Our democracy in Vermont is broken by a handful of people. They replace our democratic process of elections at the statewide level with corporate dictatorship. 50-100 people are altering the outcome of elections against VT law (Title 17, Statute 2701, Undue influence), and most obviously Articles 7 and 8 of our State Constitution.
Vermonters won’t (and shouldn’t) vote for someone who hasn’t presented and proposed a winning platform, moreover they can’t vote for someone they don’t know is running. It’s unlawful and unconstitutional that this handful of people are censoring my candidacy from public debate and lying by omission about the fact that they do. If Vermonters aren’t offered winning remedial policy through non-corporate leadership, then government cannot be reformed to reflect public virtue. Our Vermont Constitution is emphatic on this topic. Vermont people who put me on the ballot specifically to allow me to speak as a candidate are as well.
I don’t expect to win (of course), but I do have winning policy that the public of the state should know about and be able to call for through their less corporate local representatives. Moreover, if there is someone new on the ballot for a statewide seat, whose choice is it? Do you want new choices? Do you want more choice of leadership? How about a non-corporate choice? These 50-100 people are those behind private sponsorship of "public" political debate and forums.
I have asked my responsive Senator White for an amendment to S.86 miscellaneous election laws; that candidates shall behave with decorum; no props, costumes or bad language, but they must be permitted to participate in all public debates of statewide elections. I am an equally balloted candidate for Governor, and so I shall be respectfully treated as one and corporatocracy at the top can be stopped in Vermont. A democracy restored and refreshed is safer than creating revolutionary conditions by denying it. How long will you be silent about what is going on?
Campaign 2014 Support Skinner Library
Libraries have always been an important part of my life; growing up, I would -- and still do -- go in and take out books. Yes, movies too, but libraries have given me the opportunity to read an incredible variety of books for free. In an age where everything is online, and many libraries are struggling, it’s amazing that Mark Skinner is providing such extensive services, and building a new library for Manchester and beyond.
The Mark Skinner Library is an important part of our community, not just for little kids and adults, but for pre-teens and teenagers too. It’s a safe place to go after school to study, there are books and movies for entertainment or research projects, and MSL hosts events like First Wednesdays which are interesting, and occasionally provide extra credit for high school classes.
The new library expands on these opportunities for teenagers -- there’s a young adult loft where students can hang out. Need to meet your group to work on a project? Have an hour before practice and want a quiet place to start homework? Need to check your email, pick out a good book, or grab some movies for a night with your friends? The new library offers these things and we’re incredibly lucky to have it. Manchester is a small community that really cares about everyone, and both the current and future libraries reflect that attitude.
As a student trustee on the Mark Skinner Library Board, I grew up using MSL. Burr and Burton and the town gave me a chance to apply for the board, and, loving the library and believing in the importance of student input, I jumped at the chance. It’s my third year on the board, and the experience has been invaluable. Not only have I been able to see how a non-profit operates and give my opinions regarding students, but I’ve been able to volunteer at events and meet all the people who make this library possible.
The new library is a really important step in our community -- while many libraries are closing, we’re able to build a new one that will benefit everyone for years to come. I’ve seen the designs, toured the building, and I can say the new library offers something for everyone -- especially students. The library is such an important part of Manchester, and we should all support it.
Vote no on water bond
Some of you know me from serving on school boards. Often there are factors related to a vote that are not discussed as part of a specific vote. Knowing this, I try to judge town officials in the same light. However, the public needs to see the bigger picture on this water bond.
We are told it will solve water pressure problems and SVC will pay for part of it. The pressure problem is a creation of state regulations. It would exist for a period of time if half of Main Street was on fire. Taking millions from the 3,500 home owners on the system is a lot for a limited problem, which can be addressed effectively with a couple of pumping stations and dry hydrants downtown.
Furthermore, it is extremely unethical and un-American to allow everyone to vote on fees that only some people have to pay. Its time to change the town charter and create a water district, so only those paying the bill decide on the management and the costs.
Let’s consider town management. We have had a near doubling of water and sewer rates in two years, because we are told the water mains are 60 years old and need replacement -- while the EPA and pipe manufacturers tell us the pipes are good for 110 years or more. With this kind of thinking I question the reasoning leading to a giant tank on Mt. Anthony, which the state bureaucracy is driving.
There are also behind the scenes factors that are not being explained. SVC cannot grow without adding a floor for more dorm space, because students can’t afford the rents in town. To add space they need to boost water pressure. This means build a tank and get on the town system, and send home owners most of the bill. It gets worse. If SVC adds a fourth floor to a dorm, the town may well have to buy a million-dollar fire truck to reach a fourth floor! But so what, it will be needed for the new bigger Walmart too. You haven’t been told that either.
We also have a $3 million bill for Roaring Branch work that FEMA has not paid, which home owners and renters will likely end up with. There are also looming increases in school taxes. In the next few years the accounting standards will require teacher/municipal retirement fund deficits and other liabilities in school budgets. The funds are a state responsibility. They know what the projected deficits are. I suspect they want it in local budgets as a prelude to dumping it on the home owner, just like the town has used paper deficits to double water and sewer fees. There is a planned reduction in state property tax rebates this year and next, and talk of eliminating the renter rebate, the coming teacher contract talks and more.
These costs need to be considered in your vote. Not many of us can afford these plans, and some will be driven out of town by taxes. Its time to push back the state bureaucracy, and demand better town management from the Selectors first.
Vote no on the water bond.
Sky over Shaftsbury NOT falling
An article on the upcoming Shaftsbury ballot asks voters to allow adoption of zoning bylaws changes by majority vote of the Selectboard rather than by town-wide vote. This is not, as has been suggested, "giving your property rights away." Any zoning bylaw adopted by the Selectboard can be petitioned and rescinded by the voters. Voters still have the final say. What this does is allow for more efficient governing of a town the size and complexity of Shaftsbury.
Zoning issues can be technical and complex, and have significant consequences. For example, another article on our ballot asks voters to adopt new flood hazard bylaws. Failure to adopt could deny residents and businesses national flood insurance and jeopardize our ability to get FEMA aid in the event of a catastrophic flood event, like Irene. The members of the Selectboard believe that, at this time, Shaftsbury is better served by letting the Selectboard adopt zoning bylaws changes, following all of the required public meetings and hearings. Other towns our size do it both ways. It is certainly debatable, but it’s not about giving away your property rights.
Attn.: Shaftsbury voters
On Tuesday, March 4, the voters of Shaftsbury will have the opportunity to approve a previously adopted amendment to out zoning bylaws. Under the "Solid Waste" section of our Town’s bylaws, large scale, industrial composting facilities would have to operate in Industrial 1 and Industrial 2 zones. This amendment was the result of considerable open discussion between residents, the Planning Commission and the Select Board.
Adding this amendment to our solid waste bylaws, as adopted, will help to protect public health and the environment by ensuring the safe, proper, and sustainable management of solid waste in Shaftsbury.
Please vote "Yes" to the ballot question:
Shall the voters of the Town of Shaftsbury approve the following amendment to the Shaftsbury Zoning Bylaws:
(a) New Section 7.13 "Solid Waste Management Facilities -- Industrial Composting Facilities" for the purpose of regulating and permitting industrial compost facilities on Industrial 1 and Industrial 2 zones as a Conditional Use, as presented for public hearings before the Planning Commission and Selectboard and adopted finally by majority vote of the Select board on Aug. 6, 2012.
Petition effort was not for nothing
I’ve been told I shouldn’t write to the Banner, but how did I get in so much trouble trying to do good for the people of Shaftsbury with the petition for purchase of land next to the current garage? Politics entered in, with liberal Republicans or conservative Democrats. I know nothing, and believe we would be better off with no parties -- vote on the merits of the situation.
By far the worst is the way another party (Switzerland, remaining neutral) was held responsible for my actions. Switzerland is so hurt.
They say I am hard to get a hold of, but explain why Mary Beaker took 12 days to get registered mail. She never returns calls.
She thinks she owns Shaftsbury, sitting at the table with the Board and having a dog at the meeting. (We hired her, not the dog.)
On petition for ballot, she said 124 signatures and it would be on. After we did what she didn’t think could be done, she ran to a lawyer to find out! How can we stop!
It’s about money to cover expenses, since the bond didn’t pass. Taxpayers will pay!
Prove me wrong. Bring water from the spring (Mrs. Crawford’s gray spring by the new garage site.) Put it on the table for board members to drink.
Remember when it’s over, you’re just another name in a book. Friends and family are what count. I thank God for the chance to meet so many in town and am sorry the ballot article didn’t get put on.