Fair and Balanced

NORTH PUFFIN–Inspired by neighboring Towns, some here have called for all-inclusive decriminalization of property crimes.

New resident Ashley Proctor wants to “end discrimination against those less fortunate who are driven to commit property events to survive.”

Regular readers may have met my friend Ms. Proctor. She is a twenty-something social engineer with an MSW who had lived in Madison, Wisconsin, before moving to North Puffin. She had worked as a Community Education Specialist at Wisconsin Community Services in a taxpayer-funded position until that state closed its $3.5 billion budget gap in part by eliminating 1,200 state jobs.

Burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson all have the object of the taking of money or property without force or threat of force against the victim.

Residents of the small Vermont Town of Essex want a new policy to make all residents feel welcome — even if those new to town are in the country illegally. The resolution will make the Town afair and impartial communitywith a town-wide policy covering anything from getting a library card to a dog license.

Burglar“Who is hurt by a small ‘theft’,” she asked.

“No one,” she answered immediately. “In fact, if someone realigns the ownership of your television set, at least four people benefit. The recipient who is now able to watch programs for perhaps the first time ever, the local business who sells you a replacement, you because you now have a new set with all the latest features, and the middleperson in this transaction.”

Transaction?

North Puffin is a reasonably safe place. There were 45 reported property crimes including one red truck disappeared from a barn, ten burglaries, one suspected arson, two cases of cattle rustling, and 31 other larcenies.

I wondered if the people who committed those crimes would get off scot free in Ms. Proctor’s world.

“They aren’t ‘crimes’,” she said.

Her draft ordinance reads,

“The Town of North Puffin shall refuse any requests to arrest or seize persons accused of property ‘crimes’ from any Sheriff, the State Police, or any federal enforcement agency. As a fair and balanced community, the Town shall treat all property events committed within the community as transactions, not subject to state or federal law.”

The Town attorney said he will review the proposed ordinance. Selectboard members wouldn’t speak on the record but say off the record that they can’t pass it but do want to continue the conversation.

 

Arts in Education

Today is Patriot Day, the 16th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

9-11 Remembrance

We’re all a little distracted though. Hurricane Harvey washed over Houston 17 days ago; the city sank 2 cm. Hurricane Irma started shredding Florida yesterday. Enjoy this column from last year, slightly updated.

Shelter

The time has come again to join area artists and arts councils to celebrate National Arts In Education Week. It began yesterday and continues through September 16.

You can take part. Take just a couple of minutes to write a Letter to the Editor of the Courier, Free Press, the Messenger or your own hometown paper. Tell your story of why the arts in education matter to you.

The Drawing Class

Designated by Congress in 2010, House Resolution 275 names the week beginning with the second Sunday in September as National Arts in Education Week. During this week, the field of arts education and its supporters join together in communities across the country to tell the story of the transformative power of the arts in education.

In 2016, it is a particularly important time to celebrate arts education, as we usher in a new chapter of American educational policy with the new “Every Student Succeeds” Act and its many arts-friendly provisions. In the new law, the arts remain a well-rounded subject and are empowered to be central to a child’s education in our public schools. More importantly, music helps kids learn math. Art helps kids learn language. Reading helps kids learn to write.

Our municipal, school, and state leaders need to know about the impact the arts have on young peoples’ lives and that they must support the arts in every district and every school in America.

After sending in your letter to the editor, you can join the movement of thousands of arts education advocates celebrating National Arts in Education Week. Contribute to the visibility campaign on social media during the week of September 11-17, 2016 by using the hashtag, #BecauseOfArtsEd. People from all walks of life can share their story of the transformative power of the arts in their own education and the impact the arts have had on their work and life.

Here are some ways to participate:

• Write a letter. Take two minutes to write a Letter to the Editor of the Courier, Free Press, or Messenger or to your local paper. Tell us why the arts in education matter to you.

• Post on Facebook. Tell the world your #BecauseOfArtsEd story on Facebook. Describe what you are doing now in work and life and how arts education has a positive impact with a photo! Be sure to use #ArtsEdWeek, too.

• Send a tweet. Share your quick #BecauseOfArtsEd story on Twitter. Be sure to include an image or video along with #ArtsEdWeek.

• Share a photo. Post your favorite arts education photo on Instagram along with your #BecauseOfArtsEd story about the impact of arts education on your life. Be sure to use #ArtsEdWeek.

And be sure to send your letter or tweets to your school board and to our representatives in Montpelier and in Washington.

Recovering

Disasters, whether manmade or natural, bring out the best in us. Art reminds us how good that can be.

Above the Fallen by Amy Stump
 

Labor Day? Really?

On this day named for Laborers on which we do not Work, it is worth noting that politicians do not create jobs, no matter what they say.

Back in 2009 when she was still boss, Nancy Pelosi (D – CA) wrote about the final G.R.A.F.T. Act, “This legislation will jumpstart our economy, create and save 3.5 million jobs.” She used the phrase “create jobs” or “create really really outstanding jobs” 41 times.

Uh huh. Politicians do not create jobs.

The site michigan.gov trumpeted that, “Thanks to Governor Granholm’s 21st Century Jobs Fund, this new economy is actually taking shape… The first round of awards has already provided funding to 67 companies and projects, creating thousands of jobs…”

Uh huh. Politicians do not create jobs.

Michigan is closer to the truth. Politicians give away OPM to businesses that create jobs. “OPM” is “Other People’s Money,” something politicians think they have an infinite supply of and that We the [Other] People know is running out.

It is Labor Day and we are not laboring. Politicians will create no jobs today, either, but they will walk in parades and pretend they have.


Caution -- Workers AheadSome Americans are laboring.

Human chains of volunteers, of rescuers, of neighbors, and even the evil ExxonMobil, all came together in Texas this week. Christians and Jews, Buddhists and Muslims, atheists and Hindus, white and black, liberals and separatists, immigrants and indigenous peoples, even Democrats and Republicans all came together. No one cares about the color or creed of their rescuers. The human chain held.

My money is on Texas.


This column first appeared on Monday, September 7, 2009. I have updated it slightly, then Harvey added a twist.

 

Gouged

As of Saturday the national average gasoline price was $2.59 at the pump, up 23 cents in just six days.

A week and a day ago, I paid $2.329 in Swanton, VT, on the last Saturday in August. I paid $2.559 in Swanton, VT, on Thursday and the price had jumped to $2.799 there by Saturday.

2008 Gas SignI tweeted Leaving the land of $3.94 gas! as I drove over the bridge into Vermont from New York State in 2013.
I drove 1,700 miles up the East Coast in 2014. I haven’t heard a peep from any of the usual suspects about the prices and there was no ineffectual Internet gas boycott. The House approved stiff gas-gouging penalties in 2007 but prices are higher than ever.
I drove the east coast in 2015. The cheapest gas I saw was in South Carolina.
Vermont’s gasoline price-fixing lawsuit grinds toward a jury trial this fall.

A lawsuit against Vermont gasoline distributors R.L. Vallee, SB Collins, Champlain Farms, and Champlain Oil Company alleges price-fixing to the tune of more than $100 million in improper profits. R.L. Vallee was founded in 1942 and is based in St. Albans, Vermont. SB Collins was founded in 1942 and is based in St. Albans, Vermont. Looks like the distributors have just added more fuel to the fire. The national average price is up 23 cents at the pump but these guys have more than doubled that.

Gas prices in Swanton, Vermont
are up 47 cents/gallon in a week.

Oh, I know the argument that some Texas refineries are down and a pipeline has slowed deliveries. Horse puckey. Some refineries and infrastructure are always down, usually for maintenance but sometimes like now for other reasons.

I have thought the world of Skip Vallee. He’s a nice fellow and good businessman who has banked a huge reserve of community spirit. That bank of good feelings is overdrawn. Mr. Vallee, Mr. Jolley, et al have an alleged history of overcharging Vermonters, particularly in the northwestern corner of the state and it appears they have a new excuse to do so.

It isn’t a very good excuse.

 

The News Blew Up and Social Media Lied about It

Gee-eeeeez, I go away for a couple of days and the world washes away!

First Mr. Trump pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a move that drew criticism from civil rights groups and Democrats as well as both of Arizona’s Republican senators, then one of the worst flood disasters in modern U.S. history unfolded ever so slowly around Houston. Mr. Trump responded in characteristic fashion: he tweeted. He was tweeting praise for the responders, a move that drew criticism from everyone else.

Relentless rains from former Category 4 Hurricane and now Tropical Storm Harvey are still pounding Texas. Rainband after rainband swept north and then slowly east through the metro area, dropping 25″ of rain so far and that’s only half what is expected. The large-scale steering currents have collapsed with no signs of anything that will sweep the storm away from the area for the next several days. Harvey was still drifting back southeast at just 2 mph this morning; it will pick up energy and new supplies of water from the Gulf, then turn around to do it again.

Of course, everyone from Homeland Security to FEMA was working ahead of the storm but, naturally, social media says all Mr. Trump has done is “tweet a book report.” Naturally, social media lies.

Meanwhile, Orpheum Theater in Memphis will drop Gone With the Wind  from its summer film series next year because 12 insensitive potential customers took offense; they complained that the film is too “insensitive” to be shown in theaters today.

The tyranny of the minority.