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Forum, Nov. 20: Police in Lebanon are not being transparent or accountable

Published: 11/19/2020 10:00:15 PM
Modified: 11/19/2020 10:00:04 PM
Police in Lebanon are not being transparent or accountable

Although many people support calls for defunding police in big cities with well-documented police violence issues, some seem to think that our local police departments are above reproach. In fact, like many police departments nationwide, the Lebanon Police Department is not transparent or accountable to the public.

Police Chief Richard Mello has declined to disclose why two of his officers are currently on paid leave, and he has refused to release his deputy chief’s personnel records in relation to an allegation of excessive use of force.

In 2017, a Lebanon Police Department officer surrendered his certification. The reason? Again, Mello will not say. The Lebanon Police Department, in fact, has had as many as six entries on New Hampshire’s “Laurie List,” which prosecutors use to avoid bringing untrustworthy cops to the witness stand for fear it might taint their case.

The department refuses to be honest with the people of Lebanon, exhibiting the same pattern of abusive behavior and lack of accountability as other police departments across the country.

None of this is new. Police forces in the United States originate from slave patrols in the South and violent union-busters in the North. These forces were put in place not to protect citizens, but to insulate the rich and powerful from those seeking to combat injustice. In Lebanon, as in other cities across the country, the police routinely criminalize homelessness, addiction and mental health issues. Years of conditioning have taught Americans to equate police with public safety, but police forces were never conceived to serve everyone.

If we examine the facts, we can see defunding for what it actually is: a call to reduce state violence in our community and an opportunity to build a more compassionate future.



Lebanon police officer deserves recognition

I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to Officer Brandon R. Conlon of the Lebanon Police Department. At a time when the police are being pressed to their limits and criticized, yet at the same time doing their best to protect us from the bad situations in life, this Lebanon officer deserves to be recognized. He responded to a call I made several weeks ago, treated me with the utmost respect and dignity, offered advice and options, and took the time to listen to me.

Thank you to Officer Conlon for his service, and for everything the police do to keep us all safe.



Trump has only made the swamp bigger

In his recent Forum letter (“Trump tried hard to drain the swamp,” Nov. 11), John Nelson criticizes my letter suggesting that President Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Pence failed to drain the swamp, as their 2016 campaign slogan promised (“That fly really was a sign — of an undrained swamp,” Nov. 5).

I would go one step further and say that President Trump brought fertilizer to the swamp. Let me give just a few examples:

■ Trump is the first president since Richard Nixon to refuse to release his federal tax returns. Some details have now been disclosed showing that Trump is in debt for nearly half a billion dollars, much of it to unnamed foreign creditors. There are persistent rumors that Russia may behind some of these financial links. None of this sounds like a swamp draining.

■ Trump did not place his investments in a blind trust or remove himself from direct involvement in his business interests. Related to that is his “suggestion” that Pence and an official U.S. delegation stay at a Trump resort several hours from Dublin, rather than nearer the Irish seat of government where he had business, and his abortive effort to host a G-7 summit at one of his less-profitable golf resorts in Florida. The swamp continues to grow.

■ The Trump Hotel, a few blocks from the White House, has become the hotel of choice for many official foreign delegations and domestic lobbyists hoping to gain favor with the Trump administration. The swamp just keeps getting deeper.

■ Then there are the ways that the president’s daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have financially benefited. In addition to being appointed to key government posts, despite their total lack of relevant experience, there are the patents she received from China and the settlements his company builds on the West Bank. A conflict of interest, or just the swamp expanding further?

The swamp is Donald Trump. He is like quicksand, sucking people into the morass.



The lasting mark Trump has left on America

William A. Wittik’s Forum letter in defense of his support for Donald Trump (“Call me names, but I voted for Trump,” Nov. 15), bemoans name-calling “liberals,” “mudslinging” that somehow marred the 2020 election and, of course, attacks the press. He fails to share one reason to vote in favor of the soon-to-be one-term president. His letter even includes a paragraph rehashing how Trump won in 2016 by being less “odious” than Hillary Clinton, apparently so he could claim that in 2020 Trump proved the “less odious” candidate.

Unmentioned were any of Trump’s first-term achievements. In 2017, for example, armed with a Republican House and Senate, Trump passed a tax cut. And Trump appointed Federalist Society-approved judges to the Supreme Court, and a flock more to the federal courts — just like any other Republican president with a majority in the U.S. Senate would have done.

But that wasn’t all. He also diverted millions from the military budget to devote to construction of less than 1% of a southern border wall — a wall he promised that Mexico would pay for — and he tried to get a smear job “investigation” of Hunter Biden, withholding military aid to Ukraine, Russia’s enemy, as leverage. The list goes on.

What Trump excelled at like no other president was name-calling. Who can forget “Lyin’ Ted” or “Crooked Hillary”? Last winter, I’d have thought name-calling was the crowning legacy of Trump’s lone term: weaponized bile, hyperbole, degradation, lies.

But that was before COVID-19. Trump’s lasting mark on America — on our people, our culture, our history — is his utter and catastrophic failure to fight to protect all Americans from the pandemic. To this day, he cannot muster the slightest effort, say, to urge all Americans to wear a mask to limit the spread of an airborne virus that kills. In his post-election funk, thankfully, Trump is hosting fewer superspreader events. One more reason to feel proud of a vote for President-elect Joe Biden.


Springfield, Vt.

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