Tag Archives: Take Back Vermont

Freeway Vermont, Two-Lane Vermont

Something struck me in last night’s election returns. Specifically, the two-seat switch from R to D in the state senate, the Republicans losing their last remaining seats in Chittenden and Washington Counties.

Those two seats had been held for years by moderate Republicans Diane Snelling and Bill Doyle. In the absence of those popular stalwarts, it’s hard to see the R’s being competitive in Chittenden or Washington anytime soon. Meanwhile, the VTGOP strengthened its grip in Franklin and Rutland Counties, which used to be prime D/R battlegrounds.

I see a clear political topography emerging. There’s Freeway Vermont, which stretches along I-89 from northern Chittenden County to White River Junction, and along I-91 from Thetford or thereabouts all the way to the Massachusetts border. That’s solid Democratic territory, with Republicans struggling to even recruit candidates, let alone win.

Then there’s Two-Lane Vermont, the back roads and small towns plus a few cities that have been, to a large extent, left behind by the tide of progress. Rutland is the prime example. I include St. Johnsbury, St. Albans, and Barre in that number.

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Yep, Ruth Dwyer’s still a colossal jerk

Remember Ruth Dwyer? The arch-conservative Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1998 and 2000? (Lost both times to Howard Dean.) The staunch opponent of civil unions and sourpuss leader of “Take Back Vermont”?

She’s still around, living in Thetford, and she’s at least as much of a jerk now as she was then.

Neighbors' house in foreground. "Curtain" and Dwyer's house are way in the background.

Neighbors’ house in foreground. “Curtain” and Dwyer’s house are way in the background. Photo from the Valley News.

As the Valley News reports*, Dwyer took exception when a neighboring hayfield was bought by someone who then built a house. Her calm, measured response: she built a huge fence blocking the new house from her view because the new house “offends her sensibilities.”

*The Valley News is paywalled, but if you register (for free), you can read up to five stories per month.

By “huge fence” I mean 60 feet wide and 24 feet high. Basically, a billboard in a rural residential neighborhood. She never sought a building permit.

Thetford zoning officials, meanwhile, have determined the structure — forest-green shade cloth strung across five large wooden utility poles along Sawnee Bean Road — is a “wall” and therefore out of compliance until it goes through a permitting process, which is now underway.

She claims that the structure is merely a temporary “curtain” that will come down as soon as the 68 young cedar trees she’s planted are tall enough to provide a privacy screen. (Sixty-eight trees? She’s planting a damn forest on her front lawn.) Cedars apparently grow a foot to a foot and a half per year. So with any luck that “temporary curtain” will only be there for a couple decades, more or less.  Why the fuss?

Dwyer makes a variety of arguments, ranging from the illogical to the insane. What it boils down to is, “she doesn’t want a neighbor.”

Also, she claims an absolute right to do what she likes on her property, but she doesn’t want her neighbors to exercise the same rights.

Her complaints include the aesthetics of the house. Which, as you can see from the Valley News photo, is functional and plain but not especially ugly.

She also “lamented her neighbors’ habit of mowing the lawn during the warmer months.”

“Mowing the lawn!” Well, I never! What’s next — hanging laundry or putting up a swingset?

She also professes to be bothered “by the glow of [the neighbors’] flatscreen TV.” Now, look at that photo again, and try to gauge the distance between the two houses. (Bearing in mind the “curtain” is 60 feet wide.) She’d practically need a telescope to see the glow of a TV set.

Finally, she complains of increased traffic on her rural road. As if one stinkin’ house is generating noticeable traffic.

The ironic thing, like rain on your wedding day, is that Dwyer is screeching her head off about her property rights being infringed upon by Thetford authorities, while she seems to want absolute control over what happens on neighboring property.