Archive - Apr 2010 - Editorial
If you’re looking for a deeply moving opportunity for personal growth, I recommend letting your house get overrun by a plague of ladybugs. It worked for me.
It started in March, when, out of nowhere, hordes of the tiny, black-spotted red beetles showed up like so many miniature Volkswagens at a vintage car show. Within a few days the walls and ceilings looked like dot-to-dot pictures. Ladybugs crawled everywhere and clung to everything; it was nothing to find one perching on the end of the pen I was writing with.
This week’s writer is Dr. Traci Griffith, professor of journalism and mass communication at St. Michael’s College and member of the Vermont Press Association Executive Board.
As it hurries toward adjournment the Vermont Legislature is trying to get its arms around the last-minute “Challenges for Change” report and some of the ways the administration of Gov. James Douglas has identified possible cost savings. On their face many ideas sound like they may have some merit. Others clearly are way off base.
To have a serious discussion about the financial benefits of school consolidation, we all first have to agree that unifying governance, alone, solves very little. What is uniformly recognized is that significant savings come by combining schools — including eliminating building expenses; reducing staff, teachers and administrators; and getting the teacher-pupil ratio higher. Reducing the number of school boards and the number of meetings all of those volunteers attend saves little and serves as the smoke screen to the more serious conversation.
On April 18, 1970, then Gov. Deane Davis — clad in work clothes and a brimmed hat with a dozen Boy Scouts in front of him — posed for a photo in the middle of Interstate 89 outside of Montpelier while picking up trash along the highway. It was the state’s first Green Up Day and the governor (who also pushed through Act 250 under Addison County Sen. Art Gibb’s leadership) closed the interstate for the day (imagine!) so Vermonters could safely clean up the state’s busiest thoroughfare.
That’s taking the issue to heart — and making a statement.
Last week, Governor Douglas allowed a bill to move Vermont’s primary from the second Tuesday of September back to the fourth Tuesday of August to become law without his signature. This year’s primary elections will be held on August 24.
Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon,
Going to the candidates’ debate.
Laugh about it, shout about it,
When you’ve got to choose
Every way you look at it, you lose.
Social Security starts its downward slide this year. Because of the recession and 10 percent unemployment, payroll tax receipts will fall below pensions paid out for the first time.
Today’s retirees need not worry. The imbalance will not affect the program until 2037, or thereabouts. Because income has exceeded expenses for decades, the Social Security trust fund has a balance of about $2.5 trillion invested in Treasury bills. The interest on those notes added to payroll tax receipts will keep pension checks flowing for a few years.
Faced with the challenge of cutting $38 million in its Challenges for Change proposal, the Douglas administration finally provided a hint as to where that $38 million would be cut last week. Among the details, the administration suggested $3.4 million be cut from the Unified Economic Development Budget, which includes a number of departments and agencies such as the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Agency of Agriculture, Department of Labor and Tourism, and others. Few object to the cuts, but where those cuts must be made has rankled those most affected.