Saturday, August 12, 2006

Pollina Turns to Milk, Democrats Cheer

With the not-so-secret news that Anthony Pollina and his rag-tag band of not-so-accomplished cohorts are about to jump into the milk business, don’t think you’re hearing things when you hear cheering from your Democratic friends. The cheering is real. And it’s accompanied by the relief that the Pollina show has found a political and economic dead-end to occupy his time for a few years.

Democrats, still smoldering over Pollina’s election night hug to Brian Dubie in 2002, have been wanting Pollina to find a hobby outside of politics for years now. Things looked good when he got into the radio business a few years ago at WDEV, but anyone who’s listened to his show for any amount of time knows that it simply can’t last.

First, Anthony’s got no radio presence. He’s apparently become so confused over the years after running for political office under every political banner except Republican that he can’t get his thoughts straight before coming out of his mouth. The result is a bizarre hodge-podge of left/liberal platitudes, served with more than a heaping helping of apologies. In other words, not exactly the ingredients necessary for successful radio talk shows.

Compare, for example, Pollina’s meanderings and his constant apologies for his “opinions” with that of his rightwing cohort at WDEV, Paul Beaudry. Both pay handsomely for the their hour of time, but Beaudry doesn’t mind spewing opinions without apology and pushing an agenda. Pollina, on the other hand, seems to have his own internal opinion editor that stops him from saying ANYTHING that matters. Or, if he does, he apologizes before anyone has a chance to rally behind him. It’s just tedious.

There’s no fight left in Pollina. And that’s clearly understandable given how many times he’s lost. But instead of standing up for some principles, Pollina thinks that if he just keeps blurring his real feeling he’ll fool enough people into supporting him in the future. What he doesn’t understand, however, is that this is about as transparent as transparent can be.

But now, after having failed at electoral office, failed at issues like campaign finance reform and genetically modified foods, and on the precipice of failure in political talk radio, Pollina’s now going into business: the milk business.

Given his business experience – zero – we can all easily predict where this is going. But, hey, it’ll certainly keep him out of the electoral arena for a while. And, if his everything-he-touches-fails streak continues, it might even keep him out of politics for good.

Pollina’s got quite the uphill battle with his new milk effort. We all know from the headlines that the dairy industry is struggling big time right now. The dairy monopolizers in Vermont – Cabot, Booth, etc. – are screaming to the high heavens about how hard it is to turn a profit on dairy in this region. And the reasons are obvious: Vermont’s terrain and climate simply will not allow our traditionally smaller dairies to compete with the mega-dairies in the Midwest and West.

There’s only one segment of the dairy industry that’s making a run at the big fellas of milk and that’s the organic producers. But Pollina and his new milk venture have already announced that they will NOT be organic at first, instead trying to lend a hand to the “traditional” dairies in the Northeast Kingdom. Yeah sure, and I’ll bet there were well-intentioned people who were willing to lend a hand to the dinosaurs at one point, too.

But the business math simply does not add up with Pollina’s plan to turn a profit in the milk business. If Cabot and Booth can’t do it by paying less to the farmers, how can the inexperienced Pollina do it by paying more to the farmers AND having the enormous capital overhead of a start-up? Sounds like someone needs an intervention.

Interestingly enough, it was the State of Vermont that gave the best reaction to Pollina’s nefarious adventures into milkdom. A couple of years ago, as he and his merry band of hangeroners approached the State for $500,000 in taxpayer capital to launch this very same project, the legislature responded with the obvious: Your business plan sucks.

But now Pollina’s apparently got the private capital he needs to purchase a milk processing plant in the Northeast Kingdom – most likely a site in Hardwick – to launch his latest failure. And the Democrats can only cheer because St. Anthony will be too busy toiling in the milk plant to hand yet another statewide office to the Republicans.

P.S. I wonder if Brian Dubie is a donor to Pollina’s milk dreams?