by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
October 19, 2006
VERMONT NEEDS A NEW GOVERNOR
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Writing a column about why Republican Gov. James Douglas should be voted out of office is a little like trying to explain why you should shoot your puppy.
Douglas is a nice man. He's a funny man. Yet when it comes to governance, he's wholly uninspired. The best you can say is that he's conventional, but behind his inoffensive facade, ruthless decisions are being made at every level of state government which challenge our view of Vermont and ourselves.
America is struggling to find a way back to its human heart after six years of President George W. Bush's radical and disastrous policies. These have made our friends dislike and fear us and our enemies gloat as they plot against us. Mr. Bush openly displays his repellent desire to torture. Our troops are in mortal danger, fighting in places they have no right to be. We have left thousands dead and injured in our destructive wake.
Douglas has spent more than one night in the White House as the President's guest. So even if he tries to distance himself from Bush Adminsitration policies, he's at the very least a supporter and at worst a hero-worshipper.
Let's look at the record. Douglas was on the right side when he took a stand against tire-burning in Ticonderoga, N.Y. But when it comes to just about every other environmental issue, he has been either inept or dead wrong.
He won't support wind energy, even though it is clean, and even though wind technology is already a big part of the state's economy (through NRG Systems, Inc.). He claims turbines would destroy our ridge lines and have a negative impact on tourism. Yet if tourists come here for our natural beauty, why did Douglas derail a plan to add more than 40,000 acres to our natural wilderness? He claimed it hurt logging, but only a few small towns depend on logging.
Douglas is basking in Vermont's recent top ranking as a business-friendly state, but he hid behind the old canard that Vermont is unfriendly to business when he desconstructed Act 250. Under this administration, the Agency of Natural Resources has been restructured so that citizen input on projects which impact the environment has been made virtually impossible.
And where are the jobs he's created? Where are the industries he's attracted?
How nice was Douglas when he refused to stand behind Judge Edward Cashman as he was unjustly attacked by Bill O'Reilly and Fox News? Douglas jumped on that bandwagon like a trained hound.
Douglas brags that he increased spending for the clean-up of Lake Champlain by 60 percent, but that was blood money from Entergy Vermont. Meanwhile, he has done nothing to protect those of us who live within range of Entergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, where water releases this summer were overheating the Connecticut River.
Speaking of Yankee, if you buy a used car, you first take it to the mechanic and get it checked over, right? Yet here we have an aging nuclear power plant already revved up beyond its original capacity which now wants to run 20 years past its expiration date. Douglas won't even call for a top-to-bottom inspection. Whether Yankee continues to operate or not, it's just common sense to do a thorough evaluation before increasing its running life.
Douglas wants to put a government-imposed, top-down cap on school spending, (isn't local control of our schools a Republican issue?) yet during the last Legislative session, he did everything in his power to squelch the quest for efficient single-payer health insurance. His idea? Inviting out-of-state insurance companies to come in and cherry-pick which of us to insure.
We know that the rising cost of health insurance is one of the main drivers (along with high energy costs) of higher school budgets. Health insurance costs are also crippling businesses. Bureaucracy is a huge part of that cost. A single-payer plan is mere business efficiency. Yet Douglas is dead set against it.
Douglas refused to support a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take control of hydro facilities on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers. It might have made clean hydro energy cheap for decades to come. When it comes to having your destiny in your own hands, Douglas can't see the point.
Many of us live in rural areas and don't have high-speed Internet access; has the governor been a leader in getting the state wired? No, he's been AWOL. Now Verizon is trying to unload all of its land-line phone business in Vermont and leave us stranded. Where is Douglas on that?
Douglas means well when he's talking about Vermont's "crisis of affordability." Certainly, it's getting too expensive to live here. And yes, property taxes are much too high. But an income tax would solve a lot of that problem and Douglas won't touch it.
Again, Douglas is a nice guy and he cuts ribbons and makes jokes. Writing a column against him is like punching a sack of marshmallows. But we should recognize that Douglas is all too willing to do the safest, most politically expedient thing. And when you really push him hard, he does the Republican thing. Believe me, if you aren't a big corporation, Douglas is not on your side.
Douglas's Democratic opponent, Scudder Parker, is also a nice guy. But he spoke out against the Iraq war even before President Bush attacked that poor country. He has imagination. He has new ideas for education, for farmers, for preserving and increasing the wilderness. He's progressive.
The status quo is hurting Vermonters. It's time for a change.
A collection of Joyce Marcel's columns, "A Thousand Words or Less," is available through joycemarcel.com. And write her at email@example.com.