By Shay TottenVermonters deliver impeachment resolutions to CongressTue May 2, 2006 11:32
Vermonters deliver impeachment resolutions to Congress
By Shay Totten | Vermont Guardian
Posted May 1, 2006
WASHINGTON — An effort that began in March culminated Monday when three Vermont communities delivered a message to House Speaker Dennis Hastert: Start the process to impeach Pres. George Bush.
Six Vermont towns passed resolutions on Town Meeting Day calling for Bush’s impeachment. On Monday, Ellen Tenney, a bookstore owner from Rockingham, hand delivered petitions to Hastert, an Illinois Republican.
Neither Hastert nor his chief of staff was there when the office opened, as many members of Congress are not in Washington on Mondays. Tenney described the meeting with Hastert’s staff members who were in the office as “bland and not very friendly.”
She said it should have been no surprise that the petitions would be delivered.
“I had called and told him that we were coming, but I couldn’t get anyone to call me back to set up an actual appointment,” said Tenney, who was joined by representatives from AfterDowningStreet.org and ImpeachPAC.org, two web-based organizations that have been encouraging Bush’s impeachment. She was also joined by Julia DeWalt, daughter of Newfane Selectman Dan DeWalt, and a chief author of that town’s resolution, which sparked interest by other towns in Vermont.
Julia DeWalt handed the first of the petitions, that of Newfane’s, to Hastert’s staff.
“It feels like my child's first steps,” Dan DeWalt told the Guardian, “simultaneously a huge event, and painfully reflective of the enormous distance yet to go.”
After meeting with Hastert’s staff, Tenney delivered copies of the resolutions to Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and Rep. John Conyers, D-MI, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, where an impeachment probe must originate in Congress.
Tenney said she paid those visits to ensure others in Congress knew of the Vermont towns’ intentions, and to keep them apprised of the process from here.
She hopes to enlist volunteers in the coming weeks to deliver copies of the resolutions to every member of Congress.
Messages left by the Guardian with the offices of Hastert, Conyers and Sanders were not immediately returned.
Tenney said no major media outlets covered the event at Hastert’s office, even though one news organization, Reuters, had said it would send a reporter and photographer.
“In some ways it might have been better to have waited until we had them all in hand, but I think it might be better to have them trickle in from all over the place instead of one big bang, and as the numbers get larger as more resolutions get passed, perhaps the press will start turning their heads,” said Tenney.
She added that she did not expect “wild” or “massive” press coverage. “But, this is the little people, this is the grassroots and going to Conyers office symbolized the coming together of the grassroots with the people on the inside,” she added.
Earlier this year during Town Meeting Day votes, Brookfield, Dummerston, Marlboro, Newfane, Putney and Brattleboro approved measures calling for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Bush. Not all were identical, but all were modeled after Newfane’s resolution.
Dan DeWalt said he has hopes of delivering the other Vermont resolutions later this month. Both he and Tenney are working with activists around the country to keep more resolutions coming.
In a separate statement (see below), Dan DeWalt called the petitions “our declaration of independence and battle of Bunker Hill. If the speaker of the House is on the run, let’s give him something to run from and keep a barrage of resolutions and declarations coming his way.”
On Sunday night, Tenney visited the Jefferson Memorial, ceremoniously laying the petitions at the feet of Thomas Jefferson. Many of those calling for Bush’s impeachment are using the Jefferson Manual of rules for the U.S. House of Representatives, which allows state and local governments to initiate impeachment proceedings by submitting charges to Congress.
Aside from these town-level resolutions, measures have been introduced in three state legislatures — California, Illinois and Vermont —calling on Congress to draft articles of impeachment against Pres. Bush.
In Vermont, Rep. Dave Zuckerman, P-Burlington, the lead sponsor of the measure, was joined by 23 of his colleagues, all Progressives and Democrats except for one independent. The bill was introduced on April 25. The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.
Zuckerman’s resolution lays out a broad case for impeachment, ranging from wiretapping U.S. citizens to lying about reasons for going to war in Iraq. It is modeled, in part, after recent resolutions approved by county Democratic committees.
Vermont Democrats earlier this month sidestepped the Legislature in response to a grassroots effort among various county committees to get lawmakers to initiate such proceedings. All 13 county committees voted to support some form of impeachment resolution — eight supported calling on the Legislature to act, four counties voted for an impeachment resolution to go directly to Washington, and one voted to support the censure effort of Sen. Russ Feingold, D-WI.
In addition, a letter written by state Rep. Richard Marek, D-Newfane, which was signed by 56 members of the House and 13 members of the Senate, none of them Republicans, also asks the House Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment proceedings. That letter was sent to Hastert last month.
The members of Vermont’s congressional delegation, who are not enthusiastic about impeachment, support hearings that could lead to possible censure.
Statement from Dan DeWalt on the delivery of Vermont’s petitions to impeach Pres. George W. Bush
Mrs. Tenney went to Washington, and the speaker of the House ran for cover
By Dan DeWalt
Three years ago, Pres. George W. Bush stuffed some padding in his pants, flew dramatically onto an aircraft carrier anchored a few hundred yards offshore, and declared “mission accomplished.”
Today, in memory of the thousands who have since died in Iraq, and fulfilling their obligations as citizens to protect the U.S. Constitution, Ellen Tenney and Julia DeWalt presented the first three Vermont town resolutions calling for Congress to impeach the president to the U.S. speaker of the House. Except the speaker was afraid to meet them.
He was afraid to face the naked truth that Congress will now have to be dealing with the wrath and determination of forthright U.S. citizens who are calling their government to accountability. Congress now has to answer to a public that does not rely on timid political advisors, repeating the same outdated and losing conventional wisdom, worrying about potential “backlash” to ideas that are true and to demands that are just.
The night before her scheduled meeting with the speaker, Tenney went to the Jefferson Memorial and laid the petitions at his feet. It is, after all, section 603 of Jefferson’s manual that gives towns the right to bring impeachment resolutions to Congress. From the memorial, Jefferson looks directly at the White House, and we can be assured that he doesn’t like what he sees. Section 603 is a natural outcome of his distrust of an all-powerful executive branch of government. America had just freed itself from the tyranny of King George, and Mr. Jefferson was determined to prevent another one from taking his place.
We see that the so-called opposition politicians, as well as their supporters in the popular and news media, are unwilling to take seriously their duty to uphold the Constitution.
Therefore, we must step into the breach and take action before the nation sinks under the weight of corruption, corporate domination and creeping fascism. Some nations have proud histories of “peoples’ revolutions” wresting power from corrupt governments from the Philippines to South America to Eastern Europe. Tens of thousands would take to the streets and stay there. Or most of the nation would go on strike, or as www.therudeguy.com puts it, they all call in “well,” saying I’m not sick, but I’m not working until you and your lousy government are out of here.
For whatever reason, America today is not ready for those sorts of mass actions. When massive protests greeted the Iraq war, they were met with a collective yawn and a few dismissive jokes by the government and the media. Protests just aren’t seen as part of the process.
Impeachment however, is absolutely part of the process. Correctly worded impeachment resolutions must be passed from the speaker to the Judiciary Committee. If only one member of the House brings one of these resolutions to the floor, the House must debate it. Thanks to Jefferson we have the power to force this conversation. The time for a constitutional People’s Revolution is at hand.
The March town meetings followed by The May 1 delivery of the petitions/resolutions are our declaration of independence and battle of Bunker Hill. If the Speaker of the House is on the run, let’s give him something to run from and keep a barrage of resolutions and declarations coming his way.
Now is the time to take your senators and House representatives to task for not upholding their obligations to the country and its Constitution. Now is the time to write letters to the editor demanding that we begin a national conversation about the rule of law. Now is the time that we demand that morality and truth take center stage in our governance.
Thomas Jefferson said that the tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of tyrants. Charlie Parker said, “Now’s the Time.”
Dan DeWalt is a member of the Newfane Selectboard.
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