Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Burlington Beat: Changes at the Top

Recent stories from VTDigger.org (plus drugs & dissent)

On March 6  residents of Vermont's largest city will select a new mayor. After the vote, however, some department heads in Burlington are also expected to change. Is this job creation or creative destruction, or perhaps part of a more epochal changing of the guard. In any case, here's another installment of my campaign coverage...

Campaign Notebook: 
Weinberger and Hines try to be different
     Feb. 20: If elections were decided by the number and quality of plans a candidate produced Miro Weinberger would be way out in front. Since last September the Democrat has released a five-point financial plan, a rescue plan for Centennial Field, leadership and downtown housing plans, and strategies for improving education. Last week, at a press conference with local entrepreneurs held at Union Station plaza near the waterfront, he added another one – a development plan to “jump start” the city’s economy. Continue reading

     Two Burlington schools will also have new CEOs soon…

UVM trustees choose Minnesota provost as next president
Tom Sullivan says Vermont is a good fit.
     Feb. 22: The University of Vermont announced the selection of legal scholar E. Thomas Sullivan as its 26th president on Wednesday. Sullivan, who has been senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Minnesota for the last eight years, will assume his new post on July 15 and receive more than $440,000 annually for the next three years. Continue reading
     A new president is also being sought for Burlington College, after the abrupt departure of Jane Sanders last September. If you know the right person to run a small college on the brink of something (or if that’s you), go to BC Job Postings

     The race for Burlington mayor took more unexpected turns last week. The local Progressive Party finally decided not to endorse a candidate, but one of its two City Councilors is backing Republican Kurt Wright. Meanwhile, there are unanswered questions about local finances, especially whether a ballot item to fund future development projects will be defeated by rumors and the delay of a state audit.

Council President requests pre-election release of TIF audit
     Feb. 26: Most members of the Burlington City Council claim that they want the ballot item establishing a new tax increment finance (TIF) district covering much of downtown to be approved by voters on March 6. But if it fails Council President Bill Keogh knows where to place the blame: on the shadow of doubt and “erroneous conclusions” that emerged from a TIF audit of Milton.
     That is why, three weeks ago, Keogh requested fast-track release of Burlington’s waterfront TIF audit by State Auditor Tom Salmon — in hope that the results would be available prior to the vote. Continue reading 

Mind Games: Drugging Dissent
Dealing with various political and institutional leaders as a journalist these days, I've been reading up on how they operate in The Dictator's Handbook. My objective is to understand how best to "help" them reveal themselves and their strategies. But this week's most revealing insights so far have come from Bruce E. Levine, a clinical psychologist who recently published an essay on Alternet with the provocative title, Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem.
     Levine says that drugs are marketed specifically to "cure" people who question authoritarianism. Makes perfect sense. This piece connects some important dots. A few of my favorite lines:
     I have found that most psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are not only extraordinarily compliant with authorities but also unaware of the magnitude of their obedience. And it also has become clear to me that the anti-authoritarianism of their patients creates enormous anxiety for these professionals, and their anxiety fuels diagnoses and treatments.
     And his conclusion:
     In every generation there will be authoritarians and anti-authoritarians. While it is unusual in American history for anti-authoritarians to take the kind of effective action that inspires others to successfully revolt, every once in a while a Tom Paine, Crazy Horse or Malcolm X come along. So authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their “cure.”
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