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Boardman writes: "One of the wonders of the American legal system is that you can win your case in court, only to have the court’s decision extend and magnify the underlying injustice."

Gwen Hallsmith and John Hollar, the mayor of Montpelier, Vermont. (photo: Peter Hirschfeld/VPR)
Gwen Hallsmith and John Hollar, the mayor of Montpelier, Vermont. (photo: Peter Hirschfeld/VPR)

Vermont City Acts Unlawfully & Unconstitutionally, Judge Finds

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

14 September 14


City of Montpelier deprives city employee of due process rights

ne of the wonders of the American legal system is that you can win your case in court, only to have the court’s decision extend and magnify the underlying injustice.

This is a story about how easy it is for a city government to run roughshod over an employee’s constitutional rights, including free speech under the First Amendment and due process of law under the Fifth Amendment. And it’s a story of how hard it is, despite those rights, for that employee to get any kind of justice from the state’s judiciary.

This is a story about the Vermont judiciary failing a Vermont citizen who worked as Director of the Dept. of Planning and Community Development for the City of Montpelier, which is also the state capitol.

This is the story of how city officials first vilified city planner Gwen Hallsmith for exercising her First Amendment rights, then fired her for defending herself.

This is the story of how the city deprived Hallsmith of any semblance of reasonable due process of law in what was effectively a bureaucratic lynching, demanded by the mayor and carried out by the city manager and his assistant without out a trace of fair deliberation.

This is the story of how the Vermont Superior Court affirmed Hallsmith’s complaint of unlawful city behavior, finding that the city’s actions were blatantly unconstitutional and unfair – and then issued an order perpetuating the original injustice.

At its nasty little heart, this is a story that reflects the power of big banks to get their way, starting with their well paid legislative lobbyist, John Hollar, who also happens to be mayor of Montpelier, where there’s no hue and cry about such blatant conflict of interest. The vested interests in the city have not objected even when the bank-drenched mayor set about in early 2013 to pressure the city manager to muzzle his planning director when she failed to follow his personal party line. Her “insubordination” amounted to exercising her free speech right to support public banking.

This seems to have made the banker-lobbyist mayor mad. By his own account, the mayor-lobbyist expressed his anger over and over to the city manager, with an apparent desire for the city manager to sack this troublesome planner. In his email of March 13, 2013, more than eight months before the firing, lawyer John Hollar wrote the city manager:

To repeat myself ad nauseum [sic], I still don't see how our city's chief economic development officer can hold and promote views that are fundamentally anti-capitalist in nature.

There is no good way to view this coercive note to an employee about an underling. Mayor Hollar acknowledges that he has been fulminating about Hallsmith ad nauseam, which means, roughly, till he’s sick of hearing himself talk. The city manager had so far failed to silence Hallsmith, as the mayor seems to demand. So what is the city manager to think the mayor wants him to do next?

Why was Mayor Holler so steamed in 2013, and why was he so covert? What was the City of Montpelier’s official policy on public banking at the time, one might wonder. The city had no official policy on public banking, then or since or ever. Two years after Mayor Hollar set out on his behind-the-scenes warpath against the enemy of his benefactors, the City of Montpelier still has no official policy on public banking. The mayor, with a huge and obvious conflict of interest, was objecting to a city employee exercising her First Amendment right to speak freely on an issue that the city had no position on, an issue that threatens to benefit the public at some cost to banks.

The voters of the City of Montpelier have expressed an opinion on public banking. In the local election of March 2014, an official referendum on pursuing public banking received a vote of 1634-697 in favor of exploring the idea. The ballot question for public banking got 109 more positive votes than commercial bank candidate Hollar, who was re-elected mayor at the same time (beating Hallsmith by 1525-782).

The real story was the court case, not the election

Conventional wisdom at the time gave Hallsmith little chance of beating the incumbent Hollar, whose public image was largely unscathed by his secretive knife-wielding behind Hallsmith’s back (her freedom of information requests exposed some of his behavior). Hallsmith entered the mayoral race late, with little more than a month to campaign and little money to spend. Local media had spent months treating her constitutional rights like just another pie in a food fight. Reader Supported News ran a story (by this writer) on December 29, 2013, titled “Do Bank of America and Wells Fargo Run Vermont's Capitol City?” It describes in detail what amounts to the city’s successful lynching of Hallsmith. But that was before she went to court, and long before the court vindicated her position.

During the early fall of 2013, the skirmishing, in public and private, between city manager William Fraser and department head Hallsmith was spilling over into intense exchanges on the weekends as well as during the week, some of which got into the newspapers. Exactly when the city’s effort to control Hallsmith’s free speech became an effort to terminate her is not precisely clear, but here are some of the chronological highlights of a public psychodrama in which the city clearly had only one end in mind:

September 20, 2013. In an email to City Manager Fraser, Mayor Hollar complained somewhat bitterly about Hallsmith’s involvement in the public banking issue. The email included a complaint from some of his banking friends, including a state official with a clear conflict of interest on the issue. Reiterating the sentiment of his March 2013 email, Hollar also wrote, referring to Hallsmith:

Between this [public banking advocacy] and the planning commission fiasco, this really can’t continue. I’m not sure I see the point in my meeting with her to outline these concerns. I’ve raised them before with you, I assume they’ve been communicated to her, and nothing has changed [emphasis added].

The “planning commission fiasco” referred to by Hollar involved at least three commission members, with clear conflicts of interest, who were writing zoning regulations that would affect those interests. Hallsmith called attention to this situation. The city manager indicated he couldn’t see a problem. A year later, the conflicts remain unresolved.

September 27, 2013. In a memo to Hallsmith, Fraser puts her under the direct supervision of his assistant, Jessie Baker. He tells Hallsmith that he, the City Council, and the Planning Commission have all lost confidence in her. Fraser does not mention Mayor Hollar’s complaining email the previous week. But Fraser does issue a gag order: “You will refrain from involvement in external political issues such as public banking which may impact your effectiveness as a Montpelier City official.” Fraser later partially rescinded the gag order, after Hallsmith raised the free speech issue.

October 9, 2013. In response to an earlier memo from Hallsmith defending herself, Fraser wrote a long, rambling, combative, internally contradictory memo, the essence of which was, as it stated: “I am your boss. If you are not willing or able to work within guidelines that I set then we have a serious problem.” Fraser also noted approvingly that the planning commission chair had called Hallsmith a “jihadist.” Fraser did not mention that commission chair Kim Cheney has a clear conflict of interest.

During the period October 10-20, Hallsmith was away for previously scheduled commitments during her vacation.

October 28, 2013. Hallsmith’s 8-page memo responds to and critiques Fraser’s assessments of the controversy. She affirms that he is her boss. She suggests that he has defamed her. She lays out specific details of the conflicts of interest on the planning commission. And she lists seven ways she sees that her “rights as an employee and a citizen have been violated,” including denial of due process of law by the city.

October 31, 2013. Without making any formal inquiry and without holding any meeting, the Montpelier City Council issues a statement of “unanimous and unequivocal support” for Fraser and Hollar in “this personnel matter.” The statement suggests that Hollar has been all but uninvolved.

November 6, 2013. City Manager Fraser places Hallsmith on “immediate paid administrative leave.” He says “there is just cause to support your dismissal.” He denies that his action has anything to do with public banking. In the course of four angry pages, Fraser makes many rambling accusations about events and motives, but he does not make a coherent case for “justifiable cause” for her dismissal. “You have made it impossible to perform your work effectively for the City,” Fraser writes, then offers to meet with her before making “a final decision based on the information I currently possess.” Then he directs her to turn in her keys. Later that day Hollar issues a statement saying, “I have had very little to do with this matter.” The next day Fraser publishes a misleading and dishonest op ed in the local paper defending the mayor and attacking Hallsmith.

Hallsmith accepted the invitation for a meeting, which turned out to be what the city made clear would be a “Loudermill hearing,” a designation that is most useful when an employer has already decided to fire an employee. “Loudermill” refers to a 1985 U.S. Supreme Court case (470 U.S. 532) in which the court held that a public employee deserves the minimal protection of an informal, non-evidentiary hearing in which she can respond to whatever the employer was calling just cause for firing her. The Loudermill hearing is not a due process hearing, it’s a temporary, legal preliminary alternative to a constitutionally valid hearing. “Loudermill” is one of those legal niceties that sounds like protection but is easily abused, usuaally without serious consequence to the employer.

The City says the law is satisfied by the performance of a charade

On November 25, 2013, the City of Montpelier provided Gwen Hallsmith with her Loudermill hearing. It lasted an hour, and listening to the tape is a dismal experience. City Attorney Bernie Lambek calls it a “due process hearing,” which is false. It’s not a constitutional, due process hearing in any meaningful sense, as he later makes clear. He says it’s a chance for Hallsmith to tell Fraser whatever she wants. Hallsmith and her attorney John Franco make reasonable representations that none of what Fraser has alleged amounts to just cause for termination. They also try to engage Fraser with explanations and suggestions. Fraser does not engage, he does not argue, he quibbles over a few trivial details. Assistant City Manager Jessie Baker is there but never speaks, except to identify herself. Several times Hallsmith explains how she sought guidance and help with the city’s problems, but never got help. No one contradicts her. There is no smoking gun for “justifiable cause.” At the end, attorney Lambek says he doesn’t know when Fraser will make a decision. Lambek advises Hallsmith and Franco that if they want to make a proposal for going forward constructively, they should do so soon. Franco says they want to do something collaborative, something that will help people work together. Lambek talks about the weather. Fraser says nothing. He does not invite, or make, any conciliatory offering. He does not say he will fire Hallsmith the next day.

The Loudermill hearing was an empty legal fraud, not a meaningful opportunity to assess any of the mostly non-specific allegations against Hallsmith. For most of the final 15 minutes of the meeting, she alone spoke in a quiet, conciliatory manner. The three city officials present responded with silence, except for a couple of quibbles by the city manager. They offered total silence on conciliation. The next day, November 26, without further consideration, Fraser fired his director of planning.

After Thanksgiving, Hallsmith, believing it was her right, asked for a formal, public “grievance hearing,” in which the parties could present evidence and question witnesses before a neutral presiding officer. Attorney Franco had made all this clear to the city in a five-page legal memo before November 25, when he reminded the city of Hallsmith’s right to due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Franco put the city on notice that, among other things, in his legal opinion, “Ms. Hallsmith cannot under any circumstances be removed, without more, following today’s ‘hearing’ [as per Loudermill].”

The city apparently ignored the attorney’s arguments, responding only by firing his client without further ado. But Hallsmith’s request for an evidentiary hearing before a neutral fact-finder provided the city with an opportunity to meet the legal expectations of both the Loudermill decision and the constitution. There is no indication that the city considered careful adherence to the law, nor even an effort to create the appearance of fairness. The city has yet, almost a year later, to present a clearly articulated bill of particulars that meets any reasonable standard as a “justifiable cause” for firing Hallsmith (“justifiable cause” is required, but not well-defined, by the city charter).

The City blew off the constitution, with no serious effort to be lawful

The city rejected Hallsmith’s request for a credible due process hearing and instead held a star chamber (camera constellata) style proceeding on December 20, 2013. Hallsmith called it a kangaroo court. Almost a year later, in less colorful language, Superior Court Judge Helen Toor would wholeheartedly agree in her August 20, 2014, decision in Hallsmith v. City of Montpelier, et al. [Docket No. 32-1-14 Wncv]. Allowing the validity of the city’s “Loudermill” hearing, Toor notes emphatically: “That informal hearing, however, must be followed by a post-termination hearing that fully complies with due process” [emphasis added].

In concluding, Judge Toor writes in part:

Hallsmith has established that the City violated her right to due process at the post-termination grievance hearing [December 20, 2013]…. She challenged and proved the violation of her due process rights at her post-termination hearing. Under Rule 75 [the basis for the suit], her relief is a new post-termination grievance hearing that fully complies with due process.

This is a very odd decision in many respects, such as:

  • Judge Toor finds, as a matter of fact, that; “The record shows that by early November 2013 the City Manager had decided to fire Hallsmith.” Since that’s a fact, then the City’s “Loudermill” hearing was an exercise in bad faith, which might be enough to invalidate any subsequent decision. The judge omits any consideration of the implications of her own fact-finding on this.

  • Judge Toor finds that the Montpelier City Charter, which controls the termination process, says inter alia: “The employee, while appearing before the City Manager [or designee], has the right to be represented by counsel and to present any material, witnesses or evidence helpful to the employee’s case. However, the administration has similar rights.” While the judge notes many of the violations the City committed in the grievance hearing, the judge does not note that the hearing itself violates the clear intent of the charter.

  • Judge Toor notes that “Hallsmith seeks lost wages and reinstatement,” then drops those claims iunto limbo with little discussion beyond a legalistic evasion. She does not discuss the ramifications of Hallsmith’s claims, nor does the judge deny them – she just leaves them unaddressed, after observing that: “Proving the due process violation does not demonstrate that the City lacked justifiable cause for termination.”

“Proving the due process violation” is hardly proof that the City had justifiable cause either. Lack of due process proves nothing else. If anything, taken with the pattern the city has established, it casts reasonable doubt on the likelihood that the city got “justifiable cause” right when it got so much else so wrong. Judge Toor omits anything along that obvious line of argument. She simply holds that the city’s termination procedure is unlawful and orders the grievance decision (affirming Hallsmith’s firing) vacated. She creates a new reality in which the relevant decision in force becomes the city manager’s termination letter of November 26, 2013, even though the termination process in its entirety is clearly unconstitutional and steeped in bad faith.

Official, bad decisions push the case into a second year

As a practical matter, Hallsmith remains fired (and has a new job). As a legal matter, Hallsmith’s firing remains in force despite being found unconstitutional by the Vermont Superior Court. As a judicial matter, the judge’s evasion has created a mess that perpetuates the very injustice the judge so clearly and forcefully described. Judge Toor makes no effort to explain the justice of her decision, even though it perpetuates and probably worsens a situation she has clearly found to be unjust. With no proven justifiable cause for firing Hallsmith and with no constitutional procedure to support that firing, it baffles common sense to understand why Judge Toor didn’t reinstate Hallsmith and award lost wages. Instead the judge ruled that the city manager had the authority to fire Hallsmith, that he exercised that authority unconstitutionally, but that’s no reason to vacate his decision. Really.

Almost surely, had Judge Toor rendered something like a just verdict, the city would have appealed. As matters now stand, the city has decided to appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court. When Judge Toor’s decision was first announced, the city issued a statement quoting the city manager as saying, ”I am disappointed that we will have to spend additional city time and resources on the process aspect of this case. We prefer to have the just cause reasons for termination considered.”

Nothing prevented the city from doing exactly that the first time around, except the city’s own decision to ignore constitutional due process. In its statement announcing the appeal, the city did not indicate what grounds the appeal would argue. The statement said in part: “The city is concerned that the due process ruling will have negative future impact for Montpelier and, potentially, for other Vermont communities. The city wishes to hold the independent hearing on the merits of the case as soon as possible and is reviewing the legal issues involved with conducting the hearing while the Supreme Court appeal is pending.”

What the city’s argument comes down to is the assertion that a government should be allowed to ignore the constitution if abiding by it costs money.

Montpelier is unusual among Vermont communities in having a charter that gives the city manager authoritarian powers in many areas. Whether following constitutional due process will prove a burden on other Vermont communities has not yet been demonstrated. Nor has it been demonstrated that the city’s providing constitutional due process to Gwen Hallsmith, which has always been within its power, would have been more burdensome than the relatively lawless route the city chose.

At this point Hallsmith has not had a fair trial. She hasn’t had any meaningful trial at all. Anywhere.

You might think the highest government interest from the court’s perspective would be to see that government follows the law. In this instance, you would be wrong.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+66 # CarolYost 2014-09-14 17:29
Congratulations , Mr. Boardman, on a fine article. I hope Ms. Hallsmith gets justice at last. That would benefit the community and blast the evildoers.
+17 # lorenbliss 2014-09-15 17:47
My applause too for Mr. Boardman's reporting, but he does miss one important point. Ms. Hallsmith's victimization occurrs as the outgrowth of the merger of business and government into a single omnipotent entity – the consolidation of power that is taking place, unannounced and mostly unnoticed, at all levels of government everywhere throughout the United States.

The (deliberate) result is not just the nullifuication of the Constitution; it is capitalist governance precisely as advocated Ayn Rand, whose wretchedly written novels are essentially fictionalizatio ns of Hitler's "Mein Kampf." Thus the core premise of capitalist governance is identical to what earlier, more astute generations knew as fascism: absolute power and unlimited profit for the Ruling Class, total subjugation for all the rest of us.

As under earlier forms of fascism, only the dictator – or in the U.S., only the One Percent – have actual rights. As Ms. Hallsmith is learning, anyone else's wellbeing is dependent on their faithfulness to capitalism's coda of infinite greed elevated to maximum virtue: in other words, the rejection of every humanitarian precept our species ever articulated.

That is the reality Ms. Hallsmith confronts, and that is why her case is so important – it shows us we are all subjects of the de facto Fourth Reich, a realm in which, as a matter of policy, justice is now and henceforth eternally denied. Ferguson and Montpelier, it's all the same.
0 # Jim Young 2014-11-02 11:04
After hearing of Scott Walker's vendetta against all who signed the recall petition (including conservative Republicans), I think we should consider a more ethical use of his tactics. He cut off appointments and began campaigning against people like the conservative judge who signed the petition (to let people have some way to express their displeasure with the blitzkrieg ramming through of ALEC type union busting and other suppressive legislation). I remember the Reince Priebus types pulling another fast one in the 2000 election, taking all donations from even unsuspecting liberal and moderate Republicans, then passing a resolution for the party to only use the funds to support the very most conservative, ALEC type candidates. I think that was criminal enough for possible civil action, but their more secretive use of the funds to fight their own, often more popularly supported, liberal or moderate Republican candidates (most deviously in primaries) could be considered beyond even just civil court actions.

I'd suggest making lists of ALEC members public, but would add comments about those who joined under the innocent assumption that they were non-partisan, but quickly left when they found out their more secret agenda.

I'd campaign against the secretive manipulators that stayed with ALEC (whether openly admitting it), and for those who really quit on principle, and can fight them more effectively from what they learned.
+60 # Kev C 2014-09-14 17:32
With a legal system and a corrupt administration like this it is highly unlikely that anyone would ever get a fair trial.
Heres hoping Miss Hallsmith does get a fair trial and the compensation she deserves.
-16 # ericlipps 2014-09-15 04:51
Quoting Kev C:
With a legal system and a corrupt administration like this it is highly unlikely that anyone would ever get a fair trial.
Heres hoping Miss Hallsmith does get a fair trial and the compensation she deserves.

Groan. A "corrupt administration" ? Surely you're not referring to the Obama administration, as your reference to the legal system implies. If you are, what possible role does that administration have in the decisions of the city of Montpelier and the state of Vermont in this case?
+2 # ritawalpoleague 2014-09-16 09:57
Please wake up, ericlipps (and all dumbed down U.S. sheeple who have yet to get what's gone on and what's going on) - this pres. and his administration is a mere continuation of the 'lie to 'em, con 'em, Bushwhack and Kochsuck 'em endlessly' years.

Rule of law and essential constitutional rights have now gone bye bye, as this pres. conned us/U.S. by stating he was going to veto the egregious 2012 NDAA (with article allowing any citizen to be arrested by the military, put into indefinite detention with no due process, etc.), and then silently signed it into law late on New Years Eve in Hawaii. Bought off or scared off or both - who knows.

Hard for we Dems. (yep, I was a lifelong Dem. and voted for this pres. whom I've now come to call the Disappointment of the Century) to wake up to what's happening, and often harder still for G.O.P.ers to come to grips with no longer any liberty and justice for all.

Time you get onboard the reality train, ericlipps. Democracy and rule of law has, for some time, been shattered, and now is flushed down the toilet. This president's decision(s) and lack thereof have permitted rule of law at every level (federal, state, local) to crumble. It will be nothing short of a miracle if Ms. Hallsmith gets the justice she deserves, but, hang in there she and we must. Lots and lots we've gotta do to.....UNDO THE EVIL COUP !
+4 # edensasp 2014-09-16 10:34

You got Obama out of "City of Montpelier deprives city employee of due process rights"
0 # Jim Young 2014-10-11 07:55
Quoting edensasp:

You got Obama out of "City of Montpelier deprives city employee of due process rights"

My old party follows the 1996 Newt Gingrich/Frank Luntz GoPac Memo, "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control" whenever possible, then expands the same basic idea to cases like this, implying "connections" to their chosen target, even if a far better "connection" exists to their stooges (actually more like "5 unfunny Stooges" than the famous 3 Stooges).

In this case, I'd look back at the 2006 Garcetti v. Ceballos decision, (that didn't draw the same incredulous laughter at Roberts as his question in the Exxon Valdez case). To me, though, they essentially took the First Amendment rights of Government employees/whist le blowers off the table in far more ways than just silencing them on issues just related to their official functions (making them essentially toe the official line of what seems corrupt appointed administrators, or keep their mouths shut). In the case of Gwen Hallsmith, it seems they have abused the system even beyond the corrupting potential of the Garcetti v. Ceballos attack on our system that is not where it should be by this time in our history, indeed, actually going backwards, accelerating most in the wrong direction during the Cheney/Bush/Rob erts years, and still going backwards.
+25 # mim 2014-09-14 17:37
I wouldn't have expected it of Vermont, of all states.

But take note, William Boardman: The capital of Vermont is Montpelier. The capitol of Vermont is the Vermont State House.
+7 # Joe Bob 2014-09-14 21:27
Sounds like a job for Bernie Sanders...
or Batman or ???
+3 # WBoardman 2014-09-15 10:40
mim is right to dish out capitol punishment

as an ex post facto dodge, I might excuse my usage
as a reflection of local custom in neighboring Berlin, Vermont,
home of "Capitol City Auto"

What Vermont really needs is
a dealership for "Capitol Dodge" –
oh, wait, just wrote about that.
+52 # BLBreck 2014-09-14 17:51
Great article! I certainly agree with other comments: If this administration will not deal legally with an elected official, why would one think that they would deal fairly with anyone else. Keep going, Ms. Hallsmith! You deserve justice and compensation!
+38 # kasta626 2014-09-14 18:13
The legal system across the United States is broken and needs fixing. This article comes to exemplify what The Gene Wzorek from Chicago, George Schuch, from same area, Ron Pierce from Fresno, Bill Fabricius from Stockton, James Blume and Mary Blume from LA., and Benjamin Serratos who was framed in court, and serving a 40 year sentence for an accident he did not cause. All of our cases are proof that the court system is corrupt and would not even release the audiotapes that prove the Judicial R.I.C.O. Why come to court if the court has in place many tricks, and tactics to engineer your case to lose. This is Obstruction of Justice by the same individuals in charge of the court. In my case, Judge DeVanon solicited a bribe in open court, and the attorneys lied, cheated, deceive, forge, destroy evidence, and I lost because I refuse to pay a bribe. We need an investigation of the US court system.
+21 # fredboy 2014-09-14 18:57
I remember South Burlington in recent years trying to destroy the pension and reputation of its city manager of two decades. Mean spirited and proven wrong.

Vermont always has a sweet reputation, but some of the 'officials' seem meaner than hell there. Maybe it's because the place is so small everything seems like a big deal.
+25 # Vardoz 2014-09-14 19:50
I tried to forward this article to senator Sander and Leahy and was told access denied. I have worked for senator Sanders and will call tomorrow to find out more. Really strange.
+12 # RHytonen 2014-09-15 04:00
Quoting fredboy:
Maybe it's because the place is so small everything seems like a big deal.

Or maybe it's because this story is hardly the exception in America, at ANY level.
+1 # bmiluski 2014-09-15 13:57
Or maybe it's because this story is hardly the exception in America, at ANY level.

Try the world RH....this is just common human nature at work. It just so happens that you're hearing an American version of it.
+31 # Vardoz 2014-09-14 19:25
We must be very careful not to let things like this slide. Big money influence is powerful and does not support our constitutional rights or civil liberties. I am emailing this article to Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Bernie Sanders.
+23 # Shorey13 2014-09-14 20:26
Can't imagine a better illustration of what I have been saying and writing for many years: Legalism is a dangerous, sociopathic (collective) mental illness. The law has always been a means of perpetuating the existing order and its inherent inequalities. Justice, on the rare occasions when it actually occurs, is in spite of the law, not because of it.
+5 # R Miller at 260 2014-09-14 20:40
William Boardman is usually a pretty good writer. But I honestly wasn't able to follow the narrative that well. I think I understand why he took the narrative path that he did, but it ended up a confusing hodgepodge of internal story lines. Maybe it's my fault: one too many G&Ts on a Sunday night. But it's clear there's an important story here, and maybe the old boring timeline narrative way would have been the best way to approach it. Of course, that's just my opinion, man.
+12 # soularddave 2014-09-14 22:24
I agree, it was hard to follow the first time, but I felt it was important enough to read again. I get it now, and agree that the case should be followed - or reignited with a lawsuit.

Reality can be hard to follow at times, but usually, there isn't time for a second reading.
+11 # jstick 2014-09-14 22:26
So what happened with the public bank?
+19 # Vermont Grandma 2014-09-15 01:14
What is most offensive is that Mayor Hollar's email "ad nauseum [sic]" complaint to City Manager Fraser came about an hour after Hollar's firm had received a complaint from a banking client about Hallsmith's support of a public state bank akin to what has been in place in N. Dakota for close to a century AND that folks on the City Council weren't aghast at this obvious conflict of interest. Of course, the there's the other aspect of a public bank which is that having this resource results in the state having more income (not having to pay interest to big banks) and more local control, AND would likely result in lower taxes in Montpelier and other Vermont municipalities. One would think that city council members would be able and interested in doing the math and castigate Mayor Hollar for pushing his bank clients' interests over the interest of Montpelier taxpayers. This kind of conduct is entirely foreign to Montpelier under previous mayors. Rather, for decades and decades Montpelier city government has been an example of collegiality and concern about both citizens and city employees, not the cronyism that appears to have descended.
+24 # Farafalla 2014-09-15 01:15
This is a story of how far corporate banks will go to snuff out any idea that challenges what they think is their right in a capitalist economy. “Do Bank of America and Wells Fargo Run Vermont's Capitol City?”. Yes, they run the whole country. And they are making it a crime or offense to oppose them.
+14 # RHytonen 2014-09-15 03:46
What government or branch in this country has NOT been taken over and rendered completely corrupt by its largest businesses?

Seriously, think about your own town - and think about every branch of the national government, "Fifth Estate" included.

The Grand Experiment that WAS America, has proven nothing if not one inescapable (yet strangely unadmitted in politics) FACT:

Capitalism and Democracy (nor Justice) CANNOT COEXIST -
capitalism will ALWAYS buy it out.

There has been no justice in America almost since its inception.

One must choose whether there is to be justice, or whether there is to be a system based on a futile hope that one might cheat, steal, kill and torture one's way into usurping it, or be extremely lucky in birth to inherit the bit of it reserved for less than one percent of the people.

Pathetic fools, it is finally, at long last, time to choose.
+11 # Buddha 2014-09-15 09:22
"The ballot question for public banking got 109 more positive votes than commercial bank candidate Hollar, who was re-elected mayor at the same time (beating Hallsmith by 1525-782)."

And this is the problem. When we keep electing corporate tools, we can't be surprised when corporations use those tools against us, the people, and against our interests. We deserve the government we get, because as voters, we are uninformed and uninvolved more so than any other representative democracy.
+11 # restore2america 2014-09-15 11:31
When the government are the criminals, there will be no justice working within the government's system. Corruption is total. Removal of these self-serving thugs is the only solution.
0 # Dion Giles 2014-09-18 22:37
A pity the author started the story in the middle.
0 # WBoardman 2014-09-19 10:28
What more would Dion Giles like to know?
Did you see the link to last December?

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