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Category — Shay Totten

Where is Cassandra Gekas?

WCAX Reports VPIRG fired Cassandra Gekas, and her former boss Paul Burns freaked out and wrote an email saying she’s “completely unprepared” to run for lieutenant governor.

Hmm…I think she might win.

Related Links:

Health care advocate Gekas sets sights on lieutenant governor office (VT Digger)

oh… and Paul Heintz writing for Seven Days covered this too for “Fair Game” although he got one thing wrong saying that in the Digger story she said she quit.  I didn’t read that in there.  The Digger story says

Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, said he did not know Gekas had plans to run for lieutenant governor. Now that she is running for office, she has cut ties with VPIRG.

Burns said because the group is a nonpartisan organization, she could not work for VPIRG and run for office. Similarly, he said, the group does not endorse particular candidates.

Where in that did Paul Heintz read that she said she quit? And why is the column still called “Fair Game?” Isn’t that what Shay Totten came up with when Peter Freyne died? Heintz should give the Seven Days political column a new name… like “Heintz Site” or some other silly Seven Days-type pun.

Heintz also posted the full freak-out email from VPIRG (Vermont Public Interest Research Group) executive director  Paul Burns at Blurt.  How does the executive director of anything decide to click send on such a stupid email?

And the Freep’s VtBuzz blog strongly infers Gekas is related to  former congressman George Gekas of Pennsylvania.  I wonder if he’s her father.

June 28, 2012   13 Comments


FROM:Haik Bedrosian
TO:Tim Ashe
October 19, 2011 7:10 PM

“Ashe said he’s running as a Democrat but would accept the Progressives’ endorsement if offered…” -from Shay’s Fair Game column today.

Hi again Tim,

For the record, would you please explain or reconcile the quote from Seven Days above with what you wrote to me 47 hours ago (” if i don’t win the caucus, i am out of the race… “) vis-a-vis the possibility of your continuing in the mayoral race even if you are not the Democratic nominee? It appears to be a direct contradiction.

Actually- It’s only a contradiction if we don’t assume Tim Ashe will be the Democratic nominee. The fact that the statement isn’t quilified in the quote is a curiosity. He should have said either “If I win the Democratic nomination, then I would also accept the Progressive one,” or “I would accept the Progressive nomination only if the Democrats nominate me first” or something like that.

For him to tell me “if i don’t win the caucus, i am out of the race…” (sic) and then tell Shay simply that he would accept the Progressive nomination gives me the impression he presumes he’ll win the Democratic nomination.

Maybe he will win the Democratic nomination, but there’s at least an appearance here that he’s counting a second chicken before the first one has hatched.

Are we also to assume the converse? That if the Democrats don’t nominate Tim Ashe, then the Progs won’t either? I guess so, because based on his statement he’d presumably not accept their nomination if that happened, even if the Progs offered it.

So let’s say the Democrats nominate Tim Ashe. If that happens are the Progs going to run Brian Pine or Emma Mulvaney-Stanak and split the left? Kurt Wright probably hopes so.

So this is what I think- If Ashe wins the Democratic nomination, the Progs will nominate him too. Then it’s Ashe vs. Wright. If Ashe does not win the Democratic nomination then the Progs might run somebody else preferring to split the left and elect Kurt elected over an actual Democrat.

So are these our choices to replace Bob Kiss? Already this early we know them? Tim Ashe or Kurt Wright? Oy Vey… forgive me if I don’t start break-dancing.


From: Tim Ashe
To: Haik Bedrosian
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 11:09 PM
Subject: Re: Re:

Do I still need to respond to this or is it now clearer? I would accept the P nomination IF I am still in the race having won the D caucus.

Tim Ashe
State Senator
Chittenden County

FROM:Haik Bedrosian
TO:Tim Ashe
Thursday, October 20, 2011 12:08 AM

Well, that is a response. Thank you, I guess,

And let’s say you don’t win the Democratic nomination, and the Progressives re-nominate Kiss. Under that scenario, whom would you support… the Democratic nominee or Kiss?

October 19, 2011   Comments Off

Special Council Meeting on BT II

I had fun Tweeting there I guess.  I picked up three or four followers during the meeting too.  I really just love everybody who was there.  I love the whole community.  I love Shay and Lauren Glenn and Ed Adrian and Paul Decelles- Bob Kiss, Dale Tillotson.  Yes, I even love Sharon Bushor.  Briggs- Kurt- Everybody!  We are lucky to have so many caring people in our community.

The meeting itself was technically worthless, but did it have a meaning and a purpose?  Did it restore any public trust?  Is there any chance BT can be resurrected?  The answer is- yeah probably restored a little trust.  Kinda-sorta.  It certainly didn’t hurt the mayor or BT to have a Festivus style airing of the grievances.  There’s something to be said for the inoculation of political rock-bottom.  Or maybe freedom is just another name for nothing left to lose.  Or something.

January 27, 2011   Comments Off

Interview with the Mayor

Friday was the first time I’ve been in the mayor’s office in almost exactly 20 years. Twenty years ago around this time in January I went there to tell Peter Clavelle I was running against him in his first bid for re-election. He suggested I run for the school board instead. I probably should have listened to him. All well.

I’ve finished transcribing my interview with mayor Kiss. My thanks to him for for taking the time to speak with me on the record, and my thanks to you for reading Visit often!

Click here to read 01.14.11 Interview with mayor Bob Kiss.

January 17, 2011   19 Comments

Full Court Press

“Full Court Press,” I just learned, is a defensive play in basketball. 

Former City Dem Chair Mary Sullivan endorsed Carina Driscoll for city council in an email to Ward Five Democrats tonight.  She passes on a message from Carina in which she essentially renounces her Progressive faith and is born again, bathed in the Holy Light of the Democratic party!  Halleluyah!

I’m just joking around.  Don’t nobody get mad.  Carina Driscoll writes:

 “When I left my seat on the Council six years ago, I also left the Progressive Party.”

That sounds plausible  to me, because when I left that very same seat on the council fourteen years ago, I also also left the Progressive Party.

Joan Shannon recently told me her focus was winning re-election this March.  This means there’s going to be a fight at the caucus.  I don’t know who started the rumor that Carina wouldn’t personally attend it, but it’s a rumor.  The stand up thing for Carina to do, obviously, is attend.

I’m glad Carina is not pussyfooting about the party switch.  It saves local political bloggers like me time and energy.

I’m not going to bother reprinting Sullivan’s endorsement, but here is the statement from Driscoll (below the row of stars to follow) that came with it.  Enjoy!

****Oh wait- update- Shay has a post on this- he says “Ward 5 Democrats will meet at the Champlain Elementary School at 6 p.m. Thursday night.” he also says “Driscoll will be out of town that night and unable to attend the caucus” without explaining further.

Why I am Running For City Council
Carina Driscoll

Six years ago I resigned from City Council with the impending birth of my first child. Cole is now six, and my second child, Tess is two years old. In the last six years, I have been absent from Burlington politics, busy raising my kids and founding the Vermont Woodworking School with my husband, Blake. With Tess in pre-school, and Cole at Champlain and the business successfully founded, I have decided that it is time again to serve. If you are curious about my business, check us out online at

When I left the council six years ago, you couldn’t be on the council and not aware of the city’s pending financial problems. When it came time for the Mayor’s race, I voted in the democratic caucus and endorsed Hinda Miller, because I believed Burlington needed a Mayor with a business background and a strong personality. Despite Bob Kiss’ decision to enter the Mayor’s race, I upheld and confirmed my endorsement of the Democratic candidate. I have certainly not always agreed with Hinda’s voting record, but I believed she was up for the task at hand at that time. 

I believe I am the best Ward 5 City Council candidate today for the issues that we face going forward. Until we successfully move past the problems of Burlington Telecom which are plaguing the city, it truly has to be the only issue. I have not been party to the evolution of Burlington Telecom’s troubles. Unfortunately, there are many who are accountable and there will be a process that is occurring outside of the council that will address that. At this time, it is not clear what the council’s accountability is, but at the very least it is fair to say that the council has been asleep at the wheel and has failed on its oversight responsibilities. It is time for some fresh faces on the council. 

I believe at this time, the council has an opportunity to lead, but somehow with the current make-up of the council, it hasn’t been able to move past pulling stunts, finger-pointing and bitter partisanship. It is time that the council roll up its sleeves, come together at the table, and do what it takes first to protect tax-payer money, and if possible, re-invigorate this public utility to continue to offer high quality, fiber-optic telecom service that is so important to Burlington’s economic development. 

To be clear, I do not intend to seek the Progressive nomination for City Council, although I would welcome and appreciate the support from Progressives in Ward 5 on election day. When I left my seat on the Council six years ago, I also left the Progressive Party. For quite some time now, my priorities and perspective have been more in line with the progressive wing of the Democratic party. There are many wonderful developments that have been happening in the Democratic party both nationwide and right here in Vermont. I found, when reaching out to Democratic leaders here in Ward 5 that I was warmly welcomed and supported as a potential candidate. I am grateful for that support. I am absolutely a small ‘p,’ progressive Democrat. 

I am a fresh face with experience. In addition to running a successful business, and having served on the council in the past, I have also served on the Burlington School Board, and in the Vermont State Legislature. I would be proud to be an elected leader with Burlington’s democratic party and I welcome your support in my bid for Burlington City Council.

January 4, 2011   4 Comments

The BT Mess: Who Owns It?

In the 12.15.10 Fair Game Column Shay Totten wrote:

“Leopold remembers it differently: He presented “Fair Game” with minutes from a late November 2007 city council meeting, during which he explained to councilors that BT would run out of money in March 2008.”

I went looking for those minutes online. The full council meeting minutes only go back to the beginning of 2008 on the city website.  Board of Finance meeting minutes online do go back to November 2007, however.  At that time, the three city councilors on the Board were Sharon Bushor, Andy Montroll and Kurt Wright.  From the Board of Finance minutes of  11.07.07:

“CAO Leopold provided the Board of Finance a status report on the finances of Burlington Telecom through October 31, 2007. In summary, the current customer hook-ups are 75% of the forecast and budget projections. If the shortfall in customers is not recovered, the loss of operating revenues would be the equivalent of $1 million annually. In addition, the capital budget for Telecom is projected to exceed the forecast and budget by more than $3.5 million. CAO Leopold noted that the Burlington Telecom business pro-forma and model needed substantial revision and the City was retaining an independent consultant to advise the City how to remedy the current shortfall in hook-ups and operating revenues. He advised the Board that a full report would be provided to the Board the first week in December.

At this point in the meeting, approximately 5:50 p.m., Councilor Montroll left.”

This is what they heard back then in open session. If you browse through the board of finance minutes from that time period, you’ll find meeting after meeting where they voted unanimously to go into executive session to discuss Burlington Telecom.

One could easily argue that if they were receiving this kind of information about BT in 2007, then 2009 revelations about the cash pool draws should not have been all that surprising to these city councilors. How exactly did they think BT had survived 2008? Magic? Andy Montroll and Kurt Wright in particular, had a perfect opportunity to press the administration for answers in the last mayoral election and they did not. If Wright runs for mayor again, as he’s widely expected to do, he’ll definitely have to answer to his own culpability in all of this.

January 2, 2011   1 Comment

The Place To Be III

Merry Christmas.   Thank God it’s over.  I have to finish up my reporting on the Wards 4 & 7 NPA meeting Tuesday. It’s not going to be great reporting, but it’s free to read. I just want to relay a couple of things before I forget them. Off the top of my head and in no particular order-

*Somebody asked Vince, Paul and Kurt to respond to something Shay Totten reported in the 12.15.10 “Fair Game” column. Specifically:

“Leopold remembers it differently: He presented “Fair Game” with minutes from a late November 2007 city council meeting, during which he explained to councilors that BT would run out of money in March 2008.

In the spring of 2008, the finance board got a follow-up analysis of BT that included the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Their answers were all surprisingly weak. In a nutshell- Vince:’I wasn’t there’; Paul:’I don’t remember’ Kurt:’Being on the council is hard/I blame the mayor’

*People have wildly different levels of understanding of the Burlington Telecom issue. That’s because it’s complicated.

*Kurt said again that his top priority was recovery of the 17 million. I said the 17 million was lost and what we really ought to be worried about was the 33 million The City owes Citi Capital.  To try to make this point I asked the city councilors if BT was part of the City of Burlington and they hedged on even that.  Kurt tried to say it was an ‘Enterprise Fund’ or something- but I mean seriously.  Really?  We can’t even come to grips with known, obvious and basic facts like ‘The City of Burlington owns Burlington Telecom? ‘ If BT isn’t part of  The City, then why were three city councilors and the mayor there anwering questions about it.  I mean, really?

*In hedging on whether or not BT was even part of the City, Kurt also hedged on whether the 33 million will even have to be paid back. I said Citi Capital will sue us for it and win. Kurt said nobody knows how such a lawsuit would turn out.

*Bob then said the 17 million wasn’t lost, that it was invested in the building of the fiber network.

*The mayor’s assisant Joe Reinert, sitting near me in the audience leaned over and told me that the 33 million dollar loan was not backed by the full faith and credit of the City of Burlington as I was suggesting, and he advised me to Google what a “municipal lease purchase agreement” is, which I did immediately with my super-duper Blackberry smart phone. I read this which kinda backed up what he was saying, but not entirely in my opinion.

After the meeting I discussed the municipal lease-purchase concept with Reinert a little more.  I said that in theory, the city was only on the hook for returning the equipment it was leasing, but that giving back a fiber network was not the same as giving back a fire truck.  I pointed out that a smart person (Leopold) once said “you don’t just walk away from a 33 million dollar debt” and asked why the city’s damaged credit rating didn’t indicate the debt was ours.  Reinert said the damaged credit rating was not because BT couldn’t make its monthly payments to Citi Capital, but because of the insolvency caused by the 17 million missing from the cash pool.  I’m not sure I get it.  I’m not sure I buy it.  But it is interesting, and I will pursue these questions further when I interview the mayor in January.

*None of the Republican councilors advocated for the city dumping BT outright.  Actually maybe Paul did.  I’m not sure.  Kurt didn’t.  He said he wants the City to be a minority stakeholder so there would be some chance at recovering the 17 million.  I’m not sure I buy Kurt’s line of thinking on this either.  Even as a minority stakeholder, The City would still endure the risk of loss, and BT would still have to succeed for the City to see its 17 million again someday.  Going for the minority share just seems wishy-washy to me.  I’m more of the opinion that the City should either be all-in, or get the hell out entirely.

***This is totally off topic and unrelated- but I heard an ad for the New York Lottery the other day promoting lottery tickets as great holiday gifts.   I can’t imagine a worse gift idea.  The odds are you’d would be giving a losing ticket and a worthless present.  If you beat the odds and actually give away the winning lottery ticket as a gift, then how shitty would you feel knowing it could have been yours?

December 25, 2010   6 Comments

The Place To Be II

The NPA was a little disorganized, but it worked.  The open forum on Burlington Telecom broke out during the city councilors’ report, and it never stopped, so in essence it took the form of a Q & A with Vince Dober, Paul Decelles and Kurt Wright.  Bob Kiss took part from the audience, answering questions from there.  I spoke with him a bit before the meeting convened and he agreed to do another interview with me.  Sweet.   Hopefully we can set that up soon.

The place, as usual, was a virtual who’s who of hardcore local political types.  In attendance beside the folks I mentioned, Dale Tillotson, Lea Terhune, Karen Paul, Russ Ellis, Bernie O’rourke, Dave Harnett and Loyal Ploof.

I’ll come back to this…

December 21, 2010   4 Comments

Fair Game

Shay’s Fair Game from 12.15.10 and 12.08.10

Senator Tim Ashe on running for mayor:

“I am hoping to play a big role in my second term,” said Ashe. “I’d have to be a total jerk to be talking about another office or election. Particularly one that is so far away.”

Obama was talking about running for president two years before November 2008.   I don’t think that necessarily makes him a jerk at all, let alone a “total” jerk.  I’m curious to know which nomination Tim Ashe would seek.  Progressive or Democratic?  As far as I know there is no “fusion” primary.  Whatever.  New Poll.  One vote per computer per month this time.  Not scientific, but just to tend slightly more toward science, I’ll ask that only likely Burlington voters participate.  Thanks.  Now let’s get it on!  (Ding Ding)  

For Mayor (Choose One):
Kurt Wright
Joan Shannon
Ed Adrian
Karen Paul
Tim Ashe
David Hartnett
Haik Bedrosian
Bob Kiss
Hinda Miller
Andy Montroll
Free polls from

December 19, 2010   8 Comments

BT Denied Access to Cash Pool

From Shay Totten at Blurt 02.17.10

“…In an eight-page ruling, the Vermont Public Service Board late Tuesday denied Burlington Telecom’s request to dip into the city’s so-called “cash pool” to make a key $386,000 interest payment tomorrow on its lease with CitiLeasing…”

Burlington Telecom is crashing and burning before our eyes! This is like watching the Hindenburg disaster!

A spectacular multi-colored, star-studded, fiber-optic, fifty million dollar, money burning, dazzling, spectacular, imploding, exploding fireball for every man, woman and child to witness with their very eyes!

Yes indeed ladies and gentleman! Step right up, but don’t get too close- and watch the blazing, amazing financial and political meltdown of this once promising, small-d-city department of the city of Burlington! A once in a lifetime chance to see a red hot fiery explosion of this magnitude!

There will be plenty of recrimination, denunciation, insinuation, rumble and slur to go round when this is over, but for now let your jaw drop and your mind relax as you watch this train wreck in slow motion. As this plane smashes into the mountainside. As Burlington Telecom burns like Rome and fizzles into a puff of smoke.


February 17, 2010   3 Comments