Saturday, November 30, 2002
In Vermont, where state government is largely a part-time business, and where the Legislature meets for only about 16 weeks a year, Dean's volatile and energetic persona was in stark contrast to the overall temper of the government he'd been handed to lead. Nevertheless, for all his bombast, he hewed to the middle, alienating everyone a little but very few people a lot. Dean's fiscal stewardship placed the governor on such firm political ground that he could afford to be stubborn when the Vermont Supreme Court handed him not one live grenade but two.
The first was a 1997 decision, Brigham v. State of Vermont, in which the court declared that the system of funding the state's public schools through property taxes produced unconstitutional inequities. An ugly class war erupted between wealthy communities and poorer ones. Fault lines cracked open between longtime Vermonters and more recent arrivals. Dean left the problem to the Legislature, and the state's General Assembly produced Act 60 - the Equal Educational Opportunity Act - which assessed a statewide property tax of $1.10 per $100 of assessed value, which was then placed into an education fund, which the state then distributed in block grants. This guaranteed a threshold amount to be spent per student regardless of where the student lived. If a town wanted to spend more than the threshold, the money went into a pool shared by the richer towns with the poorer towns. The solution angered everyone a little, but Dean stood by Act 60 staunchly during his 1998 reelection campaign.
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Obama 2008 - I want my country back
Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.