Barre: for Tom Lauzon it’s war on tenants

Interested in renting a house or apartment? Or faced with the need to rent and hoping you'll find a city government that will protect your rights?

If so, you might as well forget about Barre. The mayor there, Tom Lauzon, has made it absolutely clear that he has no use for tenants or tenants' rights, and he doesn't care who knows it.

 By now he's got a history. For instance, earlier this year Lauzon drafted a new proposed housing ordinance to fine tenants when their landlords violate the law by not taking care of their property. Oh yes, and he wants to develop a blacklist for tenants, so landlords can share information about who doesn't pay their rent, who might be a bit too assertive in standing up for their rights. You get the idea.

It's just that when the tenants and their advocates got the chance to address the city council, the proposal kind of . . .  went away.

But that's not all. For instance, Barre has an ordinance that says that if you're a tenant and your landlord doesn't pay the water bill, your water gets cut off. Not the landlord's water, your water.

My colleagues at Legal Aid are suing the city in federal court to get this policy overturned, and they had a big win this week. The case was filed as a class action, and District Judge Christina Reiss has ruled that the case can proceed as a class action. This is a great step in the march to invalidate the water ordinance.

If you were the mayor and you heard about this policy, your first reaction might be, "What? We cut off tenants' water when they don't owe us any money? How is that fair?"

Not Lauzon, though. Barre is apparently going to defend this to the bitter end.

But you haven't heard the worst of it. It's not just tenants he doesn't like. In fact, just in time for the Christmas season he's apparently found a group he dislikes even more than he dislikes tenants.

Wait for it.

It's homeless people and the people who try to help them.

According to the Times Argus:

It was a surreal session.
At the outset Lauzon described the meeting he personally requested with Kim Woolaver, executive director of Good Samaritan Haven, as “an informal, cozy conversation,” repeatedly stressing he “appreciated and admired” the work of the shelter, its staff and volunteers.
However, the meeting quickly morphed into a Lauzon-led interrogation that seemed to catch Woolaver off guard and had at least one member of the City Council squirming in his seat.


‘Tis the season, I guess.

I don’t live in Barre. I don’t get a vote there. I can be pretty sure, though, that if my mayor had declared war on tenants and homeless people in my town, I’d be pretty unhappy about it.

8 thoughts on “Barre: for Tom Lauzon it’s war on tenants

  1. Actually your mayor and the residents of Montpelier declared war on the homeless long ago.  The tactic you have chosen is to deny them service or refuge, forcing your fellow residents who have fallen on hard times from the community to find shelter.  

    “There are 2 emergency housing units in Montpelier.  They are operated by Washington County Mental Health and are only available to their clients and do not meet the needs of our community.  Given that the Good Samaritan Shelter in Barre is operating at full capacity and that approximately 1/3 of its annual users (90), come from Montpelier we should encourage the creation of a temporary housing facility in the city” (Montpelier City Council April 2003 Housing Inventory and Needs Assessment).”  It has been seven years, and still no Montpelier Homeless Shelter.

    It borders on the ridiculous for you to moralize on the manner in which services are provided in Barre, as long as the method Montpelier has demonstrated is to kick the homeless down the road and pretend they don’t exist.  See to your own humanity first, before casting stones at your neighbors’.

  2. If pjc wants to discuss the issues raised by this diary, fine. I’m not going to be drawn into a debate about my personal morality to the detriment of any substantive discussion.

  3. So your stone-casting here means you’ve got everything worked out? Found perfection? Got your own house in order (otherwise you wouldn’t be criticizing Jack, having no idea what he has or hasn’t done on this issue in his own town). Wow. You’re really impressive… I mean, you are following your own rule, right?

    We can walk and chew gum at the same time. Demonstrate why Lauzon isn’t worthy of criticism in this way, and I’m sure the criticism of him will stop. But “I know you are but what am I” (which is all you’re really saying) isn’t a real argument.

  4. …I believe, a halfway house on St. Paul St. and a sort of shelter called Another Way on Barre St. (if it’s still open).

    Probably the first is hard to get into, and the second may not be comfortable for women with children, so you have somewhat of a point overall.

    A good discussion for next week’s Montpelier city council meeting next Weds. would be providing some more for the homeless who pass through town by using the money the town wants to spend on tasers for the police department.

    Hope this taser issue draws a big crowd.

  5. …no one who is any good WANTS to be mayor of Barre.  The city has always had kind of an old boys, scratch-each-others’-backs style of governance, but it didn’t matter so much when Barre was a really prosperous place for the working class.  When granite stopped being a big money-maker, the city fell on hard times.  The mood is sour; people want city services but not to pay the necessary taxes to GET those services.  Lauzon is correct that Montpelier and the state use Barre as a dumping ground, but he’s a blowhard who likes to look tough rather than a genuinely hard-working problem-solver.

    Barre has a LOT going for it, and could stage an amazing renaissance, but it will take a long-term, concerted effort from the mayor, the council, and a lot of citizens. Lauzon’s combination of grandstanding and nastiness isn’t going to help anything and just adds toxins to the atmosphere.  

  6. I’ve lived in (or worked out of) Montpelier all my adult life (pretty much) and all I’ve ever heard is “Barre’s on the up-and-up, did you hear (fill in the blank) opened/just started?”   Lauzon is a megalomaniac who will never do more for Barre than he can personally get out of it.  I don’t doubt that he probably, sincerely loves the city, but he’s ultimately just concerned for what he can get for himself and that’s all he has accomplished as mayor.

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