Archive - Oct 13, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said the $700 billion economic rescue plan passed by Congress on Oct. 3 is just the first step federal lawmakers and the next president will have to take in shoring up what has become a global economic crisis.
Welch, running for a second term as Vermont’s lone U.S. representative, discussed the rescue plan and his legislative priorities during an interview at the Addison Independent on Thursday.
Welch on Sept. 29 voted against the first, ill-fated rescue plan fielded by the U.S. House, saying it lacked proper oversight and that he was pressing for the best possible taxpayer safeguards while always embracing the need for government action.
Welch and a majority of his colleagues shifted gears and supported a second version of the plan that passed on Oct. 3, after a few changes had been incorporated into the bill. Welch said that version earned his vote because:
• It increased federal insurance of people’s bank deposits from the current $100,000 to $250,000.
“That is something I have been advocating for a while,” Welch said.
• It requires the Securities and Exchange Commission to have banks use “mark-to-value” accounting, not just the current “mark-to-market” accounting, when it comes to assessing real estate mortgage values. Welch explained that a mark-to-value accounting system reflects a property’s cash flow to the bank at the time of assessment, whereas the mark-to-market accounting system does not.
“Mark-to-market is a one-size-fits-all approach that results in oftentimes a number that does not reflect the actual value of the asset,” Welch explained. “That means the bank’s balance sheet is lower and it means they have to build up more reserves (before they can) lend more money.”
By KATHRYN FLAGG
ADDISON COUNTY — Talk of a congress and “community organizers” might bring to mind national politics — but for the planners behind this year’s Addison County Conservation Congress, a daylong summit slated to take place later this month at Mount Abraham Union High School, those words ring true a little closer to home.
The Oct. 25 event, sponsored by the Addison County Relocalization Network (ACoRN) and Vermont Family Forests (VFF), aims to bring together anywhere between 150 and 300 county residents to dig into this year’s theme: “Addison County in Transition: Visioning Our Community in 2020 and Mapping the Next Steps to Get There.”
The day aims to do exactly what its title calls for: dream up a portrait of the county in 12 years, and begin work on the roadmap necessary to make that vision a reality.
That lofty goal is a departure from the country conservation congresses of the past, which started in 1992, explained David Brynn, a forester with VFF. After five annual meetings, organizers took a hiatus from the project — a break that ended up lasting 10 years.
Brynn and other planners revived the meetings last year. But according to Brynn, this year’s congress signals a paradigm shift for the event.
“The first six were about finding controversial conservation issues that we could deliberate and argue about in a supportive setting,” Brynn explained. “The idea was really to debate them and not necessarily to reach any consensus but to get things out in a respectful environment.”
This year’s congress, the seventh, focuses more on the human community, and the future Addison County’s residents can create for themselves in the face of three major challenges: peak oil, climate change, and the financial crisis.
By KATHRYN FLAGG
ADDISON COUNTY — Look for parents in Addison County and around the state this week sporting buttons that declare “This employee made possible because of daycare” and “Support Vermont’s economy, support quality childcare.”
These parents, along with other allies of early child development programs, are doing their best to draw attention to the necessity for up-to-date subsidies for families struggling to meet steep childcare costs, as well as the importance of available quality childcare in the state.
Organizers are calling the weeklong event a “virtual strike” — a sort of “what if” question. What if early childcare and education programs weren’t available? What if these programs, on which hundreds of parents in the county depend, were to close for the day?
The strike, coordinated by the Kids Are Priority One Coalition, kicks off Tuesday and runs through Saturday. According to Susan Hackett, the local coordinator for the strike and the regional director for a children’s advocacy group called Building Bright Futures, almost 1,000 buttons have been distributed to parents and allies around the county.
Organizers hope that the buttons will raise awareness about the link between childcare and economic development, as well as draw attention to subsidy eligibility guidelines that some childcare advocates say are out-dated and insufficient.
“There is childcare assistance,” said Ginny Sinclair, a referral specialist at Addison County Childcare Services. Sinclair helps families find childcare with one of the roughly 60 local home childcare providers or one of the county’s three state-licensed centers.
Subsidies are based on a family’s income, she explained, as well as a “service need” demonstrated if a parent is working, attending school full-time, or medically incapable of caring for a child at all times.