guest editorial

On Aug. 7 Vermont recorded 112 cases of COVID-19, at the time the highest single-day count since April 29. I was one of those cases, and the third person in my family to test positive to COVID with a breakthrough case in early August. All three of us who developed breakthrough COVID were fully vaccinated: my husband and I, residents of Westminster, and our son, visiting from Miami. Twenty people who spent time with us during the days we were potentially contagious were tested and all were negative. Thankfully, the vaccines are working, with a small number of exceptions. Vermont was a model...
As Vermonters, we are fortunate to have a state government that believes voting is a right, not a privilege. One that takes seriously the Constitutional command to carefully protect the right to vote; the right from which all other rights flow. Online voter registration, same day registration, early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, automatic voter registration and now universally mailed ballots are all initiatives expanding registration numbers and access to the ballot box. As Deputy Secretary of State, I’m proud of the efforts our office has made to ensure every eligible voter is able to...
Like science, history is an ever-emerging narrative based on curiosity, exploration, discovery, debate and interpretation. But like science (and journalism), it must be informed by fact. The recent screed by former gubernatorial candidate John Klar of Brookfield in Vermont’s conservative online news blog True North Reports against Gov. Scott’s tacit support for “critical race theory” is heavy on political whining, but light on understanding and facts. Critical race theory derived from the work in the 1970s and ‘80s of Derrick Bell and Kimberlé Crenshaw, who were interested in highlighting...
Gov. Phil Scott’s only veto of the 2021 session is of a bill (S.107) that would raise from 19 to 20 the age before which the identity, arrest and criminal charge of young adults must be kept confidential.  The governor opposes the bill because it would “raise the age of accountability for crimes and afford young adults protections meant for juveniles, without adequate tools or systems in place for access to rehabilitation services and other supports needed both to hold these young adults accountable and help them stay out of the criminal justice system in the future.” It’s worth reviewing the...
The Legislature has before it — at long last — a proposal to address the solvency of the state’s pension system. There is nothing in the proposal for anyone to like. It’s full of pain and regret and expense. It’s the embodiment of what happens when a problem is recognized but its solution is deferred. For decades. The proposal unveiled by the House Government Operations committee essentially follows the recommendation by state Treasurer Beth Pearce, who said in January there was little choice but to ask retirees to work longer, pay more, and to receive less in retirement. With $5.6 billion in...
A few years back, I remember attending an author event at Bixby Library in Vergennes. It was after hours and the library was closed except to guests. As I entered, I passed a cluster of young kids dressed against the cold huddling on the granite steps in front of the library. I inquired of my host why they were there. “We leave our WiFi on for them,” he responded. “They don’t have it at school and come here to use ours.” Today, the pandemic is exposing Vermont’s endemic problems, accelerating some into full-blown crises, the latest of which is the state and federal failure to meet the...

Voting in Lincoln in the August 2020 primary. Photo by Paul Forlenza
This week’s writer is Lee Hamilton, a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. I’ve lost track of the times over the years I’ve heard a politician say, “This is the most important election of my lifetime.” In fact, I’ve said it myself. And I’m sure we all believed it at the time. But in my case, at least, I...
If government makes you wear a facemask to help ward off the spread of the coronavirus, has it trampled on your freedom, your personal liberty?  If government decides, instead, to forgo a legally enforceable mandate on mask wearing, has it trampled on your right or your neighbors’ to stay healthy, to keep a job, to benefit from the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”? This is the paradox of personal liberty, which George Washington clearly understood when he transmitted the newly drafted Constitution to Congress more than two centuries ago.  Liberty, he and the other...
As a grateful user of Vermont’s health care system (UVM hip replacement last year), an observer of its growth (the house I grew up in in Morrisville was next to a pasture in which the current Copley Hospital was built in 1958), and a participant in its growth (I chaired Fletcher Allen in 2003), I value and care deeply about health care in Vermont. And, full disclosure, I’m an advocate for universal health care coverage and hope to see it in my lifetime. Having said all this, it may come as a surprise that I believe we need fewer hospitals in Vermont. Our human services institutions should be...
Editor’s note: Sen. Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, was the only Republican to break with his party and support removing President Trump from office. In doing so, he put his principles above party loyalty to a president whose actions he could not, in good faith, abide.  Such personal character among the people elected to Congress is what has made our democracy function throughout the past 225 years. When the personal character of so many falter in a party and they fall in line with actions that are so obviously corrupt, the systems of checks and balances put in place to rein in would-be...

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Addison County Independent