Old Veepies Never Die, They Just Get Stupider (UPDATED)

Note: Second item has a significant update. Press WILL be admitted to Winooski/Enosburg soccer game.

Oh, you thought you were done with this, did you? Yeah, my awards for stupidity and/or obtuseness in the public sector have been on sabbatical lately — it’s been harder to see the funny this fall, mostly due to the ongoing pandemic. But here we are again! On the docket: Noblesse oblige at the homelessness protest, barring the media from a soccer match, an especially stupid Covid rationalization from Team Scott, and Bennington Justice rears its ugly head.

We have multiple awardees for the It Was Quite Literally The Least We Could Do Award. The recipients include Gov. Phil Scott, House Speaker Jill Krowinski, and Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint. Brenda Siegel and Josh Lisenby, advocates for restoring the full emergency housing program, held what VTDigger helpfully called “a small rally” on Monday at the site of their Statehouse protest/campout. Apparently Siegel and Lisenby have cooties or something, because neither Krowinski nor Ballnt attended in person and Scott continues to resist meeting with them.

The Speaker and Pro Tem did issue a statement for Siegel to read, in which they endorsed full restoration of the program. Which is interesting since, as the governor points out on every occasion, they agreed to the springtime deal restricting the program. Nice of them to belatedly come down on the side of compassion. And while Scott could really use a spark of humanity, he refuses to meet with the advocates. But hey, as VTDigger put it, “they were granted an interview on Monday with Sean Brown, the commissioner of the Department for Children and Families.” Wow. “Granted an interview.” How noblesse oblige of them.

Brown reportedly said the administration would consider reopening the full program when/if (climate change, y’know) the weather gets really cold. Which tells you the administration sees this first and foremost as a PR problem. They want to be as stingy as possible, but they could do without pictures of freezing protesters or homeless people with hypothermia.

Onward and downward…

Next, the If A Tree Falls In The Forest And We Ban Everybody From The Forest, Does It Make A Sound? Award will be overnighted to the offices of the Vermont Principals’ Association. To be fair, this happy little voluntary organization exists for its members, not the public. The VPA is clearly out of its depth trying to handle racist and sexist taunting at high school sports events. Its revised “process” for handling such events was a nothingburger. And now it faces a problem with a soccer matchup between Winooski and Enosburg. At the teams’ first game this fall, there were allegations of racial taunting by Enosburgers and an alleged headbutt by a Winooski player. Their scheduled second meeting of the season was canceled.

But now it’s the playoffs, and the two teams have to play each other. How is the VPA handling this? By banning all spectators and the media from the game. Now, I can maybe see banning spectators if the VPA thinks the two schools can’t handle the situation. But banning the media? That means the VPA is scared shitless and desperately wants to avoid any bad press. They think a tree is gonna fall, so they’re clearing out the forest.

UPDATE: The VPA has changed course, and will allow press at the soccer game. The Veepie still stands because the initial decision was stupid. I think the reversal shows that the VPA realized the same thing. Belatedly.

On to the Bottom Of The Barrel Rationalization Award to Jason Maulucci, spokesperson for Gov. Phil Scott. We mentioned this in our previous post, but it thoroughly deserves a Veepie. Maulucci told the Boston Globe that Scott is not considering a mask mandate because… it might confuse people? Well, here it is:

“We’re promoting mask wearing, but we don’t want to do anything that would damage the public belief that vaccines work.”

Cough. Choke. Do you really have so little faith in your messaging skills, Mr. M? Do you really think Vermonters can’t handle the purported complexity of such a message? Sheesh.

Finally, we head down to Vermont’s Fount of Justice, Bennington County, for an inexplicable bit of prosecutorial and juridical malfeasance. The VTDigger headline captures it nicely: Arlington man accused of strangling girlfriend sentenced to 2.5 years of time served.

But wait, it gets worse! Troy Thompson was originally charged with fourteen felony and misdemeanor counts for three separate assaults on his girlfriend. Many of the charges were dismissed in pretrial hearings; the rest, save one felony count, were tossed in a plea deal. The prosecutor said the deal was “sufficient punishment” for Thompson.

Yeah, let’s be solicitous of the perp’s feelings. Meanwhile, the girlfriend said she is “very scared for myself and my children.” Of course she is. And the system has let her down.

Bennington’s the rotten borough of Vermont’s law enforcement system. The town police have a well-documented pattern of racial profiling for which its chief is defiantly unrepentant. State’s Attorney Erica Marthage is arguably the worst of the 14 SA’s in Vermont. The Shamel Alexander case will forever be a stain on her record and the BPD’s. I know nothing about Judge Cortland Corsones except that he rubber-stamped this deal, but that’s one strike against him.

It’s all pretty ironic considering that Dick Sears, the deeply committed and earnest chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, hails from Bennington. I once asked him about Bennington’s ongoing issues with justice, and he didn’t really answer. I suspect he loves his community but is more than a little embarrassed by the perpetual fumbling of its police and courts.

That’s it for now, but the Young Master of the Golden Cup will remain on the lookout for the inevitable stupidities of Vermont officialdom.

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