Tamara Hilmes's blog
Tough budgets, progressive thinking
As Middlebury’s board of selectmen hone in on a draft 2011-2012 municipal budget, we urge community residents to get involved in the budgeting process by reading and understanding the issues as thoroughly as possible. To the extent that is done, area residents will be reminded how frugal this board has been over the past couple of years, while still respecting the town’s need for progress and a consistent approach to infrastructure repair and maintenance.
As Governor-elect Peter Shumlin assembles a team that he hopes will help him grow jobs and effect long-term change, we repeat two previous appeals: the need to select an outside agent of change as the next Commissioner of Agriculture (we covered those reasons in a guest editorial on Page 5on Monday) and the need for substantial reform in our educational system — a move that could be highlighted by making the commissioner a member of the governor’s cabinet.
New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks penned an essay last Friday, titled ‘Midwest at Dusk, in which he tries to equate the shellacking Democrats took in this region to Obama’s failed policies. Brooks says the overwhelming message was that there was too much government intervention, too much big spending resulting in deficits that are too high.
By any measure imaginable, the celebration of the Cross Street Bridge opening this past Saturday was phenomenal. The procession of events was flawless and packed with energy; the coordination with the ‘Spooktacular’ Halloween events perfect; the food vendors’ tent was welcomed by all for nourishment and warmth; the speeches were short; the procession of honors well deserved; the music was entertaining and the ending fireworks, absolutely spectacular.
For Governor-elect Peter Shumlin on this post election Wednesday in Vermont, the sun is shining and the mood is upbeat. The Democrat won a narrow race for the state’s top spot and he will be greeted by a Legislature firmly in the control of his party on a scale Vermont has not seen since the domineering days of the Republican Party several decades ago.
As Americans head to the polls angry at Washington politics and upset by high unemployment, home foreclosures, bank and auto industry bailouts, a rising deficit and a loss of global competitiveness, Vermonters have good reason to re-elect Sen. Patrick Leahy, D, for another six-year term, and Rep. Peter Welch, D, to his third two-year term. That reason? Both have served the state well with honesty, openness, hard work that has paid off, and political positions that put the common good ahead of special interests.
On the question of whether to support an amendment to the state constitution to allow some 17-year-old residents to vote in state primaries, the critical question is this: Will it encourage more young Vermonters to vote or not?
The intent of the amendment is to get Vermont’s youth more involved in voting at a slightly earlier age — perhaps when some are in their senior year in high school. The amendment specifically allows for 17-year-old Vermont residents, who will turn 18 before the general election, to vote in the primary.
On the campaign trail, Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, the Republican candidate, has recently run into problems trying to explain how he would cut $110 million in state spending by putting a cap of 2 percent on spending across the board — while not putting the state corrections budget, early education, Dr. Dinosaur, the state highway patrol and other ‘too-important-to-fail’ programs in jeopardy.