On May 4, 2022

Senators’ remarks are tone-deaf as fuel prices soar

Dear Editor,

For the last 17 years, I have worked as a fuel and propane delivery driver serving the residents of Vermont. I am just one of the many drivers and employees in the home heat industry working to make sure you and your loved ones stay warm during the long, dark and cold Vermont winters.

Without exception, every one of the drivers, technicians, customer service representatives, dispatchers and managers are laser-focused on the goal of giving the best possible service at the best price.

Those of us on the front lines of this industry are all hard-working Vermonters. We are not immune to the struggles of the people we serve. Fuel prices this year have gone through the roof and so have the prices of everything else. Even when prices were much lower it was not easy for many of us to make ends meet while paying to stay warm.

This year, even with the doubling of government fuel assistance, the challenge has been more difficult. While on my daily route I listen carefully to the pain of low and middle-income Vermonters who have had no choice but to go cold and hope for Spring to come early. You cannot help but feel the anguish of your neighbors. I understand it. Everyone in the industry understands it. The dominant political party in Montpelier does not understand it. They are callous to the struggle of their constituents.

The evidence of this rude disconnect is a thirty-minute recorded discussion on the morning of April 15 between four of Vermont’s Democratic state senators in the committee on natural resources and energy. The conversation is revealing and just plain disgusting for those of us being pinched in these hard economic times.

Sen. Mark McDonald (D-Williamstown) and committee chair Chris Bray (D-Addison) were discussing the implementation of the “clean heat standard legislation.” The worst comments came from McDonald, who is quoted as saying, “Before I kill someone to get their clean heat credits, I want to know what the charge is going to be. Embezzlement, scam, securities fraud?” Followed up later in the conversation in a response Bray said, “Well for the person who says, ‘I don’t like that. I don’t want to be paying extra.’” McDonald then said, “Well then, get a blanket for Christ’s sake!”

I was once a Democrat, for the reason that I believed this party was compassionate and concerned about the people they are elected to serve. A little over 15 years ago I figured out my beliefs were flawed. Vermonters would be wise to elect state senators who do not mock the people who pay their salaries. As for McDonald, you should apologize to every Vermonter and then resign.

Stu Lindberg, Cavendish

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