Someone asked me about the Eagle and Flag that is the header to this blog. Our dear son,Russell Campbell took that photograph in Alaska. As he tells it, it was just a lucky shot. But here’s the thing about Russ, he is the most patient person I know. This guy can wait for hours till the right shot comes along.
Russ works for Rutland Mental Health. He is a single dad who raised two daughters by himself with all the grace, patience and honor that you see in his photographs. Russ is the kind of ordinary hero that makes Rutland such a great place to live. He is the kind of person I listen to when I want to understand why something isn’t working. He is observant and he’s patient. He makes a point of getting all the facts.
So thanks, Russ. Your my hero.
When I am listening as a mediator to parties in conflict, I try to listen to what questions would move them from disagreement to collaboration. Sometimes they are not asking the right questions. The reason for this is that with big problems it can be difficult to identify where to begin. I think of these big questions like a gnarl of yarn, there are two ends but it is near impossible to find them. So people begin where they think is a good place only to become stuck. My job is to acknowledge that they made an attempt at identifying the problem and suggest that for now, leave that question alone and try again. The questions I ask helps them to find another starting point.
I had a conversation with a well-respected dentist a few days ago. He shared his concerns with me about Governor Shumlin’s single-payer plan for healthcare. He was alarmed that the plan called for Vermont to boldly go where 49 other states feared to tread.
It is a valid point. One of the unintended consequences of the plan could be the refusal of young doctors to move to Vermont because of concerns about reimbursement. After generating enormous debt to get that medical credential, wouldn’t a young doctor be concerned about how he would pay it back? Would he go to a state that is trying an experiment that is even broader than the one the rest of the country is trying? My dentist friend argues that we may have a plan and too few providers. I worry about a plan that is not sustainable as well. In fact, I think he has gotten me thinking about healthcare in another way. I am starting to think that healthcare is only part of a bigger problem.
Perhaps the real conversation that we all need to be having is how do we stem the tide of young people from leaving our state for opportunities elsewhere? How do we encourage our best and brightest minds to remain in Vermont? It is not just doctors that we may lose. It is teachers, engineers, chemists, and many other occupations that find no opportunities in Vermont. And what about those kids who would make great plumbers, mechanics, electricians and other highly trained tradespeople? How are we identifying and encouraging them? Is it enough to be the greenest state? What do we as a citizens really want?
As a legislator, I want to be able to ask those questions. I want to study legislation to consider where those unintended consequences are and how they impact the broader questions of population sustainability.
Bail Fail: Why the U.S. Should End the Practice of Using Money for Bail
Melissa Neal, Justice Policy Institute
Published: September 11, 2012
The Justice Policy Institute’s newest analysis shows that the practice of using money to decide release while awaiting trial unfairly impacts low-income communities and should be replaced with alternatives that better protect public safety and reduce social and taxpayer costs.
Bail Fail: Why the U.S. Should End the Practice of Money for Bail shows how the average bail amount for people who are detained has more than doubled from $39,800 in 1992 to $89,900 in 2006. This is despite evidence that higher bail amounts are not related to more public safety and that people who are unable to afford money bail are often a lower risk of dangerousness or failure to appear in court – the two legal justifications to incarcerate someone pretrial – than those who can make bail.
The report also highlights the fact that bail is a primary driver of growth in our jail populations and further states that people in U.S. jails are not convicted but are being held as they await the resolution of their charge. This time in detention hinders them from taking care of their families, jobs and communities while overcrowding jails and creating unsustainable budgets.”
The report is the first in a three-part series of analysis on bail, for-profit bail bonding and the community impacts slated for release throughout the month of September.
I started the first day of September walking with Governor Shumlin at the Rutland State Fair and then walking through neighborhoods deeply affected by the poor economy, drug use and poor maintenance by the city. How on earth do we turn this around.
I started thinking back to Boston when the city had so much real estate that was rundown that the city started taking the properties over. They created a program that sold the properties for one dollar to public spirited people who had to have employment, agree to revitalize the property through sweat equity and make it their primary residence for a period of years.
HUD has a program that they do with HUD owned property. I wonder how we could do that with non HUD property. Would this be the way to offer home ownership to families who have been squeezed out of the market? Is this the way to pull neighborhoods from the brink. Could this be an incentive to get people off welfare? I don’t know but I sure want to try to figure it out.
It would require a partnership between banks, government and citizens to make that happen. I think it could be done. Sort of like our ancestors who tamed the wilderness.
If anyone has any thoughts about this, please post to me. I’ll keep walking and talking to neighbors and doing research but your help is needed.
Yesterday, I spent the day at Calvary Bible Church greeting voters. It was primary day. Although I am running unopposed, I thought it would be an opportunity to meet voters and build name and face recognition. Voter traffic was very light as evidenced by the number of votes. I received 119 votes. The Republican Candidate received 48 vote.
It was also an opportunity to meet and chat with my opponent, Douglas Gage. Mr Gage is very concerned about voter fraud and wants to see Picture Identification Cards for all voters. . I was surprised to hear it. There is a big difference between voter fraud and election fraud. Voter ID would only help identify individuals who assumed the identity of someone else and voted using their name. Instances of that kind of fraud is miniscule in small communities where people know one another. The chances of someone working the polls not knowing someone is pretty small. What picture IDs do tend to do is disenfranchise the poor and elderly. Many elderly and poor no longer drive and don’t want to pay for a picture ID.
Election fraud is a whole other animal and has a much greater potential for fraud than voter fraud. However, it is in absentee ballots where this becomes an issue. Picture id’s would have no impact on this type. More Republicans vote by absentee ballots statistically than Democrats since they tend to be older and more conservative. This is not an area that Republicans seem to have a problem and there is no call to address fraud due to absentee ballots or early voting. It’s a curious thing if they are serious about addressing election fraud.
Mr Gage lost by 1 vote last time and perhaps he is thinking that voter ids would have helped him. With such a small ward, impersonation of a voter is most unlikely. It makes me wonder what, if any, the real agenda could be.
There was talk yesterday about doing a debate about voter fraud. I agreed it was a great idea and encouraged the head of the GOP to contact the head of the Democrats to set it up. It is a discussion I welcome.
Today I will be attending the Pig Roast at ROOTS. Hope to see you there.
92 years ago, women in the United State of America gained voting equality. That was only 30 years before my birth. When my grandmother was born, women did not have the right to vote. Her mother pulled her out of school in the sixth grade to raise her siblings. This without her consent and other the protests of the principle and teacher. Her opportunities were taken away. She saw her dream denied.
92 years ago women gained the right to vote and now women have achieved their dreams at almost every level of government.
I am running for the Vermont House because I believe current trends to restrict rather than advance rights. For me,running for office is a way to embrace the struggles of the women who challenged the status quo and gained the vote.
Vermont has frequently challenged the status quo and looked for answers to the challenges of the day in ways that are different from the majority. When you look nationally those differences have made us stronger fiscally, educationally and socially than much of the rest of the nation. We are small and see our size as an opportunity to think out of the box.
We need to move forward. We need to move together.
Women gained the right to vote. Less than the span of some people’s lifespan the common wisdom was that women were not good enough to vote. Women have distinguished themselves at nearly every level of government. I am proud to be a woman and a Vermonter.
I remember watching Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. I was working at the Orleans Nursing Home. We wheeled the residents who were able into the TV Room. The owner passed out cups of grape juice. Then when Armstrong spoke those historic words” This is one small step for Man and one giant step for Mankind”, we toasted with our juice and cheered! I still get chills thinking about it.
We were a people who believed John Kennedy’s message to ask not what the country could do for you but ask what you could do for your country. The risks that Armstrong embraced to advance science and the USA’s place in the race for space was to me emblematic of what we should do in our lives.
In my work life I have spent most of my career working in Human services. The pay was low. But the impact on the lives of others was real and immediate. businesses can have the same effect when they embrace socially responsible business practices. I have worked in businesses that did see their place in moving the country forward and those that viewed profit above everything. I take the former.
The challenges that we face calls for a re dedication to idea that we should put others first, view social problems as opportunities and come together to write the next chapter in our story as citizens.
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I spent the day going door to door distributing my new Rack cards. I was really nervous about campaigning door to door. I have had a great experience so far. People have been curious and warm.
I was told by several people that my opponent is planning a strong campaign. That should make it an interesting race. I hope that the voters have an opportunity to ask us both questions and get to know how we would address their concerns at the state level.
I am hoping I can get to every house in my district. I sure am excited to try. If any one has ideas about other things I should do, let me know.
I learned today from a former state senator that I should pack small milk bones and lollipops. Good to know, Joe!