Let’s realize this for what it truly is: hogwash.
by Kolby LaMarche
In March of 2022, I was manager of Aleczander Stith’s Ward 7 campaign for a seat on Burlington City Council against a two-term incumbent, Ali Dieng. In that election, Stith unfortunately lost, coming in just three votes short.
Although we hadn’t won, voters had put Dieng on notice. And for good reason. Dieng had long hindered the city council from taking responsibility and corrective action regarding the crime crisis in Burlington.
This upcoming Town Meeting Day, however, the ballot in Burlington’s 7th ward is likely to look different, with Dieng’s name being absent. After nearly six years in government, Dieng told Seven Days last month that he will not seek re-election.
Currently vying for the seat is Evin Litwin, who sits on the city’s Housing Review Board, and Lee Morrigan, a community activist. But for today, I want to focus on Morrigan.
Just recently, in October, at a meeting of the Ward 4 & 7 Neighborhood Planning Assembly (NPA), Morrigan, aided by former Ward 7 council candidate Olivia Taylor, confronted NPA member and resident Jeff Comstock over his refusal to use Morrigan’s preferred pronouns (they/them).
Shortly after the encounter, Morrigan sent a 7-page letter of resignation to the mayor and city councilors. Additionally, in lieu of Morrigan’s letter, an audio recording of the confrontation, taken by Olivia Taylor, was shared far and wide throughout Burlington, igniting a flurry of public outrage and support for Morrigan.
In response to Morrigan’s resignation, the Burlington City Council, as covered by Vermont Daily Chronicle, approved a resolution delineating forms of discrimination at the NPA level, instituting a “complaint” process, and seeking to establish a pathway for the removal of members who do not conform.
Days later, after the dust had all but settled, Morrigan announced a campaign for city council.
Agree with the pronoun stuff or not, let’s realize this for what it truly is: hogwash. Morrigan exploited the incident, wholeheartedly embracing a complete victim identity, all to give fodder for an upcoming campaign. And everyone – city councilors, the mayor, other NPAs – were the extras in this stunt.
In May of 2021, Morrigan would be charged with contempt in Washington County for failing to provide testimony and information regarding the disappearance of a black man from Barre.
In their defense, Morrigan and attorney Avi Springer told the court that Morrigan’s decision not to tell law enforcement what they wanted to hear was protected by Vermont’s journalist shield law – which greatly leans on the important guarantees made in the First Amendment. Morrigan had been working on somebody else’s documentary.
Indeed, Morrigan’s steadfast opposition to state-compelled speech seems to have faltered when teased with opportunity.
Morrigan has an uncontrollable temper.
During a council meeting on November 15th, 2021, as the council was deliberating, Morrigan, in a fit of rage, began verbally abusing councilors and blasting profanities.
I have often written here about issues of decorum during council meetings and it is clear that, if elected, Morrigan would not only provide me even more content but would, more importantly, seriously impact the already precarious perception of the council.
These types of public outbursts, whether in Morrigan’s case or in the council’s numerous other greatest hits, signal that someone is seriously unwell.
As a Burlington voter, I want my representatives to, in the face of daunting and sometimes frustrating tasks, be capable of maintaining composure and sorting it out. I believe that Morrigan could not provide that.
As the campaign season in Burlington continues, and as more developments come, I will be sure to keep you abreast on Burlington’s newest political acrobat: Lee Morrigan.
Burning Sky is dedicated to providing critique and commentary on the issues of the day from an unapologetic perspective, fueling change in the heart of Vermont. Authored by Kolby LaMarche every Saturday.