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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.

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Standin' in the Schoolhouse Door

July 2, 2021

Politicians sometimes think they are the law. Consider Governor George Wallace, who, in 1963, physically stood in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama to prevent black students from attending. Wallace was acting on his promise of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

All of this was political theater. Confronted by the federalized Alabama National Guard, Wallace’s resolve melted like ice cubes in a mint julep in the hot Alabama sun. He stepped aside, and Vivian Malone and James Hood walked in and made history.


If Village President Andrew Brown gets his way, he might be standing in the schoolhouse door at the Essex Middle School polls on November 2nd, proclaiming, “Separation now, separation tomorrow, separation forever. Tough luck!”


Brown thinks he’s got legal cover. He proclaims that the so-called “Winooski Precedent” — when Winooski separated from Colchester in 1921 — allows the Trustees to break up the Town of Essex with a Village-only vote. Good luck!


Brown either hides or does not know the details. Yes, Winooski got its separation charter, but not without considerable irregularities.


The proposed Charter was never officially voted on by the electorate prior to its introduction in the Legislature. It was drafted largely by a politically-ambitious attorney who was backed by Winooski’s powerful business barons.


Photo by Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report Magazine

The proposed charter, as introduced, didn’t provide a vote for the people of Colchester Town living outside the Village of Winooski.


Ultimately, though, the Legislature changed the charter legislation. It carved out a special voting district for Colchester-only residents and enabled them to vote on Winooski’s attempt to take over Colchester lands encompassing Saint Michael’s College and Fanny Allen Hospital. Colchester voters overwhelmingly defeated that proposal to expand the new city’s boundary.


Brown does not mention that, in 1923, the Village of Brattleboro attempted to separate from the Town of Brattleboro and set up its own city. The Legislature intervened, requiring separate votes by the Village and the Town. Try finding the City of Brattleboro, today. It doesn’t exist.


What does this mean? Ultimately, the Legislature decides, not the Village of Essex Junction.  It also means that Essex voters outside the Village have historical and legal


justification to ask for their own vote on Village Separation — whether Andrew Brown tries to stand in the schoolhouse door or not.

Winooski Precedent? Requiescat in pace.


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

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