Apologies from the Veepies Selection Committee, which has been overwhelmed with all the stupid and/or obtuse in our public sphere. I’m sure we missed a few, but here’s a selection featuring a whole lot of misplaced self-regard from those in positions of public trust.
FIrst, the Hey, Look, A Squirrel! Award For Attempted Misdirection goes to Jason Maulucci, spokesthingy for Gov. Phil Scott. When last we met, we were giving chief of staff Jason Gibbs a right roasting for maligning a public health expert who disagrees with the administration. Gibbs all but accused Dartmouth’s Anne Sosin of professional misconduct, saying she was “desperate to prove a false narrative” and that her analysis “conceals the full truth.” Those are serious things to say about an academic’s work product.
Maulucci, when asked for comment by VTDigger, defended Gibbs by ignoring the personal criticism of Sosin. Gibbs had merely “presented data from a neutral data tool” according to Jason Junior, who concluded with “There is nothing uncivil about pointing out facts.”
Exactly, Jason Junior. There is nothing uncivil about pointing out facts. But there is something extremely uncivil and downright unseemly about attacking Sosin’s integrity. Maulucci’s lame-ass defense doesn’t change that.
Still to come: a spate of ass-covering by the cops, and correcting a very racist public monument.
We now head down south to Brattleboro for a double Veepie! The Reefer Madness Memorial Award for Marijuana-Related Fearmongering goes to the Brattleboro Police Department. The Well, The Cops Issued a Press Release So We’ve Gotta Regurgitate It Award will be passed around among various Vermont media outlets including The Brattleboro Reformer, Seven Days, WCAX-TV and WPTZ-TV.
On December 1, the cops reported — and the media breathlessly repeated — the alleged discovery of fentanyl-laced marijuana. My God, fentanyl is the cops’ favorite boogeyman. You’d think the media would develop a bit of skepticism on the topic, but nah. But it turns out, shocking I know, that the BPD was wrong. Their initial field test, the accuracy of which is iffy at best, did show traces of fentanyl. However, more thorough lab testing revealed no fentanyl whatsoever, just a little weed.
Oopsie. The BPD defended itself by reframing its discredited story as a consumer advisory about marijuana, which takes brass ovaries. But they also said they will no longer do field tests for fentanyl in marijuana, which speaks of profound embarrassment. Oh, and WCAX’s follow-up included this telling line: “Experts we spoke with were skeptical the drugs were intentionally combined, questioning how mixing the two is even possible.” (Italics mine.)
Next up is the Keystone Kops Award for Conveniently Inept Policing which goes to the Men in Blue of the Rutland Police Department, whose handling of a fatal “police-involved shooting” (read: a cop killed somebody) stinks to high heaven. On August 25, Jonathan Mansilla was shot in a McDonald’s bathroom by a city cop. You may well wonder why the officer chased Mansilla into the bathroom, thereby triggering a deadly confrontation in an enclosed space. The officer fired because he thought Mansilla was holding a gun, which of course turned out to be a cellphone. (Looking at my phone, I don’t see the resemblance.)
I mean, Mansilla wasn’t getting away at this point. The cops could have waited him out or talked him down. Nope, Officer Hero had to go balls to the wall. Attorney General TJ Donovan, as is his custom, cleared the police of any wrongdoing.
Now, VTDigger reports that video from cellphones and McDonald’s security cameras shows that the police stood around for two minutes as Mansilla bled out before they called for EMS. In fact, they only thing they did was put handcuffs on the dying man. Priorities.
Oh look, our next award goes to Donovan himself. It’s the Cops Can Never Do Wrong Award for declining to file charges against a Hartford officer who fatally shot a man during an altercation. So far so good; the victim was combative and ignored police commands. But the details don’t ring true. The officer, unlike the Rutland police, was wearing a body camera — but it supposedly fell off him during the altercation. If true, then I’d suggest the Hartford police find a better way to secure the cameras. It’s during confrontations that the footage is most useful.
But the topper is how the shooting supposedly took place. The victim, Joseph Howard, was shot twice in the chest. At the moment of the shooting, according to police, Howard was strangling the officer from behind. I find that hard to believe. How do you shoot a guy in the chest when he’s directly behind you — close enough to get his hands around your neck? I don’t see it. Too bad the camera fell off.
Perhaps I quibble. But Donovan, to the best of my recollection, has never brought charges against a single police officer involved in a violent incident. That seems farfetched, purely on a statistical basis. (If his people can cite a case, I’ll retract this.)
Finally, it’s back to Brattleboro, where we honor the town’s forefathers with the At Least It Isn’t That Nathan Bedford Forrest Monstrosity Award. After the Civil War, the town built a monument to those who fought in the war. Well, not all of them. Turns out the monument left out any soldiers of color and lower-class folk who were paid by affluent residents to fight in their stead. I mean, we wouldn’t want any coloreds or white trash sullying our nice monument, would we now?
A town commission has recommended adding a plaque to honor the rest of our fightin’ men. That’d be nice.
That’s all for this edition of The Veepies. We now return to the usual official stupidity, which mostly concerns the pandemic.