I can’t say for sure what happened in the University of Vermont Medical Center’s emergency department last August. But I can say two things: It stinks, and it makes me wonder why Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger is so bound and determined to elevate acting Police Chief Jon Murad to permanent chief.
I mean, he’s been trying since January of 2022. And the city hasn’t had a non-interim chief since December of 2019. That’s not a healthy state of affairs.
And the ER incident, in which Murad reportedly threatened to arrest a trauma surgeon who was treating a critically wounded gunshot victim, raises legitimate questions about Murad’s temperament and respect for the law.
But even worse is how Weinberger and Murad have handled the matter since. They’ve done everything they could to cover it up and minimize the consequences. That doesn’t speak to the soundness of their position.
We wouldn’t even know about the incident were it not for Seven Days‘ dogged pursuit of the story. As it is, Weinberger managed to keep it out of sight until after the defeat of a ballot measure to create an independent police oversight board.
The surgeon and a medical resident agree that Murad used a “menacing tone” in threatening to “cuff” the surgeon and cart him off to jail. The surgeon spoke of an “overwhelming” police presence in the ER “that was extremely atypical.”
Murad eventually issued an apology, but not until after the incident came into public view. And he didn’t specify what he was apologizing for, since he and Weinberger dispute the surgeon’s account. In fact, he went so far as to say “What you don’t do is itemize an apology,” which, I’m sorry, but that’s exactly what you do if you’re sincere about apologizing. You leave no doubt that you understand how and why you were wrong.
But perhaps my favorite little twist in this saga is that after Seven Days spoke to the medical resident, the city magically produced a witness statement from an officer who’d been on the scene who painted Murad’s tone and message as completely benign.
And that’s about as fishy as a convenience store tuna salad sandwich.
The city’s police commission ruled that Murad’s behavior amounted to “gross professional misconduct” and referred the matter to the state criminal justice council. Weinberger disagrees with the commission’s conclusion, as he disagrees with anyone who’s critical of Murad.
Which makes me wonder, does the acting chief have compromising photos of the mayor or something? Weinberger is sticking with Murad through thick and thin, and anyone who disagrees gets thrown under the bus. Is there any doubt that if the criminal justice council rules against Murad, Weinberger will continue to back his man?
What I think is this. Weinberger has supported Murad for so long and through so much that it’s become a point of pride for him. He doesn’t want to lose this. He’s already beaten back the Progressives’ oversight board proposal, and he has a (razor-thin) functional majority on City Council for the first time in his tenure as mayor. He’s in a position to finally win this fight, and that’s what he intends to do.
And it looks like he will, considering what Democratic councilors are saying about it. Joan Shannon is certain that Murad didn’t make any threats, even though she hasn’t spoken to the chief or the surgeon. Ben Traverse bravely opined that “different witnesses to this event have different recollections,” so I guess we’ll never know, will we?
But taking the cake for cravenness was Council President Karen Paul:
“I imagine some people have an opinion one way, and some people have an opinion the other,” Paul said, “but it’s not for me to decide.”
Good Lord. I’m sorry, Madame President, but it is precisely for you to decide. You’re likely to face a vote on making Murad the permanent chief. This incident, and Murad’s handling of it since, ought to be a major factor in such a vote.
If these councilors are so sure that Murad did nothing wrong, they wouldn’t be dancing around the issue like this. They’re closing ranks behind Weinberger and against the Progressives. Murad is basically a MacGuffin in the years-long political battle between Dems and Progs.
That’s a hell of a reason to choose a police chief.
Thank you. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
a fitting picture
Sounds like the typical rants of the radicalized “defund the police” bologna benders from the loopy left of Vermont. Rule of Law. Follow it.