Martha Abbott

Martha Abbott, VPP Chair

Minutes - February 2014 State Committee Meeting

February 8, 2014; 1:00 pm, 
North End Studios, Burlington
In attendance: Approximately 60 people attended, with another several guest speakers.

Welcome: Emma Mulvaney-Stanak
Emma opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending. She offered up an instant poll for State Committee members to answer a survey question on paper or electronic meeting materials. Those State Committee members without smartphones participated by a raising of hands. Most people indicated a preference to receive materials only electronically. Party leaders will take this into consideration when planning future meetings. Emma also asked people to support the party by becoming a monthly or one-time donor.

Panel: Burlington City Council Update and City Committee Leaders
All four incumbent Progressive City Councilors shared highlights on issues they are working on ranging from climate change initiatives to public safety to transportation (bike/ped issues) to updates on Burlington Telecom. Councilors Max Tracy and Rachel Siegel are up for reelection this March. Max needs help with his council race – volunteer support and financial support – because he is running against a well organized Democrat. Rachel has an opponent, but does not expect a tough race. Councilors Vince Brennan and Jane Knodell are up for reelection in 2015. There is an open seat for City Council in Ward 1 and State Party Vice Chair Selene Colburn is running unopposed for that seat. We expect to have 5 city councilors out of 14 after Town Meeting Day. Democrats currently have 7 seats with a possibility of gaining one more seat. The other two seats are held by Independents. Burlington City Chair Kyle Sillman-Smith and Vice Chair Ali Zipparo shared ways they have reenergized their city committee including regular informal “breakfast club” gatherings, leader recruitment to get more people involved by creating a database of potential leaders to draw from when commissions and boards have openings in the city, and a regular city committee meeting schedule.

Paid Sick Days (PSD) Panel
We were joined by Rep. Cindy Weed, Lindsay DesLauriers from Voices for Vermont’s Children, Cary Brown from the VT Commission on Women, Cecile Reuge from the VT Workers’ Center, and Dan Barlow from VT Businesses for Social Responsibility. Rep. Weed gave an overview of the Paid Sick Days bill in the House and explained it is due for a vote in her committee (House General) next week and could be voted on by the full House as early as mid February. The fight will be whether or not carve outs get added to the bill before it leaves committee. Also the Senate is not as supportive of the bill and the Governor is not a guaranteed supporter either. Lindsay explained the PSD issue from the angle of families/children and gave an overview of PSD history in VT. Cary explained PSD as an issue that relates disproportionately to women because they tend to hold more low-wage, service/retail jobs in VT that tend to not include paid sick leave. She also raised the issue of victims of domestic violence and the challenge of taking leave to heal from acts of violence. Dan explained the business angle and impact on the economy and noted several businesses are supportive of this bill, but several are speaking out and starting to pressure Representatives not to support this bill because it is an added “burden” on businesses. Cecile explained the VWC’s organizing effort to get PSD passed this session and ways people could help.

Emma then asked SC members to take action at the meeting and contact their state representative, senator and the Governor’s office to ask them to support the PSD bill. Legislator contact information was shared and people took time to place calls. We reviewed a list of key legislators who would benefit from being contacted. VPP will send an email action alert to share that list and ask all VPP members to take action on this bill early next week.

Break/Raffle Drawing

Regional Breakouts
The SC membership broke into regional groups to discuss local issues and potential house and senate districts for the VPP to target in the 2014 election cycle. Based on limited numbers from certain parts of the state, we had groups meet together from the Northwest region (Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille Counties), Chittenden/A-R (Chittenden, Addison and Rutland Counties), NEK/Central Vermont, and Southern Vermont.  CoCo members from each region facilitated the conversation. SC members said this was a useful way to break up the meeting. Party leaders will try to find ways to keep conversations going on topics raised in between SC meetings.

Platform Review Committee Update
Ben Eastwood (Montpelier) reported as Chair of the new Platform Review Committee. There is no written procedure on how to set up the process for reviewing the platform beyond formal ways to adopt changes to the platform (state law and VPP bylaws). The CoCo endorsed a process for this round in January. The committee will be appointed by the State Party Chair and limited to 5 members to keep it workable. An attempt will be made to achieve geographic diversity and a mix of new and experienced voices. The committee will also be charged with offering a written recommendation on a procedure to adopt for future platform review work so the Party has a known process going forward. The Chair appointed: Ben Eastwood (Montpelier, Chair of Montpelier Town Committee and Washington County) as Chair, Leslie Matthews (Northfield, former Coco member, SC member), Tim Kipp (Bratteboro, SC member), Cindy Weed (Enosburg Falls, former chair of platform committee last time, State Rep), and Becky Raymond (Middlesex, new Party member). Becky recently resigned from committee, so the Chair will work to fill the vacancy. The committee also has a recent UVM grad working as an intern for the committee.

The process is still being created, but it will include several ways to engage SC members and other Party members in reviewing and offering feedback on the platform. It will also include a very clear set of procedures, including any amendments and the process for voting/debate ahead of the September SC meeting where the SC and town and county chairs will be asked to adopt/reject any changes. The May 31st SC meeting will include a large portion of time on the agenda for platform discussion and input. The committee hopes to have any proposed amendments ready for the CoCo to review in mid July. Questions and feedback can be sent to Ben.

Party Committee Reports
Corey Decker (Enosburg) reported as Chair of the elections committee. Emma reported for Chairs who were absent from the meeting, including Chris Brimmer (organizational development committee), Martha Abbott (fundraising committee), and the communications committee (who are in need of a new Chair). All committees are looking for volunteers. Here is a description of each committee’s charge:

Fundraising Committee
Committee will develop an annual fundraising plan for the Party, oversee fundraising appeals to Party members (initial ask, follow up ask, etc.), revamp fundraising strategies used by the Party in the past, assist staff with development of appeals (letters, online, etc.), assist staff with organizing fundraising events (small), train Coco members and other Party leaders on how to effectively fundraise, and plan an annual major fundraising event for the Party.

Elections Committee
Committee will develop and conduct campaign trainings for candidates, campaign managers, and campaign volunteers during the 2014 election cycle (build capacity of party to run strong campaigns). The committee will also assist Party leaders and staff in recruiting candidates to run in the 2014 election cycle and assist the CoCo and State Committee in any Party endorsement process for the 2014 election. The committee will also support Burlington City Council campaigns as necessary (Jan-March 2014).

Communications Committee
Committee will develop a communications strategy for the Party, assist staff with press releases for the Party, assist staff with social media and blog postings, review the website for relevant content, and help advance the 2014 special project - corporate campaign donations petition. The committee will also help staff and the CoCo work on branding and promoting the party on a statewide level (messaging).

Organizational Development Committee
Committee will assist CoCo in doing quarterly outreach (to increase attendance) to the state committee members for quarterly meetings, develop "on-ramp" events for new Party members to get involved in Party outside state committee meetings, and examine more ways for the Party to involve new members (on the ground engagement and promotion of Party). The committee will also work with Chair ahead of state committee meetings to develop state committee agenda items that will spark engagement by members (and ideally attendance!).

Legislative Update
Rep. Chris Pearson and Rep. Cindy Weed gave a brief update from the Legislature. The conversation focused mainly on the health care policy debate and the road to single payer (or not) based on the roll out of the state exchange and new rules facing Vermonters without health insurance and employers who do not currently offer insurance.

Submitted by Chris Brimmer, Secretary 2/20/14

Minutes - November 2013 State Convention

November 9, 2013; 1:00 pm, 
Capital City Grange, Berlin


In attendance: 125 people

Welcome: Martha Abbott
Martha started the meeting at 1:15pm and thanked the VT State Employees Association for sponsoring the lunch, Elizabeth Skarie for ice cream, Tina Scanlon for organizing the raffle, the current CoCo members and Robert Millar, staff.

A special video message: Prof. Bill McKibben
Convention attendees watched a video message from Prof. Bill McKibben on the climate change crisis and the activism of 350.org. Vermont was a birthplace of the climate change movement and that movement is growing. However, he is dismayed on how little has been done in VT on climate change. In VT Legislature, home heating efficiency never went anywhere and environmental efforts were limited to shutting down wind debate. He called for a more expansive discussion and work to be more self-reliant closer to home. Best thing to do is to sever ties between fossil fuel industries and VT organizations that invest in these industries to force them to change their practices. The cities of Seattle and Portland, Sterling College and Green Mountain College, and the United Church of Christ have all divested from fossil fuels. VT should be the first state to do this. Anthony Pollina said there should be no negative investment performance impact from divesting from fossil fuel. Chevron gave largest corporate donation since Citizen United to make sure election kept climate change deniers elected.

Divesting from the Fossil Fuel Industry: 350.org & Student Activists Panel
Student panel discussed their activism at UVM and Middlebury College, along with Maeve McBride, coordinator of 350Vermont, affiliated with 350.org. Students included Sam Ghazey, UVM, Michelle Galecki, UVM, Jack Hanson, UVM, Caroline DeCunzo, UVM, Teddy Smyth, Middlebury and Greta Neubauer, Middlebury.

UVM Campaign - Nov 2012 students presented to the Board of Trustees on the idea of divestment from fossil fuels. Continued with on campus direct actions and research on process for divestment over winter. Asked all representative groups on campus to pass resolutions to support divestment. Based campaign off off 1990s apartheid campaign. During that campaign, UVM organizers created a liaison group – Social Responsibility Advisory Council – that required research on investments as a result of that campaign. Students are attempting to use this council as part of their divestment strategy. Students helped to launch responsible investors fund – an escrow fund created so donors can donate to UVM but only released once UVM divests from fossil fuels and if they don’t divest, UVM will never get those dollars. Students reaching out to major donors to donate this way to leverage divestment. Board of trustees had divestment subcommittee and working on getting all representative groups on campus to pass resolutions. Still no answer from Board. Students noted that environmental movement needs more connectivity so doing best to build out the network.

Middlebury campaign - Used fake press releases to increase awareness in beginning. 3.6% ($36 Million) of Middlebury endowment in fossil fuels. Administration had panel in spring 2013 and had financial experts say that divesting was not possible, but up against Bill McKibben on same panel who disputed that. Presented to board of trustees in spring 2013. Middlebury announced that they would not divest in fall 2013, but will put more money in endowment and think about values related to endowment investments. Trying to engage alumni to get them organized and energized.  Students noted climate change issue impacts poor, people of color, etc and made case for narrative to be more inclusive, not just for white people as reflected on campus and students are pushing for that.

350Vermont – Working on state divestment for public pensions. Progressives have been really helpful already. Chris Pearson and Dave Zuckerman introduced divestment legislation for teacher, state employees, and some municipal workers’ pensions to divest. Anthony Pollina pushed in Senate Govt Ops to get testimony and bill to move last session. VT Pension Investment Committee (chaired by Beth Pearce) got wind of legislation, hired consultant saying that we should NOT divest, claiming it was not financially viable and voted unanimously against this effort. Govt Ops know we need to divest, but don’t know how to alleviate risks of divestment. Trying to get legislation to pass this session – three rallies planned. Also working on VPIC side and working with Beth Pearce to get committee to see things differently. Asked Progs in attendance for their help this session. 20 cities committed to divesting and only 8 colleges so far – cities have democratic process and colleges facing corporate bureaucratic structures.

Q&A and comments from floor - Glennie Sewell, Montpelier, urged students to be mindful of language about stopping climate change because can’t stop it, but can lessen impact. Ken Eardley, Underhill, urged debate not to get stuck in definition of what energy sources are renewable or not, focus on divestment. Peggy Sapphire, Craftsbury, noted her town is home of Sterling College and they divested. She shared copies of Progressive platform with students on environment, etc. and encouraged growing solidarity between Party and students. Ben Eastwood, Montpelier, asked what kind of outreach has been done on and off campus to build out network? A: Middlebury working on VT Gas pipeline too and realizing that students leave after 4 years and there are community members who stay behind and are impacted. Trying to get students in frontline communities impacted by pipelines. UVM reaching out to other activists groups and hope to go beyond fossil fuels, ex: divest from Monsanto. Liz Blum, Norwich, asked do you consider nuclear power to be a fossil fuel? A: Middlebury students said nuclear is not part of campaign; they are focused on top 200 fossil fuel companies with reserves in the ground. But they are happy VT Yankee shut down. Nuclear is based on fossil fuels for start, so it is indirectly a root cause of fossil fuel cycle.

CoCo Updates: Coordinating Committee
Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, Chair of the Elections Committee, provided an update. Committee formed in early summer and started up door knocking trainings this fall (Winooski in October and Burlington in September). Looking to replicate the training in more places and use it for candidates in 2014, as well as volunteers and campaign managers. Training also helps us build lists, build skills, seek out and find more volunteers. If interested in hosting a training or joining committee, contact Emma.

Martha noted several CoCo members helped to coordinate party reorganization work on town and county level. Took a lot of effort, but we organized more towns than last cycle.

Selene Colburn, Chair of the Communications Committee, gave an update. Committee is newly formed and looking first to build up support around corporate donation petition campaign with communications strategy and using social media. Committee will also look to use virtual meetings and project management tools to do work virtually, looking for volunteers. Richard announced his public access TV – Progressive Thought – would love to have more folks on the show, please contact him. See Selene to join the Communications Committee.

Joe Sherman, Montgomery, made an announcement. He is an author and interested in writing on climate change and how to talk with kids about that issue. Contact him if you have thoughts.

Corporate Donations Petition Update: Robert Millar
Robert Millar, staff, and Selene Colburn, CoCo member, updated Convention on Corporate Donations Petition Campaign. Progressive Party doesn’t accept any corporate money. Other two major parties (Republicans and Democrats) take a lot of money from corporations (ex: Mansanto, Fairpoint, ATT, Green Mountain Power). In response to Citizens United and increase of corporate money in elections, Party decided to launch this petition. In VT, candidates can still take direct corporate donations, one of few states. Petition puts statewide candidates and parties on spot to call for getting corporations out of campaigns. Petition directed to Ds and Rs and their statewide candidates to agree to remove corporations out of elections. Looking for organizational cosponsors. Party will start 2014 with a public signature drive to align with the 2014 election cycle. Asked people to sign online.

Peggy Sapphire, Craftsbury, asked what happens for a P/D endorsed candidate and if they take corporate donations? Martha said Party would need to discuss that. Another attendee asked does signing the petition require the signer to not vote for those candidates who take corporate donations? Martha said no, just calling on major parties and candidates to say no to corporate money. Rep. Cindy Weed said she ran as a P/D and she said Dems never gave her money.

Chair Remarks
Martha reflected on 12 years of leadership and commended group of party members who have helped build this party. She thanked several people for their mentorship and support. She offered thoughts on future of party – focus on economic issues that face Vermonters and will galvanize average Vermonters, focus on what we can agree on and try not to get sidetracked. Republicans are shrinking and Democrats are beginning to monopolize and candidates will seek progressive endorsement to distinguish themselves. Has confidence in new leaders within party, but seasoned leaders need to stay engaged in party. And made a request for donations – we will have more impact when we have more resources.  Other Party members then thanked Martha with a round of speeches and announced $6500 had been raised leading up to Convention in honor of Martha’s leadership.    

Break/Raffle Drawing

Town Meeting Resolutions: Martha Abbott
Martha reported on a town meeting resolution for party members to use in March. Health care resolution came out of state committee meeting discussion in May and CoCo presented language today based on financing mechanism that state legislature will put forward this session. This resolution would help connect the dots by having towns ask how single-payer would impact their town budgets. Easy way to get people to talk about this issue. This resolution is not a formal Prog campaign, just an option/tool to use. Anyone who is interested should contact party leadership and we can connect those interested.

Notes from the Auditor’s Office: State Auditor Doug Hoffer
Auditor Doug Hoffer reported on recent audits from his office on: 1) state employees workers’ compensation program ($8M a year, didn’t do claims audit, looked at whether state was doing its work to prevent workers’ comp issues). Cuts in state government make reducing workers’ comp claims hard; many departments did not implement safety fixes because they don’t have resources. 2) Agency of Transportation, looked at Bennington Bypass project and it was done within budget and on time. Another paving project was very late and over budget. If contractor is late, contract includes a penalty on contractor, but state only charges cost of overrun when late, not other delay costs such as overtime and this always happens in every AOT contract. 3) Bidding process for fuel prices – 5% more than cost included in contract, but if more than that when project actually happens, state pays extra cost. This cost us $14M over last 10 years because of this process. Pushing AOT to get real cost figures vs. artificial cost formulas that have caused this cost. 4) Corrections health care costs and looking at overseeing contractors’ cost. No one can estimate actual cost so they make it uncapped and this went $4M over. Working to create more oversight of contractors and maybe bring back state employees to do that work vs. private contractor. 5) State employee cell phones - $200-300K overrun, state management doesn’t oversee this. Each department oversees this and should have consistent policies. Administration said they would take all Doug’s recommendations.

Forthcoming reviews/audits of: 1) Mental health contractors - we spend $300M on these services each year and need to look at whether we are monitoring the services and they are meeting performance requirements. 2) State liquor stores – private stores, but state administers store. What does sale of alcohol have to do with state’s purpose? Doug will look at other models that might work better for state. 3) State energy plan for state infrastructure – will look to reduce energy expenditure on state buildings and vehicles, etc. Because state is very decentralized, suspect there are potential cost savings. In the future reviews of: 1) Tax department – collections are flat, receivables keep rising, how aggressive have they been on people underreporting 2) Special education cost - $300M a year, concerns about expenditure and how funds are being used.

Doug noted that his office gets a lot of whistleblowers and ideas on what to investigate. Auditor can’t keep whistleblowers names confidential in VT, no law protects them. State employees have protection on paper, VSEA doing survey on this issue and most say they will never report because they would be retaliated against by boss. Looking for VT Legislature to deal with whistleblower issue.

Announcement by Shawn Jarecki, Pittsfield, Rutland County Chair, VT rep for Lawyers Guild event – legal observer training and civil disobedience training at Chandler Music Hall in Randolph coming up.

Point of order by Ed Stanak, Barre, regarding the platform. Bylaws Article 3 Sec 5 says primary role of Convention is to adopt and revise the platform – last time we did that was Nov 2011 based on website. Revision of platform is not on agenda. He suggests a platform committee be formed, but there is no annual meeting again until Nov 2014. This is a problem because he feels the platform should be tweaked ahead of legislative session to give Progressive legislators more guidance.

Martha responded, process of having dozens of people wordsmith at Convention has not work so have set up a committee in past. Can form another committee of state committee members and present modified platform at a future state committee meeting (not annual meeting). Also encouraged people to talk to legislators now and not wait for platform to change.

Ed questioned this process based on process outlined in by-laws. Peggy Sapphire, Craftsbury, noted that when she chaired platform committee in past, they realized we need to renew platform every two years under state law. Peggy willing to help with this process to update/review platform.

Barry Kade, Montgomery, suggested we could suspend this meeting and take up again at a future meeting so Convention could continue. Peggy Sapphire seconded. Tabled item until end of meeting.

Legislative Priorities for 2014: Progressive Legislators
Sen. Anthony Pollina, Rep. Chris Pearson, Sen. Dave Zuckerman, Rep. Sandy Haas, Rep. Cindy Weed, Rep. Susan Hatch-Davis all gave updates based on their committees and issues they are putting forward in January. Sen. Zuckerman working on GMO issue again and looking at private school vs. public school mandates and what inhibits teachers from being effective in classroom. Rep. Haas working on reduction of mental health issues and barriers for Vermonters in corrections system. Sen. Pollina will focus on issue of divestment from fossil fuels, “pay it forward” college funding concept, increasing state funding for education, and state bank issue. Rep. Weed will focus on labor bills, including paid sick days. Rep. Hatch-Davis will focus on paid sick days, early education organizing, changing the minimum wage to a livable wage. Rep. Pearson will focus on health care transition issue and how to get us to single-payer, also working on an economic bill of rights bill and continuing work on myriad climate change bills.

Watch for updates from Party to help weigh in to help with bills.

Party Platform
Martha suggested a motion be made to suspend the Convention to reconvene at the next state committee meeting to address platform issue raised earlier in the meeting. Ben Eastwood, Montpelier, quoted the state statue and said that major parties must adopt a platform on or before 4th Tuesday of November (even year). He moved to table discussion until the Chair calls a meeting to address platform. There was some confusion on when platform last addressed. Chris Pearson, Burlington: If people want to change platform or by-laws, submit it to leadership and it starts process. Barry Kade, Montgomery, withdrew motion from earlier in the meeting because state statue requires action in even year. Tony Smith, Wolcott, asked how the state statue works with what Chris Pearson says. Martha, state law says 2014 is the rule, not odd years. Peggy Sapphire, Craftsbury, said party members can provide revisions anytime, not just in even years, and the Coco can create a committee to review the platform. No vote was taken.

Motion by Tom Kingston, Colchester, Second by Ben Eastwood, Montpelier to adjourn state convention. Unanimous approval at 4:12pm.

STATE COMMITTEE ACTIONS: Robert Millar 
Robert Millar called State Committee to order at 4:12pm.

Election of Officers & Coordinating Committee
 - Candidates:
Chair: Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, Winooski, nominated by Chris Pearson, Burlington
Vice Chair: Selene Colburn, Burlington, nominated by David Zuckerman, Hinesburg
Secretary: Chris Brimmer, South Ryegate, nominated by Nancy Potak, Greensboro
Treasurer: Martha Abbott, Underhill, nominated by David Zuckerman, Hinesburg
Vice Treasurer: Katherine Sims, Lowell, nominated by Marjorie Kramer, Lowell

At Large: 6 seats
Caryn Connolly, South Royalton, nominated by Liz Blum, Norwich
Mari Cordes, Lincoln, nominated by Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, Winooski
Corey Decker, Fletcher, nominated by Phil Bronz, Bakersfield
Ben Eastwood, Montpelier, nominated by Jeremy Hansen, Berlin
Richard Kemp, Burlington, nominated by Kyle Silliman-Smith, Burlington
Lee Madden, Brattleboro, nominated by Tim Kipp, Brattleboro
Adam Norton, Burlington, nominated by Chris Pearson, Burlington
Nancy Potak, Greensboro, nominated by Marjorie Kramer, Lowell
Becky Raymond, Middlesex, nominated by Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, Winooski

Glennie Sewell and Peggy Sapphire counted ballots. Election results: All officers ran unopposed. 6 At Large Seats elected: Caryn Connolly, Mari Cordes, Corey Decker, Lee Madden, Adam Norton, and Nancy Potak.

Discussion: CoCo Subcommittees


We did not address this item.

Submitted by Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, Secretary 11/13/13

Press Release: Progressive Party Concludes 2013 Reorganization With A Bang

On Saturday, Progressives gathered at the Capital City Grange in Berlin for the final stage of the 2013 reorganization process, their State Convention.  Over 125 people attended the event and 73 ballots were cast by State Committee Delegates in the election of a new Coordinating Committee at the Convention.  To put those numbers in perspective, only 58 ballots were cast in the hotly contested races for leadership at a State Republican Party meeting earlier the same day.

Emma Mulvaney-Stanak of Winooski was elected State Party Chair; Selene Colburn of Burlington was elected State Party Vice Chair; Chris Brimmer of South Ryegate was elected State Party Secretary; Martha Abbott of Underhill was elected State Party Treasurer; and Katherine Sims of Lowell was elected State Party Asst. Treasurer.  The following At-Large Coordinating Committee members were also elected: Caryn Connolly of South Royalton, Mari Cordes of Lincoln, Corey Decker of Fletcher, Lee Madden of Brattleboro, Adam Norton of Burlington, and Nancy Potak of Greensboro.

In addition to the elections, those in attendance viewed a video message from Professor Bill McKibben, participated in a panel discussion with college students from UVM and Middlebury who are leading fossil fuel divestment movements at their schools, and heard from many elected Progressives about their priorities for 2014, including State Auditor Doug Hoffer (D/P).

Newly elected Progressive Party Chair Emma Mulvaney-Stanak had this to say:

“I'm excited the new Party leadership reflects some of the new and young leaders who have emerged within the Party in recent years. I am honored the State Committee chose me to be their new Chair.  I can’t thank Martha Abbott enough for her years of service as Chair and look forward to continuing to work with her in her new role as Treasurer, and with all the new members of the Party’s Coordinating Committee.

“As a lifelong Vermonter, I have seen the Progressive Party grow from a Burlington-focused party into a truly statewide, major party, which has changed the way we do politics in Vermont.  As Chair, I intend to continue that growth by focusing on building the Party's capacity to run strong candidates for office and to push the core issues of our platform. I will also focus on recruiting young people and women to run for office and to get engaged in the Party.”

"Good fences make good neighbors"

A long time ago, Robert Frost wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

In our time, it’s not the lack of fences that are a problem for neighbors; it is the lack of noise barriers.

Burlington has gone to great lengths to insure that there are effective noise ordinances in place in order to protect its residents from loud music and boisterous students.

When the baseball team came to Centennial Field, there were months of negotiations between the team, the city, and the neighborhood.  The team was required to erect noise barriers and to promise to turn the lights off by a certain time.

Now, Burlington has been asked by its neighbors in South Burlington and Winooski to be a good neighbor -- not to stifle the current high level of noise emanating from Burlington Airport, but not to exceed that level, to simply put safety standards in place, standards that would grandfather in current noise and crash risk levels.

But Burlington said NO.

The Burlington City Council has said to its neighbors: even though OUR airport is located in YOUR town, we aren’t going to enact any mitigation measures.

It’s as if UVM said to Burlington: even though our University is located in YOUR city, we don’t care how much noise OUR students make.  We don’t care how much OUR lack of student housing or OUR sprawl interferes with the quality of life of YOUR residents.  The City Council would never accept such a stance.

But, now the Burlington City Council has said just that to their neighbors.

They’ve said NO to the thousands of residents of South Burlington and Winooski who could now have to face the reality that their homes will be considered uninhabitable and worthless (as defined by the Air Force’s own study) and that they may need to move because the risk to life and limb is about to go way up thanks to the boondoggle that is the F-35.

The Burlington City Council has said NO to their neighbors, but YES to the local version of the Military-Industrial Complex.  Apparently, when the Chamber of Commerce and the Military join forces on something, they win, regardless of how bogus their arguments.  Of course, that’s what led to the F-35 program in the first place: Congress wanted to give a big gift to the defense industry.  No matter that the plane is poorly designed, way over budget, and likely to be useless in real combat.

The Burlington City Council has said NO, ignoring the fact that if this were put to a vote in Burlington, the PEOPLE of Burlington would say YES and vote to limit the airport to reasonable noise and safety standards.

Now, it’s going to be up to us to hold them accountable.  We must continue to raise our voices and not stop until we’ve been heard by those in power, those who yesterday turned a deaf ear to the people.  This fight isn’t over.

The Vermont Progressive Party: A Model for Change

The recent government shutdown in Washington makes clear that the Republican and Democratic parties are no longer capable of running a functioning government.  Nor are they capable of representing working people, or anyone else who does not have a corporate PAC behind them.  The two “brand name” parties have proven utterly incapable of solving one of the biggest problems of our time, global warming, which threatens the very future of human life on earth.

But imagine if we had a Progressive Party in every state right now.

Progressives are committed to working to create a better economy for all Vermonters, while promoting a safer and cleaner planet, and we work strategically to advance these issues.

From Church Street Marketplace and Burlington’s public waterfront (created and supported by Progressives in the 1980s) to shepherding the country’s first single-payer healthcare system through the Legislature in Montpelier, Progressives have worked hard to fight for the interests of working families and those with limited resources.  Once we promote these issues and they become popular, they are often co-opted by other parties, and then enacted.

Progressives continue to be effective in the Vermont Legislature far beyond our numbers, working tirelessly on behalf of middle-income, working Vermonters, who otherwise would have little voice in Montpelier.  We keep the conversations focused on the issues that matter to real Vermonters: on the need for affordable, universal health care and lower cost prescription drugs; on the damage done by outsourcing jobs and the need for a truly livable wage; on creating a sustainable economy and opposing budget cuts that hurt working people; on saving our family farms, supporting collective bargaining, labeling GMOs, developing renewable energy, decriminalizing marijuana, creating a fair tax system, keeping our utilities tightly regulated, closing Vermont Yankee, and more.

In the near future, we will also be focusing on banning direct corporate donations to candidates and parties, divesting Vermont's tax revenues from the fossil fuel industry, and creating a state bank, so that we can get our money out of Wall Street and instead use it to invest in Vermont’s local economy, infrastructure, and state colleges.

In the fourteen years since the Progressive Party was officially established, we have elected seventeen people to the Vermont Legislature, who have collectively served a total of fifty-two terms.

Since 1982, Progressives in Burlington have elected thirty-six people to the City Council, for a total of seventy-three terms, and three Mayors, for a total of thirteen terms.

For the past twelve years, I have been privileged to be State Chair of one of the most effective organizations for change in Vermont and across the country, but now it’s time for me to take on a different role.

Largely because we have focused on the core issues of economic and environmental justice – and because we stick to our principles, win or lose – we have attracted many young people to run for office, and to take on leadership roles on campaigns and within our party structure.

I am very pleased to find that after three decades of activism, we now have active and competent leadership across multiple generations.  For that reason, I am excited to be able to step down as Chair of the party with full confidence that there are many smart, capable, younger people who will step up and provide new leadership, energy and ideas.  I look forward to working with all of them.

2013 Statewide Convention - Proposed Agenda

Annual Convention and State Committee Meeting
November 9, 2013; 1:00 pm
Capital City Grange, Berlin

REGISTRATION & LUNCH (12:30 PM)
CONVENTION (1:00 PM)     

Welcome: Martha Abbott (10 minutes)

A special video message: Prof. Bill McKibben (15 minutes)

Divesting from the Fossil Fuel Industry: 350.org & Student Activists (40 minutes)

CoCo Updates: Coordinating Committee Members (20 minutes)

Corporate Donations Petition Update: Robert Millar (10 minutes)

Break/Raffle Drawing (30 minutes)

Town Meeting Resolutions: Martha Abbott (10 minutes)

Notes from the Auditor’s Office: State Auditor Doug Hoffer (20 minutes)

Legislative Priorities for 2014: Progressive Legislators (30 minutes)

STATE COMMITTEE ACTIONS: Robert Millar (30 minutes)
     *Election of Officers & Coordinating Committee
     *Discussion: CoCo Subcommittees

Closing: Martha Abbott (5 minutes)

Syndicate content