Contact Washington about new USCCR appointments

BRATTLEBORO — Below is an e-mail I just sent to President Obama about the recent vote by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to remove Curtiss Reed Jr. as head of the commission's Vermont State Advisory Committee [The Commons, Dec. 9]. I encourage you to use this message, modify it, or write your own to the president, urging him to fill two vacancies on the commission so that the panel may revisit the ill-advised and misguided decision to remove Curtiss.

Here's the link to the White House comments form: www.whitehouse.gov/contact. I encourage you to forward this message to your e-mail address book, post it on your Facebook page, and otherwise spread it far and wide.

Mr. President: Curtiss Reed Jr. has been a strong, diplomatic, and highly ethical chairman of the Vermont State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights since 2008. Under his leadership, and despite budget cuts that have crippled and silenced committees in many other states, the Vermont SAC has continued to meet and address issues of critical importance to the state's strength and diversity. Vermont is stronger because of it.

As such, I strongly protest the recent move by the USCCR to remove Mr. Reed from his position as chairman of the Commission's Vermont SAC.

Mr. Reed was acting fully within his constitutional right to free speech - a right which, ironically, the commission exists to protect - when he wrote publicly, and as a private citizen, of his concerns about the racial undertones of a political campaign slogan and, earlier, spoke about attempts by the Bush administration to politicize and mute the state advisory committees.

I believe the commission's vote to remove Mr. Reed is indicative of serious political fault lines that threaten to undermine the important work of the USCCR. The vote was taken just hours before the expiration of the terms of two members, both Republican appointees, and is a thinly veiled effort to compromise the important work of this panel.

Mr. President, I urge you to act immediately to fill the two vacant positions on the USCCR and to appoint a new staff administrator. I believe both these moves would go far in supporting and perpetuating the important work of this historic body and would galvanize all of its state advisory committees against the further erosion of their important roles as the eyes and ears of the USCCR.

Furthermore, I would urge the commission to revisit its decision to remove Mr. Reed as chairman of the Vermont SAC.

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