Executive Order 18-04: Systemic Racism Mitigation or Sabotage?

When the Governor vetoed S.281, issued Executive Order 18-04 He commented, “Importantly, to ensure the intent of the legislation is fulfilled without delay, I have signed Executive Order 04-18. This Executive Order is modeled after S.281 but goes further in our effort to ensure racial, ethnic and cultural diversity, equity and equality – and avoids the unconstitutional powers included in the bill”.  First to be clear the Governor’s qualm with the bill was that it did not (by design) give him the unilateral authority to remove the Director.   The bill’s language requiring a 3/5 consent of the Panel was arrived at through a in Conference Committee after objections of a complete independent model (such as the Human Rights Commission).

Executive Order 18-04 was never intended to be fulfill the original intent of the legislation by.  Executive Order 18-04is a complete diversion from any attempt to mitigate systemic systemic racism and instead rambles on with a post-racial universal approach that skillfully dodges the existence of the real problem that we are trying to address.  In fact a bipartisan Legislative Council says that S.281 was never unconstitutional. Why then did he really veto S.281? A careful examination of the Executive Order Revealed this:

  1. Any Governor has discretion to eliminate the function. Is that a move that someone who is serious about addressing systemic racism makes?
  2. Named ““Racial, Cultural and Ethnic Mitigation”. Why the name change Mr. Governor? It might be easier to say but it misses the root of the problem.
  3. Does not fund the position but requests the Secretary of Administration to review the vacancy pool to find a position. The Governor is meticulous about fiscal responsibility in every other way. Why not with systemic racism mitigation?
  4. Has no time line for implementation. If the Governor is serious about this, why would he not establish and implementation date?
  5. Defines scope to be the Executive Branch only. Why does the Governor think that the work should only be in the Executive Branch?
  6. Enables the Governor to appoint all 5 members to the Panel. Does the Governor realty think that we are going to make progress in this area by him loading the Panel with folks that tell him what he wants to hear
  7. Calls for a sole report to the Governor alone (legislative reporting is upon request). The Governor fails to see the importance of transparency and accountability in this work.
  8. Gives no oversight authority to the Panel. The Governor doesn’t seem to mind having a symbolic Panel when it coms to so called “Racial, Cultural and Ethnic Mitigation”
  9. Only requires appointees of the Governor appointees to attend training. The Governor’s limited scope for training casts serious doubt on his knowledge of the magnitude of the issue at hand.

Does the Governor really believe that Vermont should have a Systemic Racism Mitigation Law?

The legislature called the Governor on his “intent to ensure the intent of the legislation was fulfilled”.  They compromised with the Governor by removing the language from the bill that the Governor claimed was unconstitutional, in spite of the Legislative councils memo stating that it did not.  We are grateful that the  bill, introduced as S.5 in the Special Session of 2018 was in fact  signed and enacted as Act 9. We remain cautious to celebrate out of concerned that the Governor has yet to rescind this Executive Order 18-04.  What could he possibly be planning next?

Governor, please immediately rescind Executive Order 18-04.

Call to Action
Join us as we call on the the Governor to rescind Executive Order 18-04
  1. Please pass this to your network and ask them to take action
  2. Call the Governor’s office (802.828.3333) and ask him to rescind Executive Order 18-04
  3. Write the Governor’s office and ask him to rescind Executive Order 18-04
  4. Write an Op Ed or Opinion piece for your local papers (nobody is covering it)
  5. Post this and updates on social media


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Mark Hughes
Justice For All
Racial Justice Reform Coalition