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Category — David Cain

Bob Kiss For Mayor

I am so late with this endorsement. I didn’t really feel right about openly supporting Bob before I had actually published my interviews with all the candidates. I realized that would be weird when Eva Sollberger asked me if I had an endorsement at the Seven Days debate, just minutes after Kurt and I had agreed to meet. I actually had the stink of responsibility on me this election. I promised Eva I’d eventually make an endorsement and here it is…

…But first: Let’s dispense with the pleasantries and get the city council endorsements and predictions out of the way. No graphics for the city council races. Sorry kids. Quick and dirty. Here we go.

Ward 1- Endorsement: Bushor. / Prediction: Bushor.
Ward 2- Endorsement: None. / Prediction: Mulvaney-Stanak
Ward 3- Endorsement: Caldwell. / Prediction: Caldwell.
Ward 4- Endorsement: None. / Prediction: Kenworthy.
Ward 5- Endorsement: Shannon / Prediction: Shannon.
Ward 6- Endorsement: None. / Prediction: Kehoe.
Ward 7- Endorsement: Lesser-Goldsmith. / Prediction: Lesser-Goldsmith

Note: Ward Three- David Cain: What the hell is “UC-La?” I’ve heard of Pepperdine!

Note: Ward Seven- Eli Lessor-Goldsmith: You must keep your promise to live-blog from city council meetings.

OK. Now the mayor’s race-

Prediction- Only a fool would pretend to know how this one will go down. I will say this, though. I remember running into Richard Sugarman up at UVM the day before Town Meeting in 1993. He was frantically scrapping around, looking for Clavelle votes in a panic.

A national change-election in 1992 preceeded a Burlington change-election in 1993. Same for 1980 nationally and 1981 here. Obviously 2008 was a national change-election. So if it worked out that way here in Burlington for 2009, there would be precedent.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Bob Kiss has done a very good job in his first term. When it comes to what counts- the budget, taxes, streets, sidewalks and basic city services- his challengers don’t go there. They go after vague concepts like “leadership.”

Peter Clavelle left a mess behind for Bob Kiss to clean up and a couple of live grenades with their pins pulled to boot. Joe McNeil’s insane sexual misconduct and Brendan Keleher’s corrupt personal raid on the pension fund jump to mind.

If Kiss loses, I think he’d have a right to contemplate the twisted irony of a universe that would give Clavelle fifteen years as mayor and him only three. Which is to say, I think Bob Kiss is a better mayor than Peter Clavelle was. Kiss created a rainy day fund for the city. Wisdom. Quiet wisdom.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Don’t be fools Burlington. Stick to the devil you know. Dance with the one that brung ya. Don’t change horses mid-stream.

And yes. Everybody hates Jonathan Leopold. Everybody thinks Leopold has too much power, or is the one really running the city. But let’s remember people. The whole CAO system is new. I think we will have some of the same complaints with the next CAO too. I mean you slip in a brand new position right below the mayor and above everyone else, and sure people are going to see the person in that position as running the city. The CAO system is stupid. The mayor is the CAO. I don’t understand why having someone who wasn’t elected helping to do the mayor’s job is a good thing at all.

But let’s face it also. Leopold is Bob’s main problem. To be honest I wish he’s fired him a year ago. Absent that, they could have at least manufactured some public disagreement for show, so that Bob could have been seen as putting Leopold in his place a time or two. No need to have a real disagreement even, but it would have helped this mayor a lot to have invented one for public consumption. Play a little “good-cop” to Leopold’s “bad-cop.” But no. He didn’t. So here we are.

Bob is my first choice. He’s the best. And if we toss him out we’re a bunch of fools who when full of bread, forget about bread and think only of circuses. Are we so petulant as to stomp our feet and complain because Bob Kiss is not a fire breathing dragon, or clown juggling bowling pins?

The entire nation is crumbling around us, but Burlington is still pretty good. We have good leadership now. We’re going to toss out, the oldest, wisest, smarted, most serious person in the race? The one with a track record of doing a pretty damned good job?

We can’t be that stupid. If you’re reading this on election day and you’re still making up your mind, I urge you to vote for Bob Kiss as your first choice for mayor today. Do it because it’s in the best interest of our city.

Yes. Yes. You want to know my second choice, and all of that. Stupid IRV. Fine. My second choice is Dan. Dan F. Kennedy Smith. If we’re going to change, then let’s really change. I’m talking Camelot. I share a generational connection with Dan. He speaks in terms of solar power and regional planning that allows people to walk places instead of drive. I get that. His learning curve would be huge and he’d have all these developers crowding around him trying to tell him what to do, but I still like him. I think he would be very engaged and he would excite a lot of interest in local politics, which can only be good for this blog. Plus, it was Dan’s campaign that got me started doing all my interviews with the mayoral candidates. They reached out to me, and once I had interviewed Dan, I was stuck. I had to interview everybody else too. So you can thank Dan Smith for that.

I toyed with making Kurt number two, but nah. Kurt’s number three. Andy’s number four. Regardless of what may actually happen today, this is what I see. I see Marcellus Wallace telling both Kurt and Andy “You came close, but you never made it. If you were going to make it, you would have made it before now.”

Again- the pictures may not accurately predict what’s going to go down tonight. But what the hell. I have to give you people something. You’re good readers and you deserve it. During this election you have given this blog your clicks and comments more than ever before, and I’m very grateful.

Thanks for reading Visit often!

March 3, 2009   Comments Off

Interview Weekend II

Yikes. The audio of my interview with Dan Smith was only 27 minutes long, and you saw how long that took me to transcribe. Sunday I sat down with Mayor Bob Kiss and his Democratic challenger Andy Montroll. Both recordings are 45 minutes long! I’m not sure how I’m going to publish those pieces in a timely way- but I’m gonna, darn it! Just Stick with me.

I also wrote to Kurt Wright and offered him a chance to be interviewed too. No word back yet from Kurt. I guess there’s a Green candidate on the ballot too. Frankly I was disappointed to hear that, since it might be more work for me.

Saturday I was joined by Democratic council candidate David Cain on my radio show, and his Progressive opponent Marrisa Caldwell called in. They got into it a little bit over the sexy snowboards, with Caldwell calling them abuse, and Cain saying it wasn’t the city’s business. That means I accidentally hosted the first city council debate of 2009- Live on The Radiator, 105.9 fm, WOMM-LP Burlington.

February 3, 2009   Comments Off

Interview Weekend

Tomorrow (Saturday January 31) morning. Democratic City Council candidate David Cain will be on my radio show at around 11:30. Sunday morning I’m going to interview Mayor Kiss at 8:30 and Andy Montroll at 11:00. I gotta get a little more solid on my tape recorder (yes I know it’s digital. leave me alone.) and come up with some good questions tonight and tomorrow. Anything readers want me to ask anyone? If you throw out 100 suggestions I might use one or two. Oh… and there’s a slim chance Rachel Maddow might call the radio show Saturday morning. I invited her to call in on her facebook Wall. Like she has time. Still, you never know. She did leave a comment here once. (yeah, you got me. I’m stalking Rachel Maddow.)

January 30, 2009   Comments Off

The Ides of January

Beware the Ides of January. There’s a lot of stuff going on. Here’s a brief, haphazard concatenation of news and information…

*Breaking News: The Ward 3 Progressives caucused last night and selected Marissa Caldwell to run against David Cain for the seat being vacated by Tim Ashe.

*I ran into ward 7 Democratic city council candidate Eli Lesser-Goldsmith after my radio show on Saturday and did a brief impromptu interview. I hope to have that written up soon, but as a sneak preview I’ll share that Eli says if he’s elected he intends to live-blog directly from city council meetings.

*Speaking of my radio show- it’s on at a new time: Saturdays 11am-12pm on 105.9fm Burlington or streaming live at

*Speaking of the Radiator, here’s me and Robert Ready talking about it with Melinda Moulton at channel 17.

*Gaza remains under attack by Israel, with almost a thousand people killed so far.

*Burlington Pol Howard Dean helped win back both houses of Congress and the White House for the Democrats and was then unceremoniously kicked to the curb and shafted. There’s gratitude for you.

*Obama gets sworn in a week from today. I’m taking an hour off work and going down to Nectars to watch with Philip Baruth.

*I’ll turn 36 on Sunday. My Mother would have been turning 72.

January 13, 2009   Comments Off

David Cain Launches Website

Democratic Ward 3 City Council candidate David Cain (Photo Right) has launched his campaign website. And Look! It links back here! Thanks David!

Cain, grandson of former Burlington mayor Francis Cain, is running for the seat currently held by Progressive Tim Ashe who just became a state senator. Will Ashe run for re-election in Ward 3 or are the Progs going to run someone else? I don’t know yet, but I’ll tell you when I do.

January 11, 2009   Comments Off

Knodell May Not Run In Ward 2

This is looking like a very high turnover year for the city council. Tim Ashe is likely to retire to focus on being a state senator. I don’t think Kurt Wright will be running again, since he’s running for mayor. Same for Montroll. Gutchell’s likely to step down as well.

And then there’s this recent Front Porch Forum post by councilor Jane Knodell of Ward 2…

By Jane Knodell, City Councilor – Ward 2, Charles St,
Mon, 22 December 2008

Ward 2 Progressive Party Caucus to Endorse Candidates

There will be a Ward 2 caucus of the Progressive Party to endorse candidates for city council, school commissioner and inspector of elections. The caucus is open to voters of ward 2 who wish to be members of the Progressive Party. Since the Progressive Party is a party of principles, membership requires subscribing to the Statement of Principles in the Party Charter, which can be read at:

The Ward 2 caucus will be held:
Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. at the home of Wendy Coe and Gene
Bergman at 102 St. Louis Street (North of Roosevelt Park).

For more information contact Terry Bouricius at or

Posted by Jane Knodell, City Councilor, Ward 2

Fascinating stuff. Setting aside the timing of this post (right before Christmas) and the timing of the caucus (right after New Year’s) which in itself is sure to limit participation, let’s take a moment to unpack the language in this post a little further. Here’s the BurlingtonPol phrase-by-phrase interpretation…

“The caucus is open to voters of ward 2…”

If you’re not on the ward 2 checklist and we don’t like you, you can’t come in.

“…who wish to be members of the Progressive Party.”

If you don’t self-identify as a Progressive, you can’t come in.

“Since the Progressive Party is a party of principles,”

Unlike some parties I could mention,

membership requires subscribing to the Statement of Principles in the Party Charter, which can be read at:

You may be asked to swear your allegiance.

“…at the home of Wendy Coe and Gene Bergman…”

A private residence where we don’t have to let you in if you don’t swear the oath and/or we don’t like you. BurlingtonPol will not be allowed to cover this caucus.

“For more information contact Terry Bouricius…”

Don’t bother me.


I have questions about whether it’s even legal for a major party to hold a caucus this way. The Democrats and the Republicans in Burlington let you vote in their caucuses regardless of how you self-identify in terms of party, so long as you haven’t voted in another caucus. I that think not having voted in another party’s caucus is the only legal requirement for participating. I guess Jane (and assistant city attorney Gene Bergman) have a different legal opinion. If anybody out there wants to sue the Progs over this, it would certainly be an interesting legal challenge.

The context of all this exclusivity is as interesting as the exclusivity itself. Why are the Progs playing it this way in Ward 2? The simplest answer is usually the right one.

It seems to me the simplest answer is that Knodell is not running again, and the Progs have already chosen the person they’d like to replace her. The secrecy and exclusivity surrounding this caucus are probably designed to create a tightly controlled environment that will ensure the desired winner.

That and the Progs seem to take a sort of holier-than-thou attitude sometimes. Maybe they like to exclude people to a degree. It keeps them in a bubble believeing in their self-importance. Unfortunately for them, that general attitude has been eroding the party’s support for years.

Bernie Sanders is a US Senator now. No Progressive will ever rise higher. I predict that at 71 years old, Bernie will win a second senate term, but with a smaller majority than he won over Tarrant. The Progs have already lost one of their four core council seats from Wards 2 and 3. If Democrat David Cain takes Ashe’s seat in Ward 3, and if Kiss does not retain the corner office, there will be very little left of the original Progressive movement.

What was once a thriving, inclusive coalition, has become an dying, exclusive party. That’s unfortunate. But as they say, “attitude is everything” and Knodell’s post clearly exemplifies the very self-rightous attitude Progressives have had for a long time. Progs will deny it, but there is a sort of “two legs good, four legs bad,” ends-justify-means hypocrcisy going on there. I’ve felt it for many years and I’m not alone.

Post Script- While we’re speculating on Dr. Knodell’s future in Burlington politics, and her potential departure from the city council, let’s take a stab at guessing why she might be leaving. Pehaps she’s had a falling out with the party herself? Or with the mayor? Is Jane Knodell supporting Bob Kiss this year? You know, because she was seen at Kurt Wright’s big campaign annoncement. I’m just saying.

December 24, 2008   Comments Off

David Cain says Hello

Ward 3 city council candidate David Cain asked me to post this, which I am doing most happily. Remember- I’ll publish just about anything any local candidate or office holder sends my way. And with dozens of local visitors everyday, is the perfect venue for your message!

Now without further ado, I present Mr. David Cain…


Hello Neighbors!

My name is David Cain. I’m running for Burlington City Council in Ward 3 and I wanted to introduce myself to those of you I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet.

I love Burlington because it has been such a wonderful place for my family and me; now I want the opportunity to serve Burlington in the best way I can. As a City Councilor I would focus on reducing our city’s energy consumption, raising our standard of education, and improving civic efficiency to reduce the city’s budget. I would also ensure that the City Council does everything in its power to support President Obama’s initiatives and agendas, such as creating green jobs, expanding alternative energy, supporting small businesses, and building better schools. Further, certain City issues will require special attention in the coming years: Ward 3 has unique public safety needs that require thorough analysis and City Hall’s level of transparency needs to be scrutinized. The City has challenges ahead of it in uncertain economic times but I will strive to grow Burlington’s prosperity.

As your representative I promise to always be attentive; responding quickly and thoughtfully to any concerns you bring to me, to guarantee that the needs of Ward 3 are always heard.

My background is in engineering and law but my true passions lie in community service. In the past I’ve served the public through representing abused and neglected children in family court and representing troubled youth with school discipline issues; currently I serve on the Burlington Telecommunications Advisory Committee.

My wife, Sandra, and I live on Park Street in a home that we renovated ourselves with the help of our friends and family. My family is deeply rooted in Burlington; I am a fifth generation Vermonter and my Grandfather was mayor of Burlington in the 60s and 70s.

I will be walking around the neighborhood introducing myself in the next few months and I look forward to meeting you in person. I encourage you to contact me at with any questions. I promise to always work hard to serve our community and I hope I can earn your support.

Thank you,
David Abair Cain

December 22, 2008   1 Comment

Astroturf, Nixon and Tarrant

(Re-run from 09.04.06))
Guest Blogger: “Deep Throat”

Everybody knows about Astroturf. It’s fake grass. But what is political Astroturfing? It is the process of engineering the appearance of a significant grass-roots movement and public support. In the book, “All the President’s Men”, there are several cases documented in which, during the 1972 campaign against McGovern, Richard Nixon’s campaign tried to make it appear that there was significant support for his policies. The Astroturfing process generally involves paid PR firms.

There is a nice article on Astroturfing in the Wikipedia, which you can read here:
and here is another definition of Astroturfing:

Astroturfing involves more than just activities with a single blog. It involves an integrated strategy.

The following activities indicate that Tarrant’s campaign is engaging in Astroturfing:

* In December, positive changes were made to Tarrant’s Wiki entry and negative changes were made to Bernie’s. These changes were traced to an IP address at the PR firm Hayes Group. The changes included comments about “increased chatter” and significant increase in support for Tarrant, which certainly didn’t exist in December.

* On multiple blogs, individuals have been posting multiple entries extremely critical of Bernie and extremely positive for Tarrant. Notably, these include an individual who identified himself as “Jason”. Jason’s IP address has been traced back to the HayesGroup.

* The blog “VermontSentateRace” was established purportedly as a non-partisan blog. It turned out that a paid Tarrant operative, Jeff Bartley established that blog, however.

* The blog “PoliticsVermont” seems to have insider republican information. It shows positive pictures of Tarrant and negative pictures of Bernie. The authors of the blog won’t identify themselves.

* The American Research Group published a poll that was supposed to be an independent poll. That poll showed that Tarrant had cut Bernie’s lead in half, from forty points to twenty-one points. That poll showed very different results than other polls, however. It is expensive to run a poll. Who paid for the American Research Group poll? Nobody knows! They won’t identify the source of their funds. Incidentally, the American Research Group is located in New Hampshire and has published many other questionable polls favorable to republicans.

Ultimately, Astroturfing is evil. It involves manipulating information to change public perception. So, you might ask, why would Rich Tarrant engage in Astroturfing? After all, he has all that money, and he has been saturating the media. Some people think that he wouldn’t bother with blogs and the Internet.

Here is my answer. If you had all the money in the world, why wouldn’t you try every technique that’s ever been used?Here is my prediction. After some major event, like the Bush or McCain visit, another American Research Group poll will magically appear that will show Tarrant has cut Bernie’s lead even more.

-Deep Throat

Related Posts:
What’s Tarragant Got Up (or on) his Sleeve?
Monday Morning Parking Garage Edition
Monday Parking Garage Edition
Tarrant lays off 300, Raises Own Pay
Tarrant Sucks Blood (From Red Cross)
Astroturf, Nixon, and Tarrant
Deep Throat Says…(8.30.6)

December 14, 2008   Comments Off

Same As It Ever Was

Politicians are risk averse. They don’t like to answer questions. Dan Smith was willing to leave a comment here explaining why he looks like a ski bum in a picture I posted, but not willing to follow up by answering serious questions in writing. His campaign manager wrote to me privately and said Dan would talk to me in person instead. Hopefully I will get around to meeting with Dan and the other three announced candidates, especially if I get a tape recorder for Christmas- but there is a larger issue here.

We’re in the middle of a paradigm shift in communications and in politics. Obama was able to defeat Clinton and McCain, two powerful establishment pols largely through a more dexterous use his website, YouTube and blogs. The internet is revolutionizing politics and not just on the national level. Here in Burlington, BurlingtonPol and others have been revolutionizing politics too. This blog does have influence, and so does She’s Right, Blurt and Local Action Works.

Local pols cannot ignore the local blogosphere. My thesis is that, as powerful as blogs have become in our national discourse, local political blogs have the potential for even greater proportional influence on local discourse. Many of you reading this now know me or have met me personally. In itself that lends to a kind of credibility that’s impossible on a national scale. I know my Google rankings are high for many local political names. I know darn well many local politicians are reading this right now. You cannot escape it and you ignore it at your political peril.

Almost a month ago Andy Montroll promised Owen at Local Action Works by email that he would answer their mayoral questionnaire “in the next couple of days” yet he still hasn’t…

From: andy montroll (
Date: Mon, Nov 17, 2008 at 12:19 AM
Subject: Re: Mayoral questionnaire for Burlington Democrats caucus
To: Owen Mulligan (


Thanks for sending me this questionnaire. I hope to get to finish up my responses in the next couple of days and then I’ll get it back to you.


Unfortunately that’s not acceptable. The questions on this particular questionnaire aren’t even that difficult…

1. Why are you running for Mayor?
2. How will your administration differ from the Kiss administration?
3. What is your vision for Burlington?
4. What are the three biggest challenges facing Burlington?

A blogger would have replied with the answers in about three seconds. That’s the way blogging works. It’s interactive and it’s instant. And the politicians who don’t catch up to this reality will be left behind. There is absolutely no reason all four candidates could not jump into this post’s comment thread and respond to these questions in writing right now. Whoever does first will force the hand of the others.

As I mentioned, I posted a series of questions for Dan Smith in a recent post. I’ve also sent a similar set of questions to Democratic Ward 7 city council nominee Eli Lessor-Goldsmith. Just as Andy promised Owen forthcoming answers, Eli also promised he’d work on (but not necessarily answer) my questions…


sorry for the delay on this email.

I am finally recovering from Thanksgiving.. it was long at work and then lots of eating yesterday.
Let me work on the answers to your questions.
Happy holidays.


In Dan and Eli’s defense, I asked more and perhaps tougher questions than Owen, but they shouldn’t be too tough for local office seekers to address…

*How would you move city employees from pensions to private retirement accounts? By attrition or in one fell swoop?

*Are you in favor the Public Works department absorbing the Parks Department and firing Wayne Gross?

*Are you in favor of Burlington Telecom offering a remote control with a pager in it so you can hear it beeping from under the couch cushions?

*Are you in favor of Burlington Telecom selling its bandwidth capacity to other municipalities?

*In light of mistakes made in all three elections run by Ben Pacy so far, what would you do as mayor to ensure election integrity?

*Can paperless electronic voting devices ever truly be audited? (hint: no.)

*Are you in favor of the Moran redevelopment as it’s proceeding?

*Would you have put that huge school bond on the ballot?

*Whom did you vote for for president?

*Would you like to see stairs leading from Battery Park to the waterfront?

*If the candidates for mayor were Dan Smith, Bob Kiss, Kurt Wright and Andy Montroll, who would be your 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th choices?

I want the answers to these questions and my readers do too. I want them in writing and I want them in an interactive, dynamic discourse with local pols on the internet. We the people are sick of meaningless platitudes and slogans from politicians. Don’t assume big signs and slick mailings that don’t say anything are going to carry to you anymore. Elevate your discourse. Get specific. Learn to write and stand behind your thoughts like bloggers do.

And if institutional lag renders our local pols kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century, be aware that traditional media types like John Briggs at the Burlington Free Press and Shay Totten at Seven Days are probably reading this too. I expect them to pick up on the questions here and press the pols to answer them. You are reading this and your opponent probably is too. This town isn’t that big. Don’t hide behind platitudes and promises to answer later.

Elevate the discourse local politicians. I’m warning you.

December 12, 2008   Comments Off

Sanders vs. Kudlow

I found the clip at Candleblog. I found a great explanation of events and of Bernie’s plan to deal with it at Maverick Media (not the McCain kind of “Maverick,” The actual kind of “Maverick”) by Greg Guma

September 26, 2008   Comments Off