As the House Judiciary Committee began virtual public hearings on police reform, and VPIRG, the Vermont ACLU and other groups hop on the “defund the police” parade in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s worth taking a moment to explore some issues from the perspective of the Black Community.
August 10, 2020
The Ethan Allen Institute released its officially updated legislator “Roll Call Profiles” today to reflect the key votes from the 2020 legislative session. This year’s highlighted legislation includes votes on the Global Warming Solutions Act, a minimum wage increase, Paid Family Leave, creating a tax and regulatory structure for the sale of recreational marijuana, “ballot harvesting,” and more.
That’s the eleven-state agreement to drive up gasoline and diesel fuel taxes to get people to stop driving internal combustion cars, by relieving them of millions of dollars to insulate somebody else’s home, subsidize electric cars, build charging stations, bike paths, and so on. The same proposal is before the Vermont legislature.
Yes, that’s apparently a serious question.
Online petitions have become a popular way to rally around various social issues in recent years. “Justice for George Floyd” has garnered 19,500,592 online signatures at the time I am writing this. I spotted a far more trivial petition yesterday on Change.org innocuously entitled “Change WRJ to River Junction.” Before reading the petition itself, one can deduce that “WRJ” stands for “White River Junction” a town in central Vermont close to the New Hampshire border, population 2,200. The abbreviation seems normal enough in this age of acronyms, but hints at absurdity later on. Notice how the word “white” is avoided.
Covid 19 is going to change how many things are done around the world even long after it’s gone, and some for the better. Business leaders are already blown away by how the virus has spurred technology innovations and changes to corporate culture. Reforms that would have taken years or never come to fruition at all are happening overnight in Lockdown Land. Telemedicine is taking off, for example, and companies are embracing the benefits of telecommuting to save on office space and travel expenses.
One casualty of the Covid innovation revolution is going to be the public school system. Last spring this “unsinkable” juggernaut of political, financial, and cultural power, steaming along at full speed, hit the iceberg. This fall that ship will break apart.
Olivia de Havilland died last week at the age of 104. She was remembered by most for her role as Melanie in Gone with the Wind, but for me she will always be Maid Marian in the 1938 Warner Brothers production of Robin Hood. For years I have held that up to my children as the finest movie ever made.
As Governor Scott’s mask mandate looms on August 1, a popular question many Vermonters are asking is “how strictly will it be enforced?” Perhaps nothing much will change, as the vast majority of Vermonters already wear masks when out in public. Maybe police will only give warnings. Maybe it will be enforced by social shaming rather than fines and imprisonment. Or maybe Vermont will follow after Florida, where people are being fined $100 for taking off their masks in nearly-empty parking lots after grocery shopping.
If the state views universal mask wearing as the single most important goal for keeping Covid-19 at bay, perhaps we should ask- “has the law been upheld impartially with a lack of personal vindictiveness during the pandemic?” Is the law a line that any self-respecting Vermonter will not cross, because they believe upholding the law is a sacred societal bond, personal beliefs about the mask mandate aside?
Dave Gram was a long time reporter for the Associated Press, is currently the host of what’s billed on WDEV as a “news talk” radio show (not an editorial or opinion show), and is an affiliated reporter with VT Digger. Today he was allowed to publish on that last platform a personal attack on another journalist, Guy Page, writer/publisher of Vermont Daily and news editor with VTWatercooler.com.