Vermont getting lessons on how to be green?

The proposed partnership between Lockheed Martin and the city of Burlington has not only been plagued by claims of lack of transparency from the city’s mayor, but is also one that roundly does not make sense. Last time I checked – which was about five minutes ago  – Burlington did not have any outstanding pollution problems and also holds the stigma, if not the distinction, of being one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the country – Country Home magazine named the Queen City the greenest place to live in America. I mean, testing “green initiatives” is great and all, but testing them in a place that is already very much “green” seems about as effective as throwing grass seed on the lush, freshly cut outfield of Fenway Park and expecting to see some substantial difference. What really escapes me is why either of these entities needs the other in any great way. Burlington City Council member Vincent Dober said of Lockheed Martin’s research and development department: “These are bright minds. These are some of the brightest minds in the world that are willing to work with us.” Okay, that’s wonderful. So if they are the ones with $35 billion in assets, and they are the ones with “some of the brightest minds” in the world and they are the ones who are looking to clean up their image by starting environmentally friendly initiatives, then why, pray tell, do they need the city of Burlington’s help? Of course, the city’s reputation pegs it as a progressive place that is already environmentally friendly and extremely livable. Lockheed Martin’s interference – ahem, partnership – does not seem like it would help us in any revolutionary way. After all, the fighter jets which fly test and practice runs over the city – and scare me into thinking the Soviets are invading every time they fly overhead – are produced and sold to the U.S. military by Lockheed Martin. There is a reason why postcards of Burlington tend to show pictures of the beautiful scenery or rustic downtown in favor of an F-16 screaming over Main Street while distressed, sobbing elementary school kids huddle in fear on the playground below. In any case, the city government has been motivated most likely by some slanted notion that such a partnership will increase the city’s national reputation and fame, and bring in revenue or some other advantage. In reality, all it will probably mean for us is that Lockheed Martin will come in and launch some sort of expensive program that, in the end, will barely have a positive effect on the city and will hardly justify the disproportionate amount of pollution the company itself produces.