Vermont conservatives push back against apathy, gun control, school performance, perceived media bias

By Guy Page

It’s not easy being a conservative in a blue state like Vermont. Faced with powerful political opposition, a strong gun control lobby, politically correct public schools that do not always prepare students academically, and a sometimes hostile media, it’s tempting sometimes to hunker down or even give up. But there are signs that conservative Vermonters are pushing back.

Political apathy – As of last night, there’s a Republican Town Committee in Putney, the Windham County hometown of former Governor and Senator George Aiken. It’s safe to say that Putney has become solidly Democrat since Aiken won the Putney seat in the Vermont House of Representatives in 1931. The current House member for Putney (and Westminster and Dummerston) is progressive Democrat Mike Mrowicki. No Republican has represented Putney since Phyllis Graham in 1983. The town committee has been inactive for two decades.

Guy Page

Enough is enough, local farmers Mark and Kate Bowen decided. “Over the past decades of elections conservatives in Windham County have had hardly any candidates running for public office. As taxes keep going up, local school control shifts, and the economy continues to stagnate we’ve seen liberal policy fail our community. We want to create a grass-roots network of support for future campaigns and help to give hope to Republicans who have given up on even going to the polls. There are like-minded folks here, but they’ve been so defeated decade after decade that they gave up fighting and just keep their nose to the grind-stone as a mater of survival.”

The couple called an organizational meeting in a room on the second floor of the Putney General Store. Yesterday, hours before the meeting, Kate worried that “It may just be my husband Mark and a recovering Democrat friend.”

Nine people turned out. Steve Whitman was elected Town Chair and his priorities are to “encourage conservative candidates to run for office and to increase voter turn-out for 2020,” Kate Bowen said.

“Putney has always been a place of political activism,” Kate Bowen said in an email to VT Daily Chronicle, “from a fairly strong Tory presence before the Revolutionary War, to experiments in communism by those practicing “Perfectionism” in the 1840’s by what would later be known as the Oneida community. After the closure of Windham College in 1978 many alum resettled in Putney and supported radical left-leaning ideology.

“Windham College had thrived during the draft-years of the Vietnam War as a place for draft deferments and notable counter-culture alumni published books such as the “Anarchists Cookbook” which described making explosives similar to the modern day IED’s. Many of these newcomer had the financial ability to pursue changing the local fabric of the community. As the state of Vermont changed agricultural laws and expanded Act 250, Putney saw the number of rural enterprises close which significantly changed voter demographics.”

The actual process of organization was pretty simple, Kate Bowen said. “We contacted the VTGop who put us in touch with the chair of our county committee. He emailed us a packet of information and talked us through the process. All you need is 20 minutes to have a phone call, three people to serve, and be willing hold a meeting occasionally. It’s an easy process any Vermonter can do. There’s even a script to walk you through the first meeting.” For more information see the town committee’s Facebook page.

Gun controlWPTZ reports gun rights advocates in five Vermont communities are organizing “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolutions for March Town Meeting. The towns are Newport Town, Barton, Irasburg, Holland and Cavendish. According to FYI-VT.com, Second Amendment advocacy organization Gun Owners of Vermont recognizes the resolutions are non-binding, and are meant to encourage lawmakers in Montpelier to reject further limits on gun ownership, including proposed bans on carrying firearms in public places.

Inadequate student preparation by public schools – Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) has introduced S.236, which would hold public schools financially responsible for not adequately educating students. Colleges forced to provide remedial education to Vermont high school graduates would be allowed to send their school districts the bill, due within 60 days.

“We want to hold their feet to the fire,” Brock said at a legislative breakfast in Swanton last week, as reported by the County Courier. Vermont high schools continue to graduate college-bound students who are unprepared. It’s uncertain whether S236 will progress in the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Phil Baruth (D-Chittenden).

Calling out perceived media bias – Agripublican gubernatorial candidate John Klar wants the Internal Revenue Service to investigate what he says is biased political coverage by VT Digger, which operates under a 501-C(3) not-for-profit IRS license. 501-C(3) licensees may not engage in ‘political’ activity.

In particular, Klar says, VT Digger has not published some campaign statements, has not sought comments on topics like the Transportation Climate Initiative, and has not mentioned Agripublican candidates in coverage about other party candidates announcing runs for office – but did on Jan. 21 publish 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist’s criticisms of ‘transphobic’ statements made in 2018 by Brooke Paige, who appeared at a January 6 press conference as an Agripublican candidate. (VT Digger has covered several Agripublican events, including the Jan. 6 press conference.)

When Klar submitted a critical response to VT Digger, the news outlet refused to publish it: “VTDigger will not be publishing the press release you sent on your reaction to our story on H. Brooke Paige. It includes baseless attacks and allegations that we know to be untrue,” news editor Cate Chant informed Klar by email Jan. 22.

Klar fired back in a same-day response published by True North Reports:

“Your article was a “baseless attack” which the public can see was so — now you deny me the opportunity to defend myself to that same public, and I am an active political candidate. Typical.

“You have refused to post my comments complaining that you deny me a voice in articles that directly relate to my candidacy. Here, you are again doing the same. You are not journalists, you are propagandists. You attempted to manipulate the general public against a group of candidates, on behalf of a former Dem gubernatorial candidate. You decline to print my response because it IS true.

“Vermonters deserve integrity in their media, especially when that media receives public benefits through 501(c)(3) status. You cheat, and I’m going to prove it.”

A letter of complaint from Klar to the IRS is dated January 22. VT Digger“represents itself to be a balanced news resource, but is in fact eminently biased, and essentially a propaganda arm of progressive political actors here. The vast majority of Vermont media exhibit a strong liberal bias, but they do not receive 501(c)(3) benefits,” Klar writes.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports at the Vermont Daily Chronicle.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/DonkeyHotey
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13 thoughts on “Vermont conservatives push back against apathy, gun control, school performance, perceived media bias

  1. Would suggest TNR start ‘censored stories and comments’ section…for *all* VT publications…Democracy dies in the darkness of VT propaganda and machine media politics…can guess who would take first prize…all including IRS and 501C3 could easily see how deeply dishonest and corrupt Democrat Party, Progs and their press secretaries aka mainstream media really are…

  2. Your Action Could Make the Difference !

    The sole arbiter of the question of vtdigger’s 501(c)(3) status is the Internal Revenue Service and all those who feel that the vtdiggger has violated their privilege should take the time to file a written complaint and file the required Form 13909 Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f13909.pdf.) to Internal Revenue Service, EO Classification, Mail Code 4910DAL, 1100 Commerce Street Dallas, TX 75242-1198.

    Further the IRS provides certain incentives for reporting activities that may have prevented the proper payment of taxes to the Federal Government – such original information is encouraged by offering a reward for reporting such activity by way of Form 211 “Application for Award for Original Information” (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f211.pdf.) which, once completed, is submitted to: Internal Revenue Service Whistleblower Office – ICE 1973 N. Rulon White Blvd. M/S 4110 Ogden, UT 84404

      • Sounds like putting a political action committee in their proper lane and preventing them from pretending to be a non-patrician news organization when they are clearly not one !

  3. Speaking of “Inadequate student preparation by public schools”

    Not only do “Vermont high schools continue to graduate college-bound students who are unprepared”, those who aren’t college-bound graduate even though they can’t meet grade level standards in Math, Reading, Writing and Science.

    But there is a ray of hope on the horizon. It’s called School Choice. And the Supreme Court appears to be ready declare the so-called Blaine Amendments in individual States unconstitutional. The ruling also reaffirms the SCOTUS decision in Zelman v. Harris in 2002, when it decided an Ohio school voucher program did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, even if the vouchers could be used for private, religious schools.

    See the following TNR article: The Supreme Court looks ready to allow more state aid for religious schools

  4. Investigating the pedigrees of Digger and its staff will show that it uses its 501C3 status as a platform for advancing a leftist narrative. Beginning with Chant,down thru the ranks of the staff writers, the majority are “imports” whose backgrounds indicate less than neutral political views.

    Digger’s agenda of controlling and manipulating information and opinion is evident. Sad to even say it, “there oughta be a law….”

  5. A little game of “Hard Ball” was WAY OVERDUE. It will be a total shock to their Progressive systems because they have never experienced push back before in all areas where they felt “secure”

  6. We are never going to be able to retain our constitutional rights while the democrats have a strangle hold on our state. It’s obvious that they care more about their own self interests than doing the job that the people elected them to do. I have heard the expression ” better the devil you know ” I say let’s keep trying someone new and hopefully we will get the right people in the job. That will never happen if everyone stays home and allows these same folks to continue to hurt the state of Vermont. Say NO to carbon taxes, sanctuary cities, gun control and every other scheme that these people want to enact that does nothing but hurt the people of Vermont but only serves to ensure that they have life time employment.

  7. If you are paying attention and you truly want what’s best for the state and this country, you will vote out these people who want to take away your rights! Please pay attention to what’s happening to your state!!!!!

  8. If you are paying attention and you truly want what’s best for the state and this country, you will vote out these people who want to take away your rights!

  9. Excellent, encouraging piece. I was unaware VT Digger was a nonprofit. I support Klar’s complaint.

    You can now add Pittsford to the list of 2A sanctuaries.

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