The majority of the citizens who I hear oppose the refugee relocation program for Rutland are afraid to speak up or be branded “phobes” and bigots . . . nasty politics. The people are not opposed to humanitarian efforts or persons of cultural difference. It’s the lack of democratic process that angers them.
Representatives from the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program (VRRP) have admitted that keeping the plan secret was a mistake. There was no mistake. They didn’t want us to do this right from the beginning. The surprise was deliberate. Almost too late to stop opposition.
It has been shown that nobody but the mayor, his wife, one alderman and a person later appointed to a city position appear on the roster of the initial planning meeting with VRRP held Jan. 14, 2016. The police chief, fire chief, DPW head, city planners and city workers were entirely left out of the process during the 15 weeks up to the April 26th announcement . . . unimaginable!
Nor has there been disclosure of the potential costs to the city and to the city taxpayers.
Let’s have neighborhood meetings. Let’s see a real impact study, with real budgets, real tax implications, as well as realistic concerns for the impact upon the people who might be relocated here this year and into the future.
The only winner in this hurry up procedure is VRRP from Burlington, Vt., under contract from U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) of Arlington, Va. Both non-government organizations who get paid “by the head” for every transplant they place here. Not good!
Royal Barnard, Rutland City