I’m glad to know that everything’s absolutely fine down Rutland way. No issues, no challenges, just unicorns and rainbows all day long.
That must be the case, because otherwise how to explain a majority of the Board of Aldermen* voting in favor of amending the city charter (Rutland Herald story, you may encounter a paywall) to enshrine the “Raider” nickname for Rutland High’s sports teams? That’s right: Change the freakin’ charter because they’re butthurt over the loss of a racist nickname. As Rep. William Notte wrote in an essay submitted to the Herald, “Nothing positive will come of this discussion.” Because there’s no way the Legislature would ever approve this.
*Speaking of which, “AlderMEN”? Really? Is this 2021 or 1921, guys?
More on this in a moment, but first we have breaking news about an upcoming
outbreak of racism town hall meeting scheduled for next Wednesday in Rutland. It will be a gathering of Vermont’s anti-“critical race theory” dead-enders. Yup, the handful of folks who believe that fighting racism in the public schools is a threat to our American way of life.
The details: It’s organized by a Rutland-based group called Vermonters for Vermont, last seen helping to bring a busload of Vermonters to the January 6 Capitol insurrection. They’ll be gathering at the Vermont State Fairgrounds at 6:30 on Wednesday, June 16 for an evening of rabble-rousing by the likes of Rep. Art Peterson, former gubernatorial candidate John Klar, Mill River Union School District troublemaker Todd Fillmore, and newly-elected Essex school board member (and proud anti-anti-racist) Liz Cady. Klan robes optional.
This event is the brainchild of Gregory Thayer, a former Alderman and city Republican party chair. He’s head of Vermonters for Vermont, an organization that claims to unite all the state’s disparate far-right causes under a single umbrella.
Thayer still believes Biden and the Democrats stole the election. And after the January 6 riot, he claimed the violence was all an Antifa/Black Lives Matter false flag operation. A real sweetheart, this guy.
He’s also one of the driving forces behind the “Raider” charter change, which makes sense. In for a penny, in for a pound, y’know.
The other ringleader is Alderman Thomas DePoy, already a Veepie recipient and angling for a second. He’s all hot and bothered about the nickname change, and seems to be willing to hijack the operations of both the school board and city board to restore the Raider nickname, without which the high school will, I guess, fall into the pit of Hell.
DePoy’s measure won on a 6-5 vote. It goes next to the Charter and Ordinance Committee; if that body approves, it would go to a citywide vote. If it wins there, it’s on to the Legislature. Which, as I said, is never in a million years going to approve this thing.
It pains me to say that the five-person minority didn’t exactly cover itself in glory, either. In the Herald account, no one is quoted as actually favoring the change from Raiders to Ravens. Instead, they relied on process arguments. Two aldermen argued that the board shouldn’t interfere in school affairs; one noted that the Legislature would be “incredibly unlikely” to approve the change.
It would have been nice if even one elected official had had the courage to state the obvious: This is a futile attempt to turn back the clock to a benighted era, and yet another stain on Rutland’s image. It’s a shame, because the city has struggled so hard to overcome huge obstacles, and plenty of good people are proud to call it home. But after this, and after next Wednesday’s hatefest, it’ll be hard to think of Rutland as anything other than a wellspring of devolutionary impulse.