Radio Free Vermont "It is time for all people of conscience to call upon America to return to her true home of brotherhood and peaceful pursuits. We cannot remain silent as our nation engages in one of history's most cruel and senseless wars. During these days of human travail, we must encourage creative dissenters. We need them because the thunder of their fearless voices will be the only sound stronger than the blasts of bombs and the clamor of war hysteria. Those of us who love peace must organize as effectively as war hawks. As they spread the propaganda of war, we must spread the propaganda of peace. "Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968)

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  • Campaign Manager 12:43 pm on August 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Exclusion, Vermont   

    Dennis Excluded From the First Post-Primary Debate! 

    Dennis Steele U.S. Army Veteran

    Last week, it was brought to the attention of the campaign that the first debate of the General Election season will be held on Thursday, August 26th at the DoubleTree Hotel in South Burlington. Sponsored by the AARP and Vermont Public Television, this will be the first debate a which Republican Candidate Brian Dubie will make an appearance, and we at the Steele Campaign have been relishing the prospect of Dennis’ first public exchange with the current Lite Governor. However, reading further into the press release, we noticed that it indicated that the debate would be “between Vermont’s Democratic and Republican candidates for governor.” Seeing as Dennis Steele spent the summer vigorously campaigning across Vermont, and was included in no less than seven gubernatorial forums over the course of the primary season, it would seem that his exclusion would deny the audience the full story of the campaign for the governor’s office.

    With this in mind, we contacted David P. Reville of the AARP and Ann Curran of Vermont Public Television and respectfully requested inclusion. Ms. Curran has yet to respond, but Mr. Reville replied with an email in which he stated that the AARP’s decision to exclude Dennis was based upon certain enumerated “objective guidelines.” We responded by pointing out the fact that Dennis definitely fulfills 2 of the 3 requirements, and that the third is an ambiguous case in which, in the interest of fairness, Dennis should get the benefit of the doubt. The email is below, and our responses are in italics.

    Hi Matt –

    Thanks for your inquiry regarding the upcoming AARP Governor’s Forum. This event is part of our overall voter education activities and the latest of many such events we’ve held over the years to help inform voters as they head to the polls. We really want to ensure that voters get as much time as possible to question and hear from the candidates who may be their next governor. Therefore, we have limited the debate to the most viable candidates based on a set of objective criteria. These criteria are outlined below.

    I understand your concern and hope you can also recognize our desire to give voters access to the two most viable gubernatorial candidates.

    Policy:

    Since AARP is a private sector, nonprofit corporation, there are no legal requirements for AARP to include all candidates in a voter education activity. The decision to exclude certain candidates, however, must be based on objective guidelines rather than personal attitudes toward a particular candidate or his/her position on issues.

    Guidelines:

    For a candidate to be included in an AARP candidate forum or voter guide, he or she must meet the following guidelines.

    1. The candidate must be registered with the Secretary of State (or Board of Elections) as an official candidate whose name will appear on the official ballot.

    -Check.

    2. The candidate must have a campaign office where he or she (and campaign staff) can be contacted during regular business hours.

    -The number for Dennis’ office 802-748-3475 – it shares space with his business, and he is thus available during business hours.

    3. If an independent candidate, the individual must register at least 5 percent in voter support in official polls conducted by news media or other independent polling organizations (not political party or candidate polls).

    -We obviously can have little say in what pollsters ask, and in the two Rasmussen polls that have been administered so far, all of the questions have related to pairing various Democratic candidates with Brian Dubie. We hope to be included in the polls once the primary is over, but that, of course, would be too late for your debate. However, the polls do show an interesting trend – in the one from June 17 (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections/election_2010/election_2010_governor_elections/vermont/toplines/toplines_2010_vermont_governor_june_17_2010/), the option of “some other candidate” receives between 5 and 8% depending on the match-up. With Dennis as the only independent or 3rd party candidate to have filed campaign finance disclosures with the State (http://vermont-elections.org/elections1/2010_disclosures_august.html), and far and away the one with the most appearances at gubernatorial forums, I believe it would be fair to assume, given that no polls have actually asked about alternatives to the duopoly candidates, that the bulk of those votes will be for Dennis. I understand that the situation is a bit ambiguous, but I urge your organization to err on the side of fairness and inclusiveness in this situation.

    I hope this answers your questions Matt. Thanks again.

    Dave

    As we haven’t heard anything back since sending that response, we believe it is safe to assume that the AARP’s State leadership has decided to stand firm on their decision to exclude independent voices from the dialogue on Vermont’s political future. This is truly a disturbing event because, as the first event of the season, it sets the precedent for the rest of the campaign. If Dennis is included on Thursday, it will be hard to justify excluding him from future events; conversely, if he’s excluded, it will be that much harder for the message of a Free Vermont to get a fair public hearing, and the R and D candidates will be able to proceed through the events of the next few months without being forced to publicly confront the scale and scope of economic, social, psychological, and spiritual wreckage that the belligerent and criminal policies of the Federal Government have imposed upon Vermont. When in a debate, Dennis serves as the voice of every Vermonter of good conscience who opposes the empire; when excluded, the most fundamental issues are ignored and forgotten.

    Therefore, we call upon concerned Vermonters to confront the injustice being perpetrated by the AARP and VPT in the following way. First, email and call the organizations and express your disappointment in their narrow-minded decision to exclude Dennis Steele. If you are an age 50+ member of AARP and, as a result of their actions, are considering resigning your membership, make sure you communicate that intention to Mr. Reville. The contact information is:

    -David Reville, AARP Vermont, 802-951-1303, [email protected]

    -Ann Curran, Vermont Public Television, 802-655-8059, [email protected]

    Our hope is that this decision will be reversed and that Dennis will get a fair shake in the debate; if that doesn’t happen, however, we implore any supporter who can make it to come out to the DoubleTree Hotel and publicly demonstrate with Dennis. Even if we can’t get into this debate, we can show everyone who arrives that they are missing out on an important voice, and communicate to future forum organizers that we won’t simply slink quietly away with our tails between our legs if they try to keep us quiet. Doors open at 6:30 – we’ll meet there at 6:15. We need YOU there to show that Dennis’ campaign and the movement for a Free Vermont isn’t going anywhere and WILL BE HEARD!

     
  • Campaign Manager 8:00 pm on May 24, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bluegrass, eminent domain, Rainville, Rockingham, , Vermont   

    May Campaign Update 

    May 24, 2010

    Summer weather seems to have finally arrived in the Green Mountain State, and the gubernatorial race has likewise heated up. For Dennis Steele, this has translated into a string of real successes throughout the month of May. After months of hard work, we’re finally gaining real traction, and are looking forward to spreading the vision of a free Vermont throughout the state as the summer progresses.

    The month started on a bit of a down note when, after taping a full interview with Dennis, WPTZ edited a few seconds of it into a segment that was, for all intents and purposes, a hit piece. It showed him briefly talking, never mentioned that he was running for Governor, and then subtly equated him with the registered sex-offender whose interview they subsequently showed.

    Fortunately, we experienced a radical reversal of fortunes the very next day, which was the date on which the court hearing for Dennis’ disruption of the Barre debate was scheduled. That morning, we found out that the charges had been dropped, but proceeded to the courthouse anyway to determine why. Upon our arrival, we discovered that the press was there and eager to hear Dennis’ side of the story. As a result, a fair, positive article ran the next day in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. As if that weren’t enough, that day also saw Dennis’ first gubernatorial candidates forum.

    This was a big milestone because, since the beginning of our campaign, forum organizers had, for one reason or another, refused to include Dennis in the discussion. We responded to this exclusionary tactic by having Dennis and supporters pose questions from the floor, but as the weeks progressed, the Democrats attempted to stop even that level of participation. The Barre forum was by invitation only, and when Dennis asked the candidates to address the fact that our current budget crisis must be viewed in the light of Vermont’s $1.5 billion pro-rata share of the Federal “Defense” budget, he was led out in handcuffs. So, when, at the prompting of numerous Steele supporters, the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger extended an invitation to Dennis to participate in their forum, it signaled that we’d entered a new phase of the campaign. You can check out the video below (and check out Racine’s expression when Dennis mentions the Barre debate):

    Dennis Addresses the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger

    Building off of those successes, last weekend we headed down to Barnaby’s Backroad Bluegrass Bash in Rockingham. Dennis had bartered promotion of the festival on Radio Free Vermont for a space in the vendors area, and we spent much of the weekend having conversations, handing out campaign literature, and and collecting signatures for lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Pete Garritano.

    Matt and Dennis at the Bluegrass Festival Booth

    However, on Saturday morning we found ourselves on the road at 5:30 headed to Franklin to show support for the Rainville family of Morses Line.

    For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Rainville’s predicament, they’re a dairy farming family whose property lies on the US-Canadian border. The Federal stimulus bill set aside money to upgrade the border crossing station near their property, but the new $7 million facility requires substantially more land than the one it is replacing, and the Feds initially demanded that the Rainvilles sell them more than 10 acres of their farm. When the Rainville’s refused, the Feds threatened to take it from them by eminent domain, and redesigned the facility to take up less than five acres. When the Rainvilles again refused to sell out, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to hold a community forum to discuss the issue and issue a new proposal.

    We arrived at the forum about 45 minutes before it started, and were able to have conversations with a good many people who were upset with the Federal Government. About two hundred people packed into the Franklin City Hall, and when the time to comment came around, the message was unanimous: Feds go home. The Rainvilles refused the further compromised 2.2 acre land-grab, and their community stood solidly behind their decision. After the hearing concluded, Dennis briefly chatted with Mr. Rainville to confirm his support for their cause before hopping in the car and driving the three hours back to Rockingham, where we finished up the festival and departed for home on Sunday.

    Dennis meets Mr. Rainville

    Dennis meeting Mr. Rainville in Franklin.

    At every turn for the past few weeks, we’ve been getting the sense that interest in the campaign for a free Vermont is growing, and that our efforts are putting the issue of independence truly and legitimately on the table. This summer we’re hoping to hit the road and visit as many of Vermont’s towns as possible; though many Vermonters are not yet ready to agree with the message of secession, our experience thus far has powerfully shown that there are many who are, if only someone reaches out to them. That’s our goal, but our effectiveness is limited by the resources at hand. We’ll do the best we can no matter what, but any help our supporters can provide will multiply our effectiveness. So far we’ve raised close to a thousand dollars, and have spent nearly as much on literature, gas, and signs. If you believe that what we’re doing is right and necessary, we could truly use and appreciate your support. The more money we raise, the more Vermonters we we’ll be able to reach with the vision of a second Republic of Vermont. To donate, visit http://www.governorsteele.com, or send a check to P.O. Box 28, East St. Johnsbury, VT 05838. Thanks, and…

    Imagine … Free Vermont!

    Matt Cropp

    Campaign Manager

     
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