Matt Dunne Receives Major Endorsement from Rights & Democracy

Upper Valley Young Liberals also Endorses Matt’s Candidacy

Burlington, VT – Rights & Democracy, a grassroots organization working for progressive policies, has endorsed Matt Dunne for Governor, citing his proposals to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour, implement universal healthcare for all Vermonters and create jobs while also addressing climate change.

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of Rights & Democracy, an inspirational grassroots organization fighting for the same progressive policies our campaign is about: a $15 minimum wage, universal healthcare and addressing the serious problem of climate change” said Matt Dunne, Democratic candidate for Governor. “Together, we can make this shared vision a reality.”

“Matt is fighting to continue Bernie Sanders’ people-powered movement here in Vermont. Rights & Democracy is dedicated to bringing Vermonters together to make real change, and we believe that Matt Dunne is the candidate who will work to ensure our state and economy works for all of us, not just a wealthy few and big corporations,” said James Haslam, Executive Director of Rights & Democracy.

Rights & Democracy is a grassroots organization in Vermont and New Hampshire building a movement for workers’ rights, including a living wage, access to quality healthcare, education, affordable housing and social supports paid for with a progressive and fair tax system, as well as an economy that creates good jobs while taking bold action to protect the environment and address climate change. Rights & Democracy is building on Bernie Sanders’ political revolution, which mobilized voters in a way never seen before and galvanized support for progressive policies while bringing people into the process who had previously felt left out. The organization boasts a well-organized door-to-door canvass operation and thousands of members and supporters throughout Vermont.

Matt also received the endorsement of the Upper Valley Young Liberals, a new group made up of young activists in the area, most of whom met while working on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. The group is dedicated to fostering political involvement and cultural responsibility. A core goal of the organization is to bring more young people and youthful energy into the political process and into elective office.

Earlier this month, Matt was endorsed by the Executive Committee of the AFL-CIO, the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA) and a majority of the Burlington City Council.

To learn more about Matt’s candidacy, please visit www.MattDunne.com

Dem Gov. Candidate Matt Dunne Releases Plan to End State Tax on Social Security Income for Middle Class Vermonters

Tax Cut is Key Component of Dunne’s Comprehensive Policy Agenda on Aging in Vermont

White River Junction, VT: – Matt Dunne, Democratic candidate for governor, today unveiled a comprehensive senior citizen policy platform including a proposal to exempt middle class Vermonters’ Social Security income from all state tax and benefit calculations. Matt made the announcement following a visit to the Bugbee Senior Center in White River Junction.
“The tax on Social Security income is regressive, and hits seniors living on fixed incomes when they can least afford it,” said Matt Dunne, Democratic candidate for governor. “As governor, I will put an end to taxing our middle class seniors’ hard earned Social Security income at the state level, because we shouldn’t be funding government on the backs of those who can afford it the least.”
Currently, Social Security income that is taxable at the federal level is also counted as part of Vermont taxable income. In addition, all Social Security income is included in the definition of Vermont household income, which is used to calculate benefits such as property tax adjustments and renter rebates.
Moreover, it is often considered a double tax because earned income tax is calculated before Social Security contributions are withheld. This means that wages are taxed before an income earner pays into the Social Security system, and then, if the federal income threshold is met, Social Security benefits are taxed at the time they are received.
Dunne’s plan would make Social Security income exempt from Vermont state tax for middle class households earning 150% of VT median household income. Currently, joint filers with more than $32,000 in income and single filers with more than $25,000 in income pay Federal and Vermont state taxes on their Social Security income.
In addition to the middle class tax cut, Dunne also unveiled his comprehensive policy platform addressing the challenges currently confronting Vermont’s seniors.
“I am proud to have been fighting for Vermont’s seniors from my first days as a state legislator,” said Dunne. “I co-sponsored a plan to allow Medicare reimbursements for home care, so seniors could choose to age in place, and I teamed up with Peter Welch to fight a large Vermont employer that had summarily canceled retiree benefits. At Google, I funded a successful internet training program for seniors to help protect them from online scams. But there is much more to do to improve the quality of life for seniors in our state.”
As Governor, Matt will:
  • Support services that keep our seniors active, connected, and healthy by supporting senior centers so that aging Vermonters have a vibrant community hub, which is essential for well-being. Additionally, he will enhance the Meals on Wheels program and expand the SeniorCorps programs, which provide great value to both seniors and their communities.
  • Change the way property taxes are levied to reflect seniors’ ability to pay, revising the tax code to recognize that many seniors live on fixed incomes and do not have increased ability to pay rising property taxes even when their property increases in value. No senior should be forced from their home by skyrocketing property taxes.
  • Establish a public retirement plan, setting up retirement savings accounts for Vermonters whose employers don’t offer them, and make it easy to contribute through voluntary payroll deductions. This will help Vermonters retire with dignity and save the state millions of dollars by reducing reliance on state supports.
  • Get prescription drug prices under control by pursuing creative options, including bulk purchasing or re-importation from Canada, to make sure seniors on fixed incomes have access to life extending medicines.
  • Encourage video-conferencing for health check-ins and other needs to improve information access and quality of life for seniors living in isolation. Whether seniors need to talk to a medical professional, or simply connect to friends and family, this easy to use, intuitive technology can make a profound difference in seniors’ lives.
  • Get caught up on affordable housing by making investments in housing in walkable downtowns, where aging Vermonters can walk to grocery stores, libraries and other amenities.
  • Enhance our utility rate-payer advocacy group. Moving the rate-payer advocacy group out of the commissioner’s office and into the Attorney General’s office will ensure its work is clearly aligned with the best interest of our citizens, including seniors who are often disproportionately hit by misleading utility contracts.
  • Unleash the power of our retired professionals to help get more Vermonters to college through a new Seniors to Seniors Program, which will match high school students with retired professionals who can help them prepare for standardized tests, make them aware of the many higher education options available, including online and distance learning, and can help work through the maze of paperwork required for financial aid and scholarships.
  • Provide scam education and protection by increasing our commitment to protecting and educating our citizens about scams of all types, from phone solicitations to knocks at the door, as well as provide a help-line for anyone to ask about suspicious activity.
  • Introduce ride-sharing programs where public transportation isn’t available. Ride-sharing programs that allow seniors to request a ride when they need it, at a lower cost than traditional taxi services, can be an easy and cost-effective solution for aging Vermonters facing decreased mobility in our rural state.
To learn more about Matt’s policy proposals, visit www.MattDunne.com

Rutland is An Up and Coming Vermont City

For too long Burlington has taken all the credit in Vermont as the city to be in.

Rutland is cheaper, closer to the ski resorts, has the Paramount, has the growing Castleton University nearby,  is just a train ride away from NYC and is the up and coming Vermont city.

Look at real estate for the last several years, ever since the crash in 2008, real estate prices have been dropping in Rutland.  They have now leveled off and there has never been a better time to buy a home: cheap prices, a housing market that is poised to climb, a city on the mend…

Drugs: Rutland got a bad reputation as a place afflicted by drugs thanks in part to a New York Times article but the trend for the last three years has been recovery:

Project Vision, a collaborative between law enforcement and citizens has ballooned into a modern day movement to rid the city streets of drugs and aid in the recovery of addicts. And it’s working.

Soon Vermont Gossip will report on a project developed by former addicts to help recovery by lowering costs of treatment and doing what Alcoholics Anonymous so famously and effectively did over 80 years ago: one former addict working with another.

Rutland has a close proximity to three lakes two ski resorts and mountain bike escapes, the Paramount Theater, and it has its own train to the walking-friendly New York City. It also boasts more than a few successful restaurants, and soon over 40 Castleton University students will be living in the city.

It is precisely now, when prices in other areas of the got-to-get-settled-into state are so high that it makes sense to move to the tight knit community of Rutland, where prices are cheap and the small city, the second largest in Vermont, is in the middle of a revival.

Almost no where in America has been preserved the lack of traffic lights and commuter congestion like Vermont. To travel from downtown Rutland to Crystal Beach on Lake Bomoseen, 12-15 miles west, takes roughly 20 minutes–not in bumper to bumper traffic but–in windows rolled down, hand in the breeze joy-riding out of the small city.

The Rutland Herald is an excellent local paper that has been around longer than some states have been part of the US and that history is in full display in Rutland.

Rutland also has a thriving local foods scene as Vermont moves towards food and energy independence, with summer and winter farmer’s markets. Summer outdoor concerts can also be taken in and the city is less than two hours drive from Saratoga Performing Arts Center where bands like Dave Matthews, Phish and Mumford and Sons play.  It is less than an hour drive from the great Lake George and Great Escape amusement park.

There has never been a better time to find a realtor and start looking for a place to call your own in Rutland. Price and location say it all. You can find cheap home prices in a walking friendly city with easy drive and train get aways to all locations nearby.  Boston and the Red Sox are less than four hours away.  So is Vacationland Maine. All these places are better to visit than to actually live and almost no place in America has as much climate and food security as Vermont.

GOP Governor Candidate Visits Fair Haven

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Castleton and Fair Haven state representatives Bill Canfield and Bob Helm gathered on the front porch of the palatial Marble Mansion Inn chatting with a couple of other people Saturday. It was a hot, sunny, lazy June afternoon and the occasion was a campaign visit from republican lieutenant governor and gubernatorial candidate Phil Scott.

Scott arrived 15 minutes later, shaking hands as he entered the mansion, which was air conditioned. Attendees milled around and chatted for a while. Scott was able to chat with everyone in attendance. Lunch was served. About 30 people were in attendance including several Rutland County representatives.

Dem Gov Candidate Matt Dunne Responds to EPA Announcement Concerning Lake Champlain

June 17, 2016 — Today the EPA announced new phosphorous Total Daily Maximum Loads (TDML)s for the twelve segments of Lake Champlain. The TDMLs were developed in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

Calling the announcement by the EPA a “wake up call” Democratic Candidate for Governor Matt Dunne responded to the announcement with the following statement:

“Vermont is traditionally a leader on the environment, but we’ve fallen behind when it comes to ensuring the long-term health of Lake Champlain. Together, we can help Vermont regain its leadership role, but it will require a new approach and greatly increased state funding. Our state’s water is a shared responsibility. We must address the infrastructure needs together, including working with developers and our farmers to invest in new technology that reduces phosphorus runoff.
“As Governor, I will make sure we collaborate with other states in the watershed and increase state funding for this critical effort. To truly protect our lake, we should view the guidelines released today as the very minimum for what must be done. We are going to need to do this and a lot more, and do it expeditiously if we intend to reverse the damage already wreaked by nutrient pollution in a number of our communities.”

Matt Dunne Fulfills Unprecedented Transparency Pledge and Voluntarily Releases Campaign Finance Disclosure

Montpelier, VT: – Matt Dunne, Democratic candidate for governor, today voluntarily released a campaign finance disclosure to the public at an event outside the Secretary of State’s office, making good on a pledge to give voters and the media open access to all campaign fundraising and spending activity. Matt believes the public has every right to see this information before early voting begins on June 25th.
“Vermonters deserve to know how a candidate’s campaign is funded,” said Matt Dunne, Democratic candidate for governor. “I’m proud to be running a people-powered campaign, focused on restoring the public’s trust in government. That starts by rejecting corporate campaign contributions and opening our books so that voters can make an informed decision when they go to the polls on August 9th.”
Today’s campaign finance disclosure reported a total of $717,855.53 raised from 2,626 contributors, the vast majority of which, 1,849, gave small dollar donations of $100 or less. The campaign has spent $394,523.34 to date. This leaves the campaign with $323,332.19 on-hand.

Last month, Matt announced his comprehensive plan for ethics reform, challenging all candidates in the race to join him in rejecting corporate campaign contributions and releasing voluntary monthly campaign finance disclosures. While the other Democrats in the race followed Matt’s lead, returning corporate money when it had been received and refusing to accept future corporate contributions, they have not pledged to provide the public with vital information about how their campaigns are funded outside of the state’s required deadlines.
“Eliminating corporate campaign contributions is just the first step toward a truly transparent process. I will continue to disclose my campaign’s finances every month, because voters deserve to know what kind of campaign we are running,” said Dunne.
To learn more about Matt’s comprehensive ethics and transparency plans, please visit:http://www.mattdunne.com/transparency/

Matt Dunne Releases First TV Ad: “What Bernie Started”

White River Junction, VT – Today, Matt Dunne, one of the democratic candidates for Governor, started airing his first tv ad, “What Bernie Started,” highlighting his plans for making Bernie Sanders’ vision a reality in Vermont. Matt was the first candidate to endorse Bernie for president, and he has a progressive plan for bringing change to Montpelier — starting by running a people-powered campaign that rejects corporate contributions.
“Voters have an important choice before them during this primary,” said Matt Dunne, Democratic candidate for governor. “My campaign is rejecting corporate contributions because big money has corrupted our political process for far too long. It’s time to restore trust in government, and we’re excited to take that message directly to the voters.”
The 30-second ad is airing statewide as part of a robust six-figure buy, and is the first of a series of ads that will run through the August 9th primary.
To view “What Bernie Started,” please visit:  https://youtu.be/vTPxP_0oHmQ

Gubernatorial Candidate Sue Minter Attends Project VISION Meeting Thursday in Rutland

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter joined Project VISION’s monthly meeting Thursday in Rutland calling the initiative, a collaboration between law enforcement and community leaders, a possible model for communities around the state.

The meeting ran for an hour and a half. It was started with an introduction by Joe Kraus, the executive director for Project VISION. Various first time attendees introduced themselves, including Minter. The meeting had a smaller attendance than it did two months ago, possibly because of the summer vacations that people have.

Minter thanked the attendees for their work and praised them for their efforts. She participated in one of the break-out groups on substance abuse, a considerable problem for Rutland, and more broadly Vermont, which is coping with an opioid and heroin crisis.

The meeting addressed the refugee resettlement process. Said Kraus, “Most of the heavy lifting (in resettling refugees) will be done by people in this community: private citizens private organizations. As you’re probably aware there’s a group called Rutland Welcomes that has been formed to spearhead this effort, and I’m very pleased that Pat Hunter and some others will be here now to talk briefly about the organization, about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and how we can be of assistance.”

Hunter and two other ladies from Rutland Welcomes took the stage and began speaking about the growth of the movement to welcome refugees in Rutland. She said they launched a Facebook Page called Rutland welcomes and within a number of weeks over a thousand people had liked the page. “We thought we might have 35 people to start out with,” Hunter said, “and 175 people showed up one month ago. And there’s more people than that who have since been involved.”

Hunter held up a lawn sign that had a heart with an arrow through it and said that people will soon start seeing these on lawns, that it was the logo for the movement. She ticked off some of the initiatives that people were pursuing for the refugees: a welcome wagon, teaching and tutoring, office support, clerical work, transportation, employment assistance. She stressed that the group was helping not only refugees but also people who are native Rutlanders, and that the community was coming together in a spirit of love.

Rutland Man Supports Sending Special Units in After Groups Destroying Environment

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David Shappy, 49, has lived in Vermont all his life.

Vermont Gossip: “Do you live in Rutland?”
Mr. Shappy: “Yes.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you think the community of Rutland is strong?”
Mr. Shappy: “No, because the economy isn’t that strong, not enough local businesses, a lot of unemployment.”
Vermont Gossip: “Is there a central place or location to hang out in your community?”
Mr. Shappy: “Well, I’m pretty much a homebody, so…there seems to be a lot of bars still, it’s always been a bar town. So I think a lot of the youth might congregate in the bars, but I’d like to see more restaurants and clothing stores. Things open downtown like it used to be. I’d like to see a more vibrant downtown.”
Vermont Gossip: “Would you like to see community dances, and if they were held would you attend?”
Mr. Shappy: “I don’t know if I’d attend, I’d like to see it for the community. I’d like to see more rec sponsored things for the youth, like there used to be in the sixties and the seventies. The Rutland Rec Department were more active with the youth in the community.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe there are health benefits to going out and having public social engagements?”
Mr. Shappy: “Yeah, I think there’s always a benefit to having people interact with people. When I was growing up I knew all of my neighbors on my street on a first name basis, and now I just know my next door neighbors. I don’t know many of my neighbors anymore and I think that’s the same in most neighborhoods. I think neighbors have lost track with each other in this day and age.”
Vermont Gossip: “Would you like to see them get back in touch with being good neighbors?”
Mr. Shappy: “Yeah, I think that would help, yeah.”
Vermont Gossip: “What can be done to deal with the heroin and opioid crisis in Vermont?”
Mr. Shappy: “I think more accessibility to treatment. I think there’s some treatment and some doctors, and there’s a clinic and there’s Serenity House and Grace House and places like that, but a lot of times I think that you’ve gotta jump through hoops to get into some of these places. You gotta wait seven months to see a doctor or you gotta go through all these programs to get into a treatment facility or to get into certain treatment houses you have to go to an inpatient treatment facility. I think you have to have easier access to health, without so many technicalities getting in the way because I think people when they have an addiction problem, if it comes down to having a hard road to recovery and having an easy road to getting access to drugs, they’re going to take the easy access to getting drugs rather than the hard road to recovery.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you support pairing Vermont youth with law enforcement in an effort to combat drug abuse?”
Mr. Shappy: “No, because I think the Rutland police are a poor example of law enforcement in general. I think especially the younger officers on the force. I don’t think they do a good job, some of the older officers I think do a fine job. The younger officers I think are a poor representation of the force. So I wouldn’t want the community intermingling with them because I don’t think they represent Rutland.”
Vermont Gossip: “After a terrorist attack or mass shooting the media often makes the killers famous with pictures and names. Do you think this could inspire others to carry out copycat attacks because they want to become famous?”
Mr. Shappy: “Well I think you gotta balance that with the public’s right to know, you know access to information. So, sure there might be somebody out there domestically or internationally who wants to be the next Osama Bin Ladin, but there’s also the public’s need to know that there is an Osama Bin Ladin out there or someone like him. We have a right to know about these people.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you think that the older generations are supportive enough of the younger generations?”
Mr. Shappy: “Well there’s always going to be a divide. It was that way when I was younger. The older generation just said we didn’t get it, we said the older generation didn’t get it. So you’re going to have that in any generation. So I don’t think it’s any different with this generation now than the older generations. It might seem that way because of the social media, it just seems that way because it’s more out there. It’s seen more out there because of the social media. There’s a greater divide, but I think there’s always been one.”
Vermont Gossip: “What do you do for work?”
Mr. Shappy: “I’m a home care provider for my girlfriend. She has kidney failure, so I take care of her.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you like living in Vermont?”
Mr. Shappy: “Yeah, I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe that elementary school students should be taught how to grow food in a hands-on environment?”
Mr. Shappy: “Well I think elementary school students should go to one school from Kindergarten to sixth grade. How they school them there, I’m not sure, but I don’t like this idea of having elementary school students go to three or four schools. That’s another pet peeve I have. If they live in one district, they should go to one school. Kindergarten to sixth grade, just the way it’s always been, instead of this idea you go to Kindergarten to second grade and then you switch schools and you go to third grade at some other school and you switch schools, I think to me that is ridiculous, and I think that’s why there’s a problem with education today is because the way the school system is in Rutland.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you wish you knew more about how your ancestors spent summers and winters in Vermont or where ever they’re from?”
Mr. Shappy: “I never really thought of it. No.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe high school students who have an interest in it should learn how to make furniture from sustainably harvested Vermont wood?”
Mr. Shappy: “Like a shop class? Sure.”
Vermont Gossip: “Would you like to see charging stations for electric cars in parking lots and on city streets?”
Mr. Shappy: “Yeah, you see a lot of hybrid cars out there so I think they should have that option.”
Vermont Gossip: “Researchers at the University of Iowa found that driving while under the influence of marijuana causes no impairment. Do you support Montpelier’s aggressive effort to crack down on stoned drivers if they legalize weed?”
Mr. Shappy: “Well I don’t have any problem with anybody smoking weed, but I don’t think it’s wise to smoke like three blunts and then start driving through town. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Why would you want to get high and then get in a car and go cruising? That doesn’t make too much sense to me.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe that Hollywood and advertising corrupts the minds of our kids with all the sex and violence and unrealistic versions of life that is found in the media?”
Mr. Shappy: “I think it can to some degree. I think if you look at Hollywood and some of the portrayals of some of the actors and actresses and lifestyles and you look at it as being realistic, if you look at that as though it’s reality I think it can give you a warped sense of reality. If you don’t look at it as if that’s just acting, that’s not real. If you don’t look at it for the entertainment value I think you can warp your mind. If you understand that it’s just entertainment I think you can be alright from it.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe that internet pornography is making sexual delinquents out of Vermont teens?”
Mr. Shappy: “No. I mean when I was that age we used to look at our parent’s Playboys and Penthouses and I turned out alright.”
Vermont Gossip: “Would you support using the military to threaten people who were killing off elephants and orangutans and people who threaten our survival?’
Mr. Shappy: “Yeah, I could see sending in groups like that into countries that are harvesting elephant tusks and rhino tusks. Sending in like a special forces unit and telling them to knock off the poaching. I have no objection to something like that. Scare the hell out of them, put the fear of God in them.”
Vermont Gossip: “Seven in ten Americans take prescription medicine and children in America are twenty-five times more likely than children in the UK to be prescribed medication for ADHD. Do you believe that doctors are over prescribing medications, or do you think that these medications are really improving out lives?”
Mr. Shappy: “No, they’re over prescribing. I don’t blame the children or the doctors, I blame the parents because they want an easy out, so they want their kids medicated and I think it’s a different culture over in Europe. I think they take a more hands-on approach with children, or if they don’t then they find a nanny or a house sitter or someone like that who can substitute for them. So even if they’re not the best of parents over there, they at least find someone who will take care of their children, not a medication. I think in this country we just say ‘Johnny’s a little hyper give him some Ritalin’. I think that’s been going on, it’s not just recently. This has been going on since the early seventies that kids have been medicated. When I was in Kindergarten we had kids that were on Ritalin. So it’s not a new problem, it’s been going on for generations now, and like I said, I blame the parents, not the kids and not the doctors. It’s the parents who go to these doctors and say ‘I can’t handle my kids, he needs to be on something.’ and the doctors are put between a rock and a hard place.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe our instincts are as complex as other animals?”
Mr. Shappy: “Yeah.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe that emotions are instincts that were selected by nature for survival?”
Mr. Shappy: “Yeah, I believe that.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you believe that humans will survive as a species for the next million years?”
Mr. Shappy: “No.”
Vermont Gossip: “Does that bother you?”
Mr. Shappy: “No. I think you know, we’ll run our course. Maybe another advanced species will come and take our place. I think the earth will still be here. I think there will be some advanced species instead of us, or maybe some advanced species of human. It might look nothing like us in a couple hundred thousand years, to the point where we couldn’t call them humans. We’d have to call them something else.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you think that there are human leaders who don’t care about whether the world ends in their children’s lifetime, or the next generations lifetime?”
Mr. Shappy: “Maybe. It’s hard to really get inside someone’s head. It’s hard to say, I would hope not.”
Vermont Gossip: “Do you ever just sit back and think about all the sacrifices your forefathers made to get us to this point?”
Mr. Shappy: “Yeah, and I think about how they messed things up to get us to where we are too. You can’t think of the good without the bad.”