U Mad, Bro?

So I hear that some Vermont Democrats are upset with me for… um… telling the truth?

The party’s executive committee met this week, and from what I hear, there was some grumbling about my recent posts concerning the Brandon Batham embezzlement case and the management issues revealed thereby.

If true, my response: Quit whining and get your house in order.

Or, if you’re going to complain, summon up your courage and tell me how I’m wrong. Because until proven otherwise, I stand by what I’ve written.

On August 16, I recounted rumors that Batham’s *cough*alleged*cough* embezzlement of party funds was far higher than the initial $2,900. I noted that if so, it would raise serious questions about party leaders’ stewardship — especially chair Terje Anderson, treasurer Billi Gosh and former executive director Josh Massey. (And also about their judgment, in going public without knowing the extent of the losses.)

Those rumors proved true. The losses were just under $19,000. But the party’s press release announcing the higher total was full of blame-shifting in all directions and seemed more like a belated attempt at face-saving than a real accounting of the situation.

There were rumblings in party circles of dissatisfaction with leadership. The Windham County Dems considered a resolution calling for a change in leadership at the VDP’s biannual organizational meeting, scheduled for November 16. But the county committee backed away, thanks to a last-minute email from Anderson promising management reforms. (And the vociferous opposition of Sen. Jeanette White, who clearly wanted to sweep the entire affair under the rug.)

The full state committee followed suit at its September meeting. A few people asked questions about the embezzlement and other issues, but most were anxious to move forward and not dwell on the inconvenient past. At both the Windham meeting and the state confab, I heard a bit of complaining about “the media” and how we were all thirsting for a bit of scandal.

I didn’t take it personally, although I was the only “media” in the room on both occasions.

But look. What have I reported that wasn’t true? There was embezzlement, it was handled poorly, and it reflected very badly on management oversight. Those responsible did not do their jobs, leaving the door open for an overly entitled staffer to pad his expense reports, give himself a raise and write himself extra paychecks.

That’s managerial malfeasance. Should those responsible be given a mulligan because they promise to do better with a second chance?

Maybe. Especially when there’s widespread concern about the unknown: If we don’t re-elect Anderson, can we find someone who’s (1) more capable and (2) willing to take the job?

I guess some people would rather I didn’t report the truth. But that’s what reporters do. You know what they say about sunlight, don’t you?

Postscript. I suspect that some Democrats expect me to give them the kid-glove treatment. You know, because I’m a self-professed liberal? I don’t know where they got that idea; I’ve always been an equal opportunity trasher. Fact is, I expect excellence from the VDP. Governor’s office aside, it rules the roost in Vermont. It has great resources to call on. And in the immortal words often attributed to Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

The Republicans I expect to be a clown car because of their seemingly permanent minority status and the ideological purification that’s alienated the party from its most popular politician. From the Progressives, I expect a continued struggle for relevance and not much more, because the system is rigged against third parties.

The Democrats? I expect them to maintain a disciplined, efficient organization that takes full advantage of its dominance. I don’t expect sloppy management, constant turnover and chronic financial struggles.


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