Daily Archives: September 28, 2022

We Try to Preserve the Best of Vermont, But What About the Rest of It?

Vanishing traces of our history

We Vermonters spend a lot of time and energy safeguarding our state against the onslaught of modern life. In community after community, like-minded residents band together to fight against so-called “improvements” and to preserve the best of our beloved Vermont. But the best is not the only thing that warrants preservation. The derelict buildings, distressed roadways, junk-filled lawns, and the glorious suburban blight of Williston Road also contribute to making Vermont such a special place, They bring life and complexity to what might otherwise be a sterile two-dimensional cartoon.

That’s where we come in, my friends. We are Montpelierites Organized for the Preservation of Eyesores, or MOPE for short. We’re not here to support the Statehouse or Hubbard Park. Other people do that. We’re here to fight for the more mundane aspects of our beloved capital city. Think of us as the slightly better-organized equivalent of those people in Burlington who file lawsuits against anything and everything. Thanks in part to them, The Pit continues to be a familiar blight in the heart of the Queen City.

MOPE came into being after the tragic removal of a long-established junkyard on Barre Street. It was a familiar part of our city’s landscape, a small reminder of our gritty industrial heritage. And then, suddenly, after only a few decades of battle, it was gone. We’ll never get it back.

Take a gander at the street scene above. Those faint orange patches are the remnants of the BLACK LIVES MATTER motto painted on State Street in 2020, when the killing of George Floyd galvanized a nationwide movement. The paint has faded over time, but what remains is a testament to that most Vermontish of pastimes: the empty gesture. If another winter goes by, there may be noting left at all. We must act now to save these precious smudges!

And no, we don’t want it repainted. We want it as is.

Many other such treasures are under threat, due to the well-meaning plans of property owners and bureaucrats and other meddlers who don’t understand the importance of saving Montpelier exactly how it is right now.

When it comes to change in the capital city, MOPE says NOPE!

Continue reading

Republican Stealth Candidates: Chickens, Maple Syrup and Kombucha

Meet Rebecca and Tom Pitre. They make maple syrup and keep chickens. She plays guitar. She ferments her own kombucha. She’s a certified riding instructor, using horses as therapy animals.

She has also said some very nasty things about Drag Queen Story Hour on social media.

Which matters because Rebecca Pitre is a Republican slash Libertarian candidate for Vermont House in the Lamoille-3 district, which includes Cambridge and Waterville. In her campaign, she presents herself as an everyday sort who just has some sincere concerns about the health of rural Vermont. In service of this deception, she seems to have scrubbed her past social media activity; her only extant Twitter account is a campaign-related one that only recently went live and has [checks notes] 13 followers.

Unfortunately for her, a community member dug up her five-year-old drag queen comments, and Aaron Calvin of the Morrisville-based News & Citizen has done a thorough job of reporting the controversy. In his story, Pitre makes a strenuous effort to weasel out of her self-inflicted corner — but she makes it clear that she still believes 100% in her past statements.

This story is why, my friends, I keep hammering on the duty of political reporters to dig beneath the surface when writing candidate profiles. In a time when Republican candidates are trying to disguise their extremism, who else is going to pull off the masks?

Continue reading