It was a heck of a last act by Tony Klein, retiring chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. This week, he shepherded an energy siting bill through the House and on to a conference committee. His reward: the bill’s drawing fire from both sides. It even sparked astoundingly different takes from VTDigger (emphasizing the dissatisfaction of opponents) and Seven Days (reporting a “surprising change in direction” by the House).
The key provision in the bill would give “substantial deference” in siting decisions to local governments — if they have adopted a state-approved energy plan. It’s not enough for supporters of local control.
“You get substantial deference … if you do what they want you to do,” said Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington. “That’s not substantial deference in my definition of the word. It doesn’t seem like substantial deference or any greater decision-making power for localities to me.”
On the other hand, some renewable-energy proponents worry that the bill would make it harder for Vermont to reach its energy goals. Anthony Iarrapino, a lawyer who represents renewable developers, told Seven Days “We’re not going to get to the targets with solar in parking lots and a single wind turbine in backyards.”
Full marks to Rutland Mayor Chris Louras for rolling out the welcome mat to 100 Syrian refugees — and for stoutly defending the decision against the inevitable backlash.
He drew the connection to America’s tradition of welcoming immigrants of all kinds — and he pointed out that immigrants, by and large, are a strong economic plus for struggling cities.
“Their arrival will signal a new wave in the ongoing economic growth of the region,” Louras added. “As our forefathers’ arrival added to the rich cultural melting pot of Rutland County, our newest residents will enrich and expand the tapestry we cherish today.”
Plus, Rutland will probably get some authentic Middle Eastern food out of the deal.
I got a girlfriend that’s better than that
She has the smoke in her eyes
She’s moving up, going right through my house
She’s gonna give me surprise
— Talking Heads, “Girlfriend is Better”
So. In his latest “Fair Game” column, Seven Days’ Paul Heintz let slip a little secret that pretty much everyone under the Golden Dome knew about but didn’t mention in polite company. Right there in Paragraph 29:
[John] Campbell’s girlfriend, Rep. Patti Komline (R-Dorset), also opposes the bill.
Gasp! Horrors! The Ladies’ Auxiliary clutches their pearls as one!
(Is Paul OK? Was he struck down by lightning?)
Used to be, in the broader world of politics, personal relationships were off limts. Even when, say, the Kennedy Boys were sharing the charms of Marilyn Monroe. Allegedly.
That wall has been largely breached in national politics, at least when there’s a substantive reason to report the private peccadillos of pols. But it remains intact here in Vermont. And maybe it shouldn’t.