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Vermont Guardian

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Posted March 15, 2007

Affordable for whom?

There has been a lot of talk from the governor about affordability and school property taxes lately, so I decided to look at some past school tax bills. I have lived in the same house for 20 years and our assessment was substantially raised recently.

It turns out that after the property tax rebate, I paid about 20 percent more in school tax in 1996 and 1997 than I did in 2006. Is this debate occasioned by confusion about the income sensitive rebate system? If so, that will change next year when rebate and tax bill will be one. (It was a stupid system.) However, it may be that something political is going on here.

It sounds to me like Gov. Jim Douglas is trying to use this confusing issue to cast the Democratic majority as the old “tax and spend liberals” but it doesn’t seem to be working so well judging by the 233 school budgets that passed on Town Meeting Day. He claimed the numbers were not relevant, but if 60 or 70 towns had rejected their budgets instead of 17 I’m sure the results would have had much more meaning.

All Vermonters want good schools at reasonable prices. Health care reform, unfunded mandates, and cuts in the federal budget to sustain a ridiculous foreign policy are places to start for my money. This partisan bickering does not help. We can’t afford to waste time on affordability campaigns.

Tom Doll
Underhill

What direction will they take us?

As of March 7, 62 towns have passed a resolution to replace Act 60/68. And this has been barely mentioned in the media. You can find out more about property tax relief at www.revoltandrepeal.com. Some papers will not print a web address.

We can hope House Speaker Gaye Symington, D-Jericho, has the resolve and skills to lead the reform. We fear she may not have the will, and will not hear the voices from all of Vermont. We fear she may only hear the voices of the failed Act 60/68 past. Please, Ms. Symington, hear the other voices of today, from across our great state.

Please replace Act 60/68 with education funding, make it fair, make it a lot less complicated — for all of Vermont. Just think, a fair, less complicated funding law for education could be your mark of excellence on our great state. We can have hope, we 62 towns.

Here are some ideas:

• Cap senior citizens’ taxes with fixed incomes.
• Level the statewide value of a house — per square foot standard cost — across the state at replacement value. Right now, some towns tax what you may sell your house for in the future, while in another you are taxed less than what you paid for a house today. How can that be?
• Put a cap of 1.5 percent increases per year on the value of any property based on town-wide appraisals since 2006.

Many other states have moved away from using property tax to fund education; what direction will our elected representatives take?

Andrew J. Tarantino
Manchester Center

Campaign finance deform? Not again!

I must condemn in the strongest terms possible the Vermont Legislature’s planned campaign finance “deform” (www.vermontguardian.com, March 9) under guise of complying with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ridiculous mendacity that money is free speech. I challenge every lawyer in black robes to check out a cart of groceries by convincing the clerk to accept his/her free speech in lieu of cash or debit/credit card.

What the Supremes did, of course, was to misinterpret the Constitution to protect the moneycrats who put them into lifetime sinecures. As a result, Vermont has no elections, only reelections based on name recognition advertising bribe-financed by lobbies unswervingly served by the incumbency. Hence, we have a choice of Democratric and Republican “front-runners” but never any public benefit legislation. We have not forgotten Scatamount, the “bipartisan” health care non-reform to keep private insurers in the doctor business. We have not forgotten the Condos condescension, where property tax rates were lowered but by less than the increase in appraisals, and voters were misled to expect lower tax bills but got bigger ones instead.

We have not forgotten the adamant opposition to wind power to protect the Bush administration’s blood-for-oil program by condemning the aesthetics of wind turbines. Nor have we forgotten the hold-harmless policy to benefit corporations whose genetically modified seed racket causes great damage to helpless farmers.

We have also noticed the bait-and-switch campaigning on affordability (higher incomes for the unrich and lower taxes and costs for necessities), and on property tax “reform,” quickly forgotten upon the reelection of the Demopublican and Republicratic professional career politicians who waste the short legislative session on extraneous issues (not to offend lucrative lobbies), like the reality of global warming, seat belt law, driver cell phones, transgender tolerance, gay marriage, pill assisted suicide, vaccines for teen girls, mercury in dentistry, medical marijuana, etc.

Real campaign finance reform requires only two provisions: Level the playing field by pooling and evenly dividing the money among candidates for each competitive position, and mandate equal media time as was legislated in the 1932 Fairness Doctrine.

Lastly, public financing is the worst of all options because it burdens the taxpayer unnecessarily and is not based on the candidate’s proposed legislative program, offering voters no control and no choice, only the opportunity to recognize familiar names based on the depth of their sponsor’s pockets.

Contribution caps and spending limits cannot be monitored, much less enforced, in a nation that can’t even conduct a credible election, having twice in a row juggled loser George Pinocchio into the White House.

Peter Moss
Fairfax

Activists are using town meeting

Apparently a very small fraction of Vermont citizens in a small number of towns voted for the troop withdrawal and the impeachment resolutions, but the media, including the Vermont Guardian, are reporting that so many towns adopted the articles, thus implicating that every man, woman, and child of these towns are in favor of these resolutions — which is far from the truth (www.vermontguardian.com, March 9).

Town meetings are being used by activists to leverage their political bias. Rights of free speech are being violated, and the media is promoting this abuse of our town meeting democracy.

David Garrecht
Brattleboro

Keep up the good work

We are Vermonters. We are retired and live aboard our sailing yacht in the Mediterranean, and are presently in Turkey.

We just discovered the Vermont Guardian and read with interest the story on impeachment.

Keep up the good work. We will be back in Vermont in a couple of years so keep it how we like it.

Ted Mead
Aboard Rhumb Line
Kemer, Turkey