Petitioners air concerns about Bush 'misdeeds'

SALISBURY — Armed with a petition urging U.S. Congressman Chris Murphy (D-5) to launch an investigation of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, about 40 people came to a special selectmen’s meeting Jan. 16 to sound off on possible criminal acts allegedly committed by the Bush administration.

The petition, signed by 50 people, had urged the Board of Selectmen to call a town meeting to have residents vote on a resolution calling on Murphy to strive for an investigation of the "improper conduct" of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Citing legal advice that such a vote might be unlawful, the selectmen refused to hold a town meeting but they agreed to hold a special selectmen’s meeting to let the petitioners air their grievances publicly.

And that’s about as far as it went, as the selectmen listened patiently but reiterated the advice of Chuck Andres, one of the town’s attorneys, that state law does not permit Connecticut’s towns to pass resolutions on matters over which they have no authority or powers of enforcement.

The petition was organized by Dr. John W. "Bill" Gallup, a retired pediatrician who favors impeachment of the president and vice president. He did not use that word in his petition because he knew Murphy was against impeachment.

"My thinking has evolved over time," said Gallup. "I believe Congress was not making encouraging progress in reining in the behavior of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, examples of which seem to steadily surface in the media."

Gallup cited a litany of administration "stonewalling or subverting much progress on solving our problems while spending us toward bankruptcy." His list included cutting health programs for children while "demanding funding" for the war in Iraq — an example which he characterized as "egregious."

Gallup also cited "using fear of terrorism ... to gain approval for eroding liberties or to justify autocratic, possibly unconstitutional behavior." These alleged misdeeds, combined with the unwillingess of Congress to act, prompted him to organize the petition and hope that other towns would follow Salisbury’s example.

"I feel this is most effectively done here in our time-honored New England way in a town gathering with signatures attached," Gallup concluded.

About a dozen other attendees spoke out in support of Gallup’s efforts and against the Bush administration’s alleged misdeeds.

"Bill’s right, this is where it starts now," said Al Ginouves, who chairs the Salisbury Democratic Town Committee. "The apparent crimes and abuses of this administration have been building for so long. We have been betrayed by the media and by our own Congress."

Gallup’s daughter, Cristin Rich, added that "from my perspective the most important thing is to ask questions now. We might be missing an opportunity."

Legal or not?

First Selectman Curtis Rand had consulted not only with the town’s legal counsel, but with the Northwestern Connecticut Council of Governments as to the legality of passing such a resolution at a town meeting. "They all said we have no authority," he said.

"I’d like to register the opinion that all these legal counsels are full of it," Charlie Keil replied. "My Ninth Amendment rights are being denied and disparaged by this whole process."

The Ninth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

A handful of conservatives were in the audience, including Lloyd Wallingford and Bill Stevenson.

"If you guys want to sit around and talk about it, fine," said Wallingford. "But it’s a waste of these people’s time when the person you should be talking to is Chris Murphy."

"It’s a waste of our money and a waste of energy," echoed Bill Stevenson.

Michael Walsh called the meeting "fundamentally disgraceful," adding that "this is simply a supererogatory exercise in Bush Derangement Syndrome."

"What I’m hearing tonight is the criminalization of politics," Walsh continued. "It is not a crime to be a conservative or a Republican and it’s not a crime to be George Bush."

The meeting ended with no agreement to take the matter further. Rand said later in an interview that a few people from Washington, Conn., showed up at Town Hall wanting to attend the meeting. He told them the meeting was open only to town residents but he did allow a handful of them to stay and record the meeting.

In 2006 a group of Washington residents called for the impeachment of Bush and a special town meeting to adopt a resolution to that effect. The town meeting was denied by the Board of Selectmen there. A town forum with a nonbinding poll was held instead on Oct. 29, 2006. A poll of the attendees (some of whom were not town residents) on whether to impeach the president passed 60-6.



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