The Legislature put off addressing the open meetings law because of Irene and said it would review the law this coming year. How should the law be changed?
I agree with the Vermont ACLU that the law needs to be strengthened to ensure that open meetings are indeed open and that executive sessions are only used when necessary. Allowing challengers of closed meetings to recover their fees and attorney costs if they win a court case seems like a straightforward step in this direction.
Alternative Energy Power
What lessons have been learned from the Lowell Wind Project and how can they be applied going forward?
One lesson is that not all renewable energy projects are created equal. The Lowell project shows that Vermont can be a home for industrial-scale wind projects, though it’s unclear that Vermonters will ultimately benefit from the presence of large wind installations. A more sensible approach that can keep the cost savings and profits within Vermont communities but still provide renewable power is micro wind, with a decentralized collection of small turbines installed on homes and businesses. With many small turbines distributed throughout any given area, the impact of the failure of any single turbine is limited, and the power grid may be more resilient when faced with larger-scale interruptions in service.
What should the state do to assist local school districts to address issues of nutrition, obesity and local food supplies?
I am a strong believer in the importance of local food as a driver of community economies, but the ultimate responsibility for nutrition and obesity lies with parents, and to a lesser extent the school district. While I think the State has a role, it should not be to force parents one way or the other. Providing incentives for farmers to grow crops for use in schools and getting schoolchildren familiar with the farmers could be a valuable long-term investment, however.
Should Vermont pass a voter ID law? Why? Why not?
No. Voter fraud is a mostly nonexistent problem. As a computer security researcher, I can say with authority that there is much more room for large-scale fraud in electronic voting systems that do not provide an easy way to verify that votes have been properly counted. We should spend our efforts on improving or abandoning closed-source, poorly-tested electronic voting and vote-tabulation systems.
I want to mention that these are my own opinions and may not reflect the views of the citizens of Washington County. Through constituent feedback, I intend to vote according to the will of my constituents even when those views conflict with my own. Call me at 279-6054 or take a look at my plan at vermontelection.org if you’re interested in learning more.