A Remembrance of Peter Freyne

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(Host) Longtime political columnist Peter Freyne died early Wednesday.

Freyne was a fixture in Vermont politics for two decades with his "must-read" column that both attracted and annoyed the politicians he wrote about.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd has this remembrance.

(Sneyd) Peter Freyne was loud. Brash. He seldom stood on ceremony. And he never bowed to the powers-that-be.

And he was proud of it – as he told VPR in March, when he retired.

(Freyne) “Do we not exist, the press in this country, to hold the politicians’ feet to the fire? To hold them accountable? To ask them the questions they would not like to be asked. That’s the job of the press. And that’s an extremely vital role that we play in this country. If we don’t do it, no one will.”

(Sneyd) Freyne was born in 1949. He went to school in Chicago and settled in Vermont in 1979.

At first he drove a taxi in Burlington. He eventually landed a job with the Vanguard Press, a weekly newspaper that’s now defunct.

A few years later he established his trademark column, Inside Track, which continued in another weekly, Seven Days.

Former Associated Press bureau chief Chris Graff says Freyne’s writing style was unique.

(Graff) “Peter had an uncanny ability to cut to the chase. His nicknames alone, whether it was Governor Scissorhands or Richie Rich, Ruthless Ruth, Ho Ho – they defined politicians for a lifetime.”

(Sneyd) Nearly every politician got a nickname from Freyne.

Senator Bernie Sanders was one of them. He called Freyne a friend and occasional antagonist who was also – in Sanders’ words – “prickly, annoying and utterly relentless.”

Freyne told VPR his goal was to be honest.

(Freyne) “I’ve tried to make it interesting reading, entertaining reading and I also put a great deal of energy and emphasis on getting the facts right. That’s the most important thing.”

(Sneyd) Freyne survived cancer. But in recent months he came down with an infection that affected his brain. His colleagues at Seven Days are planning a memorial service.

Peter Freyne was 59.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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