Against The Grain Masthead.png
Of Moons, Skunks and Pat Murray

May 24, 2021

Unfortunately, politicians in Essex have been tolerating too many skunks, and the resulting stink is evidence they are connecting.

Prime example: Patrick Murray, who proudly proclaimed at a recent public meeting, “I am a douchebag.”

Murray is Vice-Chair of the Essex Town Selectboard, and as such, he is a heartbeat away from becoming the Chair.

 

That’s enough for supporters of sane, stink-free local government to keep current Chair Andy Watts in their prayers at night.

Yet, we should not need divine supplication to keep Murray from the top job. Instead, we should ask the Selectboard, “What are you going to do  about it?”

To date, the answer seems to  be “Nothing.” And, failing to  act, the remaining members of the board are complicit in abiding abhorrent behavior.

Against The Grain Masthead.png
Of Moons, Skunks and Patrick Murray

May 25, 2021

Once upon a time a grandmother gave this advice: “It’s better to shoot for the moon and miss than it is to aim at a skunk and connect.”  Unfortunately, politicians in Essex have been tolerating too many skunks, and the resulting stink is evidence they are connecting.

Prime example: Patrick Murray, who proudly proclaimed at a recent public meeting, “I am a douchebag.” Murray is Vice-Chair of the Essex Town Selectboard, and as such, he is a heartbeat away from becoming the Chair.  That’s enough for supporters of sane, stink-free local government to keep current Chair Andy Watts in their prayers at night.

Yet, we should not need divine supplication to keep Murray from the top job.  Instead, we should ask the Selectboard, “What are you going to do about it?” To date, the answer seems to be “Nothing.”  And, failing to act, the remaining members of the board are complicit in abiding abhorrent behavior.

The late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a sociologist before he was a politician, penned a well-known article titled “Defining Deviancy Down.”  

The heart of his thesis was that “there are circumstances in which society will choose not to notice behavior that would otherwise be controlled, or disapproved, or even punished.”

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​In other words, when faced with such undeniably objectionable behavior, a community may choose to ignore it, thereby “normalizing” its occurrence and, inevitably, encouraging more of the same.

That already is happening in our town. VTDigger, an award-winning, statewide news website, published an extensive story on the Haney-Murray-Franco profanity texts.

In it, Murray bragged that “more people have reached out to him over email to express their support than have reached out to call for his resignation.”

 

He also told VTDigger that, having called one community member “an ass” in his texting tirade, he “would say it in public as well.”

Perhaps there is no easy path for the Selectboard to remove Murray from his Vice-Chair role, but paraphrasing the words of that grandmother, “It’s better to shoot for the moon and miss than connect with the skunk in your midst.”

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Bruce S. Post, a former Selectboard member, was chief of staff for 1980 presidential candidate U.S. Congressman John B. Anderson.