By Guy Page
The Barre City Council Tuesday, September 27 meeting agenda includes an “Appearance by the Diversity & Equity Committee.”
The Council’s interest in hearing from the D&E Committee has been whetted by controversial statements made by three of the five committee members – including chair Joelen Mulvaney – that committee member William Toborg does not belong on the committee because he opposes legal abortion.
The comments – recorded on this YouTube video – took place at an August 12 meeting after Toborg described how he was pressed into an outdoor wall by a car driven by someone angry at the anti-Article 22 sign on his mini-van outside the August 9 primary polls in Barre. Far from expressing concern about the incident, three committee members said his pro-life views should exclude him from the committee.
Mulvaney also said Toborg’s Roman Catholic religious views should have no place in committee discussions, which she said may not include religious views on (in her words) political and social issues. Committee members Ellen Kaye and Emily Wheeler both said Toborg should not sit on the board because of he opposes legal abortion.
In a follow-up email, Mulvaney said she will mute Toborg at any future meeting unless he is speaking to offer his resignation.
Greg Quetel, the fifth member of the D&E Committee, and its only black member, 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.”
It is not known what action, if any, the Council will contemplate tomorrow night. Mulvaney wants the Council to ‘ferret out’ candidates unsuitable to Mulvaney’s understanding of the committee’s mission. Supporters of Toborg have emailed the council voicing displeasure over his critics’ intolerance. Some have called for their ouster from a committee dedicated to diversity.
The meeting begins at 7 PM at the Council Chambers in City Hall, and may be attended in person or via Zoom. The Diversity and Equity Committee is #9 on the agenda. A ‘round table’ discussion and possible executive session (meeting in private to discuss personnel or contracts) will follow.
The next meeting of the Diversity & Equity Committee is scheduled for 6 PM, Thursday September 29.
Categories: Local government