Speeches

Key Note to Nat. Ass. of Comm. Dev. Exec. Profs. & The Ass. of Nat. Res. Ext. Profs -June 26, 2016

Our Vermont state motto, “Freedom & Unity” expresses a unity of opposites, posing the goal of achieving equilibrium between the rights of individuals and the well-being of our communities. It’s a worthy goal and one we occasionally lose sight of, as we muddle our way forward. In these times of deepening disparities in access to education, health care, housing, justice, nutrition, the natural environment, and wealth accumulation, we need to remember our motto and reaffirm the beauty and justice of that equilibrium. The Changing Business View on Economic Development: There are those among us who hold that the key to achieving all healthy community goals lies in economic development – jobs, wealth accumulation, and consumption of goods. While, the dignity …
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Comments to Chamber Meeting of Business, Non-profit and Legislative Leaders 12/16/15

In opening, I’d like to make just a couple of points. They are similar to the points I made to your Legislative Commission on Government Efficiency. There are three legs to the government management stool. The executive and the legislative branches focus too often on two of the three: spending and revenue. The orphan leg is enhanced agency leadership, best-practice management, accountability, which you will hear more about, and transparency, in short, doing more, better, and with the same amount of money. Even if we amend our outdated tax code, revenue is not going to bloom, nor are social safety net needs going to shrink in the foreseeable future. Our demographic and economic trend indicators simply don’t foresee either. There …
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Comments to Business & Non-profit Leaders at Lake Champlain Chamber

I’ll start with a question: How is it that a small state with a $5B budget, half of which is for the social safety net, a philanthropic community that contributes $275M to the non-profit-sector for community reinvestment and a business community that spends significant time and money addressing shared socio-economic problems cannot together substantially eliminate our 70,000 poor, our 1500 homeless, our 83,000 hungry, our 21,000 medically uninsured, and 20,000 unemployed? If we were to assume that 25,000 Vermonters are in extremis and divide that number into $3B we get $120,000 per Vermonter in need. Where is this money going and why is our progress so incremental? I would suggest that, with the best of intentions, we simply don’t know …
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Comments to VT Comm. Loan Fund Annual Board Retreat 9/23/2015

Many thanks for inviting me to this important discussion. My goal in a few minutes will be to look at our state in broad strokes so as to add some context to your deliberations and our discussions. I’ve lived here since 1947, grew up in Morrisville, a small but vibrant town in the ’50s. I left for schooling but came back and started two businesses here. The last business employed some 275 people at its peak and imported $28M a year into Vermont. I was offered several options to move away and earn more money but could never muster the will to leave. My four children all went away and are here in Vermont today earning their own livings. We …
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VT Design Technology Educators Assoc. comments 5/8/15 VT Tech

Comments: VT Design Technology Educators Assoc. May 8, 2015  at VT Tech – Randolph The challenge for those of us who teach or, in my case, taught, is to maintain the humility to care about how we are perceived by our students, how best to use their perception of us to teach, and how to avoid settling comfortably into our own minds, secure in our titles as professionals. Remember, we experience school differently from our students. We enter school at one grade level and usually remain there while their lives keep changing as they move from entry to graduation along a year-to-year continuum, and each teacher along the way has their own impact. What your student experiences in school and …
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Comments to VT Assoc. of School Boards and VT Superintendents – Montpelier 2/5/2015

Many thanks for inviting me here today. You all have taken on what I believe to be the most important work in front of Vermonters. Our children are our future and you all are the future of education, along with the many great teachers working in your classrooms. Before I get into my thoughts about the challenges facing us, I believe a speaker should explain their own connection to the subject and then declare their biases so what they say has some context if not import. I moved to Morrisville in 1947 at the age of two with my recently war-widowed mother. I went to kindergarten and grade school in Morrisville for nine years in many of the same classrooms …
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Comments to VT Community Foundation 11/19/2014

I believe expressed opinions warrant a disclosure of bias and so will start by sharing mine. I’m a humanist. I believe in the power of citizen-engaged democracies to improve the lives of their citizens and to enhance the human condition. I believe in the power of a regulated marketplace, the value of human enterprise, and the dignity of work. I believe in the value the traditional social architecture of family, community, and religion provides to its members. I am also aware that social and economic institutions can be perverted and used for greed, violence, and sexual predation. I believe in a social safety net, the cost of which is managed not by random budget cuts but by accountable and transparent …
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School & Municipal Leadership Conference Aug., 14, 2014

Good morning. I’m here because I served on the Blue Ribbon Legislative Tax Commission several years back. I now know that “Blue Ribbon” means thank you for your service, we’ll think about it. I don’t believe any of our substantive suggestions for improving the tax code have been implemented. We weren’t asked to raise or lower taxes. That’s the job of the legislative branch, we were asked only to improve the code consistent with a range of attributes generally agreed to be positive. The three of us, myself, Kathy Hoyt and Bill Sayre, represented a broad range of political views and, with the exception of recommending some extensions to the sales tax to include services that would not be assessed …
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Talk with Affordable Housing Convention – July 14, 2014

Our state’s prescient motto, “Freedom and Unity” sums up the fragile equilibrium between the independent rights accorded to each of us to provide for ourselves and our families and our commitment to a commonweal needed to secure and vitalize the communities we live in. The motto expresses a difficult balance, one that nationally has tipped dangerously towards the “me and mine” culture – a culture that venerates vast accumulations of wealth and often turns a blind eye to the less fortunate. What does it mean when the fastest growing socio-economic class in America today is the working poor? Narcissism, consumerism, and corruption have tipped the scales away from our commitment to healthy communities. This is a dangerous trend and threatens …
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Keynote Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership

My first exposure to the idea that Burlington’s shoreline had any other significance than as a large body of water was when I was 15 and my mother gave me an LP record called Champlain Valley Songs. I grew up in Morrisville and had gone away to school in New Hampshire. She may have chosen the title to remind me of home. I was 15 and living in a small room at Phillips Exeter. I missed home terribly. Here is the liner copy for the album: This recording explores the rich musical heritage of the area surrounding Lake Champlain in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. The songs were selected from a collection of North Country folklore and ballads compiled …
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