Two Vermont Towns OK Bush & Cheney Indictments
More symbolic than substantive, the items sought to have police arrest Bush and Cheney if they ever visit Brattleboro or nearby Marlboro or to extradite them for prosecution elsewhere - if they're not impeached first.
In Brattleboro, the vote was 2,012 for and 1,795 against. In Marlboro, it was 43 to 25, with three abstentions.
"I hope the one thing that people take from this is 'Hey, it can be done,"' said Kurt Daims, 54, who organized the petition drive that led to the Brattleboro vote.
He said he hopes Bush and Cheney are never arrested here; he wants them impeached before that could happen.
"I voted in favor because I think Bush and Cheney have committed high crimes and misdemeanors," said Brattleboro resident Ellen Schwarz.
"I think it's outside the scope of town government," countered Jeff Morris, who voted against the indictment. "When history writes George Bush's story, he will be held in high regard for going into Iraq."
The Marlboro item was introduced from the floor under "other
business," but it isn't binding since it didn't appear on the warning for the meeting, according to Town Clerk Nora Wilson.
"It was emotional. There were heartfelt speeches on both sides," Wilson said.
Since it's non-binding, the Marlboro Select Board could act on it at a later date, but they're not required to, according to Wilson.
In Brattleboro, a steady stream of voters paraded into the Brattleboro Union High School gym to cast their ballots on a day when school board elections and Vermont's presidential primary were also on the slate.
Some saw the measure as purely symbolic.
"It really carries no weight," said Brattleboro Town Clerk Annette Cappy. "Our town attorney has no legal authority to draw up any papers to allow our police officers to do so, but the gentleman who initiated the petition, got the signatures, wanted it on the ballot to make a statement."
The vote and presidential primary came on Town Meeting Day, the day when voters in most Vermont cities and towns gather to debate and vote in an annual exercise of direct democracy.
"It's the opportunity for this small community to set a precedent and an example for the United States," said Brattleboro resident Gerry Benjamin. "A little means a lot."
Organizers of the indictment campaign were frustrated that the printed ballot ended up relegating the Bush-Cheney indictment article to the back side, which they said would cause some people to miss it.
The 8-by-14-inch yellow cardboard ballot listed the offices and candidates in the local election on one side, and at the bottom in block letters "Turn Ballot Over and Continue Voting."
The article read: "Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities and shall it be the law of the Town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictments, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro if they are not duly impeached, and prosecute or extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them?"
"Turn Over Ballot and Indict Bush," read a 3-by-4-foot handmade picket sign carried by Daims, who stood outside the school Tuesday.
Voters interviewed after casting ballots said they saw the article as an opportunity to express their frustration over the war in Iraq and Bush's tenure in general.
"I realize it's an extreme thing to do, and really silly in a way," said Robert George, 74, a retired photographer. "But I'm really angry about us getting involved in the war in Iraq and him (Bush) disrespecting the will of the people," he said.
Ian Kelley, 41, a local radio DJ, said he didn't vote on the article.
"It's not a good reflection on the town," he said. "Do I like either of them and would I vote for them? No. But I don't think it's cause to arrest them."
Barbara Southworth, a 66-year-old nurse, said she would have voted against it.
"I forgot to vote because it was on the flip side," she said.
The White House press office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but promised one later Tuesday. But a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee denounced the article.
"It appears that the left-wing knows no bounds in their willingness to waste taxpayer dollars to make a futile counterproductive partisan political point," said Blair Latoff. "Town people would be much better served by elected officials who sought to solve problems rather than create them."
Reformer staffer Bob Audette contributed to this report.
© 2008 Brattleboro Reformer