Mulvaney to Toborg: “the only words I will accept from you are, ‘I resign from the committee’”
By Guy Page
William Toborg, a pro-life member of the Barre City Diversity and Equity Committee, will be muted if he attempts to speak at future meetings because of his “anti-women activism” and “misogynistic perspective,” the committee chair informed him in an August 16 email.
Toborg is at least the second Vermonter to be cancelled on a municipal advisory board dedicated to ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion.’ Keith Longmore, a black MAGA supporter and member of the St. Albans City advisory board, was removed by City Council vote after he failed to endorse the flying of the BLM flag in a parade and (according to other advisory board members) showed insufficient enthusiasm for the board’s mission.
The origins of Toborg’s conflict began at the primary election polls on August 9. Toborg, the husband of Vermont Right to Life policy analyst Sharon Toborg, parked a minivan at the polls bearing a sign opposing Article 22, the proposed constitutional amendment enshrining ‘reproductive liberty’ in the Vermont Constitution that will go to all Vermont voters November 8. A pro-choice voter parked her vehicle in front of Toborg’s, thus obstructing the view of the sign.
Several minutes of political street theater ensued, as Toborg and the other driver maneuvered their vehicles to their advantage. There was no contact or violence – except when the other driver backed into Toborg (himself, not his minivan), pinning him against the fence of the Barre Auditorum property.
Toborg was not hurt and did not press charges. The story of the encounter was covered by the Times-Argus, the local daily newspaper. However, at the following Monday’s D&E meeting, vice-chair Ellen Kaye urged him to tell his story. So that’s what Toborg did, he told Vermont Daily Chronicle. (The meeting was not video-taped, and the minutes have not been posted.)
Toborg’s comments – elicited by Kaye – were apparently too much for board chair Joelen Mulvaney, a local artist, longtime pro-Abenaki activist, wife of one-time Progressive Party statewide candidate Ed Stanak, and mother of Burlington Progressive lawmaker Emma Mulvaney-Stanek.
Her email to Toborg appears below:
I am very concerned about you bringing up your anti-women activism last evening. Why would you do that? It begs the question about how you could be serving on an equity committee and support such a misogynist perspective?
You have your first amendment rights on the street, but in our meetings you must comply with our statement read at the beginning of every meeting and my warnings to you about your abusive and incendiary behavior.
I will be muting you during the meetings as a result. I have warned you more than once. The only words I will accept from you are, “I resign from the committee”, other wise you can communicate with the committee through me via email. I’ll keep it open during our meetings and respond in real time.
Vermont Daily Chronicle asked Mulvaney via email which statement Toborg supposedly violated. She emailed back the following “affirmation statement” published on the committee’s website page:
“We acknowledge that Barre City was developed on Sokoki Abenaki land, which the Western Abenaki nation never ceded, made treaty for, nor were they conquered. We aspire to create a space in our meetings that is inclusive, participatory and equitable. We acknowledge we all come from different experiences and that our experiences may be affected by racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, ableism and many other systems of oppression. We are here to address equity within the systems of our city in order to inform the City Council of our findings. We acknowledge that systemic inequities exist and do not debate the personal experiences of marginalized and underrepresented community members. With that in mind, it is important that we are thoughtful of the impact of our words on each other in this space.” [Bold face Mulvaney’s]
The committee page does not address abortion or reproductive rights. It is not clear how muting Toborg creates a space that is ‘inclusive’ or ‘participatory.’
Mulvaney clearly is unhappy with Toborg’s presence on the committee. During the VDC/Mulvaney email exchange, she directed media inquiries to the City Council: “Address any other questions to the city council, they are the ones who chose this configuration of members.”
Toborg has said publicly he will not resign. Mulvaney’s term expires in 2023, Toborg’s in 2024. The Barre Diversity and Equity Committee meets 6:30 pm the third Monday of every month, which next month will be September 19.
Categories: Local government