Public should have access to Public Service Board

PUTNEY — A federal judge ordered our Vermont Public Service Board to let citizens exercise our First Amendment rights to attend their recent hearing that they had attempted to close to the public.

Unwilling to eject any disorderly citizens, they instead closed this hearing to all but six citizens admitted by police to an out-of-town venue behind a security fence: avoiding lèse-majesté; disdaining noblesse oblige.

Meanwhile, the Act 174 Working Group, already mandated by our legislators, comprising representatives of the Vermont General Assembly, Judiciary, Public Service Board, and Public Service Department, have begun to reconsider Vermonters' access to the board.

Ostensibly representing the public interest before the board, our Department of Public Service cannot represent citizens who dissent - who have First Amendment rights to present their views before the board, pro se if they wish, and participate in media coverage.

Criminal courts adjudicate who is guilty; civil courts adjudicate who prevails. Our quasi-judicial Public Service Board adjudicates the public good in the public interest.

Representing aspects of the public interest, dissenting citizens' evidence and arguments, if heard by the board, may prevail for the public good.

Vermonters naturally respect and practice egalitarian civility in our civic affairs. Dissenting fellow Vermonters who would be heard civilly should be heard.

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