By Guy Page
Wednesday afternoon Statehouse Headliners instant-messaged Job Tate, former lawmaker from Mendon, now serving on active duty as a U.S. Navy Seabee non-commissioned officer in the Republic of Djibouti, a small, northeastern African country bordering Somalia on the Red Sea. We are thrilled and proud to bring his response to our readers, many of whom are his friends, neighbors and former colleagues in the Legislature:
“I’m doing well, here on the Horn of Africa in Djibouti. The Seabees are engaged in anti-terrorism operations along with hearts and minds missions. Djibouti is a place where seemingly everyone wants to win the country over, from China to Al-Shebaab. Today I led a convoy down to the Somali border to resupply a Seabee detachment that’s entrenched in a village down there building a maternity clinic. So all good stuff. Satisfying work.
“The heat is simply inescapable. And even though some days I’m out in 120 degree weather chaining down a bulldozer to haul out into the desert, covered with diesel and dust – it’s still better than being in General Housing and Military Affairs Committee.
“God is good. I miss my family way, way too much, and I’m homesick for the Green Mountains. And while the days are long, the weeks are short, and I’ll be back with Lisa and the boys in no time. And in the meantime I have the rich blessing of being able to serve my nation in a place where our values and way of life are an inspiration to an entire people.”
Vermont first in public health emergency preparation
Vermont is No. 1 in the nation for being prepared for a public health emergency. According to an April 21, 2017 report by the Council on State Governments, the National Health Security Preparedness Index has measured states’ ability to respond to health security threats such as a Zika outbreak or a natural disaster for the last four years. The Index includes metrics such as vaccination rates, hazard plans for public schools, the number of paramedics and hospitals.
Lake Carmi looks like “Emerald Lake” (and that’s not good)
Eyebrow-raising Sept. 11 post from Facebook friend Robert Cormier, supported by photos: “Boaters coming off the lake [Carmi, in Franklin County] confirmed the entire lake was emerald green. Beaches are closed in the State Park as well as North Beach. The waterway to Mill Pond is as green as grass. We can’t continue to deny Lake Carmi is in a death spiral from nutrient overload. Will you eat the fish from this lake? Do you want your children swimming in it?”
Vermont was “dry” for more than 50 years
Seems hard to believe with Vermont now thoroughly “wet” and considering legalizing an intoxicant (marijuana) illegal under federal law, but the Green Mountain State prohibited liquor and beer sales and consumption from 1852-1904, author and beer homebrewer Bill Mares of Burlington reports in the winter/spring Vermont History magazine.
The state law passed in 1852 was spurred by growing consumption “and the resulting human costs and pathologies of addiction and crime,” Mares writes. Hard cider (too hard to regulate) and wine (required for religious practice) were exempted. It was at times a volatile issue – legendary anarchist Emma Goldman was tossed out of Barre in 1899 for publicly claiming the police chief had been seen drunk in a local kitchen. In 1902, the Legislature allowed towns to choose whether to be “wet” or “dry.” In 1919, federal Prohibition superseded state law.
Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, the Vermont Marijuana Advisory Commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting on or before Oct. 1. Co-chairs are lawyers and bi-partisan political figures Tom Little (R) and Jake Perkinson (D). No announcement has been made of the identities of the other 11 appointees, who will be chosen by the Legislature, state agencies, and law enforcement. The commission’s initial report on the health, economic, safety, educational and other vital impacts of legalization is due to the Legislature by Jan. 15.
Climate Action Commission hits the road
The Vermont Climate Action Commission wants to hear Vermonters’ experiences with climate change and their ideas for potential action. Public hearings from 6-8 pm on Thursday nights will be held Sept. 21 at Tuttle Memorial Library in Manchester, Sept. 28 at St. Albans City Hall Auditorium, and Oct. 5 at Marlboro College Graduate School, Brattleboro. The VCAC was formed by Gov. Scott to unify the state’s environmental and economic goals.
VT oil & gas economy – smallest in nation – still almost $1 billion
Just how important, right now, are fossil fuels to the Vermont economy? According to Vermont Business Magazine, Vermont has the smallest oil and natural gas economy in the Union. We have one of the smallest populations, no oil and gas mining or refining, very little fossil-fuel power generation, and a growing reliance on renewables for power, transportation and heat. Yet the total value of the oil and gas industry in Vermont is just under $1 billion. Yes, billion.
Tesla Model S a big collision insurance risk
When it comes to insurance losses, the Tesla Model S is a dog. According to the June 22 issue of Status Report, a publication of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 0-60 MPH high performer suffers both high frequency of insurance claims, and high costs per claims. All EVs are (now) more expensive to repair from collisions than their internal combustion counterparts, but most compensate with low claims rate, due perhaps to their relatively low speeds. But the Model S is both electric and fast – and therefore a poor insurance claims performer.
Russian fake ad buy on Facebook could prompt Internet regulation
In a development that could result in the long-awaited (or, for others, long-feared) regulation of internet marketing, on Sept. 6 Facebook said it had sold more than $100,000 of U.S. policy-related advertising to Russian buyers between 2015-2017. About 3,000 ads were purchased, mostly from fake accounts and pages. Apart from any consequences to the Trump administration, the announcement has drawn attention to a call by U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) for Internet marketing to be regulated similar to radio, television and newspaper advertising.
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, Divestment Facts, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Church at Prison.