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Vermont Guardian

For The Independent Mind

Breaking News Alerts

Posted March 2, 2007

When!?

All along the election trail in Vermont — just last year — we the people told everyone running for office that the number one concern of all Vermonters was the ever-increasing property taxes. But, then something happened. We elected more Democrats and — poof! — did they take a forget pill or something?

Most legislators have chosen to ignore, and forget, the property tax issue.

Not all the legislators have ignored Vermonters’ cry for property tax relief. On Feb 16, an amendment was proposed by Rep. Pattie Komline, R-Manchester, and Rep. Steve Adams, R-Hartland, and there was a vote on repealing Act 60 (Vermont Guardian, Feb. 16). Yes, finally a vote to repeal ACT 60, and 33 brave legislators heard our collective cry from every corner of the state, “Reduce our property taxes now.”

But 93 turned a deaf ear, and voted against repealing the most flawed, complicated, unfair tax law in our state or any other. What were those 93 legislators thinking?

Find out how your legislator voted on H.88, and more info about the property tax relief effort, by going to www.revoltandrepeal.com.

Don’t wait for your prebate check this year to pay your taxes. In a separate vote, 94 legislators voted down Rep. David Sunderland’s, R-Rutland Town, amendment to protect our privacy and give us back our tax money. That’s right, folks, 94 legislators don’t think we can manage our own money, so they voted to credit our tax bills instead.

Do you know that this will let everyone who can do simple math know just how much money you make? The legislators have spent seven weeks learning about global warming, more time debating the Iraq War, and it took them less than two hours to vote down some very important issues to all Vermonters — property taxes and our privacy.

Hey! Ms. Speaker, how about seven weeks working to reduce our property taxes and protect our privacy. If seven weeks is not enough time, then why not vote to repeal Act 60/68 by Jan. 2009 and find a solution over the next two years? We voting Vermonters must stand up and tell our elected officials again, until they hear us, loud and clear, that they need to reduce our property taxes now.

Repeal Act 60/68 by 2009 and find a fair, less complicated, and less divisive way to fund education. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue, this is a Vermont issue and as a voting Vermonter, I humbly request some action.

Andrew J. Tarantino
Manchester Center

Get the facts about physician-assisted dying

As someone who has worked long and hard to strengthen end of life choices, recent comments by those individuals opposed to the current PDD (patient directed dying) bill in the Vermont Legislature are tough to witness (Vermont Guardian, Feb. 16).

My request is that before you write, do your homework and try to be honest with yourself about your opinion. Does it represent your own religious beliefs or does it reflect the reality of the current legislation?

Contrary to those who misunderstand the legislation, no doctor is required to comply with a request for a prescription. The patient must initiate the process, must make three requests over a period of 15 days, and must be able to self-administer the medication.

The proposed legislation specifically states that euthanasia is illegal. The patient must be able to take the oral medication, unaided.

More than 600 doctors and nurses in Vermont have told Death With Dignity Vermont that they support the proposed legislation.

Eight years of documented experience with essentially the same law in Oregon indicated no abuse of the law. During that time, Oregon has become a leader in the nation for palliative care improvement and hospice utilization. Passing the legislation is not an “either/or” proposition. In Oregon in 2005, 92 percent of those who used the law were in hospice care.

A study by the Vermont Legislative Council, the legal arm of our legislature, debunked the scare scenarios of the opposition in their 2004 study. Scare tactics of the opposition are just that: Their imagined scenarios just haven’t happened in Oregon where the law has been in effect for nine years.

A poll by a nationally respected pollster has shown that 78 percent of Vermonters, regardless of religious persuasion, party affiliation, or region of residence are in favor of the legislation.

Nothing in the bill threatens disabled people. They will have the same rights as everyone else. Oregon has no record of any chronically disabled person using the law and no surrogate or guardian may act for the patient.

I respect the rights and opinions of those who have moral or religious philosophies that cause them to oppose PDD for themselves, but I and most other individuals do not intend to allow others to limit the choices available to us at the end of our lives. Simply, decisions about death belong to the individual who is dying; this legislation is about strengthening that principle.

Mark Furnari
South Burlington

Time to stand for “we the people”

To all those who listened and discussed, with respect and intensity, on Feb. 22, to the panel on impeachment convened by the Northeast Kingdom Democracy Reading Group, and to all who have been informing themselves on this issue, it is now our turn to continue this conversation at our town meetings on Tuesday.

Such conversation is our right and responsibility. Armed with information and references to further reading, we can individually and collectively communicate the facts and history on why Article II of the U.S. Constitution must be exercised: It provides for congressional investigation regarding issues of whether or not the current administration has perpetrated “high crimes and misdemeanors” on the people of this country. Article II provides that the House create Articles of Impeachment — the indictment and accusations. It is the Senate where the facts will be judged, and presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The decision to impeach Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney is about their forfeiture of our trust, as our highest elected officials. Impeachment is about “We the People.”

Our House of Representatives is charged with detailing accusations of Bush and Cheney’s perpetration of lies and deception in order to wage pre-emptive war, their abuse of executive power, violations of the laws of this land (i.e. Geneva Convention) respecting torture, habeas corpus, and rights to privacy (warrantless wiretapping).

As panelist Joseph Gainza implored: “We are the people, the sovereigns … of this country, and we need to know.”

Article II, while it may not be “mandatory,” is the single provision of our Constitution that allows the people’s elected representatives to fulfill their sworn oath to our Constitution, the founding document of this country. Should we let that constitutional provision be ignored and unused, we are setting a precedent for further and future violations of our U.S. Constitution.

It is “we the people,” attending, standing up, and speaking out at our town meetings that will signal we are taking our responsibilities faithfully. By so doing we can demand that our elected officials fulfill their same responsibility.

It will not be easy to speak out in the midst of some of our neighbors and friends, with what may be uncomfortable points of view.

But here we are, in the safety of our communities, who ask our young men and women to put their lives on the line, their health and their families’ futures in the violent streets of Baghdad.

The least and the most we can do is refuse to be silent in the safety of our home communities.

Tuesday is our time to support the U.S. Constitution, the one document under which “we the people” are all bound, and under which document our troops serve. It will be to our peril should we fail to defend our democracy here at home.

Peggy Sapphire
Craftsbury

Stalling the disasters

If impeachment proceedings were made against Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney, maybe they wouldn’t have so much time to get us into other wars and disasters.

Mary Chipman
Springfield, MO

Impeachment, a nice idea

I appreciate your cause in promoting the impeachment process of this country’s current president (Vermont Guardian, Feb. 16).

The fact is that any intelligent news reader should realize their voice has no counsel nor recognition. Speak all you want regarding this issue. It will do wonders for your internal emotions to vent, but it will do nothing to remove this sitting president. We have two more years.

Although I personally see everything this president says as fabricated rhetoric of the worst kind, I at least accept and realize that no voice will grow loud enough for his removal from office. There are just too many people who don’t follow the news or participate in learning the truth. It’s not really their fault. They have simply been bred this way by a U.S. system that counts on ignorance in numbers. The mainstream voice is the only voice that counts. Although I applaud your efforts, FOX News is going to win.

Wyatte Stier
Cumberland, MD

Vermonters don’t need help on impeachment

Cindy Sheehan and I will travel Vermont this weekend, stopping in towns from Burlington to Brattleboro, to talk about why we think the president and vice president should be impeached — and the essential role that Vermonters are playing in the process. We come not to tell the people of Vermont how to vote on warrant articles regarding impeachment at their town meetings next week. That would be not just presumptuous but foolish. Frankly, the voters who have given the United States George Aiken, Ralph Flanders, Robert Stafford, Jim Jeffords, Patrick Leahy, and Bernie Sanders do not need any advice from us about how to make political choices.

Rather, we come to celebrate the wisdom of Dan DeWalt, Ellen Tenney, and the thousands of other Vermonters who have chosen to embrace a Jeffersonian vision of how U.S. citizens relate to their federal government, and to take some of that wisdom back to the rest of the country.

It was Thomas Jefferson who observed more than 200 years ago, “Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic.”

It was Jefferson, as well, who asked of those who would inherit that republic: “But will they keep it?”

The answer to that question, for this particular moment in history, will come from the Vermont town meetings that debate calls for the impeachment of Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney. No, decisions made in town meetings across the Green Mountain State will not, in and of themselves, restore the republic — which, rather than the punishment of individual men, is the purpose of impeachment. But, as we in towns and cities across this great country despair at the determination of our president to surge the country deeper into the quagmire that is Iraq and react with horror at courtroom revelations about the manner in which our vice president has used his office to manage attacks on the reputations and livelihoods of an administration critic and his spouse, Vermont can signal to the nation that there is an appropriate response to the crisis.

More importantly, Vermont can put that response — impeachment — back on the table for use by the people and their Congress. The attention to the votes cast by Vermonters will remind the people of this country that the founders did not intend for the people or their representatives to allow any president or vice president to act as “a king for four years.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was wrong to suggest, as she did during the heat of last fall’s election campaign, that impeachment was “off the table.”

No section of the Constitution can or should be rendered inoperable by any politician — even a well-intentioned one.

The authors of the U.S. experiment had a deep and healthy distrust of concentrated power, especially when that power was held by a regal figure, be he identified as king or president. They crafted a constitution that made no mention of god, corporations, or political parties. They made no effort to establish a process for nominating candidates for the presidency, and gave only the barest outlines for the selection of the commander-in-chief — an electoral college was established, but little preparation was made for how or when the electors would be chosen, let alone who would do the choosing.

No less a U.S. citizen than James Madison said, after assuring that the Constitution would include a broad authority to sanction members of the executive branch, observed that “it may, perhaps, on some occasion, be found necessary to impeach the President himself.” The occasion has arrived. The necessary arguments for the impeachment of the president — and the vice president — have been identified. That Vermonters are among the first to recognize the circumstance does not surprise us. Rather, it inspires us. This is why we have come: to share in a great democratic moment, and to carry the faith forward to people in other states. It is the faith of the founders, a faith that is being restored by the people of Vermont.

John Nichols
Madison, WI

John Nichols is the author of The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders’ Cure for Royalism.