BenEastwood | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Re: “Ashes to Ashes: Smoking Bill Puts Senators in Bind

Tobacco is one of the most destructive drugs on our society, and unlike heroine, the health effects of this dangerous drug not only effect the user but everyone around them. It is incredibly addictive and the industry adds ingredients to cigarettes to make them even more so.
Not only does smoking dramatically increase your risk for lung cancer and throat and mouth cancer, it is also a leading cause of lung disease like emphysema that leaves folks drowning in their own lung secretions, unable to leave bed or walk across the room without an oxygen tank. It contributes to heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of premature death in this country.
It also adds these risks to any children exposed to this toxic smoke, as well as asthma and other effects on growing and developing bodies.
We routinely restrict the activities or make allowances for folks as they come of age. Drinking is restricted to over 21, young adults are allowed to stay on their parents insurance until their mid 20s.
Restricting access to smokes is a good start that will save lives, improve health, and save the people of Vermont millions in medical bills.
This isn't a liberal versus libertarian issue. This is a common sense issue, and should be at the heart of anyone who cares about the health of our state.
Senators Pearson and Ashe, as fellow Progressives I am particularly puzzled by, and incredibly disappointed in, your lack of support for this needed measure.

2 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by BenEastwood on 04/13/2017 at 10:38 AM

Re: “Prosecutors to Drop 16 Cases After Burlington Cop 'Lied' About Stop

This illustrates how important body cameras are to protect people from unscrupulous police tactics. Chief del Pozo illustrates the culture of secrecy he has cultivated in his department by refusing to discipline the officer who didn't report that incriminating conversation, and by putting police "privacy" ahead of public safety. In this case if he hadn't been inept in turning his camera off, the lying officer would have had a nice "private" conversation about falsifying testimony and his crimes would have gone unchallenged.
It is a mistake to claim that on duty cops have "privacy" as they are acting as public representatives, and therefore must be subject to public scrutiny. Any less and we are building a Soviet style police state.
Also, the fact that any charges have yet to be filed in this open and shut case of criminal perjury shows that the state's attorneys aren't in a position to enforce police ethics: even when faced with direct evidence prosecutors have a hard time charging folks they worked with; plus, accusing a cop of dishonesty potentially un-does a lot of work and puts criminals on the street...
This inherent conflict of interest is why we need transparent, independent, civilian based oversight of law enforcement outside the AG's office.
Chief del Pozo and the AG need to act aggressively to restore public trust, which has been harmed both by this cops actions, and also the chief's lack thereof.

18 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by BenEastwood on 02/23/2017 at 4:07 PM

Re: “Burlington Cop Resigns After Perjury Allegation in Drug Case

It is cases like this that show how important body cameras can be, and why we need independent oversight of the police. What about the officer he seemed to be conspiring with? If that officer did not immediately report the perjury they should be held as an accomplice and fired as well. Will either face criminal charges for this travesty? How can we trust the police if this sort of crime is not aggressively prosecuted?

27 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by BenEastwood on 02/22/2017 at 8:14 PM

Re: “Board Says Vermont Gas Can Use Eminent Domain in Park

This is further proof that the public service board does not serve the public. Between forcing ratepayers to bail out VT Gas for their sloppy bookkeeping, and precluding the public from participating in public meetings, it is clear we need to hold the public service board accountable. As state rep, I will make reforming the PSB and eminent domain process a high priority. No Vermonter should lose their property or have their rates raised for the profitability of a monopoly with deep political connections. That sort of corporate cronyism is what the PSB is supposed to guard against.

0 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by BenEastwood on 09/15/2016 at 10:24 PM

Re: “Vermont Lawmakers Pick New Statehouse Sergeant-at-Arms

I misread the numbers, and realized that the new sgt. is actually making 5,000 less in he new job. I apologize for that error. I still find it troubling that she feels entitled to a raise to do the same job that Francis has been faithfully performing for years.

10 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by BenEastwood on 02/20/2015 at 5:21 PM

Re: “Vermont Lawmakers Pick New Statehouse Sergeant-at-Arms

It is a sad day for our state when Fear and Fascism win out over Civility and Open Democracy. It is especially telling that, in these challenging economic times, the incoming Sargeant at Arms does not feel her $59,000 pay increase is adequate, and plans on negotiating for a raise! For shame!
Francis has always had my respect as a fair and dignified steward of our Capitol Building. Good luck Mr. Brooks, and thank you for your dedicated service.

8 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by BenEastwood on 02/20/2015 at 5:04 PM

Re: “Capital Fireworks: Incumbent, Ousted Employee Spar in Montpelier Mayor's Race

Reams of documentation from both sides? What documentation has the city shown? NONE. Despite claims made by the city and supporters of the mayor, the charges made against Gwen Hallsmith have been entirely unsubstantiated by evidence, and the city has refused to let the public see the proceedings, despite repeated requests from Gwen. This has been a fight of rumors versus facts.
The city has denied her due process, and the sham hearing was worthy of any kangaroo court. Her appeal to the city was heard by the assistant to the person that fired her. She was not allowed to cross examine witnesses, and the assistant manager was allowed to take hearsay evidence from her boss, and ignore any evidence she chose. Still, even with the deck stacked against her, the city was not able to substantiate all of their charges.
We'll have to see what happens when real courts actually hear the case, with a real judge, and the city is required to meet a burden of proof subject to questioning.
In the mean time, even if everything alleged against her is true, she still makes a better choice than our current mayor. He works against the common good of Montpelier residents, and indeed all Vermonters when he goes to work in the statehouse. He was Vermont Yankee's lobbyist back in 2005 and 2006 when it was leaking radioactive waste, and entergy was hiding it. He currently represents transcanada, the folks who want to build keystone xl, and vermont gas, the folks trying to build a fracking pipeline through the champlian valley.
But his works hit home, directly. For years, early childhood educators have been struggling to gain the right to collectively bargain, to have a voice in their wages, and working conditions, and improve services to their charges. The mayor proudly brags about defeating this in the statehouse. Each and every childcare worker in town is effected by that.
He also lobbied and defeated a bill that would help insure workers get their full earned workers comp coverage, potecting corporations from their obligations to their employees. If you get hurt at work, and your benefits get cut, and you have a hard time collecting, thank the mayor.
These are both from his lobbyist website. When you look at the secretary of state website, you can not only see every one of his current and past clients, which reads as a who's who of corporate special interests: big banks, tarsands, fracking, big pharma, insurance, the beverage industry, vt yankee, credit card industry... you also see the bills he has lobbied on, and you get a sense of the man.
Which is why it comes as no surprise that he lobbied to decrease income sensitivity for low and fixed income residents. Income sensitivity is the program which insures that poor folks don't lose their houses due to high property taxes by insuring their tax burden doesn't take up too much of their income . Even with income sensitivity, lower income folks pay a higher portion of their income in taxes than the the upper crust, yet the mayor wants those eligible for income sensitivity to have "more skin in the game."
Isn't there already an obscene amount of skin showing?
As part of the 99%, if I vote for the mayor, I vote against my own best interests, both as a citizen of montpelier, but also as a Vermonter, and an American.
That is why, as a montpelier resident, a Vermonter, and an American, I proudly support Gwen Hallsmith in her campaign, and will vote for her this town meeting. It's getting on time for spring cleaning, and we need to sweep city hall.

Ben Eastwood, Montpelier, Vt


Disclaimer, I am an alternate on the montpelier conservation commission and the views expressed here are my own, and not those of the city, and should not be construed to represent the comission.

6 likes, 24 dislikes
Posted by BenEastwood on 02/28/2014 at 1:09 PM

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