Richard Watts

Commentator

Richard Watts teaches communications and public policy in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Vermont and directs the Center for Research on Vermont.

Baxternator / iStock

A young Vermont woman recently was pulled over for driving too close to the yellow line. Another driver was stopped for following a car too closely; a third was for driving 26 in a 25 mile per hour speed zone. Their real crime - driving while black.

Before it was invented in a Vermont legislative committee room in the spring of 2000, the concept of Civil unions didn’t exist anywhere in the world.

Watts: Town Meeting

Feb 23, 2018

Legendary Vermont Political Scientist Frank Bryan is fond of saying “Real democracy takes place in small places” and drawing a direct line from ancient Greece to our New England Town meeting.

Watts: Immigration

Feb 14, 2018

Early one morning last month - at five o’clock - 14 construction workers were arrested by immigration officials at a Colchester motel.

Screenshot from the trailer for 'The Post'

Apparently perceiving a conspiracy of Democrats, the press and liberal elites, the president is seething. Those around him have never seen him so angry.

Education may be essential to growing healthy minds and satisfying lives, but when it comes to changing behavior it falls far short.

In the early 1970s Amory Lovins called for a transformative new approach to providing electricity. He called it the nega-watt –  because, he said, the cheapest, greenest and cleanest watt of electricity is the one not used.

One of my strongest memories as a kid growing up in Putney in the ‘70s was the night I witnessed a fist fight at the gas station in the Village Center. It was at the height of the Vietnam War, and there was extreme tension between those opposed to the war, and those who supported it.

Watts: Youth Sports

Sep 18, 2017

Seasons have a way of stirring certain feelings. And for me, Fall is about long green fields and the white flash of a soccer ball, thumping the ball forward amid cheers and shouts, moving to the open spaces.

A friend of mine recently lost her job as a reporter - a job she loved. Every day she woke up and thought about how to capture the news and bring valuable information to her readers.

We recently spent four days in a Brooklyn Hospital with our daughter as she recovered from a severe infection that threatened to spread from a badly swollen cheek to her neck.

When Eric suffered a painful hockey injury during high school, the doctor prescribed painkillers. This started a life-long addiction that led to his death last year, just five months after marrying his long-time girl-friend.

As more tapes from President Richard Nixon’s oval office conversations have been released, the transcripts make for some compelling reading.

Last fall Soren Hermanson, a beefy, former-vegetable farmer from a small island off of the coast of Denmark came to Vermont to tell the story of Samso – an island that has gone completely renewable.

A few years ago I sat in the Federal Court House in Burlington and watched the full might of the US Auto Industry on display. Vermont had joined a number of other northeast states and California in requiring higher gas mileage in cars. Auto companies had then chosen to sue three states; California, New York and Vermont. The discovery requests alone had kept several staff in the state’s environmental agency busy for months.

Watts: Boys Adrift

Apr 18, 2017

We’re approaching a critical date in the world of college admissions – the day students put down their deposits and name their college choices. But admissions officers and college presidents already know one thing for sure – that the incoming class will have more women than men.

Early visitors to Vermont found it a beautiful and wild place but with far too many trees. So they set to work, carving farm fields out of the old-growth forests, pulling stumps from the ground, cutting 100-foot fir trees into chunks for firewood, planks for houses and masts for ships. By the time they were done, Vermont was nearly 80 percent cleared. The remaining trees were mostly relegated to the sides of mountains and the northern regions of the state.

Watts: Town Meeting

Feb 28, 2017

During the recent Congressional recess, stories about town hall meetings dominated the news. Large crowds attended the events. In some cases shouting down their Congressman. Some legislators avoided the meetings saying the process had been corrupted. Outside agitators were stirring the pot. President Trump tweeted about the “so-called angry crowds” calling them “sad.”

They came to Vermont in the thousands and tens of thousands, in cold weather and hot. Not speaking the language, often relegated to the hardest and most difficult work, they were treated as second class citizens.

At the time, one Vermont scholar wrote that they were “an abominable crew of vagabonds, robust, lazy men and boys, slatternly women with litters of filthy brats….The character of these people is not such to as to inspire the highest hope for the future of Vermont,” he concluded, “if they should become the most numerous of its population.”

Watts: The Gas Tax

Jan 17, 2017

When my parents moved to Putney in 1964, we bought our gasoline at the General Store. The gasoline cost 32 cents a gallon – which, when you adjust for inflation – is about $2.50 today. In fact, when I stopped to buy gas just recently, the cost was $2.30 cents – actually cheaper today, in real terms, than fifty years ago.

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