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November 19, 2009

Democratic Gubernatorial Forum: Follow Along!

Around 6:30 p.m., the five Democratic candidates for governor will take the stage in Burlington for an hourlong forum where each will answer four questions about Vermont's environment.

This is the second time the candidates will meet to talk about how they, as governor, would tackle various environmental challenges. The last time, however, Sen. Doug Racine (D-Chittenden), was out of the country at the time.

Tonight's forum is being hosted by the Vermont League of Conservation Voters, and will be streamed live on WPTZ. It's being held inside the Main Street Performing Arts Center in Burlington.

Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, who is also running for governor, was invited to attend the forum, but declined. Campaign staffer Susie Hudson told Seven Days that Dubie is attending the Republican Governor's Association annual conference in Austin, Texas. Candidates running in 2010 were invited to the meeting as well.

Below are the four questions that the candidates will answer, along with the CoverIt Live viewing panel where I'll be live-blogging the event alongside the live stream starting around 6:30 p.m.

Question 1
In your view, what if any are the the shortcomings of the system as it exists today, both in terms of process and in terms of actual protection of Vermont's natural resources? Would you support any changes? If so, what would those changes be?

Question 2
Do you consider significant funding for VHCB to be an essential public investment strategy or a secondary, optional priority? If you consider meaningful VHCB investments to be an essential economic development strategy, will you ensure they remain on track through these tough times by providing Capital Bill funds, as was done in the 1990s?

Question 3
How would your administration finance the necessary improvements to wastewater treatment facilities to ensure that Vermont’s treatment plants are not increasing the amount of pollution they release into Lake Champlain? With 50 percent of all the pollution flowing to Lake Champlain coming from stormwater associated with the increasing development and land conversion from forests or farms, how would your administration solve the stormwater problem?

Question 4
Do you support closing Vermont Yankee as originally scheduled in 2012? Wind power projects have been particularly difficult to build in Vermont, with several projects being proposed but that have not moved forward for a number of reasons. How will your administration work with developers and communities to ensure these projects move forward?

Interested in the stormwater question. I hope the candidates understand that phosphorous pollution from urban & agricultural runoff is a much larger contributor than wastewater treatment plant P. Any stormwater solution should be focused on treating farmers' manure and impervious surface runoff, not expensive upgrades to wastewater treatment plants. We don't have unlimited funds around, and stormwater treatment is a much better bang for the buck.

These questions are like a "push poll." There is only one "acceptable/correct" response to any of these questions: tell the audience exactly what they want to hear. This is precisely what's wrong with US politics. Interest groups hold "debates" (that's a joke) and candidates show up and say, "Absolutely! Your'e right! I'm more in line with you than my primary opponents to my left and right!"

This is totally and completely ridiculous.

Anyone who attends one of these things and who expects to hear an honest answer is a complete idiot.

Thank you 7Days! Such fun ;-) And we've got almost a whole year to go, hooray!

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