icymi: Commentary of Mine in the VT Legislative Record

Although I have since discontinued engaging in activism and advocacy (save for continuing to focus on access to public restrooms and related matters for a few more months or so), in case you missed it and it is of interest, I just stumbled upon this commentary of mine that is in the legislative record concerning attitudes regarding people living houseless (i.e., unhoused aka homeless), fyi:


Brattleboro Charter Amendment Hearing – Protections for Residential Tenants

The Brattleboro Selectboard will hold two public hearings to discuss a Charter Amendment. The first public hearing will be held on Friday, February 3, 2023 at 6:15pm in the Selectboard Meeting Room at the Municipal Center (230 Main Street) and the second public hearing will be held during a scheduled Selectboard meeting on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at 6:15pm in the Selectboard meeting room.


A Moral Mandate

The U.S. Department of Justice has an opportunity to show the world that this country has an understanding of how not to repeat the worst events in human history. Jack Smith has been appointed to oversee the case against the most evil President ever to sit in the oval office. I hope that he is a student of history and that he understands how it is possible for a tide of fascism and human cruelty to sweep through a society if unchecked in its early stages.

If Trump is not punished for his attempt to overthrow the government of the United States then the door will be left open for others, such as the far right wing of the Republican party, to build a movement to continue to subvert the rule of law and open the door to not only minority rule but a new brand of fascism.


False Hope and Empty Promises

This is the time of year when politicians at all levels make the rest of us realize that there are promises more unrealistic than New Year’s resolutions.

We hear statements about how they are going to work to close the gap between the left and the right. We hear about ambitious agendas to make life better for everyone.

Then reality sets in and those politicians pander to special interests and they make it clear that their highest priority is getting re-elected. The public statements rarely match the results of political wrangling.

There is one issue in particular that has been pushed to the back burner for a number of years. In the mid-nineties and into about 2010 there was a lot of talk about health care reform. States such as Vermont tried to make bold moves to set up model systems and it started to look like meaningful reform might happen.


Stories That Need To Be Told

Even though the atrocities of World War II happened nearly 80 years ago, the stories of what happened must continue to be told. We still face threats from the rising power of authoritarian regimes and that makes the recounting of history more important. Accounts of the Holocaust and the Nazi efforts to eliminate Jews and other people they considered undesirable for inclusion in the master race must continue to be presented.

There have been movies and books on these subjects. Anne Frank’s diary is well-known and the attempts of her family to stay alive have been burned into the consciousness of anyone trying to understand what happened in Europe during World War II. There is another diary, written by Leo Berman, when he was 14 years old and living in northern Italy. His first entry was an account of September 8, 1943.


The Master of Miasma Is Almost Gone

The best news that came out of the recent mid-term elections is the deflation of the gasbag that has had too much influence over our lives for the past 10 years. A creature of the media such as he has had the ability the cast a large dark shadow over this country, and much of the world, because of the way that information is disseminated.

One would hope that the current information age would be a vehicle for good, but it is impossible to prevent evil people from doing evil things. A man with such a large ego understands that he can promote himself by manipulating all of the tools that social media has to offer and he and his team have masterfully done that.


An Open Letter To Our Vermont Senator and Senator-Elect

I am sending the following letter to Senator Sanders. A similar letter will be sent to Senator-Elect Welch. If they receive more letters it might help push the issue.

Dear Senator Sanders,

I am writing to you because fuel prices are so high that it will become a life and death matter this winter. I know you are well aware of this problem, but I am hoping that there is something more that can be done by the United States to at least bring prices down a little. It is clearly a very complicated issue.

In 2005 you attended the first fund raising event that the newly created Windham County Heat Fund held. Daryl Pillsbury and I started the fund with the expectation that it would be a short-term endeavor because fuel prices spiked back then.


Why Are Fuel Prices So High?

I run a non-profit that provides a small amount of home heating fuel assistance to local people. The organization has been operating for almost 20 years. The reason we created the Windham County Heat Fund was to provide a short-term temporary fix to high fuel prices. We thought we would spend a year or two helping people and then move on.

Didn’t happen.

We deal with local fuel dealers on a nearly daily basis during the home heating season in New England so it seemed reasonable that we should try to understand why fuel prices are so high. After some research I still have no idea why fuel prices are so high. I do know that 125 gallons of oil in 2012 cost $216 and today costs over $700.


Abortion Discussion: Should Abortion Be Legal

Should Abortion Be Legal

NOT the usual “debate”, but a public discussion by people around Brattleboro who believe in public discourse.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS OF ALL AGES, you will soon witness an electrifying display of daring and resolve as our heroic orators endure each others’ contradictions and risk criticism and ignominy in the public eye while relying for their protection solely on the mutual respect and dignity of their impassioned rivals


The American Model of Democracy Is Beyond Repair

It is frustrating to watch the political process play out in this country and hold out hope that things will improve. Lies, corruption and every imaginable form of deceit rule the day. Some might say that this is the way it has always has been and they point to scandals and scoundrels that have ruled the day since the birth of the republic.

One can give up on the political process completely and not vote and not engage in any activity of a political nature and try to ignore the mess of the current political state. Others may work to change things and look to a brighter future where common sense and decency prevail. I don’t see a lot of hope for optimism when it comes to politics.

On the other hand, an argument might be made that politics has always been a messy business and that all of the bad that comes of political work is the price we have to pay in order to accomplish the work of government. If we buy that argument then we give a pass to a lot of bad people doing bad things and I just can’t accept that kind of thinking because it only makes it harder for many of us to engage in the world.


The Truth No Longer Matters

We live in a time in which the truth has less and less bearing on how the world operates. This is something that has evolved over a long period of time but it feels like we are, more acutely, feeling the effects of allowing ourselves to be influenced by those who are willing to lie to get whatever they want.

It may seem like this is something new, but the world of politics has witnessed this phenomenon for as long as the political game has been played.

The difference today is that the years of not stopping the lies forcefully enough have finally caught up with us and there are now millions of people around the world who are easily convinced that lies have somehow been magically converted into the truth because someone in power has told them to believe them.


It’s Time To End The British Monarchy

If you want to see an institution out of step with the world in 2022 then look to the British monarchy. It was created in the 10th century when Anglo Saxon England moved from an elective monarchy to a primogeniture system after England was conquered by the Normans in 1066.

That means that British citizens have accepted this family business over the centuries and they have done little to stop one family from accumulating massive wealth while strutting around like peacocks. The royal family has had some power to alter history over the years but in 2022 they do little but bolster some of their pet causes and promulgate a lifestyle of pomp and circumstance.


The Perils of Campaign Finance

If you want some insight into the problems that current campaign finance laws create, the Vermont Democratic primary for the U.S. House may prove instructive. Windham County Senator Becca Balint and Lt. Governor Mollie Gray squared off in what proved to be a lopsided race. Balint handily defeated Gray. If Balint wins the general election she will be the first woman and first openly gay member of Vermont’s congressional delegation.

According to VT Digger, ” …LGBTQ Victory Fund, which spent just shy of $1 million on Balint’s behalf in the race, had recently benefited from a $1.1 million donation from Nishad Singh, a top executive at the cryptocurrency exchange FTX. The political action committee’s financial disclosures make clear that the lion’s share of the outside spending supporting Balint’s run came from Singh’s donation.”


Special Drawing Rights by the Treasury Department

Today we face a crisis like never before, and we have the power to help.

COVID, climate disruption, rising food and energy prices, and war have created a “megacrisis.” At home we feel the pain of rising temperatures, gas and grocery prices. Low income countries have it even worse with millions more people pushed into hunger and poverty.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With the stroke of a pen, President Biden can trigger a simple, rapid, and cost-free solution: a new issuance of at least $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This little-known option gives immediate help to recover from shock and meet human needs. No strings attached, no added debt burden, and zero costs to taxpayers.