5 petitions

Update posted 2 months ago

Petition to Bernie Sanders, Vermont Governor, Vermont Dept. of Aging and Independent Living

Keep Martha in VT!

*** Please read 10/7/17 Update at BOTTOM of this page. I've been advocating for years, now Martha is out of state and deteriorating. Scroll down to bottom for update. Please help Martha stay home!! I'm Martha's mom. Martha is 16 years old and has autism. She is a smart, capable, sweet, hard working and complicated young lady. She wants to be a farmer when she grows up. I started a home-based business growing vegetables and raising chickens, so she could do just that (Martha Grows,llc). I also founded a non-profit organization that will provide opportunities for others with autism (Martha's Barn, Inc.) I have been preparing for Martha's future everyday.  Every. Single. Day. I have not stopped advocating for her since the day she was diagnosed at age 2, and I will never stop, as she doesn't have the voice to do it on her own. I have worked tirelessly advocating for Martha's care and education her entire life. That's why I started a business for her to work at and a program for her and others to be involved in, once they 'age out' of high school services. I'm planning on bridging that cliff for Martha and her peers. I love our community and Vermont and I want to keep that an integral part of who Martha is, my little farmer.   What I HAD NOT prepared for, was the day I would be told VT cannot fund what Martha needs to remain home. Martha's needs are complicated and require a skilled team. Her educational, psychiatric and therapeutic needs are complex, as well, but she is in a wonderful program, right here in our community, and supported by a team of doctors. The missing piece is that her program can't stop when school ends. Our home life is tumultuous, to say the least. Martha struggles daily to stay safe. She has needed a 'continuum of care' for years, and now, I am desperately advocating for one, as our other option is sending her out of state, giving her to DCF custody or to another family to care for. This is unacceptable. I have applied for an out of state residential school placement for Martha, with her team's support, as we know, time is running out for her. I have been pushed to that point. Her needs are great. I am being told her VT plan lacks a 'system' to fund it.   What? Isn't it better to fix the system than to send Martha away? Martha's IEP team and I have created a cost effective solution to keep Martha home and learning in her current community environment and in her current school placement. We have extended her current services to created a 'full day and supported overnight' to meet her level of need. Our solution is to build Martha more living space, to meet her safety needs, paired with the services and educational supports she has already here in our community. This will allow her a therapeutic environment to learn and sustain life skills, provide overnight space for staff but most crucially, the safety modifications to allow medication changes, which can't happen currently, unless she were to spend months in and out of psychiatric hospitals, none appropriate for her exist in VT. Both the Agency of Education and the Agency of Human Services are failing Martha. And they are failing others with this level of need. The state of Vermont is afraid to set a precedent, that is the underlying reason that Martha's crisis is not being funded. How can sending Martha out of state be justified? It can't be. Vermont can do this. We CAN meet the needs of our most vulnerable, in a cost effective way, but not if the AOE and AHS don't work together. I hope VT builds residential schools and programs that provide state of the art care and education for our kids. Our kids are vulnerable, they need to be close to home. VT needs to keep VT dollars in VT, filling this need at home, keeping our families together, especially the 'Marthas'. We need to create this wheel.  Why don't we have more options for our severely autistic children? We have the means, the resources and we certainly have the need. I hope the future includes a system to support the 'Marthas' in our state. It is fiscally irresponsible to keep sending our kids away. Here is the crux of the problem, as I understand it:  VT's ACT 264 PLAN and The SYSTEM OF CARE PLAN FOR DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES (the governing documents for Martha and the Marthas of VT) were created with the mission "to make Vermont the best state in which to grow old or to live with a disability; with dignity, respect and independence" and "that human services and public education work together, with parents, to coordinate services for better outcomes for children and families..." But they don't work together well. And our children don't have options. Act 264 can't help families, if VT lacks any infrastructure. Where does Martha fit in? Do I have to give her up to DCF custody to get her needs met? I'm confused. She won't be growing old here if she has to leave VT? Is this mission meant for the people with disabilities less severe than hers? Does her level of need fit into this plan? WHY are the most vulnerable VTers leaving VT? I am told there is 'no system to fund her home accommodations but there is a system to fund out of state residential'. I was told that when I called the Governor's hotline 2 weeks ago. I appreciate that option of out of state, I really do. But her needs can be met here (I have the ACT 264 and IEP notes to show that). If her plan can't be funded, than Martha has to move to MA, for many years, as she can't come back to VT with nothing in place for her? Is this Vermont's intention? I hope not. In the meantime, this is what Martha needs to avoid out of state residential placement... an addition off of her bedroom, approximately 500 square feet, as determined by her Psychiatrist and IEP team. It is much more cost effective than many years of out of state residential. Her IEP team and Act 264 notes reflect that we have been able to solve this issue, saving Martha and saving money. But the current system is not set up to support our children at home. This requires 'out of the box' thinking to save my daughter from leaving VT. I think VT can fix this problem. We should have a 'continuum of options' for our children, ranging from Least Restrictive to Residential. VT does not have a Residential Treatment School in VT. When Brandon Training School closed 20 years ago, VT changed its mission to include all VTers in their communities.  What happens to the children who need the same amount of school based treatment to also keep their children safe and learning at home? These VT vulnerable children are leaving for out of state residential placements, that's what happens to them, and these numbers are increasing. Please provide a continuum of options in VT so that our families don't have to be separated, for all Vermont children, not just Martha. Currently, I am trying to amend Bill H.859 to include the needs of my daughter and others like her, so that may get their needs met in VT. We could access all of our VT resources and build our infrastructure from within our own state, I am hoping. I appreciate you reading this petition. Please sign, please share with everyone you can, I need as many signatures as possible to help my daughter. Please help Martha stay home. Time is running out for her. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Kathleen Burke Kourebanas (Martha's mom) Essex, VT    

Kathleen Burke Kourebanas
964 supporters
Update posted 4 months ago

Petition to Miro Weinberger, Noelle MacKay, Chapin Spencer, David E. White, Brandon del Pozo, Eileen Blackwood, Sharon Bushor, Max Tracy, Sara Giannoni, Kurt Wright, Chip Mason, Karen Paul, Adam Roof, Jane Knodell, Dave Hartnett, Joan Shannon, Richard Deane, Ali Dieng

Save 242 Main: Legendary Teen Center and USA's Longest-Running All Ages Punk Rock Venue

242 Main has brought a community of young adults together where they can fearlessly share what matters and learn to respect each other. It’s Burlington's voice for diversity in art and the human experience, fostering social bonds and confidence. It’s launched many young people on creative paths that led to fulfilling lives. 242 Main is an institution led by our city’s youth and nurtured into a national landmark. It has a treasured history of inclusivity and a triumphant legacy of being the nation’s oldest, longest-running all ages punk rock venue. 242 Main has championed the growth of young adults who are confident, critically-minded, and engaged with their peers and community. It has fostered generations of creative community-minded citizens and is an irreplaceable resource. We see Mayor Weinberger, our city department chiefs, and each of our City Councilors, as citizens sharing our vision for a healthy, participatory city that respects diversity, inclusion, empowerment, civic engagement, and creativity. We understand that deferred maintenance has jeopardized all the programs inside Memorial Auditorium, where 242 Main lives. We ask that as you resolve the structural issues with Memorial Auditorium by repairing or redeveloping the building, please keep 242 Main in its current location, operating as a teen-led program that can continue its legacy of serving Burlington’s youth in its uniquely powerful and historic way, providing an outlet for their creative and social vision. Please make this ‘community benefit’ a priority within the redevelopment process. This will make our community stronger by demonstrating that we all share an inclusive vision and a spirit of living up to our responsibilities to each other and the meaningful things we’ve built together.  (Photo by Tim Snow, @TimSnowPhoto)

James Lockridge
1,688 supporters
Update posted 7 months ago

Petition to Vermont State Senate, Vermont State House

Vermonters Want Comprehensive Marijuana Legalization

Vermonters have a history of being on the moral side of history by opposing unjust law.   A leading example is the Habeus Corpus Law of 1850 which was passed by the Vermont Legislature to command state law enforcement agents and judges to assist captured fugitive slaves.  In response to Vermont's Habeus Corpus Law, then U.S. President Millard Fillmore threatened Vermont with a military occupation for essentially nullifying the Fugitive Slave Act within Vermont’s borders.  Vermont was not intimidated. Marijuana prohibition is another example of an unjust law we Vermonters oppose.  While federal code criminalizes the voluntary use, cultivation, and exchange of marijuana by informed and consenting adults, jurisdictions such as Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia, have taken independent measures apart from the U.S. Congress to decriminalize and/or re-legalize the consumption, cultivation, and trade of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes.      Vermonters who support marijuana decriminalization and legalization do not necessarily condone drug use.  However, we do oppose the dangerous practice of criminalizing consensual and victimless behavior by responsible adults.  We the undersigned Voters of the State of Vermont, petition the State of Vermont to uphold it's constitutional duty to promote the general welfare through public health and safety policy, by defining reasonable regulations around personal marijuana use, cultivation, and commerce, such as product safety standards and product labeling requirements to facilitate informed consumer choice. We believe marijuana has not been empirically proven to be a significant danger to public health and safety justifying criminalization.  No negative physiological health effects have ever been proven to be caused by consuming tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) found in marijuana.   Since legalizing recreational marijuana in 2012, Colorado violent crime rates have declined, and the growth rates in impaired driving and marijuana use by minors are statistically insignificant.  We believe marijuana prohibition is not a reasonable form of regulation, but the abdication of regulatory authority by the State of Vermont, whereby public courts become closed to a minority group of  consumers for adjudicating civil and business disputes, arguably in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and whereby state regulatory authorities cease to protect Vermont consumers by defining product safety standards and product labeling requirements. We recognize the collateral damage caused by marijuana prohibition as a greater danger to public health and safety than personal marijuana use, cultivation and regulated trade. Our conclusion is based on the large number of otherwise law abiding, functional, and peaceable human beings having their private property confiscated under civil asset forfeiture law, and whose prospects for future prosperity are harmed after being labeled criminals for life over a marijuana related arrest and conviction.   We require expungement of all nonviolent marijuana related arrest and conviction records.  Over 80,000 Vermont residents surveyed by the RAND Corporation admit to regularly using marijuana. This suggests a narrow jury pool for Vermont prosecutors who wish to convict persons for the victimless acts of possessing, growing and voluntarily transacting for marijuana.      We affirm every human being has natural authority over their mind and body, whereby the free exercise of informed choice, voluntary consumption, consensual trade, and cultivation of marijuana among responsible adults must be protected by Vermont state statute and municipal ordinance.   We believe moral ends require moral means, and we recognize marijuana prohibition as both an ineffective and immoral means of promoting public health and protecting public safety.  Our belief is based on overwhelming evidence from legal and policy research groups dating back to landmark finding of the 1972 National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (aka The Shafer Commission), showing unreasonable collateral harm being done to individuals, families, and society from marijuana prohibition enforcement. We believe police lives matter. Marijuana legalization reduces demands on law enforcement to confront otherwise law abiding individuals over behavior as personal possession, consumption, cultivation, and consensual trade, which enhances officer safety by reducing officer exposure to harmful risk, and reserves crime-fighting resources for allocation towards solving and preventing genuine crimes having genuine victims. We believe responsible adult Vermonters have the moral right, civil right, and legal right to grow marijuana at home for personal use.  If the people do not have a right to grow marijuana at home for personal use, no representative of the people in government may commercialize and license-out a nonexistent right of the people for profit.   Lawmakers shall not turn the people into a captive market and divorce them from their values and capabilities,  by commercially licensing-out the people's right to grow marijuana, while denying the same people the same ability to personally exercise this right for themselves.  We believe genuine marijuana legalization restores civil rights. Racial and political minorities are arrested at higher rates for illicit marijuana not because police are inherently biased or racist, but because prohibition laws were designed to disrupt minority communities under the guise of public safety. President Richard Nixon's domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman, admitted on public record about the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) saying, "We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the [Vietnam] war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities." Therefore, We the undersigned Voters of the State of Vermont, pledge to support political candidates who back comprehensive marijuana legalization.  We pledge to oppose any political candidate in Vermont’s upcoming state, county, and municipal election cycle(s), who explicitly or implicitly opposes passing a comprehensive marijuana legalization bill.     Thank you for signing our petition. Our goal is to get 10,000 voters to sign before Vermont's 2017 legislative session closes.  Please share our petition with your friends and family over Facebook, Twitter and email.  Doing so helps improve petition visibility which brings us closer to our goal.

John Cisar
2,257 supporters