guest editorial

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...
Sen. Ruth Hardy, D-Addison, has introduced a bill to create a Community College Scholarship Program that would provide tuition-free scholarships for Vermont residents attending CCV. It would, from the outset, require a $6 million appropriation. It’s a small amount of money that would yield profound benefits at a variety of levels, and it would be an investment whose returns would likely dwarf the upfront costs. It also checks a lot of boxes when it comes to the demographic challenges outlined in the governor’s State-of-the-State speech last week. The first thing to understand is that Vermont’...
The start of the new year provides an opportunity to reflect and set out our intentions for the months ahead. This year, I am asking all legislators to join me in committing to protect and expand access for Vermonters who are seeking access to public records. The bottom line is: open government is good government. Vermonters shouldn’t have to pay for access to inspect public records their government creates in the course of agency business. Navigating who to ask, and how to request public records is enough of a hurdle for most Vermonters. They shouldn’t also be charged an arm and a leg to...
The temptation with bad news, like that of the closing of Green Mountain College, is to sit on one’s hands, paralyzed by structural change beyond immediate local control. The alternative is to come together, line up strategies and do what is in your power to move your community forward. That is just what the community of Poultney has done and is doing. They deserve a great deal of credit and a lot of praise for their dedication, collaboration, leadership, and hard work. The closure of Green Mountain College is an enormous blow to a small town like Poultney. There are ideas in the works around...
Editor’s note: As this country enters a new decade and tries to put the first two tumultuous decades of this new century behind us, Americans face a peril unknown in the country’s 220 year history: a president who would willingly trade our democratic form of government for that of an autocracy, and a Republican Party led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S.  Attorney General William Barr that would willingly go along. To that end, how the U.S. Senate handles President Trump’s impeachment trial and how American citizens wade through the flood of misinformation and misdirection...

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Addison County Independent