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July 29, 2009

Sen. Ed Flanagan: "I'm very sorry"

State Sen. Ed Flanagan said Wednesday he was "very sorry" if he offended anyone while unclothed inside the men's wellness center at the Greater Burlington YMCA.

As related in a story first reported by "Fair Game" in today's Seven Days, last Friday a YMCA patron complained to Y officials that Flanagan was masturbating in plain view of other patrons inside the adults-only wellness center. After confirming what he had seen with a fellow patron in the center at that time, Tiki Archambeau filed his complaint.

Archambeau spoke publicly about his complaint to Seven Days and noted that he had previously observed peculiar behavior by Flanagan in the wellness center. That behavior included using the treadmill while clad in nothing but shoes, socks and a watch.

In addition, Seven Days has spoken to other YMCA patrons, and to a former staffer who also spoke publicly, about Flanagan's actions inside the wellness center. All confirmed the kind of behavior described by Archambeau.

Flanagan maintains his innocence of the specific charge that he was masturbating in plain sight of fellow wellness center patrons last Friday, and disputes the other claims of inappropriate behavior as well.

Yet he took time Wednesday to apologize for any of his behavior that may have bothered other patrons.

"While I stand by everything I've said and don't wish to change anything, I do want to add the fact that I'm very sorry if I offended anybody in whatever I did when I was unclothed," Flanagan told Seven Days.

The YMCA is investigating the complaint against Flanagan, but President & CEO Mary Burns would not indicate the status of the investigation, citing the center's privacy policy.

"If there is not a criminal complaint, then this is handled internally," said Burns. However, she did say that when a serious complaint is lodged against a member, such as the one filed against Flanagan, that individual loses access to the building and its facilities until they speak directly with Burns or her designee.

After it concludes its investigation, the Y can mete out a wide variety of punishments to a member: It can issue a verbal reprimand, temporarily suspend a membership, or revoke the membership, said Burns.

Flanagan told Seven Days that he does not plan to fight the complaint, but insists the allegations are untrue and unfounded.

"I am not going to get into an elaborate argument with them about this," said Flanagan. "I'm simply not going to go there anymore and go along and live my life."

Flanagan did say these allegations do not, at this time, change his plans to run for lieutenant governor. He announced his bid at the end of the legislative session.

The four-term state auditor said he finds it hard to believe that the YMCA didn't put a stop to his behavior or speak to him before now if other patrons found it so off-putting and inappropriate.

"How is it that the alleged conduct went on for long — why did the Y let it go on so long? It's obvious. Because it did not happen," Flanagan told Seven Days in a telephone interview Wednesday after reading the article.

Flanagan said he works out regularly in Montpelier during the legislative session and has worked out at other facilities in the region — without incident.

"Not once has any of this been brought up," said Flanagan. "It's never been a problem."

Back in May, Seven Days published a controversial cover story about Flanagan. In the article, entitled "Continuing Ed", staff writer Ken Picard chronicled Flanagan's peculiar behavior under the Golden Dome — from sorting candies on his committee room desk to lying prone on the floor — in the wake of the traumatic brain injury he suffered in 2005. The article raised questions about Flanagan's ability to serve effectively as a lawmaker.

I can see the campaign ads now...

"If elected, I promise to be a 'hands-on' Lt. Governor..."

The money quote is:

"Not once has this been brought up."

Ed needs to suspend his campaign and move slip quietly into obscurity.

Didn't like him when he was auditor, didn't like him when he ran for the Senate or State Treasurer and I never voted for him.

Don't plan on it either. If he was the nominee, I'd vote for Dubie.

I think he should back out of the public arena...but I also hope he gets some help before his behavior ruins his or others lives...too bad

This is like a tawdry remake of the movie "Being There".

"I did not have sexual relations with my left hand."

Why won't anyone in the political establishment stand up and ask Ed Flanagan to resign? I would vote for the first person to do so - and it should come from a fellow Democrat before he further embarrasses them. He's clearly no longer mentally capable of being an elected official in Vermont. Additionally, this story plays into every right wing stereotype about gay men. Please Ed, do us a favor and retire.

I didn't do anything wrong! And I'm sorry!

Could this be "car-ma"?

My comment is more about the other comments than Ed Flanagan. To me many seemed degrading, abusive and maybe even hateful which I believe violates Seven Days policy for posting comments. Like him or not, Ed Flanagan is someone who has been elected to public office several times. Also as far as I can tell he is liked and by respected by other elected officials of all persuasions.

Ed Flanagan suffered a serious head injury, which may be affecting his behavior. That is indeed something we should be concerned about and certainly I am. But he doesn’t deserve to be degraded or abused.

I agree with Mr. Zaske. I wouldn't know if 7d should remove the comments because I don't know how strictly they interpret the words degrading, abusive, and hateful. However, I do find it sadly and embarrassingly predictable how petty little jackals jump all over a story like this with their obtuse puns and cheap shots. I picture them as grotesque miniature amalgamations of Jay Leno and Rush Limbaugh.

If I were Mr. Flanagan, I guess I would probably submit to evaluation by a neurologist and a medical psychologist specializing in TBIs. If he needs help he'd find out, and if he's in the clear then he could make the results of the evaluation public.

Molly and Frank,

I share your discomfort with the jokes at Sen. Flanagan's expense, but I'm reluctant to remove them from the site.

The comments are insensitive and rude, but the senator is an elected official -- someone who represents us in the state senate, and who is still planning to run for lt. governor in 2010. If he were a private citizen suddenly thrust into the spotlight, I might feel differently.

If those sorts of comments wind up dominating this thread, I will shut it down.

Please keep this conversation civil, and respectful, folks.

Ed Flanagan is liked and respected both within and outside the Statehouse. His traumatic brain injury has made life difficult for him in many ways; yet he has made a remarkable recovery. It may be that his recovery has regressed or that he needs further neurological evaluation. We should all be showing compassion rather than making derogatory remarks. How many of us would prefer that compassion if we were in his place?

Be kind.

Would people be urging the same compassion, and criticizing the "wiseass" comments, if this were about a conservative Republican? I got my doubts.

The political and personal friends as well as his Dr.'s need to get to Sen. Flanagan and sit down and have a long chat before his life is affected any more because of his injury.
The bulldog continues his stubborness for sure and thats ok if operating with clear thought.
Again I urge his friends to get involved.
While hardly a Flanagan supporter through the years it hurts to see this happening to him.

For all you sweethearts that believe these hard shots are unfair, you had NO problem leaping on US Rep Foley (R) Fl or Gov Sanford, did you! Flanagan is a public figure, caught and now he's gets the stocks.

If you're telling me he's mentally not up to the elected job, all the more reason for him to get out of office; Vermont is a fiscal disaster now!

Otherwise, in to the shame hut with him and his ilk. I'll have my say later on my blog!

And on the subject of compassion, respect, and privacy for Flanagan, I'd just point out that . . . in addition to Shay's print column yesterday, this is the THIRD blog story that Seven Days has run on this event already.

Re: Agreed:

We put up new blog posts when we have new information. You can expect us to put up more blog posts if we have more information and reporting to add to this story.

Seven Days "Reported" on this story long before these allegations will ever be proved, thus basically ruining Flanagan's political career.

Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. Either way, WAYYYYY overhyped by Seven Days. The more I pay attention to Seven Days, the less happy I am with it's general business plan and operations.

I have a some suggestions for a new masthead:

"Seven Days: All Things To Everyone, Kinda (but not really)"

Or better yet, "Seven Days, Fair and Balanced: We Report, You Decide."

When you're elected to public office, you should expect "obtuse puns" and "cheap shots" from the citizens who elected you. Especially after you're accused of committing lewd acts in front of your public.

Read any other political forum and you'll find worse. When it comes to politics, pretty much all bets are off. So let's stop with the PC Vermonter oversensitivity. It's played out.

Alan - they have at least three different witnesses corroborating the story. This is news. It belongs in newspapers.

Newspapers do not exist to hide news.

If a state senator can't behave himself in public, voters have a right to know.

One other thing -- People make fun of public figures. From Monica’s stained blue dress to Larry Craig’s wide stance, people make jokes and laugh at these people who hold themselves up to be model citizens. Yes, some of it is over the line. Some of it is tacky (I remember Peter Freyne dishing out many tacky barbs over the years). But is it "hate speech" ??? No. It's silly to say that it is. And it’s truly absurd to call on Seven Days to censor comments just because you don’t like them.

I have never made fun of or attacked Foley or Sanford. Not in private, not on my blog, not on this or any other forum. Although there is a critical difference here that the "you wouldn't have this kindly attitude if it were a GOPer" people are ignoring: if these allegations are true, it is likely that the strange behaviors in question are the result of Senator Flanagan's head injury. Not bad decisions that he is consciously making as a fully competent adult (like Foley and Sanford). This is the element that brings out the compassion we're speaking of. The fact that he probably isn't doing these things on purpose, they are symptoms. I worked with head injury patients on an inpatient rehab unit for eight years, and this explanation seems extremely plausible to me.

Attacking someone when he or she is down is cowardly and puerile. We like to think of our genus as being more evolved than other animals, but social psychology betrays how primitive, vicious, and opportunistic we still are. It's not just about compassion, it's about dignity and civility.

"Attacking someone when he or she is down is cowardly and puerile. We like to think of our genus as being more evolved than other animals, but social psychology betrays how primitive, vicious, and opportunistic we still are. It's not just about compassion, it's about dignity and civility."

Hey, Molly, were you around when Freyne was here?

Tiki Archambeau swears this whole thing isnt political but one has to wonder if, thats the case, why he went running to the media?

Molly, forget it! paving stones, roads, heat and kitchens all that stuff.
Public figures shouldn't be making solo PDA's in the (S)wellness center.
Lets not get our "proclivities" mixed either.
Would you be for a solo PDA in the YWCA in front of you or your daughter?
How about some hairy stud giving a demo in the Unisex room? OK?
Just a new kink they're working out!
Get over the PC junk.

Ed, I'd respond to your comment if I felt like you understood my posts, but since you've failed to comprehend my two basic points I don't see what could possibly be achieved.

I understood your comments perfectly well. I don't buy any part of them in the least.
Either Ed is in the public service and competent, or he isn't and gets out. Period!
I'm not picking on anyone's afflictions. But don't stand there and beclown yourself either.

One more thing, I haven't seen any GOP turkey pull a bit of idiocy YET about which I found out. I guarantee I'll be every bit as rude & harsh with them.

I'm not a Republican, in fact the so called GOP here are RINO's including Douglas. This state needs severe fiscal conservatism quickly, before the tax base entirely disappears.
Shummy & Shap have a good shot of performing this trick by screwing around with the negotiations among CVPC, GMP and Entergy.

Wait to see what this economy looks like if Entergy tells those two to stick VY up their noses. Bye-bye IBM, General Dynamics, Green Mt Coffee Roasters GE and a bunch of tech startups.

Ah, 7dvt, there you are, living down to yer image.

Ego Ed is dead meat politically since he beat it publically.

How quickly First Amendment concerns disappear when the target is a Democrat.

"Ah, 7dvt, there you are, living down to yer image."

If there's an image, it's an image that was developed, defined, and carefully honed by a character assassin whose venom graced these pages every week for many years -- and whom the Left absolutely adored. The very same person whose spirit you invoke with your poster ID.

Now an ultraliberal's ox is being gored and all of a sudden 7D's reporting comes under scrutiny from the Left?


Is the whole situation sad? Yes. Is the reporting sensationalistic and a little morbidly voyeuristic? Perhaps. But unfair? Nope. Not hardly. In fact, it'll take, oh, 15 solid years or so of only exposing and attacking politicians on the Left for 7D to approach "balance."

Check back then. But I'm not holding my breath.

Mr. Flanagan is definitely not the only one to snooze the day away in the would be surprised how many doodle, sign/yawn, leave, arrive late, and full on REM 5 sleep etc. But....I think its pretty clear - the man needs help and the man is not going to win.

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