Town did wrong by Wrenner

There are some things you just don’t expect to happen in Vermont. The Town of Essex’s grossly inadequate response to a recent claim of sexual harassment is surely one of them. At every turn, the town did the wrong thing.

Apparently following the Harvey Weinstein playbook, the Town of Essex has engaged in the following negligent and intentional offenses

Failing to provide a harassment-free work place;

Failing to hire an appropriate independent investigator to objectively and professionally look into harassment claims once made;

and instead of doing a proper investigation, choosing to conduct a sham investigation that not only deprived the accuser of any due process, but further victimized her by refusing to provide a female investigator, all while lining the pocket of the town attorney who was paid to oversee the investigation of his good friend, the accused harasser.

Adding fuel to an already dangerous fire, when asked to account for the manner in which the investigation was conducted, the town took the position that its documents were not public records subject to inspection.

The town literally claimed that it “had no responsive documents” regarding any investigation, and when questioned further about the ludicrous nature of that claim, the town argued that, because the documents were physically stored in the town attorney’s office, rather than the Essex Town Offices, they weren’t “public” records.     

The town didn’t even want to list what records exist.   This violates countless legal principles.   

The town is trying to hide the existence of the evidence of its own wrong-doing, and we’re paying for this.

As a town taxpayer I’m frankly ashamed of such activity being done in my name. What an incredible waste of our tax dollars.

Allegra C. Carpenter
Essex Jct.

Good-old-boy network is alive and well

I’m deeply concerned about the cavalier approach the Town of Essex has taken concerning the allegation of sexual harassment raised by selectwoman Irene Wrenner, who happens to be a member of my congregation. And while one might expect a person in my position to show partiality toward a parishioner, it shouldn’t minimize the flagrant lack of sensitivity displayed in the process by which the town has addressed this matter.

As a former denominational executive who has dealt with allegations of sexual misconduct between pastors and parishioners, I would have wanted the town to follow a standard protocol in dealing with this allegation. This would include offering the alleged a paid leave of absence until the matter is resolved, selecting an impartial team of women and men to investigate the allegation, and then rendering a judgment or recommendation to the Town based on its findings.

The following facts suggest that the Town of Essex had no intention of seriously considering the selectwoman’s complaint:

1) The identity of this town official, who allegedly harassed selectwoman Wrenner and perhaps others, remains undisclosed;

2) The investigation of the allegation was neither impartial nor pursued to the satisfaction and trust of all parties involved; and

3) The attorney responsible for directing the investigation was himself an associate of the alleged.

The Bible tells the parable of a woman who persistently demands justice from an unjust judge until she finally wears him down enough to relent (Luke 18:1-8).

Wrenner’s lawsuit against Essex is a similar act of persistence – a natural consequence of the Town’s gross neglect, and an effort to discourage the prospect of further abuses in a town where clearly the good-old-boy network is alive and well.

Rev. Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas
Good Shepherd Lutheran
Church, Jericho


Thank you to firefighters

On behalf of our family, I am writing this note to express my deepest appreciation for all the more than 50 firefighters that worked to extinguish the fire that brought our home in Essex Jct. to a complete loss on July 3.

We always hear about that volunteer firefighters are dedicated, hardworking and brave men and women. But that Tuesday, at Fairview Farm, as part of one of the many incredible communities in Chittenden County, we experienced this first hand. These brave, smart, strong, heroic, selfless firefighters from Essex Jct., Essex, Williston, Colchester, Jericho-Underhill and St. Michael’s College, fought fearlessly. Our house, unfortunately, is virtually destroyed by the fire and the water used to fight the blaze. Most importantly and remarkably, one of our family members only suffered minor injuries and is fully recovering. As well, we are very thankful that no properties were affected by the side effects of the fire – we must say that our next door neighbors had part of their siding melted due to the intense heat – fighting the fire on that 90-plus degree temperature day was a herculean effort.

We are saddened but will get through this challenging time.. Our most heartfelt gratitude for these crucial members of our community who are almost all volunteers for their amazing effort, dedication, and their display of professionalism. God bless them all.

The Wakim Family
Essex Jct.

We don’t deserve indictment

On the narrow issue of forcibly removing a child from its parent, how could anyone disagree with that? However, I disagree that “this cruelty indicts us all,” as Mr. Mayer claims in an op-ed published in last week’s Reporter. Many Americans feel that illegal immigration needs to be directly confronted and dealt with. Further, many (if not most) of those Americans are also opposed to separating children from their mothers. We do not all deserve indictment.

Mr. Mayer urges “action”, not words. But exactly what action is it that Mr. Mayer urges us to take? What is “the decent thing” we are supposed to do? We just had an election less than two years ago, and a certain candidate told us in no uncertain terms exactly what he was going to do about illegal immigration. We elected him. That happens in democracies.

The world is literally full of mothers willing to hoist their children, present themselves at America’s borders, and request asylum. They may all be “deserving.” How many should we admit? From where? Who else, besides asylum seekers? Who decides, and how do they decide?  These are not easy issues, but they need to be dealt with.

Lastly, it’s rather a stretch, to say the least, and it almost borders on an insult, to compare the current immigrant situation to the Holocaust.

Ed Shoop
Essex Jct.