Chris in S. Burlington | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Chris in S. Burlington 
Member since Feb 26, 2014


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Re: “Walters: Scott Administration Explores Radical School System Reorg

This would be the sad and unfortunate but inevitable result of Vermont Supreme Court's seemingly well-intentioned but disastrous decision in Brigham in 1997. A case intentionally brought by ACLU and people allied with them to break the back of local control of schools. Vermont Democratic Party's reaction was to create Act 60 and consolidate school funding control to Montpelier. Democratic Governor Howard Dean signed Act 60 into law.

School funding and property tax formula is so complicated that, as one state senator admitted to me, only a handful of people in entire state understand it. Even Dave Sharpe of Bristol, outgoing chair of House Committee on Education, did not fully understand it. He provided inaccurate advice to school districts at budget time when they were trying to formulate budgets in response to Act 60, Act 68, Act 46, etc. When property taxpayers receive bills, there's zero transparency to explain how much of your taxes goes to fund your own school district; versus how much goes to Montpelier to be redistributed around state (or, in turn, zero transparency if your school district is "short" and thus receiving bonus from property taxpayers in other districts as subsidy).

While I understand Governor Scott's hands are tied by disastrous Brigham decision and he is merely reacting to what Vermont Supreme Court and ACLU unleashed, wouldn't better strategy be to try and overturn Brigham? Or for state legislature to pursue constitutional amendment to delete the provision of state constitution that Supreme Court relied on for Brigham? Legislature reportedly seeking other changes to state constitution, some of which have negligible real-world impact on Vermonters (unlike our insane school funding system). Why not deal with this and return school funding decisions and control back to where it belongs-local taxpayers? Like vast majority of other 49 states.

11 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Chris in S. Burlington on 01/11/2019 at 9:03 PM

Re: “Longtime Councilor Knodell Loses Progressive Nomination

Strongly disagree with Jane Knodell's support for basing the F-35, especially after she had promised voters and campaigned on opposition to it. And strongly disagreed with her support for making special zoning exceptions for Don Sinex, instead of just letting him build within existing zoning requirements and PlanBVT. So perhaps it is time for someone new.

That said, Knodell does bring a certain hard-earned knowledge and realism to City Council (as did Kurt Wright). People may forget but it wasn't that long ago that progressive Mayor Bob Kiss led the city. And Burlington ended up in very bad condition. Terrible financial management. There are ideas that sometimes sound good on paper but that when implemented have very real world consequences. I am guessing Jane Knodell learned through these experiences during the Kiss years.

51 likes, 14 dislikes
Posted by Chris in S. Burlington on 01/07/2019 at 1:06 PM

Re: “Daycare Pinch in Franklin County Adds to Statewide Crisis

Per Terri Hallenbeck's earlier reporting in 2017, Lets Grow Kids is mostly an out-of-state funded organization that is seeking to use Vermont as a laboratory to push universal pre-K. It seems well-intentioned but as this article and others have indicated (in both Seven Days, Burlington Free Press and reporting from local TV stations), it has had disastrous result. Lets Grow Kids supported Act 166 and the regulations implemented under Shumlin administration that have led to the closing of literally hundreds of daycares, putting people out of jobs and leaving parents holding the bag. Peggy Feerick, quoted in this article, is spot-on.

April McCullum's article in the Burlington Free Press, Feb. 20, 2017, said it all: "VT Child Cares Closing Faster Since New Regulations." Well-meaning groups like Let's Grow Kids and Democrats like Sarah Buxton and Peter Shumlin have directly led to the loss of child care slots for hundreds and hundreds of children. It is past time for the state legislature to repeal Act 166 and for Governor Scott's administration to now withdraw the Shumlin-era child care regulations.

10 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Chris in S. Burlington on 12/21/2018 at 12:18 AM

Re: “Daycare Pinch in Franklin County Adds to Statewide Crisis

Per Seven Days reporting earlier this year, 176 childcares closed in Vermont in 9 month period ending in March, 2017. One factor overlooked in closing of the 176 childcares is impact of Peter Shumlin & his signature on Sarah Buxton's unfunded universal pre-k legislation. Act 166. It had temporary federal grant that will now expire this year and put that funding requirement on all Vermont taxpayers. Related rulings from Shumlin administration imposed over 100 pages of new regulations. Unbelievable minutiae such as daily cleaning of refrigerators; and big impact stuff like new employee education requirements (that both hurt immigrant refugee run childcares; & also essentially ruled that 55 year old women who had raised 5 of their own children successfully but who did not go to college were no longer "qualified").

Speaking as parent of former preschooler who lived through this, I can tell you the 55 year old woman is just as qualified as 26 year old who just finished child development graduate degree but no real world experience. Both are valuable.

After Act 166, costs went up (to comply with unfunded mandates); childcare workers generally not making more $; and many places closed because of the new burdens (putting those workers on street and leaving parents to hold the bag). "Subsidy" to parents was eaten up by childcares having to increase costs to comply.

Whether intended or not, Montpelier has done real harm here. It is not the state's responsibility to raise our children. Let's repeal Act 166 & let hundreds of childcares open back up to help families & children across the state.

11 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Chris in S. Burlington on 12/20/2018 at 11:57 PM

Re: “Burlington City Councilor Accuses Other Members of Racism

@leaterhune, based on anyone who has observed Burlington politics the last 10 years, your explanation for the vote makes the most sense. Mr. Dieng theoretically has some excellent arguments in support of his proposal based solely on the merits. About empowering NPAs and increasing citizen participation in local government via same (including with respect to development decisions).

Unfortunately as illiberal tendencies have grown stronger and stronger on the left over the last 4 or 5 years, there too often seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to immediately descend into identity politics instead of making the case based on the merits. President Clinton certainly made his mistakes (and a few decisions that even look terrible in retrospect) but he generally did a good job trying to explain his decisions and policies. Gaining him the nick-name, "Explainer-in-Chief." Hopefully Mr. Dieng and the Progressives can go more in that direction because it is ultimately necessary to persuade as a first step in politics, especially to expand one's coalition and support.

19 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Chris in S. Burlington on 12/13/2018 at 11:31 PM

Re: “Sanders Institute Brings Star Power to Burlington

This is wonderful idea. All progressives can now learn directly from Bernie about how best to destroy neighborhoods & attack the health & home values of the most vulnerable Americans via unquestioning support for the budget-busting military-industrial complex. No doubt the first seminar taught by Bernie is entitled "Basing F-35 Fighter Jets in Areas Densely Populated by the Working Poor; Working Class; and Immigrant Refugees."

Second seminar is likely entitled, "How to Avoid Local Media & Change Topics When Respected Journalists Ask Questions You Don't Want to Answer." They will first play an interview of VPR's Jane Lindholm asking Bernie a few years ago why he refused to meet with any of the thousands of constituents negatively impacted by the F-35's new "not suitable for residential use" zone. Bernie will demonstrate "the pivot," i.e., an awkward laugh and an answer about student loans that has nothing to do with the journalist's question.

Finally there is another seminar about supporting allies in the military such as VTANG who take a page from Trump's playbook and yank the press privileges of anyone who dares ask questions, such as Vermont Digger.

35 likes, 21 dislikes
Posted by Chris in S. Burlington on 11/30/2018 at 5:45 PM

Re: “Assigned Seats: Vermont Lawmakers Line Up for Leadership Roles

Speaking as someone who voted Democrat (or farther to the left) in virtually every election for over 20 years but was forced to become an independent beginning in 2014, the highest priority for the new Democratic super-majority ought to be to take action to build good faith with all Vermonters.

Most importantly, figuring out a way to return to the taxpayers the over $100 million of tax dollars that were flushed down the toilet during the ill-fated exploration of universal health care that occurred the last time there was one-party control in Vermont. Although Governor Scott was reelected, the Democrats new super-majority is similar to when they had one party control. And current super-majority is largely the same crew that worked so closely with Governor Peter Shumlin and majority leader Ship Smith to literally burn away this real money and have nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Numerous people tried to warn the Democrats that single-payer care is not feasible to implement on a single-state basis, especially in a state as small as Vermont but Shumlin and his many allies who continue to walk the halls of Montpelier ignored these warnings.

Imagine the property tax relief that could have been provided to all Vermonters with over $100 million? Or the investment in schools or clean water or any other priority people care about. The new super majority could work with Governor Scott to cut programs and budgets until every last dollar of the $100 million plus is returned to taxpayers.

12 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Chris in S. Burlington on 11/25/2018 at 5:34 PM

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