December 1, 2015


Nov. 20, 2008
By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

The first quick impression during an after school meeting with Champlain Valley Union High cross country competitor Tony Sulva is that a runner and his track shoes are never far apart.


    Observer photo by Greg Duggan
Tony Sulva

Even though CVU’s cross country season ended at the New Englands in Manchester, N.H. on Nov. 8, Sulva had his shoes in hand and would be running following an interview with the Observer.

Next up for the lean (aren’t they all) five-kilometer specialist is the indoor track season at the University of Vermont facilities.

Sulva, a senior, is coming off his best campaign for the Redhawks — his accomplishments featured a slew of second place finishes, including the district meet in Swanton where he turned in a career-best time, and the state meet in Thetford.

“Tony is the best male runner I have ever coached,” said veteran CVU cross country mentor Scott Bliss. “He is also one of the most respected runners by his peers.”

Speaking of peers, the season was a series of chases involving Sulva, Mount Mansfield Union’s Adron Pitman and David Sinclair of Green Mountain Valley School, who entered the meets as an individual.

In the districts at Missisquoi Valley Union High, Sulva burned the course in 16 minutes and 18 seconds, his personal best. Pitmon just beat him, with a meet record time some 11 seconds better.

The two got together the following week in the hilly course at Thetford, with the state title at stake. This time, Sulva got past Pitmon late in the race but finished second to Sinclair, despite a late charge that caused some anxious moments for the victor.

“I had beaten David three times during the season, but he had a good day,” said Sulva. “Everybody peaks on a particular day and that was his.”

While Sinclair captured a well-deserved individual win, Sulva earned first place among the teams in the competition and that was perfectly all right with Bliss.

“He (Sulva) wanted to do what was best for the team and he did it. He was first among all the teams,” the coach said glowingly.

And the team aspect of what some consider an individual sport is all important to Sulva.

“We have seven runners, of whom five score,” he said. “When one has a problem, we all have to come together to make it up.”

Sulva recalled that at the state meet, one of CVU’s leading runners fell and finished last, but the team was still able to take second place, losing first by just three points to Essex High.

He also noted that team members can be helpful in motivating each other during pre-race preparations.

At the New Englands, against the best of the region, Sulva and Pitmon waged another of their duels while finishing in the 30’s in the huge field.

“I passed him with 800 meters to go, but he then got back and beat me by eight-tenths of a second,” Sulva recalled.

Pitmon finished 37th and Sulva 39th.

Sulva said the other New England states have many more good competitors than can be found in the smaller population of the Green Mountain State.

It has been a four-year haul for the senior harrier, who said when he began running his freshman year, his fastest time was 20:40.

“My first year I trained hard to get past that,” he said, noting an increasingly better work ethic helped him lower his times to 17:20 by the end of the season.

“I was breaking some ground and that really motivated me,” he said with a smile.

By the end of his sophomore year, Sulva was running just below 17 minutes.

The further down you go, the harder it gets, he pointed out.

Where will he run next fall?

Sulva said he has applied to several colleges but has not yet made a decision. He would like to get an athletic scholarship, but if that does not happen he will try out as a walk-on for what would then be a fortunate cross country program.

So how often does he run?

“Every day,” was the quick answer.

Even in the rain and mud, which, he says, is not that bad.

It’s the running that’s important.

[Read more…]

Education briefs11/20/08

Nov. 20, 2008

Schools deal with first snowy commute of season

A burst of heavy snow Tuesday morning created the season’s first headaches for commuters across the region, including in Williston. The mix of snow and icy roads during rush hour traffic caused numerous accidents.

The snow also hit at the exact moment when school buses headed out to pick up students.

District Principal Walter Nardelli said a bus was rear-ended at the bottom of French Hill on Route 2. The bus, on one of its first stops of the morning, had stopped to pick up students when it was involved in the minor accident. A car traveling behind the bus slid into it and caused “very minor” damage to the bus’ bumper, Nardelli said.

As a precaution, another bus was sent down French Hill to the accident scene, where it picked up the stranded students and other students along the route who had yet to be picked up. Nardelli said there were no injuries and he expected the bus to return to its route on Wednesday morning.

Many students arrived late to school due to the weather. Traffic was at a standstill in Williston Village and on Oak Hill Road because of accidents. The last bus arrived at Williston Central School at 8:22 a.m., more than 20 minutes later than normal, Nardelli said.

Configuration forum

The Williston School Board is sponsoring a community forum to discuss school configuration options on Nov. 24. The meeting will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Williston Central School cafeteria.

The forum is meant to provide families and community members a chance to share their ideas of what’s important about configuration.

For more information about the options up for discussion, go online to, click “Conceptual Frameworks Committee,” “Notes and updates from the meetings” and “General Configuration Options.”

A second community forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 12.

[Read more…]

Schools look to enhance communication techniques11/20/08

Nov. 20, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

Parents and school officials agree on the importance of clearly communicating concise and correct information within the Williston School District. But the Williston School Board and the Conceptual Frameworks Committee have also determined that communication must improve.

At last Wednesday’s School Board meeting, members of the Frameworks Committee — a group charged with enhancing communication, configuration and house equity — presented its recommendations to improve the school’s communication methods.

The Frameworks Committee began its work in July. The board meeting was the first part of the committee’s report to the School Board.

Mary Jane Shelley, facilitator of the Frameworks Committee, gave an introduction explaining the purpose of the group’s recommendations and how those recommendations came to light.

The final recommendations are a consensus of what committee members felt was most important.

“Not everybody is gung-ho about every single recommendation, but everybody can at least live with it,” said Williston’s Student Services Director Carter Smith, who also serves on the committee.

Shelley explained the committee chose five areas of focus: responses to parent concerns, issues with inconsistent execution, limited communication from the schools to the community, issues with Families as Partners and issues with the district Web site.

The group outlined goals under each area around which it based its recommendations.

Upper house teacher Debra McConnell presented ways to deal with parent concerns.

McConnell said the goals were to have consistent communication protocols set up and to let parents know who to contact with concerns. One recommendation was to hire a “communications officer” who could serve as point person for communications.

The idea of creating a communications position was a theme that ran through the presentation, including goals for improved consistency in communication. Wendy Goodrich, a St. George School Board member and Frameworks Committee member, also said a “point person” would help in this regard.

“Communication was inconsistent on a number of levels,” Goodrich said. “It was hard to know where to get information.”

Smith spoke about improvements in school-community communication, with the idea of spurring interest in school happenings.

“Knowledgeable and informed is one thing, but interested is another,” Smith said. “We need people to get interested.”

Recommendations included more frequent community-wide communication, creation of a sign in front of Williston Central School to highlight events and meetings, formation of more partnerships in the community, and having more dialogue nights and forums.

In the area of Families as Partners — and the group’s advisory council — the committee came up with goals aimed at giving FAP a clearer voice in the school and increasing parent participation. Recommendations were to change meeting times, give the advisory council more influence in school matters, and possibly change the name of FAP.

Committee member Kevin Mara gave the presentation about updates to the district’s Web site and how to make it more of a “home base” for school communication.

“I have a lot of experience in building and designing Web sites, and I have a lot of passion for it,” Mara said.

Mara mentioned the Chittenden South Supervisory Union is already in the process of updating Web sites for all the schools under its jurisdiction, and he’s seen early drafts of Williston’s site. He’s happy with what he’s seen and the recommendations created are to help the Web designers focus on important areas.

Among the recommendations were getting some parents to volunteer with tech support, updating house pages more frequently, making it easier to search the site for information, and putting an administrator in charge of the site.

“We need to keep it up-to-date and current,” Mara said.

Board members and administration officials were enthusiastic about the presentation. School Board Chairwoman Darlene Worth said the recommendations would be the basis of many future conversations and appreciated members of the committee talking at length.

“It brought it alive,” Worth said.

Worth said after the meeting it was unlikely the board would be able to hire an extra staff member for communication and Web site purposes in this tight budget season, but that someone already employed at the school might be able to undertake some of the responsibilities. She also said the board would have further discussions with the administration on how to best implement recommendations in a cost-effective manner.

Nicki Layman, who has attended many of the committee’s meetings as an audience member, said she’s been encouraged by the group’s work and discussions, but wants to know what will ultimately come of it.

“I’d like to see action,” Layman said. “If nothing is done, it’s going to create an even further rift between the school and the community.”

The Frameworks Committee is expected to return to the board in March or April for further recommendations regarding configuration and house equity.

[Read more…]

Williston police to offer women

Nov. 20, 2008

Williston Police Officer Jamin Whitehead will host a Rape Aggression Defense class in January. The class is open to women who live in Williston, and is free of charge.

“The class is designed to empower women and give them some basic self defense options they can use when placed in a dangerous situation,” Whitehead said.

The class runs for four consecutive weeks beginning on Jan. 8 at 6 p.m. Space is limited to the first 20 women who sign up — the deadline is Dec. 29. Those under age 18 must provide written permission from a parent or legal guardian to take the class.

The first class will be held in the Community Room at the Williston Police Department. The remaining classes will be held in the Williston Central School gym. To sign up, call Williston Police at 878-6611 or stop by the department at 7928 Williston Road.

— Marianne Apfelbaum, Observer staff


[Read more…]

Fire log11/20/08

Nov. 20, 2008

Snow disrupts commutes

During Tuesday’s brief bouts of heavy snow, which occurred during the morning and afternoon commutes, the Williston Fire Department responded to 12 incidents, nine of which were weather related.

Many of the calls were single vehicle accidents, reported Fire Chief Ken Morton, but there were some other larger incidents. Morton said there was one call in the 2 a.m. hour during a brief snowfall, and then substantially more calls beginning at 7:30 a.m. The heavy snow and traffic caused for slick conditions before road crews could get out to treat the roads, Morton said.

A five-car accident occurred on Oak Hill Road during morning rush hour, partially on the bridge over Interstate 89. The police and fire departments shut down the road because the cars were, according to Morton, “spread all across the road.” No injuries were reported and only one car needed towing.

Around the same time, there was a four-car accident on Interstate 89 near the exit 12 southbound off ramps.

Soon after both incidents, a two-car accident was reported on Route 2A near the St. George town line. The accident held up traffic on both sides of the road for a long time, and both cars were totaled in the wreck, Morton said.

Morton said the arrival of snow during the busy drive times of morning and late afternoon contributed to the number of accidents. He admits there were probably some drivers not yet in winter driving mode, but believes the high number of incidents would have occurred at the same rate later in the winter.

“If we have a burst of snow like yesterday, we’re going to have accidents,” Morton said on Wednesday.

Gas leak

At 9 a.m. on Oct. 27, fire crews responded to a home on Bayberry Lane for a possible gas leak. The homeowner contacted the fire department after smelling a strong odor of propane. Three firefighters searched the house for possible leaks, but did not find any. The homeowner was instructed to have the furnace cleaned, as it had not been done in several years.

Fire Chief Ken Morton said there is an increase in these types of calls as the winter progresses. It’s a time of year when people close up their homes to stay warm and start to notice possible gas odors. It’s also the time of year when people fire up their furnaces, which, if not maintained properly, can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide buildup.

Morton recommended that homeowners check carbon monoxide vents on the outside of their homes to make sure the vents aren’t obstructed by snow.

“Once the vent is covered by snow, there’s nowhere for the gas to go but back into the house,” Morton said.

Car accident

A two-car accident was reported at the corner of Bradley Lane and Old Creamery Road at 7:36 a.m. on Nov. 12. According to Fire Chief Ken Morton, the morning sun blinded the driver of a Pontiac Fiero, whose windshield had not been completely defrosted. The vehicle crossed over the center line and struck a Chrysler Sebring head on.

The driver of the Pontiac reported head and neck soreness and was transported to Fletcher Allen Health Care by St. Michael’s College Rescue Service. The driver of the Chrysler refused treatment.

Six firefighters responded to the scene on Engine 3 and helped clean up the fluid and debris in the road.

[Read more…]

Letters to the Editor11/20/08

Nov. 20, 2008

Appreciation to voters

On behalf of the families of the soldiers, I would like to thank the many residents of Williston for their support on Tuesday, Nov. 4, when they came to the Williston Armory to vote. We held a bake sale to benefit the families and soldiers and many people were both kind and generous.

Kay Mitchell


Macaig thanks voters

Thank you to the voters of Williston who supported me in my campaign for State Representative. I am most appreciative of your confidence in me and in my service to you. It will be my pleasure to serve all residents of this wonderful town in the Legislature. The next two years look to be very difficult ones and I will represent all of your interests to the best of my ability. In order to do that, I will need your input on legislation of interest to you. I look forward to continuing to serve you.

Terry Macaig, Representative-elect


Grateful citizen

I would like to thank the person who returned my cell phone to the Williston Police Department on Saturday, Nov. 15. I had spent the morning running errands and walking my dog on the Williston bike path, only to find at the end of the morning my phone had fallen out of my coat pocket! I looked everywhere I could think of, retracing my steps several times. I was very grateful when later that evening there was a message on my husband’s cell phone from the Williston Police Department, indicating a good Samaritan had turned it in. I am truly thankful to the person who found it and brought it to the police department, and to the police department for contacting us that it had been found.

Veronica Gaffney
Essex Junction


Another history lesson?

Three letters to the editor were published last week in response to John Holland’s Nov. 6 guest column about Republican conservatism. Steve Letares’ states that Mr. Holland and all Democrats “are equally responsible and culpable for atrocities against humanity.” Tony O’Rourke referred to Mr. Holland as ignorant, hateful, ridiculous, anti-American and a Marxist. Nicolas Xartopoulos’ letter was not as straightforward. It referred to Holland as a “fool” and offered a brief “Democrat and Republican history” on the many liberal positions taken by Republicans in the 19th century.

I am not a political historian. As I recall from school, the first Democratic president was Andrew Jackson. Jackson ordered all Native Americans (mistakenly called Indians) to relocate west of the Mississippi. Many Indians refused to move and their case went before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Indians won the lawsuit, but Jackson asked the court, “How are you going to enforce your ruling? I’m the head of our Armed Forces.” Jackson began killing Indians and they were forced to move west. Twenty-five percent of them were killed or died of starvation or illness before they crossed the Mississippi — the Trail of Tears.

Jackson was popular, considered ultra-conservative and was re-elected.

Mr. Xartopoulos’ points out that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president and he tried to free the slaves. Lincoln was considered by many to be ultra-liberal. A group of ultra-conservatives assassinated him.

Somehow, between then and now, things got twisted around. At the beginning of the Great Depression, our Republican president, Herbert Hoover, was conservative. He felt it would be wrong for the government to meddle in the nation’s economy. Then F.D. Roosevelt, a liberal Democrat, was elected president. Conservatives were against the United States entering World War II. Can anyone imagine what our world would be like today if we had lost that war?

I am liberal. Many of my closest friends are conservative. I disagree with them but I will never call them ignorant, hateful, ridiculous, anti-American or culpable for atrocities against humanity!

Wayne Martens

[Read more…]

Guest column11/20/08

Nuclear power for America

Nov. 20, 2008
By Roy Innis

Congress, the White House and President-elect Obama are working hard to resuscitate our economy. But even as they do so, many politicians, judges, bureaucrats and activists are blocking energy development, including the nuclear power that provides one-fifth of America’s electricity needs.

Abundant, reliable, affordable energy makes jobs, health, living standards and civil rights possible. It means fewer people have to choose between heating, eating, paying the rent or mortgage, giving to charity, or covering health care, college and retirement costs. Here are some essential facts:

➢    Reliability – Nuclear plants generate electricity 90 percent of every year, shutting down only occasionally for maintenance, repairs and changing fuel rods. They emit no greenhouse gases.

Wind turbines can be relied on just 30 percent of the time, on average — and often just 10 percent of the time during hot summer days, when air conditioners are on high, but there’s barely a breeze.

➢     Operational safety – Three Mile Island was the “worst nuclear accident in U.S. history.” But it injured no one and exposed neighboring residents to the radioactive equivalent of getting a CT scan. It led to major improvements in nuclear plant management, operation and training.

➢     Storage of used nuclear fuel – The Energy Department spent 25 years and $10 billion studying the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada, before concluding that it will meet all safety standards. In fact, the largest expected annual radiation dose for someone living near this geologically stable site would be less than 1 millirem — compared to 1,000 millirems from an abdominal CT scan.

America’s 104 nuclear plants generate enough electricity for nearly 75 million homes — and produce about 2,000 tons of “spent” reactor fuel annually. So Yucca will be able to hold all the used fuel from the past 50 years, plus another 35 years of used fuel, without expanding on the original design.

Spent fuel and other wastes (high-level defense wastes, plus low-level wastes like protective clothing) are solid materials. There is no liquid that can leak into rocks or groundwater. Water in reactors is treated and reused.

➢    Transportation safety – Shipping containers are constructed from layers of steel and lead, nearly a foot thick, and carried on trucks or rail cars. They’ve been slammed into concrete walls at 85 mph, dropped 30 feet, burned 30 minutes in 1,475-degree fires and submerged in water for hours. They’ve never broken or leaked.

Over 3,000 shipments of spent fuel have traversed 1.7 million miles, with no injuries, deaths or environmental damage. The only significant accident involved a semi-truck that overturned while avoiding a collision, sending the trailer and attached container into a ditch. No harmful releases of radioactivity ever occurred.

That hasn’t stopped imaginative writers from saying “catastrophic” accidents “could” put “millions” of Americans “at risk” of exposure to “deadly radiation” or even death. They’ve been watching too many Hollywood movies, where every car accident becomes a raging inferno.

➢    Theft and terrorism – The notion that spent (or even fresh) power plant fuel could be stolen and turned into a powerful bomb is likewise more Hollywood than reality.

Atomic numbers and enrichment levels are confusing, but important. Weapons grade materials are plutonium, uranium 233 and highly enriched (better than 20 percent) U235. Power plant fuel is slightly enriched (under 4 percent) U235. Spent fuel is U238, which cannot cause a chain reaction.

Turning spent fuel into a bomb would require sophisticated reprocessing facilities, which terrorists are unlikely to have. Even a “dirty bomb” (radioactive materials around a non-nuclear explosive) would cause more fear than actual damage. And the U.S. nuclear industry’s commitment to safety also applies to guarding against theft and terrorism.

We need the electricity that nuclear power provides, and we can generate it safely. Imagine life without all the things that require electricity. Recall your inconvenience and financial losses when storms or blackouts knocked out your electrical power.

Experts worry that many parts of the United States are dangerously close to having major brownouts and blackouts, because we haven’t built the power plants and transmission lines needed for an economy that depends on electricity 24/7/365.

We need to conserve more, install more insulation and better windows, and use more efficient appliances, computer servers, heaters and air conditioners. We need more wind and solar power, where those sources make economic, practical and environmental sense. But we also need more affordable, reliable electricity from nuclear power plants.

Heating, cooling, electrical, communication and other technologies changed fantastically over the last century. Over the next 50 years, they will progress beyond anything we can imagine. But we need real energy for real people, today.

Otherwise, homes, factories, offices, schools and hospitals will go dark. Breadwinners will go jobless. Energy prices will spiral higher. Families won’t have basic necessities, much less luxuries.

And poor and minority citizens will see civil rights gains rolled back, because only reliable energy and a vibrant economy can turn constitutionally protected rights into rights we actually enjoy.

Roy Innis is chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, co-chair of the Campaign to Stop the War on the Poor, and author of “Energy Keepers – Energy Killers: The new civil rights battle.” He recently visited nuclear power plants and a fuel reprocessing plant in France.

[Read more…]

Recipe Corner11/20/08

A history of cooking with what’s available

Nov. 20, 2008
By Ginger Isham

In a small booklet of recipes from the Great Depression era, I read about the young bride who moved west with her husband’s family. Her mother-in-law helped her set up a pitiful looking apartment. Her final words went something like this: “If you need any more things, just come to me and I’ll show you how to do without them.”

This reminded me of my first years here on the farm with my mother-in-law showing me how to make chocolate pudding, graham rolls and ginger cookies without eggs. They became favorite recipes for my family as well. At that time my wages were about $1 an hour at the Mary Fletcher Hospital, and my husband made about $70 every two weeks. His parents still owned the farm and had six more unmarried children at home. Today we have corn flakes (the first ready-to-eat cereal), corn chips, corn muffins, corn pudding, popcorn and others. Try including the following recipes in some of your meals:

Corn fritters


1 8- or 9-ounce can whole kernel corn


1 beaten egg

1 1/2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt


Drain the corn, saving the liquid. Add enough milk to make 1 cup. Mix in the egg and corn. Stir in dry ingredients and mix just until all is moistened. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in skillet to 375 degrees. Drop batter into oil by tablespoonful and fry 3 to 4 minutes, turning once, until brown on both sides. Serve hot with warm maple syrup.

Corn meal mush


1 cup corn meal

4 cups boiling water

1/2 teaspoon salt


Bring water to a boil and slowly stir in corn meal, stirring constantly. Cover pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into a greased loaf pan and chill. Later turn out onto cutting board and slice about 1/2 inch thick. Melt butter in a skillet and fry slices until crispy, turning once. Serve with hot butter and maple syrup.

Swiss corn bake


1 can corn, drained (16 ounces)

 2 beaten eggs

1 small can evaporated milk (5 ounces)

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese, divided

2 tablespoons onion, chopped

1 cup bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

pinch of salt and pepper

Combine corn, milk, onion, eggs, 3/4 cup cheese, salt and pepper in a casserole dish. Mix the bread crumbs, rest of cheese and melted butter. Sprinkle over ingredients in casserole and bake for about 30 minutes in 350 degree oven. Can prepare the night before and refrigerate.

Ginger Isham was the co-owner of Maple Grove Farm Bed & Breakfast in Williston, a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road where she still lives.

[Read more…]

Right to the Point11/20/08

Obama – broken promises and a future of change

Nov. 20, 2008

By Mike Benevento

The elections are over and Barack Obama was the big winner. Now is the time for all Americans to support Obama — even if they did not vote for him. Since it is every American’s duty to support the office of the president of the United States — no matter which party occupies it — we all need to back Obama after he takes office. Remember, country first, political party second.

This concept may sound foreign to many elite liberals, who have been vilifying and rooting against President Bush the past eight years. During that time, the left has displayed a great deal of contempt and hatred toward Bush. At times, they labeled him a cowboy, an idiot, a murderer and compared him to Hitler.

Democrats often use Bush as the scapegoat for the country’s problems. Among other things, Bush has been accused of being behind the Sept. 11 attacks, invading Iraq under false pretenses solely to benefit his oil buddies, torturing enemy combatants, greatly contributing to global warming and taking advantage of Hurricane Katrina to harm minorities.

Once Obama takes office, conservatives must avoid the partisan hate politics practiced by the left. That does not mean conservatives will yield to Obama’s every whim. Far from it.

However, it will require that conservatives formulate logical opposing arguments, stick to the facts and avoid name-calling and scare tactics. In doing so, conservatives will change the tone of the opposition party from one of hatred to one of bipartisanship.

Breaking campaign finance promises


Early in the campaign, all the leading presidential candidates promised to accept public funding. By doing so, they hoped to reduce the influence of lobbyists, special interest groups and dirty money on their potential administrations. While Hillary Clinton and John McCain kept their promise, Obama broke his.

Breaking his campaign finance promise allowed Obama to obliterate every political fundraising and spending record in U.S. history. While McCain was limited to $84 million in federal funds, political reporter Jonathan Salant recorded that Obama raised more than $650 million for his presidential campaign. Obama used this huge amount of cash to defeat Clinton and then swamp McCain in the last two months.

The advantage Obama gained by not keeping his word was startling. As Republican consultant Craig Shirley said, “Barack went into the knife fight with a machete and McCain went in with a pen knife.”

Bill O’Reilly pointed out that the far left outfit raised an astounding $88 million for Obama. Of course, the organization expects payback for its huge contribution. Since Obama accepted lots of its money, watch out for him to reward — and others — during his presidency.

The end justifies the means


At times during the campaign, Obama’s actions revealed an underlying lack of principles and a troublesome belief that the end justifies the means. In addition to breaking vows and shifting positions, Obama did not hesitate to deny relationships whenever convenient.

Obama glossed over his association with known terrorist Bill Ayers and his real estate dealings with Tony Rezko. When Rev. Jeremiah Wright — Obama’s pastor of 20 years — became a liability because of his continued anti-American preaching, Obama dumped him for political expediency.

Since he quickly disassociated from his friend Rev. Wright after drawing criticism, how much spine will Obama display when Ahmadinejad’s Iran makes threatening moves?

Which promises will Obama toss aside when further difficulties arise? Will it be his tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans? Will he abandon his promise to remove troops immediately from Iraq? Will Obama throw his promise of change in the trash? Who knows?

What to expect


With this month’s election, Democrats now control both chambers of Congress and the White House. They can essentially thrust their liberal agenda upon the nation, especially because Republicans are a severely weakened minority.

If Obama keeps his word, America’s future will include a greater redistribution of wealth and a growing entitlement culture. He will work to eliminate nuclear weapons, oppose privatizing a portion of Social Security and advocate a carbon-credit system to raise money and fight pollution.

Obama will push to nationalize health care, appoint Supreme Court justices who agree with his idea of a living Constitution and call for more open borders. Additionally, Democrats will continue to fight for the right to abort innocents, while — ironically — opposing the death penalty for the guilty.

In closing


Over two weeks ago, America voted for change. If Obama is true to his word, America will get it. However, do not be surprised if four years from now, Americans wish they never asked for it.

Michael Benevento is a former Air Force fighter jet weapon systems officer. He has a bachelor’s degree in Military History and a master’s in International Relations. Mike resides in Williston with his wife Kristine and their two sons, Matthew and Calvin.

[Read more…]

Liberally Speaking11/20/08

Election reflection

Nov. 20, 2008

By Steve Mount

In our lives, it is important to look back on past events and reflect on what has gone before, to learn lessons, to make plans for the future. In elections, time gives us a chance to do all that, but it also gives us a chance to do something just as important — hold recounts.

Or just counting in the first place. For days after the election, it looked clear that convicted felon and Republican incumbent Ted Stevens of Alaska would be returning to the Senate, at least long enough for the Senate to expel him. But after 65,000 of 90,000 absentee ballots had been counted as of last Friday, the tide had turned and Democratic challenger Mark Begich had taken the lead.

In Minnesota, Democratic challenger Al Franken trailed incumbent Republican Norm Coleman by only 206 votes, out of 2.9 million cast. A recount is mandated by state law, and began Wednesday. It will be next month, though, before the result is certified. Franken (actually running on the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party ticket because of some interesting historical quirks) was in Washington to work with the Democratic leadership, just in case the recount went his way.

In Georgia, there is little question about the vote count, but since none of the candidates got the required 50 percent, a run-off election is scheduled for the two top vote-getters, Republican incumbent (and plurality winner) Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin. A key issue in the run-off campaign so far seems to be support for the Fair Tax, which Chambliss supports and Martin does not.

Speaking of run-off elections, thankfully, no such election will be needed here in Vermont. Here, if no candidate for governor, lieutenant governor or treasurer gets 50 percent of the vote, the election is thrown to the Legislature, with the top three vote-getters eligible for election.

For a while on election night, it was unclear if incumbent Republican Jim Douglas would be able to get the required 50 percent, but after all the votes were counted, he handily won and passed the threshold with 53.4 percent. It is not easy to unseat an incumbent in Vermont. Despite several hard challenges in both of their careers, Jim Douglas and his predecessor, Howard Dean, fended them all off.

Since Douglas did win the needed 50 percent, the more interesting aspect of the governor’s race was the fight for second place. Though he eked it out by just 257 votes, independent Anthony Pollina beat Democrat Gaye Symington for Douglas’ leavings. His success in beating out Symington may or may not be helpful to Pollina, a well-meaning and well-spoken man who has made something of a career of being a spoiler and also-ran.

Seven Days columnist Shay Totten reports that some Democrats are pushing to allow Pollina to run against Douglas as a fusion candidate in 2010. It seems unlikely to me, barring a decision by Douglas not to run or a major scandal in the Douglas administration, that any challenger could possibly win. That might be their point — let Pollina take the fall for another loss.

In any case, we have at least a week or two before the next campaign season begins in earnest, so no decisions have to be made right now.

In terms of statewide offices, the governor’s race was the one the incumbent won by the lowest percentage. According to the secretary of state, Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie won with 55 percent; Secretary of State Deb Markowitz won with 70.8 percent; Attorney General Bill Sorrell won with 72.6 percent; Rep. Peter Welch was sent back to Congress with 83.2 percent; Auditor of Accounts Tom Salmon won with 83.8 percent; and Treasurer Jeb Spaulding won the highest percentage of all with 89.9 percent.

And, of course, Barack Obama won Vermont’s three electoral votes with 67.4 percent. There were seven other candidates for president on the Vermont ballot. Republican John McCain garnered 30.4 percent of the vote; the only other player to get at least a full percentage point was independent Ralph Nader, with 1.02 percent.

For the country, this was, indeed, a historic election, and one which is not quite over in some states. Here in Vermont, though, it was more of the same, with incumbents enjoying the protection of their offices. It is not necessarily true that we’ve gotten the best that we could have gotten, but what is true is that we picked them.

Now our job is to keep an eye on them, and I hope you’ll join me as we do just that.

Steve Mount has been a Williston resident since 1996. He is a software engineer at GE Healthcare and is devoted to his family, his country and his Constitution. You can reach Steve at or read his blog at

[Read more…]