Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The "Very Foreign Minister" of Thomas Naylor's Second Vermont Republic, ...

... or the "VFM" as Dennis Morrisseau sometimes signs his communications to his subordinate political aspirants on the Free Vermont Framework listserv, has ideas for the new, proposed Second Vermont Republic that should give every thinking Vermonter pause.

Much of their plan is more than a tad frightening.

Here's a small taste from one of Morrisseau's listserv messages regarding his education proposal:
From: dmorso1 at (Dennis Morrisseau)
Date: Sat Dec 19 01:13:40 2009
Subject: [Free Vermont Framework] 30 Position Papers 8. Education

"Let me add to this, fundamental hands on skills....."shops" and everyday living skills have to be gained by community settings. I see kids in shops, in stores, in libraries and hospitals, interning on the farm in tents and with guitars and campfires and guest "lecturers".........

"I see distance learning techniques in place in use heavily in all classrooms and some just marvellous things being taught to kids at a very early age. Small schools with multiple ages present, kids mentoring kids. (K)ids not isolated from, but integrated into their communities. And learning about the world will fit our kids to visit and understand it as well as any others."

--the VFM
All of this in lieu of, well, a real education plan. Nothing about trained educators in any of that, nor of his background in education and development for children. Much of this is what parents normally decide upon for their children but not in Morrisseau's "Brave New Republic" apparently.

Senate candidate Robert Wagner weighed in with a hearty,
From sticomythia (one of the pseudonyms used at the listserv) at Sat Dec 19 11:24:17 2009
From: sticomythia at (Sticomythia)
Date: Sat Dec 19 11:24:19 2009
Subject: [Free Vermont Framework] 30 Position Papers 8. Education

"...This is a great vision. I could not say this better. Would you mind cloning yourself please and becoming Minister of Education :) ?"
Yah, cool.

Connecticut native Dennis Steele, Thomas Naylor's hand-picked gubernatorial candidate, was asked by one Vermonter at a recent Vermont forum, just how do the SVR self-styled education experts intend to square their various proposals to return education responsibilities entirely to local communities, and to fund their local, extremely pared down, walk-to school programs throughout the state, with the Vermont Supreme Court's Brigham decision and the Vermont General Assembly's resultant Act 60? Little surprise that Steele completely ducked the question. He was asked,
Question: "Reliance on purely local resources for schools ignores the fact that across Vermont the funding capacity for individual towns varied by 99 to 1 prior to the passage of Act 60. That's one of the strongest reasons why the Vermont Supreme Court held that school funding based principally on local only resources was unconstitutional. How would Mr. Steele expect to reconcile his proposal with the Vermont constitution?"

Steele: "The fact is we have a $60 to $90 million dollar budget shortfall. Decentralising our schools... locally owned and locally funded schools, is important to the communities. I am the father of two young children. I would love nothing more to be able to work with the community, the parents and the teachers, to be able to come up with a curriculum for my children. I don't have that say in this, in the school. The only thing that we can control... we control very little as far as the local school control goes... It's important for that to be there... We need the diversity. If someone wants to in Burlington, if they want to teach their children musical arts, they should be able to do that. If the Northeast Kingdom decides that they want to go agriculture, then they should be able to do that. It's based on what the community wants and what the community needs. We're going to have to look at taking control of our local schools. It's important... centralizing our schools is not the answer. Decentralizing back them to the community and giving the power back to the community is whats important. That's what has to be looked at, especially with these budget shortfalls that we're facing and the fact that the schools are just too big now, and they don't meet the needs of the students. It's important."
Wow! I don't think that Sarah Palin could have ducked the substance of the question, that is, reconciling Steele's proposal with the Vermont constitution and Act 60, as badly or quite as inarticulately for what is basically an unsupportable, poorly thought out, unconstitutional reorganization.

There's a lot that Steele and his group aren't telling Vermonters about their intentions for governance, education, the courts, the constitution and the many institutions that Vermonters rely on for the social and safety network. Actually, the SVR, VTCommons, Free Vermont crowd have been taking steps to address all of this but have made little or no effort to inform the public of their acts. I will post next week about a particularly assuming, overt act.

But back in Morrisseau's "Brave New Republic" he,
"... suggest(s) that the VT Republic limit personal assets to $1,000,000 and personal annual income to the same $1,000.000.

In perpetuity."
Morrisseau has a history of making such screwy, arbitrary proposals. Nearly 22 years ago, one such proposal earned him national notoriety for his idea to give one-way tickets out of town (Burlington) for the homeless and immigrants.

From the New York Times:
Homeless Get Ticket To Leave
By Sally Johnson
Special to the New York Times
November 20, 1988

BURLINGTON, Vt., Nov. 15— Church Street Marketplace is a merchant's dream: a cobblestone mall ringed by the sort of trendy boutiques and cafes that attract the affluent shoppers of this prosperous city. But the area also attracts street people, who are not so welcome.

Dennis Morrisseau, who owns Leunig's Old World Cafe, has devised an answer to the aggressive homeless people he says have harassed his customers and his staff.

His plan is to get rid of the problem, literally: he offers those he people a one-way ticket out of town. A homeless man who Mr. Morrisseau said ''was terrorizing people in town every night'' has taken advantage of the offer.

''He had a long arrest record,'' the cafe owner said. ''He was usually blind drunk and often violent. We called the cops, but often the incident was over before they arrived.''

'It Didn't Seem So Crazy'

The proposal has called attention to a problem that everyone seems to agree will not go away on its own. The proposal has drawn both opposition and support. Recently, 30 opponents of the plan demonstrated in front of Mr. Morrisseau's cafe.

''The problem of homelessness is national tragedy caused by major cutbacks in Federal spending,'' said Bernard Sanders, a socialist who is Mayor of Burlington. ''The solution is not transporting homeless people from one end of this country to another. The solution is to provide affordable housing and counseling.''

Mr. Morrisseau said the idea of relocating the homeless man came to him over dinner with his wife, Laura Thompson. ''At first,'' he said, ''we thought the idea was crazy, but a couple days later, it didn't seem so crazy.''

Their idea became a nonprofit organization, Westward Ho!, which consists of Mr. Morrisseau, Ms. Thompson and Tim Halvorson, another cafe owner on the Marketplace. The group set up a checking account of a few hundred dollars, mostly the members' own funds, along with some donations. Through intermediaries, the group offered the offending homeless man a one-way airplane ticket to Portland, Ore., his hometown. He accepted.

Lucille Bonvouloir, executive director of the Committee on Temporary Shelter, a private, nonprofit organization that operates shelters in Burlington, said she feared that Westward Ho! was part of a growing backlash against the homeless, who number as many as 300 in Burlington, a city of 38,000.

''It's frightening,'' Ms. Bonvouloir said. ''As the people who have more continue to have more, it's harder to be tolerant of the people who have less and less. There are never good economic times for people who don't have a home.'' Practice May Have Precedent

Mr. Morrisseau insists that the relocation effort he expounds is an unofficial policy in many states. ''Law-enforcement people and social workers do it all the time,'' he said, ''but Vermont is normally on the receiving end.''

A woman who has spent several years working with refugees confirmed that the practice exists. ''It's done,'' said the worker, who spoke on the condition that she not be identified. ''I've had one person sent here from New York, and I've heard it talked about at national conferences. The cases are troublesome, and they want them out. But I don't know of any social worker who's done it who would admit to it.''

Mr. Morrisseau estimated that there were ''probably one to two dozen people causing the problem at any given time.'' He insists that their lack of housing is irrelevant to his effort. His goal, he says, is to curb abusive behavior.

Jon Svitazsky, director of the Burlington Emergency Shelter, said: ''I don't think he's a bigot toward the homeless. He is a frustrated man who is trying to raise some important issues. He knew he would sound like a fool and it was worth it to him.'' Support for Proposal

Mr. Morrisseau is not alone in his complaints. While some other Marketplace merchants have said they do not like his idea, he says others have donated money. And William Bradley, vice president and general manager of WVNY-TV, the local ABC network affiliate, supported the idea in an editorial.

''Westward Ho! is an idea that should be welcomed,'' Mr. Bradley said. ''It's being distorted and misrepresented as some sort of Machiavellian plan to force undesirables to leave our city. It's no such thing, but we're not surprised that our local bleeding hearts have chosen to vilify a respected local citizen who's doing something constructive about a real problem.''

While Mr. Morrisseau pointed to complaints of assault and harassment in making his proposal, his critics cite police statistics showing that homeless people are responsible for less than 10 percent of the cases of disorderly conduct and assaults in the Marketplace.

''I don't feel there have been clear distinctions made here,'' said Ms. Bonvouloir of the Committee on Temporary Shelter. ''I don't doubt there are some people on Church Street who are disruptive and anti-social, but that is a police matter.'' Ms. Bonvouloir's group operates two shelters for the homeless in Burlington. One of the committee's shelters, the Waystation, is at the lower end of Church Street. A third shelter in Burlington is operated by a coalition of churches.

Despite the adverse reaction to his proposal, Mr. Morrisseau is undeterred. He indicated he may offer as many as four one-way tickets a year.

Ms. Bonvouloir said her group would not object to a fund to relocate people who truly wanted it, if the offers were made in a spirit of generosity.

Mr. Morrisseau said one such arrangement is in the offing for a homeless woman. ''I had a friend approach me about transporting a refugee from El Salvador, a woman who had been badly tortured, to a torture rehabilitation center in Minnesota,'' he said. ''We agreed to do that.''
Apparently, in addition to some folks being too rich for the liking of the "Very Foreign Minisiter" Morrisseau, some are too poor and disadvantaged. Add to this sort of sentiment SVR's proposed population cap for the state and you have to wonder, who will SVR's Very Foreign Minister Morrisseau come for next?

Rather than a "Brave New Republic," think of it more as a "Back to the Third World" plan. With a ruritanian ruling elite. On steroids.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For the archive of the Free Vermont Framework listserv, click here.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home