Editor: As regular readers know, Rutland, VT citizens are not taking kindly to a plan to resettle 100 Syrians in their town—a plan the mayor made in secrecy with a federal resettlement contractor. For background, please click here for our Rutland archive. And, for future reference, this post is filed in our ‘Comments worth noting/Guest posts‘ category.
With grateful appreciation to Ann Corcoran and Refugee Resettlement Watch, it is with pride and pleasure that I attempt, here, to provide you all with the saga of RUTLAND VERMONT, a struggling, proud community facing the importation of even more needy refugees when our welfare overload is choking us even now.
STRAIGHT TALK—–with Don Chioffi
VERMONT’S AREA 51—THE SECRET RESETTLEMENT PROJECT
The proud, struggling city of Rutland, Vermont has been fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds to even get public information about the secret Refugee Resettlement Program since late April. Here it is now in late August and we have no more information than in April, despite numerous FOIA requests. The arrogance, impudence, and outright defiance by the USCRI, the secular agency responsible for this Refugee resettlement Program, with the compliant secret help of Mayor Chris Louras and his crony President of the Board of Aldermen, William Notte, would be more appropriately associated with some third world country, in fact it is headed by a woman that is, in fact, from one of those countries. Amila Merdzandovic, one of Lavinia Limon’s dutiful henchman, has stonewalled, lied outright, and threatened even those in our own state government for releasing even the most pitiful of information to the citizens of our state and of Rutland, and our mayor vowed to reject a lawful petition submitted by his own citizens requesting a moratorium on this program until facts were forthcoming.
Our three state senators from Rutland county, Peg Flory, Kevin Mullin, and Brian Collamore (all Republicans) have even tried to gain information from the State Health and Human Services department and were met with the response that even HHS was not provided with the complete Application and Abstract, a document that is supposed to have the coordination and cooperation of state and local government bodies and the public prior to even being sent to the US State Department. Our state senators were not even informed that this program was being instituted at the state level by our ultra liberal governor, Peter (lame duck) Shumlin. They were also rebuffed by US Sen. Patrick Leahy, who, to date, has also refused to produce the documents. It sure looks like all the Democrats at every level are closing ranks to protect the secrecy of these documents.
The Application has all the back-up information concerning Rutland’s ability to sustain the number of refugees intended for resettlement during 2016 and forward. Information on housing availability, law enforcement, medical capacity, social service capacity, the burgeoning drug problem in our community, the availability or lack of jobs in our community, and the severe drop in population over the last 15 years are all supposed to be in that document—-yet no one, I repeat, no one, has been able to see what has been put into that document as justification for hundreds and hundreds of refugees from a war torn country infested with terrorists being planted like seeds in our community.
Indeed, USCRI (US Committee for Refugees and immigrants) AND VRRP (Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program) have treated the refugees like a commodity, at around $4,000 each, that will sustain their own taxpayer funded VOLAG (90% government funding), while adamantly refusing to release Rutland’s own application data, which we the people cannot even therefore verify as being accurate and appropriate as justification for the settlement of hundreds of needy individuals into an already impoverished region with a staggering welfare load and severe unemployment or under employment problem.
We, the people, constituted as RUTLAND FIRST, have been struggling on our own to do the research necessary to answer questions and develop information relative to this invasion of our community in the guise of “welcoming humanitarianism”. We have been battling for four months now against the “welcome wagon” which has literally shut its eyes to the costs, the security challenges, and the lack of quality jobs in our region, while at the same time labeling us as racists, islamophobes, or any other vile descriptive adjective in their lexicon of “Global Worldspeak” that they can conjure up, including un-American. This, in spite of the fact that our group boasts several retired and active service personnel who have fought for their country, professional leaders in the community, and active government personnel in both elective and appointed office in our community.
So, yesterday, August 29th, RUTLAND FIRST conducted a forum to attempt to inform our local legislators, state senators, candidates for higher office, and also the general public. Attended by well over a hundred people, the dynamic presentation was riveting in its focus on facts. That alone put it in great contrast to the so called forums presented by the Mayor and the settlement agencies, which characteristically were devoid of anything but emotional statements of support. Today the Rutland Herald had not one word on the dramatic presentation—but managed yet another full column welcoming editorial.
Rutland City Treasurer, Wendy Wilton presented some pretty startling financial impact data, including the most shocking prediction based on present and future costs associated with these programs. When she told the crowd there that based on her calculations, within five years City property taxpayers would be facing an increase of 35%, there were visible signs of multiple jaw dropping in the audience. With a steadily declining population base in the City, the remaining property taxpayers have been facing the high tax burden with no signs of a break and an ever increasing unmet Pension Benefit obligation. Recent comparative studies done by the city have shown that based on its population the number of city employees far exceeds other cities in Vermont. The very dramatic decrease in population has not, however, been met with anywhere near such a proportional drop in personnel.
Gary Shattuck, a local lawyer and a former prosecutor and investigator who worked for the US Department of Justice in Kosovo and Iraq as a legal advisor, presented a pretty bleak picture of any prospect that Syrian Refugees could be properly vetted, citing many qualified opinions by high level US officials specifically stating that there is no empirical data base left in Syria with which to compare any biometric, historical, or verifiable sociometric information. In other words, no matter what name they give the fact checkers, there is no data left in Syria to even check that name, let alone relatives, friends, operatives, or terrorists who may or may not have been associated with the applicant. Shattuck spent substantial time and expertise setting up a system for vetting Iraq’s 850 judges and prosecutors following the breakdown of order in that country to determine if they were, in fact, friend or foe.
David O’Brien, former VT Public Service Commissioner former director of the Rutland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) and presently a consultant in the Energy industry, presented some economic data relevant to the job prospects for refugees, and it was not a pretty picture. Dave cited the dramatic loss of manufacturing jobs in the entire Rutland Region and the tremendous shift from quality long term employment to a model featuring under-employment and service oriented jobs exclusively.
There were letters at the event to be signed by citizens and presented to the State Department, and a local attorney, Judy Barone, Esq. and Don Chioffi, as Rutland First committee members, presented a stinging letter*** to the local and state legislators demanding that they get answers to all the questions posed at the forum. Those present left with plenty of finally answered questions and the clear impression, if not a mandate, that this program should be stopped right now, in its tracks, until and as when the cloak of secrecy is removed and Rutland’s ability to assimilate hundreds of refugees is fully justified.
RUTLAND FIRST—-is—-RUTLAND STRONG!
For those of you in ‘pockets of resistance,’ Rutland citizens’ work should serve as a model for you to use to craft strategies where you live. If you have questions, you can reach Mr. Chioffi at this e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
***Here is the letter sent today to local and state lawmakers demanding they get answers and express their opposition to a plan created in secrecy! Your local and state elected officials may be telling you they can’t stop the federal government and its NGO contractor, but they sure can add their voices in demanding their constituents be given all the facts and that the federal government follows the law!
Judy Barone PLLC
A T T O R N E Y A T L A W
976 Meadow Lake Drive
Rutland, Vermont 05701
Telephone (802) 775-9886
August 29, 2016
Senator Brian Collamore
124 Patricia Ln., Rutland, VT 0570, email@example.com
Senator Peg Flory
3011 U.S. Route 7, Pittsford, VT 05763, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Kevin Mullin
118 Oxyoke Dr., Rutland, VT 05701, email@example.com
Mr. Don Chioffi of Rutland Town has worked with me to compose this letter and address you as our State Legislators, understanding your responsibility for representing the people of Rutland City and surrounding communities on matters affecting State Government.
We herein seek your attention and ask for your help to ensure that the Application for Resettlement of Refugees in Rutland is opposed by the State of Vermont for the reason that the Application is flawed.
Mayor Louras’ ‘letter of support’ submitted with the Application was without legal authority from the Rutland Board of Alderman, the governing entity. The Mayor misrepresented himself as having authority to act for the City as the City’s governing entity when nothing was further from the truth. The planning, information about Rutland and ‘letter of support’ signed by the Mayor alone, was done behind the backs of the City’s governing entity (the Board of Aldermen), secretively. The Mayor was not authorized to provide his ‘letter of support’ misrepresenting that the ‘City’ had a cooperative relationship with the Resettlement applicants, which relationship did not exist.
It is important that each of you act quickly on your oath to uphold the law and insure the Mayor’s unauthorized misrepresentations are not relied upon by the State due to lack of your complaint.
A collaborative effort between federal, state and local authorities is required for successful refugee resettlement and the governing entity’s cooperation is required to insure ongoing support. It is the responsibility of the Vermont Agency of Human Services (AHS) (Ms. Lamoureux), to ensure coordination of public and private resources in refugee resettlement in the State of Vermont. (See; U.S. Code, Title 8 and State Plan for Vermont Refugee Resettlement, AHS Refugee Office, AHS Refugee Office, AUGUST 12, 2017). You may not be aware, but access to Ms. Lamoureax has not been possible on this issue and it needs to be made clear that the State of Vermont will not support the flawed application, and the secretive process under which it was orchestrated, planned and submitted.
We ask that each of you make clear to the Governor and Ms. Lamoureax and the State’s Agency of Human Services (AHS) AND our U.S. Senators that no resettlement can or should be approved for Rutland on the pending flawed Application being there is no support or cooperation of the Rutland City’s governing entity. The Board of Aldermen has been denied information it has sought including a copy of the FULL Application to examine and vet the facts represented about Rutland (apparently provided by some people in Dorset Vermont) upon which the Application will be judged.
Failing your intervention under the power of your offices, the Application, as flawed as it is, could be funded anytime in September even where it fundamentally fails to meet the requirements of Federal law and the Vermont Plan for Refugee Resettlement. Your surveillance and intervention is urgent and important to assure nothing is funded and the State is not called upon if the Application has not met the required standards in the law.
Failure on your part to intervene could well be interpreted as your support for the flawed Application and the secretive process that has left Rutland City and the City’s government in disorder and confusion. There is division, fear and mistrust in the City’s government and in our community concerning how government has acted.
Should you have information different than we herein represent, we ask that each of you please contact me or Don Chioffi and explain. On behalf of the people we write soliciting each of you to help us protect our government under the rule of law and afford the cities in our state the process instrumental to good governance .
Kindly copy me with any correspondence you have with AHS and the Governor, U.S. Senators, and others on this request made of you.
Thank you for your anticipated quick attention to this matter as it is urgent before the Application is decided on facts not vetted for accuracy about Rutland. If you can obtain the full Application, we ask that you send that to us, too.
We anxiously await your work, your questions and your replies.
Very truly yours,
cc: Mr. Don Chioffi
Representative William Canfield
12 Pine St., Fair Haven, VT 05743, firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Stephen Carr
P.O. Box 206, Brandon, VT 05733, email@example.com
Representative Thomas Burdett
1118 Clarendon Ave., West Rutland, VT 05777, firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Lawrence Cupoli
57 Piedmont Pond Road, Rutland, VT 05701, email@example.com
Representative Peter J. Fagan
17 Clinton Ave., Rutland, VT 05701, firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Douglas Gage
41 Hazel St., Rutland, VT 05701, email@example.com
Representative Robert Helm
647 Route 4A East, Fair Haven, VT 05743, firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Patricia McCoy
1392 High Rd., Poultney, VT 05764, email@example.com
Representative David Potter
462 East Tinmouth Rd., West Rutland, VT 05777, firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Herbert Russell
188 State St., Rutland, VT 05701, email@example.com
Representative Butch Shaw
910 Markowski Rd., Florence, VT 05744, firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Job Tate, 111 Birchwood Dr. #6, Mendon, VT 05701, email@example.com
Representative Tom Terenzini
34B Chasanna Dr., Rutland, VT 05701, firstname.lastname@example.org