Outed on police ‘ratline,’ Stamford gathers to light Christmas tree, anyway

By Guy Page

A Christmas tree lighting in the tiny town of Stamford has stirred up concerns about Covid-19 safety and constitutional freedom in Vermont government, state police and media.

On Dec. 3 the Stamford selectboard defied Gov. Phil Scott’s Covid-19 emergency orders by not canceling a Dec. 4 public gathering: the traditional family-friendly lighting of the town Christmas tree in front of the local elementary school, complete with wagon rides, carolers singing “Jingle Bells,” and doughnuts, hot cocoa and marshmallows. It was scheduled before the governor issued his holiday restrictions on outdoor gatherings.

The Dec. 3 discussion got particularly lively when Rep. Laura Sibilia — an independent legislator representing the “blue” voting Bennington County towns of Stamford, Readsboro, Searsburg and the more “red” Windham County towns of Dover, Somerset, and Wardsboro — offered to invite state officials from Montpelier to explain the governor’s policy to the selectboard.

state of Vermont

Vermont Rep. Laura Sibilia, I-Dover

No way, selectboard member Dan Potvin — manager of the family business, Eagle Lumber — told Sibilia, as can be heard on this VPR recording (beginning at about three minutes, 30 seconds):

“Laura, you took an oath to uphold the Constitution, I would imagine, and you guys are running over it along with the governor.”

Replied Sibilia: “Absolutely not, sir. … If you believe that is the case, you need to go to the courts.”

“I’m telling you!” Potvin interrupted, “I’m telling you to tell your comrades when you’re up there that we’re not going to put up with it down here.”

The rest of the board agreed with Potvin that the tree lighting must go on. The following night a few dozen townspeople appeared, mostly wearing masks. Santa drove a tractor, people sang “Jingle Bells,” the lights were turned on, and in general everything went according to schedule.

“Down here.” Those two words have a particular political meaning in Stamford, a Bennington County town of 813 on the Massachusetts state line. The town was founded in 1753 by New Hampshire Gov. Benning Wentworth as one of the Hampshire grants. It’s one of the oldest towns in Vermont. Its founding predates Vermont statehood, the American Revolution, and even the start of the French-and-Indian War in 1754. Today, many citizens and elected officials believe — not without reason — that the needs of this distant, rural poor county are all but forgotten by officialdom. Neither does it share the politics of Montpelier and the Chittenden/Washington county power corridor — or indeed, much of the rest of Vermont. Stamford, Readsboro to the east, Woodford to the north, and Searsburg to the northeast comprise a politically “red” enclave among the Vermont sea of blue. Relatively speaking, it’s Trump country. In November, President Donald Trump won every town.

However, the internet between Montpelier and Stamford works just fine. The Vermont State Police became involved after someone reported the scheduled event on the State of Vermont “ratline,” aka the Department of Public Safety’s Health & Safety Compliance Reporting Tool. As reported by Vermont Daily in April, complaints submitted to the webform are vetted and, if necessary, directed to the appropriate agency.

Vermont State Police spokesperson Adam Silverman said Monday the contact with Stamford was purely educational: “VSP received reports regarding the event through the Department of Public Safety’s Health & Safety Compliance Reporting Tool and via a media inquiry. We spoke with the town clerk to provide educational guidance on the governor’s executive orders, which is in line with our general enforcement posture of reaching out for educational purposes when we are made aware of situations.”

The police have the option of taking more stringent enforcement measures, including reporting the event to the state’s attorney, if repeated violations occur.

Spoken in anger or not, Potvin raises an issue many thoughtful Vermonters have been asking: Is there sound constitutional basis for the governor’s broad-reaching exercise of emergency powers limiting free exercise of the First Amendment right “peaceably to assemble” and other specifically-protected rights?

Supporters point to the 1905 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Jacobsen V. Massachusetts, in which the court compelled vaccination during a pandemic, barring an acceptable exemption. But the current Supreme Court may not accept Jacobsen as a catch-all rationale for emergency powers.

In the Nov. 24 decision throwing out New York Gov. Cuomo’s pandemic-related restrictions on freedom of religion (another explicit First Amendment right), Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote: “Jacobson hardly supports cutting the Constitution loose during a pandemic … .Even if judges may impose emergency restrictions on rights that some of them have found hiding in the Constitution’s penumbras, it does not follow that the same fate should befall the textually explicit right to religious exercise.”

Concern about the protected practice of “textually explicit” First Amendment rights such as peaceable assembly, freedom or speech, and freedom of religion has prompted the organization of a “FirstAmendmentFest” rally noon, Friday Dec. 18 on the Vermont State House lawn.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and state of Vermont

16 thoughts on “Outed on police ‘ratline,’ Stamford gathers to light Christmas tree, anyway

  1. Sibilia’s attitude is the problem regarding the mentality of most Dems / Socilaists. “Replied Sibilia: “Absolutely not, sir. … If you believe that is the case, you need to go to the courts.”” They pass laws / regulations without any regard to the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Then as she says “go to the Courts”/ She knows it’s an up hill climb just as noted in the past Prez elections. The Court judges are biased, liberals, don’t want to make decisions, don’t relate divisions to the C & BoRs, it’s a “feeling” decision. So, Sibilia is following the power crazed controlling line. They decide, you overturn” and many times there are time limits.

    There’s an attitude odor in the air in Montpelier that’s pungent and despicable. Regarding a person like this (most likely a Flatlander) to be elected in the Bennington area (close to MA & NY) having such residents move in, the attitude came with them. I feel Hitler would be elected by them having a “D” before his name. He’d be elected using their reason “because he liked dogs” so he can’t be bad as a Republican.

    • If you want to see the value of going to this court system, see the results of the citizens taking the Halifax Select-board to court over some of their shenanigans… A ploy to delay, delay, delay

  2. Way to go Stamford! People who have balls… Something that Montpelier and Burlington don’t have..especially Scotty boy. The legislators are the ones who tell him what to do and say. They just pull on his leash if he tries to go too far. from their grip…
    We are losing our freedom. Scotty boy is locking us down.. but they are raising our taxes, keeping us from working, keeping us from our families and friends, not allowing us to see Drs. But these idiots in Montpelier got their money and benefits… They got money from the fed government for the pet projects,
    They want us to be under their control, for us to be dependant on them. They don’t want us to think for ourselves..The idiots under the dome think we Vermonters are dumb and can’t do anything…
    3 Cheers again to Stanford and a big ole BOOOO to the RAT who called the SP..Vermonters need to all stand and take back Vermont !!!

  3. This is awesome.

    All you had to do was declare a peaceful protest, waive a little black flag that supports money laundering and the destruction of private property and they would have gladly said carry on!

    Can people see how communist Russia used to work? If you have the great fortune to meet a Russian living in Vermont, you need to ask them what went on. What do they think of the current actions taking place in our state.

    You will find it very enlighting

  4. “On Dec. 3 the Stamford selectboard defied Gov. Phil Scott’s Covid-19 emergency orders by not canceling a Dec. 4 public gathering.”

    What Benedict Scott seems to forget is his unlawful edicts can and will be ignored by the citizens of Vermont as he is not king. The pandemic is over when the citizens of Vermont declare it over by discounting his unlawful edicts and go on with their lives as the citizens of Stamford have.

    “The police have the option of taking more stringent enforcement measures, including reporting the event to the state’s attorney, if repeated violations occur.”

    Not if when the officers took the oath to the US Constitution and Vermonts seriously, or perhaps they take their overlords un Constitutional edicts more seriously, the people of Vermont should hope the former rather than the latter, other wise they are nothing more than Benedicts brown shirts.

    • If Sibilia and her socialist cohorts had wanted to pass a law, they could have attempted it. They knew it wouldn’t fly, so all they’re left with are Phlip Pflop’s edicts and threats by those sworn ‘ to protect & serve’.

      Law enforcement need a reminder that they protect the Constitution and serve the people (not their union).

  5. The 1905 Jacobson v. Massachusetts Supreme Court decision did not bless forced medication in the form of vaccination, nor did it state that Henning Jacobson was obliged to get vaccinated. The dispute was not over whether Jacobson had to get vaccinated for smallpox during an outbreak in Cambridge; the dispute was over whether Jacobson had to pay the $5 fine for refusing to get vaccinated. The Court decided that the fine was justified. But, significantly, that court also warned against oppressive penalties for refusing state medical mandates, arguing that should such penalties become coercive, then the courts should step in to remedy. The court was trying to balance public good against private liberty.

    The 1927 Supreme Court decision Buck v. Bell ignored the 1905 decision and determined that society had every right to force sterilization on individuals it deemed unfit to be parents, completely disregarding the oppressiveness of this decision.

    In essence what Governor Scott is doing is forcing untried, unproven medical measures– the quarantining of the entire healthy population– on society and in the process destroying livelihoods, businesses, and the social fabric, when a way forward, as set forth long ago by such figures as Dr. Ioannidis and Dr. David Katz, was available that posited a tiered approach to handling Covid, since we knew back in March that Covid rarely targets the young and healthy. The Great Barrington Declaration echoes this reasonable, and un-oppressive, policy. The measures enacted, on the other hand, are unquestionably oppressive, with many of us uncertain whether the cure is any better than the disease.

    Yes, it’s true that Covid is a serious disease, but primarily for the elderly and frail. This is the population upon which resources would be focused in a plan such as the G.B. Declaration. But in addition to destroying the economy, the Governor and his advisors are intent are destroying self-determination as well, punishing the people for daring to presume they have the right to think for themselves, or that any plan could possibly be better than a plan that destroys lives, business, and self-esteem, and leads to increased alcoholism and drug abuse and depression. Big Doctor knows best.

    We have a safe, cheap, readily available remedy for Covid-19, and that’s Ivermectin, a widely-used anti-parasitic that’s been found to have significant anti-viral properties as well. It’s been called a miracle drug for Covid-19. But it simply doesn’t matter what the people want, what the people need, or what any upstart (but highly qualified) doctors think: we’re going to get a vaccine, period. We’re told to shut up and take it, and the destruction of our economy to boot. We’re told that our freedom and our self-determination don’t matter anymore, and that no one is trying to play Big Brother in the guise of Big Doctor; it’s all to keep us safe. We’re not to have any concern with freedom, liberty, and self-determination: we will be told what to do.

    The FLCCC group has a perfectly reasonable and medically sound prophylactic program for Covid-19. It’s simple and it’s safe: Ivermectin, vitamin D3, vitamin C, quercetin, zinc, and melatonin. https://covid19criticalcare.com/i-mask-prophylaxis-treatment-protocol/i-mask-protocol-translations/ This is a reasonable way forward that will allow us to reopen and take our lives back, but my guess is that Dr. Fauci and the FDA will have nothing to do with it. It’s not really about the people, then, is it?

    • I do not read long posts bc its tmi to digest. Suggest if you wish to educate an economy of words format is best

      • Then I’ll summarize the important point: Ivermectin and the FLCCC group.

        The bit about the the 1905 and 1927 decisions is something I’ve looked into, thought it might be interesting in light of current events.

        • Woefully O/T sir – thread is not about Covid cures – you have posted this topic multiple times aka spamming the thread 😀

  6. U.S. Code 242 of Title 18, Deprivation of Rights under color of law, makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
    For the purpose of Section 242, acts under “color of law” include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the their lawful authority, but also acts done beyond the bounds of that official’s lawful authority, if the acts are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties. Persons acting under color of law within the meaning of this statute include police officers, prisons guards and other law enforcement officials, as well as judges, care providers in public health facilities, and others who are acting as public officials. It is not necessary that the crime be motivated by animus toward the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin of the victim.
    The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.

  7. Thanks Mr. Potvin for reassurance that there are still normal ppl in VT *and* for giving it to Sibelia whose haughty comments here on TNR show her to be another haughty elitist. Also runs, hides and refuses to answer questions re slanted views and erroneous statements and took a swipe at the menfolk so also a sexist.

    And among others slammed me for posting using a screenname which is a defacto request for treasure-trove of personal info and data including map to my door and have received death threats. Sibelia and ilk ignore those who use first or nicknames so a slam of blogosphere norms as opposed to Mainstream Media but really just thinly disguised rude insult used by bullies.

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