Back Liberty Union
To the Editor;
The 2016 gubernatorial candidacy of Bill Lee marks the resurgence of the Liberty Union Party as the main voice of progressive conscience and thought in state politics as the Vermont Progressive Party has lost that distinction due to recent ill-advised decisions and bad campaign strategies in their attempts to collaborate with the establishment Vermont Democratic Party. The Liberty Union Party is alive and well and giving Vermont a true alternative choice from the corporate-owned Democratic and Republican parties' style of politics.
If the Vermont Progressive Party wishes to repair their progressive reputation they should take a step in that direction by officially endorsing Bill Lee as their candidate for Vermont governor and his running-mate Boots Wardinski for lieutenant governor. This can be effected by Vermonters choosing to take the Progressive Party ballot into the voting booth on the upcoming August the ninth primary day and writing in the name and town of Bill Lee – Craftsbury in the spot for governor candidate and in the lieutenant governor slot voting for Boots Wardinski – Newbury. Voters who may be out of town on primary day are reminded that absentee ballots are now available at their local town clerk's office.
Vote for Lisman
To the Editor:
Vermont has been ranked second to last in the U.S. for - best economic outlook. Our taxes are out of control and we have burdened businesses with taxes and regulations to the point where they are fleeing. These businesses could have provided key jobs for Vermonters who can't afford our property taxes and rental rates. They are heading to other, more affordable, states.
A recent Burlington Free Press article reported that "A Vermonter must work full time and earn more than $21 per hour to be able to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment." Without a well-paying job; no person can afford that rate. Colleges like Champlain and VTC that teach job skills and give graduates a background in business and life skills help Vermont's retention rate, but is not enough.
The unbalanced Legislature has made Vermont's economic outlook grim. Vermont deserves to hear both sides of any proposed legislation and then hopefully our representatives will vote on what is the right policy .not what will get them reelected and not just what the party leadership wants. We were a state of independent, crotchety thinkers .what has happened to us? I am not a strong party person, but Vermont needs an Independent or Republican Governor to be a balance to the lopsided legislature. There must be veto power.
It's time for a new direction. Bruce Lisman has 40 years of experience in business and does not come with any government connections. He will be able to think about efficiency and policy from the outside like a citizen and business person .like most of us. He is not afraid of change. He is not part of the system. This background will make him the perfect candidate to take Vermont into a prosperous future; a future that doesn't ignore the needs of its businesses and its young people. Vermont needs Bruce to help pull our state out of the economic hole that "lets implement without worrying about how to pay for it" politics has dug us into.
Bruce's plan to encourage responsible development of new housing will drive down renters' rates. This along with his plan to streamline and make accountable our economic development programs, and his understanding of business leaders will help create the proper jobs necessary to keep people in Vermont. The answer may also be just leave them alone except for issues that assure the health and safety of workers and the environment.
Bruce's experience and fresh outsider approach to Vermont's economic crisis is exactly why he has my endorsement for Governor of the Green Mountain State.
To the Editor:
2015-2016 was an extraordinary First Wednesdays season! As the host of FW Manchester, Manchester Community Library is most grateful to the Vermont Humanities Council for providing this first-rate humanities lecture series simultaneously at nine sites throughout the state.
First Wednesdays broadens the horizons of all of us and the Library is very pleased to offer this opportunity to community members in our region. We love that there is no cost for Northshire residents to attend a First Wednesdays program, but alas, it is not free to the Library to present it to our community. We are therefore indebted to the Perfect Wife Restaurant & Tavern, The Spiral Press Café, and VT Renewable Fuels for graciously underwriting the costs that the Library pays to present this First Wednesdays series. We literally could not offer this eight-part, high-caliber lecture series without their corporate sponsorship. With their generous help, you and your neighbors considered themes as diverse as "The Wyeths: First Family of American Art," "The Future of Investigative Reporting," and "The Beautiful Music All Around Us," delivered by some of our country's most prominent authorities and compelling speakers. Please support these local businesses that support your public library's efforts to bring you quality programming.
First Wednesdays is generously supported statewide by the National Life Group Foundation and the Vermont Department of Libraries.
In addition, kudos are extended to The Arcadia Fund, Burr and Burton Academy, Keelan Family Foundation, Merchants Bank, Northshire Bookstore, and Southern Vermont Arts Center, who graciously sponsored programs in the series. And we are most grateful to the First Congregational Church for providing a venue large enough to accommodate the sizable audiences of our FW programs.
Linda McKeever, President, Manchester Community Library
Betsy Bleakie, Executive Director, Manchester Community Library
Thanks to Tad Kinsley and Jake's
To the Editor:
Neighborhood Connections extends heartfelt thanks to Tad Kinsley and his staff for a very successful Spaghetti Dinner benefit held on June 15th. More than 125 diners enjoyed pasta, meatballs and sausage with Jake's terrific sauce along with salad and the best brownies all provided by Tad and enabling 100% of the proceeds to support our programs. Thanks to his generosity and the great turn out Neighborhood Connections is able offer community residents a range of services including help with housing, unemployment, access to health care, food and emergency assistance, support for seniors and community education programs. Thank you.
Tom Dougherty, Executive Director, Neighborhood Connections
Wait a minute
To the Editor:
I like Manchester Journal editor Andrew McKeever. We've had much correspondence, and he regularly publishes my articles, though they are far left of most others – including his own positions. Yet despite my affection, I can't hold my tongue over his labeling free college education for all "a harebrained concept" (MJ editorial, 7/01/16).
The City University of New York (CUNY) dates back to the Free Academy founded in 1847 "for the purpose of extending the benefits of education gratuitously to persons who have been pupils in the common schools of the city and county of New York" (Wikipedia). In 1961, the system's many tuition-free colleges, scattered throughout the five NYC boroughs, were officially consolidated under CUNY – the nation's largest urban university system. Throughout its history CUNY has served not only the city's massive indigent population of all races and ethnicities, but the hordes of poor immigrants and their offspring who landed in NYC – many of them Jews who were tacitly "restricted" from the more "prestigious" schools. CUNY alumni are a "Who's Who" of famously accomplished people – Nobel Prize winners, major political figures, a Supreme Court justice, CEOs of leading corporations, etc. – many of whom would probably never have gone to college were it not free. This history earned New York's City College the title of "Harvard of the proletariat."
I personally raised seven children, all of whom attended either tuition-free CUNY or SUNY, the then low-cost state system. These children have all gone on to advanced degrees and successful careers in the professions. This could never happen today. The rush of money to the top of the private pyramid since then has so impoverished the public sector that tuition at CUNY is now $6,330 for in-state residents. As inexpensive as that is compared to most colleges, I, along with most, could never have afforded it for seven kids.
Rather than calling tuition-free college harebrained, one might properly ask, in light of the above history, "What's happened to our society that's turned education into a commodity affordable to only a tiny minority and crushed the socially sensible mandate of the Free Academy under the weight of insurmountable student debt?"
There is plenty of money around – trillions – all of it held in a few private hands and sequestered in havens so that public institutions like CUNY are deprived of the tax dollars needed to sustain them. But rather than address advancing inequality and its concomitant social destruction, we "adjust" by developing the slave mentality of lowered expectations – and the negativism of which it is a symptom. We thrill at any bone thrown our way while the offerings become more and more meager – and despite its glorious history, the very thought of free higher education is branded harebrained.
I ask Andrew why it is not the obligation of a democratic society to freely educate its citizens not only to preserve democracy that demands an educated citizenry, but to develop as fully as possible the intellectual potential of all people – a goal of obvious social value.
How harebrained is that?
To the Editor:
I read with confusion, which morphed into dismay, the lengthy and garbled essay by Mr. Torre in last week's paper regarding patriotism. He seems to think that it has something to do with traveling around to look at different mountains. The essay ends with some kind of non-sequitur which seems to equate patriotism with scoundrels and imbeciles.
I have a suggested reading list for him, as well as any similarly confused people, which might lend some meaning to patriotism and how it came to be as well as how it is maintained.
"We mutually pledge.....our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor". The fifty six signers of the Declaration of Independence pledging to risk their existence to achieve a nation based on universal natural rights and freedom of opportunity for all of us.
"It is for us the living.....to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us.... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.....and shall not perish from the earth." Abraham Lincoln, at a time when the nation was as close to perishing as it ever was, or will be, but chose not to do so.
"I pledge allegiance.....to the Republic.....one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all". If you say this as a mere ritual or some kind of shibboleth before the meeting starts, you are missing the point. If you say this as a renewal pledge to your country and fellow citizens with a belief in our freedoms and future, then you are truly patriotic.
Finally, a thought from another land. "Breathes there the man with soul so dead who never to himself has said, 'this is my own, my native land'.....If such does breathe, go mark him well.....the wretch, concentrated all in self.....unwept, unhonored."
Sir Walter Scott, 1805.
God has blessed America, we must stand beside her!
To the Editor:
What is Patriotism? It's a devoted love, support, and defense of ones country. It's national loyalty. It could best be described by the following examples of human emotion:
1. A middle age couple and their youngest son listening to a captain tell them how their eldest son and brother was killed in action during the Battle of the Bulge;
2. The same couple and son receive a telegram notifying them that their other son and brother was wounded in action in the French invasion, later to find out that he lost an eye;
3. The only daughter of the couple would don a naval uniform daily and go to her duty station at the Navy Department building in lower Manhattan;
4. Their third son would fight in Korea, become wounded, survive and then live a full civilian life;
5. Their youngest son would serve in the Marine Corps at the tail end of the Korean Conflict, receive his honorable discharge after four years of active duty and 16 years inactive reserve.
As far as Mr. Torre's statement in the first paragraph of his Oped. piece: "I have never been able to figure out what it, (patriotism) means" - Mr. Torre, can you now feel the emotion ofthe patriotism of this family of patriots? And I now hope you will revise the unfortunate last paragraph of your Oped. piece because their was no "scoundrels" or "simpletons" involved.
Voting for Kesha Ram
To the Editor,
I am not a Democrat, but on August 9th I will be voting for Kesha Ram for Lieutenant Governor on the Democratic Primary Ballot. Kesha is young, energetic, very intelligent, and, perhaps most importantly, she is not so full of herself that she thinks she knows all the answers before she does her research. I have lived most of my life in Southern Vermont, and culturally, I am still there. It is very refreshing to see a legislator from the heart of Burlington come Southern Vermont, as much to learn as to make a speech,. She openly says she realizes things can be different in the south and she listens, without prejudging what she hears. She may be the best listener I have ever met.
That first meeting was about six years ago. I was at the State House and killing time in the General and Military Affairs Committee room. I could hardly believe what I saw. There was a 22 year-old freshman legislator of small physical stature presiding over a hearing. She was holding that hearing together in a room filled with very contentious people, many of whom obviously had an intense dislike of each other. She calmly, coolly, and with great competence did her job. Few people, even physically larger and more experienced people, would have done as well. I have had the good fortune to run across her a few times between then and now, and she has continued to impress me with her ability to listen, think, and work with people. She talks with people, not to people.
It will be an honor for me to check the box, fill the circle, or whatever beside the name of Kesha Ram for Lieutenant Governor on August 9th.
Solar siting a state, not local issue
To the Editor:
An Open Letter To Governor Shumlin:
I believe that climate change is the most pressing issue facing our planet and that Vermont should do its part to mitigate its damaging effects. But I am concerned that our lack of a coherent solar farm siting strategy will harm our state's unique character and it for this reason that I followed the senate's efforts at addressing this concern that led to its remedial bill — S.260 — that you recently signed, leaving no doubt that you believe it resolved the matter to your satisfaction. But S.260 is wrongheaded in its approach and solution, not meant as a criticism but an acknowledgement that we sometimes find ourselves mired in the weeds unable to see a clear path forward. Let me explain.
If my understanding is correct, S.260's solution to solving the solar farm siting issues that concern many Vermonters is to allow "substantial deference" to those communities explicitly expressing in their town plans the desire to protect 'visually sensitive areas' that the Public Service Board must consider when siting proposed solar arrays within their borders. Based on that statement, S.260 is seriously flawed on two levels.
The first is that S.260's main premise is, as Mr. Spock would say, illogical because it wrongly asks communities to identify areas they have 'more interest' in protecting when it should be asking them to identify areas they have 'less interest' in protecting. Why? Because the former only tells solar developers where they 'can't' build (which leads them nowhere) and the latter leads them directly to areas where they 'can' build.
And the second is the bill's lack of a uniform statewide strategy because it allows towns the choice to 'opt-in', or not, when it should have required all towns to follow the same protocol because continuity from town to town is better policy for the whole of Vermont. To illustrate this, let's imagine how this might play out.
Vermont has 255 municipalities. Suppose that half opt-in to take advantage of the law. This means that half will still risk siting many hundreds of solar farms in visually sensitive areas throughout our state. And herein lies one of those inexplicable cognitive disconnects among the many who advanced the renewable energy initiative through its long journey to passage that not one among them had that single, definitive 'aha' moment and thought – Solar Farm Siting Is A STATE, Not Local, Issue.
Yes, solar farm siting has always been a state issue and my reasoning is grounded in historical precedent best illustrated by your predecessor Governor Philip Hoff's 1968 Anti-Billboard Law that removed the scourge of roadside billboards from our state. Can you imagine how discordant Vermont would look today had he applied your standard of empowered our state's 255 communities the choice of opting in, or not, to his signature bill? And by doing so don't you risk undoing his signature accomplishment by designating solar farms as Vermont's new-millennium roadside billboards? That's why I would like to suggest a way forward that I communicated to Senator Brian Campion last year that represents the most cogent strategy for resolving solar farm siting concerns for the whole of Vermont, and it is this:
Simply have the Public Service Board request from each of Vermont's 255 municipalities 12 sites where solar arrays would have the "least visual impact" on residents and visitors alike to comprise a statewide database of 3,060 venues that solar developers would be required to work from when selecting a site for their project.
I hope you see the wisdom in this approach, Governor, for I believe it provides the best solution for protecting our state's unique character and assuring a legacy for which you can be proud.