Bernie Sanders Sworn in for second Senate term

first_imgSenator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was sworn in today for his second term in the US Senate. The oath of office was administered by Vice President Joe Biden, the president of the Senate. Senator Patrick Leahy, Vermonts senior senator and the Senate president pro tem, accompanied Sanders to the well of the Senate chamber for the official ceremony. I want to thank the citizens of Vermont for sending me to the Senate for a second term, Sanders said. In these very difficult economic times, I will continue my efforts to fight for jobs for the people of our state and country, and to defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid against those who want to cut those vitally important programs. I also intend to bring forward sweeping legislation to transform our energy system and address the crisis of global warming.  I look forward to working with Vermonters on these and many other important issues, the senator said.The swearing-in ceremony was re-enacted in the Old Senate Chamber with Vice President Biden administering the oath as Jane OMeara Sanders looked on. Washington, DC, 1.3.2013last_img read more

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USAID Deputy Administrator Steinberg to lead Brattleboro’s World Learning

first_imgWorld Learning/SIT,World Learning announced today thatDonald Steinberg, deputy administrator for the US Agency for International Development and a former ambassador, will be the organization’s next president and CEO.”Donald Steinberg is a true leader in the field of international development. He brings invaluable experience, energy, enthusiasm and an impressive record of achievement to World Learning from his many years of public service,” said Rosamond Delori, chair of World Learning’s board of trustees. “We look forward to working with him to continue World Learning’s efforts to empower people and strengthen institutions around the world.”Steinberg will officially begin his role at the organization in early July and will use the interim period to develop a comprehensive understanding of the World Learning’s work, which spans more than 60 countries and includes participants from 140 countries annually.”It will be a great honor to work with the World Learning staff, board and alumni to continue its remarkable success in global development, international education and exchange, and graduate and professional education,” Steinberg said. “I am equally excited at the opportunity to partner with civil society institutions, the private sector, educational institutions and governments around the world to encourage inclusive development.”As deputy administrator at USAID, Steinberg’s areas of focus included the Middle East and Africa, women’s empowerment, organizational reforms under the USAID Forward initiative and enhancing dialogue with development partners. During his nearly 30 years with the government, he served as director of the State Department’s joint Policy Council, White House deputy press secretary, National Security Council senior director for African affairs, special Haiti coordinator, U.S. Ambassador to Angola and the president’s special representative for humanitarian demining. Steinberg was also deputy president for policy at the International Crisis Group and a Randolph Jennings senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace.Steinberg has published more than 100 articles on foreign policy, African developments, gender issues, post-conflict reconstruction, children and armed conflict, and disarmament. He holds master’s degrees in journalism from Columbia University and political economy from the University of Toronto, and a bachelor’s degree from Reed College.His honors include the Presidential Meritorious Honor Award, the Frasure Award for International Peace, the Hunt Award for Women in Policy Formulation, the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship, the State Department Distinguished Service Award and six State Department Superior Honor Awards.”From our very first meeting with him, it was immediately clear to us’staff and trustees’that Don’s dedication to and experience in making the world better for all its citizens was precisely aligned with World Learning’s 80 years of work around the globe,” Delori said.Steinberg will succeed Adam Weinberg, who announced in November that he would step down as World Learning’s president and CEO in June 2013 to become the president of Denison University in Ohio. World Learning selected Steinberg for the position after a five-month search led by former World Learning president and current Trustee Charles MacCormack, which involved trustees, staff, faculty and students. “I look forward to building on the proud legacy of Adam Weinberg and his predecessors and colleagues by helping empower a new generation of global leaders with the skills and values needed to build prosperous and democratic societies,” Steinberg said.He and Weinberg will work together closely over the next several months to ensure a smooth and timely transition.To download Steinberg’s full biography visit the World Learning website.World Learning is a nonprofit organization advancing leadership through education, exchange, and development programs in more than 60 countries.BRATTLEBORO, Vt., May 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — www.worldlearning.org(link is external)last_img read more

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Bennington Welcome Center opens to the traveling public on Friday

first_imgGovernor Peter Shumlin and Michael Obuchowski, Commissioner of the Department of Buildings and General Services, has announced today that the long awaited Bennington Welcome Center will be opening its doors to travelers at 7 am on Friday, October 11. This project, part of the Bennington Bypass system, has been under construction for the past five years, but in the making for 20 years or more with the support of three administrations.   ‘This new welcome center creates a beautiful gateway into Vermont through Bennington County, providing Vermonters and out of state visitors alike with the services and information they need to enjoy the region and the state as a whole,’ Gov. Shumlin said. ‘Led by a dedicated group of Bennington lawmakers, officials and others, we have been working on a Bennington Welcome Center for years. Friday’s opening is an important economic step for southwestern Vermont.’  Commissioner Obuchowski agreed, adding, ‘We couldn’t be more delighted that this project is close to completion and that soon we will be turning the keys of the building over to Joann Erenhouse and her able staff at the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber will be operating this building on behalf of the State at a savings to taxpayers.’   An official ribbon cutting ceremony will take place later in November. ‘Tourism is so important to the entire State, and we at the Chamber are honored we will be the ambassadors to so many visitors entering Vermont on vacation or on business from points south,’ said Joann Erenhouse, Executive Director of the Bennington Area Chamber. ‘I promise to work tirelessly to ensure that visitors who stop at this vital gateway welcome center receive the signature hospitality they are used to receiving at the other 16 State visitor centers.’  A group of of past and present members from the Bennington delegation, including local officials, toured the facility Monday as last minute construction projects were being completed.  Former Rep. Tim Corcoran, currently the Town Clerk in Bennington, expressed his delight that the Center was finally opening.  ‘It’s been a long time coming and I am sure it will be a critical asset to our region and the State as a whole,’ said Corcoran.  Rep. Timothy Corcoran, Jr. echoed his father’s comments and spoke to the importance that this project would have enhancing Vermont’s image to visitors and to the financial engine that tourism is to the State.  Rep. Bill Botzow, who serves on the House Commerce Committee, remarked that the Center and the bypass would be critical assets supporting the State’s efforts to enhance economic development for the region and the state at large.   Former Rep. Dick Pembroke, a long term supporter of the project, couldn’t have been more pleased touring the site and seeing his vision of the past 20 years come to fruition. ‘It’s beautiful,’ he said. Sen. Dick Sears and Sen. Bob Hartwell, both strong advocates for the project expressed their enthusiasm that the Welcome Center would soon be opening and begin contributing to the important tourism economy by fulfilling its important mission to the State’s visitors.   Brenda Jones, President of the Bennington Area Chamber, summed up the tour by saying the Bennington Chamber is proud to have this opportunity adding, ‘It is time now to roll up our sleeves and get the job done promoting and showcasing our businesses, attractions and communities across the State from East to West and North to South.’last_img read more

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McClaughry: Four proposals to improve elections

first_imgNow that the 2014 state elections are over, it’s worth looking at how the process might be improved in the future. Here are four proposals.Single Member Districts: The curse of legislative elections is that, in multimember districts, a candidate is only rarely willing to do battle with any other candidate. Why? Because there is always the prospect of winning some second votes from the partisans of that other candidate. This makes for appallingly issue-free elections.Elections should be occasions where incumbents defend their record, and challengers offer their alternative. When challengers fail to hold incumbents accountable, an important element of democracy is lost.Where single member districts might be awkward, as in Burlington, candidates should file and run for “Position 1”, “Position 2” etc. instead of at large. At present, there are three single member Senate districts (Lamoille, Orange, Grand Isle). There ought to be thirty, each composed of five House districts.One Big Choice: Vermont ballots are invariably cluttered up with scores of candidates  for six statewide offices. Voters ought to cast one vote for the leadership team of their choice: Governor and Lt. Governor. This is the current practice in 25 states. That would ensure continuity of policies if the governor died or resigned.The candidates would make up their own teams and contest party primaries with other teams, as in Maryland and Montana. Alternatively, the candidate who wins the primary for governor could ask his or her party convention to name the most suitable running mate to strengthen the ticket, as the national party conventions do in presidential elections.Under the One Big Choice plan, voters would concentrate on the character, experience, and platforms of the candidates for Governor, just as the voters in 2012 concentrated on Obama-Biden vs. Romney-Ryan. The parties would concentrate their campaign efforts, talents, volunteers and fund raising on persuading the voters to make the One Big Choice in their party’s favor.Treasurer and Secretary of State would be chosen on a nonpartisan basis by the legislature (as in New Hampshire and Maine). The Auditor of Accounts would be similarly chosen (as in 24 states.)The Attorney General would be the governor’s appointee, confirmed by the Senate (as in New Hampshire. New Jersey, Wyoming, Alaska and Hawaii.).  He or she would be accountable to the governor, instead of running his own independent public interest law firm at taxpayers’ expense.The four lower officers would be off the ballot and out of partisan politics. The scramble to raise money to fund their campaigns would end. Scarce campaign talent would migrate to the governor’s campaign and the Congressional and legislative campaigns. Ending the annoying clutter of competing advertisements, mailings, phone calls and yard signs from candidates about whom the public has little knowledge or interest would provide welcome relief to voters.The One Big Choice Plan is simple, understandable, tested, and far more meaningful than today’s welter of statewide candidates vying for attention from an electorate that really has little idea of who those candidates are or what those offices do. The downside: aspiring politicians hate it.Restore Party Integrity:  In 1974 Vermont threw elections open to anyone who wanted to vote anonymously in any party’s primary. This became an open invitation – enthusiastically accepted – for the Progressives, who rarely have a primary, to flock into the Democratic primary to back leftist Democrats. Similarly, but on a smaller scale, Libertarians, Tea Party people, and independents can flock into a Republican primary to nominate their favorites, with little regard for the need of the political party to be capable of governing when its candidates are put into power.Turkey Ballot: Finally, when the voters view all of the candidates for an office as turkeys (or worse), let them vote for “none of the above”.  If “none of the above” wins a plurality in a race, the office is declared vacant, there’s a special election, and the failed candidates can no longer qualify for the ballot (but could run as write-ins.)Even without this feature, just being outpolled by “none of the above” should produce a well-deserved embarrassment to the candidate who gets the next highest vote and assumes the office. The down side: the elected legislature won’t consider it because few of its members dare to take the risk of being outpolled by “none of the above.”John McClaughry, a former House and Senate member, is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org(link is external))last_img read more

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Keurig Green Mountain and family-owned Community Coffee announce partnership

first_imgKeurig Green Mountain, Inc (NASDAQ:GMCR), based in Waterbury, Vermont, a leader in specialty coffee, coffee makers, teas and other beverages with its innovative brewing technology, and Community Coffee Company, the largest family owned and operated retail coffee brand in America, announced on Monday a multi-year licensing, manufacturing, and distribution agreement to bring Community coffee to Keurig portion pack formats for consumer and commercial Keurig hot brewing systems. Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed.With this new agreement consumers in the US will soon enjoy their favorite Community coffee varieties with Keurig simplicity at the touch of a button. The new, licensed Community coffee K-Cup packs plan to launch in spring 2015 for in home and away from home use, with extensions into K-Carafe packs for the Keurig 2.0 brewing system and Bolt packs for the KeurigBOLT Carafe Brewing System in the future. All Community coffee K-Cup packs will be marked with the Keurig Brewed seal indicating the product has passed rigorous testing, assuring the quality, taste, and integrity consumers expect from the Keurig brand.“Consumers tell us that they choose Keurig brewers for the quality, simplicity, and variety of brands and beverages available in the system,” said John Whoriskey, President of U.S. Sales and Marketing at Keurig. “Welcoming a premium brand like Community coffee into the mix means the loyal fans of Community coffee will be able to enjoy the coffee they know and love with the quality and consistency they expect from their Keurig brewer.”Based in Baton Rouge, LA, Community Coffee Company, a fourth generation family owned business, has sold premium quality coffees since 1919. Today, the company has grown to become the largest family owned and operated retail coffee brand in America. Community Coffee Company imports, roasts, and distributes its premium coffees through retail stores, restaurants, offices, convenience stores, and hospitality channels, while using only the top 10% of coffee beans in the world to make its delicious, rich and smooth coffees. Soon, consumers will be able to savor Community coffee with the quality and convenience denoted by its Keurig Brewed seal.“Community Coffee Company continues to experience explosive growth and remains deeply committed to providing the highest quality coffee experience for our customers,” said David Belanger, President and CEO of Community Coffee Company. “Partnering with Keurig allows us to further extend our products in a format that is highly desired by consumers and we are very excited about this opportunity.”Keurig hot system brewers use innovative brewing technology to deliver a fresh-brewed, perfect single cup of hot or brewed over ice coffee, tea, cocoa, or fruit brews every time at just the touch of a button. With the next generation Keurig 2.0 brewer, consumers are able to brew both a single cup and a carafe of coffee from a Keurig brand pack. With Keurig 2.0 brewing systems, consumers continue to get the same Keurig quality, simplicity and beverage choice they expect with 60 brands and nearly 400 beverage varieties currently available, all brewed with Keurig’s new beverage-optimizing brewing technology.Now in its 95th year, Community Coffee Company is the largest family owned and operated retail coffee brand in America, and four generations of the Saurage family have operated the company since its inception. Founded in 1919, Community Coffee Company is an importer, roaster and distributor of the highest-quality premium coffees and teas, using only 100 percent Arabica coffee beans. For additional information, visit CommunityCoffee.com(link is external) or find the brand on Facebook(link is external) and Twitter(link is external).Keurig Green Mountain is a leader in specialty coffee, coffee makers, teas and other beverages with its innovative brewing technology.Source: –(BUSINESS WIRE(link is external))–Keurig Green Mountain, Inc 12.1.2014last_img read more

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Vermont Teddy Bear loaded for Valentine’s Day

first_imgVermont Teddy Bear Co,Vermont Teddy Bear, the nation’s largest producer of handcrafted teddy bears, announces the launch of its limited-edition “Fifty Shades of Grey Bear.” Approved by bestselling author EL James, the adult gift is designed for fans enthralled with the “Fifty Shades of Grey” book and left biting their lips in anticipation for the movie. “I’ll just say it. We’re obsessed with Grey,” says Bill Shouldice, CEO, Vermont Teddy Bear. “Our entire team is thrilled to announce the Fifty Shades of Grey Bear – not only to the millions of fans excited to see Fifty Shades on the big screen, but for anyone who really wants to impress their Valentine this year. It’s sure to be one of our most popular Valentine’s Day Bears.”Like the seductive male protagonist, Christian Grey, the limited-edition Fifty Shades of Grey Bear wears a gray silk suit and tie and has smoldering eyes. He even comes with a mask and mini handcuffs. No contract required.Available exclusively at VermontTeddyBear.com, the Fifty Shades of Grey Bear retails for $89.99. Handcrafted in Vermont and guaranteed for life, he can be ordered online at VermontTeddyBear.com.Source: January 28, 2015 SHELBURNE, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE(link is external))–Vermont Teddy Bear. Vermonter John Sortino dreamt up Vermont Teddy Bear in 1981. Inspired to bring the American tradition back to its roots, he started handcrafting Bears and selling them to family friends. By 1983, Sortino was selling at an open-air market in Burlington, Vermont. Some 30 years and 5-million Bears later, Vermont Teddy Bear continues to fulfill Sortino’s legacy. In fact, it’s the only manufacturer that handcrafts all of its 15-inch Bears in Vermont, USA – using the silkiest fur it can get its paws on and faux-suede paw pads. All Bears, BIG and small are filled with 100% recycled stuffing and guaranteed for life. Orders can be placed at VermontTeddyBear.com, by calling 1.800.828.BEAR (2327) or via mail-order catalog.last_img read more

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2015 inductees revealed for Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The Committee for the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the inductees for 2015. Recipients are chosen based on their accomplishments and significant contributions to Vermont agriculture. These nominees will be honored on Wednesday, September 2, 2015, during the invitation only luncheon at the Champlain Valley Exposition. Also during that time, the black and white photographs of the 2014 inductees will be revealed. These photos will feature Joseph E Carrigan, Ronald Greenwood, Richard Moore, Harry Morse, Sr, and Lucien Paquette.They are:Putnam Blodgett, former dairy farmer and Certified Tree FarmerArthur Clifford, innovative dairy farmer in Starksboro VT (posthumously)Mariafranca Morselli, renowned maple researcher at UVM (posthumously)Governor Frederick Holbrook, founder of the Vermont State Agricultural Association (posthumously)James Harvey, an accomplished harness racing horse trainer in DuxburyFamily members and representatives from many agricultural organizations in Vermont will be in attendance as we honor these deserving individuals.The fifty-nine photographs depicting sixty-two previous nominees are on display in the entryway of the Robert E. Miller Building and can be viewed during the Fair as well as throughout the year. We encourage Vermonters to visit the exhibition and remember the many contributions these folks have made to our industry.Nomination forms are available on the Exposition website and the deadline for submissions is May 31 every year. (www.cvexpo.org(link is external))last_img read more

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CSJ’s Marble Valley Grows awarded Bowse Health Trust grant

first_imgVermont Business Magazine College of St Joseph has been awarded a grant by the Bowse Health Trust, a department of Rutland Regional Medical Center. The grant awards $88,400 over three years. Marble Valley Grows, the farm-to-school network run by Kimberly Griffin, College of St. Joseph’s farm manager and wellness coordinator, will use the grant to continue working within Rutland County schools to enhance education and access to healthy food choices. Griffin developed Marble Valley Grows last April, and has been working to educate children about healthier food options, to include them in the decisions about the food they are served, educate them on where food comes from, and to empower them to grow food themselves. “Farm-to-school organizations are all over the state,” Griffin said. “But there was an obvious gap in Rutland County.” Most of Marble Valley Grows’ work can be divided into three parts: Education, in-cafeteria taste tests and food scrap sorting, and outdoor learning in school gardens. The program currently partners with seven classrooms in five different schools across Rutland County and sends College of St. Joseph students to teach classroom lessons, collect food scraps and help build classroom gardens. “School gardens in many ways become community gardens,” Griffin said  .And community is one of the big reasons Griffin took on the daunting task of creating a farm-to-school network for Rutland. “The Health Needs Assessment continuously indicated obesity as an epidemic in our county. Part of that is nutrition and nutrition education,” she said. “Marble Valley Grows educates students on healthy food choices, so it will hopefully begin to shift the attitudes toward health in the region.” Looking ahead, the grant will be used to continue the development of school garden programs, as well as the addition of other schools and classrooms throughout the region. Marble Valley Grows partners with organizations including RAFFL, food service providers, Shrewsbury Institute for Agricultural Education, Addison County Re-localization and more. The partnering schools include Northeast and Northwest Elementary in Rutland, Proctor, Christ the King and Lothrop. The Bowse Health Trust, a department of Rutland Regional Medical Center, has awarded over $4 million to over 55 programs in the local community since 1996. 2016 grant recipients also include the Southwestern Vermont Hoarding Task Force, hosted by Bennington Rutland Opportunity Council, and the Community Impact Program, hosted by Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum.Source: College of St Joseph 12.11.2015last_img read more

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Smith: A yuuuuuuge miscalculation

first_imgby Mike Smith Governor Peter Shumlin and US Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) — two experienced Vermont politicians supporting Hillary Clinton — are probably wondering if they made the right political calculation. No doubt they figured that Senator Bernie Sanders would have peaked by now and that most Democrats would be gravitating to Clinton as their nominee to be our next president. By backing Clinton, they must have expected that supporters of Sanders would be initially angry over their endorsements but because the Sanders’ candidacy didn’t amount to much they would ultimately get over it and all would be forgiven. In essence, no harm, no foul. But things have not gone according to plan for so-called “establishment Democrats” and Bernie Sanders has far exceeded expectations. He virtually tied Clinton in Iowa and then went on to shellac her in New Hampshire, winning by almost 22 percentage points. Home court advantage? Perhaps. But national polls show Sanders gaining on Clinton across the country. There was a time, not too long ago, when Clinton held substantial leads in the polls in New Hampshire, Iowa and nationally. At that time, it was a safe bet to support Clinton — that’s why so many high-powered Vermont Democrats jumped on her bandwagon. And although Clinton is viewed as still having the advantage, it is no longer a certainty that she’ll beat Sanders. In fact, Vice President Joe Biden is rumored to be keeping his options open. Clinton’s recent setbacks are the result of strategic blunders by her campaign as well as the perception of the candidate herself.The Clinton campaign has struggled for a strategy that can counter Sanders’ populist message that the political and economic systems are rigged. The clear implication is that politicians such as Clinton are part of the problem, not a solution. Sanders has been hammering away at the fact that Clinton is beholden to the Wall Street firms that paid her lucrative speaking fees; and she also accepted millions in campaign contributions from them. She has yet to effectively counter this connection to the nation’s wealthiest one percent. Instead, she has concocted ineffective tactics to try to slow Sanders’ momentum. For example, attempting to move left of Sanders, as if this were possible (Note to the Clinton campaign: You can’t out-flank a lifelong socialist on the left — especially when you have been part of the corporate and political establishment for years.) This tactic will never work because it fails the credibility test. And recently, Madeleine Albright and other Clinton surrogates attacked women that were not supporting Clinton. This tactic backfired when women appeared to show their political independence by supporting the candidate who best represented their values regardless of gender. Clinton was handed an embarrassing nine-point defeat among Granite State women. By far, the No. 1 issue among Democrats in New Hampshire was the issue of trust. Clinton has a problem establishing herself as the candidate who can be trusted. This trust issue is a problem for the Clinton camp, because it goes beyond the policy differences she has with Sanders, or even the Republicans. Trust with the voters is essential to winning elections. As the primary season wears on if she can’t overcome this trust factor in other states then her campaign will be truly in trouble. Luckily for Clinton, the campaign now goes to South Carolina and Nevada. Recent polls (that do not take into account Bernie’s successes) indicate she’s maintaining a sizable lead in both states. But Clinton needs a clear victory to bolster her campaign and slow Bernie’s momentum.If Sanders continues to exceed expectations — and he doesn’t necessarily have to win in South Carolina and Nevada in order to do that — he will maintain his momentum going into future primaries especially those important primaries on Super Tuesday. The calculation that Sanders would disappear from the national political scene in quick order proved false. Chances are, he will continue his presidential bid longer than many expected, perhaps all the way to the convention. But one thing is for certain:Vermont’s Democratic hierarchy underestimated Bernie Sanders. And as Bernie might say: “It was a “yuuuge” miscalculation.”Mike Smith was the secretary of administration and secretary of human services under former Governor James Douglas. He’s a regular contributor to Vermont Business Magazine.last_img read more

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McClaughry: Reviving grassroots democracy

first_imgby John McClaughry Alert viewers of WCAX may have noticed a March 4 segment calling attention to my completion of fifty years’ service as Kirby Town Moderator. Please allow me to use those four minutes of media fame as a springboard for defending the merits of Vermont’s tradition of town meeting government. Early settlers from Massachusetts and Connecticut brought town meeting to the New Hampshire Grants before they created the Republic of Vermont in 1777. Unlike in most of the rest of the country, in Vermont – never a royal colony – the towns came together and created the state.Both Federalist John Adams and Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson believed that Town Meeting ought to be the foundation of any democratic republic.  When asked the reason for the political strength of New England, Adams replied “town, school, congregation, and militia”, the institutions of civil society at the local level.Jefferson, who as a Virginian had little knowledge of the workings of grassroots democracy, nonetheless identified it as essential to liberty and self government. In 1816 he wrote “where every man  is a sharer in the direction of his ward-republic [town], or of some of the higher ones, and feels that he is a participant in the government of affairs, not merely at election one day in the year, but every day; when there shall not be a man in the state who will not be a member of some one of its councils, great or small, he will let his heart be torn out of his body sooner than his power be wrested from him by a Caesar or a Bonaparte.”For decades Adams’ practical analysis and Jefferson’s shining vision elevated the status of town meeting democracy. But by the turn of the 20th century its luster had begun to fade.  A major cause was the leakage of small town people to the larger towns and cities. Another was the appearance of public concerns that could not easily be dealt with by a thousand citizens in a forty square mile “republic”.Frank Bryan, of Newbury, capped his long career as UVM professor of political science by publishing his monumental work, Real Democracy in 2004. In it he recounts how the centralist thinkers of the Progressive Era scorned grassroots democracy of all sorts. What did those yokels know? Public decisions should be turned over to the wise, educated, and public spirited, whose far seeing leadership would make government at all levels more efficient in carrying out ever more activities determined by the best and the brightest to be for the good of the people.The result of this advanced thinking was the relentless movement toward consolidation. The Progressives’ only grudging concession to democracy was allowing the erstwhile citizens to vote every year or so on whether the experts had performed acceptably.In Vermont In the 1960s, a new generation of Progressives, exemplified by Gov. Philip Hoff (1963-68), ended equal town representation in the House, removed welfare (‘poor relief”) from the towns to Waterbury, imposed state land use controls, and set in motion a burgeoning state education bureaucracy that has worked ceaselessly for consolidation of public schools into large unified districts (finally triumphant in Act 46.)This is not to say that all this centralization was abhorrent. But in “concentrating all cares into one body”, as Jefferson put it, we are steadily reducing the scope of local civic responsibility. Before long the Australian ballot will reduce town meeting democracy to a remnant, surviving small town public schools will be managed – and many closed – by distant unified districts organized like waste management districts, and town duties will shrink down to maintaining town roads, keeping up the cemetery, and issuing zoning permits and dog licenses.Whether or not this will result in a gain for society is debatable, but there can be no doubt but that the arena of citizenship will shrink, and the thousand year spirit of town meeting democracy will become a matter only for curious historians.For 49 years since my first election as Moderator, I have penned a few thoughts on the inside cover of the Kirby town report. Many of those have been tributes to or eulogies of my fellow citizens, but one in particular, from the 1971 report, has long been my favorite.After offering the Jefferson quote cited above, I wrote “Our job must be to strengthen and preserve town government, thus keeping as many of the functions of government as possible close to the people themselves. This can be a nuisance at times, and it is easy to become frustrated and want to give it all up. But we should keep in mind that town government, like life itself, is one of the things that, once given up, we will never be able to recover.”Those who believe in the importance of a vibrant community-based democracy of self-governing citizens, coming together to make public decisions about their future, need to create new forms of that venerable institution to better meet modern requirements. That is the theme of Bryan and McClaughry, The Vermont Papers: Recreating Democracy on a Human Scale (1989), available at your local library or online at abebooks.com(link is external).John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org(link is external)).last_img read more

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