Pownal Selectman Bob Jarvis sounds off on hostile town emails

A Selectboard member in Pownal has gone on Facebook to speak his mind about the thousands of town government emails that were released to the public in December.

Pownal has been coping with internal strife after thousands of emails released in December revealed an effort by certain town officials to oust other members of the local government.

The emails, which a town resident obtained through a Freedom of Information Act, featured numerous political conversations, including communications between Selectwoman Marlena Pellon, former colleague Jenny Dewar and former Town Administrator Michael Walker.

Pownal Selectman Bob Jarvis, apparently frustrated by the media coverage of the event, took to social media this month to air his views on the significance of the controversy.

According to Jarvis, the media have ignored the central scandal found in the messages — namely, the emails reveal plotting against political opponents.

“I’m not gonna talk about whether public records should have been made public — of course they should have been made public. They are public records and that’s what transparency is all about,” Jarvis says in the video.

He chastises town officials for the “degrading and denigrating conversation” contained within the emails, and he cites “a real, concerted and aggressive effort to shut people out of participation in their government.”

“What is revealed there is a concerted and aggressive effort to shut people out of boards, of commissions, of committees, and of town positions if ‘the machine’ — the one machine — doesn’t agree with your position,” Jarvis said.

The eight-minute video cites the use of delays, claims of conflict of interest, and character attacks  to subvert colleagues.

“I’ve even seen concerted efforts to even change the size of committees, of commissions, and other things in order to get people off those committees, and to get disagreement off,” he added.

Jarvis then calls for “ideological diversity” among town officials, saying that will lead to fair compromises on policy matters.

“What I do care about is ideological diversity — making sure our citizens are represented on our boards, our commissions and our committees.”

Bryan Harris, chair of the Pownal Selectboard, also expressed anger about the emails during a Jan. 13 board meeting.

“I feel the same frustration and anger at the type of language used against some of our citizens by individuals who were supposed to be working for the benefit of the people of the town,” he said in a prepared statement.

At that same meeting, Selectboard Vice Chairwoman Elizabeth Rowe called for numerous government officials to resign over the controversy, including Pellon, Justice of the Peace Jenny Dewar, Economic Development Committee Chair Shannon McLenithan, Development Review Board and Planning Commission member Michael Slattery, Planning Commission member Syd Smithers, and Recreation Board member and auditor Crystal Gardner.

The emails have been posted on a Facebook page titled “Pownel Government Exposed.” Among other things, the emails indicate that Pellon wanted multiple officials terminated from town government, including the town treasurer, the town clerk and the administrative assistant.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

CLARIFICATION: This article was updated at 9:15 a.m. Feb. 28 to characterize the emails as “released,” not “leaked.” 

Image courtesy of Bob Jarvis/Facebook

16 thoughts on “Pownal Selectman Bob Jarvis sounds off on hostile town emails

  1. An aside: Local political infighting is nothing new or unexpected. It was interesting, however, that one Pownal citizen in attendance, who asserted that the town’s 2nd amendment sanctuary policy is unlawful, didn’t reference the sanctuary policies in Montpelier, Burlington and Winooski, with regard to their procedures allowing undocumented immigrants to circumvent State and Federal law. Everyone should study the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • Perhaps you might care to elaborate on the above. Color me as stupid as appropriate, I’m unable after several readings to grasp your reference to Article XIV, Section 1(?). Key word “citizens”?
      Sometimes you are too cryptic.

      • The Equal Protection Clause is a clause from the text of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides “…nor shall any State … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.

  2. If one analyzes the various governments (people in Government) be it towns, counties, State or Federal this disclosure (on the local level) really is basically no surprise. This matter applies to the Liberal Socialists in Government. It’s their SOP. Relative to VT and this town that opened a can of worms, I hope other towns follow suit and expose the insects that’ll scurry back under the refrigerator when the light hits them.

    State Government: Those mainly from Chittenden and Washington Counties. Those in control pollute, control freaks. In many reports illustrated especially in TNR this has repeated over the past years. It’s the back room legislation, power grab by the Socialists (Flatlanders) than moved here. Ref Mitzy Johnson, Baruth, LaLonde, Cina, Grad (who said the flag was a banner) mainly.

    Federal Government Schiff, Piglosi, Schumer, Nadler, DW Schultz and most of the House of Reps puppet followers.

    It’s a take over of the country, by local, state and Country, no doubt. The Pownal situation brings it closer to home. The Dem Prez hopefuls are scary. Trump is like the Dutch boy that held back the water by putting his finger into the leaky dam and saved the country. I hope people in various towns also expose similarities and then it’ll affect the State Gov. Socialism is a creeping crud.

    This Pownal matter is an absolute local eyeopener. I’m sure this is not the end. I highly commend Selectman Bob Jarvis. People should demand more openness and honesty from town officials. I have seen crud in Townshend. Those people mentioned may look like humans but don’t act like it. Discourse limited to 3 minutes on major issues-a limited complaint time relative to the total evening episode.

    The video also mentions The Bennington Banner’s liberal position (at 7:15) being a questionable news source, taken to task. Another prob with VT, the Liberal media bias. They are not appealing and are unknowingly destroying the state. Many complaints against them. Advertisers should boycott and not be associated. There’s only one or two newspapers in the state that are worthy of being called a “news” paper, bird cage absorbents.

    crankyoldgeezer, thanks for the video link.

    • Pleased you found time to check it out. Watched to the end, you’d have seen the pandemonium that ensued.

      Also, the second presenter at public comment is notorious for hijacking board meetings to inject her personal propaganda as part of “the machine”. A former schoolteacher, she constantly attends meetings to inject opinions/criticisms and attempt to dominate. The female voice heard via the intercom/telephone link is SB “person no.5” who uses the volume afforded by the link to do likewise, interrupting or talking over whoever may be currently speaking. Is also a participant in the notorious emails. There is most assuredly a clique there intent on dominating life in the town.

  3. Liberals in politics at any level or a fox in a chicken coup, both will destroy
    whatever you have ………………….

    Wake up people, you opened the door !!

  4. The “leakers” are “whistle blowers” a protected class of persona of Transparency….

    just ask pencil neck schiff…. and yes unfortunately the corruption starts right off the bat with
    the fascist left,,, town council,,, schoolboard,,, dog catcher don’t matter to the mostly flatlanders.


  5. Nothing new here, if you’re a Dem, you walk on water. If you’re a Republican, you’re a crook in the eyes of the media. Republicans NEVER get a fair shake from the press. That’s why our great President Trump keeps caling out the fake news diseminators.

    • That’s why you let them get comfortable in their little fiefdoms and then hit them with a FOIA request to expose their illegal, disgusting, underhanded acts.

    • The emails in question were in a batch of ~4,000 obtained from town records by request.
      At very least they show hostile attitudes of a particular SB member “no.5”, a resigned former SB member, and the then employed Town Administrator toward certain SB members, town employees, and citizens. The language used seems quite insulting and abusive.

      Maybe it’s a Bennington County thing. Kevin Hoyt’s Facebook page has daily video posts re the goings on there, the election irregularities he’s found, and the roadblocks encountered in his attempts to bring them to light via the state authorities.

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