Tag Archives: Mark Mitchell

Please, VSEA, get your act together

Various media reports, of which I believe Paul Heintz was first, reveal some bad and sad goings-on in the Vermont State Employees Association.

On Friday, a group of VSEA staffers called on the union’s board of trustees to oust executive director Steve Howard. Analyst Adam Norton, who represents those staffers in a union within the union, presented the trustees with a letter saying they had decided “overwhelmingly to cast a vote of no confidence in the leadership of VSEA’s executive director.”

The letter is harshly critical of Howard’s leadership. Heintz reports that the board “considered a resolution to dump Howard when his contract expires in June. Instead, the trustees tabled the discussion until their January meeting.”

Friendly fire seems to be endemic at VSEA. Howard’s predecessor, Mark Mitchell, was himself fired and then un-fired before leaving of his own accord after only a couple of years on the job.

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Vermont Dems bring back a familiar face

Didn’t take long for the Vermont Democratic Party to line up a replacement for departing Executive Director Julia Barnes. The VDP is announcing today that Conor Casey will be her successor.

“I’ve been a Democrat my whole life,” he says. “It’s an honor to be in this position.”

If the name sounds familiar, well, Casey spent eight years working for the Vermont State Employees Association, most recently as “widely respected legislative coordinator,” as he was dubbed by Seven Days’ Paul Heintz.

Casey’s tenure ended in 2012 when then-new VSEA Director Mark Mitchell was pulling a Samson act, causing six staffers to leave due to his “untrustworthy and reckless manner,” as one of the ex-staffers put it. Mitchell also burned more than a few bridges in the Statehouse. His year-and-a-half on the job included one firing and one reinstatement before he left in May 2014.

Meanwhile, Casey’s been working for the National Educational Association in Connecticut, from whence he now returns. His decade-plus in the labor movement is, I think, worthy of note:

“My background is as a labor organizer. I’ve spent my career representing working people. We want to put forward a message of economic justice; I think that resonates with all Vermonters.”

Could be, could be. On the other hand, the party’s top politicos (*cough*PeterShumlin*cough*) have often slammed public-sector unions when trying to prove their managerial toughness. Maybe there’s a realization that the Party and the labor movement work best when they work together?

Casey cites the late Teddy Kennedy as a key influence; he was a press aide to the Senator in 2003-04. “His passion really made me want to pursue politics as a career.”

Casey grew up in Ireland, and there’s a touch of the Ould Sod in his voice. But he’s spent much of his life in Vermont, and is happy to be moving back. Politics in Vermont is quite a bit less rough-and-tumble than in Connecticut.