Op-Ed

Woke hush money in Vermont?

In early June, a Vermont high school student who spoke out against toxic Critical Race Theory in his school was summarily dismissed from his position as a lifeguard for the school.  The brave and articulate student had dared state a fact that his town found intolerable: “This is why we have fifth-graders coming home and saying they wish they were black.”  The liberal press in Vermont did not criticize the town’s unconstitutional violation of this student’s clear rights — it approved!  But because the actors knew that it was patently unconstitutional to fire Alex Katsnelson for his speech, they paid him his full wages for a fifty-hour week for the entire summer!

In the initial dismissal, deranged town management fled the constitutional reservation faster than Geronimo in a jet:

We have made the determination that your public comments cause legitimate concern around your ability to equitably look out for the safety of everyone who attends our pools. In addition, we feel that your public comments are likely to cause future disruption with our residents. Your comments have already begun to cause disruption amongst your peers who have seen them. Your position by its very nature requires a degree of public trust, not often found in other instances of public employment. We cannot create an unsafe environment at our pool, nor can we create a situation where any of our residents feel unsafe or unwelcome at our pool.

Instead of berating a minor about public trust while erasing his off-work liberties to have an opinion regarding his high school, perhaps these miscreants should reflect on their “positions of public trust, not often found in other instances of public employment”: do they not owe as much to the public as the high school lifeguard they bullied?

An out-of-state bureaucrat was recruited for the task of unifying the Vermont municipalities of the Village of Essex Junction and the Town of Essex.  In claiming the credentials to effectively merge the towns, Unified Manager Evan Teich had this to say in 2018:

However thorny merger discussions become, Teich said, he’ll attempt to frame them in terms of a more effective business model that also “has the right feel.” Creating an open, honest inventory of the obstacles will be a priority, he continued. “Whether it’s rules, controls, or trust — something is making you pause,” Teich said of the greater community. “Maybe it’s territorial. It could be fear. It could be money. But you’ve got to get to the bottom of it,” he added. “Ultimately, for sustainability, you owe it to the taxpayer to provide the services at the best possible cost.”

But Mr. Teich has done the opposite.  Maybe it was territorial, or fear, that motivated Evan Teich to abuse his power and position to betray the community to bully a teenage lifeguard.  In his “more effective business model” that “has the right feel,” he paid nearly $5,000 to Alex Katsnelson to not save lives at the pool — all summer.  I guess this is how Teich “provides services at the best possible cost.”  However, crushing a kid’s liberties while charging taxpayers for an invisible lifeguard seems a bit unsustainable.null

In a July 8 letter to lifeguard Alex, “Unified Manager” Teich wrote:

I am writing to follow up on our June 23, 2021 meeting regarding your employment status as a lifeguard for EJRP. I have decided to continue your paid administrative leave until the end of the summer. Paid administrative leave will end on the last scheduled day of your employment with the Village, August 21, 2021, unless you are notified otherwise prior to that date.

Presumably, had Alex notified the media of his payments, or spoken further against the Village, he would have been “notified prior to that date” of a termination of roughly $600/week of public hush money.

Will the Vermont attorney general, or any other public authorities, investigate Teich’s actions?  Essex receives state and federal funds, so it was not Essex Junction money that was paid to Alex — it was everyone’s.

It is unclear whether residents of Essex approve of Teich’s actions.  Are they happy their town illegally oppressed Alex and then illegally paid him off?  Or are they upset he wasn’t silenced more harshly, and that he was financially rewarded for speaking truth to power?  Perhaps Teich will solicit their opinions now that they know the truth.

Sometimes it pays to oppose toxic Critical Race Dogma.  That is what Essex Village Teiches.

John Klar

Previously posted at American Thinker

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