Gov. Peter Shumlin will forgo a night of dancing, holding an open house rather than a ball on the night of his inauguration to raise money for Irene victims.
At a press conference on Thursday, Shumlin announced the event at the Statehouse will be open to all Vermonters, and proceeds from donations will be given to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund (VDRF), which provides financial assistance to Irene victims with needs not met by FEMA, private insurance or other funding sources. The fund, fueled by private donations only, has collected $6.8 million and wants to reach $10 million. The fund received a spurt of cash from several large donors during the last three months.
"We know that two years ago people were willing to pay a lot of money to see the governor dance. We think that they'll pay a lot more to not see him dance," quipped Chris Graf, a board member for the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund.
VDRF still has 550 to 600 cases in the queue; new cases have been submitted as other problems, such as mold, emerge in flood-affected homes.
Shumlin said that at last year's ball, held at the Sugarbush Resort in Warren, my recollection is we raised about $78,000 for the Vermont Family Fund," but he didn't want speculate on what the proceeds from the open house will be.
Keeping a damper on expectations, Shumlin added, "I think it's fair to say, and I bet President Obama would agree with this, your second inauguration doesn't necessarily have the same enthusiasm as your first."