LaMarche: In flood recovery, Affluence outshines adversity

by Kolby LaMarche

As Montpelier basks in the glory of its efficient recovery, in elsewhere Vermont, the struggles of poorer communities remain overlooked. 

Recent reporting from Seven Days and VTDigger highlights that there exists an indifference to the plight of the poorer Vermonter. Even in our rosy state, the flooded poor find themselves caught in the crossfire of profit-driven insanity.

It’s no secret that disaster responses have a knack for favoring the economically privileged, resulting in a hierarchy of suffering. While the rich rebuild swiftly, the less fortunate are left to wade through the sludge. 

Take, for instance, Montpelier, where, according to VTDigger, “most businesses ha[ve] finished cleaning out debris and some ha[ve] even asked for help to start rebuilding.”

Match that to the current state of, say, Barre, a city that continues to struggle for a fraction of the volunteers that our State’s seat of government has retained. While tents stocked with fresh water, warm food, and friendly faces lined Montplier’s State Street, Barre was still crawling out of the initial shock, straddled with a 24% poverty rate.  

In Seven Days’ article titled In a Mobile Home Park Devastated by Flood, Shock, Sadness and Frustration Take Hold, we meet persons from the Berlin Mobile Home Park. 

Zack Andrews, a resident whose home was badly impacted, said “Nobody gives a —- about a trailer park”, his father-in-law, Earl Thompson, added “Somebody’s gonna benefit, but it ain’t going to be us” And they were right.

Michael Bilodeau, a profit thirsting ‘mobile home dealer’, quickly set out soon after the flood to buy up sunken homes. Offering only between $2000 and $4000, Bilodeau was a tricky salesman. As Seven Days noted, “What Bilodeau failed to mention was that some of those who sold their homes too quickly a dozen years ago [Katrina] ran into problems recouping their losses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”

And for those opting rather to keep their unsafe, disaster-stricken homes: an email from the park’s operator. 

According to Seven Days, the operator “noted other parks he owns that have vacancies…[and] ended the email by confirming that he would continue to charge rent, meaning anyone with a home still on its lot would owe $490, come next month.”

While you may see photos or videos of the brisk work of Montpelier, know that our people in Vermont are being neglected. But so goes it, where the rich rebuild and the poor recoil, and the burning sky blazes on. 

Zuckerman’s Inclusive Talks

Vermont’s back-again Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman’s “Banned Book Tour” began on June 28th and will host various public sessions until September. 

According to the Lt’s website, the events “will feature special guests who will join the Lt. Governor to discuss with the audience the importance of free speech, inclusion, democracy, and open dialogue.”

But let’s rewind a bit; I’ll circle back to that in a moment.

Last month, tensions flared in the Addison Northwest Unified School District. The fuss? An event hosted by the Vermont chapter of Parents’ Rights in Education (PRE) titled “Transgender ‘Care’/Helpful or Harmful?” According to VTDigger, the event was set “to feature a talk by Walt Heyer, an activist who identified as a transgender woman for eight years before detransitioning.”

Agree with the event or not, PRE had the lawful ability to host the event – which they did on June 20th, though not without public outcry. 

What struck me most of all about this whole episode was a statement issued by Outright Vermont. 

In a statement released on the 16th of June – which has since been removed from their website – Outright said, “A far cry from ‘promoting dialogue,’ this event is part of a coordinated, national smear campaign that aims to instil fear, censor and obscure the truth about trans lives (emphasis added), and justify deadly restrictions on the rights of LGBTQ+ people – especially youth,” 

I’m sorry, but PRE is the one attempting to ‘obscure the truth about trans lives’? Look, I get why they might be livid. But they are, in fact, trying to obscure Heyer’s lived experience as formerly a trans person. Not to mention their use of the word censor…

Now, back to Zuckerman’s free speech and dialogue tour. 

The Lt Gov said it best on his website, “Students, teachers, and curious minds should be able to access materials that spark critical thinking, cover difficult topics, and appeal to diverse interests without fear of government interference.” I agree! 

So, surely Zuckerman wouldn’t go as far off the rails as Outright, would he? If you see him, ask him! 

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 week.

Categories: Commentary

6 replies »

  1. Thanks but no thanks – I never gave PonyTail the three seconds of my time to wave back at him as he stood in Milton last election cycle waving at drivers that passed him & his goons standing at a sign wave – and I’m certainly not attending this massive hypocritical, phony, run-for-governor, fund-raising, ludicrous book tour.

    These people, YES, THESE people, have destroyed VT & the crime, drugs, & eventual Real Estate property collapse will come back to bite them in their rears once tourism tanks & these carpetbaggers no longer have the ability to continue to steal off the taxpayers and dip into the now deep pockets of the tourist bucks. for their special interests & social-ISM programs.

    There are NO “banned books” – only taxpayers & parents who financially FUND the public school system and oppose, as well they should and have the innate right to do, the dissemination of disgusting pornography and anti-science sexual content that our children are being exposed to in these schools. Go read this filth to your own grandchildren.

    PonyTail – instead go toke your pipe and relax. I realize it’s cliche et al, and that you personally don’t believe a word of it, but in the end? GOD wins. And that means you and your buds do NOT.

  2. Why doesn’t someone push a bill that any government employee has to pass an independent drug test? How many would be left do you suppose?

  3. Outright, like so many trans rights activism, simply wants obedience, domination. Even many transpeople have had enough and are speaking out against the atrocious overreach, such as schools arbitrarily transitioning children.

  4. Are any people or groups collecting material support for poor people impacted by the flooding? I have kitchen wares, some bedding, shelving, tables, etc. I’d be happy to donate and even to deliver.

  5. Many people don’t realize individual assistance programs from FEMA only kick in after you go through insurance or show you don’t have any. Takes forever.
    The rich just file their insurance claims and pay cash for contractors up front. No surprise here.

  6. I read the Vermont Digger article about Barre v Montpelier. The flood that revealved wealth discrimination between two cities. It was a pathetic, class-war mongering, condesending, short-sighted, shallow piece of drivel. They didn’t highlight all the Marxists/Communists who descended into Barre City over the past ten years. No connecting the dots that Barre City is one of the highest poverty cities with one of the highest property tax rates in Vermont. No mention that Barre City was an industrial city with good jobs and GDP. The industries went away and replaced with State government, NGOs, and non-profits. The board members, directors, and managers of said NGOs and non-profits live in Montpelier. The NGO, non-profit scrubs that do all the work, live in Barre, along side senior citizens and welfare recipients the NGOs and non-profits pretend to support. Barre City isn’t the only town that got seriously slapped around by Mother Nature. Barre City is the poster child for the do-no-gooders to hold up for more money to steal and to exploit people on a daily basis.