With nearly two decades of experience in government, Paul could only afford to give Burlingtonians more of the same.
by Kolby LaMarche
Karen Paul, candidate for the Democratic nomination to become Burlington’s next mayor, has finally released a platform.
In it, Paul pledges to bring bold and innovative solutions to Burlington’s challenges, asking voters to “stand with [her] and work with [her] for Burlington’s future.”
Central to her platform is the Paul Action Plan for Public Safety. But the Paul Plan isn’t bold, nor is it innovative.
In attempting to read her plan’s scattered strategy, it becomes clear that out of the 27 policy points delineated in the plan, a remarkable 15 are set to transpire before any hypothetical Paul Administration.
The plan, in essence, houses only 12 half-baked policy propositions for public safety during her prospective tenure as mayor, with many of them being policy carryovers from the Weinberger Administration.
To solve the Burlington crime crisis that she aided in creating, Paul plans to:
- Throw homeless into inhumane, congregate shelters while claiming empathy
- Have the city council pose for a photo with the caption “We want great community cops!” to increase BPD recruitment
- Throw $50k at downtown businesses during the holidays
- Devote time to being in the Statehouse
- Encourage a “Community Green-Up Week” in preparation for the solar eclipse of 2024
Notably absent from Paul’s plan is any effort to confront Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George’s failures in prosecution. Additionally, Paul’s plan lacks any mention of the need for immediate remedies to a backlogged and crumbling judicial system.
Other policy actions articulated in the plan are a tepid continuation of efforts already in motion, devoid of any substantive alteration.
Leaning on private developers like CityPlace and the soon-coming renovation of the downtown YMCA, Paul claims to support “increased housing [for] lower-income” households.
But do her plans translate this from platitude to real solutions? No.
According to CityPlace’s plans released in 2016, the site was to be adorned with both restaurants and apartments. CityPlace’s residential component once comprised of 274 units, with 16%, or 55, of those being permanent affordable units.
In its current plans, CityPlace said no to restaurants, instead expanding its residential component to 427 units, with just 80 of those being affordable. Market-rate housing, inhabited by high-wage earners and UVM trust fund babies, increased by 58%. Affordable housing, now constituting just 15% of the overall residential component at CityPlace, experienced a decline despite the number of units increasing.
Additionally, CityPlace isn’t even building affordable housing. Champlain Housing Trust is. And, according to CityPlace, the affordable housing that is to be built will be built dead last, long after all market-rate units are completed.
The old YMCA building located on College St in Downtown Burlington is set to grow into a six-story, 89-unit apartment building. No specific figure for affordable housing has actually been provided. But estimates indicated that a measly 10%, that is 8 units of 89, will be affordable with the rest being market-rate.
Karen Paul doesn’t have bold or innovative solutions for Burlington’s housing crisis. Through her platform, Paul has shown that she isn’t in the business of expanding affordable housing. Rather, she has proven her undying loyalty to failed market solutions and the carcinogenic developers that come along with them.
Community and Climate Action:
In the last two sections of her platform, Paul lays out virtually no clear policy, just more platitudes and past experience.
While I appreciate the time Paul and her campaign team spent creating the platform, it’s horrible. With nearly two decades of local government experience, Paul could only give Burlingtonians more of the same at a time when we need, truly, innovative and bold solutions.
The state of Karen’s campaign and her platform paints a clear vision of the future: a mayor, crippled by a lack of policy, planning, and backbone, unable to extinguish the burning sky above.
Burning Sky is dedicated to providing critique and commentary on the issues of the day from an unapologetic perspective, fueling change in the heart of Vermont. Authored by Kolby LaMarche every Saturday.