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Welcome to iBrattleboro!
It's a local news source by and for the people of Brattleboro, Vermont, published continually. You can get involved in this experiment in citizen journalism by submitting meeting results, news, events, stories, reviews, how-to's, recipes, places to go, things to do, or anything else important to Brattleboro. Or, just drop by to see what others have contributed.

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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

Op/Ed


The Op/Ed opinion section

Look Beyond the Library and Parks, Please

This was posted on the Reformer Face Book page tonight.

SELECTBOARD CONSIDERING HALTING POLICE-FIRE PROJECT.
The board met for 90 minutes Tuesday to consider making cuts to the FY 2015 budget. The board is asking interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland to investigate a range of cuts, including cutting positions in the library and Parks and Recreation Department. The board is also considering halting the $14 million police-fire project. The board is going to meet on April 29 to make final decisions about the budget.

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A Proposal for Augmenting Municipal Resources

Note: This was the text I had composed and sent to the board prior to being scheduled to appear.

It is fair to say that Brattleboro has asked about as much as it can of its citizens from property taxes. There is, however, another route to gaining more resources. It does not include taxation or fees. Rather, I am suggesting that the town take advantage of some key but under appreciated qualities it enjoys and raise money from contributions over and above the property tax. I am suggesting that Brattleboro do what many, if not most, charitable organizations do: invite, or appeal for, charitable contributions from those who appreciate the community and its services.

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Change In The Air At BMH?

I have not yet met Steve Gordon, the new CEO of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, but after I wrote to him about a problem I had experienced at a BMH physician's practice, the problem got resolved.

This was refreshing. It was the first time since the Reformer ran my Oct. 5, 2007 op-ed, "Hospital's complaint process needs reform," that I felt a glimmer of hope. In that piece, I had written:

"Patients are naturally vulnerable, and rely on the hospital staff and administration for kindness and protection. To prevent lapses, there must be a trustworthy complaint procedure."

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FCC Uses 1950s Jim Crow Laws To Allow VPR To Exclude Independent Candidates From General Election Debates

FCC, the Federal Elections Commission, is using 1950s Jim Crow Laws that were created by the U.S. Congress to keep Negroes out of political candidate debates, but they are STILL using them today, even in 2014, to keep independent candidates from participating in Vermont Public Radio general election debates.   (Bernie Sanders runs in the Primary in the summer as a Democrat and takes millions of dollars from them and their PACs, and then switches at the last minute in the general election for November to "independent" so he is not a "real" independent.) 

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Brattleboro: Why Does It Burn So?

I have noticed that our lovely town has a fire problem. The big fire, before I arrived, was on Main St. where the Paramont theater once stood. I waltz down memory lane: I am sure there are house and apartment building fires I will have missed. But here is a list of fires I have witnessed:

Wilder block, Lawrence block, Sam's, 214 Elliot, 107 Elliot, 119 Green St., 72 Green St., Brooks House-

Some say the fires are because Brattleboro has so many old wooden buildings. I am sure part of the problem is that the buildings are not sprinklered. Cigarettes & cooking grills may have contributed. I'm sure that's one of the reasons we are seeing a move towards smoke free housing.

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The Final Solution to the Palestinian Problem

The Palestinian problem has been an enormous thorn in the relations between Israel and the greater world. This has prevented a capable Western styled government from bringing the full fruits of its democracy to the Middle East. With the constant niggling and debate of rights, it is time for Israel to assert its full historic right to the full and final occupation of Greater Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River to Lebanon and south to Sinai. We can stop the illusion and fantasy of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Historically, this land was Israel, with stretches of time occupied by every power in the region. Though we had a period of Diaspora and left the area for two thousand years does it matter whether it was two days or two thousand years? Of course not.

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New Take on Police/Fire Project?

On March 22nd Brattleboro's Representative Town Meeting defeated the 1% optional sales tax and approved the FY15 budget, which includes the first interest payment on the second police/fire facilities bond.  So, what happens next?

First let's state the obvious:  Brattleboro is in a bind.  It took many of us to get it there, myself
included.  We initially approved the police/fire facilities project and then rejected cutting the overall budget
enough to scale it back.  Meanwhile, we defeated the 1% sales tax multiple times.

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Phone Etiquette in Vermont

Ever since I've moved to this town, I've noticed that virtually all except those I've conveyed the following sentiment to who call me on the phone employ the most miserable phone etiquette I've encountered in the many states and provinces I'ved lived in.

When I was a child, I lived on the Upper West Side in a communal situation that had three women (including my mother) under 30.  It being NYC and Ma Bell being the only game in town, it was standard practice for women to only give their first initial and last name when listed in the phone book.

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The 2014 RTM Message

Representative Town Meeting members repeatedly tried to “send a message” to the Brattleboro Selectboard at their most recent meeting. Throughout, representatives also stated that they didn’t think the Selectboard was getting that message.

As an outside observer, the message was simple: Taxes are too high. If you are going to cut something, cut additional Police Fire bonds and not the Library or Recreation and Parks departments. The bonds can wait.

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Vt House Notion to Kill School Boards Deserves Similar Fate

I eavesdropped on ibrattleboro's excellent coverage of your town mtg, & was pleased to see the discussion about the ill-conceived proposal from the legislature to kill our local school boards.  I believe the Vt legislature originally met for much shorter sessions, and like so many institutions has grown bigger just because there was time available for it to do so. This proposal suggests they have too much time on their hands and are inventing fixes for things that ain't broke.

Sure, we can always use improvements to our public education system, but abolishing our citizen school boards seems misguided, especially since they cost almost nothing to maintain (in Guilford, for example, just over $2,000 a year in a school budget of some $2 million!)

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1% Local Options Tax Defeat Disappointing

While watching town meeting today many downtown merchants spoke about their opposition to the proposed  1% local options tax because it will send people to NH (as if those of us on the border towns don't shop there already). I was very disappointed to hear little to no discussion about how NOT approving this tax continues to hammer those of us who pay property taxes in Brattleboro.

Downtown merchants shifted their focus to out-of-state visitors long ago. We have very few stores that provide necessities anymore: a drug store, a hardware store, an Elliot Street convenience store, the Co-op. The bike stores, specialty/gift stores, and even Sam's non-clothing sections target specific hobbies or are for discretionary items.

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Brattleboro Town Meeting and Police/Fire Project

THE POLICE AND FIRE FACILITIES PROJECT

It is not a mystery that the Selectboard placed the sales tax but not the Police/Fire Facilities project on the March 4th ballot as a straw or nonbonding vote.  Were they on together both would have likely been voted down.  Thus the Selectboard gave us only one choice.  In the same way the P/F project itself was presented at Town Meeting as only one choice. Town Meeting Members were forced to accept it all even if only one piece, or none of it at all seemed necessary.  It was as if the administration believed that citizen input had no place in the development of the project.  Since the vote was taken any further questions have been dismissed with ‘it’s been voted on.’  Conversation over.

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Retirement Planning for Civilization Collapse

I’m turning 50 this year, which means I have 15-20 years to retirement age -- if all goes well.

Let’s look at the news and see if things are going well. Lost airplane, Crimea, oh wait, what’s this?  Nasa-funded study: industrial civilization headed for ‘irreversible collapse’? That might impact my retirement. You have my attention.

The article says collapses are a normal part of the cycle of civilization. Rome, for example. OK, we knew that. Nothing new there.

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Thank You to Retailers and Restaurants who participated in the Responsible Beverage Service Trainings

To the Brattleboro Business Community,

The Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition (BAPC) would like
to thank the businesses that participated in the Responsible Beverage Service Trainings held in March co-sponsored by the Department of Liquor Control.

BAPC recognizes the important role that local retailers and restaurants play in preventing underage drinking. Thank you to the following businesses for participating in the training:

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Commentary: "Knowledge Is Power"

Several years ago I advocated that courses in the humanities be offered and taught to those within Vermont who might have otherwise gone without the opportunities and benefits of these. For example: people living in poverty; people living homeless; persons incarcerated in jails, prisons or other institutions; people living in the throes of drug or alcohol addiction.

What I had been urging be established was for programs along the lines of the Clemente Course in the Humanities model (clementecourse.org).

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