Burlington Electric Department town meeting hijinks

by Angela Chagnon

Smart Grid flyers in the polling place

While working as a side-checker at the polls Tuesday, I noticed several piles of booklets placed on a table right by the ballot machine. Upon closer inspection, I saw that two of the booklets were the Burlington city financial report and an informational report distributed by CEDO (Community and Economic Development Office).

The third booklet was titled, in large letters: “Smart Grid: Building a platform for the future”. In much smaller type were, “2010 Performance Measures Report”, along with the Burlington Electric Department (BED) logo. Inside the booklet was BED’s annual report. Annual reports are allowed at the polls, but this was clearly meant to be a promotion of the Smart Grid technology, which just happened to pertain to an item on the ballot requesting a $7-$9 million bond to implement smart grid technology in Burlington (see last week’s article “Are smart meters a dumb idea?“).

The Vermont statutes are very clear: “No political literature, buttons, or other political materials can be displayed inside the polling place” (17 V.S.A.§2508).

However, BED’s sneakiness was unsuccessful, and both bonds were defeated. A phone call to BED asking whether they would continue to implement the Smart Grid technology or return the grant money to the Federal Government has not yet been returned