City council urges Barre Diversity & Equity Committee to get along

William Toborg tells Barre Mayor Jake Hemmerick and the rest of the City Council “I am concerned about the otherization that is going on. There are forces here that want to divide us. There are forces that want us to express hatred against each other.”

By Guy Page

The Barre City Council got an earful from citizens concerned about three members of the city Diversity and Equity Committee telling fellow committee member William Toborg he should quit because he’s pro-life, and Chair Joelen Mulvaney’s emailed threat to mute him at future meetings.

The council took no formal action. Instead, several members urged the committee to try to get along and work together without the council needing to hire a mediator (suggested by Progressive councilors and agreed to by Mulvaney) or fire Mulvaney (suggested by several Barre residents in the audience).

Tuesday night’s meeting also produced:

  • An apology from Chair Joelen Mulvaney that appeased Progressive members of the Council, but did not specifically address her August 16 e-mail threat to mute pro-life committee member William at future meetings because of what she called his “anti-women activism” and “misogynistic perspective.”
  • A warning by City Councilor and former Mayor Thom Lauzon that Mulvaney’s threat to mute Toborg could leave the City open to litigation.
  • Mixed citizen criticism and support for Mulvaney and two other committee members, Ellen Kaye and Emily Wheeler, who told Toborg his pro-life position makes him unfit to sit on the committee.
  • Much citizen criticism and no support for Mulvaney’s threat to mute Toborg.

Mulvaney kicked off the discussion with several minutes of remarks delivered via Zoom, including this apology:

“I apologize to the Barre City Diversity and Equity Committee for not being able to address the ideological differences that prevent us from doing harm to each other,” Mulvaney said. “I apologize to the City Council for not understanding how much and what kind of support is needed to do the work of identifying and making recommendations about Barre and equity within civic and social life.”

During her remarks, Mulvaney did not indicate whether or not she would mute committee member William Torborg, as she threatened to do in an August email after she criticized his pro-life stance and said Roman Catholic religion has no place in committee discussions, which is limited to “political” and “social” considerations.

Barre resident Carol Hebert watched the video of the August 12 committee meeting and said she was appalled how Mulvaney, Kaye and Wheeler treated Toborg.

“It was terrible,” Hebert said. “The fact that they ganged up on him. He was the victim. It doesn’t sit well with me. They owe him an apology personally.”

The committee seems to think that “saying it [diversity] and doing it are two different things,” Hebert said. “Anyone who would want to violate the first amendment right of anyone on the committee is not fit to serve.”

Tom Kelly addresses city council

Tom Kelly – lawyer, former Washington County state’s attorney, current candidate for a Barre House seat, and organizer of 40 Days for Life, a pro-life gathering outside Barre’s Planned Parenthood abortion clinic – described the treatment of Toborg as ‘jaw-dropping.’

“Assuming the first amendment applies, it was a jaw dropping experience to watch it,” Kelly said. “I think it would be healthy to have on a Diversity committee someone who didn’t buy into every narrative.”

Several speakers expressed support for Mulvaney and the committee’s work. One, Garrett Grant, criticized Toborg directly.

“What I can’t get behind is giving a particiption trophy to someone who wants to take away rights from 51% of the population,” Grant said. “Not by undermining the committee you want to undermine from within.”

Barre resident Anthony Williams said the video shows that Mulvaney, Kaye and Wheeler “were completely unhinged and weren’t hiding it anymore.” Toborg had just told them he had been physically assaulted for expressing his pro-life views (a car backed him against a wall at the polls on August 9), and rather than commiserate and support his right to free speech, they “boldly suggested they wanted him silenced and if not removed from the committee altogether….it seems that Ms. Kaye, Ms. Wheeler and Ms. Mulvaney were suggesting anyone who disagree with their stance is justified to receive an angry, violent response.”

One committee member who didn’t attend the August 12 meeting, and said he hasn’t watched the video, nonetheless questioned the criticisms aimed at Mulvaney and the two others.

“I don’t know what happened, I wasn’t there,” Christopher Roberts said. The press coverage  “was execrable. It was grossly onesided. We have always been respectful of each other.” He added that even videos don’t always tell the whole story.

Sarah Helman of Barre disagreed: “The video says it all… was just plain rude.”

Helman urged the council to “take the issue [of abortion] out of the issue. Someone’s first amendment right has been threatened. That is the issue. For the chair of the committee to say someone will be muted is not acceptable. She was not fairminded, she was not inclusive. She shut Mr. Toborg down. In my opinion she should not be chair of the committee.”

Rosemary Averill agreed. “The issue is how Mr Toborg was treated. It was uncalled for. Something must be done. It cannot be brushed under the rug.”

That something of a legal nature might be done worried Lauzon. “I was concerned that if anyone threatened to mute, we could be exposing ourselves to litigation.”

Councilor Michael Deering also voiced concern about a city official abridging the First Amendment. “My biggest issue is the First Amendment right that was threatened in the email,” he said. “The actions in the meeting were slightly less eggregious than the email.”

Toborg agrees. “I was more concerned with what happened after the meeting, when Ms. Mulvaney said she would be muting me,” he said near the end of almost an hour of public testimony.

“I am conservative. I am pro-life, proudly….I have always believed in fighting for the powerless,” an attitude that conforms with and inspires his pro-life beliefs, Toborg said. Also, “I was concerned about the anti-Catholic bigotry at that meeting.”

Toborg said that his time on the committee has taught him that systemic racism does exist in Barre, although his understanding of the term may differ from other members’. He was quite concerned when flying the American flag or waving the Trump flag was considered racist by other committee members. “I expressed my disappointment in that,” he said.

“I am concerned about the otherization that is going on,” Toborg said, citing a midwestern man running over a teenager because he thought was Republican. “There are forces here that want to divide us. There are forces that want us to express hatred against each other.”

While urging the committee to work together, Both Mayor Jake Hemmerick and councilor Teddy Waszazak noted that Mulvaney had apologized. But was the apology actually about the muting threat? Said one audience member after the meeting: “We’ll see.” The next meeting of the Diversity and Equity Committee will be held Thursday, September 29 at 6 PM online.

Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.

Image courtesy of Guy Page

10 thoughts on “City council urges Barre Diversity & Equity Committee to get along

  1. Stay strong William. Thank you for standing up, you’re a true Patriot. Ms. Mulvaney is a racist, hater and needs our (Catholic) Prayers. This person violates our Constitution, humanity and civility of the whole.

    The left’s social equity agenda is filth with destruction not just of individuals but of a society at-large. These people must be stopped. We The People must all rise up like William and put an end to the lefts hate.


  2. Great reporting, Guy. This is a good example of how difficult it is to actually live the principle of diversity in every day life. These young wokesters are very adept at creating labels, but they don’t have the skill sets for debate, dialogue and negotiation. Something missing in their education perhaps?

  3. The underlying philosophy behind this whole equity and CRT and “diversity” movement, which is all about man forcing his/her fellow man to see things only one certain way, and leaves God completely out of the picture, is Marxist. Forced “equality” is tyranny.. When the Marxists take over, as they have in Vermont (call it by any names you wish, such as Socialists or Progressives) they will force you to toe THEIR line. Vermont used to be “live and let live”. Now we are all being pummeled to behave like robots in the name of a far-left philosophy. We must all bow before the god of abortion. We must all support open borders. We must all pull down statues and denounce America’s founding documents. We must all debase White people and force them to denounce themselves as racists. We must all avoid God and the Bible and a Judeo-Christian worldview at all costs. Otherwise, just as Mao did in the Chinese Communist Cultural Revolution within recent living memory (the 1950s and 1960s), we will cancel them and mute them and marginalize them in public. The later stages of movements like this are prison and even execution. Look at past history. It never changes with movements like this. This City Committee is doing to some people with a different worldview the very thing they demand those same people not do to others. They are radical leftists and petty tyrants. They are part of a large movement that is attacking everything about their own country that is not toeing the Marxist line. People, wake up. This is a tyrannical and radical philosophy that, I say again, is Marxist at its core. And what about the rights guaranteed to all under the U.S. Constitution? Freedom of speech and religion? The entire First Amendment? Oh, but we must scrap it because the U.S. Constitution has been denounced by these wokesters as racist. Along with people’s Constitutional rights, they are also trying to scrap the people as well.

    • Yes, this is the progressives projecting what they do to others to keep the spotlight off their plan to change society into the woke, zombies they are. They don’t debate, they project a name onto their nonbelievers to shame, censor and marginalize them into compliance. What does this committee do for Barre other than create controversy? Absolutely nothing of any value. The committee should be disbanded next meeting. Send these robots home to live their miserable lives.

  4. Vermont has become All About the giant social experiment that these Progressives and Wokesters and flat out Agitators have turned the state into..

    People’s feelings about all this BS is like the giant elephant in every single room you walk into in Vermont.. this is not what life is supposed to be about.
    It’s sucking all the oxygen out of the room- by design.

    The very serious matters at hand, such as serious survival issues present today- as evidenced by the high rates of homelessness, addiction and suicide.. THIS is what needs the attention.

    It’s like a ME ME ME culture with these people.
    This is not truly helping anyone but these attention whores themselves doing all this to create busy work to justify their own government jobs.. and I don’t say that lightly, it’s what they really are: bottomless pits of emotionally stunted humans that want everything in the room to be constantly focused upon themselves and what they feel about everything as they push their agendas forward- running out the clock on the work needed for We The People.

    Given the times we are living in today- so many things we’ve never seen in our lifetimes, to make everything about skin colors and politics du jour while so many people are suffering- it’s all truly sick.

    What these Progressives do is truly block anything we see as progress to focus on their own version of it…which has little to do with the tasks at hand.

  5. DIE is a neo-marxist ideology which excludes identities they see as privileged, white culture and all white people. Inclusion does not apply equally to all people, only the ones that have developed a specific critical consciousness, basically programmed to see everything through critical theory glasses. This means that all discrepancies in outcomes, whether that be money, success, wealth, property, are all attributed to one data point, racism. These ideologs strategically ignore all other data points, such as education and individual choices. They complain against mass lines of action to promote revolution in which they come out on top. They have all the power and social status. The definition of Equity is equal outcomes, socialism. This is why that want to abolish property rights. Check out the New Discourse podcast series to learn more about the true objective of Equity, SEL and Social Justice.

  6. Has anybody realized that there is probably no need for the make believe policy machinations of an ‘Equity and Diversity’ committee? Those committees cause more divisiveness and anger then ever existed before they came into being. They’re a total waste of time, effort and money…

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