Letter: Vernon Select Board needs a rebuild

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Editor of the Reformer,

This letter is in response to Josh Unruh's resignation from the Vernon Select Board. My experiences as a concerned Vernon tax payer and voter with Unruh culminated with the Select Board's meetings in December and January. During these meetings, I was treated with aggression, disrespect, and outright contempt for asking the Select Board to be accountable for its spending.

It all started with many emails in early December to Unruh to ask to be included on the Select Board's agenda on December 17, 2019. The town attorney was involved in the communications as Unruh felt it necessary to include him in my requesting to be added to the agenda for the Dec. 17 meeting. At the meeting on Dec. 17, I was not on the agenda and needed to be vocal about being heard. Once I had the floor, I was immediately told that we needed to go into executive session even though all of the information that I had gathered was public information that any member of the community could receive.

After consulting with the Secretary of State, I was told that I could speak about the executive sessions that I attended. On December 17, I presented a list of Select Board spending to include many hotels and AirBNBs and trainings, mostly by two Vernon officials. One AirBNB was as far as one hour from the actual training. The select board over-spent its previous year's budget by over 300 percent which I pointed out and was calling for fiscal accountability.

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I also attended the January 7, 2020 Select Board meeting to ask for a follow-up from my presentation on December 17. I was again told that we needed to go to executive session for this. During this executive session, Unruh became unleashed and called me "Garbage" and a "Piece of s***" to name a few of the names. My call for fiscal accountability was called an attack on Unruh and another town official with the goal to hurt families. Chris Parker was the only select board member who intervened and told Unruh that his actions and words were inappropriate at this time. Executive session was a way for Unruh to talk candidly without being videoed. I told Unruh that there appeared to be Open Meeting violations and he challenged the state to fine him; he'd be happy to pay the fines to keep my research out of the public.

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After the executive session ended on Jan. 7, tables were flipped over by Unruh in the basement of the Vernon Town Office building.

It is my hope that the Town of Vernon is able to rebuild a Select Board that has respect, can have open and honest discussions, and have lively debates without personal attacks. Most importantly, however, is having Vernon's best interest at heart, not their own.

Thank you for your time.

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Melissa Allen

Vernon, Feb. 10


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