Commentary Series

Mon-Thurs 8:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Sundays at 10:55 a.m.

More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers. The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.

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In Vermont we have two very clearly defined dates for voting: Election Day, the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November, and Town Meeting Day, which is the first Tuesday in March. To hold an election as important as the one that will decide all of our state elected leaders for the foreseeable future on a day other than Town Meeting or in November just doesn’t make sense. And this year, Vermont’s primary election will be held on August 9th – the very dog days of summer – which to me seems downright indefensible.

Schubart: EB-5

Jul 21, 2016

I’m struggling to reconcile the unfolding Jay Peak scandal and the “we did a great job” remarks of our elected administration officials. According to the SEC, the developers misused $200M.

Slayton: Budbill

Jul 20, 2016

David Budbill’s 76th birthday celebration featured readings of his plays and poetry by actors, scholars, and others who have long treasured this poet’s work. It was a truly memorable evening, marred only by the fact that David is now quite ill with a neurological disease.

I’ll never forget the first time my parents came to visit us, twenty-somethings with a new baby, on our newly purchased property in the Champlain Valley. They pulled into our dirt driveway, just as our neighbor was herding his Holsteins to summer pasture beyond our land. Surrounded by dozens of cows, they were surprised and stalled as the animals moseyed through. But this was still farm country, after all and dairy was king. Thirty five years later the valley is still farming – but now it’s for wind and sun.

One hundred years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous speech saying, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

A pair of hands, black and covered with soot, bound together with rusty iron chains and chiseled by decades of inhumane treatment, represents the injustice of racism in our nation. Sadly, the remnants of the chains remain to this day.

In 1930 in Marion, Indiana, two lifeless black bodies in ragged and tattered clothes hung from separate tree branches, their faces and bodies beaten and bloody. Below them, a separate crowd of well-dressed white men and women stood smiling and looking at the corpses. Not one person had an expression of sorrow or remorse – not a single hint of regret.

Vogel: Pre-Kindergarten

Jul 18, 2016

On July 1, Vermont became the fourth State to fund pre-Kindergarten for all its 3 and 4 year old children. It’s a good first step and speaks to an important need. According to Governor Shumlin, for 70% of the children in Vermont under the age of 6, both parents are in the labor force.

In June, the Supreme Court decided Utah v. Strieff, a case that questioned whether evidence found after an unconstitutional search could still be admitted in court. The case briefly made news, due to a powerful dissent from Justice Sotomayor, but then dropped off the radar as the Court released its affirmative action and abortion decisions.

In a world that seems to be filled with so much hatred and animosity, it may seem strange to talk about happiness. But connecting with the simple goodness in life restores me and reminds me of what I value.

When Phil Hoff was elected Vermont governor in 1962, it was commonly said that a Democrat didn’t win; the Republican lost. Two years later, something similar happened when Barry Goldwater was the controversial and unpopular Republican presidential nominee.

Mim Adkins

As we anguish over recent events in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas, let me be blunt: The prospect of violence against people of color by law enforcement looms ever present – even in Vermont. Now is not a time to anguish, but to act.

The American Promise isn’t dead. But it’s not what it used to be.

Mark Washburn / Dartmouth Hitchcock

When I was sixteen, I stuffed myself in a car with 14 friends to go for ice cream. When we were stopped by the police, half of us had to get out just to roll down the window.

The existential threat facing America today is not from Russia, which has a smaller defense budget than France and a crumbling economy, but from the continuing cleavage in America between blacks and whites, between the haves and have nots, between those who understand the importance of America's democratic institutions and those who want to tear the fabric of America apart by shredding the compact that has held this Republic together for two centuries.

The election is still months away and unpredictable, making it presumptuous to talk about Bill Clinton coming back to the White House. But if that happened, it would be another fascinating aspect of gender-making history. America would join other places where the chief executive also is or has been a married woman including the United Kingdom, Germany and Vermont.

“Information wants to be free” is a mantra from the sixties that’s wreaking havoc with democracy. Our culture is at stake as digitization and the Internet largely eliminate the need for hard media.

Kalish: Undue Burden

Jul 7, 2016

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was the Supreme Court’s first major decision in 24 years to clarify the constitutional right to abortion. The last occurred in 1992, in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.

If you’re old enough - and I am - to remember the thwack of rolled up newsprint hitting your door each morning, and the pleasure of perusing page one as you sip your coffee, this won’t be good news.

This spring my brother in another state became seriously ill and required end-of-life care in a nursing home. As his health care proxy, I responded to daily calls and emails from caseworkers, nurses and physicians.