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 $200 million.
Politicians are concerned about injuring Vermont’s “business reputation,” but reputation is founded on integrity – which is not about controlling information, but about acting on it to ensure integrity.
If proven, this would be the single largest fraud in Vermont’s 225-year history, involving 700 immigrants from 74 countries. The state’s potential liability approximates 5 percent of our annual $5.5 billion budget and could, when all the criminal and civil actions are tallied, levy a $200 million-plus liability on Vermont’s 325,000 taxpayers. A lot is at stake.
Two vital tenets of democracy are transparency and accountability of elected officials. Press efforts to rightfully obtain public records through FOIA requests are being met with delays and price tags designed to stonewall disclosure. This isn’t transparency. The open talk about destroying executive branch emails should send shivers down the spines of Vermonters. Precisely because politicians are elected to conduct the people’s business, the people have a right to know why, how, and when. Civic shrugs, administrative backpedaling and legislative ignorance combine to form a Petri dish for corruption, and corruption is much harder to root out than it is to prevent.
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