VPA responds
to new open meeting law

Editor of the Reformer:

The Vermont Press Association is deeply disappointed that Gov. Peter Shumlin opted not to veto a seriously flawed Open Meeting Law that was passed as part of a compromise between the House and Senate in the final days of the legislative session.

We are pleased Gov. Shumlin, while signing the bill, noted he wants to work with the legislature, Secretary of State Jim Condos, the Vermont Press Association and other open government advocates in improving the Open Meeting Law when the new legislature starts in January.

Several legislators, including Senate President Pro Temp John Campbell, D-Windsor, have expressed concerns in recent days to VPA members that the new law fails to address many of the historic problems with the law. They have pledged to try to fix those problems.

The Press Association is calling on Vermonters to ask candidates for all state offices this fall how they would improve government transparency. Also if they favor repeal of this flawed open meeting law. We hope legislators elected in November will work to overturn the problems created by the bill and adopt new positive provisions.

A similar bill stalled three years ago near the end of the Vermont legislative session because of numerous flaws cited by the VPA. Unfortunately those serious problems were not corrected this year and some new provisions are added to give government officials the ability to conduct more public business in secrecy.

Among the problems in the new law is a provision that allows local and state boards to have "do overs" when they violate the law instead of facing criminal or civil actions. The new law does not limit how many "do overs" a board can do in a year. The new law also gives boards the right to go behind closed doors to interview and select a candidate to fill a vacancy on various boards and commissions, but rubber-stamp the selection in open.

The new law also provides a false sense to Vermont taxpayers that they will recover their legal fees when forced to hire a private lawyer to take a board to civil court seeking to overturn an action taken during an improper or illegal meeting. The new law leaves possible legal fees up to a judge’s discretion, but public officials can avoid the costs by claiming they thought they were acting in good faith.

John Flowers,

president, Vermont Press Association,

May 27

Animal lovers?

Editor of the Reformer:

I can’t help but wonder just how much these protesters at Santa’s Land really love animals.

I take it you are all vegans then, right? And you do not feed your family any animal products either, right?

After all if your answer is no then that means you are in full support of the barbaric, brutal, inhumane treatment of the animals while waiting to be slaughtered for our consumption, or is that alright because we are eating them and not petting them?

The average slaughter rate is 300 animals every second in this country, that’s insane, remember that number the next time you purchase(support the slaughter) your milk, your chicken, or your steak.

Knowing what we know today about how bad animal products are for us (soda and processed foods to for that matter), I think parents that feed any of this "food" to their kids should be held accountable. After all, they are making them sick and killing them in the long run ... and supporting the medical industry in the process ... and driving our healthcare costs to the moon, which is all planned by the elite of course.

But that’s a whole other subject.

Derek Doucette,

Dummerston, May 27

On safety, VY and tonight’s NRC meeting

Editor of the Reformer:

Come sing praises to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as it returns to Vermont for its annual meeting Wednesday night. Yes, the only safety regulator in the nation returns to Brattleboro Union High School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to laud our local reactor and its workers. The NRC is here to speak highly of Entergy, the corporation that decided to close Vermont Yankee after winning the federal case it brought against Vermont. The appeals court decision however did not excuse Entergy of court costs. Entergy spent a rumored $80 million suing and fighting the state of Vermont in court.

The NRC is here to sing its praise for Entergy, the company that hired the security workers who found a suspicious "pipe bomb" looking device. A Vernon police officer told Entergy to call a bomb squad. The Reformer printed that it was defused using duct tape and string by Entergy security workers.

Come hear the NRC praise Entergy the company that hired contractors or sub-contractors to properly seal the conduits that lead to the switchgear room under the control room. Wires to control the reactor are in the switchgear rooms. Oops, they must have forgotten. And Entergy took the contractors’ word for it without eyeballing it. Come join in these exultations.

Gary Sachs,

Brattleboro, May 27