Howard Dean is a man with strong Clinton-esque tendencies.
He's a self-described triangulator.
Say good words about the environment.
Take some positive action.
Schmooze with the environmentalists.
But when push comes to shove, don't offend the powers that be.
Mark Sinclair is a senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation in Vermont.
Sinclair was dismissed in 2001 from Dean's Council of Environmental Advisers because of his criticisms of the Governor.
Sinclair says that two utilities in Vermont -- Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service -- along with IBM -- control the state.
"Dean is in the pockets of the utilities and of IBM," Sinclair told us. "Whatever the major economic interest, he's beholden to them."
"During his years as Governor, there was a large controversy over our ski areas," Sinclair said. "He supported their major expansion, which has resulted in ski mountain sprawl in places like Killington, Stowe Mountain Resort, Stratton Mountain."
"Dean wasn't standing up for sustainable development," Sinclair said. "During his watch, we saw a lot more sprawl and strip development."
Despite his professed love of rail transit, Dean pushed development of a major highway project around Burlington, even though he knew it would be disastrous for land use planners.
IBM wanted it, so Dean went along.
Why did IBM want it?
According to Sinclair, IBM has a major facility in the area and Big Blue wanted to make the taxpayers pay for the road improvements.
This is one thing that Bush's EPA and Dean agree on -- build the beltway around Burlington. The environmental community in Vermont is opposed.
The Burlington highway fight is typical of Dean. He actually cares about light rail, and prefers it to more highways, according to Sinclair. But when push came to shove, he didn't dare stand up to IBM's demands.
Sinclair says that Dean understands the problem of sprawl -- he gets it.
But time and again, he "refused to stand up and allow his regulators to stand up and say no to sprawl."
Dean lured a major Canadian plastics company -- the Husky Company – to Vermont. Governor Dean allowed them to build on farmlands outside the town of Milton, north of Burlington.
"Instead of telling that developer to build in an industrial park, he showed them a green field and allowed them to build in a green field," Sinclair said. "Convert farm fields into pavement. Once again, when there was a conflict between sprawl and big development, the Governor Dean sided with big development."
After Dean's tenure, the Green Mountain State came to look just like the rest of the country.
"He doesn't believe in land use planning, and provided no funding for Vermont's towns to do the planning they need," Sinclair said. "As a result, Vermont reacts to development. The only reason we don't look like Maryland is because we are a colder climate and people are just discovering us."
Elizabeth Courtney of the Vermont Natural Resources Council also had her run-ins with Governor Dean.
Dean dismissed Courtney in 2001 from the Governor's Council of Environmental Advisers because of an article she wrote for the Burlington Free Press. In the article, Courtney was critical of Governor Dean's plan to bring a coal-powered electric generation plant to northern Vermont. The coal powered plant never materialized.
Sinclair has had many dealings with the Governor and doesn't like his style.
"He very much knows what he thinks," Sinclair says. "He doesn't listen very well. He's very sure of himself. He shoots from the hip a lot. He doesn't believe in surrounding himself with a lot of strong leaders. He's smart, so he seems to know what the public wants to hear."
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter, http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, http://www.multinationalmonitor.org. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press; www.corporatepredators.org).
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