Published Opinion Pieces
Below you'll find links to excerpts of an interview with Bram (audio only). In descending order the issues discussed are 1. Act 64 Water Bill and how it affects small towns 2. the complications of 911 dispatch in central Vermont 3. the over-regulation of small towns in Vermont 4. the Annette Smith debacle. PLEASE CLICK PLAY ON EACH ITEM.
Bram asks how we can make Vermont state government more responsive to the needs of small towns in the article below (link currently non-functioning):
"Small town issues drive House seat bid"
The Times Argus, Sept 1, 2016
Besides running a wholesale flower business, Bram has also served for 2 terms on the Plainfield Selectboard. He currently serves on The Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission and is on the board of Central Vermont Television.
His photo blog of central Vermont can be found here: fotogosaurus.wordpress.com
Some of the Times Argus links below have broken and some have been corrected (converted to PDFs); the remainder will be soon. The VERMONT DIGGER links, however, all seem to be functioning.
On abandoned "zombie" houses in our communities and the banks holding them hostage:
"ZOMBIES AMONG US" Times Argus Nov. 10, 2016
Bram asks who is being protected when state agencies ignore the people?
"No clue" The Times Argus, Sept. 12, 2016
On Act 46, School Consolidation:
"Act 46 Power Grab" Vermont Digger
On the Lake Champlain cleanup bill -- its enormous costs to small towns and startling ineffectiveness in truly cleaning up the lake:
"Capping the municipal water tax deluge" Vermont Digger
On local 911 dispatch and the effort to contain costs while improving communication:
"Rural towns call for help" The Times Argus
On the local say in siting renewable energy & the Annette Smith debacle:
"Derailing Public Advocacy" Vermont Digger
On illegal logging and the lack of enforcement:
"Local Officials Need State Backing" Vermont Digger
(broken link) On Vermont Health Connect:
"The Gray Whistle Test for VT Health Connect" The Times Argus
While there is obvious risk involved in sanctioning any recreational drug, it is bad policy to apply a special standard to marijuana. Our current prohibition laws would have you believe that cannabis is more toxic than alcohol. The abundant science available on this substance does not support this conclusion. Governments always struggle with the regulatory regimes as exhibited by the failed national prohibition on liquor. In Vermont, a state hit hard by the opioid epidemic, there is, understandably, skepticism about legalizing another recreational drug (besides alcohol). On the other hand there is a corrosive effect of pretending that marijuana is more toxic than alcohol. There are a vast number of citizens who feel our laws are arbitrary, rather than meaningful. If our State can regulate other toxic recreational drugs, then why not marijuana? Legalization would be a daunting task as there are many complicated factors including relations with neighboring states, the Federal Government and establishing reasonable testing standards. Vermont, however, is paying a steep price, both in tax dollars and faith in government, by upholding the current system. I completely understand the fear amongst many who are fundamentally opposed to legalization. But I feel a new approach will improve public health. The State will have the ability re-prioritize resources and fully address the epidemic of drug abuse.
I do not speaking abstractly about drug abuse. Members of my own family have been deeply affected by substance abuse and I am familiar with the wide-ranging effects of this scourge. Even so, I believe that, in the case of cannabis, there is a very strong case for legalization.