According to The Hill, two well-known political veterans got into quite the spat this week.

A bombastic James Carville fired back at Sen. Bernie Sanders for calling him “a political hack,” calling the self-described democratic socialist “a communist,” according to The Hill.

The back-and-forth follows a week in which Carville has repeatedly sounded the alarm about a potential Sanders match-up against President Trump in November, calling the scenario “the end of days” for the Democratic Party while referring to Sanders’ supporters as “a cult.”

Sanders, an independent running as a democrat, returned fire during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, arguing that “political hack” Carville represents the establishment his campaign is running against, The Hill noted.

“James, in all due respect, is a political hack,” Sanders told Cooper. “We are taking on Trump, the Republican establishment, Carville and the Democratic establishment. But at the end of the day, the grass-roots movement that we are putting together — of young people, of working people, of people of color — want real change.”

Carville, who worked as a campaign strategist for former President Bill Clinton, escalated the feud Thursday on Snapchat with former CNN reporter Peter Hamby, The Hill reported.

“Last night on CNN, Bernie Sanders called me a ‘political hack,’” Carville said. “That’s exactly who the f- — I am! I am a political hack! I am not an ideologue. I am not a purist. He thinks it’s a pejorative. I kind of like it! At least I’m not a communist.”

Trump also recently referred to Sanders as a communist.

Sanders has repeatedly pointed out: He is not a communist.

Obvious choicesSander’s campaign yesterday announced that Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch will serve as Vermont state co-chairmen as the campaign charges toward the March 3 primary.

The Vermont state co-chairmen were announced as part of a national Bernie 2020 rollout of more than 50 co-leaders nationwide following Sanders’ victory in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

Leahy and Welch have endorsed Sanders, obviously.

Since the campaign launched, Vermont volunteers have already hosted nearly 130 events across the state, including barnstorms, phone banks and canvasses, according to his campaign.

Call for ethics

The state’s leading government reform group, VPIRG, has called on legislators to establish a Code of Ethics in state law and make it enforceable by an independent Ethics Commission.

Earlier this year, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group criticized the lack of authority given the current Ethics Commission, and the commission’s efforts to conceal some of its earlier work from the public.

The Senate Government Operations Committee unanimously passed a bill to put in motion a plan to strengthen the state’s approach to ethics.

“It’s a painfully slow process but it looks like legislative leaders are finally on a path toward improving our anemic state ethics program,” said Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG.

Earlier this week, Vermont’s six statewide elected officials sent a letter to the Chairs of the Senate and House Committees on Government Operations, urging them to continue working this session toward “a Code of Ethics for public servants that is backed by the force of law.” The statewide officials, including Gov. Phil Scott, noted that putting the Code of Ethics in Vermont law would “provide public servants with direction and clarity on numerous issues they regularly face.”

However, according to VPIRG, on Jan. 28, the Department of Human Resources informed the director of the State Ethics Commission that it had determined that “no further action is warranted or necessary” in response to a formal complaint lodged by VPIRG late last year.

The complaint by VPIRG alleged that the Republican governor has a conflict of interest because he has an ongoing financial interest in DuBois Construction that contracts with the state, and as governor, he is the chief executive of the state.

“It is outrageous that a department of the Scott administration can dismiss without consideration a complaint alleging ethical conflicts by (the governor),” said Burns. “I’m afraid what we have now is an administrative cover-up of a clear conflict of interest that had already been identified by the State Ethics Commission.”

Love for Vermont

The state’s Agency of Agriculture sent out a Valentine to the state on Friday, reminding all Vermonters to spread the love for Vermont’s farmers.

“A time for us to express our love and appreciation for the people who brighten our lives. We got to thinking about how much happiness Vermont farmers bring to us,” the post read.

The list isn’t off-base:

— Farmers produce the milk that makes Vermont’s award-winning cheeses, butter, ice cream and yogurt.

— Farmers open their land to recreation including snowmobiling, hiking and hunting.

— Farmers provide us with fresh produce every day of the year.

— Farmers make sure we never run out of maple creemees.

— Farmers produce some of sweetest things in life — Vermont maple and honey.

— Farmers keep us warm with wool and fiber.

— Farmers grow the grains for our bread and award-winning brews.

— Farmers fill our freezers with meat.

— Farmers grow the grapes for Vermont’s wines.

— Farmers make our fairs and field days fun.

— Farmers open their farms and homes to visitors.

— Farmers teach us to work hard and volunteer.

— Farmers will pull you out of ditch when you get stuck.

— Farmers remind us to pause and embrace the simple things in life.

We assume there are 14 because Valentines Day is on the fourteenth of the month? Or one reason per county? That would be Vermont Love.

Polling seasonWhat do Vermonters think about the coming election? What are the key issues on their minds?

For the third consecutive year, Vermont PBS and VPR are collaborating on three statewide public opinion surveys that will provide valuable insight into the minds of Vermonters in the 2020 presidential election year.

The results of the first poll will be released on Feb. 18, two weeks ahead of Town Meeting Day, Vermont’s presidential primary and Super Tuesday, when 14 states and approximately one-third of the country’s voters participate in presidential primaries.

The polls are being conducted by Braun Research under the direction of Rich Clark, professor of political science at Castleton University and the former director of the Castleton Polling Institute.

Vermont PBS and VPR will publish the full results, methodology and appendices at a joint website, which will be available via VPR.org.

VPR’s Morning Edition will explore the poll results with Clark in a live broadcast from Red Hen Bakery & Cafe in Middlesex that morning from 6:30-9 a.m. Additionally, VPR and Vermont PBS will provide extensive broadcast and digital coverage and analysis of the polling results throughout the week.

Two additional polls are scheduled for summer and fall.

Schools awarded grants

This week, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets recognized seven Vermont school communities and two early child care organizations with important grants to support their local food programming.

The Vermont Farm to School and Childcare Grant Program strives to improve the education and health of Vermont’s students, and positively impact the local economy, by providing Vermont schools and childcare programs with technical and financial assistance to develop and execute farm to school and farm to child care programs. These programs integrate fresh, healthy, locally grown foods and nutrition education into Vermont’s cafeterias, classrooms and communities.

The programs are: Grafton and Westminster schools ($15,000); Shrewsbury Mountain School ($15,000); Williamstown schools ($15,000); Braintree elementary ($15,000); Northshire Day School in Bennington ($15,000); Stockbridge and Rochesters schools ($20,000); and Northeast Kingdom Community Action Head Start ($15,000).

Clean Economy Act offered

This week the Clean Economy Act of 2020 was introduced in Congress.

Leahy joined Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, and other U.S. senators in introducing the the bill aimed at empowering the Environmental Protection Agency to set a national goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050.

The bill would also promote American competitiveness and healthier communities, while fostering a fair and growing economy.

The EPA net-zero by 2050 plan prioritizes infrastructure investments that are more resilient to a changing climate. Additionally, the EPA plans to build up existing state, local and private sector climate programs. While doing so, this act addresses the cumulative environmental effects in economically distressed communities, communities of color and indigenous communities.

Perchlik honoredVermont Conservation Voters presented its Environmental Rising Star Award to Sen. Andrew Perchlik, of the Washington County District, and two other first-term legislators who have become leaders on environmental issues: Rep. Kathleen James, of Manchester Center, and Rep. Mari Cordes, of Lincoln.

The awards were presented at VCV’s 2020 Environmental Common Agenda Reception at the State House last week, where VCV revealed its guide to this year’s top legislative priorities for the environment.

According to the VCV news release, Perchlik has a long history of environmental leadership, working at several small nonprofit environmental and community service organizations before getting a job focused on clean energy policy at the Vermont Public Service Department. His work at the PSD included coordinating renewable energy business leaders in the creation of Renewable Energy Vermont. He was REV’s executive director for its first 10 years.

In 2010 he became the director of the restructured Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, managing several programs that helped build the strong clean energy industry sector Vermont enjoys today.

We all count

Get ready to be counted. Between March 12-20, invitations to participate in the 2020 Census will start arriving to Vermont households and across the country.

This invitation will include instructions on how to respond to the 2020 Census online or by phone. By April 1, most households will have received an invitation delivered either by mail or by a census taker. In areas of the country that are less likely to respond online, a paper questionnaire will be included in the initial mailing to households. Reminder mailings will be sent to households that do not respond, and in the fourth mailing every household that has not yet responded will receive a paper questionnaire.

Here is the timeline:

— March 12-20: Initial invitations to respond online and by phone will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with the invitation to respond online or over the phone.

— March 16-24: Reminder letters will be delivered.

— March 26-April 3: Reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not responded.

— April 8-16: Reminder letters and paper questionnaires will be delivered to remaining households that have not responded.

— April 20-27: Final reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not yet responded before census takers follow up in person.

— May 13-July 31: If a household does not respond to any of the invitations, a census taker will follow up in person.

To learn more about the Census in Vermont, watch this week’s “Into the Issues” with Editor Steven Pappas. His guest is Vermont Census coordinator Eloise Reid. It can be viewed at https://youtu.be/ouNne7P5R00

Working landscape

Leahy and University of Vermont officials this week announced new federal funding for research on the region’s forest ecosystem and economy. The Northeastern States Research Cooperative, first created by Leahy in the 1998 Farm Bill, received $2 million in the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bill for research on the Northern Forest and its 26 million acres of working landscape.

Leahy said: “The forest-based economy has underpinned rural communities in Vermont and across the region for generations. But securing its future requires sustained investments in ecosystem health, sustainable management and innovative products. I’m proud to have authored the legislation to create this initiative and to have been able to secure funding to continue its critical research in 2020. The future of our landscape depends on it.”

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(1) comment

B Rhodes

In the paragraph that starts out with "Obvious choices"...... I don't think it's as obvious as you say.... Lets not forget that Patrick Leahy endorsed Hillary Clinton over Bernie in the 2016 Primary.... I'm actually a little surprised that he didn't endorse the establishment centrist candidate Joe Biden this time around..

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