Rutland, Vt. citizens oust mayor caught in refugee dishonesty

Last October, Judicial Watch reported it obtained 128 pages of documents from the mayor of Rutland, Vt., showing a concerted effort by the mayor and a number of private organizations to conceal from the public their plans to resettle 100 Syrian refugees into the small southern Vermont town.

The documents include an April 14, 2016, email from Amila Merdzanovic, executive director of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, to Mayor Christopher Louras, in which she wrote: “I want to share with you the concern my HQ has about holding a public forum. If we open it up to anybody and everybody, all sorts of people will come out of woodwork. Anti-immigrant, anti-anything. They suggest that the forum be invite only but make it as wide as possible. Work with faith leaders, United Way, etc… Perhaps, we could go back to the Congregational Church and continue the conversation there.”

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The mayor and resettlement organizations shrouded the plan in such secrecy that not even the town’s aldermen were informed of what was taking place behind closed doors.

 

Turns out, this may have been the icing on the refugee scandal cake for Rutland citizens.

According to the Burlington Free Press: 

City Councilor David Allaire won a four-way race for Rutland mayor Tuesday, ousting an incumbent who wanted to bring refugees from Syria and Iraq to the community. …

Allaire says a change in leadership is needed to heal the city of about 16,500 that has been divided by Louras’s plans to bring up to 100 Syrian refugees to the community this year, and possibly more in years to come.

Allaire criticized the way Louras rolled out the program, announcing it last April without having sought input from the public and city officials.

Corruption matters, and the controversy in Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIn California race, social justice wing of Democrats finally comes of age Sanders to headline progressive 'People's Summit' The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE’ (I-Vt.) backyard is a small but significant indicator that President Trump’s efforts to place national security above open borders for refugees will be welcome by many Americans, who now must wait for a Supreme Court decision to overturn the anti-Trump bias in the lower courts.

From Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, Washington, D.C. 


Leave Labor Department rules on retirement savings plans in place

Regarding “Risky business: Don’t give states free rein over private retirement accounts” (op-ed, March 13), 55 million Americans today don’t have a way to save for their own retirement at work. More than 30 states are taking bipartisan action to remove regulatory barriers and lower the costs that keep many small businesses and workers from accessing workplace retirement savings plans. Because the private sector retirement savings industry admits it has not been profitable to serve low- and moderate-income workers, these innovative new public-private partnerships aggregate small-dollar accounts making it easier for more Americans to save and be financially independent in their retirement.

These plans are modeled on the very successful 529 college savings plans. They would be owned by the individual and be portable like any IRA today. State laws will ensure consumer protections comparable to ERISA’s and states will have no claim on these funds. Also, like 529 plans, financial service providers will fund the start-up costs of the plans and there has been no shortage of companies seeking to take on this role in states like Oregon and Illinois. The U.S. Senate should leave in place the Department of Labor rules that allow states the freedom to act and innovate to help millions of workers save their own money for their own retirement.

From Angela Antonelli, executive director, Georgetown Center for Retirement Initiatives; and David John, AARP, Washington, D.C.