The city of Rutland has received nationwide attention this week after the sweeping defeat of long-time Mayor Christopher Louras in what was clearly a referendum on his shady, virtue-signaling governance. Louras was defeated on Tuesday by long-time Alderman David Allaire who was a vocal critic of Louras’s plan to resettle 100 Syrian refugees in Rutland, regardless of public sentiment against doing so.
“I think people understood that the way things were going was not acceptable and they wanted change, and I think that’s what I represented,” Allaire said after his victory. “This is a turning point, I think for us, a new beginning. I’m just ready to get to work.”
Last year, Louras held secret meetings with members of the Vermont Resettlement Program and several federal agencies including the Obama State Department, and with former governor Peter Shumlin. Louras hatched a plan, with no community input, to bring the Syrian refugees to Rutland.
Louras said he believed that importing refugees would stimulate the struggling city’s growth. In an interview with boston.com Louras said, “I saw that as an opportunity to grow our population, bring in individuals, families, new Americans from Syria who have a strong work ethic, who were fleeing for their lives and looking to rebuild those shattered lives.”
Louras neglected to consult Rutland’s Board of Aldermen and the public in general, prompting the formation of an organization called Rutland First to focus attention on the fact that Rutland taxpayers were the ones who were going to have to “foot the bill” for the resettled Syrians. In an interview on Fox Business this week, Rutland resident Timothy Cook, who is a physician and an Army Reserve Colonel, highlighted Rutland First’s arguments against the resettlement plan. “It makes no sense to any of us how you take a poor community, introduce even more poor people and somehow come out of that with an economic boom.” While Louras attempted to blame his defeat on “emotion” Cook said a majority of residents opposed the program on financial grounds, and that most of the support came from outside the city. It had nothing to do with emotion of xenophobia.
The election of President Donald Trump has largely dismantled Louras’s plans but the citizens of Rutland certainly did not forgive or forget his duplicity.
The media, of course, are attempting to figure out what just happened in a state they – rightly in many instances – consider uber-liberal.
townhall.com pointed out: “When a 10-year incumbent in Vermont (which is hardly a bastion of conservatism) is ousted over refugees–maybe there should be a more nuanced discussion about this on a national level.”
Perhaps Louras’s overbearing statement to Seven Days (as reported in The Daily Caller) best exposes the attitude that got him booted from Town Hall: “Rutland has been addressing our issues, and, having turned our community around, this is the next logical step — to embrace New Americans and enjoy the economic and cultural benefits that level of diversity will provide. There’s not a successful, vibrant and growing community in the country that hasn’t embraced New Americans.”
Breitbart went right to the core of the issue: “While Vermont is generally a refugee-welcoming state, the idea of dumping 100 Syrian refugees into this small city in Vermont that is already struggling economically seemed to defy common sense and logic, even to an area that preferred Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump. The liberal Vermont of 2017 is nothing like the rock-ribbed conservative Vermont of the 1950s, but the majority of Vermonters living in Rutland still know the abuse of governmental authority when they see it.”
Of course, every community has new immigrants, and America will always embrace them. But in the current climate and circumstances, it was completely irresponsible – and irrational – for Louras to attempt to bring sketchily vetted people into his community, and then ask the tax payers of that financially strapped town to support them, without so much as a “by your leave” or a modicum of respect for their opinion.
Politicians, beware. The game on the ground in everyday America has changed, and dishonest politics-as-usual might just be a ticket to a new career – out there with the “little people” for whom you hold such distain.