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Residents at the 2007 Stamford, Vt. Town Meeting. (Photo by Mark E. Rondeau)


Bennington Banner - March 7, 2007

By Mark E. Rondeau

STAMFORD — Residents at Town Meeting Monday night decided by a vote of 55-28 not to discuss or vote on bringing the troops home from Iraq or impeaching President George W. Bush.

Two articles

Article 14 would have placed residents on record as opposing the continued occupation of Iraq and favored bringing the troops home. Article 15 set out a detailed bill of particulars against President Bush and would have called for U.S. Rep. Peter Welch to file articles of impeachment against him.

However, as soon as the meeting reached Article 14, resident Jack Butler immediately questioned its presence on the ballot. A motion soon resulted to bypass both articles without any discussion of or vote on them.

"It is an up-or-down vote. There is no discussion," said moderator Bill Levine, referring to Roberts Rules of Order. He also said there could be no amendments. "This type of motion is not discussible, not debatable and must be voted."

A woman objected that such a sensitive issue should be decided by paper ballot and not by voice vote or by a show of hands. The legally required 12 other people stood to agree that it should be decided by paper ballot.

Voting by paper ballot took about 25 minutes. The vote came back 55 to not consider the two articles and 28 to consider them.

Asked during the voting why he objected to the articles, Butler replied: "How about the other side of the story? The other side has nothing to say here. It's all yes or no. That's the way they box you in. No discussion. I'm very supportive of what's going on, I know there are problems, but my country first and my president. He's the chief. Until you get rid of the chief, which they're trying to do — but I don't think they have the authority to do it. Congress does."

Helen Fields was one of the people who gathered signatures to get Article 14 on the Town Meeting agenda.

"This is the process of democracy that we follow in Vermont, and its rightly ordered and it's the way we go," she said. "I am a little disappointed (at the decision) because I feel it does shut down discussion. I'm sorry that we weren't able to have that discussion."

She noted that the state legislature passed a resolution calling for an orderly withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

"We have young people from this town who are in Iraq right now, in Baghdad, under horrendously dangerous conditions, and their families are very, very worried about them. And we feel that because it's such an illegal war and such a difficult position to put our troops in without just cause, that it would have been more judicious to have the discussion than not."

Fields and Joseph Tracy, who was one of the people who gathered the signatures to bring Article 15 to Town Meeting, said they would work on a drive for a petition signed by Stamford residents to send to the state legislature.


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