Thursday, March 13, 2014

Public Banksters - Part V

UPDATE 7:03 PM According to the Senate calendar posted a couple of minutes ago, the public banking bill (S. 204) is not scheduled for a Second Reading tomorrow on March 14. That would then seem to mean that the bill is dead unless an extension is granted, which is not very likely to happen. March 14 is the last day that crossover may occur to the House so that makes it doubtful that any bill could be passed in the 2013-2014 biennium. In short, it's probably back to the drawing boards for the seceshers and the unregistered lobbyists in pulling the Vermont economy out of "the Empire." And that'd be two times in recent history that the legislature has properly given the public banking scheme the boot.

Unregistered public bank lobbyist* Gwen Hallsmith, co-founder of Vermonters for a New Economy and the acting executive director of the California based Public Banking Institute, has been shopping around a series of articles on public banking to various online outlets.

One of her more recent forays into meme weaving on the Internets is an opinion piece that she submitted to Al Jezeera America in which she contends that "voters (love) the idea. In 17 towns around the state, a vote to endorse the idea of a public bank passed overwhelmingly last week at the town meetings." What she didn't say was that most of the towns are strongholds of the tiny Vermont secesher community and that they represent as few as 5% of the state's voters or that town meetings themselves normally produce the smallest electoral turnout of Vermont's elections or that the meetings are subject to the hijinks of a small group of activists. She further pumps up the meme with the header, "Vermonters support state public bank, and you should too". Really? And then she adds, "Citizens across state vote to use local dollars to help economy, not Wall Street". Okay, now that's just pure bullshit but, hey, what do they know at Al Jezeera? There was no mention whatsoever of Wall Street in the article presented on the warrant at various town meetings so that's just an outright lie.

Decontextualized fragments of facts is a well worn tactic of the Vermont seceshers and Hallsmith seems to have fallen under the sway of secesher leader and rocket scientist Gary Flomenhoft. The seceshers have a history twisting "facts" of their own creation into a narrative that ultimately is not borne out by electoral results. For years the seceshers claimed that support for secession was growing by leaps and bounds and that as many as 60,000 of the electorate supported secession but when crunch time came more than 99.24% of Vermonters voted for someone other than the secesher gubernatorial candidate, more than 30 times less than their fictional estimate of support. This twisting of the known facts by Hallsmith has the same smell about it.

Significantly, she gave the most personal ink in her piece to longtime secesher propagandist Rob Williams of Waitsfield. That pretty much cements the ties between the unregistered public banking lobbyists and the tiny Vermont secesher community.

ADDED 3/14: In Hallsmith's Al Jazeera opinion piece can be found another example of the contortionistic juxtaposition of facts taken from their proper context to create a self-serving inference that significantly leaves out all of the relevant facts that would lead the Al Jazeera readers to a different conclusion. In a spin taken from the secesher playbook of how to make something out of nothing Hallsmith would have those readers believe that the votes "of a few (less than 5%) seem like a broad consensus" across the state for a proposal that appears to have died in "the statehouse" Senate Finance Committee. Hallsmith notes that the non-binding public banking article considered at Montpelier's town meeting "got more votes than the mayor did in his bid for re-election" without telling the readers that more votes were cast for the mayor than for his opponent who was Hallsmith! Which then begs the question as to why Hallsmith would leave out such a pertinent fact for the readers to know. Hallsmith's campaign grew to be so nasty that she revealed the incomes of the mayor's supporters in a crass appeal to classism. Oh, and Gwen, if you were from Vermont you might have known that there is no governor's mansion in Vermont, unlike what you said. You must have been thinking of California.

* (Note: I've been queried about my contention that Hallsmith, Flomenhoft, et al are, in fact, subject to the requirement to register as lobbyists. The law seems fairly clear that they are required to register due to their having expended in excess of $500 on their effort to influence legislative action on behalf of their public bank proposal. Under Title 2, Chapter 11 of the Vermont Statutes lobbying is defined, in part, as, "(a) to communicate orally or in writing with any legislator or administrative official for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action, and (b) (the) solicitation of others to influence legislative or administrative action." Expenditures may be for items like travel, and by their own admission they've done lots of that to persuade voters to contact legislators in support of their public bank proposal, and for things like studies submitted to influence legislators. They've declared on their website that they spent "months" creating their "study," and any study worth reading would certainly have cost more than $500 to fabricate - the law makes no distinction between cash spent or an in kind contribution by one of the lobbyists.

The Vermont Secretary of State's Guide to Vermont’s Lobbying Registration & Disclosure Law recommends:
"Our conservative advice to all is to err on the side of caution, by reporting or registering in any situations where you have any question as to whether your activities would trigger registration and disclosure."
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