Thursday, September 24, 2009

Approved Meeting Notes 09.21.09

Monday's selectboard meeting was back to business as usual; low turnout, expedited pacing, and a plethora of super suggestions from Richmond's only permanent member of the selectboard, Cara LaBounty. Pete Parent sat quietly and refrained from goading the audience. Erik Filkhorn and Jon Kart tapped out Shakespearean insults to one another in Morse code. Mary Houle rifled through a tattered copy of the DSM-IV-TR. Marcia Lawrence meditated.

Highlights included Erik Filkhorn fielding Marcia Lawrence's question regarding CUSI, which he described as being "like CSI." His off the cuff reference to the popular crime drama confirmed our long held suspicion that he is a sleeper agent scouting our town on behalf of Jerry Bruckheimer's production company. We're on to you Erik.

A proposed ordinance is set to ban public nudity. The draft language notes an overwhelming fear that nudity, as a concept, will promote a dangerous influx of free thinkin' liberals, hippies, flatlanders, investors, college graduates and people under thirty into the area.

Houle asked Filkhorn if he could retrieve files from Ron Rodjenski's computer. LaBounty seconded this, requesting that she be allowed to insert the "crasher squirrel" into any images found on the hard drive.

Kart provided an update on the town administrator search. He reported that the six finalists would be participating in an upcoming reality-based television show involving outdoor survival, dancing, fashion sense, singing, and culinary prowess. The show, currently in production as "The Island," will be filmed on location in Richmond and is set to air mid-January. Closed captioning provided by the Jonesville Underground.

Stay shiny Richmond!

Monday, September 21, 2009

tonight's selectboard meeting

...debating on whether to pull a Joe Wilson or Kanye West during tonight's meeting...suggestions?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rodjenski blamed for potholes, tomato blight and long winters

Danny takes time to provide brief replies to his favorite comments:

Comment: "My only fear is that the Selectboard is setting a dangerous precedence by 'giving in' to someones demands."

Response: I believe the word you are looking for is precedent, as it pertains to acts in the past that may inform future circumstance. In any case, your sentiment is very insightful, and I completely agree. The selectboard is getting dangerously close to actually representing the will of the constituency…this can only spell trouble.

Comment: "Would Chief accept an average evaluation from anyone else? It is unfair to judge Mary and her decisions in her evaluation of Chief, expecially since there are only the SB and Chief privy to its contents…But seriously folks...Less accusations/rumours and more FACT finding."

Response: People please, use your flippin' spell check! Also you might want to add "innuendo and conjecture" to rumors and accusations…and then take your own advice. ☺

Comment: "…'we need to let this ride out,' in other words all a'board...train wrecks a'comin…"

Response: Toot toot!

Comment: "…but [Mary] does have excellent suggestions when it comes to inter office conflict and resolution."

Response: Indeed. She runs directly at (insert town employee name here) while shouting "blitzkrieg!"

Comment: "…As for the select board, I think they made a bad decision to remove Mary from her role. They appointed her because they trusted her and they should have stood behind her decision and behind her review…."

Response: ...calling planet Melmac…please go back to playing with the laundry lint.

Comment: "It is truely ironic how some people (mostly with either past zoning violations or other long standing bitter grievances against the town, against law enforcement, flat-landers, tree-huggers, Pruius drivers, males, anyone under 30, etc….continue to dump on Ron and blame him for all our troubles real or imagined."

Response: It's true! I watched a five-year old accidentally drop his cider donut, then clench his tiny fist at the sky and shout, "Damn you Rodjenski!"

Comment: "If this is NOT about his evaluation, then it was a rouse on his part."

Response: A dark night in a town that knows how to keep its secrets but one man is still trying to find the answers to life’s persistent questions.....Guy Noir, Private Eye.

Comment: "…[Filkhorn] can stab fellow selectboard members Houle & Parent in the back and then kiss their ass 5 minutes later..."

Response: Stabbing…kissing…if you add in Mary's regular asides you've got Shakespeare!

Comment: "It was evident that June Heston and her hubby, along with their nephew were kired by Chief as his 'boo hoo campaign advisors'."

Response: Welcome to H282: Small Town Social Dynamics, where you will learn how stressful situations in local government inevitably leads to a lack of neighborliness.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Vermont Young Professionals and further reflections

Last night I had an opportunity to connect with a group of peers who are in the initial stages of launching Vermont Young Professionals (VYP)-a networking, professional development, and community growth organization. It was a really positive experience connecting with a group of like-minded people determined to bring new perspectives to Vermont's business community. VYP is the type of organization whose presence is long overdue in the region.

While young professionals and entrepreneurs share many of the same accepted realities as our older counterparts, our perception is fundamentally different. As we begin to intuitively organize via emergent technologies, our experience with, and acceptance of conventional business models starts to diverge, creating opportunities rarely afforded to younger individuals. By virtue of new media and social networking, we are expected to process and interpret a far more complex, nuanced and expanded set of operational realities. Sometimes it feels like pretty heavy stuff, and I'm thankful that groups like VYP are emerging locally to address the issues pertinent to so many of us.

I do apologize to the folks anticipating an extended follow up to "Reflections on Friday," which has received a myriad of comments. I am working on it. It's good that people are feeling passionate, but I think it will be important to start looking at what systems (or lack thereof) created this imbalance within the town structure. We can't pin this on any one individual, nor should we. Dynamics of fear and reaction are bound to emerge, as they did recently, when something is amiss. My sense is that we have some clear procedural deficiencies that need to be addressed, first and foremost.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reflections on Friday

There is so much to sift through after Friday's meeting; I'm not entirely sure where to begin. At the very least, it was interesting to observe the dynamics, both on the board and in the audience. Expectedly, much of the discussion revolved around Mary Houle and Chief Miller, but other issues pertinent to a town in transition came to the surface. It struck me that while there is undoubtedly a systemic failure of communication and mindful discourse within the town hall, it is merely an outgrowth of a far more pervasive divide affecting the whole community, in which the divergence of the old guard and new guard is affecting Richmond's ability to self-regulate and mature.

I offer recent events, culminating with Friday's meeting, as the case and point in this divergence. As selectboard chair, Pete Parent's approach to managing the crisis met with opposition and resentment from within the community. Some residents cited his decision to "shake off" public comments through late announcements regarding schedule and location changes, as an attempt to limit free speech and public reaction. Ironically, these choices effectively isolated him from the additional perspectives required to make informed decisions. Similarly, the insertion of venerated moderator, Howard Buxton, into Friday's meeting served only to mitigate the impact of the most necessary and relevant discussions. It's not that Pete was deliberately trying to subvert, as some perceive; but his approach, informed by tradition, no longer resonates with the entire community. He was acting in the public interest and attempting to maintain cohesion and protocol. Unfortunately, the expected façade of civility has become the crutch we all lean on. Our civility has equated to silence, and that silence has allowed a dysfunctional town administration to tear itself apart.

We now have a chance to pursue the dialogue we have started, and the clean break of accountability required if we are ever to conclude. We need an open process. We need officials who are community-minded and driven to improve the local infrastructure and quality of life for everyone in town. Richmond is as diverse as it has ever been, and we require an updated means of engaging that reality on a local level. Such a faceted community cannot remain viable or content under existing conditions. Over the years, we have embraced fear of accountability and deep reticence to adapt in our changed socio-political landscape. It is time to set aside our partiality and prejudices in exchange for progress, empathy and greater solidarity.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A week in review and preview…

Chief Joe Miller "may" stay on to protect and serve for a few more years. Mary Houle has been branded a public enemy and an invasive species. Heir-no-longer-apparent, Sarah Messier has gone radio silent after her selectboard meeting outburst. The mob gets a win over the selectboard. The selectboard in turn pops a celebrex and prepares for Friday's persnickety people party at the middle school. The three Jonesville Underground members wanted by police for "awesomeness" in the pages of Seven Days offer to turn themselves in, so they too can make pink t-shirts featuring the absurdity. West Bolton and Jonesville secede from their respective oppressors and create the town of Joltonville. Huntington residents shake their heads, reinstate the embargo against Richmond, and get back to the party. See you all at the Living Arts Festival!


Latest news on the Chief

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Richmond board rejects resignation

Most excellent news! As always, the comment section is a hoot.

Thank you to all who helped circulate the petition relative to the resignation of Chief Miller. Over 400 signatures were collected and presented to the Selectboard on Tuesday night. Unfortunately a lot of people were disenfranchised by the way the meeting was scheduled, public comment canceled and then allowed. As has been announced, there is a public meeting scheduled for Friday, September 11 at 6:30 PM at Camels Hump Middle School. It is important for the public with concerns to attend this meeting and share their concerns with the Selectboard. Even though there was some positive action taken at last night's meeting, a lot more needs to be done to restore the integrity of the Town and its elected officials. We and our elected officials can and need to do better.

Fran Thomas

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


great meeting...great interviews...time to celebrate!

Monday, September 7, 2009

September 8, 2009 Selectboard Meeting

...pardon the technical difficulties

After consultation with several citizens of the town of Richmond I am convinced I have been mistaken in the following areas regarding Citizens concerns with our situation with Chief Miller:

My mistakes:
1. My attempt to contain public comments regarding the Chief within a one (1) hour slot during our normal September 8 Selectboard meeting.
2. Holding the meeting within the limited space at the Town Center.
3. Having a sign up sheet.
4. Limiting each speaker to two (2) minutes.

Also due to the fact that I have received petitions that the Selectboard needs an opportunity to review at our September 8 meeting, I am going to cancel the one (1) hour public comment period at our September 8 meeting.

I expect the Selectboard to take action regarding the situation with the Chief and others items of concern on September 8. I will then set up a meeting in a location with sufficient space, allow time for everyone to speak, and eliminate any sign up sheet. This meeting will be held within 10 days of our September 8 Selectboard meeting. Please allow me time to make arrangements for location and time. [Notice of the new meeting time and location will be forthcoming shortly.]

Respectfully, K. Peter Parent, Richmond Selectboard Chair

Friday, September 4, 2009

More good news...

"Rally 'Round Richmond" t-shirts @ $15

Call 802.434.7197 for details.

What a great week this has been! I've had so many important conversations with neighbors and folks around town concerning the recent developments in the Richmond Town Offices. I'm anticipating a strong turn out for the upcoming selectboard meeting on Tuesday, September 8th @ 6pm. They finally decided to move the meeting over to the library in order to accommodate the crowd. I encourage everyone to attend the meeting, but please, let's all do our best to keep the questions and comments civil…and remember to bring popcorn.

The petition is moving forward at an incredible pace, turning up at some of the most unlikely places. It's pretty outstanding to see the level of personal and professional support for Chief Joe Miller. This dude has popularity that transcends the social and political lines-like Bono, but with a gun. I hope all of this is enough to show you that we care deeply and want you to stay. No joke-if you go, I'm headed for the hills...or starting a militia...on an the Winooski...

As expected, Isaac Cowan's play (on behalf of Mary) to have all the individuals mentioned in our recent Seven Days article served with trespass notices, hit the brick wall of justice. For the uninitiated, Houle and her hooligans like to pop off fresh notices whenever we get our names in the papers. I think they are just a wee bit jealous. At the LTCM, a trespass notice is your initiation right into the Jonesville Underground. When our buddy Adam found out he was on Messier's list, his response was "That's great! I've always wanted to be on a list."

Even better, it's delightful to hear that officer Messier is doing a hell of a job "not commenting" on her role in the matter by going out and speaking with the public. I'd encourage a bit of prudence, perhaps some radio silence, and maybe a better job keeping her people in line. If they are posting comments, we all know she is still talking about it. Very un-interim-chiefly of her...and speaking of which, I wonder how the forecast is on that front? Looks like the Jonesville Underground brought the rain. ;-)

Also, we received a great response to our "Freak Flag" article in the Seven Days "Letters to the Editor" column this week. It's reassuring to know the work we are doing out here is resonating with the regional community. Humble thanks S.R.; we in turn wish you nothing but good things!

Letter to the Editor:
(It's the last one on the page, so you'll have to scroll for it.)

Original article:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Urgent notice pertaining to the September 8th selectboard meeting

The selectboard is requiring people interested in speaking at the September 8th meeting to sign up ahead of time at the town clerk's office. I implore everyone to get on the list as soon as possible. Friday may be your last opportunity to do so.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Taking on Richmond's "axis of evil"

This past Friday, I had a particularly disturbing encounter with officer Sarah Messier. She approached me outside of the market with a list of names Isaac Cowan had given her to site with trespassing. Coincidentally, each name on the list appeared in the Seven Days article published two weeks ago about the market. I was immediately struck with the realization that Isaac had never met any of these individuals, so there was clearly an agenda being worked.

For context, it is important to note that Sarah Messier was the same officer who cited me with trespassing three weeks ago on behalf of selectboard member Mary Houle. The trespass notice was issued based on a fictional blogpost, in which I describe a rebel stronghold on an undisclosed island in the Winooski River. Conveniently, officer Messier issued this notice while the Chief was away.

When officer Messier told me that I needed to give her the contact information for the three individuals on her list, I was a bit floored. Could her impetus come from the Burlington Free Press article that came out earlier in the day pertaining to the Chief's announced resignation? She is after all, Houle's handpicked, heir apparent for interim chief. No conflict of interest there, right? Or could it have been the fact that as a police officer, Messier rarely comes face to face with a citizen determined to stand up for his rights and refuse to answer her politically driven orders. My response, in true LTCM fashion, was to flash a snarky grin, shake my head, and utter three little words: "not my job."

Not surprisingly, Messier let me get a good distance out before making sure she got the last word in; a huge tactical on her part, and one which outed the true nature of her visit. "Dan, you were given the opportunity to clear things up with Mary [Houle]." All the pieces quickly came together. This visit wasn't about Cowan at all, but the nature of her political alliance with Houle:

Earlier in the week, I had posted a scathing Front Porch Forum Post regarding Mary Houle's three-month blitz on the town's administration, in which she adeptly felled the town administrator and chair of the selectboard, and was now clawing for the chief of police (Messier's direct supervisor). If Cowan had actually intended to cite my three compatriots with trespass notices, he would have done so immediately when the article came out. Coming down the pipeline two weeks late was uncharacteristic given his impetuous nature, and the timing was too much of a coincidence. If you recall, Houle showed up with Cowan to intimidate me late on a Saturday night three weeks ago. This was just him returning the favor.

The link between Mary Houle and Isaac Cowan is obvious. Houle regularly acts on behalf of Cowan's interests during selectboard meetings, like voting "no" on the beer/wine license for my store and the aforementioned intimidation session outside my house (à la KKK, save for the sheets). Houle intends to use the police advisory board (of which Cowan is a member, along with another Cowan cohort) to effectively weaken the role of police chief through oversight and prime the position for Messier's arrival. Houle also used her position as police liaison to write an unfavorable performance review of the chief as retaliation for placing officer Messier on administrative leave. Clearly unqualified, but she has a bias, given her regular, public and vocal support for officer Messier.

Messier's role is this deranged triumvirate, is a bit…well…messier. She has a very public axe to grind with chief for placing her on administrative leave. Messier then follows up by attempting to cite trespass notice after trespass notice on behalf two corrupt individuals who have no legitimate or actionable response. Messier regularly uses her badge to convey Cowan and Houle's will, victimizing their political adversaries and perceived social threats through the simple, effective, and subtle art of police presence and intimidation. Messier is an officer far afield from the caliber of a chief.

Bottom line is this: Houle and Cowan are in favor of small government, lower taxes and disbanding Richmond's police force-yet together, they represent the most considerable drain on town resources, likely to inflict the administrative atrophy they seek. Together with officer Sarah Messier and a host of other fiendish followers, they have effectively calved an already fractured town. Get rid of Mary and Messier, Isaac looses his two insiders. With the three of them effectively pacified, the administration can start to rebuild trust within the community.

With that sentiment in mind, I again call for Mary Houle to resign her position on the selectboard immediately. I also believe that Messier should be again suspended, pending a full investigation. Finally, Cowan has no business being part of the police advisory committee and should step down. End of story.