MONTPELIER — City Clerk John Odum and more than 200 of his colleagues across Vermont and the Northeast have responded to a recently filed lawsuit with a letter to the plaintiffs.
According to the letter, the lawsuit, which was filed by the Connecticut Attorneys Title Insurance Co. last month, would, if successful, compel Vermont municipal clerks’ offices and town halls to immediately return to pre-pandemic open office hours.
That, the letter states, would be in "direct defiance" of Gov. Phil Scott's call for limiting in-person services and ignore "the power explicitly granted to town and city officials" to take steps to protect their communities and employees from the spread of COVID-19.
Odum, who mailed the letter on Tuesday, called the lawsuit that names eight Vermont clerks, including those in nearby Northfield and Plainfield, as "shameful and reckless" — a sentiment shared by dozens of other Vermont clerks who signed the open letter.
They weren't alone. Clerks from five other states — New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine — also signed the letter.
"This lawsuit doesn't just show total disregard for the health and safety of municipal employees, but for the health and safety of their communities themselves," Odum said, suggesting "unfettered access with no regard for this pandemic could cause new community clusters to form."
“At a time when we all need to pull together — regular citizens and business citizens alike — the plaintiffs are indicating indifference to the health, even of their Vermont customers,” he said.