At the last Vermont Libertarian Party meeting in May, six Burlington Vermont residents were nominated as Libertarian candidates for the following offices:
State Senate, Chittenden County:
State Representative, Chittenden-6-1 (Burlington):
Sheriff, Chittenden County
High Bailiff, Chittenden County
The Vermont Libertarian Party executive committee has scheduled a state committee meeting for reorganization of the Vermont Libertarian Party:
** When: Saturday, 12/22, 1pm
** Where: Burlington: Fletcher Free Library, Pickering Room
** Contact: Jeremy Ryan, [email protected], 802-865-0111
** Agenda: We will elect a new State Committee (Chair, Vice Chair,vSecretary, Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer). We need 5 people to participate in order to finalize the caucus for this year and remain a party.
Please RSVP if you intend to participate.
Burlington LP NEWS
The Burlington Libertarian Party
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. From the Chair
2. Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss Speaks to the BBA
3. VFW vs. the State
4. Movie Night: V for Vendetta
5. New VTLP Blog
6. Annual VTLP Convention
7. Burlington Libertarians in Action
8. Libertarian Humor
9. Quote of the Month
10. Letters to the Editor/ Submit an Article
This is our 6th newsletter. We will to provide you notice of current issues facing Burlingtonians, views of other Burlington Libertarians, notices of events of interest, and more.
I hope you enjoy the newsletter. Please feel free to send me your comments, suggestions and your own letters and articles to be included in future issues.
Jeremy Ryan, Chair
Burlington Libertarian Party
Heavenly and I attended the regular monthly Burlington Business Association (BBA) meeting this morning where Bob Kiss, Burlington’s new mayor, was the guest speaker and main event. Following is my account of his speech and Q/A…
Kiss stated that the best thing city can do is provide good and efficient services such as public works, police, fire, electricity (low rates), neighborhood schools (which contribute to good education), public transportation and telecommunications (through Burlington Telecom). These services must be provided efficiently. Our challenges as a city are in childcare and healthcare. While Burlington cannot do it alone, the city needs to be more aggressive towards coming up with a solution for the healthcare crisis.
Kiss’s major goal is more social equity in Burlington — to lesson the gap between the rich and the poor.
Burlington budgeting problems are going to be his major initial focus. He believes the local option sales tax will help and he will look for alternative ways to increase the tax revenue for the city, other than the property tax. Kiss is confident that the state will approve Burlington’s request for the local option sales tax. Kiss stated that the local option sales tax is capped at 1%… it’s not open-ended.
Kiss stated that he’s not looking to change much of the current city staff – he wants to work with the existing staff to make positive changes.
Preferred method of communication?
By email, he just got his new email address: [email protected]. You may also contact him by phone: 802-865-7272, City Hall: 149 Church Street
Burlington, VT 05401 Web: http://www.ci.burlington.vt.us/mayor/
Recently the city published a report that suggested capping the budget increases as 3%/year and reducing city staff to 2000 levels. Do you support this?
The city should strive for these goals. City employee benefits are major factor with the budget. The city needs more taxing and funding sources to meet needs.
Currently the city is short 21,000 rental and 12,000 home purchase opportunities. Burlington has made great progress towards affordable housing. Kiss hopes for more help from the state government for Burlington Community Land Trust to create more housing. Kiss also wants the zoning rewrite to allow more density throughout the city so more units can be built.
Business in Burlington?
Burlington needs more space for business. Again, Burlington’s zoning needs to allow more density so more businesses can open and expand. The city needs to continue to help grow small (micro) businesses.
The city’s infrastructure is critical for people and businesses locating in Burlington. Kiss stated if he could fill every hole tomorrow he would.
Why do you think you could be mayor?
What do you bring to the table? Kiss cited his 25 years in human services and 12 years managing a larger non-profit as providing him good experience which should translate well in managing the city of Burligton.
Burlington Telecom – what are the long term goals and how will it be financed?
Burlington Telecom is financed by a $20 million bond and the hope is that the revenue will be enough to meet the payments. However, the city is not responsible for the bonds, but Burlington Telecom will be part of the city government. Burlington Telecom will provide cable, phone and internet services to Burlington residents.
What are your thoughts on Northern Lights on Cherry Street and the State Mental Hospital locating at Fletcher Allen?
Northern Lights is a proposed half-way house for released female offenders. Kiss stressed his support for the project as he believes it’s our duty to provide capacity for offenders to be reintroduced into society in order for them to be successful. However, both projects need to be well run and fully funded. Kiss is pleased that the Burlington Housing Authority is a partner in this… this speaks very well of Burlington. Kiss also stated that the U.S. in general is failing in corrections in that far too many released offenders return to prison within a year for repeat offenses. There needs to be more support for them after being released so they are successful and not likely to re-offend.
Your thoughts on the Moran Plant and the Waterfront?
Kiss appreciates how inclusive our waterfront is and wants to keep it inclusive. Kiss wants the opportunity for everyone to use the waterfront and he is very happy with the success so far.
Business plan for city?
Kiss wants to think fresh about Burlington and he will open up discussion with the Burlington businesses regarding his plan.
Syndicated from jeremyryan.org.
On March 16th, it was reported that the VFW Post 7779 in Hyde Park went to battle against to state in regards to the smoking ban extension to private clubs. They held a meeting and voted to reinstate smoking at the club. Post Commander Bruce Martin stated that it wasn’t so much about the cigarettes as it was about sending a message that the state is butting in where it doesn’t belong.
“These people are sick of the state taking away our private rights.”, stated Martin.
I commend them for taking the initiative to push the limits of the law and I had hoped they would continue to stand against the state. Other VFWs have been rumored to begin allowing smoking again as well.
However, in the end, it appears that the state’s threats of $10,000/day fines were too much for them to risk. However, I would have like to see the state try to shut down a VFW for smoking. That would have been one of the best opportunities for overturning the law. I would imagine that a VFW would have had the best chance of getting public support against the state. I cannot imagine many people siding with the state against veterans on whether they should be able to smoke or not in their own club.
Syndicated from jeremyryan.org.
Quote from movie:
“People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of the people.”
Last night, Hardy Machia, Bonnie Scott, Kevin Ryan, Jonathan Stauffer, Heavenly and I went out together to see the movie V for Vendetta, another great movie from the people who brought you The Matrix. Again, the Wachowski brothers have created a Libertarian-themed movie where a small group of people are fighting to reduce the power of an oppressive government and to open people’s eyes to it.
Brief Synopsis of film from LP.org:
“V for Vendetta is based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore that is set in England in 2020. Great Britain is under the control of a fascist government who use fear and intimidation to control its citizens. The government controls the media and clamps down on free speech through its Ministry of Objectionable Materials.
A mysterious rebel known as V, who is dubbed a terrorist by the Hitler-esque Chancellor Sulter, plots to overthrow the government. V seeks to complete 17th century saboteur Guy Fawkes’s mission to blow up Parliament, as way to spark a rebellion.
Looking at early reviews, V for Vendetta has plenty of action and thrills to keep audiences entertained, and delivers a clear libertarian message, which can be summed up in its tagline – “People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of the people.”
Syndicated from jeremyryan.org.
When you visit
http://www.vtlp.org, you will notice that they now have a blog. Just under Upcoming Events is the Recent News section. Here you will find something new just about every day. (If you know about RSS feeds, then you can watch our blog at http://www.vtlp.org/feeds/.
Come celebrate with like minded Vermonters on April 29 at the Capital Plaza in Montpelier at the Vermont Libertarian Party state convention.
Vermont Libertarian Party Convention 2006
Capitol Plaza Hotel & Conference Center
100 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont
Saturday, April 29, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
FOR RESERVATIONS OR MORE CONVENTION INFORMATION CONTACT:
SCOTT BERKEY AT 802-728-6211 OR [email protected]
Online Reservation Form
- 8:30 a.m. Registration Opens
- 9:30 a.m. Chair’s Welcome, Recognition of VIP’s
- 10:00 a.m. Introduction of Attending Vendors
- 10:15 a.m. Nomination of Delegates to the National Convention
- 10:30 a.m. Adoption of Campaign 2006 Platform
- 12:00 p.m. Break
- 12:30 p.m. Luncheon (Reservations Required)
- Ethan Allen travels through time to speak
- 2:00 p.m. Guest Speakers (Tickets Required $10)
- Rob Williams, Vermont Commons/Second Vermont Republic
- Martin Harris, Citizens for Property Rights
- James Dwinell, Dwinell Political Report
- 3:00 p.m. Keynote Speaker: Frank Bryan
- 4:00 p.m. Social Hour
Lunch: Seating for lunch is by reservation only. Reservation may be placed with Scott Berkey by calling (802) 728-6211, emailing [email protected] or through our online reservation form (http://www.vtlp.org/main/vtlp-convention.asp). The price is $25 per person if paid in advance and $30 if paid on the day of the convention. The ticket for the speakers is included in the cost of lunch. A vegetarian option is available.
Directions: The Capitol Plaza is located at 100 State Street in Montpelier. Exit 8 off I-89, merge onto Memorial Drive. At second stop light take a left onto Bailey Avenue. At intersection take right onto State Street. Vermont State House is on your left, 1/2 block on the Right is Capitol Plaza Hotel. The phone number is (802) 223-5252.
- April 13, 2006
Peter Christ :: Why Drug Prohibtion Doesn’t Work
SSDP meeting’s at 6PM, UVM’s C/C Theater and
NPA meeting’s at 8PM, McClure MultiGenerational Center
Click here or go to the following url for more info on Peter Christ:
- April 22, 2006, Saturday, 10AM
Click here or go to the following url for more details:
- April 29, 2006, Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Annual VTLP Convention
Click here or go to the following url for more details:
“Each political program, supposedly for the benefit of the poor or some other deserving group, is really a political boondoggle – a subsidy for someone who is much too rich to need it.”
– Harry Browne
For information or to submit news, letters, or articles, contact us .
Burlington LP News is a publication of the Burlington Libertarian Party, 53 Avenue C, Burlington, VT 05401. All Rights Reserved. Copyright (C) 2006.
Jeremy Ryan announced he is running for city council here in ward 7 of Burlington. He chose to run because he would like to help make some much needed changes to how the city government does business. He wants to help improve the quality of life for Burlington residents by pushing for lower taxes and affordable housing. By cutting excessive regulations and state control, he believes our city would be far better off. He will fight for taxpayer rights and local control over our finances and our schools. He is a strong believer in protecting your property rights and personal freedoms.
Jeremy Ryan supports the following:
– Lower taxes and voter control over city budget.
– Open and honest government.
– Local control over schools and government.
– Affordable housing by lowering taxes and regulations.
You can read more on his positions, his biography and blog by going to his campaign web site at: http://www.jeremyryan.org.
Jeremy Ryan, candidate
Jeremy Ryan for City Council
53 Avenue C
Burlington, Vermont 05401
The stated purpose of the new rent control resolution proposed by councilors Fiermonte, P-Ward 3 and Ashe, P-Ward 3 is to help fix high rents. While the resolution was written with good intentions, the practice of rent control does not work. The problem is based on simple economics. The supply is less than the demand and you do not fix the supply by attacking it.
The resolution urges “a simple but effective method of regulating the annual increase in rents while allowing property owners to recover reasonable costs.” It would require advance notice to tenants of annual rent increases of more than 5 percent and give them the right of a quick appeal to an unspecified board. Landlords would be required to appear before the board to justify the increase.
Enacting the resolution being proposed almost assures a 5% per year increase in rent, not a reduction. Furthermore, rent control will cause reduced investment in existing and new rental housing. The end result will be still higher rents, even less affordable housing and lower quality housing.
What caused the high rents? Excessive regulation, the recent reappraisal, and excessive property taxes are to blame. The regulations make it too hard to build enough units of housing in Burlington. Regulations are the mandates that make the too few permitted units much more expensive, driving up rents. Also, if we are to avoid sprawl, the cities like Burlington have to loosen up regulations to make more honestly affordable units.
The 2002 Mayor’s Affordable Housing Task Force Report quotes the Burlington Housing Authority staff saying that they wouldn’t own rental property in Burlington because the City makes it so hard for landlords.
The Burlington Libertarian Party urges the city council to reduce the regulation and property taxes in order to make rents more affordable. The city must understand that any attack on landlords is passed on to the tenants.
The following is an article from the Burlington Free Press regarding Burlington’s budget crisis, my reaction and possible solutions.
Mayor Peter Clavelle, who submitted his final budget to the City Council last spring, is emphatic that the city’s current financial health is satisfactory.
“This is not a crisis,” he said. “The city is fiscally fit.”
Still, after balancing 15 budgets, an accomplishment he points to with pride, Clavelle has formed a super committee — the Board of Finance plus veteran councilors Andy Montroll and Jane Knodell — to begin to prepare for harder times next year and beyond.
The committee, charged with understanding the city’s fiscal condition and coming up with service and spending recommendations “for the future,” Clavelle said, met for the first time Sept. 1 and has three more meetings planned.
Montroll said the unusual meetings reflect the anticipated budget strains down the road.
“That’s why we’re starting work on it now, instead of waiting for the usual budget process,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to continue cutting expenses and it’s going to be hard to raise new revenue.”
Clavelle, while insisting that all is currently well, acknowledges that “fiscal challenges” lie ahead for the city. The economic trends are stark.
In plain language, as demonstrated by the data put together for the super committee by Chief Administrative Officer Brendan Keleher, it costs more year by year for cops and firefighters and parks and library and all the other city services; but the city’s incoming dollars, as Montroll put it, are “relatively fixed from year to year.”
Costs of the General Fund, which pays wages and benefits and for day-to-day operations of most city departments, have risen 41.7 percent since fiscal year 2000 — from $29 million (figures are rounded) to $41.1 million. The increases are pushed particularly by steep increases in the cost of wages and benefits such as health insurance. Property taxes, meanwhile, which Clavelle calls the city’s “primary tax base,” haven’t kept pace. The amount of money collected has risen just 35.2 percent in the same period.
That’s due in part to Burlington’s physical constraints. With most of its buildable land already occupied, creation of new properties is difficult. The property tax base, Clavelle said, grows only at about 1 percent a year, while expenditures rise by about 5 percent.
Another stricture is what Clavelle calls the “whole revenue neutrality issue.” When the assessed value of properties rise, as they did this year after the state-mandated reappraisal, he said, the city doesn’t pick up additional tax dollars, even though individual property owners see tax increases. The city charter, shielding residents from abrupt tax increases, mandates that the tax rate decrease in proportion to the overall increase in value.
While taxes increase, Clavelle said, “the lion’s share, roughly 60 percent of the property tax,” now goes to the state government.
“We see a huge growth annually in tax revenues generated by economic activity,” he said. “Sales, gasoline, rooms and meals, income tax, corporate taxes — all flow to Montpelier, with the exception of a 2 percent rooms and meals tax.”
About a third of the potential tax base, he said, is made up of untaxed properties such as churches, state and federal office buildings, hospitals, colleges and universities and nonprofits.
“They don’t pay taxes,” he said, “but they require services.” Agreements between the city and the University of Vermont, or Champlain College, or Fletcher Allen Health Care, he said, bring in far less money than if the properties were taxed.
The city’s fund balance (though it is largely committed and not available for unexpected expenses) is at its largest ever, Clavelle said. Burlington’s bonded debt, Clavelle said, is relatively low, and the city has “a low effective tax rate compared to other cities in Vermont.
“This is a healthy economy, by any measure,” he repeated, pointing to low commercial vacancies, low unemployment rates, continued job creation and rising property values.
“What’s unusual,” he said, “is that after years of asking department heads to do more with less and tightening the belt and exploring alternatives to the property tax, the low-hanging fruit has been picked.” Burlington not unique
Steven Jeffrey, director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, said looming dollar problems aren’t unique to Burlington. Local governments across the state are scrambling to find a way to pay for the services their citizens expect them to provide.”
“The common element,” he said, “is that municipalities collect a billion dollars a year in property taxes and promptly turn over 75 percent of it to their schools. That percentage has grown from 67 percent in the past eight years.
City governments, an “infrastructure, heavy-equipment industry,” he said, are paying more for fuel, just as individuals are.
Like Clavelle, Jeffrey points to a number of pressure points on municipal finances. State and federal grant money used to flow to cities for highway and sewer projects and law enforcement, he said. Now, instead of coming as a grant, it comes as a loan. Or grants remain at fixed levels, he said, despite rising costs faced by local governments. “And retirement costs are hanging out there,” he said.
In Burlington, for example, according to Keleher’s figures, the city’s payments to employee retirement funds have more than doubled since fiscal year 2000, from $2.45 million to $5.36 million in the current budget.
The League, Jeffrey said, arranges health insurance for Vermont municipalities other than Burlington and has seen insurance costs continue to surge. “Two years ago,” he said, “the cost went up 20 percent. Last year it was up another 11 percent. In two years, up a third. That’s a tremendous increase.”
The costs to Burlington of employees’ health insurance are comparable, rising from $2.5 million in 1997 to a projected $6 million this year. What faces Burlington and other municipalities, Jeffrey said, is not so much a “crisis” as a narrowing of possibilities that, sooner or later, would become noticeable.
Burlington won’t fire its police force to save money, he said. Instead, response times to calls might begin to lengthen. It might take longer to have the streets plowed. The library might have to cut its hours; the parks might raise their fees.
Another sales tax vote?
The furrowed brows in Burlington government councils haven’t yet translated into rhetoric designed to attract the public’s attention, and that may not change soon. With Clavelle’s decision not to run again for mayor and a slew of possible candidates taking pains not to make a critical misstep, Burlington residents may hear little but economic generalities and commitments to “fiscal sustainability,” as Knodell put it last week.
Voters rebuffed the city’s plea in March for a local option sales tax, partly, Montroll said, “because it wasn’t sold. But more than that,” he said, “the public wasn’t ready for it.”
That proposal will probably reappear on the ballot in March, Clavelle said.
Councilor Kevin Curley, R-Ward 4, who hasn’t decided if he wants to run for mayor, said the new mayor would likely be a one-term mayor if he or she reined in city spending as must be done. He repeated that Thursday at the lightly attended Republican reorganization caucus.
“Those decisions wouldn’t be popular,” he said.
He has said the city will face at least a $2 million deficit as it puts together next year’s budget in the spring.
“I don’t think we have a sustainable budget right now,” Montroll, a past council president and potential mayoral candidate, said. “It’d be easy to balance the budget with massive cuts in services or with massive tax increases, but neither of those is acceptable. We have to do it in a way that provides services people are accustomed to, and that’s where the challenge is.”
Just from hearing this article you can see that there is a lot of confusion over our city’s budget. The people involved in crafting the budget cannot even agree on whether we are in a budget crisis or not. I personally do not believe that the city is being completely honest with the public regarding the city’s finances. Heavenly and I have followed the finance board meetings and I will let you in what we saw. As you may know, we had a local option sales tax proposal on the last March ballot, which failed. They city had threatened us with more property taxes if we didn’t accept the sales tax. We were told that the local sales tax would be dedicated to “property tax relief”. However, as the proposal was worded it would only devote a portion of the sales tax revenue to property tax and the rest would go into the general fund. There was little guarantee that much of the money would even be set aside for property tax relief, meaning the “property tax relief” would have actually amounted in a net increase in tax burden for us all. Luckily, the voters saw through this and voted it down. However, as we can see from this article, the city does intend to bring it back, possibly on the next ballot.
Now, what happened after the local sales tax got voted down? The finance board had to go back and revise the budget as the budget had actually been drafted expecting the sales tax would go through. Mayor Clavelle was so sure it would go through, that it was assumed the city would have the extra revenue, thus proving that they had no intention of providing the city with tax relief.
Mayor Clavelle and Brendan Keleher had proposed several possible cuts to police and parks that they knew that would never be accepted by other board members acting as though that’s all they could do.
Then, when the next meeting started, some how the budget was balanced and most of the proposed cuts were back in and everyone was happy. Apparently, the city found some money they hadn’t counted on. How convenient.
Montroll believes that we don’t have a sustainable budget and that massive tax increases or cuts in services will not work. I agree that massive tax increases will not work, as the taxpayers of Burlington are through with increases, they cannot handle anymore, nor should they have to. This means that the city will need to cut back on services… or cut costs, or increase user fees or most likely some combination of the three.
Since, most people currently in government believe there is nothing left they can cut from the budget that would be acceptable, I have an idea that would help and get more people involved in their local government at the same time. Why not offer a bounty for helping us get rid of the waste in the budget. I’ve written and spoken about this before. I will go over it again. The following is an excerpt of the Bounty Hunter program described by Michael Cloud…
As we all know, waste is bad for government and bad for taxpayers.
There are at least 3 kinds of waste.
Paying champagne prices for beer quality.
Paying champagne prices for champagne – when you only need beer.
Buying champagne or beer items when you don’t need either.
All 3 kinds of waste balloon government spending and keep taxes high.
The Bounty Hunter Program targets all three.
Bail Bondsmen and Law Enforcement Agencies offer Bounty Hunters juicy rewards for tracking down, capturing, and bringing in bail jumpers and at-large criminals. They pay Bounty Hunters for results.
The Bounty Hunter approach works the same way.
Offer a bounty of 10% of the first year’s savings for removing the wasteful government spending. Get rid of $100,000 a year in needless government spending, and the citizen gets a $10,000 bounty. Immediately refund the other $90,000 to taxpayers. The next year and every year after, taxpayers get the whole $100,000 savings.
How many private citizens will scour the city budget, comparison shop what the city’s paying for goods and services, and determine whether it’s prudent and thrifty spending – or waste?
How many small business owners and employees will put city spending under a magnifying glass? How many retirees will stop playing the Lottery – and start seeking out city government waste?
Why will they do it? For the chance of getting a $5,000 bounty, a $10,000 bounty, a $50,000 bounty, or more.
Why will taxpayers love it? Because 90% of the first year’s savings go back to the taxpayers. And 100% of every other year’s savings go to them. Less government spending. Lower taxes.
The process would be simple.
1. The Bounty Hunter would find the waste in the budget, put together evidence that it is waste, and put the item on the agenda of the next city council meeting. Or school board. Or other local government body.
2. The Bounty Hunter would be given 5 to 10 minutes during the meeting to present his facts and figures, his testimony and evidence. City council members could ask him questions to make sure they are properly informed.
3. The city council would have until the next meeting to look into the matter.
4. At the next meeting, the city council members would provide the Bounty Hunter with their findings, and roll call vote on whether to remove the spending from the budget.
5. If they voted to remove the spending, it would take effect immediately. 10% would go to the Bounty Hunter. 90% to the Taxpayers. Immediately.
6. If they voted to keep the spending, voters could decide whether they were right or wrong, responsible or irresponsible. Which ones deserve to be re-elected – and which ones need to be voted out.
To make the Bounty Hunter Program fair, to remove even the appearance of conflict of interest, we would exclude all government employees, retired government employees and their families. We would also exclude those who work for businesses who sell supplies or services to government.
Would you like a Bounty Hunter Program for your city government? Your county government? Your local public school district budget?
Run for city council on a Bounty Hunter Program – as a first step toward making government small. Or run for school board. Or any other local office that controls budgets.
Propose them. Publicize them. Promote them.
Or make a small government candidate in your city or state aware of this simple and powerful proposal.
It will make government open and accountable to the taxpayers.
It will increase citizen involvement in local government.
It will increase voter participation.
Every concerned citizen should support this. Every liberal, moderate, and conservative should support this. Every caring government employee should endorse and support this.
The following is reprint of a segment from a past WCAX broadcast regarding Douglas’ reaction to a court ruling regarding the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada…
A federal judge has dismissed Vermont’s first-in-the-nation lawsuit seeking to overturn the government’s ban on importing prescription drugs from Canada.
The Douglas administration wanted to give state workers and retirees legal protection to buy cheaper drugs in Canada. But the Food and Drug Administration denied the pilot program and Vermont sued to have the FDA’s decision overturned.
In his ruling, the judge said the Bush Administration has the legal right to block the importation program.
“I’m disappointed, but I’ve said all along re-importation of drugs is not the long term solution. What we need is to do is allow Vermonters to buy phamaceuticals at affordable prices at their neighborhood drugstores. That would require action by the Congress, frankly, to reform the marketplace for drugs, to change the patent lawas, to get generic drugs on the market sooner. We need to work on that as a long term solution,” said Gov. Jim Douglas, R-Vermont.
No word yet if the Douglas Administration will appeal.
I agree with Douglas that Vermonters should be able to import their prescriptions from Canada. I would also say that we all should be able to buy prescriptions from wherever we want, whether the FDA approves or not. We should be able to buy non-fda approved drugs if we wish. I believe that the FDA has cost many more lives than they have saved with their expensive and lengthy approval process. I believe the FDA is directly causing drugs to be expensive and because of the huge costs for getting a approved, they are the reason that we have only a few pharmaceutical companies. You would have to be a large corporation to be able to afford to produce a new drug in the US.
There a new group called Citizens for Commercial-Free Schools (CCFS), which is a group of Burlington parents and community members working since Spring 2005 to remove corporate and military advertising from our public schools.
They have circulated a petition (signed so far by over 100 Burlingtonians) and presented it to the school board. They have proposed a donations policy that the school board is now considering. About twenty supporters have attended one or more school board meetings since this effort began.
CCFS supports and encourages corporate donations to our schools (including donations from General Dynamics), and believes donor generosity should be acknowledged on school Web sites, in school district newsletters, and in press releases.
The following is statement pulled from a recent letter to the editor from the Burlington Free Press submitted by Eric Hart, representing CCFS…
CCFS opposes in-school advertising. Three times a year, every elementary school child is required to walk to a desk and shake hands with a General Dynamics representative in thanks for a book, a pencil, and a bookmark all labeled “Compliments of General Dynamics.” (When I asked my son Daniel how he knows who they are, he said “their badges say “General Dynamics!”) Many parents I’ve talked with say they are “uncomfortable” or “uneasy” with this, regardless of what they think of General Dynamics as a company.
CCFS opposes in-school advertising because it brings politics into the classroom, stifles open communication, and sends confusing messages to our children and educators alike. Laurie Essig, a Burlington parent, reports that her third-grader repeatedly asked this spring “why are we treating these people (General Dynamics) like heroes, when they make bombs?” She was left in the classroom while her classmates and the teacher went to receive Reading is Fundamental books. According to Essig, “My child came home in tears, believing she had been punished.” Our children should not be placed in this situation.
I believe that the teacher’s act was wrong and should not be allowed in the future. The teacher should not have held the girl back. She should have been able to go with everyone else and ask her question. Now, it’s obvious to me that her parents most likely put her up to this because they are most likely anti-war and they express it to their daughter.
The main issue now is the “compliments of General Dynamics” stickers and free bookmarks and pencils with their name on it and the fact that General Dynamics Reps have General Dynamics name badges on it while handing out the books.
I believe the real issue is political. Politics is in the classroom already, it’s unavoidable. If you have schools that are largely democrat and left-leaning, you are going to have those values expressed in the teaching, just as it would be if the schools were run by Republicans, Greens or Libertarians. I don’t believe it can be avoided. People can not change who they are.
If it were representatives from Ben & Jerry stamping books, which is a corporation, I do not believe we would be having this discussion as they are more democrat-friendly and anti-war.
We have all kinds of public events here in Burlington where we have company sponsors with their banners proudly displayed at the event such as Hannafords, which I know sponsored our Ethan Allen Tower event here this summer as well as the city’s fireworks show. I didn’t hear of anyone complaining about that. These companies are giving back to the community, why shouldn’t they be recognized and if we don’t like the terms… don’t participate.
Now, let me state for the record. I did not and do not support the continued war in Iraq. However, I believe that in the case of the books from General Dynamics the children should be allowed to go get the books if they wish. If they or their parents don’t like the terms, then don’t participate. I do not like that fact that some people are putting their political beliefs ahead of the children’s interest.
The real tragedy here is that many of the poorest children are lacking good books to read… why rob them of this great opportunity to get the books they want to read for free or get a chance to meet their favorite authors, which General Dynamics also organizes for the children. It’s really easy for well to do people to just turn General Dynamics away and say it’s worth it to further your personal politics, but for the poorest children, pushing General Dynamics out of the program could be a huge lost opportunity.
The following was an article recently published in the Burlington Free Press regarding the recent proposal to close down Barnes and Wheeler schools…
Old North Enders did not mince words Thursday when it came to telling Burlington school officials what they think about the subject of closing their neighborhood elementary schools.
Barnes and H.O. Wheeler must stay open, said many among the crowd of about 60 residents of Wards 2 and 3 during a meeting at the McClure Multigenerational Center. School Board officials, including interim Superintendent Jeanne Collins and board member Fred Lane, came to talk about next year’s gloomy budget scenario and asked for feedback from the community.
Lane cautioned that neither the board nor the administration has proposed closing either school. But the subject was broached earlier this summer by former Superintendent Lyman Amsden, who said low-income students in the Old North End who are being academically out-performed by low-income students in the rest of the district would benefit by being moved into other schools in the city.
Many residents who say the rumors of closing the schools are circulating in their neighborhood, said consolidation of Barnes and Wheeler can’t be the only solution to solving a looming $1 million budget deficit.
“Regardless of whether or not Barnes and Wheeler is on the table this very second, everyone in this room thinks they’re going to be on the table eventually,” said Ward 3 resident Jules Fishelman. “We need to be convinced that this School Board is actually interested in looking at the bigger picture. I remain unconvinced that we’re thinking outside the box when it comes to Barnes and Wheeler.”
Lane said the only concrete discussion by the board about school buildings has involved potentially closing the Ira Allen administrative building on Colchester Avenue, the Taft building on South Williams Street and a maintenance facility behind Champlain Elementary School.
“We have 19 building and a declining enrollment,” Lane said. “We do not need that much infrastructure.”
“There is absolutely no decision whatsoever that anyone has made about any facility at this point,” Lane continued. “We’ve only said that we have a series of issues we need to look at.”
Based on administrative projections, the 2006-07 budget will increase by $3.1 million if costs are not contained, school officials have said. Burlington homeowners could face a tax increase of 12 cents per $100 of assessed value based on school district spending alone. Yet to be factored into the increase is the common level of appraisal, which could raise the tax rate increase further.
Ward 3 City Councilor Tim Ashe said Old North Enders are frustrated by a perceived lack of communication between them and school officials.
“Why not come to the community first before throwing out these ideas,” Ashe said. “Many people are frustrated because it always comes out by little hints and rumors and everyone is left asking what’s going on.”
School district officials plan to discuss the budget challenges and its plan for meeting district needs during meetings this month in all the city’s wards.
[end of article]
I don’t believe closing Barnes and HO Wheeler is good idea. By having these schools, it helps promote competition among the 6 elementary schools of Burlington. Students may transfer within the 6 schools. This allows the children and parents to have some choice in their education. It would be even better to allow the choice of private schools as well.
Regarding the costs. The biggest cost for our schools is the staff salaries and huge benefits packages. If enrollment is declined, why not reduce the staff in proportion to the enrollment. If there is extra space in the schools, it would make an excellent opportunity to rent out the extra space to child care providers, homeschoolers or even private teachers to help subsidize the schools. Just a thought.
Also, a lot of people want to go to school with people like them, where they might fit in. The reasoning suggested for closing the two schools say they are under-performing because they are in low-income areas and by relocating the students to “higher-income” school they will perform better.
I do not believe this to be completely true. It’s possible that grades may improve, but at a major cost to self-esteem. Speaking as a low-income person myself, I know what it was like to go to school in a high-income school. I always felt different, out-of-place, and I hated going to school as a result. I’ve talked to others with similar experiences. I also know some parents that practically bankrupt themselves so that their children appear to be wealthier so that they fit it, so not to be made fun of.
I would often hear other students and teachers make fun of Milton for the supposed “backwards-ness”. I remember thinking to myself, I wish I could go to school there, where I might be accepted. Therefore, I do not believe in forced-integration of classes… it just doesn’t work.
I would like to now share some thoughts I’ve had while researching the idea of school choice. As I mentioned earlier, we do currently have school choice among the 6 elementary schools here in Burlington. I would prefer a more advanced school choice policy than we have right now. How about choices outside of Burlington and high school choice? About 90 towns in Vermont currently have complete choice as they lack a school district, why shouldn’t we as Burlingtonians have the choice as well? There are several different options here:
- We could allow school choice among public schools in Vermont, which would allow for a choice in which public high school you want to attend.
- We could allow school choice among public schools and include private schools, further expanding the pool of choices we would have.
To allow school choice among public schools, should be fairly easy to do as most likely what would happen as the money’s your child current are allotted by the your local and state government would be turned over to whatever public school you chose in the state. This would help increase competition for students and the quality should increase dramatically.
To allow school choice among public schools and private schools is more difficult as it’s more controversial. As many people fear what may happen if private schools were allowed to compete. Most of the fears are put out there by the public education people themselves because of course they fear competition. No group is going to support a move that would create more competition for themselves. There are a couple of ways of going about it to make sure that everyone has access to the best possible education that fits their beliefs. School Vouchers provides the choice to everyone so that no child rich or poor is left out. However, the critics say, “I don’t want my taxes going to pay for a private school, or I wouldn’t have any say in how it’s run, or private schools are too expensive.” I personally don’t really see the difference. With public schools, everyone working there, the teachers and the administration are working for a profit aren’t they? Costing much more than the private schools. I believe that with more competition including the private schools, the parents would have far more say than they do now. How much say does a parent really have in Burlington schools? If you don’t like what’s going on in the school, such as with the General Dynamics books for example, but nothing happens, what can you do… you still have to pay for school system that supports corporate help. What if you are not a democrat, support the war, believe in prayer and intelligent design… you still have to support a school system and have your child subjected to ideas that are against your personal beliefs. And regarding private schools being too costly… depending on who you talk to our per pupil costs for Burlington public schools are around $12,000 and the average for private schools is $3000-$4000. This is incredible to me. A third of the cost, they provide a superior education, and they still are able to make a profit. There’s obviously something very wrong with the economics of our public schools.
Another spin on school choice among public and private schools is that the town could offer property tax refund and renter rebates to individuals that chose to opt out of the system for their educational costs. This method would actually save the city money as for each child that opted for private school or even home-schooling, they city would be only liable for the $3,000-$4,000 instead of the full $12,000. A very interesting idea I think. Something definitely worth looking into.