Friday, December 5, 2008
Hope you can join us for a Northfield Democrats Holiday party/monthly meeting at the home of Christopher Curtis and Abby White (309 South Main Street in Northfield) on Thursday evening, December 11th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
We'll provide non-alcoholic beverages and some light snacks. If you would like to bring an appetizer and/or a holiday treat, please feel free.
We'll re-cap our activities for the year, talk about plans for next year and we're doing a food drive for CERV, so please bring non-perishable food items to donate.
We are also taking donations to help defray the costs of the mailing we did just before the election.
Hope you can join us!
Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
“(S)erving (his words, not mine) the people of Vermont for more than 30 years. Elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1972 … in 1979 … become(s) a top aide to Governor Richard Snelling … elected Secretary of State … elected State Treasurer … served as Treasurer until his inauguration as Governor in 2003.”
Hmm … nothing about Douglas’ ever having bothered to try working in the private sector, much less attempting to make a go of it as an entrepreneur. It is easy to criticize how someone runs a business when you have no concept of what that is actually like - having to deal with budgets, taxes, government regulations and legalities, sales and marketing, payroll, personnel, production, profitability.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Today's Free Press contains an op-ed I recently submitted about how we are not better off now than we were before the Republicans took over the presidency and the governorship in Vermont. You can check it out here.
Thanks to everyone who helped out with our mailing. If you received a "get out the vote" postcard and are just coming to this website, please get involved. While this election is now in the homestretch we want to be planning ahead for Town Meeting Day and future elections, too. We need your help. Please get in touch by emailing me, or by writing to:
P.O. Box 41
Northfield, VT 05663
Change is coming!
Monday, October 27, 2008
I also submitted a letter in support of Democrats generally, and specifically for Barack Obama, Gaye Symington, and Rep. Maxine Grad. You can read it here.
Laura Moore, candidate for state senator from Washington County, has caught my attention with her energy and dedication. Her experience in environmental issues, combined with her well-grounded, practical experience as a working mother and Chairwoman of the Barre Town School Board, have prepared her to deal with the difficult issues that will face the senate this year in a realistic and responsible way. Economic development, education funding, health care, clean, safe, and reliable energy, the environment - all are critical to making this state both affordable and livable for Vermonters.
Laura will be a valuable addition to the state Senate as they work on these challenges, and will work to bring a new and creative perspective to Montpelier.
We can do better than relive the past. We must. Laura Moore is ready to join Ann Cummings in the Senate, to work toward a better future. I urge my neighbors and friends to vote for healthy, energetic change, in this year of change and hope.
Carolyn G. Stevens
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The Northfield Boards of Town Selectmen, Village Trustees, and School Directors will hold a Tri-Board Meeting on Monday, November 17, 2008, at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room located in the Brown Public Library (93 South Main Street).
All interested Northfield residents are encouraged to attend. Northfield's state legislators also have been invited to attend this meeting.
This will be an opportunity for Northfield residents to voice their views on what should be the priorities of the upcoming legislative session.
For more information, please contact Municipal Manager Nanci Allard at 485-6121
Sunday, September 28, 2008
We have a debate coming up in the crucial swing-town of Barre VT. It's sponsored by the Builders association and other business groups that have been Douglas-friendly before. But Gaye has said right from the start that this election is about going after moderate business groups - and that's what we're going to do!
5-pm meet by the post office for visibility set up
Debate starts at 6pm
Where: Barre Opera House (map)
Who: Gaye Symington, Jim Douglas, Anthony Pollina and YOU!
FOR DETAILS AND TO RESERVE TICKETS - email drew hudson.
We discussed a GOTV mailing... and making it a postcard with email and/or website information.
Please note per others' suggestions, I've added links to the Obama, Symington and Costello campaigns.
Finally, we discussed sending in letters to the editor supporting our Democratic candidates and Democrats' plans for turning the economy around, etc.
Please send your letters to the Northfield News and the Times Argus.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Her announcement for re-election follows below.
Maxine Grad of Moretown announces her re-election campaign seeking a fifth term for state representative for the district representing Moretown, Northfield, and Roxbury. “I am proud of my accomplishments and want to do more to help keep Vermonters safe, healthy, and help our communities thrive.” Her accomplishments have been recognized throughout her five terms of service.
Grad’s impressive record marks her as an advocate for public safety, crime victims, children and youth, and veterans. As the Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Grad was a leader on landmark public safety laws that strengthened prevention, investigation, sentencing, and treatment of sex offenders, and expanded the community sex-offender registry. This past session Grad provided leadership on the rewriting of Vermont’s juvenile and child abuse laws. Grad championed the passage of a law that will grant the public greater access to criminal records. Vulnerable adults’ safety will now be better protected due to Grad’s leadership on a law that criminalizes abuse and neglect of the elderly and disabled adults. "On any issue relating to public safety, Representative Grad has been an unwavering and compassionate advocate for the needs of Vermonters and communities impacted by crime. Her leadership on initiatives to protect children, the elderly and vulnerable adults have been particularly impressive" stated Jennifer Poehlmann, Esq. Director of Public Policy, Vermont Center For Crime Victims Services.
Grad’s strong advocacy for crime victims was recently recognized by the Vermont Center for Crime Victims Services and Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. Grad received the Legislative Leadership Award for her work last session that led to laws on voyeurism, stalking, sexual assault, and crimes against minors. “Victims and survivors of violent crime are so fortunate to have an ally like Representative Grad in the legislature. Her compassion, wisdom and experience make such a difference in crafting smart, tough laws and policies related to domestic and sexual violence. From preventing domestic violence to improving the sex offender registry and protecting kids from abuse, she has consistently been a leader in championing the rights and safety of victims of crime - and we can't thank her enough!” stated Sarah Kenney Public Policy Coordinator VT Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
“As a mother and policy maker, children’s health and safety is a priority to me,” says Grad, who was named legislator of the year in 2002 by the Vermont Children’s Forum. Grad has been recognized as a leader on teen highway safety issues. She was the lead sponsor of a bill that strengthened Vermont’s child restraint law. Grad was lead sponsor of a bill that supports breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. “When we support working women, we are supporting, children, employers, and contributing to a sustainable workforce.” Grad, last session helped secure funds for the Northfield based parent-infant support and resource group Good Beginnings of Central Vermont.
Grad is a strong advocate of local government and communities. She helped secure $100,000 last session for Roxbury to address the environmental and health issues caused by beaver dams. She also supported the Moretown selectboard and community leaders in gaining the designation of the Mad River Byway and continues to serve on the By-Way committee. She serves on committees addressing local issues such as the creation of Moretown Village sidewalks, participates in the Moretown Energy Group and has been a strong supporter of her district’s public libraries.
“The transfer of the National Guard Armory to Norwich University and securing funding for Vermont Environmental Consortium hosted by Norwich University are other accomplishments I am especially thrilled about. Norwich is an economic engine in Northfield that plays a key role in the health of the community,” declared Grad.
Grad is known as an effective leader in public safety. As lead sponsor, Grad worked closely with the Northfield Ambulance Service and Moretown Fire Department and the Vermont Police Association to pass a law that protects ambulance, police, and fire personnel while acting in the line of duty. Northfield Ambulance Volunteers gave Grad an award for her commitment to public safety and named her as an honorary advisory board member. “Grad has been at the forefront of the public safety effort for many years. Her positions on highway safety and criminal matters are always based on a good deal of thought. She is a proven leader in Montpelier, with proven results” says Carolyn Fredette, President Vermont Police Association.
Grad’s efforts to honor veterans were recognized when she received a citation from the Military Order of the Purple Heart for her work establishing the Vermont Purple Heart Trail. She sponsored legislation that expanded scholarships for children of National Guard members who died while in active duty, and helped secure extra funding for the Veteran’s medal program. Grad pledged to continue her support for veterans, “I will re-introduce legislation that will exempt military retirement pay from income tax. Our veterans are a key component to our workforce, and we are losing highly qualified veterans to other states who have such benefits.”
Grad is recognized for her strong constituent work. “Maxine Grad knows how to "represent" and that is what it's all about! She listens to my concerns, responds thoughtfully, communicates effectively and seeks my opinion. On top of that, she genuinely cares about the people she is representing. What more could you ask for?” stated Doreen Allen, banker and long-time central Vermont resident.
“If re-elected I look forward to continuing my support for enhancing our public safety, better access to health care, lower property taxes, economic development, environmental protection, children, and youth issues. These are the elements needed to help our communities thrive,” Grad vowed.
Grad is a Mad River By-Way Committee member, board member of the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont, Northfield Rotary Club member, board member of Mayo Health Care, Inc. She served a Northfield Recycling Volunteer, member of the Friends of the Mad River board of directors, contributing writer and editor of Moretown Matters, member of the Moretown Community Activities Committee, and Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Women.
CONTACT: Rep. Maxine Grad, 496-4244, email@example.com
Check out the Times Argus story on Nate's announcement.
You can also check out his campaign website, here.
Tom Costello hasn't made his formal announcement, but he has definitively said he will run.
Is it possible that just as with this year's presidential candidates we have an embarrassment of riches in the Lt. Governor's race? Better late than never!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Please join us at the home of Denise MacMartin, 43 Traverse Street (just off Vine Street) in Northfield.
1) Approval of Minutes
2) House Races
3) Mailing to Northfield Democratic Primary Voters
Hope to see you all there!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Clinton delegates: Madeleine Kunin Don Hooper Michael Pieciak Beth Robinson Alternate: Nancy Richardson
Vermont's Secretary of State, Deb Markowitz!
Former Secretary of State and Clinton Delegate, Don Hooper with former Speaker of the House, Rep. Michael Obuchowski of Bellows Falls. Hooper was elected a national delegate and will be going to Denver as one of the delegates representing Clinton's share of Vermont's votes.
Dr. Deb Richter, single-payer health care champion confers with former State Senate candidate Tim Palmer.
Friday, May 23, 2008
There has been some discussion about carpooling, but as the weekend arrives I understand more and more people have family/travel/other obligations. If you do need or want to carpool, please send me an individual email and we can see about carpool options.
Thank you, and see you soon. For those of you not attending the State Convention, enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend!
2008 Vermont Democratic Convention
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Barre Civic Center, Barre, Vermont
7:30am Volunteer Briefing
8:30am Delegate Registration Opens—Convention Hall
Meeting of Rules, Procedures and Credentials Committee
9:00am Call to Order: Ian Carleton, State Chair
Remarks: U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy
Remarks: Senator Peter Shumlin
Report from the 2008 State Convention Rules, Procedures and
Convention Chair, Ian Carleton, assumes duties
10:30am Delegate registration closes
10:45am Presidential Preference Sub-Caucuses Convene
Election of District Delegates and Alternates
Obama—Location: On the main floor—Convener: Chuck Ross
Clinton—Location: Downstairs — Convener: Billi Gosh
12:15pm LUNCH –Box lunches are available downstairs
12:15pm Young Democrats Meeting – Planning for Elections & Election of Officers.
1:15pm Convention Reconvenes—Convention Hall
Remarks: U.S. Congressman Welch
Remarks: Speaker Gaye Symington
Remarks: Former DNC Chair Joe Andrews
Remarks: Governor Madeline May Kunin
Announcement of District Delegate and Alternates results
Election of National Committeeman & National Committeewoman
Remarks: Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz
Remarks: State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding
Remarks: Attorney General Bill Sorrell
3:00pm Consideration of Resolutions
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
A friendly reminder that our next meeting is coming up. We're hoping that Rep. Maxine Grad will be on hand to meet everyone, to hear from you, and perhaps to give an update on what's cooking in the legislature.
It will also be the morning after the Curtis Awards with Keynote Speaker, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut). Should be a great evening, and no doubt there will be reports from the event.
See you all soon!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Based on voting results at Town Meeting Day, Northfield is entitled to 14 total delegates to the State Convention: 8 for Sen. Obama; 6 for Sen. Clinton.
Members of the Northfield Town Committee met for an hour Saturday morning and elected the following slate of delegates:
Obama Delegates: Denise MacMartin, Carolyn Stevens, Brad Denny, Mary Denny, Aaron Rhodes, Christopher Curtis
Clinton Delegates: Mike Kerin, Sonya Rhodes, John Stevens, Siobhan Smith
Our delegate selection sheets will be filled out and returned to the State Democratic Party and we will be seated at the State Convention for the first time in recent memory. Congratulations to our delegates!
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Just finished up Northfield Town Meeting. My son’s first town meeting day (he’s just 5 months old)! Felt great giving him a front-row seat to democracy in action.
Most items passed without much debate. The exception? A proposal to establish a $500 fund for picnic tables at recreational areas in town. Small town democracy at its finest!
I was particularly pleased that the town voted in favor of establishing a conservation commission, something a small, dedicated band has worked on for about a year now. They’ve already secured some grant funding for surveys of the Dog River and trail- work on Payne Mountain. Commission status will boost their grant potential for other projects in the future.
It’ll be interesting, too, to see how the other big items fare: There’s a ballot item for a new police station, and of course the school budget. The former went down last time, but there is renewed interest b/c of the building’s dilapidated condition; the latter is almost always a close, 50-50 vote with one side or another eeking out enough to carry the day (followed by a series of re-votes, ugh!).
Rep. Anne Donahue was there… so was Sen. Bill Doyle. Didn’t see any other political glitterati, however.
I was pleased to see most members of our Democratic Town Committee were present for the meeting.
Wonder how much a meaningful, contested primary this year boosted town meeting attendance. It would be interesting to find out. Do people just turn out to vote? Or, do they stick around to discuss the details with their neighbors at the town meeting? What do you think? Anybody else observe greater numbers at the meeting? I’m sure the overall vote tallies will be substantially higher - probably record numbers.
As for a wish list item for the ballot, here’s mine: One thing I would love to see is the elimination of the recall rule. It requires a legislative fix, but currently Northfield voters can overturn a result by getting a small number of petitioners to call for a re-vote (think it’s 5 or 10%, or something). This means that even when we get a majority vote, a tiny minority can call it back and rely on a much smaller turnout the second time around (because special elections frequently have smaller turnout either because folks don’t know, or forget a special vote is happening, or because there aren’t other elections/candidates/ballot items to bring people out to the polls). This happens frequently when we do happen to pass the school budget. It’s a real thwarting of democracy, and a deceptive way to go about doing town business.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
"In a testament to the importance being placed on every state and delegate in the hard-fought Democratic contest, the candidate will take time away from Texas and Ohio to stump in this state as well as in Vermont, which will also hold a primary on Tuesday."
Anyone else out there have any information on this?
Friday, February 29, 2008
Just received this message from Matthew Lesser, one of Obama's Vermont staffers:
Thursday, February 28, 2008
H.859 An Act Relating to Increasing Substance Abuse Treatment. We are looking at this bill from the Institutions and Corrections committee. This would create a pilot project for court ordered substance abuse screening of those accused of a crime. The questions we addressed are: should this screening should be mandatory from the court, voluntary, and at what point in the judicial process? For example, should it be prior to conviction for use in pleas bargaining or should it be post conviction to use only for sentencing purposes. The Court Administrators office would like to see a screening project used early in the process to get people identifiend, the help they need and divert them from the court process. Therefore, the Court Administrator wants to consider if a judge should have the authority to mandate at arraignment if screening can be a condition of release into the community.
Probate Judges, Sherriffs and Deputy States Attorneys and Constable Qualifications
We voted out a bill that would require a candidate for probate judge to be an attorney admitted to practice in Vermont at time of election; a deputy state’s attorney and assistant attorney generals be an attorney admitted to practice in Vermont at time of appointment; and constables and sheriff meet minimun training standards established at the Vermont criminal justice training council parior to exercinsing law enfoecemnt authority. Elected officials who are in office on the effective date of the act are grandfathered. Currently, there are no sitting sheriffs who are not trained.
The bill originally did not include probate judges. However, the president of the probate association asked that the judges be added.
Constables were also not included, but my committee received requests from those in the law enforcement community, municipalities, and the constable association asking us to require that constables have law enforcement training if they are to engage in law enforcement duties.
We received the following email testimony that was read into the record.
The first is from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns:
“Representative Lippert had asked if we supported requiring law enforcement training in order for elected constables to perform law enforcement responsibilities. We do support that requirement and our board of directors has voted to support the measure.
We are concerned that if an elected constable does perform a law enforcement activity for which he or she is not qualified, that the towns be protected from liability for his or her actions.”
From Colonel James W. Baker, Director, Vermont State Police:
“As the Director of the Vermont State Police I support the elimination of the training exemption for Constables and Sheriffs.
In the current environment that law enforcement operates in no person should be allowed to function as a law enforcement officer without a minimum amount of training.”
From R. J. Elrick, Executive Director, Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, Vermont Police Academy:
“I support the elimination of the current training exemption for elected law enforcement officers (Constables and Sheriffs). At present, the law makes training for Constables and Sheriffs "optional". In this day and age, it is unfathomable that we have individuals who may be performing law enforcement functions without requisite training and certification.
At a minimum, this creates the opportunity for tremendous liability to municipalities and the potential for unknowing violation of the rights of our citizens. The elimination of the last sentence in Section 2358 of Title 20 will be a huge step forward in furthering the
professionalism of the Office of Sheriff and Constable. If an individual is to perform law enforcement functions in our state, they should be held to the same basic training and certification standards.
I have personally spoken with the leadership of the following organizations who support this action:
Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police
Vermont Sheriffs' Association
Vermont State Police
Vermont Constable's Association
Vermont Police Association
Vermont League of Cities and Towns.”
Finally, from Nelson Tift, President Vermont Constables Association, President Rutland County Law Officers Association:
“I have spoken with the Elected officers, past president and several current members of The Vermont Constables Assoc. and we all favor the elimination of the current exemption of mandated training for elected constables, with the provision that there be a method in place that would insure that once Constables have completed the part one phase that there be in place a method for them to complete parts two and three. Currently it is nearly impossible, as few, if any agencies are will to field train personnel that are not hired for their department. This is largely due to liability, currently only one Vermont Constable is a certified FTO. Obviously the fact that the constable has only authority in his elected jurisdiction is also a problem in that if an agency in another town would be willing to take on the training, the constable would still not have enforcement powers in their town to work with their training officer. If these obstacles can be overcome, we would wholeheartedly support this move.”
We appreciated Mr. Tift’s testimony and determined through conversations with Mr. Elrick that we can resolve his concerns. We have also made the effective date of the bill 2010 to help people get trained and learn about the law.
We also continued our work on guardianship, juvenile proceedings, and lead in housing, and death certificates.
Please stay in touch. I look forward to seeing you at Town Meeting. 828-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Quick, name three things you know about Chris Dodd! Well, you probably know he's a Senator for Connecticut. You probably know he was a recent presidential candidate; and you may even know he was widely supported by the firefighter's unions during that contest. All of the above are widely reported and were fairly recently in the news.
Here are three cool things about Dodd that maybe you didn't know:
1) He worked to ensure passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act ensuring that working families don't have to choose between their job and their family (he's now working to try to encourage that time off be paid time-off according to his Senate website) - as my wife and I recently had a baby I can attest to the importance of this federal protection;
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Coincidentally, I received a friendly phone call from Obama's Washington County field organizer the other day. She asked that I post the following information for folks who want to get involved:
Please join the Obama campaign over the next two weeks to help drum up as much support for Senator Obama in Vermont, and Washington County as possible. If you are able to help out at all, from making phone calls to knocking on doors, we need you. Every vote will matter, and we're eager to have as many Obama supporters at the Primary on March 4th as possible.
We will have an office in Montpelier at 41 Elm Street, Second Floor, and a phone banking location in Montpelier as well, though we can also email you some phone calls to make from home.
If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Washington County Field Organizer, Emily Polak at (603) 521-5588 or by email at email@example.com. You can also check out the campaign website for news and events, here.
We're looking forward to working with you!
Note: don't be fooled by the New Hampshire exchange. Many of Sen. Obama's northeast region folks have been moving between New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.
UPDATE: Just found out there is a "grand opening" for Obama's Montpelier office. Details below.
Montpelier Obama for America Office Opening
Thursday, February 21st - 7 pm
41 Elm St., Second Floor (Above the Soup Restaurant)
All are welcome
I have not heard from any of Clinton's people, but the Times Argus reports they are having a news conference today to kick off their efforts.
H.615 Juvenile Judicial Proceedings. We continue to wrestle with many policy decisions in this bill. Here we are making decisions about when a court finds that a child is in danger, how far can the state go in removing the child from the home and determining a placement for that child, whether it is temporary or permanent.
We have therefore spent the past two weeks on definitions of terms like parent, custodial parent, noncustodial parent, parent child contact, guardian, custodian, care provider, legal custody, and residual parental rights and responsibilities.
How we define these terms needs to recognize that families are very different these days, children may have meaningful relationships with adults other than their parents who could serve as a placement instead of foster care, and while a parent may not have been involved in a child’s life and may not have custodial rights to the child, that parent may be able to play a meaningful role in that child’s life if a court determines that the child should be removed from his or her current home.
Some of the most helpful testimony was from a law enforcement officer who has handled many of these cases. As some of us pushed to require notification to a number of people when the child is removed, she reminded us that often these situations occur at 3 AM and the first order of business is to get the child or children out of the situation and away from imminent harm.
H.636 An Act Relating to Embezzlement By A Public Official. This bill was introduced in response to the unfortunate instances of embezzlement and other crimes committed by town and county officials. As first introduced, the bill focused primarily on sheriffs, due to the recent events in Washington and other counties. However, as the League of Cities and Towns and others testified, there are other town officials like town clerks and town treasurers who have been indicted for crimes and should be held accountable.
One issue we have been looking at is if a court has found probable cause of embezzlement, should the court have the authority to remove or suspend or remove the officer pending the criminal investigation. My committee concluded the court should, if it finds that permitting the officer to maintain his or her official duties will result in harm to the public. We heard testimony that these cases result in an erosion of public trust and the integrity of the municipality or county must be upheld.
The League of Cities and Towns has legislative policy that would support legislation that addresses other crimes beyond embezzlement. There is also a Senate bill that would allow a town to appoint the town treasurer instead of having the treasurer an elected position.
H.267 Industrial Hemp. This bill passed out of House Agriculture Committee and was sent to my committee for review on matters such as crimes and penalties. This bill is a good illustration of why it is important for my committee to review proposed legislation before it gets consideration by the full House.
The bill as it passed out of the Agriculture committee stated that a person with a prior felony conviction is not eligible for licensure to growing industrial hemp. We discussed if it should be any felony or just a drug related felony. Also, a felony in Vermont is a crime punishable after two years in prison, while in most states it is one. We took testimony from a member of the Agriculture committee on these issues to understand the legislative intent and create a clear legislative record on these issues.
H.617 Guardianship. We continue look at revisions to our current law on court appointed guardians. Here, our challenge is balancing personal autonomy, capacity, and health. We had the opportunity to take testimony from Representative Anne Donahue on this bill. She represents a dissenting view from the working group that drafted the bill that we have been considering. Her testimony has been very helpful is raising issues of possible discrimination in the bill as drafted and other issues that have caused us to pause, take more time and testimony to fully consider these issues. The appointment of a guardian especially in terms of involuntary medical treatment can be a serious infringement of a person’s liberties and any legislation we pass must be mindful of this.
H.352 An Act Relating to Reducing Lead hazards in Housing. This bill has gone through House Committees on Housing and General Military Affairs, Human Services, and is now in my committee. Despite the findings on high lead exposure in children and the serious adverse health effects, our health department does not support this bill.
H.397 An Act Relating to Death Certificates. Here we are balancing the privacy rights of the deceased and family members and the public’s access to information. Proponents of this bill that would remove the cause of death from death certificates as a matter of privacy. Examples we heard are is it the public’s right to know that a cause of death was a self-inflicted gun wound? Should depression be listed instead, or should that be hidden from the public? Should HIV be disclosed to the public? The bill would have the information available, put at the department of health instead of the land records. Historians, newspapers, genealogists and others have concerns about the bill and restricting access to the information.
Please stay in touch. 828-2229 or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is an honor to represent you.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Obama's star is on the rise after a huge victory in South Carolina and being handed the key to Camelot by the Kennedys.
Not only did he take apart the Clinton machine in South Carolina (a stunning 55%-27% victory), but he laid claim to the Democratic establishment's mantle of leadership. The real Democrats. Remember how Bill and Hillary were the "New Democrats" (you know, the ones who "ended welfare as we knew it" and declared "the era of big government is over"?). Well, the "Old Democrats are back. And, they're back with a vengeance. Sen. Ted Kennedy (along with Caroline and Rep. Patrick Kennedy) gave perhaps the best (and most damning, as far as the Clinton's are concerned) endorsement speech of the year so far. At least that's certainly what David Brooks thought.
Obama is reaching out to Americans... and has them believing again.
Can he restore our faith in government? Kennedy's speech was good. Obama's was better. This guy is good. I'm starting to believe. See for yourself:
George Bush asks for perseverance from the American people. The president himself is the best evidence for our capacity to "persevere."
We have persevered through seven years of inept, misguided, dishonest and destructive policies promoted by an administration which he leads.
We have persevered through one high-sounding moralistic pronouncement after another designed to cover up the reality of policies that have had no higher purpose than securing more wealth and power for the already wealthy and the already powerful.
We have persevered through the loss of 4,000 American lives, 150,000 Iraqi lives, 10 times that number of shattering injuries, hundreds of billions of dollars in wasted war expenses and a crippling loss in American prestige and good will around the world, all in a war that has accomplished nothing and should never have been fought.
If we can persevere through seven years of George Bush as president, we can persevere through anything.
H.617 Guardianship. This bill is a product of a study commission’s rewrite of our current law. The bill recognizes that people who are under guardianship, which is a court ordered relationship, are some of the most vulnerable Vermonters. It also recognizes that if a person is under guardianship, it does not mean that the individual should lose all of his or her rights. Instead, the guardian’s goal is to help the person under guardianship to maximize his or her potential and function as best as he or she can. Generally, there is consensus on this bill from the mental health advocates, legal community and administration.
The one area of disagreement is the ability of the guardian to consent to the administration of involuntary medication.
We took testimony from Judge Mary Teachout for the need for the legislature to clarify the authority of the probate and mental health courts in involuntary medication cases where the patient refuses medication but the guardian consents. This issue arose out of recent cases where Judge Teachout’s ruling had the effect that involuntary medication decision should be made by probate courts instead of the family court. The state mental health agency disagreed. According to mental health law, these cases are decided in family court. The probate courts generally do not have a role in these proceedings. There are no due process standards in probate court for making these decisions. Further, Probate court tends to defer to the wishes of the family that isn’t always consistent with patient’s.
This issue is of great concern to the mental health community. The Vermont Supreme Court recently held that involuntary medication is an even greater intrusion on a patient’s autonomy than involuntary commitment to the state hospital. We will continue to consider which court is the most appropriate.
H.203 Surviving Spouse’s Rights When There is Not a Will. Most people assume that if a person dies without a will, the surviving spouse gets everything. Currently, unless there are no kindred—i.e. cousins, kids, etc. the surviving spouse is not entitled to the whole estate, but one third. We need to recognize that seeing a lawyer for a will can be very expensive. When people do wills on their own, the wills are often not executed properly and are therefore invalid. We will continue looking at how to remedy this.
H.180 Qualifications for the Attorney General, States Attorneys, Assistant Attorney Generals and Deputy State Attorneys. Currently the attorney general does not need to be a lawyer. This bill would require it. It would also require that the other listed positions be attorneys who are licensed in Vermont. According to the Executive Director of the State’s Attorneys, “We would be crippled if we had nonlawyer state’s attorneys” given our case law. The Attorney General testified that he takes no position on whether his position should be an attorney. He said he has so many layers in his office; it would not present a problem if we continued with current law.
H.615 Juvenile Proceedings for children In Need of Supervision and Care Due to Abuse or Neglect and Delinquent Children. This is a rewrite of our juvenile laws that I have discussed in my articles before. We continue to spend each Tuesday and Thursday learning about the contents in the bill with the testimony of Administrative Judge Amy Davenport and representatives from the department for children and families and the juvenile defenders office. All of them served on the committee that proposed the bill. Here are some of the things we reviewed this week:
1. Bill changes the name of the emergency hearing where a child is taken into state custody from detention hearing to care hearing. This is a national trend that recognizes that detention is more like prison and the criminal system, which this isn’t. We noted that schools are still using the term detention for violations such as not having homework done.
2. Changed the manner a child is taken into custody—used to be always to court, but is this the best thing for a baby or small child? Is there a better place to take an infant or young child than the courthouse? The goal is to minimize trauma to child.
3. A hearing must occur within 72 hours of issuing an emergency a care order. Attorneys are appointed for the child and parents. Judge Davenport discussed the challenges of our rural areas and lack of cell reception's impact on the ability to obtain counsel ASAP.
We will continue our work on this very important issue.
We are also working on a bill that looks at when there has been embezzlement or crime committed by a municipal official or sheriff. In the next few weeks, we will take up bullying in schools and cyber bullying.
Thank you to Brenda Cruickshank for coming to the State House in her capacity as Legislative Liaison for the VFW. Ms. Cruickshank has been a mentor and advisor to me on veteran affairs.
Congratulations to the Moretown Town Hall committee for a great event on Saturday. The Town Hall is a jewel of the community. Thank you to the town and committee for its leadership in helping to p reserve this vital resource.
Please stay in touch. email@example.com. 496-4244 (home) or 828-2228 (State House). It is an honor to represent you.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
My son, William White Curtis ("Will") is David W. Curtis' grandson. Since his grandfather was a former state representative, State Party Chairman and longstanding member of the Vermont Democratic Party, it was only fitting that Will become acquainted with the building. He was made to feel right at home.
Here's little Will with Rep. Bill Lippert (D-Hinesburg), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee - the same committee our own Maxine Grad sits on (see her report below):
And, with Rep. Jason Lorber (D-Burlington):
He's a little shy, and he didn't say much during our visit, but this little Northfield resident later told me that he's hoping that Vermont Democrats will make sure there is a strong economy, health care for all, and a reliable energy plan for the future!
I'm certain that if we work together we can accomplish those goals to secure his, and every Vermonter's, future.
Boating While Under the Influence: The Vermont Supreme court recently issued a decision that calls into question charging and sentencing within our BUI laws. The court stated that when there is one incident of BUI and multiple deaths, a person could only be charged with one count of boating while intoxicated with death resulting even though there is more than one death. The court called on the Legislature to clarify the law.
The Supreme Court’s decision was in a case that involved the tragic death of two children while watching fireworks at Basin Harbor on the 4th of July. The court’s result, according to the prosecutor and the family of one of the children who died, sent a message that their child’s death didn’t count. During testimony, the example came up that if a drunk driver hit a school bus and 20 children died, there should be the ability to charge the defendant for each death.
There also isn’t any law regarding BUI with serious bodily injury resulting as we do in DUI law. We also discussed the need to distinguish in our law penalties for serious bodily injury and death.
Further, there is law prohibiting driving while intoxicated while operating a commercial vehicle or school bus, but nothing for commercial drivers of boats. The committee is considering changing that.
Additionally, the question of snowmobiles arose. Current law brings snowmobiles into the DUI laws. We heard testimony that boats and autos present the same risk and should be consistent, as they present similar threats to public safety.
We heard testimony from the court administrator that the judiciary is 2 million dollars in the red. As an attempt to remedy this, certain important positions like judges, family court staff and educational and outreach staff positions are not being filled. The committee is very concerned that if our judiciary isn’t properly funded it seriously undermines our citizen’s access to justice and the courts, a foundation of our constitutional system.
Police Line Ups, Photo Identifications, Custodial Interrogations of Suspects and Preservation of Evidence in Criminal Cases Study Committee Report:
The committee is comprised of members from the law enforcement, victims, legal and defense community. The need for the report came out of my committee’s work on the Innocence Protection Act.
1. Eyewitness Identification of Suspects: While listening to this testimony, I realized I watch too much Law and Order! In Vermont, law enforcement rarely uses line-ups. We simply do not have the population base to find enough people that look like the suspect to eliminate any possibility of suggestiveness.
Photo line-ups aren’t used very often either. The committee did however recommend that there should be policy regarding the use of a neutral law enforcement officer, one not involved with the case to show the victim or witness the photos. Body language and unconscious messages are very common and could prejudice the integrity of the procedure and lead to suppression of evidence and dismissal of the case.
The committee is concerned that as Vermont becomes more diverse, cross-racial misidentifications will become an issue.
2. Custodial Interrogations: currently there isn’t law on mandatory videotaping of when a suspect is in police custody and is being interrogated. The best practice is to at a minimum audio record the interview, but also videotape. The committee stated that videotaping should be used whenever possible, is part of the best practice, but should not be mandated. However, if the technology fails, which it often does, failure to have the taped interrogation could lead to problems in court with suppression of evidence. The committee requested that adoption of best practices through some sort of policy, not legislation.
3. Best Law Enforcement Practices for Preservation of Evidence. Currently, there is not statewide policy on preservation of evidence. The proper preservation of evidence can make or break a criminal case. The committee recommended that the procedures taught at the police academy should be recognized as best practices. The committee also said that ideally, there should be one, new statewide evidence repository, with climate control, specialized support, and for budgetary reasons, be housed in an existing facility.
My committee will continue to look at all of this. We have a series of options from having shed light on the issue through the report and this week’s testimony, to enacting legislation, recommending policies, and working with the Judiciary and or the executive branch to adopt a rule or policy. Other states have done it many different ways. I would like to have a dialogue with the members of the judicial and executive branch on ways to address these issues as a starting point.
I, as vice chair of the judiciary committee feel very strongly that the role of my committee is to help support the integrity of our criminal justice system by ensuring our courts, law enforcement, prosecutors, defense, and victims all have the support they need to properly charge, investigate, litigate and decide cases. The healthy functioning of our criminal justice system goes to the core of a healthy democratic society, and therefore significantly impacts the health of Vermonters and our communities.
Congratulations to the Roxbury Free Public Library for its receipt of a cultural facilities grant for the construction of a bathroom and ramp.
Congratulations to James Donahue of Northfield for his selection as a Legislative Page. James started the session with us in the first group as pages.
Please stay in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org, 828-2228 (State House), 496-4244 (home). Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you. It is a privilege and honor, Representative Maxine Grad
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
One thing it might mean is that the reports of Hillary Clinton's demise are premature. The Clinton's are well loved by rank and file Democrats. What is so surprising is that she is doing so well in a place rife with Independents, like New Hampshire. Time will tell how the voters broke. One theory is that Edwards' folks decided he just wasn't viable and ended up breaking for Clinton... they are blue-collar rank and file Democrats more likely to support her than the cerebral Obama. Another theory is that women ended up breaking heavily for Clinton after her performance in the debates and the "Diner Sob." Finally, Obama's youth brigades may have told pollsters they were for him, but then ended up not turning out (that's what you get for inspiring frat-boys, Barack).
Friday, January 4, 2008
There is plenty of analysis on the race and what this means to the other candidates, but for now it's Barack Obama's day. A well-fought, well-earned victory.
I will say that the other interesting development is Edwards' second-place finish. While a third place finish would probably have doomed him, he now has a claim to being the "alternative" to Obama in a way that Hillary is not. But he now has to win or come in second in either New Hampshire (unlikely) or South Carolina (more likely) in order to stay alive until Super Tuesday. His biggest problem (that Clinton doesn't face) is cash. He doesn't have enough of it compared to his rivals. Will he get any kind of bounce? Can shoe-leather and message make up for lack of money? Traditionally, of course, the answer is no but if Edwards continues to present an obstacle for Clinton then Obama may cruise to the nomination.
And, what about Sen. Clinton? She is a savvy, well-financed candidate with more than a few tricks still left up her sleeve. No doubt she will be much tougher to beat on Super Tuesday when large states (California, New York, Florida, Michigan, etc.) start to vote.
And, what will Vermonters decide to do if the race is still up for grabs in March? Maybe our little primary won't be so inconsequential after all?!
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
There will be a Vermonter kick-off event at 9:00 a.m. hosted by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's .
January 5, 2008 - 9:00 AM
** Full disclosure, I support Edwards based on his economic populism (he's the only one who actually talks about poverty in America), his health care plan, and his plan to pull troops out of Iraq. However, Democrats are lucky to have any number of exceedingly well qualified candidates (including those who aren't really polling at all: Richardson, Biden, Dodd), especially Hillary and Obama. I am completely committed to helping whoever the eventual nominee is re-take the presidency. I am merely passing this along as an opportunity for others who may be supporting Edwards' candidacy. If you know of other Democratic candidates campaigning in the area and want to post that information here, please let me know and I will do so.