While My Guitar Gently Veeps

It’s been a while. For most of September, we’ve had some high-level stupid (the governor’s scattershot search for consistent pandemic messaging) but a relative lack of the kind of mid- and low-level stupid in the public arena that is the bread and butter of The Veepies. But now, we’re back!

First, the Policy? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Policy Award goes to the Vermont Principals’ Association, last seen hiding its head in the sand over the racist slurs targeting the Winooski High School boys’ soccer team. In response to the appalling incidents during a game with Enosburg High, Winooski district Superintendent Sean McMannon called on the VPA, which oversees high school athletics, to adopt stronger measures against the use of racial slurs.

The VPA’s response so far? Well, they’re staying out of it until the Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union does its own investigation. Otherwise, well, all they’re doing is considering a season-long ban for a Winooski athlete for allegedly head-butting an opponent. VPA president Jay Nichols says the organization might conduct an investigation after FNSU’s is complete. Franklin, by the way, is investigating the slurs AND alleged violence by Winooski players, so we’re both-sidesing this thing.

Great. But the topper, for me, is that McMannon called on the VPA to develop procedures for reporting and investigating racial abuse. Which indicates that the VPA doesn’t have any such procedure now. Which is, well, stupid.

After the jump: Stupid trooper tricks, a Raider obsession, and a bit of myopic journalismism.

The next one comes from roving Veepies correspondent Gov. Phil Scott. Asked about the news that three Vermont state troopers had resigned for making fake vaccination cards, the governor called it “dumb.” And who am I to disagree? So here comes the Tossing a Safe Career in the Dumpster Award for the three troopers.

This little story has triggered an FBI probe and attracted national and international attention, which is a good look for the State Police. It’s unclear whether the troopers were making the IDs for themselves or if they were running a cottage industry, but whichever it was, one thing’s true. They sacrificed good positions in the VSP that come with a gold-plated retirement plan, all so they could pull off a caper usually associated with 17-year-olds buying beer.

Now we come to the Obsession Isn’t Just a Fragrance, It’s a Way of Life Award which goes to the current majority on the Rutland school board, who just can’t seem to let go of the high school mascot change from Raiders to Ravens. The change was adopted by the board last year; this spring, elections brought a pro-Raider majority into power. Ever since, they’ve been looking for a way to reverse the decision. And blocking any move to, y’know, actually implement the Ravens nickname.

The majority’s ace in the hole was an accusation that the old board didn’t follow correct process in approving the change. Therefore, they said, the approval was invalid. They hired a lawyer to look into the matter… and the lawyer reported that while there were minor deviations from procedure, there was nothing serious enough to toss out the vote. This week, the board voted by a 5-4 margin to accept the lawyer’s report.

The board then voted unanimously to form a committee that would develop a timeline for the mascot transition, which is pretty weak stuff considering that “Ravens” was adopted almost a year ago. It seems clear that the majority is playing for time and continuing to search for some way to Restore the Raider. Board president and Raider fanatic Hurley Cavacas said Ravens is the mascot “as of today. It might not in a month, but as of today, it does.” Sore loser.

Finally, we’re giving out the Apparently Your Rolodex Contains One Single Card Award to VTDigger and reporter Emma Cotton. An otherwise perfectly cromulent article on the Public Utilities Commission’s rejection of a proposed solar array in Manchester was marred by its myopic definition of Vermont’s environmental community. Cotton reported that

…environmentalists argue the industry’s expansion requires careful consideration, and projects require thoughtful siting with community input.

And then she quoted one single environmentalist; Hard-core anti-renewable advocate Annette Smith. She and her group are not at all representative of our state’s environmental movement. I’m sure that the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Vermont Conservation Voters and the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club would agree with the idea of “thoughtful siting” but they’d fundamentally disagree with Smith’s definition of “thoughtful,” which amounts to finding any pretext necessary to block renewable energy projects wherever they are proposed.

Smith is a smart, determined, energetic advocate, but the other environmental groups rarely, if ever, make common cause with her crowd. I’m sure she will write a lengthy rebuttal in the Comments, and I’m sure I’ll post it. But not because I agree with it. She’s an obstacle to the development of renewable energy in Vermont, which ought to play a significant role in our efforts to fight climate change. And her voice shouldn’t be considered representative of Vermont environmentalists.


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