YCQM - Jim Condos - March 4, 2012 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM - Jim Condos - March 4, 2012

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

March 4, 2012 -- Jim Condos/D-Vt. Secretary of State, joins Kristin Carlson and Darren Perron to discuss Town Meeting Day and November elections.

TRANSCRIPT:

>> WE'RE STARTING WHAT WE CALL ELECTION-NIGHT REPORTING, IT WILL BE A PILOT PROJECT THAT IS SET UP TO GO ON MARCH 6TH, TOWN MEETING DAY, IT WILL ONLY BE FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY THIS YEAR, BUT ESSENTIALLY WHAT IT IS, IT'S GOING TO BE ESSENTIALLY A CENTRAL CLEARING HOUSE FOR ALL ELECTION RESULTS FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY, AND WE HOPE -- THIS IS A PILOT YEAR, WE HOPE THAT, YOU KNOW, WE'RE GOING TO GO THROUGH THE AUGUST GENERAL ELECTION PRIMARY AND THEN THE GENERAL ELECTION IN NOVEMBER, AND WE HOPE THAT EVERYTHING WORKS OUT JUST FINE, AND WE'LL REALLY CRANK IT UP FOR THE TOWN MEETING IN 2013.

>> HOW DOES IT WORK?

>> ESSENTIALLY, THE TOWN CLERKS WILL GET THEIR RESULTS, AND THEY'LL BE -- THEY'LL HAVE A SECURE SITE TO GO TO, AND PASSWARD PROTECTED, AND THEY'LL IN,, AND THEY'LL DOWNLOAD THEIR INFORMATION INTO OUR SYSTEM, AND THEN OUR SYSTEM, ONCE THEY SEND IT TO US, OUR SYSTEM WILL UPDATE EVERY FIVE MINUTES, IT WILL REFRESH EVERY FIVE MINUTES, AND THEN IT WILL BE UP ON THE WEB, AND EVERYBODY CAN SEE IT, WHETHER IT BE THE MEDIA, CANDIDATES, PARTIES, OR THE GENERAL PUBLIC.

>> YOU HAVE ALL OF THE TOWN AND CITY CLERKS ON BOARD WITH THIS?

>> WELL, WE'RE WORKING -- WE'VE ACTUALLY BEEN COMMUNICATING WITH THEM, MY OFFICE THROUGH THE DIRECTOR OF ELECTIONS ON A PRETTY REGULAR BASIS, WE'VE BON WORKING WITH THEM ON, IT'S SOMETHING THAT SOME OF THEM ARE REALLY ANXIOUS FOR BECAUSE THEY THINK IT WILL CUT DOWN A LOT OF THE CALLS THAT THEY GET. OUR CLERKS ARE VERY HARD WORKING, AND THAT'S PROBABLY ONE OF THE HARDEST NIGHTS OF THE YEAR FOR THEM, HARDEST DAYS OF THE YEAR FOR THEM BECAUSE THEY'RE WORKING MANY, MANY HOURS. IT'S A TOUGH, TOUGH ROAD FOR THEM, BUT WE HOPE THIS WILL MAKE IT EASIER, AND WE'LL GIVE THEM KIND OF A BREAK AS FAR AS GETTING THE INFORMATION OUT, BECAUSE AS YOU PROBABLY ALL KNOW, THEY'RE GETTING PHONE CALL AFTER PHONE CALL AFTER PHONE CALL FROM DIFFERENT MEDIA OUTLETS LOOKING FOR THE INFORMATION, AND WE'RE HOPING THAIL WE'LL BE ABLE TO SUPPLY IT THIS WAY FOR EVERYONE, BASICALLY. IT WILL BE CONSISTENT UP TO DATE AND MORE ACCURATE. WE'VE ALREADY HAD SEVERAL OF THE MEDIA OUTLETS HAVE ALREADY ASKED FOR AN RSS FEED SO THEY CAN GET THE INFORMATION AS IT COMES UP, AND WE'LL WORK FROM THERE.

>> WHAT WAS THE REASON FOR THIS? WERE YOU HEARING FROM VOTERS, FROM REPORTERS, WERE YOU HEARING FROM TOWN AND CITY CLERKS -- WHAT LED YOU TO SAY THIS IS NEEDED?

>> WELL, WHEN I RAN MY FIRST STATEWIDE RACE, WHICH WAS THIS LAST NOVEMBER, 2010, WE SAW THAT THERE WAS A REAL DIFFERENCE AS FAR AS GETTING INFORMATION, AS TO WHERE THE VOTES WERE COMING IN AT THAT TIME. THE DIFFERENT TV STATIONS, THE DIFFERENT NEWSPAPERS, WERE ALL HAVING DIFFERENT NUMBERS ON THEIR WEBSITES, SO THAT WAS ONE OF THE AREAS. BUT WE ALSO HAD -- DURING THE CAMPAIGN, I THINK, WE TALKED ABOUT THIS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS WHERE PEOPLE JUST DO NOT HAVE ACCURATE, UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION ON ELECTION NIGHT, AND I LOOKED AROUND THE COUNTRY, AND I SAW THERE WERE OTHER PLACES IN THE COUNTRY, STATES THAT DID ELECTION-NIGHT REPORTING, AND WE'VE TAKEN IT ACTUALLY ONE STEP FURTHER.

>> WHAT'S THE COST FOR THIS?

>> THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION, KRISTIN, OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD, I DON'T HAVE IT, BUT IT'S WELL WITHIN MY BUDGET.

>> WE WERE TALKING SHORTLY AGO ABOUT THE OUTDATED TECHNOLOGY IN THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE. HAS THIS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE SINCE YOU TOOK OVER?

>> OVERALL, YES. I THINK THAT IT IS TRUE OF A LOT OF -- NEEN PRIVATE SECTOR, YOU'LL FIND THAT COMPANIES THAT, YOU KNOW, STARTED TO GET INTO THE WEB AND STARTED TO USE COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY IN THE 90s OR WHATEVER, WENT INTO THE PROBLEM WHERE EVENTUALLY THAT TECHNOLOGY STARTS TO BECOME SKPOLD STALE AND REALLY -- OLD AND STALE AND REALLY IS A PROBLEM AS THEY GO FORWARD. WHAT I FOUND IS THAT MY PREDECESSOR, DEB MARKOWITZ, DID A GREAT JOB OF BLINGING THIS OFFICE TO THE WEB. TODAY WE HAVE MORE INFORMATION AVAILABLE ON THE WEB FOR THE PUBLIC, PUBLIC ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS, THAN AT ANY TIME IN OUR HISTORY, YET WE STILL HAVE AN OLD WEBSITE, IT'S AN OLD SYSTEM, WE HAVE AREAS OF THE WEBSITE WE CAN'T GET TO, TO FIX PROBLEM AREAS, WE HAVE OLD TECHNOLOGY -- WE HAVE A CORPORATIONS DIVISION THAT DOES A HUNDRED THOUSAND TRANSACTIONS A YEAR, AND IT'S BASICALLY ITS SOFTWARE IS VERY OLD TECHNOLOGY THAT ISN'T SUPPORTED ANYMORE, WE'RE JUST KIND OF BAND-AIDING IT AT THIS POINT. WE DO HAVE AN RFP OUT ON THE STREET, WE EXPECTS THE RESULTS OF THAT WITHIN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS, AT WHICH POINT WE'LL BE GOING THROUGH SEVERAL MONTHS OF REVIEWING THOSE PROPOSALS TO PUT A COMPLETE NEW OPERATING SYSTEM FOR CORPORATIONS DIVISION. IN THE AREA OF OFFICE OF PROFESSIONAL REGULATION, WE NOW HAVE UP AND RUNNING AN E-LICENSE -- EXCUSE ME. -- AN E-LICENSE PROGRAM THAT ALLOWS FOR RENEWALS OF THE 45 PROFESSIONS AND 55,000 LICENSE HOLDERS ON-LINE, AND HERE IT IS IN THE SECOND YEAR, AND WE HAVE ABOUT 85% USEER INTERACTION WITH THAT. SO IT'S REALLY -- WE'RE STARTING TO BRING THE TECHNOLOGY INTO THE 2000s, AND WE'RE GETTING BETTER AT IT, AND THAT'S GOING TO MAKE STATE GOVERNMENT MORE EFFICIENT, MORE PRODUCTIVE, AND MORE ACCURATE.

>> YOU'VE DONE AT -- GONE TO CONFERENCES WITH OTHER SECRETARIES OF STATE. HOW DO WE COMPARE IN VERMONT TO OTHER STATES ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN REGARDS TO THE TECHNOLOGY THAT WE'RE USING OUT OF YOUR OFFICE?

>> I THINK STATE GOVERNMENTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE FACING THIS PROBLEM. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT'S NEW. SOME STATES HAVE GOTTEN FARTHER AHEAD. BECAUSE THEY'VE HAD TO FOCUS ON IT. AND PERHAPS THEY'VE HAD THE METHOD TO PAY -- THE MEANS TO PAY THOSE COSTS. IT IS NOT FREE. TECHNOLOGY IS NOT FREE; IT DOES COST MONEY, AND THE QUESTION IS TRYING TO FIND THE RIGHT FIX FOR YOUR SYSTEM THAT YOU NEED. WE ALL KNOW WHAT'S GONE ON AT THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, AND THEY'RE TRYING TO WORK THROUGH THAT PROJECT THERE. WHAT W'RE TRYING TO DO IS NOT BUILD A NEW SYSTEM, WE'RE TRYING TO LOOK AT OTHER SYSTEMS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND SAY, OKAY, WHICH ONES WILL BEST FIT VERMONT AND THEN TRY TO BRING THAT TECHNOLOGY TO THE STATE. SO WE'RE LOOKING FOR NOT TRYING TO REBUILD, REINVENT THE WHEEL, BUT JUST TRY TO USE WHAT'S ALREADY OUT THERE, MAKE SURE THAT IT'S UP TO DATE AND STATE-OF-THE-ART.

>> TELL A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THIS NEW SYSTEM, SECRETARY OF STATE THARKS YOU'RE WORKING ON, JIM CONDOS. YOU DAY IN THIS, IT'S THE UNOFFICIAL ELECTION-NIGHT RESULTS. ARE YOU CONCERNED THIS COULD GO VERY WRONG?

>> I'M REALLY NOT. I THINK WHAT'S GOING TO -- WE'RE HOPEFUL THAT IT'S GOING TO WORK AND THAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO EMBRACE IT. WE ARE -- I MEAN, ONE OF THE CONCERNS THAT WAS OUT THERE THAT WE HEARD ABOUT WAS, WELL, WHAT HAPPENED IF YOU HAVE TOO MANY HITS AND IT OVERLOADS THE SYSTEM AND THE WEBSITE CRASHES. WE THINK WE'VE BE TAKEN CARE OF THAT ISSUE, AND THE WAY WE DID THAT IS PART OF OUR SYSTEM UPGRADE IS THAT WE'RE USING -- I FORGET THE NAME OF IT, BUT IT'S A CLOUD SYSTEM, IT'S A SECURE CLOUD, THAT ALLOWS -- THAT BRINGS ON MORE SERVERS AS THE HITS INCREASE, IT HAS THE AMOUNT OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD, TAKES OVER, BRINGS ON MORE SERVERS TO OFFSET THAT, SO WE DON'T HAVE TO BE THE ONES SUPPLYING THE SERVERS. IT'S DONE THROUGH A SECURE SYSTEM.

>> IN THE COMING TOWN MEETING?

>> THIS IS A BIG TEST. IT'S ONLY FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY. WE'RE STARTING OFF REAL SLOW, WE HAVE SIX CANDIDATES ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE, WE HAVE ONE CANDIDATE ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE, SO WE THINK THIS IS A GOOD START. THEN WE'LL SWITCH INTO THE MODE OF GETTING READY FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION. THE PROBLEM BETWEEN NOW AND THEN IS TO MAKE SURE THAT, AS REAPPORTIONMENT GETS COMPLETED, THAT WE CAN UPDATE OUR DATABASE SYSTEMS TO MATCH THOSE DISTRICTS THAT THEY SET ASIDE.

>> WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT REVEALING INFORMATION, ONE OF THE ISSUES AND CONCERNS I HEAR A LOT ABOUT IS CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS. THIS IS AN ISSUE I HAVEN'T HEARD AS MUCH ABOUT, ABOUT NEEDING THESE RESULTS FASTER. IN A DIFFERENT WAY. THE ISSUE OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS, DURING THE REPORTING PERIOD, AFTER AN ELECTION -- WHAT IS THE PROGRESS ON GETTING REAL-TIME REPORTING ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTING, OR FASTER, PERHAPS?

>> WELL, WE'RE TRYING TO WORK OUR WAY THROUGH AGAIN, THAT'S ANOTHER TECHNOLOGY UPGRADE THAT WE'RE LOOKING AT, AND AS WE SPEAK, WE'RE GOING TO BE TALKING NEXT WEEK WITH A VENDOR, A POTENTIAL VENDOR WHO ACTUALLY DESIGNED THE SOUTH DAKOTA SYSTEM, AND WE'VE LOOKED AT THAT, AND IT APPEARS TO BE ONE THAT MAY FIT WELL WITH VERMONT. WE'RE LOOKING AROUND THE COUNTRY, MINNESOTA'S ANOTHER STATE THAT HAS A GOOD CAMPAIGN FINANCE SYSTEM. AND THERE ARE OTHER STATES. AND WHAT WE'VE BEEN DOING IS LOOKING AROUND TO SEE WHERE IS A SYSTEM THAT WORKS, THAT WE CAN GET A HOLD OF. THE BIG ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM ON THOSE IS, OF COURSE, THE COST, AND AT ONE POINT MY PREDECESSOR HAD PRODUCED A WHITE-PAPER REPORT FOR THE LEGISLATURE, I THINK IT WAS IN 2010, AND THAT REPORT SAID IT WAS GOING TO BE A COST OF BETWEEN 600,000 AND $1 MILLION FOR THAT SYSTEM THAT WOULD BE FULLY IMPLEMENTED, THAT WOULD ALLOW SEARCHABLE, DOWNLOADABLE DATA ACCESS, AND YOU COULD CONFIGURE IT ANY WAY YOU WANT ONCE YOU HAVE DOWNLOADED IT, AND IT WOULD ALLOW FOR IMMEDIATE ELECTRONIC FILING BY THE CANDIDATES THEMSELVES. THAT'S WHAT WE HOPE TO GET TO, AND WE'RE WORKING TOWARDS THAT, BUT IT'S GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME, AND YOU DON'T WANT US TO DO THAT IN THE MIDDLE OF AN ELECTION CYCLE; YOU'D RATHER DO THAT AT THE BEGINNING OF AN ELECTION CYCLE. WE'RE LOOKING AT IT, WE'RE TRYING TO SEE IF THERE IS SOMETHING LESS COSTLY THAN MY PREDECESSOR PREDICTED IN HER WHITE PAPER, BUT WE'RE STILL OUT THERE RUNNING THE FEELERS TO SEE WHAT WE CAN DO.

>> ARE YOU RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION?

>> I GUESS I CAN TELL YOU THAT, YES, I WILL BE RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION. YOU'RE THE FIRST TO ASK.

>> WELL, THANK YOU FOR SHARING. LET'S TALK ABOUT TOWN MEETING DAY. YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY IN TOUCH WITH TOWN AND CITY CLERKS FROM ACROSS THE STATE. WHAT ARE YOU HEARING FROM THEM, ABOUT WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST ISSUES FACING OR TOWNS AND CITIES THIS YEAR?

>> I THINK THE MAIN ISSUES WE'RE HEARING ABOUT ARE BUDGET ISSUES, WE'RE HEARING ABOUT SCHOOL ISSUES, SCHOOL VOTING ISSUES. MY OFFICE TAKES -- WE FIELD, YOU KNOW, PROBABLY 50 TO 75 CALLS A DAY, TWO OR THREE OF US EACH, EITHER CALLS OR EMAILS, WITH REGARD TO DIFFERENT QUESTIONS ABOUT TOWN GOVERNMENT, WHETHER IT'S SCHOOL GOVERNMENT, SUPERVISORY GOVERNMENT, OR JUST THE MUNICIPAL SIDE ITSELF. WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT THE BUDGETS, WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT THE PROCESS THEY'RE USING. THIS YEAR, WITH THE KEY -- THE INFORMATION ABOUT ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS AND TRANSPARENCY, THAT'S BEEN A HUGE ISSUE, IS MAKING SURE THAT THEIR TOWN IS DOING EVERYTHING ABOVE BOARD AND ASKING QUESTIONS AROUND THAT, AND WE SUPPLY -- WE TRY TO SUPPLY PEOPLE WITH THE STATE STATUTE THAT PERTAINS TO THE ISSUE THAT THEY'RE ASKING ABOUT. WE GET CALLS FROM SELECT BOARD MEMBERS, CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS, WE GET QUESTIONS FROM ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS FROM TOWNS, FROM CITIZENS. WE PRETTY MUCH GET IT FROM ALL ACROSS THE BOARD.

>> IS IRENE PLAYING A ROLE IN SOME OF THE QUESTIONS?

>> WE HAVEN'T SEEN A LOT FROM OUR STANDPOINT. THE ONLY THING THAT I CAN SAY IS THAT ONE OF THE AREAS OF CONCERN FOR OUR OFFICE WAS AFTER IRENE WAS THE PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION OF RECORDS, PARTICULARLY THE ARCHIVAL RECORDS SUCH AS LAND RECORDS. THERE WERE A FEW LOST IN A COUPLE OF TOWNS, BUT NOT A LOT. WE WERE -- VERMONT REALLY DODGED A BULLET THERE. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A REAL PROBLEM FROM THE STANDPOINT OF MORTGAGES AND BANKS AND INSURANCE COMPANIES. ONE OF THE TOWN CLERKS WHO TOOK A SEMINAR WITH OUR THE STATE ARCHIVES AND RECORDS MANAGEMENT TEAM A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, ACTUALLY DOWN IN WILMINGTON, THE TOWN CLERK SAW THE WATER RISING AND WENT TO THE LOCAL COFFEE SHOP NEXT DOOR OR DOWN STAIRS FROM HER OFFICE, AND BROUGHT EVERYONE THERE TO MOVE HER RECORDS TO THE SECOND FLOOR, AND IT WAS A FORTUNATE THING THAT SHE DID, BECAUSE SHEAVED THOSE RECORDS. IT'S SOMETHING THAT'S KIND OF AN AFTERTHOUGHT, AND WE REALLY DO HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO OUR RECORDS. ESPECIALLY THINGS LIKE LAND RECORDS, VITAL RECORDS, THOSE ARE ALL VERY, VERY IMPORTANT.

>> WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A BRIEF BREAK AND CONTINUE OUR DISCUSSION WITH SECRETARY OF STATE JIM CONDOS. WE'RE GOING TO TAL >> WELCOME BACK. WE'RE CONTINUING TO TALK WITH SECRETARY OF STATE JIM CONDOS. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A WHOLE HOST OF ISSUES AS WE APPROACH TOWN MEETING DAY. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

>> YOU'RE WELCOME.

>> THERE IS A LONG-TIME TRADITION HERE IN VERMONT, AND SOME ARE SAYING A PRAYER AT THE BEGINNING OF TOWN MEETING DAY. NOW, THERE'S A WOMAN IN FRANKLIN WHO IS SUING, SAYING THAT THIS IS GOING AGAINST, YOU KNOW, THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. ARE YOU HEARING CONCERNS FROM EVEN THOSE OTHER NINE TOWNS THAT THIS IS GOING TO BE A BIG ISSUE THIS YEAR.

>> WE HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT THIS AT THIS POINT. I THINK THAT THAT'S REALLY GONE TO THE LAND OF THE COURTS AT THIS POINT, AND YOU WILL FIND THAT WE'LL MAKE SOME DECISIONS ON THAT. IF -- I SUPPOSE THAT IF -- MOST TOWNS DON'T DO IT. AS YOU SAID, THERE ARE ONLY A COUPLE OF HANDFULS OF TOWNS THAT ARE, AND JUST THINK IT'S ONE OF THOSE -- EACH TOWN HAS TO DEAL WITH IT ON THEIR OWN. ONE OF THE TOWN TRADITIONS, AS YOU BROUGHT UP TRADITIONS -- THE MODERATOR IS BASICALLY THE KING OF THE TOWN MEETING, THE MODERATOR IS WHO RUNS THE MEETING, THEY MANAGE THE ELECTIONS, THEY MANAGE THE SPEAKERS, AND MAKE SURE THEY'RE FOLLOWING THE PROCESS, IT'S UP TO THE TOWN MODERATOR, AND THEN THE PEOPLE WHO ARE THERE, TO MAKE THEIR DECISION ON WHAT THEY WANT TO DO.

>> WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON IT?

>> I THINK, REALLY, AGAIN, IT'S UP TO EACH TOWN, I DON'T THINK IT'S AN ISSUE FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO WEIGH INTO. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE STATUTES THAT SAYS I NEED TO STEP INTO THAT. YOU KNOW, THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE, A MISCONCEPTION IS THAT OUR PEOPLE HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO OVERLOOK THE TOWNS. WE DON'T. WHAT WE DO IS PROVIDE THE INFORMATION AND ASK QUESTIONS, WHAT THE PROCESS THEY SHOULD BE FOLLOWING. WE ALSO PROVIDE INFORMATION BASED ON WHAT THE LAW SAYS. BUT WE DON'T ACTUALLY GET INTO TELLING THEM "YOU SHOULD DO THIS OR YOU SHOULDN'T DO THAT."

>> I REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE RUNNING FOR OFFICE ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO, ONE OF THE BIG ISSUES WAS PRIVACY IN EXECUTIVE SESSION MEETINGS, WE TALKED A LOT ABOUT THAT HERE ON "YOU CAN QUOTE ME", AND YOU SAID YOU WOULD MAKE YOURSELF AVAILABLE, I FORGET WHAT TECHNOLOGY WE WERE TALKING ABOUT BACK THEN. HAVE YOU SEEN A LARGE NUMBER OF QUESTIONS COME IN TO YOU, AND HOW IS IT HANDLED WHEN IT COMES IN AFTER HOURS, WHEN A LOT OF CITY AND TOWN COUNCILS ARE MEETING?

>> FIRST, MY CELL PHONE, I DO PROVIDE IT TO PEOPLE IF THEY ASK FOR IT, IT'S AVAILABLE TO THEM, THEY CAN GET IT, I'VE NEVER RESTRICT TD FROM ANYBODY. I'VE NOT HAD A PHONE CALL AT NIGHT, EXCEPT FROM A REPORTER, ABOUT A QUESTION GOING ON AT A MEETING. BUT I THINK THAT WHAT I DO -- WE DO GET A LOT OF EMAILS, AND I DO RESPOND TO EMAILS, SOMETIMES FROM HOME. WHEN PEOPLE EMAIL OR SOMETHING, OR EVEN FROM MY CELL PHONE. BUT I THINK THAT IT'S -- IT'S AN ISSUE -- I MEAN, THE WHOLE ISSUE OF OPEN MEETINGS, TRANSPARENCY, REALLY CAME TO THE FOREFRONT LAST YEAR. IT CERTAINLY WAS A CAMPAIGN ISSUE, BUT I THINK THAT THE LEGISLATURE TOOK CARE OF THE PART ON THE ACCESS OF PUBLIC RECORDS, THEY STILL HAVE WORK TO DO ON THE OPEN-MEETING ISSUE. VSA 110 TO 115 AND THEN 315 TO 320 IS THE ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS. THE PUBLIC RECORDS PIECE HAS BEEN UPDATED, THEY HAVE AN OPEN-MEETING LAW THAT HAS PASSED -- LET ME SEE IF I CAN GET IT RIGHT -- IT PASSED THE HOUSE AND IT'S SITTING IN THE SENATE, OR VICE-VERSA, AND THEY HAVEN'T TAKEN IT UP YET.

>> WHAT'S YOUR ROLE? WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY NEED TO DO TO MAKE SURE THAT VERMONTERS CAN HAVE ACCESS TO AS MUCH INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE WHEN IT COMES TO MEETINGS?

>> WHEN IT COMES TO MEETINGS, THERE'S CLEARLY CERTAIN ISSUES THEY HAVE TO DEAL WITH: MAKING SURE THE AGENDAS ARE AVAILABLE AHEAD OF THE MEETING, IF ASKED FOR IT, THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO PROVIDE IT, MAKE SURE THEY PROPERLY WARN A MEETING. THEY CAN SET UP -- FOR REGULAR MEETINGS, YOU CAN DO IT BY SIMPLE RESOLUTION THAT YOU'RE AN ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING. FOR SPECIAL MEETINGS, YOU HAVE TO NOTIFY IN 24 HOURS AND POST IT IN THREE CERTAIN PLACES, LIKE AT OR NEAR THE TOWN CLERK'S OFFICE, AND THEN THERE ARE EMERGENCY MEETINGS, AND EMERGENCY MEETINGS ARE NOT AN EMERGENCY BECAUSE YOU FORGOT TO DO SOMETHING AT THE REGULAR MEETING. IT'S REALLY WHEN THERE IS AN ACT OF GOD OR IRENE THAT OCCURS, AND THAT'S WHEN YOU WOULD CALL FOR AN EMERGENCY MEETING. THERE ARE DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS AROUND NOTICE. IT'S IMPORTANT THAT THEY FOLLOW TOSE. THE ISSUE OF EXECUTIVE SESSION IS CLEARLY ONE THAT WE'VE BEEN DEALING A LOT WITH. PEOPLE -- I THINK IT'S, AGAIN, MORE AN ISSUE OF EDUCATION. PEOPLE JUST AREN'T AWARE OF WHAT THE LAW SAYS, AND THEY THINK THEY'RE DOING IT RIGHT, BUT THEY'RE NOT, AND WE'VE JUST TAKEN THE APPROACH OF TRYING TO EDUCATE. AS YOU PROBABLY REMEMBER, I HAD THE 12-STOP VERMONT TRANSPARENCY TOUR THAT I DID LAST FALL, WE HAD OVER 400 LOCAL OFFICIALS THAT SHOWED UP AT THOSE MEETINGS, AND IT WAS -- I THINK IT'S A GOOD SUCCESS, AND AS A RESULT OF IT, I'VE HAD MANY COMMENTS THAT WERE REALLY HOPEFUL TO THEM, TO LEARN ABOUT THINGS LIKE ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS.

>> ARE YOU SEEING LESS COMPLAINTS OR PUBLIC ISSUES BECAUSE OF THAT, OR DO YOU THINK IT'S STILL A CONCERN?

>> I THINK WE'RE GETTING BOTH, I THINK FROM -- PUBLIC OFFICIALS ARE GETTING A FEW LESS COMPLAINTS ABOUT WHAT'S GONE ON IN THEIR COMMUNITY, BUT I THINK FROM THE CITIZENS, BECAUSE NOW THEY HAVE MORE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS AND OPEN MEETINGS, THEY'RE CALLING AND SAYING, WAS THIS RIGHT FOR MY COMMUNITY TO DO THIS THE CORRECT WAY? AND WHATEVER. IT'S AN ONGOING EDUCATIONAL THING, AND THE PUBLIC CONTINUE TO DO OUR TRANSPARENCY TOUR ON A REGULAR BASIS GOING FORWARD.

>> THIS REGISR WITH THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE, I'M WONDERING, CURIOUS IF THIS IS SORT OF A SIGN AT ALL -- IS THERE AN ECONOMIC RECOVERY UNDERWAY. ARE WE SEEING MORE BUSINESSES STARTING UP IN THE STATE, ANY UNUSUAL BUSINESSES? WHAT STANDS OUT?

>> I THINK OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, THE STARTUPS OF BUSINESSES AND NOTIFICATIONS OF TRADE-NAME RESERVATIONS AND WHATEVER, HAV ACTUALLY BEEN PRETTY LEVEL, IT HASN'T REALLY GONE ONE W OR THE OTHER. I THINK IF YOU LOOK BACK TO THE 80s, THE 80s WERE A PERIOD WHERE THERE WAS PROBABLY TWICE AS MANY STARTUPS GOING ON THAN THERE ARE IN THE 2000s, BUT I THINK FOR THE LAST FEW YEARS, IT'S BEEN RELATIVELY STABLE, WE'RE STARTING TO GET MORE INQUIRIES, THERE ARE, YOU KNOW -- THE SOLE PROCEED PRYER TOSHIP OR TRADE-NAME RESERVATION, WHERE PEOPLE ACTUALLY RESERVE THEIR TRADE NAME AND PROTECT IT, IS ONE THAT IS ONGOING, BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE YOU FIND USUALLY YOUR ENTREPRENEURS. THAT'S WHERE YOU FIND YOUR SMALL MOM-AND-POP-TYPE STARTUPS, AND THEN THE CORPORATIONS AND LLCs AND THINGS ARE ACTUALLY STAYING PRETTY STABLE.

>> ANY BUSINESS TREND, ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU'RE SEEING MORE OF?

>> WELL, WE HAVE BENEFIT CORPORATIONS, WHICH ARE NEWLY SIGNED INTO LAW LAST JULY, AND HAS ONLY BEEN IN EFFECT FOR LESS THAN A YEAR. WE PROBABLY ONLY HAVE SIX OR SEVEN THERE. THEY STILL SIGN UP AS AN LLC OR CORPORATION, BUT THEY CAN SIGN FOUP THIS ADDITIONAL DESIGNATION, WHICH IS A BENEFIT CORPORATION, WHICH MEANS PART OF THEIR MISSION IS TO DO GOOD BENEFIT, TO THE COMMUNITY. SO IT'S -- YOU KNOW, WE HAVEN'T SEEN A LOT. THE LEGISLATURE IS LOOKING AT DIFFERENT THINGS ON A REGULAR BASIS. RIGHT NOW THEY'RE LOOKING AT A MUTUAL BENEFIT CO-OP LANGUAGE FOR CORPORATIONS TO -- CO-OPS TO BE ABLE TO GO OUT AND ACTUALLY RAISE MONEY OUTSIDE THE STATE, SO THERE'S DIFFERENT THINGS THAT ARE GOING ON. THE LEGISLATURE IS WORKING HARD, TRYING TO COME UP WITH DIFFERENT COMMERCE ISSUES AND THAT SORT OF STUFF.

>> SOMETHING NEW WE SHOULD MENTION, IT'S TOO LATE IF THEY HAVEN'T ALREADY SIGNED UP TO DO THIS, BUT SOMETHING NEW IN THIS PRIMARY, 17-YEAR-OLDS WILL BE ABLE TO VOTE IF THEY ARE 18 BY THE TIME THE ELECTION ROLLS AROUND. THAT'S A CHANGE THAT WENT INTO EFFECT AFTER QUITE A FEW VOTING CYCLES. THIS IS SOMETHING NEW. HAVE YOU SEEN ANY 17-YEAR-OLDS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THIS?

>> ABSOLUTELY WE HAV, AND THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL SCHOOLS THAT HAVE TAKEN A VERY PROACTIVE APPROACH TO IT. I ACTUALLY WORKED WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF ED, AND WE DID WHAT THEY CALL LEARNING NETWORK VIDEO WHERE WE ACTUALLY WERE VIDEO CONFERENCING WITH SEVERAL SCHOOLS, AND I THINK BFA FAIRFAX WAS ONE OF THE SCHOOLS THAT -- THEY ACTUALLY HAD ABOUT 80 KIDS THAT ATTENDED THIS VIDEO CONFERENCE. AND WE TALKED ABOUT THIS, AND THEY WERE ALL SIGNING UP TO REGISTER TO VOTE. THEY ACTUALLY CAME OUT WITH THEIR OWN VIDEO PSA, ENCOURAGING KIDS TO SIGN UP TO VOTE. I KNOW THAT DON AND BRATAL -- DOWN IN BRATTLEBORO, THERE IS A CIVICS TEACHER DOWN THERE WHO ACTUALLY GOES THROUGH A PROCESS WITH THE KIDS TO GET THEM TO REGISTER TO VOTE WHILE THEY'RE IN SCHOOL. WE'RE SEEING QUITE A BIT OF IT. DON'T FORGET, THIS PASSED BY AN 81 TO 19% MARGIN, A VERY OVERWHELMING MARGIN THAT APPROVED IT, IT WENT THROUGH A FOUR-YEAR CYCLE, ESSENTIALLY TWO DIFFERENT LEGISLATURES THAT HAD TO APPROVE IT BEFORE IT WENT TO THE VOTERS T WAS REALLY PUSHED, NOT BY ADULTS BUT BY THREE STUDENTS, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WHO ARE NOW EITHER IN OR OUT OF COLLEGE, BUT THERE WERE THREE STUDENTS THAT ACTUALLY PUSHED THIS, AND THEY WERE PERSISTENT AND STAYED WITH IT AND TALKED TO LEGISLATORS TO TRY TO CONVINCE THEM THAT THIS WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO, AND I CAN TELL YOU FROM THE KIDS I TALKED WITH, AND THE VIDEO CONFERENCE, THE QUESTIONS THAT THEY ASK, THEY'RE READY. THEY'RE READY TO DO THEIR PART, AND WE FIND THAT WHEN KIDS TODAY START TO VOTE, WHEN THEY REGISTER TO VOTE, AS SOON AS THEY'RE ABLE TO, AND ACTUALLY GO AND STRIKE THAT FIRST BALLOT, THAT THEY SEEM TO STAY WITH IT THROUGH THEIR LIVES. AND THAT'S A GOOD THING. THE MORE PEOPLE WE CAN GET TO VOTE, THE MORE ELIGIBLE VOTERS WE HAVE VOTING, JUST HELPS OUR DEMOCRACY ALONG.

>> SECRETARY OF STATE JIM CONDOS, THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US. HAPPY TOWN MEETING DAY.

>> IT'S GOING TO BE A BUSY NIGHT.

>> THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. WE'LL SEE YOU SOON. CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY CAPTION ASSOCIATES, LLC WWW.CAPTIONASSOCIATES.COM

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