By Aaron Warner
One of the newest members to the town of Hartford Select Board shared an internal letter raising his concerns regarding Town Manager Tracy Yarlot-Davis with members of a couple Hartford town-focused Facebook pages, and requesting residents to consider recalling her.
Hartford is better known to many Vermonters for its village, White River Junction, the home of the Veterans’ Administration hospital. The board member who goes by the name Rocket won his first seat in the last election. Many appreciated his approach to campaigning by offering open dialogue and being candid about his positions, knowledge of issues as well as honesty about things which he didn’t hold a position or lacked information. Since then he has made himself available to the public both during meetings and outside of them, and has kept himself accountable in practice by sharing his thoughts via social media rather than remaining aloof as can be the practice of some board members.
This past week Rocket shared an internal email he sent to fellow members explaining why he’s come to believe Mrs. Yarlot-Davis should be recalled. The letter begins cordially and professionally, with Rocket often declaring his appreciation of the Town Manager’s apparent strengths. However, he goes on to explain his position was galvanized by a multi-lateral faction of complainants who, despite partisan differences, all shared similar concerns regarding her unfitness as Town Manager. The following list taken from his shared email lays out varied reasons for his request.
Here is an incomplete list of troubling rumors I’ve heard about our Town Manager:
• She has a candidate for Police Chief, someone in California, who she’s been holding the spot for. That individual couldn’t get out of his/her contract for a year. The current search is a sham and will end with this person being selected.
• Tracy, Paula, and Hannah (formerly of Public Works) had a bit of a “girls club”. A fallout between the latter two led to Paula pressuring Tracy to prevent Hannah from using a Town vehicle to commute. Hannah privately cited that as a deciding factor to seek work elsewhere.
• In Town Offices, Tracy once jokingly said, “I swear, if I have to talk to one more middle-aged white man…”
• Our state’s attorney asked/offered to be involved in the search for the Police Chief and was denied.
• Tracy has given all three unions (PD, FD, Public Works) difficulty negotiating for their contracts – often failing/refusing to respond for long periods.
• Tracy has been threatening to quit since shortly after she began, and as recently as earlier this year.
• Our former Town Treasurer stepped down as a result of poor management at the Town Manager level.
• At least two of our department heads are tired of the drama at Town Hall.
• Several department heads feel she is too flippant in meetings and could – politely put – benefit from leadership training. Several cite the fact that she is not a good communicator and/or makes too many jokes, which distract from a professional work environment.
• At least several town staff are exhausted, do not feel supported, and are considering quitting.
• In unrelated cases, a local businessperson and a town staff member – have actively considered some form of legal action against Hartford Both are a direct result of Tracy. Both have withheld thus far out of civic pride, citing that they don’t want more bad press for our community.
Many of the comments under this Facebook post are affirmations of town people to sign a recall petition. Vermont Daily Chronicle contacted Yarlot-Davis several days ago for her comment, but has received no response.
The author, a Hartford resident, is a community reporter for Vermont Daily Chronicle.
Categories: Local government