I heard something very interesting on the latest edition of “Vermont This Week,” the usually bland and boring (see below) Statehouse news roundup on Vermont PBS.
One of the topics was Auditor Doug Hoffer’s report on the state’s outdated and not very lucrative public-lands leases with our biggest ski resorts. One of the guests was Tim McQuiston, editor of Vermont Business Journal. He ought to have his finger on the pulse of the Vermont business community, right?
Conventional wisdom is that the leases can’t be reopened, because resort operators would have to agree to the move, and the Powers That Be don’t seem to be inclined to push the issue. McQuiston thinks otherwise:
I would suspect, in knowing a lot of these people, that they would come back to the table under reasonable circumstances. They know their industry has changed a lot.
Interesting. And what kinds of circumstances are we talking about?
There’s a lot of environmental law they have to comply with. Act 250 is still out there. They’re very involved with other regulatory entities.
So they might be willing to negotiate better lease terms if they get their way on some regulatory matters. That’s one of those good news/bad news situations, isn’t it? Redoing the leases would bring the state more revenue, but it opens the door to some backroom weakening of environmental standards.
Postscript. I say “Vermont This Week” is bland and boring because, well, it usually is. It comes across as overly scripted, and the panel acts like they’re walking on eggshells. Maybe this is a natural consequence of our political media tending to be on the young side, and having relatively little experience in a panel setting. But I do wonder if part of the problem is how the show is planned and produced. If there was more free interchange, if they tossed out the script once in a while, it’d become appointment television for geeks like me. As it is, I rarely watch. This morning, I was channel-surfing and happened to catch the rebroadcast. I don’t go out of my way for it.