Tea Party success in Burlington?

Just an interesting sighting from the Web.

It's another Tayt Brooks sighting, whom you may remember as the acolyte of Lenore Broughton, who singlehandedly funds right-wing causes here in Vermont.

This time around Tayt is crowing about the success of some Burlington School Board candidates who had the backing, or attended a training, or something put on by an astroturf group called American Majority.

 One of these candidates claimed that after going through the training he tripled his vote count, and that could very well be true. Maybe they actually did teach him how to identify supporters, hone his message, raise money, and actually succeed in politics.

What seems to bear watching is if this group allied to the Tea Party is really starting to have an effect in local politics. We've seen across the country the way right-wingers and creationists have started out in low-level, low-visibility elections to establish a foundation to propagate their ideas, and I've always been pretty skeptical that those ideas will be popular here in Vermont.

On the other hand,, if a well-funded national conservative organization is consciously targeting Vermont local elections to undermine the schools, it requires a well-organized response. We are already seeing liberal, civic-minded people in Burlington and Montpelier organizing to fight back against the attacks on our schools and school budgets. Let's hope those groups are the start of a counterforce against the big bucks flowing in from out of state.

9 thoughts on “Tea Party success in Burlington?

  1. But it could just be a Brooksian grab for credit where none is due.

    True, a record number of school budgets went down to defeat on Town Meeting Day; but budgets were passed for the two largest communities in Franklin County (St. Albans City and St. Albans Town), which is Mr. Brooks’ home turf.

    Considering Mr. Brooks’ track record and job skill limitations, I suspect he just may be talking out of his hat.

    “Oooh!  Scary!  Look how influential my friends are!”

  2. Thanks for catching this, Jack. It’s important to keep an eye on the Brookses of the world, even if they’re almost certainly doomed to repeat their dismal history.

    This wouldn’t be the first time the conservative movement has tried this sort of bottom-up, stealth approach. It was a big deal back in the early 90s as well: they thought they could sneak candidates into office by adopting moderate rhetoric: good government, wise use of tax dollars, no mention of social issues.

    At the time I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a VERY liberal city. But a slate of conservatives-in-moderate-clothing ran for school board — and won. Problem is, they were still only three people on a nine-member board, so they couldn’t effectively advance an agenda. The whole movement fizzled out pretty quickly, and none of the three served more than one term.

    The lesson is that you can only go so far in trying to trick the voters. You have to reveal yourself sooner or later, and then the game is up.

    But still, as I said, we’ve got to be watchful.

    p.s. Amusing anecdote from those Ann Arbor School Board days. One of the three conservatives was a Chinese-American woman, a devout Christian who spoke English with a heavy accent. At one meeting she got very upset about some school program involving yoga or meditation or some such, and railed about the influx of “Oriental philosophy” into the schools. It came across as a devastating self-parody.

  3. It’s critical to pay attention to who’s running for and winning school board seats.  Viewing the local scene, it’s quite easy to get on the school board, as there are very few times that more than one candidate runs for the position.  It’d be pretty easy to land a majority in a few years, especially if the first one or two to land play nice and get along by design until the tipping point is reached.  The opportunity to influence teacher negotiations and school consolidations is ripe, not the mention the annual budgets.  

  4. there was less an issue of the budget failing as the sweep of good thoughtful board members out of office.  

    It is always an interesting point of wackiness on the part of the voters that they are willing to put a bright young face into office over the seasoned experienced thoughtful person that has served them well for a few terms.  

    Some guy came to a local door and started to harp on his ideas, until he found the person he was talking to was once ON the schoolboard and knew more about things than the candidate….   move on to the next potential victim.

    Couple of those experienced board members were lost in Burlington in favor of a couple of nice signs in yards.   There is more to being on the school board than bitching about teacher salary and benefit increases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *