You may have noticed the New York City High Line has been in the news lately. The renowned public park might not be new news, but it certainly continues to be a phenomenon. It is an example of the brilliance that can come from ordinary citizens taking action at the micro-community level for …

With shades of déjà vu, another state school reform proposal has thudded down, this one touted as a vision of a “modern education system.” Unfortunately, it is more a remnant of a failed past rather than a view of a promising future. It is a mélange of 30 years of unsuccessful neoliberal ref…

As minority leaders in the Vermont House and Senate, we once again find ourselves frustrated by legislative proposals from the majority that leave us questioning how Vermont can sustain itself. Priorities are askew and fiscal discipline does not seem important. Some examples are in order.

The Vermont Legislature has spent considerable time over the past two years evaluating legislation that will raise Vermont’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The current bill being considered would increase the minimum wage incrementally to $15 by 2024. On the national level, there is also a pus…

The current fight over immigration needs an explanation that is easy to follow. The current administration, Congress and the media muddy the waters and make it all difficult to understand. They do this because they want to weave their own tale of how this all came about rather than explain i…

Picture to yourself, as a resident of downtown Montpelier, that the Onion River is an international border. You need a passport to go across to the rest of the city — as well, of course, to Berlin and Barre — and, on any of these crossings, your car might be searched, you questioned and that…

It is amazing that in the same week, it was science — not necessarily politics — that stole headlines: We took a photo (so to speak) of a black hole; and we found some distant human relatives.

The Vermont Legislature is right to consider amending the state’s provision that ended slavery. Our Constitution should clarify that Vermont prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude in all its forms. But we should be careful precisely how we do it. The current proposals threaten to obscur…

If one hangs around motorcyclists for any length of time, you will eventually see one wearing a T-shirt that says: “If I have to explain, you’ll never understand.” This rather snarky expression embodies the frustration of a motorcyclist confronted by those who don’t ride and have little tole…

On Friday, March 15, images and video flowed in from around the world, Australia, the Pacific, Asia, Europe and Africa, as more than a million students in 120 countries walked out of school to strike for the climate. Thousands of scientists supported them, but the real driver was their reali…

I have had many conversations with hundreds of people, including local school leadership, in regard to the current state of education in Vermont. I have written many commentaries that have been published in newspapers throughout the state, have met with the governor in his office, and engage…

There is an interesting policy discussion going on right now about attracting people to Vermont to fill our jobs and stimulate entrepreneur activities. It seems one can get paid a bonus to come to Vermont and work. And maybe that is all well and good. But there is a reality right on the hori…

There are more than 89,000 chemicals on the market in the United States and, since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was given the authority to regulate chemicals in 1976, only five have been banned. Compare this to the European Union, which has banned more than 1,300 chemicals,…

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book in 2000 that focused on how little things can end up making a big difference. “The Tipping Point” explains how ideas spread like epidemics and which few elements need to come together to help an idea reach the point of critical mass, where its viral effect becom…

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During the first half of March on our way to Presidio, Texas, a border town on the Rio Grande, to do volunteer work, Juliana (henceforth “Ma”) and I made a side trip to Black Gap Wildlife Management Area. Black Gap is a hunting and fishing preserve, a home to deer, bighorn sheep, mountain li…

Back in Napoleon’s day, a philosopher who’d survived the French Revolution observed that “in a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve.” Like most proverbs, it doesn’t apply literally and absolutely in every circumstance. People subjugated by force of arms, for example, aren’t culpabl…

Bruno Bettelheim, the Jewish psychologist imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps during the 1930s, once observed that, after a few months of capricious and unpredictable cruelty, he no longer wondered why this or that guard acted the way he did. What became important, he said, was what he di…

Eleven years ago, my wife Jessica and I relocated to the state of Vermont. Although we didn’t grow up here, at heart, we have always been Vermonters. Throughout our lives and, more importantly, when it mattered most, we were able to recognize in the state of Vermont an appreciation of place …

The State Auditor’s Office serves Vermonters by ensuring that state government and entities that receive taxpayer funds are operating effectively and efficiently. As such, I would like to clear the air about some misinformation regarding my office and my intention to audit Vermont’s Accounta…

Sunshine Week is an opportunity for us to reflect upon the foundational principle that a democracy hidden from the people is no democracy at all. Our government’s legitimacy is derived entirely from the consent of the governed. But how can the governed consent to that which is concealed from…

Poor Elijah went to the mall. He wasn’t a shopper himself, so he took up residence on one of those benches provided for men who don’t want to be there. He was doing his best to appear comfortable when he realized he’d perched opposite an Apple store, filled with row upon row of tables and co…