Peter Freyne, who wrote the "Inside Track" column for the Burlington, Vt., alt-weekly from 1995 until March 2008, died early this morning after battling cancer, seizures and a strep infection that spread to his brain, according to Seven Days. He was 59 years old. "Vermont has lost its own version of the legendary Mike Royko," says U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy. "He knew the difference between healthy skepticism and hollow cynicism, and his reporting helped make Vermont better."
Peter Freyne, who started writing for the Burlington alt-weekly two months after it launched in 1995, announced in this week's "Inside Track" column that it would be his last, the Times Argus reports. After beating cancer last year, Freyne says he realized that writing about state politics had begun to bore and depress him. "That's why the column and the blog stopped two weeks ago. We finally acknowledged the unhappiness generated by writing them," he writes. "And you know what? We haven't felt this good in years!" While he's ending his column, he will remain affiliated with Seven Days as a contributing editor and blogger. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy says that Freyne's retirement is a "big loss" for Vermont. "I went to his blog every day," Leahy tells the Times Argus. "He is the type of writer who clearly knows hypocrisy. But he also knows the difference between healthy skepticism and cynicism."
Seven Days' Peter Freyne was recently diagnosed with lymphoma and immediately began chemotherapy treatments. He blogged about this turn of events prior to being admitted to the hospital, and his post has attracted dozens of comments, making it a virtual get-well-soon card. Most of the comments are from readers and fans, but several state politicians and even the deputy police chief of Vermont's largest city have weighed in to wish him well, says Seven Days' online editor, Cathy Resmer. Freyne has been writing about Vermont politics since the state's new, socialist senator Bernie Sanders won his first term as mayor of Burlington in 1981. He brought his popular column to Seven Days shortly after the paper was founded in 1995.
Seven Days has joined a lawsuit over Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's refusal last fall to release his daily schedule. The suit was originally filed by the Rutland Herald/Times Argus. David Rocchio, counsel for the governor, says “legal exceptions” in the state’s public records law exempt the governor’s schedule from disclosure, to protect his security or his ability to obtain frank policy advice. "Baloney," writes Seven Days columnist Peter Freyne. "We say there aren’t any “legal exceptions” in state statute allowing Vermont’s chief executive to operate in such secrecy. It’s against the law."