March 5, 2014


FLASHBACK:  Shumlin Calls IBM Rep a Liar


Montpelier, Vt. — In case you have wondered how far back Governor Shumlin’s disdain for Vermont’s then largest employer and job creator goes, below is an update issued by the VTGOP in April 2008.  It is interesting to note that since this incident occurred, IBM has shrunk its presence in Vermont by over 500 good paying, high tech jobs — while maintaining or even increasing its presence in other states.



Shumlin calls representative of state’s largest employer a liar

Chairman’s Note: When business leaders voiced their concerns to the legislature yesterday regarding high energy prices and legislation that they believed would make the problem worse, Senate Leader Peter Shumlin responded by attacking the representative from IBM, John O’Kane, calling O’Kane a liar.

This kind of serial hostility toward the people who create jobs and generate tax dollars for Vermont is at the root of much of Vermont’s economic predicament today. Shumlin’s outburst is just the latest arrogant dismissal of business concerns, and is reminiscent of when Rep. Warren Kitzmiller’s comments “stood before a meeting of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce this week and told attendants that if profitability was their sole concern then, well, that was a pretty “myopic” view of life…. If we have legislators who do not understand the importance of profitability, then we have legislators who need to be educated. Untended, they do us harm….” (Emerson Lynn, Vermont Tiger, December 2007)

Vermonters are now living with the results of that harm.

The challenges facing the legislature this session were apparent even before it began. Governor Douglas and Republican Lawmakers responded with immediate and creative ideas in January.

The Democrats blew them off for five months, calling those who raised the alarm and offered solutions myopic whiners. Now Peter Shumlin is calling those same people liars. He and his party have apparently learned nothing, except perhaps that calling names is easier than solving problems.

Vermonters suffer as a result.

Yankee decommissioning bill prompts political spat

Tuesday April 22, 2008
John Dillon
Montpelier, Vt.

(Host) In the final weeks of the legislative session, tempers can get short as the days grow long. There was an example of that today when the Senate president accused a prominent lobbyist for IBM of lying about a Vermont Yankee decommissioning bill.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) It started out as a normal news conference. Business groups and their supporters jammed the Statehouse to criticize a bill that affects the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

The bill says that if Yankee is transferred or sold to a new limited liability corporation, then the new company has to make sure it can cover the full cost of dismantling the plant. That could mean the new corporation has to put up a bond or line of credit totaling $300 million.

Yankee is owned by the Entergy Corporation. And John O’Kane, a lobbyist for IBM, says Entergy will pass on the additional cost in the form of higher rates. He says Yankee is obligated to cover the full cost of decommissioning.

(OKane) The money is there. The money is growing. It will be there for an orderly decommissioning. And a lot of this just nonsense.

(Dillon) So O’Kane and the other business groups were saying what’s bad for Vermont Yankee is bad for Vermont business. It’s a message they’ve delivered many times before.

But then Senate President Peter Shumlin stepped up to challenge O’Kane. Shumlin said the bill would not raise rates for Vermonters. The two got into a brief argument.

O’Kane “Money has time value, and you’re changing the time..

Shumlin: “We are not asking for the money. You’re lying about that. We are not asking for the money. The bill says…”

O’Kane: “Peter, that is.. You just called me a liar..”

Shumlin: “I said you’re not telling the truth about that, John.”

O’Kane: “You called me a liar. That is unacceptable. You’re the president of the Senate, and you’re calling me, a representative of the largest employer…”

Shumlin: “You’re representing what is not true, John, to the public..”

(Dillon) Then Governor Jim Douglas waded into the fray. Douglas said he called up IBM to apologize. Here’s Douglas spokesman Jason Gibbs.

(Gibbs) What Mr. O’Kane was saying is true, and he was expressing the point of view of Vermont’s largest employer, which in the governor’s view should be respected and understood.

(Dillon) Shumlin said later that he didn’t mean to accuse O’Kane personally of lying.

(Shumlin) I did not suggest that John O’Kane was lying. I said that the folks who are spinning that tale are not telling the truth.

(Dillon) If all this sounds familiar, it is. Last year, at the end of the session, the same players lined up in a similar dispute over Vermont Yankee. The issue then was a tax on the plant, which Governor Douglas eventually vetoed.

Shumlin says it’s Entergy that is changing the rules now, by transferring ownership to a new corporation. He warns the new company may not have the financial backing to cover the full cost of decommissioning. And he got in his own political dig at Douglas.

(Shumlin) When it’s a question of do Vermonters get protected, or does Entergy get protected, the governor every time votes with the Louisiana wealthy company.

(Dillon) The Senate has already passed the decommissioning bill. The House will vote later this week. And then, like last year, the governor may veto it.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon.



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