Rep. Sibilia: Voting, PUC hearings on Consolidated Communications

Good evening/morning,
Election day is Tuesday, November 6th. You must be registered to vote in the town you currently reside in. In Vermont you can register the day of the election. Information on Vermont’s voting laws is available on the Secretary of State’s website.
This year, we have contested elections for U.S. Senator, U.S. Congress, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor and State Senate. I am running uncontested for re-election to represent you in the House of Representatives and ask for your vote. You may write in a name for any office. Just about every election in Vermont we are reminded that the individuals vote counts a lot. Many races have been won with one or two votes and a number of statewide elections have not resulted in a candidate receiving a majority of the votes and required the legislature to choose the winner. Please vote!
Dover Town Hall                              7:00 AM
Readsboro Central School            10:00 AM
Searsburg Town Clerks Office     10:00 AM
Stamford Elementary School          8:00 AM
Wardsboro Town Office                  9:00 AM
Whitingham Municipal Center     10:00 AM
All polls close at 7:00 PM
Results will be posted as they come in at the Secretary of State’s elections results web page.
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Consolidated Communications hearings
 
Southern Vermont: READSBORO November 26th 
Northern Vermont: SAINT ALBANS December 6th
Time and locations TBD 
 
The Vermont Department of Public Service has petitioned the Vermont Public Utilities commission for an investigation into the service quality provided by Consolidated Communications, Inc. In seeking the investigation, the Department noted that the number of consumer complaints received from Consolidated customers related to service outages between July and September of 2018 has increased by 2,760% over the same period in the previous year and that the number of complaints related to installation delays between July and September of 2018 has increased 500% over the same period in 2017. The Department has been conducting an informal inquiry into the complaints and Consolidated is cooperating with the inquiry.
Please share: I personally have received multiple reports of elderly, handicapped or geographically isolated customers safety having been compromised by service quality issues (5 and 10 day repair times for instance). It is important for state regulators to understand the magnitude of the service quality challenges. If you have experienced poor quality telephone service, lengthy repair or installation times please consider testifying in person or you can provide testimony online at the Vermont Public Utility Commission Online Portal for case #18-3231-PET
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Act 46 news 
The State Board of Education has recently accepted the Secretary of Education recommendations for the Searsburg and Stamford Interstate District Alternative Structure proposals. Many many thanks for the countless hours both groups have put forward on behalf of their students and taxpayers in order to fulfill their districts obligations under Act 46.
Congratulations to the new River Valleys Unified School District board  for their recent award from BCTV: Municipal Partner of the Year.

“River Valleys Unified School District Board was created last summer following the unification of Dover and Wardsboro School Districts under Act 46. The River Valleys USD Board turned to BCTV to video its bi-weekly meetings as a way to engage and provide transparency. And, in fact, thanks to the board’s promotional efforts, most of the meetings have received hundreds of views.

‘It’s gratifying to get so many views, and critical that those who can’t attend can get the full flavor of the somewhat complex process,” said Board Chair Richard Werner. “In addition, it’s been a benefit to all of us to be able to review the videos as work progresses.'”

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Open enrollment period is November 1 through December 15th more info 
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Highlights from this summer/fall
 
Ditch School in Wardsboro with Gary Urbanati
 
Readsboro meeting w/Agency of Digital Services & Department of Public Service
 

Community forums in Wardsboro, Dover, Readsboro and Stamford & healthcare forum in Whitingham

Toured Great River Hydro Facilities 

Attended dedication of 
Gold Star Families Memorial
State Board of Education Act 46 Alternative Structures Hearing
 
Grew a contender for World’s Smallest Gilfeather Turnip


A Historic Gathering of Independents at the #UniteSummit
Attended and spoke at: A Historic Gathering of Independents at the #UniteSummit in Denver


Listened to this excellent VPR Podcast series on Jack Sawyer and Vermont’s gun debate


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These posts have been made to my website and to social media since the end of the 2018 session

 Opportunity: #Vermont Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) program

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Please stay engaged and stay in touch via email lhsibilia@gmail.com or phone 802-384-0233. If you’d like to receive updates from my blog as they are posted please check out www.laurasibiliavt.com.
Laura
Rep. Laura Sibilia
State Representative
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham
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Indys, Ubers and #PeopleOverParty

Last Sunday I found myself in Denver, traveling by Uber with a scientist I had attended a weekend conference with.  My new scientist friend conducted an experiment with our Uber drivers as we traveled to various Denver destinations talking about how much we were enjoying Denver and gathering info about our next destination.  

“We are here talking with people who are worried about politics and government in our country, she started. Can I ask you two questions? Are you registered to vote? And are you affiliated with a party?” They were all registered to vote.  And all independents.

My scientist friend was Dr. Ann Diamond, a family practitioner and independent candidate for the Washington State House of Representatives who had just won a top two primary in her district. If elected in November, she will be the first independent to serve in the Washington House. The conference we met at was the Unite Summit – a gathering of independent elected officials, former Democratic and Republican officials, candidates, strategists, and supporters from across the country meeting to continue building momentum for a better way forward in governing our states and our country.

Screenshot 2018-08-22 17.15.51 (2)The Summit was hosted by Unite America, a national grassroots movement of citizens who think both parties are failing and that our country can do better. I was honored to sit on a panel with  elected independent state legislators from Maine, Alaska and Colorado and talk about the difference a small group of elected independents, working with moderate members of both parties, can make in state legislative bodies.  The seven elected independents in the Vermont House work with our moderate colleagues on both sides of the isle to pull together bipartisan coalitions. In Maine and Alaska, these bipartisan coalitions have come together to overcome serious budgetary and elections stalemates in order to enact commonsense bipartisan reforms.

In Vermont, Maine and Alaska voters are getting used to electing independents. But that is not the case in the rest of the country and certainly not the case with any of our federally elected officials.  Unite America is providing a simple yet productive way to help bring function back to our politics — by helping elect independents to office. If you are an independent, like my Denver Uber drivers and 40% of our fellow Americans, and are looking for a productive way to engage in politics, keep an eye on Unite America as they work to connect independents across our country.

My time in elected office has been spent dedicated to elevating the voice of our district and our district’s issues to Vermont’s policymakers. While that will continue to be my focus, I was grateful for this brief opportunity to share my experience serving as an independent and to be able to encourage others to run to serve the people instead of parties. It left me feeling very hopeful for our country.

Memorial Day – reflecting on the cost

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The markers for Matthew Commons and Jason Cunningham in Arlington National Cemetery.  They were killed in 2002 in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda

Today is Memorial Day. As my grieving veterans remind me, it is not military appreciation day, it is not thank a veteran day, and it is not the official kick off summer.

Today is the one day on the calendar where we are meant to reflect on what it coststo be an American and to be free.

Costs means lives lost. It means parents never seeing their child again, husbands and wives never embracing their spouse again, children who will live without their father or mother. And while all human’s lives are eventually lost for myriad predictable and unpredictable reasons, most human lives are not lost preserving American’s freedoms.

More than 1.3 million lives have been lost in defense of our country and our freedoms.

We live in a representative democratic republic which means our government is formed by the people and their collective decisions on self-government are made through their elected representatives. In this type of government, here is who makes the decisions about where our American troops are sent to fight.

To be sure that is:

• The President

• And our Senators and Congress men and women

But equally as responsible for determining whether or not we will risk lives are all of those who elect our President, Senators and Congress men and women. That includes:

The 18 year old and the 80 year old, the history scholar, the businessman who is being harmed by a regulation, the mother of a new private in the army, the person who was inspired enough to work on an elected officials campaign, those who can not tell you who the president of their country is, the director of a non-profit helping to protect defenseless children, those who have read the Constitution and those who have not, those who have served in our military, those who have served in the peace corps, teachers, school board members, and those who don’t like politics and so don’t register to vote.

Each of these individuals is equally responsible for the decisions made about where our U.S. troops are sent to fight because they each choose to vote or not to vote and for whom. Those collective decisions are how we govern this country and how we make decisions.

WE. Not them. WE.

In a republic, a constitution or charter protects certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away by the government.

On Memorial Day, we need to reflect on the United States Constitution.  This foundational document informs how we have agreed to govern ourselves in the United States of America.  Enshrined in it is our Bill of Rights which explicitly states our individual freedoms that we collectively as Americans make decisions to spend lives to defend and keep.

Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press, The Right to Bear Arms, The Housing of Soldiers, Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures, Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property, Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases, Rights in Civil Cases, Excessive Bail, Fines, and Punishments Forbidden, Other Rights Kept by the People, Undelegated Powers Kept by the States and the People.

On Memorial Day, there are specific fallen names which remind me of the importance of participating in our democracy and of remaining grateful.   Here are the names of  American lives that were spent in defense of our country and our rights:

Killed on March 2nd 2002 on Takur Ghar “Robert’s Ridge” Afghanistan

• PO1 Neil C. Roberts, 32

• TSgt John A. Chapman, 37

• SrA Jason D. Cunningham, 27

• CPL Matthew A. Commons, 21

SGT Bradley S. Crose, 22

SPC Marc A. Anderson, 30

• SGT Phillip Svitak, 31

Killed In Ramadi, Iraq

2004

Sgt. Christopher Ramirez, 34

2005

1st Lt. Mark H. Dooley, 27

2006

Sgt. Joshua Allen Johnson, 24

Killed near Naray, Afghanistan June 21st 2006

• Staff Sgt. Jared Monti, 30

• Staff Sgt. Heathe Craig, 28

• Sergeant Patrick Lybert, 28

• Pfc. Brian J. Bradbury, 22

Killed near Kamdesh, Afghanistan November 26, 2006

Take a moment today to think of their families and all whom they left behind.  Take another moment to reflect on how each of us can work to better uphold our individual responsibilities as Americans.

2017 Windham-Bennington District Town Meeting Information

2017 Windham-Bennington District Town Meeting Information

Times and locations for our districts Town Meeting and Australian Ballot items are belowAct 46 Australian ballot votes and other notable Town Meeting education articles are in green.   On Monday night March 6th, I’ll be traveling to all of the Bennington County Towns, starting with Searsburg, then Stamford, then ending in Readsboro. On Tuesday March 7th, town Meeting day, I’ll be accompanied by Windham County Senator Becca Balint as I travel to our Windham County Towns beginning with Wardsboro’s Town Meeting, then Dover and ending in Whitingham.

Additional INFORMATIONAL meetings:

  • Twin Valley Joint School District Informational Meetings will be held on Tuesday February 28th at 7 pm at Twin Valley Elementary in Wilmington and on Thursday March 2nd at 7 pm at Twin Valley Middle high School in Whitingham
  • Dover, Wardsboro and Marlboro Act 46 Study Committee final meeting on Monday March 27th at Dover Town Hall (next to the Dover Free Library) at 6:30 PM
  • Dover Candidates Forum Tuesday February 28th at 6:15 pm Dover Town Hall
  • Dover Pre-Town Meeting Tuesday February 28th at 7:00 pm Dover Town Hall

Stamford

Stamford Elementary School
Town Meeting: Monday March 6th at 7 p.m. Warning
School District Meeting: Monday March 6th at 7:30 pm Warning
Australian Ballot: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

  • Stamford town officers
  • Stamford school district officers

Readsboro

Readsboro School Auditorium
Town and School District Meeting: Tuesday March 6th at 7:00 p.m. Warning
Australian ballot: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

  • Readsboro town officers
  • Readsboro school district officers

Searsburg

Searsburg Town Office
Town and School District Meeting: Tuesday March 6th at 7:00 p.m.

Wardsboro

Wardsboro Town Hall
School District Meeting: Monday March 6th at 6:30 p.m.
Town Meeting: Tuesday March 7th at 9 a.m. Warning
Australian ballot open 10:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.

  • Act 46 merger
  • Wardsboro town officers
  • Wardsboro school district officers
  • Unified School District officers

Dover

Dover Town Hall on Dover Common
Town and School District Meeting: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m. Warning
Australian ballot open 10:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.

  • Act 46 merger
  • Dover town officers
  • Dover school district officers
  • Unified School District officers

Whitingham

Twin Valley Middle/High School
Town Meeting: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m. Warning

  • Article 32: Shall the town raise and appropriate 100,000 to the litigation fund in the event we need to litigate with the state due to the inequality of the education tax

School District Meeting: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m Warning
Australian Ballot: Tuesday March 7th at 10 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Vermont’s state election consequences

imageI was talking to a young twenty-something at a breakfast last weekend and asked her if she was registered to vote. Not yet she said. I’ve known her she was little and so I pressed a bit. She then patiently explained to me that she is thoroughly disgusted by the presidential election, and that really, living in Vermont, her vote won’t count anyway.

I’ve been trying to figure out when people started believing that choosing not to vote would have no consequences? That we are all powerless pawns in a corrupt system and all attempts to change the system will fail. That turning away and ignoring the ugliness might make it disappear. Or worse, that we have no power, no voice. Where did that hopelessness and cynicism come from?  How is it that so many Americans willingly choose not to vote.

Elections have consequences. And every vote does matter. When TJ and I got married just after the November 2000 election, we didn’t know if George Bush or Al Gore had won the election because it was that close. When I was elected in 2014, I beat the incumbent by 39 votes. We’d both like to let you know that each one of those 39 votes mattered a whole lot, and there were real consequences to that election. Among those consequences was the fact that I had to cast a single vote for governor representing all of the people in all of my towns because the governor’s race was also too close, and so the legislature had to elect the governor.

There were other consequences of the close elections in 2014, including finally having this district’s interests, rather than national interests, as the focus of your representative’s effort in Montpelier. Rather than our neighbor’s being told they just have to “deal with it because they live in Vermont…” regarding poor broadband and cell service, because of that close election, they have begun to be empowered with information and resources and connections to finally start making some headway in our smallest towns. Full and part-time residents in our valley also have had a much better idea of what is going on with legislation and how they can weigh in, because of that close election.

It matters if you vote this year. Vermont is definitely getting a new Governor as Governor Shumlin is not running. We are also getting a new Lieutenant Governor, and though many may think the position is of little consequence, that office has a great deal of weight in the running of the Senate.

Elections have consequences. Not voting has consequences. And every vote does matter. Vote for our local races and our new Governor, and your state rep. Vote for our servicemembers, and for our kids, and for our nation’s future. Yes, it is ugly out there, but it really matters.
You can register to vote at your town clerk’s office or online with the Vermont Secretary of State. And you can vote now, or request an absentee ballot, or at the polls on November 8th.

SoVT All-Payer presentation, Minter and Scott holding forums in the Valley

There are a couple of important opportunities for you to weigh in on our state’s future happening in Southern Vermont in the next two weeks – I encourage you to attend those events you can, ask questions, and share your experiences.
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Draft all-payer waiver agreement presentations
Southern Vermont Forum announced
  • Tuesday, Oct. 11, 4-6 p.m. CVPS/Leahy Community Health Education Center, Rutland Regional Medical Center, 160 Allen Street, Rutland
  • Wednesday, October 12, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. Brattleboro Retreat Conference Room, 16 Anna Marsh Ln, Brattleboro
A public forum will be held with Al Gobeille, Chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, Governor Peter Shumlin, Lawrence Miller, Chief of Health Care from the Governor’s Office, and Robin Lunge, Director of Health Care Reform to present a draft of the All-Payer Model, Vermont’s  health care reform proposal. The draft proposal is under review and is expected to be amended before it receives the final approval of Governor Peter Shumlin, Agency of Human Services Secretary Hal Cohen, Chairman Gobeille, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) . The forum is designed to present the plan to the public and those involved in Vermont’s health care system, and to take questions and comments from the audience.

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Meet with Laura in Stamford 

Wednesday October 12th in Stamford at 7 pm at the Stamford Elementary School gym.  Looking forward to meeting with residents in Stamford to discuss the upcoming legislative session.  Hope to see you there!

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Economic Forums with candidates for Governor: Phil Scott and Sue Minter – hosted by the Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Chamber and Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation

 

October 13th – Q&A forum regarding the Vermont economy with gubernatorial candidate Phil Scott
Time: 1:30-2:30
Venue: Dover Town Hall (adjacent to the Dover Free Library)
Moderated by Joe Arnold and brought to you by the BDCC and the Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Chamber of Commerce
October 19th – Q&A forum regarding the Vermont economy with gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter.
Time: 1:30-2:30
Venue: Memorial Hall – Route 9 Wilmington, Vermont
Moderated by Joe Arnold and brought to you by the BDCC and the Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Chamber of Commerce

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Next Dover, Marlboro, Wardsboro Act 46 study committee meetings October 13th, 6:30 PM at Marlboro Elementary School.  Website posted with agendas, minutes and videos at http://wcsu-committee.blogspot.com/

Candidates Forums The Deerfield Valley Rotary and the Wardsboro Public Library have arranged two candidate forums where both I and my challenger will appear and answer questions from the audience.  This is an important opportunity to ask questions and hear the answers from both candidates.  Voters from Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro,

Whitingham should feel welcome to attend either or both of these forums.
  • Thursday October 20th 7 pm at the
    Dover Town Hall
  • Friday October 28th 7pm at the Wardsboro Public Library

VtDigger has just published a piece which does a great job reflecting both my priorities and the priorities of my challenger which you may wish to consider as you research our campaigns and positions in advance of these forums and election day November 8th.

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Support Laura’s re-election

Thank you very much for the financial, volunteer, sign hosting and letters to the editor support to date as I seek re-election to continue representing Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro and Whitingham. There is an important campaign finance reporting date coming up on Saturday Oct, 15th.

I have had to turn multiple campaign contributions away because as your independent state representative I continue to choose not to accept support from special interests, political parties or political action committees.

Unfortunately, special interests, political parties and political action committees are once again funding opposition to my campaign. And that is going to increase now with the end of the campaign in sight. I appreciate any level of support my constituents might be able to provide – every $10, $25 or $50 helps a lot! Donating is easy online here:https://laurasibiliavt.com/help-send-lauras-voice-to-montpelier/

Letter’s to the Editor are also a great way to show support and tell other voters why they should re-elect me.  Most of our towns read the Deerfield Valley News where support letters go to editor@vermontmedia.com with the exception of Stamford where folks would send support letters to the Berkshire Eagle directed to news@berkshireeagle.com

As always, if you need help or assistance don’t hesitate to call me at 384-0233 or email at lhsibilia@gmail.com.

Kind regards,
Rep. Laura Sibilia
State Representative
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

In memory…

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.

monti_image
SFC Jared Monti

 

It is impossible to know the angst of waiting that the military wife or husband, child, parent or sibling endure during a deployment, unless you have personally experienced it.  Family members hope and pray that those in power, sending their loved one into harms way, understand the value of the individual lives that have committed themselves to our country’s service.

Some never came home.

1441256_150159988691531_2033351250816443254_nTwo in particular have made an impression on me that will last the rest of my days.  SFC Jared Monti died saving the lives of a handful of his brothers, including one of my brothers.
I never met him, but I think of him often when I am with my brother’s children.

1LT Mark Dooley a police officer in our little valley, was killed during a deployment with the Vermont National Guard to Iraq.  The only time I had an opportunity to have a conversation with him I asked him to “take care of my little brother over there”.  Mark was one of 36 servicemen with ties to Vermont to lose their life during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Please join me in taking a moment today to remember SFC Monti, 1LT Dooley and all who have perished while in service to our county.