Miro Weinberger <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
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Begin forwarded message:
From: Martin O'Malley <email@example.com>
Date: April 5, 2013, 12:00:52 PM EDT
To: Miro Weinberger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject:A big win on guns Reply-To:email@example.com
Throughout my career as a prosecutor, city councilman, mayor of Baltimore, and now governor of Maryland, I've had to attend too many funerals for men, women, and children who have lost their lives to gun violence.
I've spent my career working with law enforcement to drive down violent crime, and I am happy to say that today, we are taking another step forward toward curbing gun violence.
Yesterday, our state legislature passed a comprehensive public safety package that will make sure fewer mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters will lose a loved one to gun violence in Maryland.
Even though the proposal is supported by a large majority of Marylanders, we had to work harder than ever before to pass it into law. The interest groups who oppose actions to reduce gun violence are powerful, entrenched, and well-financed, and they fought us every step of the way in Maryland -- just as they're fighting tooth and nail to block any action at the federal level.
We were able to prevail because there were enough Democratic lawmakers willing to stand up to the special interest groups -- and they were able to do that because they knew that committed supporters like you had their back.
Today, I'm asking you to show Democrats across the country that you have their back in the fight to reduce gun violence.
I can tell you firsthand that having what it takes to win can make all the difference. Chip in $5 or more today:
We must act -- to make our communities safer, and to honor the memory of the loved ones we've lost.
P.S. -- The lawmakers fighting against legislation to reduce gun violence have big-money interest groups fighting to keep them in power. Democrats are counting on you. Please chip in today.
Paid for by the Democratic National Committee, 430 S. Capitol St. SE, Washington DC 20003 and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. Contributions or gifts to the Democratic National Committee are not tax deductible.
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Begin forwarded message:
From: "Allen, Susan" <Susan.Allen@state.vt.us>
Subject: AFTERNOON MEDIA CLIPS FOR THURSDAY, APRIL 4 (final):
Date: April 4, 2013 3:19:53 PM EDT
To: "Allen, Susan" <Susan.Allen@state.vt.us>
Vt. judge tells defendant to change T-shirt ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP) - A Vermont judge refused to arraign a domestic violence suspect until he changed his shirt, which had the words: "I bust mine to kick yours."
Caledonia Superior Court Judge Mary Miles Teachout told Christopher Bryant on Wednesday she wasn't going ahead with the arraignment until he changed the shirt. She then left the courtroom.
The Caledonian-Record reports public defender Doug Willey then took off his suit jacket and put it on his client backwards to cover the 28-year-old Bryant's torso.
Bryant, of St. Johnsbury, remained covered by Willey's coat for the arraignment in which he pleaded not guilty. He was charged with unlawful restraint, domestic assault and other charges stemming from a confrontation with his girlfriend.
Kudos from New England Journal of Medicine for Vt. MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - An article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine is praising Vermont's efforts to redesign its health care system, saying Vermont can provide a roadmap for other states.
The study's author, Dr. Laura Grubb of the University of Texas School of Public Health, says Vermont's efforts to retool its own health care system put it in a leadership position among states in implementing the changes called for under the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010.
She says Vermont's efforts have been helped by implementing them through a centralized board, the Green Mountain Care Board.
Grubb adds that Vermont also has done a good job so far in developing the state-based exchange. And she says Vermont has taken full advantage of federal funding opportunities.
VT Bill Would Require VT National Guard to Report Sexual Assaults & Prevention MONTPELIER, Vt. - Vermonters could soon learn how big a problem sex assaults and harassment are in the Vermont National Guard.
The Guard and sexual survivor advocates met with Vermont lawmakers. Right now a bill is being considered that would require the guard to report the number of sex assaults and what it's doing to prevent them.
Guard staff say new programs and policies are already in place.
"I am encouraged for a lack of a better word encouraged by the progress that we've made and definitely how some of the new leadership has helped with some of the changes," Lt. Angela Lakey, Guard Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, said.
Backers of the bill say it has widespread support and should pass. They also hope to require the Guard to make the report every year.
Shumlin's EITC Plan Under Fire BOB KINZEL Governor Shumlin's plan to transfer $17 million from the state's Earned Income Tax Credit program to pay for his child care initiative is under fire in the Senate.
Shumlin is looking to the Senate to keep his plan alive because it was rejected by the House last month.
The EITC is a federal program and Vermont matches 32 percent of a household's federal credit. The program is designed primarily to assist low income working people with children.
For instance, a single parent with two children, with an income less than $40,000, could qualify for a maximum federal tax credit of just over $5,000.
The state would then provide a 32 percent match or roughly $1,600 dollars. Under Shumlin's plan, the state credit would be reduced by $1,000.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, last year 45,000 Vermont households qualified for the program. The average federal credit was $1,800 and the average state credit was $574.
Shumlin says Vermont's matching program is too generous in difficult budget times.
"27 states choose not to match at the state level at all. Vermont is the state that has the second most generous match in America," said Shumlin. "It's gone up, the overall commitment to that has gone up 49 percent in the last 8 years because it's indexed to the federal program."
Shumlin denies that he's taking money from low income working people to pay for his child care initiative - instead he says he's "reallocating" these funds.
"The piece of the argument is just dead wrong," said Shumlin. "People speak about this as if we're asking low income people to pay for it. The Earned Income Tax Credit is paid for by all the other taxpayers in the state of Vermont just like any program to help people out of poverty."
Chittenden Senator Tim Ashe is the chairman of the Senate Finance committee. He didn't like the Governor's plan back in January and he likes it even less today.
"My thoughts haven't changed in fact they get stronger each time the governor tries to justify going after that money."
Ashe says he's stunned that Shumlin opposes income tax increases for wealthy people at the same time that he's asking low income working people to pay for his child care proposal.
"It is impossible to say that someone making $20,000 a year can fork over a thousand and somebody making $200,000 can't," said Ashe. "It's just beyond the pale."
The Senate Finance committee is expected to draft a revenue package for next year in the next few weeks, and if Ashe has his way, the cut to the EITC program won't be part of it.
Changes Underway At Brattleboro Retreat MITCH WERTLIEB Changes are underway at the Brattleboro Retreat. The psychiatric hospital will open a new Adult Intensive Unit next week. The facility is part of the state's new plan to serve mental health patients following the closure of the Vermont State Hospital by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.
After the storm, the Retreat immediately took patients into an older unit that was quickly redesigned for safety. Now they've fully re-designed a unit in the Tyler building on the fourth floor.
Since Tropical Storm Irene closed the Vermont State Hospital patients have been waiting for beds in mental health care facilities, sometimes for days. Simpson said the new unit might not ease that backlog.
"We already see 14 patients on the other unit that we have and we'll just essentially be going from one unit to the redesigned unit. But it's also important to point out that on our other adult units we've been accepting up to another 14 patients a day since the closure of the State Hospital and peppering patients throughout the hospital on a unit that might work best for them," Simpson said.
Simpson says the system is still in crisis, waiting for all of the new State Hospital in Berlin, the acute residential services around the state to open.
"There will still be patients backed up in the emergency rooms," Simpson said.
The Brattleboro Retreat is also dealing with licensing issues. A February study for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS found that the hospital was not in compliance with federal, state and local laws, and also had substantial deficiencies in protecting patients' rights.
And the survey said the Retreat didn't follow its own quality improvement program.
"Hospitals around this country are constantly in a state of improving themselves. It's just the way it works. Over the last 5 years, we've had over 250 performance improvement projects, looking at how we can improve care," Simpson said. "What's important to note is when the Retreat has a problem, we have a track record in fixing that problem."
Simpson says it's a question of personal performance versus organizational performance. They try to re-educate employees and get to the root of the problem. The Retreat has been writing a plan of correction for CMS.
"On the more complex issues, education or policy re-design, we'll take the appropriate amount of time to get the right people in the room and make sure we're looking at it thoughtfully," Simpson said.
The Brattleboro Retreat also recently announced a partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont called the Vermont Care Collaborative.
"The concept is to make sure the mind and body are treated together and that folks that are reviewing an individual's medical claim will also look at the interface of the brain the body and mental health and addiction, concerns, having a united effort to make sure Vermonters are receiving the best health care they can receive," Simpson said.
Study: States Can Learn From Vermont’s Health Care Reform Kirk Carapezza
One of the country's top medical journals is touting Vermont's health care reform effort as an example for the rest of the nation.
A study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine says other states can learn some lessons from Vermont in rolling out health exchanges that are essential to the federal Affordable Care Act.
Doctor Laura Grubb at the University of Texas wrote the report. In a phone interview Wednesday, she said other states should follow Vermont administrators' lead and take matters into their own hands.
"As opposed to having a mandate from above pushing it at you, instead, they decided to take their own initiative and go with what was best for the people of Vermont," Grubb said
In her study, Grubb points out that Vermont created the Green Mountain Care Board to slow the rising cost of health care. She says administrators have worked to reduce redundancy and improve transparency, while developing a state-exchange that will be 100 percent federally funded.
"Vermont has been extremely aggressive," Grubb said. "Any opportunity there has been for federal funding, Vermont has taken advantage of it."
The state has been awarded more than $250 million in federal funding for its state health exchange. That's the fifth highest amount among the states, Grubb reports, although Vermont has the second lowest population.
Sorrell: Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Should Include Plants By Kirk Carapezza
Vermont’s attorney general wants a marijuana decriminalization bill moving though the House to allow people to grow one or two plants.
Attorney General Bill Sorrell says if the state doesn’t allow Vermonters to grow their own pot it will force them to buy marijuana illegally.
“I see the concern about a commercial grow operation trying to say it’s all for personal consumption,” Sorrell says. “But I don’t think you want to foster somebody having to buy marijuana behind a bar in downtown Burlington or Montpelier or wherever.”
Sorrell supports decriminalizing the possession of 1.25 ounces of marijuana. The bill in the House would decriminalize 2 ounces.
But Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn worries that permitting the growth of plants, even in small amounts, would make marijuana more accessible. That provision, Flynn says, would stray from the goal of the legislation.
“It’s clearly just reclassifying the offense from a crime to a civil infraction,” Flynn says. “I think it might be kind of naïve to think that people are only going to grow 1 ounce and then immediately destroy the rest.”
The House and Senate Judiciary committees are taking testimony this week on a pair of decriminalization bills.
Supporters say the legislation would free up police to tackle more serious crimes by making possession a civil offense. Opponents argue it sends the wrong message.
Hinesburg Representative Bill Lippert, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has said the bill is likely to pass this session.
Gregg: Vermonters Sound Off John Gregg Results from the annual Town Meeting Day Survey conducted for the past 43 years by state Sen. Bill Doyle, R-Montpelier, were released this week and showed Vermonters to be pro-wind but against nuclear power, keen on hemp and pot, and against higher taxes but in favor of expanding the bottle deposit bill.
That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the so-called Doyle Poll showed that only 33 percent favor an increase in the gas tax to pay for roads and bridges, while 56 percent were opposed and 11 percent undecided.
“It’s not that people are against roads and bridges, but there’s a real mood in the state against (higher) taxes,” said Doyle, who tends to ask questions about issues tied to legislation in the Statehouse. “It’s an anti-tax, anti-new program feeling in the state.”
Some 46 percent said they supported a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, compared to 47 percent opposed and 7 percent undecided.
At the same time, a whopping 76 percent said they thought the 5-cent deposit on bottles, which basically now affects carbonated beverages, should be expanded to include all bottled beverages.
The venerable Doyle Poll isn’t scientific, but has been closely watched over the years as a solid barometer of voter sentiment. This year, almost 14,000 respondents from 163 cites and towns across Vermont filled in the surveys, which are often taken to Town Meetings by state lawmakers of all parties.
Among other questions, 46 percent of respondents said they support state efforts to shut down the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, while 41 percent were opposed; at the same time, only 35 percent of respondents said they favor a three-year moratorium on wind turbines on ridgelines, while 52 percent want them to go forward.
In terms of law enforcement, 56 percent said they believe “Vermont trained law enforcement personnel” should be permitted to use Tasers, while 25 percent oppose use of the stun guns. This question after a Taser fired by a Vermont state police trooper was blamed for the death of a Thetford man last summer. As for the decriminalization of marijuana, 61 percent feel people shouldn’t face criminal charges for possessing small amounts of pot, while 31 percent oppose decriminalization.
And 51 percent feel growing hemp, which is used for rope and clothing, among other uses, would “be an asset to Vermont’s economy,” while 27 percent were opposed and 22 percent were undecided.
But what might be most indicative is the question that wasn’t asked — Doyle didn’t include any questions about an assault weapons ban or other gun control measures, a major issue at several Upper Valley Town Meetings, and legislatures around the country, following the massacre in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
(You’ll recall that a February poll by the Castleton Institute at Castleton State College found that 61 percent of respondents in that Vermont poll favored banning further sale of assault weapons and 54 percent wanted to make owning an assault rifle illegal.) But Doyle said the gun issue also involves such issues as the capacity of magazines and how to deal with the mentally ill.
“You can’t pick out one issue in the gun debate. There are several subsets,” Doyle said. “It’s a bigger package then just assault weapons, and there wasn’t really a bill in front of us.”
Technically true, given that Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth, a liberal University of Vermont professor from Burlington, pulled a bill that would have banned assault weapons at the start of the session when it became apparent even fellow Democrats feared angering politically active gun owners.
But what’s also true is that Doyle, who is almost a state treasure at this point, didn’t ask the question on everybody’s mind — how do Vermonters really feel about assault weapons after Sandy Hook?
Maybe it’s because Montpelier doesn’t want to know the answer.
Shumlin in the News
Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Putney Democrat who is now chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, is clearly looking forward to gaining a national profile.
Shumlin appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program Tuesday to cheerlead for Obamacare, saying, “We’re doing great things with the money. We’re insuring Vermonters.”
Shumlin, who made his mark as Senate president pro tempore, where he pushed for passage of gay marriage in Vermont, also told a bit of a whopper on MSNBC when he described himself thusly: “I’m a small business person, I came to the governor’s office as a business person, not a politician.”
In other news, Shumlin’s office yesterday issued a statement confirming that he and his wife, Deb, who had been separated for several years, finalized their divorce last month in Windham County Family Court.
“Even though divorce is a sad occasion, Deb and I will be forever blessed by many extraordinary years together and two remarkable daughters. No parents could ask for a greater gift than Olivia and Becca, and Deb and I are grateful that we remain friends and will continue to share our strong family. We make this statement in light of my public office, but Deb and I will have no further comment on this private issue,” Shumlin said in the statement.
SEVEN DAYS OFF MESSAGE BLOG:
John McClaughry: VT Secessionist, Free-Market Conservative and…Champion of Frogs? Posted by Ken Picard John McClaughry has never been shy about offering his opinions on just about anything done by the state or federal government. An ex-state senator, former speechwriter and senior policy advisor to President Reagan, and founder of the free-market think tank, Ethan Allen Institute, McClaughry made a career out of wading hip-deep into the weeds of public policy matters.
Perhaps all that time spent in bureaucratic swamps explains McClaughry's personal fondness for frogs.
Evidently, though, Vermont's foremost advocate for seceding from the Union is shy about admitting to his secret, 50-year side gig as champion of croaking amphibians. Beginning in 1961, McClaughry, under the pseudonym Nestle J. Frobish, dubbed himself "Chair-Creature of the Worldwide Fair Play for Frogs Committee." In that role, he launched a campaign to skewer the political aspirations of a then-California state assemblyman, then later U.S. congressman, named Jerome R. Waldie.
Waldie's damnable offense? As a freshman Democratic lawmaker from Antioch, Calif., he introduced a one-line bill in the California State Assembly that read, "Frogs may be taken using slingshot." At the time, McClaughry was a college student at UC Berkeley — another difficult concept to wrap one's head around. McClaughry describes his alter-ego Frobish as "an outraged liberal who thought this invasion of the rights of the frog was wholly unconscionable and embarked on a crusade that eventually came to victory 44 years later."
Waldie's six-word bill died in committee faster than a gigged frog. But his "frog murder bill," as Frobish often called it, would haunt him for decades.
In 1974, Waldie, now congressman from California's 14th congressional district, decided to make a run for governor to replace the outgoing governor, Ronald Reagan. According to McClaughry, when Waldie showed up at a Democratic fundraiser, about 15 people were picketing outside the hotel with signs that read, "Waldie unfair to frogs!" and "Stop the frog murderer!" Waldie was later defeated in the Democratic primary by then-Secretary of State Jerry Brown, who went on to win the office. The frog lobby's role in Waldie's defeat remains undetermined.
For years, Frobish and Waldie engaged in a spirited correspondence — this in the days before email — which was later compiled and published in a 1977 tongue-in-cheek political satire book titled Fair Play for Frogs: The Waldie-Frobish Papers.
Fair Play for Frogs never actually outs McClaughry as Waldie's political nemesis, though author Bill Kauffman did make the connection in his 1995 book, America First! Its History, Culture and Politics. A May 2007 radio interview with Frobish, who sounds an awful lot like McClaughry, can be heard on Radio Curious by Barry Vogel from Ukiah, Calif. Again, McClaughry's name doesn't come up.
To date, McClaughry, who has since retired from his leadership position at the Ethan Allen Institute, has never actually confessed to being Frobish, despite the passage of time and the death of Waldie in April 2009.
So, where is Mr. Frobish now?
"That’s hard to say. He’s a little bit secretive,” says McClaughry, evasively. "He has this idea that the slingshot lobby has never forgiven him for his successful crusade and harbors ill-design on his person."
When asked point-blank if he and Frobish are, in fact, one and the same man, McClaughry demurred.
"Nestle J. Frobish has been an active member of the frog cause for some 50 years and is a close and dear friend," he added. "I wouldn’t want to diminish the lustre of Frobish’s accomplishments by crowding in on his persona."