Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bennington Selector Joe Krawczyk apologizes for "threat" against Desert Storm veteran

Joe Krawczyk above, Ron Conroy below

"I'm going to get
that son of a bitch ..."

BENNINGTON -- Select Board Chair Joe Krawczyk has apologized for blurting out on live TV what many Benningtonians heard as a threat against a fellow veteran during the town's October 28 meeting.

About 100 minutes into the meeting, Ron Conroy, who served in the Navy from 1989 to 1992, delivered a statement voicing his disgust with the select board for its new anti-panhandling ordinance and how it goes against the 1st amendment of the Constitution.

"You think I'm not disgusted after serving my country 28 years in the Army?" Krawcyzk, who has served 4 terms on the board and is president of the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington, fired back as Conroy walked toward his seat.

Conroy stopped, stood in front of Krawczyk and said "I'm a disabled veteran. Desert Storm."

Krawczyk: So what are you trying to tell me?

Conroy: You have no right to try to throw that Army thing at me. <walks to seat>

Krawczyk: I'm telling you don't tell me I'm doing something against the Constitution.

Conroy <unseen>: I fought for my Constitution.

Krawczyk smirked.

Another Town Hall regular supported the ordinance and just before a new piece of business, Krawczyk muttered "I'm going to get that son of a bitch after ... "

And then Krawczyk trailed off.

He acknowledged his quote at 3:20 this afternoon:

"My comments were totally inappropriate," he said in a Facebook message. "I felt that comments made were directed toward me that questioned my support of our rights under the Constitution. That struct a nerve. You may or may not know that I spent a career in the military. During that time, more than 27 years, I took an oath of office and swore to Protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. I have repeated that oath as a State Representative and a member of the Bennington Select Board. That oath is important to me and I would gladly give my life defending our Country and our Constitution. Having said that, I apologize to the individual and to the voters of Bennington who have elected me, for allowing my emotions to be displayed in that or any other forum. As I said in the beginning, my actions were inappropriate. What I was thinking at the time is that I hoped the individual would be there after the meeting so I could ask him why he thought that I would deny anyone's rights under the constitution. He left before the meeting ended and we were unable to have that discussion."

Bennington blogger "Ethan Allen" rejected the apology: "We don't need people like that running our town. We're ripe for change -- but we're rotting on the vine."

The ordinance sparked last Sunday's community panhandle (here).

To see Krawczyk's threat, fast-forward to 1 hour, 39 minutes.

UPDATE: "I don't consider it a formal apology," Conroy said at 6:45 tonight. "He didn't refer to me by name and referred to the citizens as voters so his only concern right now is his political career. That was not an apology."

UPDATE 2: Selector Jim Carroll just posted a lengthy defense of Krawczyk here.