This commentary is by James Hall, a resident of Center Rutland.
As has been noted in print media, Rutland Town Selectboard member Don Chioffi has been censored and removed from committee assignments, effective with the last Selectboard meeting on Sept. 28. This resulted, apparently, from postings to Facebook that were deemed inappropriate by the rest of the board. I am not and will not be a Facebook user, so I did not see the material that is front and center in this action by the Selectboard.
It is very easy to become the target of criticism for things written or said in this climate of political correctness, which to me, has run amok. I was labeled a racist because I referred to the Afghanistan territory as having a history of being infested as indeed it has been. In 2001, it was the thugs from this area who caused the 9-11 problems that took almost 3,000 lives.
So, I am “a racist,” and Don Chioffi gets to sit on the sidelines at committee meetings, which he is able to attend but not contribute to because of his status as confirmed by vote of the Selectboard.
Don was duly elected by the voters of Rutland Town, the same as every other board member past or present. It should be incumbent upon this board to find a way to redo the committee placements to include reinstating Don Chioffi. To not do that is to deny a constituent/officeholder relationship that the rest of the board members have. It is not the fault of Don Chioffi that there is no recall of elected municipal officials in Vermont; I believe the intent there is to let the voters decide who gets elected and who can serve unencumbered, short of committing a felony.
From experience as a Selectboard member myself (serving 18 years in two towns) I can say that politics can get ugly, but it also does not need to be that way. The results of the ugliness will sooner or later get in the way of serving the town, and that is a needless, unproductive outcome which the voters will take a dim view of. I believe there are remedies for the situation Don is in; but it would be unfortunate to conclude that it is necessary for Don to resort to those means.
Rutland Town has a lot of business in the hopper just waiting to come out and be put on the table. It would be a huge plus for everyone, including voters, to get whatever it is that roiled the waters behind us, look forward in a positive light, and conduct business with the best interests of the town in mind, with everyone on the board holding equal footing. The voters will decide the rights and wrongs in due course, as has been the case throughout the history of Vermont towns for hundreds of years.
Elections do have consequences.