2013 Statewide Convention - Proposed Agenda

Annual Convention and State Committee Meeting
November 9, 2013; 1:00 pm
Capital City Grange, Berlin

CONVENTION (1:00 PM)     

Welcome: Martha Abbott (10 minutes)

A special video message: Prof. Bill McKibben (15 minutes)

Divesting from the Fossil Fuel Industry: & Student Activists (40 minutes)

CoCo Updates: Coordinating Committee Members (20 minutes)

Corporate Donations Petition Update: Robert Millar (10 minutes)

Break/Raffle Drawing (30 minutes)

Town Meeting Resolutions: Martha Abbott (10 minutes)

Notes from the Auditor’s Office: State Auditor Doug Hoffer (20 minutes)

Legislative Priorities for 2014: Progressive Legislators (30 minutes)

STATE COMMITTEE ACTIONS: Robert Millar (30 minutes)
     *Election of Officers & Coordinating Committee
     *Discussion: CoCo Subcommittees

Closing: Martha Abbott (5 minutes)

2013 State Convention - A Message from our Chair

Dear Friends -

I’d like to invite you to join us for our upcoming Annual Convention on November 9th, at the Capital City Grange in Berlin.  If possible, please plan on arriving promptly at 12:30PM to enjoy a light lunch provided by our friends at the Vermont State Employees Association.

Capital City Grange, Berlin
November 9, 2013
Lunch & Registration - 12:30 PM
Convention - 1:00 PM

(RSVP on Facebook)

We have a very exciting agenda planned, including:

● a special video message from Prof. Bill McKibben;
● a discussion with and Student Activists about fossil fuel divestment issues;
Progressive Legislators will present their priorities for the 2014 session;
State Auditor Doug Hoffer will talk about his first year in office;
● and much more!

Our new State Committee will also elect five officers and six at-large members to the Coordinating Committee.  If you are interested in running for the CoCo, e-mail a short bio and picture to before October 31.  These bios will be posted on our website and will be available on the day of the meeting.  Nominations may also be made from the floor.

Finally, I want to remind you that there are many ways to help ensure the continued financial health and success of our party.  If you are not already a regular supporter, please consider establishing a monthly donation.  By signing up as an ongoing contributor, you allow us to spend less time fundraising and more time recruiting and training candidates.  If you already give monthly, please consider making a special, one-time donation to help us offset the costs of this year’s reorganization.  Remember, unlike the other two parties, we're an entirely people-powered party, which means we can’t do it without you!

Thank you for your support.  I look forward to seeing you in Berlin.


Martha Abbott
Party Chair

PS: The Vermont Workers’ Center will be holding their 15th Anniversary Celebration Dinner that evening at 6PM at the Old Labor Hall in Barre -- I hope to see you there, as well!

Press Release: Hoffer announces new audits

State Auditor Doug Hoffer today announced that his office has initiated four new audits. The Auditor’s Office has completed the first three audits since Hoffer took office (State Workers Comp Program and two AOT contracts) and plans to issue two more audit reports shortly. Hoffer said, “After consulting with my Deputy Auditor and the senior staff, and reviewing preliminary risk assessments, I have selected four new audit topics.” They include the following:

· Designated Agencies: Designated agencies (DAs) are community mental health and developmental disability organizations responsible for providing services to individuals with developmental disabilities, adults with mental illness or significant behavioral health needs, and children with, or at risk of, severe emotional disturbance or behavioral health needs. DAs are designated by the Commissioner of Mental Health and Commissioner of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living.

The objectives are to 1) summarize how the Agency of Human Services funds the Designated Agencies under the master grant agreements and ensures that payments for services provided to program recipients are not duplicated, and 2) determine the extent to which Designated Agencies met selected performance and outcome measures in the master grant agreements. Hoffer stated that, “the 13 DAs do important work and collectively received $300 million in funding in FY 2013. It’s important that we take at look at how well the system is working.”

· Sex Offender Registry – Part 2: The objectives are to 1) assess the extent to which the data in the State’s Sex Offender Registry are reliable and current, and 2) determine the extent to which the recommendations in our 2010 report were implemented. The audit of the Sex Offender Registry was first requested by the legislature in 2009 and this is a follow-up.

· Department of Liquor Control: The objective is to assess whether changes to the Department's system for distribution and sale of liquor would enhance revenue and reduce costs. According to Hoffer, “the Legislature has expressed interest in increasing DLC revenues and my office can provide an objective analysis of organizational, operational, and financial alternatives to the current model.”

· State Energy Plan: The objectives are to 1) determine whether state agencies that own the most buildings and vehicles met the Act 40 (2011) goal to reduce energy consumption by 5% in 2012 and 2013, and 2) determine whether and how the state has assurance that the state agency energy plan is being implemented. Hoffer commented that “we need to ensure that the State is doing its part to reduce energy consumption.”

Press Release: Progressive Party Statement on Burlington City Committee Reorganization

On Sunday evening, as part of the biannual reorganization process required of all Vermont major parties, over fifty Burlington Progressives gathered at the Integrated Arts Academy to elect a new City Committee and Steering Committee to lead the Burlington Progressive Party for the next two years.  In addition to the necessary committee work, those gathered heard rousing speeches from State Auditor Doug Hoffer, activist Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, Ben & Jerry’s Chris Miller, Progressive City Councilors, Legislators, and more.

Kyle Silliman-Smith was elected City Chair, Ali Zipparo was elected City Vice Chair, Adam Norton was elected City Secretary, Wendy Coe was elected City Treasurer, and Connie Krosney was elected City Asst. Treasurer.  The following people were elected to represent their wards on the Steering Committee: Ward 1: Barb Nolfi; Ward 2: John Kennedy; Ward 3: July Sanders; Ward 5: Richard Kemp; Ward 6: Kelly Pierpont; Ward 7: Anjou-Marie Whelan. The following At-Large Steering Committee members were also elected: Erhard Mahnke, Steve Marshall, Selene Colburn, Jeetan Khadka, Barb Prine, Phyllis Knight, and Jude Logan DeMers.

Progressive Party State Chair Martha Abbott had this to say:

“I’ve been very excited in recent years to see so many new, younger Progressives step up and take on leadership roles in the Party, especially young women.  It’s no small task; the work involved in leading the strongest, most successful third party in the country is great.  I want to thank outgoing Chair Tiki Archambeau for his years of spectacular service and I very much look forward to working with Kyle, Ali, and all the members of the Burlington Steering Committee as we continue to grow the Progressive Party in Burlington, and beyond.”

New Burlington City Progressive Party Chair Kyle Silliman-Smith had this to say:

“I am honored my fellow Burlington Progressive Party members elected me to lead the City Steering Committee.  I look forward to working together with Ali and the rest of the Committee in the coming years as we continue to expand our party’s presence in Burlington.

“Our numbers on the City Council are the greatest they’ve been in years, but we can, and must, do better.  As the people’s party, we will continue to stand up for a strong livable wage ordinance, for a public, accessible waterfront, for city government that is open and welcoming to all, and for appropriate development that meets the needs all people, across the economic spectrum.  Along with grassroots organizing, one of the best ways to continue to do this effectively is to expand our numbers on the City Council next March, and I fully intend to see that happen.”

Press Release: Progressive Party Statement on Potential US Military Strike in Syria

In response to the prospect of a unilateral United States military strike in Syria proposed by the Obama Administration and set to be debated in Congress this week, the Coordinating Committee of the Vermont Progressive Party calls on Vermont’s Congressional delegation to vote against such an action.  Further, the Coordinating Committee calls on Vermont’s delegation to continue to push for more humanitarian aid for the innocent Syrian civilians caught in the middle of this conflict, and for the over two million Syrian refugees who have fled the country, many of whom are now housed in refugee camps in neighboring countries.  The United States should continue to work with the United Nations and our allies toward a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war, while committing to holding all war criminals, such as those responsible for the horrifying chemical weapon attacks, accountable under international law and negotiated treaties.

Last week, United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon urged leaders of the G20 summit to explore alternatives to military intervention in Syria, warning that “ill-considered military action could cause serious and tragic consequences, and with an increased threat of further sectarian violence.”  The United Nations has appealed to world leaders for increased humanitarian aid in Syria and its neighboring countries, noting that both relief operations inside the country and refugee aid without are funded at less than 50% of current targets.  An estimated 5,000 Syrians flee the country daily, adding to the impacts on overcrowded, underfunded refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq.

With this in mind, Progressive Party Chair Martha Abbott spoke decisively on the issue:

“The reality is Vermonters, and all Americans, are tired of constant war, of living in a world in which the United States is continuously embroiled in military conflicts that fail to deliver improved conditions to the regions they purport to help.  Entire generations of Vermonters are now growing up having never truly known a time of peace.

“The Administration cites Syria's purported use of chemical weapons as their impetus for this strike.  But let's not forget that during the Iraq/Iran war, the administrations of both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush authorized the sale to Iraq of poisonous chemicals and deadly biological viruses, and then gave the Iraqi government intelligence information on the location of Iranian troops so they could use these agents against them. 

"A military strike in Syria will not help those who have been hurt or killed by these terrible chemical weapons; it will only inflame the situation in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, while creating more animosity toward the United States. 

“If the United States is willing to commit another billion dollars to yet another quagmire in the Middle East, those monies should instead be used to help innocent civilians, not to fund yet another foolhardy military intervention, which will only lead to more suffering for the Syrian people, while enriching the military-industrial complex and a handful of others with a vested interest in continued conflict and chaos in the Middle East.”

Press Release: Progressive Party Statement on Entergy Yankee Decommissioning

Progressives were excited to learn Tuesday morning that the Entergy Yankee Nuclear power plant will be decommissioned and closed in 2014.  This is long overdue and something the Progressive Party has fought for since the plant was first proposed.

Progressive Party Chair Martha Abbott had this to say:

"Many Progressives fought against the building of a nuclear power plant in Vermont back in 1970.  It is wonderful news that Entergy has decided to close it.  The plant was no longer economically viable for them so they have made a savvy business decision.  It is also likely that the Vermont Public Service Board would not have given them a Certificate of Public Good to continue operating as Vermont no longer receives any power from the plant.

"While it is a great day to celebrate, we will have to hold our breath for another year and a half and hope that no more leaks or accidents happen between now and the end of 2014 when it is planned to shut down.

"More importantly we must demand that Entergy set aside sufficient funds to decommission the plant safely and 'restore the area to a green field' as was promised when it was built.  Further, we must also demand a just transition for the many Vermonters who work at the plant, to ensure that they and their families are taken care of as they move on to other positions."

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