In Montpelier last week, the Douglas administration was trying to explain away an apparent flip-flop on an issue that one might think was close to the governor's heart: open meetings and access to public records. The governor, after all, was Secretary of State for a good number of years during which he ardently supported the rights of citizens and the press to gain easy access to government meetings and records. Â The right of the people to know the truth about government actions, as the governor and most Vermonters know, is one of the most fundamental principles of a free society.
It was odd, then, that at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 17, Assistant Attorney General Bill Reynolds spoke against access to public records on behalf of the governor. Specifically, Reynolds said the governor opposed a bill, S.45, that would hold government responsible for wrongly denying access to public records or public meetings. The bill would simply change the word "may" to "shall" in terms of who should pay legal costs when the court rules for the plaintiff.
In last Thursdayâ€™s Addison Independent, we covered the naturalization ceremony in which 36 Vermont residents became American citizens. The ceremony was held at the Middlebury Union Middle School, and is one of about a dozen held throughout the state each year. Along with friends and family, more than 120 MUMS students observed the 40-minute ceremony â€” an event that was made all that much more meaningful by the thoughtful comments of U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Colleen A. Brown.
The oath of allegiance to their new country, Brown told the 36 Vermonters seeking nationalization, â€œrequires you to â€˜absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty to which you were previously a subject or citizen.â€™â€?