Friday, July 27, 2007

Pork-Free Grants for Non-Profits

I usually don’t like pork. Some pork is okay, like bacon. But just plain old pork, or even ham – it’s just not to my taste.

In the legislative realm, pork takes on a whole different meaning. Legislative pork means doling out government dollars for pet projects of individual legislators. While what’s pork to some is money well-spent to others, much is left open to debate. That’s why it’s good to separate government spending from political interests as much as possible. How to do that of course is the big challenge.

I am proud to say that three years ago, my first year as a Citizen Legislator, we passed into law what many of us called “The Pork Reduction Act.” What the bill did was shift the doling out of about a million dollars of capital funds from the legislators (myself included) to a nonpartisan committee of individuals in charge of “Building Communities Grants.”

Today, those results are yielding better government and stronger communities. Do you know of a worthy nonprofit who needs to install new heating systems, bathrooms, or finish other long-lasting projects? If so, there are several options for grants available to them:

Click here: and then click on "BGS Grants" (due Oct. 1), or

Click here: (due Oct. 15), or

Click here: for barns and historic sites (due Oct. 2).

They could get up to $25,000 for filling out a few pieces of paper. And they don’t have to lobby any politicians either. How’s that for kosher?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"The Simpsons" in Vermont

The Simpsons in Springfield, Vermont.

Springfield, Vermont took the national headlines today when it was chosen to be the home of "The Simpsons," yes, the TV Cartoon. I voted for it and told my friends to vote for it (but only several hundred of my closest ones).

In anticipation of that, I was actually in Springfield, a mere 119 miles south of Burlington. I didn't get to eat donuts (Homer would be displeased). But I did get to go to prison. It was part of my role on the Vermont Corrections Oversight Committee, where we focus on improving Vermont's prisons and jails. I spoke with a couple of inmates who pleaded for more support for mental health counciling, while they praised the service and support they received there. I've now been to 5 of Vermont's 9 correctional facilities, and will continue my visits, research, and legislation to reform our prison system.