I was pleased to read that Democratic Speaker Shap Smith is supporting a bill designed to give the private public a greater voice before the public service board.
Heretofore, small advocacy groups who wished to have a place at the table, but did not have the personal resources of their corporate challengers, had to rely on the pockets of organizations like AARP to represent them, en masse.
In an era when the individual’s opportunity to gain relevance in the process has grown steadily smaller, while the corporate megaphone has grown exponentially louder, we can only hope that this signals a change in direction that will not be effectively negated by the increased opportunity to stuff candidate’s pockets with “wish money.” Sometimes, the schizophrenia of our Legislature really gives one pause!
Over the past decade or two, one of the most popular campaign platforms of the Republicans, has been a promise to “reform” the permit process, which we came to understand means limiting the opportunity for those annoying citizens to participate and potentially throw a monkey wrench in the well-greased wheels along the fast track to commercial development. Even our Democratic governor appears to have fallen under the spell of the Republican argument; because, as the mantra goes, only continual “growth” is good.
Nevermind the restraining concept of sustainability; it’s become the fashion to pay it lip-service while rationalizing policy that is anything-but.
Citizen participation that slows the process may be annoying to the big players, but it is, after all, one of the main reasons why Vermont did not suffer as greatly in the recent real estate bubble collapse as did other states.
Please give us more of the same, Mr. Speaker.