Telling The Truth.

 

One of the frustrating parts of being involved in politics is to see an issue, understand an issue have an idea of how to make things better but for reasons grounded in reality be powerless to act. 

A direct example for me is across the river in Vermont and the tracks of the state owned Washington County Railroad stretching between White River Junction and Newport. In 2003 the Burlington based Vermont Rail System was granted a 30 year lease on this line; a lease that I strongly believe will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. Some facts about this privately held railroad company and its lease with the state:

Fact- The railroad company is required to pay an operating lease payment to the State of Vermont once it reaches profitability. The Vermont Rail System has not made a single lease payment to the state.

Fact- The State of Vermont pays for all of the capital maintenance on this line. The Vermont Rail System retains all of its carloading revenue and runs two trains three days a week.

The Vermont Rail System claim in their statements to the media that its presence in this area of Vermont is an example of creating economic development and jobs. I have as yet to find a single good-paying job as a result of this company being in operation. Furthermore I’m aware of companies that have actually left the area to move to states like New York where they can receive better economic and financial consideration for their operations, including rail access. Sometime in 2006 I contacted the Governor of Vermont, Jim Douglas. I asked his office if it were good transportation policy for Vermont to pour financial resources into a railroad line that is not only unprofitable but has serious questions regarding its long-term financial and economic viability. Governor Douglas responded by stating that the Vermont Secretary of Transportation would respond to my request.  It never came.

About a week later I signed for a registered mail it was from the president of the Vermont Rail System, David Wulfson. The tone of the letter stated that “this rail line would be successful.” If you notice he didn’t say profitable. Then he went on accusing me of having an obsession with the rail line and that if I continued to make public statements about the railroad including my efforts to contact elected and public officials I would be charged with corporate slander. I’m looking at this letter and thinking: what would I be charged with?

Telling The Truth.