Update: Calling Chicken Little

This story just gets more and more entertaining.  It seems that, in attempting to prove that he actually does something in his part-time job,  Lt. Governor Phil Scott, claims ownership of security at Monday’s protest.

Says Scott:

“On Monday afternoon and evening, as protesters marched on the Pavilion Building, I was involved with the Department of Public Safety’s temporary Command Center in downtown Montpelier…The news reports clearly show some of the protesters were ultimately arrested without incident, but I know how quickly the outcome could have “gone south” without the collective level of expertise and experience of the officers involved.”

“Command center?”  “Gone South?”  He may not have gotten the Chicken Little memo, but he’s down with the lingo.

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On Monday Governor Shumlin had an up-close and personal visit from some pretty unhappy constituents.

According to the Freeps, roughly eighty pipeline protesters, representing 350.org, the Vermont Workers’ Center, Rising Tide Vermont and Just Power, entered the Pavillion Building in Montpelier, making their way to the Governor’s office on the fifth floor where they peacefully conducted a sit-in for several hours.  At 8PM the remaining 64 protesters were cited by the police and then released.

It was all very civilized and companionable.  This is Vermont, after all.  There was music, storytelling; even pizza, courtesy of Administration staffers.  The peaceful invasion appears to have taken no one particularly by surprise.

These were, in fact, many of the same people from the environmental activist community whose hard work won back the Governor’s seat for the Democrats and Governor Shumlin four short years ago.  

Disappointed and annoyed with the Governor, as they may be for his failure to fully uphold the commitments he made to  Climate Change initiatives before the election, these are not folks who represent any kind of a physical threat to his person.

But, in the spirit of Team Chicken Little, questions are now being raised as to how the heck all those people made it to the fifth floor without interference.

The lackadaisical roll-out of this question has to make you smile.  

Vermont is a marvel in many ways.  The most liberal state in the Union, it has no gun control whatsoever.

First-time visitors to the State House are often shocked to discover that they can walk right in through one of the main entrances; then wander freely all the way upstairs, in and out of nearly every room in the place, without question or interception.

I once stood behind then-Governor Madeline Kunin in a line-up of weary air travelers.  We were all waiting endlessly for the agent to deal with each of us in turn after our flight had been bumped.  She had the same slightly disheveled, footsore look as we did.  

The Governor waited her turn like the rest of us, happy to chat with a couple of kids from home.  No flashy clothes, no entourage, no VIP line-jumping.

That’s our brand.

So is environmental responsibility.  

All that those folks in Monday’s demonstration were doing was reminding the Governor of his obligation to uphold that brand by standing with them against a pipeline that would undermine his own stated commitment to clean energy.

I rather think whomever was responsible for the “security breach” at the Pavillion was operating under Part Three of the Vermont brand: Simple Common Sense.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

6 thoughts on “Update: Calling Chicken Little

  1. Thank you , Sue, for your wonderful analysis and commentary of Monday’s occupation of the Governor’s office. I was there and was one of the 64, and you described it perfectly. The hand-wringing over the issue of security is interesting, but basically it comes down to fear-mongering. This state is a marvel and I hope we keep it that way.

    Paula Schramm

  2. I go to the state library to do research several times a week, and have to run the same security gauntlet.  It used to be a simple matter of signing in, showing your ID badge or getting one issued to you, and going on your way.  Now, doors are locked, and security guards seem to be posted every fifty feet.  In addition, prior to the action this week, Buildings and General Services sent out an email warning all state employees not to let suspicious people into state buildings, and asking that suspicious activity be monitored and reported.  Sometimes I think the people who make these decisions have just woken up from a coma that began for them in 1969.

  3. I work in a State building, and we have had very angry people in the building, unhappy with decisions made about them.  We have had to have police remove them.  There are two sides to security issues.

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