Category Archives: Bricklyn Politics

Understanding the Federal Council

Note from Bricklyn Eagle Editor Walt Brickman: We have already mentioned the Federal Council in several posts, and have also added a brief Glossary entry for it. Given its importance as the key governing body in the Realm of Bricklyn🌀 — and reader questions we’ve received — we’ve asked Eric Tiler Corman, our politics reporter, to provide a bit more background, while also contrasting the role of the King of the Realm.

by Eric Tiler Corman, Politics Correspondent for The Bricklyn Eagle.

Warning to readers. As a reporter, I shouldn’t be telling you this, but unless you’re a political or comparative government junkie, or a reporter like me, you may find some of the following a bit dry to read. In that case, just focus on the material I’ve highlighting in bold!

The Federal Council of the Realm of Bricklyn (FCRB) came into existence on the day of the Realm‘s founding: May 14, 1961, following an advisory referendum put to all citizens of the three cities of Bricklyn, South Bricklyn, and Bricklyn Junction to: (1) disassociate from the Danish Realm; (2) associate to create the Tripartite Realm of Bricklyn; and (3) adopt the draft Constitution for Bricklyn.

The citizenry of the three cities by a 3-1 margin voted in support of the three questions. Voters also elected their representatives to the newly formed FCRB.

Given the relatively small population of the three cities making up the Realm of Bricklyn — at the time of founding in 1961, just 21,755 citizens (36,054 today) — Bricklyn’s founders did not see the need for a large legislative body. Instead, federal level decisions are made by the seven member FCRB, whose members are elected to three year terms.📍

📍There has been a regular tug and pull between federal and local responsibilities which are beyond the scope of what we’re covering today. Suffice it to say, all “foreign affairs,” including relations with both Inland🌀 and Outland🌀 communities are within the purview of the FCRB.

Six of the seven Council seats are allocated by a population-based formula. Since the founding of the Realm the allocation has not varied, with Bricklyn having three seats on the Council; South Bricklyn having two; and Bricklyn Junction one seat. We should note that even the smallest of the three cities is guaranteed at least one seat on the Council.

The seventh seat, however, is the most important one, as that Councilor is elected by a vote of the entire Realm — that is, of the residents of all three cities. It is comparable to what can be called an “at-large” seat. But there is one critical distinction. The at-large Councilor is also designated the President of the Council. Since 2012 at-large Councilor Hilma Plater-Zybrick has served as President.

The Role of the Council President

The President of the FCRB, like all other Councilors, has only one vote on the Council. However, she also has several other key responsibilities, one of which is serving on certain Special Committees set out in the Constitution as having the power to make key appointments. For example, the appointment of the Realm’s Chief Prognosticator🌀 is made by a three-member Special Committee consisting of the Federal Council President, as well as the Realm’s Principal Historian and the Realm’s Chief Scientist.

Photo from the 2012 coronation of YMK Brickburger, which occurred shortly after both his election as Mayor of the City of Bricklyn, and the election of Hilma Plater-Zybrick as Federal Council President. Also visible in photo: Chamber of Council President Thomas Brickorti; Chief Magistrate Ruth Plater Kinsburg; and a member of the Realm of Bricklyn Guard.

The Constitution also gives the Federal Council President the power to appoint the Chief Counsels for Inland and Outland Affairs, as well as the position of Chief Magistrate and several other key federal positions.

However, the Constitution does provide that these and other appointments are subject to consent of a majority of the Council (in other words, four Councilors, including the President as Councilor, must vote to consent.

Each member of the Council is also assigned to head one of the Realm’s departments. Assignments (or reassignments) are made by the Federal Chancellor in consultation with Council members:

  • ➤The Department of Outland Affairs (headed by the President)
  • ➤The Department of Inland Affairs (headed by a Council member)
  • ➤The Department of the Environment (headed by a Council member)
  • ➤The Department of Transportation (headed by a Council member)
  • ➤The Department of Commerce (headed by a Council member)
  • ➤The Department of Environmental Protection (headed by a Council member)
  • ➤The Department of Justice (headed by a Council member)
    • ➤ note: The Department of Mediation is headed by the Federal Chancellor in his/her capacity as Chief Mediator.

Is Malter Thurnbrick the Real Decision Maker?

Federal Chancellor Malter Thurnbrick in the Federal Council chambers (which also serves as the Royal Hall when needed for the King’s ceremonial duties).

You probably haven’t heard much of Malter Thurnbrick. After all he’s only a “humble civil servant” (as he calls himself) who directs the Federal Council’s staff of seven.

Yet his position as Federal Chancellor is often extremely influential in developing federal policy positions for the Realm, especially in its dealings with Burlington as well as other Outland and Inland cities.

The Federal Chancellor is a position set out in Bricklyn’s Constitution:

Article I, Sec. 5. “The Federal Chancellor shall be appointed by the President of the Council for a three-year term, subject to the consent of a majority of the full Council. The Federal Chancellor shall: (a) provide staff support to the Federal Council; (b) have the right to table motions of the Federal Council for up to 30 days; (c) be responsible, after consulting with Councilors, for assigning or reassigning Councilors as Department Directors; (d) serve as the Chief Mediator of the Realm; and (e) have such other duties and responsibilities as the Council sees fit as specified by majority vote of the Council.”

Some savvy, well-traveled readers may already have noted several similarities between Bricklyn’s Federal Council and the Federal Council of Switzerland. One such parallel is in the role of the Federal Chancellor. As Federal Chancellor Malter Thurnbrick told us: “Yes, for sure there are lessons Bricklyn’s founders took in drafting our Constitution. They drew not just on their Danish heritage, but also looked at Outland countries such as Switzerland, and, of course, took heed of their new homeland within the State of Vermont.”📍

📍Vermont’s influence can more deeply be seen at the local level, and in particular, in the practice of town meeting. More on that in a future post.

Walter Thurnherr, Federal Chancellor of Switzerland. Photo from Chancellery web site. Of course, his lack of a beard clearly distinguishes him from Bricklyn’s Malter Thurnbrick.

As Malter Thurnbrick continues: “The Bricklyn Federal Council certainly draws on aspects of Switzerland’s Federal Council, as does my position as Federal Chancellor. My ‘counterpart’ in Switzerland, the curiously named Walter Thurnherr, nicely described his role as Federal Chancellor with these words: ‘I don’t see myself as the eighth federal councillor, but rather as the most senior civil servant. My power is limited, but I do have a certain influence. My role is to mediate, offer guidance and coordinate, and I can make proposals.’ … I couldn’t have said it better myself!”📍

📍See “The Federal Chancellery” on the Swiss Federal Chancellery FCh website.

… and What Role Does Bricklyn’s King Play?

Yes, Bricklyn does have a King. Today, that is YMK Spiro Brickburger. However, his role is primarily ceremonial, and to serve as a “goodwill ambassador” to other Inland and Outland communities. Let’s quickly take a look at how Bricklyn’s Constitution defines the role.

Article II, Sec. 1: The King or Queen of the Realm of Bricklyn shall be the then elected Mayor of the City of Bricklyn, that City being the capital city of the Realm, unless such Mayor declines to accept the appointment as Queen or King, in which event the Queen or King shall be appointed by majority vote of the Federal Council for a term of three years. 📍

YMK Brickburger after being crowned KIng of the Realm of Bricklyn

📍By traditional Bricklyn practices of modesty, most past Mayors of the City of Bricklyn have declined being simultaneously appointed King. However, YMK Brickburger chose to accept the Kingly role, saying it would “strengthen the impregnable bonds of comity throughout the Realm.” Political analysts have still been trying to understand the meaning of Brickburger’s remark.

Photo of YMK Brickburger after being crowned; holding the sacred foundation tile of Bricklyn.

Article II, Sec. 2: The King or Queen’s principal responsibility is to promote the values of unity, conciliation, honesty, and kindness in the Realm of Bricklyn, and to represent these values in dealings with other Inland and Outland communities.

If Necessary, as a Last Resort

The King, as well as all elected officials in the Realm, whether serving at the federal or local level, are subject to removal from office. As the Constitution provides:

Article II, Sec. 3: “All elected officials, whether at the federal or local level, as well as the King, can be removed from office before the end of their term if a majority of voters of their jurisdiction so vote at a special election. Such special election shall be take place within 45 days of the receipt and verification by the Chief Clerk of the appropriate jurisdiction of a petition signed by at least 20 percent of the registered voters of said jurisdiction.”

We’ll soon be turning our attention to some heated developments related to the current King, WMK Brickburger, including a recently initiated petition effort to simultaneously oust him as King of the Realm and as Mayor of the City of Bricklyn.

Key Council Rulings

The Bricklyn Eagle has already provided you with information on two key FCRB rulings: the recent ruling finding Facebrick guilty of antitrust and privacy law violations; and the Council’s landmark 1992 ruling limiting network access within the Realm. Given the central role that the FCRB plays in Bricklyn, you’re sure to be hearing more about their decisions in future posts.✥

Facebrick Banned in Realm of Bricklyn

by Eric Tiler Corman, Bricklyn Eagle political news correspondent

Summary of article ➤ In an unexpected ruling, the Federal Council of the Realm of Bricklyn has banned Facebrick from the Realm due to monopolistic practices & abuse of privacy. Reactions to the ruling and next steps.

Federal Council President Hilma Plater-Zybrick at her home.

In an unexpected action, the Federal Council of the Realm of Bricklyn (FCRB)🌀 has just issued a ruling (by a 5-2 vote) mandating the termination of Facebrick’s🌀 services within the Tripartite Realm of Bricklyn.

The Council’s decision only applies to Facebrick, not to Facebook (the parent company). Facebrick has been operating a Bricklyn-only network since 2016, as Bricklyn has long restricted access to Outland networks. But unanswered questions remain over whether the Council’s ruling also applies to Bricklyn citizens trying to connect to the global Facebook social network at The Exchange.📍

📍For some background about The Exchange, see “When Bricklyn Pulled the Plug.”

Council Finds Monopoly and Privacy Violations

According to Council President Hilma Plater-Zybrick, “the ruling centers not just on violations of Bricklyn anti-trust laws, but also on concerns over infractions of Bricklyn’s privacy regulations.”

One of the examples of anti-competitive behavior cited by the Council was Facebrick’s 2020 acquisition of the fledgling social media app WeBricks, “snuffing out a potential competitor,” the Council’s ruling said.

Editor’s Note: While the Council’s ruling dealt with the monopolistic practices of Facebrick, have we given any thought to just what Bricklyn’s youth are learning when they play this board game and need to accumulate the most money & wealth in order to win? The Junior Version of this popular board game is designed for 5 year olds and up!

As to privacy, the Council found Facebrick repeatedly failed to tell customers of its sharing of personal data with third parties, and also engaged in other “systematic privacy breaches.”

The Council cited Facebrick’s failure to address these issues, despite repeated warnings from Bricklyn regulators.

Facebrick supporters claim that the company is being unduly tarred with accusations being made in some Outland countries against Facebook, and that Facebrick is a good corporate citizen, providing valued social media services to Bricklynites.

Replying to these critics, Council President Plater-Zybrick said that: “Regardless of Facebook’s practices in the Outland🌀 world, the Council’s ruling was solely based on Facebrick’s practices within the Realm of Bricklyn.”

Plater-Zybrick has been considered a long-time “skeptic” of Facebrick, but that she could convince four other Council members to join her in ruling against Facebrick remains a surprise. When asked, Plater-Zybrick would only say, “What became clear to most of us was the egregious nature of Facebrick’s violations. What’s more, we received a statement of support for the actions we were considering from the Chief Prognosticator🌀, always an important consideration in major rulings by the Council.”📍

📍 By long standing Bricklyn tradition, the Chief Prognosticator of the Realm can be called in for an in camera meeting with the Federal Council when the Council is considering taking actions that may have “high significance for the future of The Realm of Bricklyn.” The decision to call for the Chief Prognosticator can be made by either the Council President, or by vote of a majority of Council members. The current Chief Prognosticator is David Bricks.

Facebrick Supporters Attack Council Decision

Bill B. Butler, Federal Council Member
Federal Council Member Bill B. Butler, aka “3B”. Besides serving on the Council, Butler is an engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad.

Bill B. Butler, who represents South Bricklyn, was one of the two dissenters on the Federal Council. When asked about the ruling, Butler said: “Facebrick is a great resource for Bricklyn. It gives people what they want, which is why virtually everyone who wants to be socially networked uses it. What’s more, most folks don’t give a hoot about their so-called privacy, as long as they can easily network with their family and friends.”

As Butler added, “if Facebrick did happen to violate our laws, what that means is we need to re-examine and change our laws so that Facebrick can quickly resume operations here in Bricklyn. I’m sure that’s what most Bricklynites would want.”

Representatives of Facebrick could not be reached for comment. An appeal of the decision to the Chief Magistrate’s Court, along with a request for a Stay of the mandate, are possible. However, given the fact that the ruling received the endorsement of Chief Prognosticator Bricks, most legal analysts view it as unlikely that the Court would hear an appeal (the Court has discretion on whether to accept appeals of Federal Council decisions).

Public to be Polled

There has been little opinion polling on the Facebrick question, but Bricklyn Eagle Editor Whitman, along with TV 3 Managing Editor Frank Smallbrick, have just announced they will be teaming up on a poll in the coming weeks to gauge public reaction to the ruling.✥

➤ Note from Bricklyn Eagle Editor Walt Brickman: Unfortunately, as Editor, I must offer an apology. As you may know, The Bricklyn Eagle just recently launched a Facebook page for Outlanders. In fact, some of you have already “liked” it. We are seeking clarification from officials at the FCRB if this page must be taken down in light of the ruling, or whether it can remain available to our Outland readers. All I can say right now is, stay tuned! But rest assured, we at The Bricklyn Eagle will continue to provide you with unbiased news reporting, despite our having used Facebrick and Facebook for our business.

➤ Note from Reporter Corman: As mentioned in our article, Outland policies and laws were apparently not taken into consideration by the Bricklyn Federal Council in its Facebrick ruling. Having said that, readers may find it of interest that U.S. President Joe Biden, in remarks given today (coincidentally the same day as the Council’s ruling), said that: “We are now 40 years into the experiment of letting giant corporations accumulate more and more power … and what have we gotten from it? Less growth, weakened investment, fewer small businesses. … I believe the experiment failed.” As Biden observed, “Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism, it’s exploitation.” See “Biden launches assault on monopolies,” POLITICO (July 9, 2021).

photo of DPW Director Chulpin Spancer

Chulpin B. Spancer, Bricklyn DPW Director

by Gloria Vanderbrick, The Bricklyn Eagle’s People In the News correspondent

Summary of Article ➤ Bricklyn Dept. of Public Works Director Chulpin B. Spancer has moved Bricklyn to the forefront in getting new infrastructure built, as well as in dealing with improvements to aging water and sewer systems.

photo of DPW Director Chulpin Spancer
Spancer standing on the bike/ped bridge over the southern end of Bricklyn Bay — part of Phase 1 of the City’s ambitious bike/ped improvements.

➤ Editor’s Note: This is the first in an ongoing series of posts The Bricklyn Eagle will be running on the BricklynVT.com site. Reporter Gloria Vanderbrick, in her “People in the News” column will be introducing you to the people who make Bricklyn tick. Today, she’ll be highlighting Chulpin B. Spancer, Director of Bricklyn’s Department of Public Works (DPW).

Chulpin Spancer seems a fixture in Bricklyn Vermont. With his white hard hat on, and sporting his DPW orange & blue attire, he’s regularly spotted walking or biking through town. But surprisingly, Spancer’s only lived here since 1991, so he’s still — in the eyes of many — a flatbricker.🌀 His family traces its roots back to the Town of Billund, Denmark, home of many of Bricklyn’s founders.

Street scene in Billund, Denmark (Legoland). Photo by Bobby Hidy, Flickr Creative Commons License.

But in 1969, instead of emigrating to Bricklyn, the Spancers and a small group of other Billunders settled in Brickville, New Hampshire.

Their decision reflected a “philosophical” split among LEGO peoples, between those advocating the SNOT philosophy and those NOT.📍

📍While many readers will find the SNOT debate difficult to assess, respected Lego analyst Holger Matthes has written: “But what is the miracle behind SNOT? SNOT stands for Studs Not OTop and doesn’t mean the green stuff produced in your nose. It’s more like a ‘philosophy’ to use LEGO bricks slightly different. The well known studs are not used in the normal top position. The bricks will be fixed in another way, let’s say ‘not on top’ … “

Fortunately partisan sniping has faded in recent years as Lego communities have embraced the motto of “Fred og Enhead” — Peace & Unity.

Spancer Moves to Bricklyn & Finds His Calling

In what was undoubtedly a difficult decision, Spancer left his family in Brickville at the age of 18 after embracing SNOTism, and moved to Bricklyn, enrolling in the University of Bricklyn VT (UBVT) where he received a B.S. in Recreational Theoretics. After graduating the young man quickly became involved in local politics, and ended up winning election to the Bricklyn City Council.

Spancer also found his calling as an early bike, pedestrian, and transit advocate, becoming director of the powerful nonprofit, Vocal Brickmotion.🌀 In looking back, most of us now realize that there was much that needed to be done to move us out of our beloved automobiles — and Spancer and Brickmotion were leaders in this effort!

Taking the Helm at the Department of Public Works

Spancer surprised some — including this reporter — by leaving Vocal Brickmotion several years ago to become Director of the Bricklyn DPW, appointed to the post by YMK Spiro Brickburger. Editor’s Note: Much more on YMK Brickburger’s reign in future posts.

Spancer and DPW Customer Service Manager Mary Tiler Fleur on part of the recently completed bike/ped network. Note the free city bikes behind them, one of three such locations now in place.

Spancer has focused on getting new bike and pedestrian infrastructure built, while also stressing the need to rebuild the city’s aging sewer and water systems.

As many Bricklyn Eagle readers are aware, Spancer pushed forward an ambitious plan for a greatly expanded bike and ped network. Voters rewarded these efforts by passing the huge $1.2 million 🅱️ bond issue📍 last March to pay for Phase 1 of the Bike & Ped network, and then an additional $900,000 🅱️ for Phase 2 last November. Incidentally, Phase 2 included the quite spectacular Railyard Overpass which we’ll be highlighting in a future post. Both Phases 1 and 2 are now complete, having come in on time and right on budget — in the true Bricklyn Builds Better spirit!

📍 Note that dollar amounts are given in Bricklyn currency, the Brickmark 🅱️. While Bricklyn is, indeed, a municipality in the State of Vermont, when it was incorporated into the State in 1988 by an Act of the U.S. Congress, it received the right to continue using its Brickmark monetary system. Of course, U.S. currency is also honored in Bricklyn to make it easier for visitors. We’ll ask our business & economics reporter, Paul B. Macro, to discuss the financial implications of using the Brickmark in a future post.

As Spancer recently remarked in the pages of The Bricklyn Eagle:

“Bricklyn has taken the lead in re-orienting its transportation system away from heavy reliance on the automobile, and towards alternative forms of transportation, including rail, bus, biking, and walking. We’re proud to be doing our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and hope to be a model for other communities.” (From, “New Transportation Plans Taking Shape in Bricklyn,” The Bricklyn Eagle, May 14, 2021). ❖