Tag Archives: Todd Fillmore

We Have Another Contender for Worst School Board Member in Vermont

Ladies and germs, allow me to introduce you to Stephanie Stoodley, very angry member of the Rutland City School Board. The image quality is horrible thanks to the worst streaming of a public meeting I’ve ever seen. But it fits her to a tee: Lacking focus, out of control, and kinda scary.

Thanks to her performance at a January 11 school board meeting, Stoodley has become a top contender for Worst School Board Member in Vermont. Essex-Westford’s Liz Cady remains the front-runner followed by Mill River’s Todd Fillmore, but Stoodley has the potential to out-yammer them all.

Stoodley was one of six trustees to vote in favor of restoring the high school’s old nickname “Raiders,” but she was the most obnoxious of them all. She repeatedly interrupted trustees on the other side, she had trouble getting out coherent sentences, she said the same buzzwords over and over, and she made it clear that she didn’t give a tinker’s damn for anyone’s opinion but her own.

Background: The previous board adopted “Ravens” after a lengthy process, on the grounds that “Raiders” and the arrowhead were offensive to Native Americans. In last March’s school board election, enough pro-Raider trustees were elected to create a one-vote majority in favor of racism. Stoodley is one of those new trustees.

The board’s action also clearly violated Robert’s Rules of Order, which the board had voted to follow in their meetings. The Rules only allow reconsideration of a past measure under certain circumstances (which didn’t apply here) and they don’t allow a measure that contradicts a previously adopted one. But pro-Raiders board chair Hurley Cavacas refused to consult Robert’s, and trustee Charlene Steward asserted that “semantics about Robert’s Rules have been suppressing our vote.” Yeah, they were not about to let “semantics” get in the way of bringing back the Raider name and arrowhead logo.

But let’s get back to Stoodley’s performance, which was miles beyond anyone else’s.

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The Congregation of the Aggrieved

First time, long time (not really)

Something odd and troubling has been happening in southern Rutland County for more than a year now. Bits and pieces of it have been reported in the Rutland Herald, but nobody has put together the big picture.

It’s something you wouldn’t expect in the Vermont of our imaginations, the tolerant place where politics is characterized by civility, and the Religious Right is a toothless fringe. But for almost a year, the Mill River school board has endured harassment from a small group of far-right Christians. (The district includes the towns of Clarendon, Shrewsbury, Tinmouth and Wallingford.) They were originally upset over the proposed flying of the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ Pride flags at the district’s high school, but their list of grievances has grown by leaps and bounds. They’re upset over alleged illegality by the school board, its supposed “very left ideology” which seeks to “politicize and sexualize our children’s education,” a critical Front Porch Forum post by school board chair Adrienne Raymond, and the district’s failure to provide in-school education during the pandemic.

I’m probably missing some stuff, but you get the idea. It’s a great big bag o’nuts.

The group includes Rep. Art Peterson, notorious for denying the existence of systemic racism and saying that victims of discrimination should shake it off and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Peterson was inspired to run for the House after the school board approved the flying of the two subversive flags.

This spring, the group ran candidates for five school board seats. They didn’t run as a slate, but their issues and concerns were pretty much identical.

If they’d swept the field, they would have been one vote shy of a majority on the 11-member board. In the end, they only won two. The group’s candidates in the March elections were Todd Fillmore (pictured above in an out-of-focus yet somehow telling Zoom screenshot), Bruce Moreton, Julie Petrossi, Matthew Gouchberg, and Arne Majorell, who happens to be Peterson’s son-in-law. Moreton and Gouchberg are now on the school board; Majorell lost his race by six votes.

These people and a few allies are frequent participants in the public-comment section of school board meetings. They’re also active posters on Front Porch Forum. And while they try to couch their concerns in the language of earnest disappointment, they can’t entirely stop the crazy from showing through.

After the jump: Let’s look at the crazy!

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