Archive - 2006
Of all the regrettable outcomes in the election of 2004, the fact that Congress has become ever more protective of the bumbling moves of the Bush administration will turn out to be one of the gravest errors in the Bush era. With deliberate intent, Congress â€” rather than pursuing the facts important to the formulation of policy â€” continues to allow the administration to classify documents and to deny worthy investigations that might contradict this administrationâ€™s claims, assumptions and purported facts. Without good information, however, the nation continues a downward slide with serious consequences.
In the statewide political battle surrounding a tax hike on gasoline, the Republicans picked the easier side in the debate â€” affordability â€” while the House Democrats have to defend a more complex position: that the tax is a better mechanism to raise needed revenue for a host of reasons, none of which can be boiled down into a politically palatable sound bite.
But take a moment to inspect the issue. The first question is: Is the additional revenue the proposed gas tax would raise really needed?
The Vermont House approved a bill that would raise gasoline taxes by 4 cents per gallon (to 24 cents) and by 6 cents per gallon on diesel fuel (to 32 cents per gallon). The increased taxes would generate $26 million that would be used to leverage more than $100 million in federal highway funds â€” a bump in transportation funding approved by the U.S. Congress and Bush in this era of burgeoning deficits. (If you donâ€™t raise the needed state match, you lose out on the federal dole.)
By HARRIETTE BRAINARD
NEW HAVEN â€” No one who has spent any time with Andy Lott would disagree that he is good natured, likeable, caring and constantly on the move. A local veterinarian who works only with horses, Lott has been practicing in Vermont since 1998. His practice now covers an enormous area spanning much of central Vermont â€” from Chittenden County and the Stowe area to Manchester â€” and into New Hampshire. Consequently, Lott often is on the go seven days a week, day and night, partly because he finds it impossible to refuse care to any of his clienteleâ€™s stock.
For years, Lott, 36, has had his practice based in Warren, but he will soon be opening the first horse clinic of its kind in Addison County, and only the second such clinic in Vermont. Called the Valley Equine Clinic, it will be located on South Street in New Haven. The only other similar clinic in the state is in Milton.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY â€” The Gailer School will celebrate a special homecoming this year â€” in a literal sense. After an eight-year hiatus in Shelburne, the small private school this fall will return to an as-yet-undetermined location in Middlebury, where Gailer got its start some 17 years ago.
â€œWe anticipate something (initially) of a temporary nature in the town we want to make our permanent home,â€? said Christine Plunkett, director of finance and operations for the Gailer School.
Plunkett declined to discuss the temporary sites the school is currently evaluating in Middlebury.
The story of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLayâ€™s fall from power to disgraced politician who had to pull out of his own House race for fear of embarrassment is a simple story of greed and power. Whatâ€™s amazing is that DeLay was able to hide his lust and his scheming, underhanded immoral ways under the guise of promoting â€œmoral values.â€? Christians conservatives, in particular, who bought into DeLayâ€™s temple of misbegotten rhetoric need to carefully review how they were misled, lied to and taken advantage of, if they are to avoid future deceptions by politicians who have no qualms about lying to their constituents.
Gov. James Douglas created a stir late last week by suggesting he would veto the state budget if the Legislature does not include his college scholarship proposal. The governor says the 15 year, $175 million program is â€œvital to the stateâ€™s economic future.â€? Whereâ€™s the proof to back up such a claim? There isnâ€™t any.
Rather, the governor has a hunch that his program might keep a few Vermont high school graduates from moving out of state to attend college and, perhaps, they would then settle down and raise a family in Vermont. The program would pay up to 1,000 students a maximum of $5,000 a year to attend college in Vermont. What the state gets for its money is a three-year obligation from the student to work in the state after they graduate.
The public should note with alarm a recent tactic by the Bush administration to distort the conclusion by American intelligence agencies that Saddam Hussein had no unconventional weapons of mass destruction and no substantive ties to Al Qaeda before the March 2003 invasion.
The method chosen by the Bush team, and conservative Republican colleagues in Congress, was to push for putting 48,000 boxes of Arabic-language Iraqi documents on the Web so anyone and everyone can play â€œintelligence analystâ€? and second-guess American intelligence officials.
Weâ€™re certainly supportive of this administration putting pertinent government information on the Web for all to review. Critics of the administrationâ€™s energy policy would love to see the volumes of information that came out of the closed-door meetings with oil executives and Vice-President Dick Cheney. Weâ€™d also like to see the complete file on the Valerie Plume case, not to mention more complete documentation of corporate corruption that has plagued private contractors in Iraq as well as during the Hurricane Katrina clean-up; and hundreds of other instances. Weâ€™re all for such openness.
When the stateâ€™s congressional delegation, joined by Gov. James Douglas, files a protest to a private company for dismissing a long-time employee, the average reader should be interested. We canâ€™t recall another time in Vermontâ€™s history that itâ€™s happened, which makes the outrage and disappointment expressed by Gov. Douglas and Sens. Patrick Leahy, James Jeffords, and Rep. Bernie Sanders, all the more poignant.
The protest is over the sudden dismissal of Chris Graff. A familiar face on Vermont Public Televisionâ€™s â€œVermont This Week,â€? Graff not only worked as the Associated Pressâ€™ bureau chief for the past 27 years, but he has been one of the stateâ€™s most prominent and well-respected journalists â€” as the managing editor of a staff of fine reporters, as a keen observer of state politics and history, and as a moderator of numerous political debates and public forums. He has become, as one editor recently wrote, an institution in Vermont.