One committee member defends Toborg’s inclusion in committee
By Guy Page
After William Toborg of Barre described how an angry pro-choice driver backed into him at the polls on Primary Day, August 9, other members of the city Diversity and Equity Committee told him he’s unfit to serve on the committee.
Committee members Ellen Kaye and Emily Wheeler explicitly told Toborg he shouldn’t be on the committee because he opposes abortion. Chair Joelen Mulvaney said religiously-held views have no place on the committee. Afterwards she told Toborg she would mute him if he tries to speak at any future meeting – unless it’s to offer his resignation.
The remaining committee member, Greg Quetel, disagreed with Kaye and Wheeler: “In the spirit of inclusion in the true sense I think we’re all made better when everyone can tolerate each other and accept them.”
The Barre City Council is reportedly scheduled to discuss the committee September 27. Mulvaney has prepared a new application process to “ferret out” unacceptable applicants, she said (see transcript below).
On the YouTube recording of the August 12 meeting, the relevant discussion begins at 28:08. The transcript published below is lightly edited for ums, uhs and repetition. It begins after Mulvaney asks the group, ‘you want to do a roundtable and see how people are feeling about life and things in general? William, you got anything to say?”
Well I was the talk of the town. I don’t know if anyone saw that in the Times Argus a few days ago.
So, why don’t you say what it was about?
I was backed into by a van at the polls on Tuesday.
You’re only telling one part of the story there, yeah, you’re just telling part of the story.
We had placed our van so that people could see it coming out, we had a message on the side of the van, and someone didn’t like the message, so she put her van next to it. So we moved our van, then moved it back, because she moved her van, so they wouldn’t see our message. Then it was a back and forth. Finally I moved the van and stood next to it and she backed right into me.
You’re also leaving out what the message was. What was the message?
We had a message, vote no on article 22.
What was article 22?
It’s the proposed constitutional amendment.
Yeah, he wants to limit reproductive freedom – the state reproductive liberty amendment…..I don’t understand how you can be on an equity and diversity committee when you want to limit the rights of women.
I don’t see how you can be on one when you want to – well, I’m not going to get into that.
I have the floor….
But it does, Ellen, it does a lot more than that….
I don’t, William, I don’t…. I have the floor. You don’t need to interrupt me. You had your time with your round table and I’m going to say anybody who wants to limit the rights of people to not have full agency over their bodies probably doesn’t belong in a diversity and equity committee.
I agree with Ellen 100 percent. I don’t understand that attitude and how you could think you belong here.
Well, that’s an interesting conversation. However I will say this. We all belong here. If it’s going to be something where you need to bring people together, you can have different opinions, different ideas and thoughts, and you know, the only way we can teach other anything is by coming together. We can’t go ahead and say that somebody doesn’t belong here because of their position on any particular issue, because there’s learning to be done by all and there’s some thinking to be done by all. In the spirit of inclusion in the true sense I think we’re all made better when everyone can tolerate each other and accept them.
We don’t have a choice really of who serves on this committee. The way that it has operated in the past and the way it still is operating until we change it, if we do decide to change it, is that people go directly to city council. That interview serves to them as the application. The whole reason that I wrote a new application process is to ferret this out right from the beginning.
Because when we talk about equity, when we talk about justice, these are things that are not religious attitudes. These are things that belong in the political realm and in the social realm. It’s really important for us to examine what that means for each of us, and certainly for me, I’m sorry, but it is unequitable, it is not fair for women to not be allowed to control their own bodies. This is not a question of…. this is a question of legality, it’s not a question of religion. And I understand, William, because I was raised Catholic as well, I totally understand the seamless garment which means that all life, you’re against capital punishment, all of this, I totally get it, but this is not a religious issue. This is a social issue and it’s a legal issue…..
There’s room for all of us as human beings but there’s not room for all attitudes and all ideas when it comes to the law. There is separation of church and state and we have to be very clear about that we are not religious affiliated as a community.
(To hear the rest of the conversation, click on the video above.)
Categories: Local government