Joe Benning | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Joe Benning 
Member since Jun 5, 2015


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Re: “House Dems Narrowly Win Vote On Teacher Health Care Negotiations

The author of this article notes the irony of Republicans, who are normally anti-big government, voting to have the state take over health care negotiations. (But it refuses to give Republicans credit for trying to save the taxpayers an estimated $26 million.) It further notes that Democrats and the NEA are opposed to having that provision removed from collective bargaining.

How about the irony that both the Democrats and the NEA were (just a couple years ago) adamantly in favor of the state taking control of all health care for all citizens, which by itself would have removed this issue from collective bargaining?

33 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 05/04/2017 at 9:56 AM

Re: “'Mob' Attacks Middlebury Prof and Controversial Speaker Charles Murray

I must confess I am profoundly shaken by the video from Middlebury. There is no defense, no justification, for allowing mob rule and anarchy to shut down free speech- period! And that's equally true for mobs on the right or the left. While passion may drive some to protest, that protest cannot come at the expense of the constitutional rights of others. Sunshine remains the best disinfectant when speech is tainted. Prior to this I had no idea who Charles Murray was. As a past chair of Vermont's Human Rights Commission I flatter myself in the belief that I am no racist, but now I'm tempted to go buy this man's book to make a point about how frustrated and shocked I am by the actions of this mob.

18 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 03/06/2017 at 1:43 PM

Re: “Solar Solidarity? Scott, SunCommon Find Common Ground

How refreshing to see this glimmer of hope and common sense when it comes to renewable energy objectives. You might call it a welcome change in the wind. Contrary to doom and gloom predictions from those obsessively committed to industrial wind, most Vermonters are beginning to recognize that noble goals can indeed be reached by using innovative solutions and the proper tool like the one found in this story. Thanks to Governor Scott for redefining the conversation, and to SunCommon for demonstrating how to be innovative in a Vermont way in our renewable energy objectives. Suddenly the future looks a little brighter.

15 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 01/09/2017 at 8:52 PM

Re: “Walters: Newly Elected Senate President Ashe Comes Out Swinging

Re: "...comes out swinging." Seriously John? Tim the pugilist? That's what you got out of his speech? I was in the room at the same time, listening with a Republican ear. I came away with a completely different feeling.

Senator Ashe described himself as a "sponge," giving credence to virtually every senator's view of him as someone who takes the time to listen. He identified issues he cares about, but they were really no different than the issues that all Vermonters care about. He didn't demand that we do things his way or march to the beat of one drum. How is it you interpreted this as Round 1 of a prize fight?

Contrary to your impression, I thought this was one of the better speeches I've ever heard, and I've heard a lot of them during thirty plus years as a trial lawyer. Senator Ashe set the stage for all of us senators to feel like a team. He did his homework, interweaving bits and pieces of biographical histories about each individual senator, leaving at least me with the feeling like I was part of a diverse family with common interests and noble goals. At one point I remember thinking to myself: wow, wouldn't it be nice if there was no such thing as political parties?

It is unfortunate that you have characterized his speech as confrontational, especially with the headline to this story. I thought it was brilliant. It set the stage for cooperation between all of us and clearly signaled an intent to act with grace and civility. It left me feeling like we were off to a very good start.

15 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 01/05/2017 at 7:54 PM

Re: “Vermont Supreme Court Blocks Shumlin From Picking New Justice

John Greenberg: Thanks for the discussion. I'm sorry to see you are taking some heat from the political end, but I guess it should be expected.

The question you raise about which JNB should create a list is a valid one. The same can be said about the senate, which has the responsibility of providing its "advice and consent." Should it be the senate constituted at the time the JNB makes a list, the senate constituted at the time the governor names a replacement, or the senate constituted at the time the vacancy factually occurs? If the Governor was to appoint a replacement on Tuesday of next week, should it be the senate on Tuesday or the new one sworn in on Wednesday that gives the advice and consent? I would argue that there is no problem if the JNB, governor and senate each remained in their respective silos and abided by the plain language of their authorizing documents. The JNB has done its job. No action should be taken by the governor until the office is factually vacant. The senate can then do its job and the process will have worked as intended.

I still cling to the belief that the governor's job is limited to the language of the constitution and nothing about the statute, explicit or implied, vests him with power. I did not mean to imply that the documents themselves are in conflict with each other. Conflict is only created through the governor's interpretation. It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court decides it. Thanks again for the discussion.

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 12/26/2016 at 4:34 PM

Re: “Vermont Supreme Court Blocks Shumlin From Picking New Justice

John Greenberg: The statute requires the Judicial Nominating Board to come up with a list of names to submit to the Governor. It directs the JNB to submit those names to the Governor when a certain event takes place. One such event has taken place and the JNB has done its job. The statute has nothing to do with the Governor, except to designate him as the recipient of the JNB's list.

Just because the JNB has done its job doesn't mean the Governor is automatically empowered to appoint. Unlike the statutory authority governing the JNB, the Governor's appointment authority is provided by the state constitution. The constitution only permits appointment when the office becomes "vacant."

Justice Dooley has announced an intention to serve until March, meaning his seat is not vacant until then. Let's suppose Justice Eaton suddenly announced an intent to leave the Court in 2025. How far into the future should Governor Shumlin be able to bind a future governor? Allowing an outgoing governor to appoint for a job that doesn't commence until after that governor's term expires would strip the ability of any new governor to act within their constitutional authority. The new governor should appoint when the vacancy actually occurs.

John I recognize we have our political differences, but this really isn't a partisan issue. It is a conflict between a statute and the constitution that the Supreme Court needs to resolve.

12 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 12/25/2016 at 2:25 PM

Re: “Vermont Supreme Court Blocks Shumlin From Picking New Justice

I'd be interested in knowing who is advising the Governor on this question. The statute cited by Scott Coriell (4 V.S.A. Sec. 602(b)) is specifically targeted at the responsibilities of the Judicial Nominating Board. It requires the JNB to solicit and forward names to the Governor when a certain event takes place. It vests no authority in the Governor to act whatsoever, no matter when he gets those names. In fact, the statute itself is located in that area of law dealing solely with the judicial branch of government.

The Governor's sole authority to appoint a justice comes directly from the state's constitution. Chapter II, Section 32 specifically states that an appointment is made when the office becomes "vacant." It would be quite a stretch to claim the office is "vacant" while the present occupant is still hearing cases, interrogating litigant's attorneys, writing legal opinions, overseeing his staff and receiving his paycheck.

Governor Shumlin needs to get a second legal opinion. Quick!

31 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 12/23/2016 at 7:00 PM

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