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February 2012

February 29, 2012

AG Dismisses Democrats' Complaint Against Campaign For Vermont


Well, that was fast.

A week after the Vermont Democratic Party filed a complaint alleging election law violations by the Campaign for Vermont, Attorney General Bill Sorrell (pictured in this 2010 photo) dimissed it. The Campaign for Vermont, a right-leaning advocacy group, was founded by Shelburne resident and retired Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman.

Democratic Party executive director Jesse Bragg accused Campaign for Vermont of violating state election law by running a radio ad critical of Gov. Peter Shumlin's position on education funding. Bragg said the February 6 ad crossed the line from issue advocacy into electioneering. As such, Bragg said Campaign for Vermont was in violation of campaign law and a recent court ruling prohibiting groups from spending more than $500 without registering as a political committee.

Sorrell, a Democrat, disagreed. (Download the AG's press release. Download the AG's letter responding to the state Democrats's complaint.)

"The attorney general's office concluded that the ad addressed a policy issue that is currently pending in the Vermont Legislature and did not demonstrate that its purpose was to support or oppose a candidate for Vermont office," a press release said.

Campaign for Vermont has been critical of key parts of Shumlin's agenda such as a statewide health insurance exchange and renewable energy goals, and has spent tens of thousands of dollars — and possibly several times that amount — broadcasting its message in radio advertisements across the state. Because it's registered as a 501(c)4 and not a political committee, Campaign for Vermont doesn't have to disclose how much it's spending, or where its funding comes from, although Lisman told Seven Days he's the sole contributor so far. (All that was the subject of this week's Fair Game column.)

Sorrell's decision is a victory for Lisman and Campaign for Vermont, and a setback for Democrats, who fear that Lisman may be using the group and his deep pockets as a launching pad to run for governor, Senate or Congress this fall — something Lisman has repeatedly denied.

Continue reading "AG Dismisses Democrats' Complaint Against Campaign For Vermont" »

Male Call: Joan Rivers Needs a Date

JoanJoan Rivers is looking for a man.

The comedic icon, performing at the Flynn MainStage on Thursday, April 26, often tabs local comics to open her shows wherever and whenever she tours. And, sorry, ladies, she prefers the company of … er, the talents … (hoo boy) … she uses … (is it getting hot in here?) … men. She likes men. Wow, there's really no tasteful way to put that. Let's move on.

Anyway, to fulfill her unusual contract request, the Flynn is hosting an all-male comedic revue at the FlynnSpace on Thursday, March 22, dubbed "Win a Date With Joan Rivers." Ten local (male) comedians will vie for Rivers' hand, and a 20-minute set as her opening act at the Flynn.

The hopefuls represent some of the area's finest standup talent, including 2012 Higher Ground Comedy Battle winner Kyle Gagnon, 2011 HG Battle winner Nathan Hartswick, Levity owner Ryan Kriger, Colin Ryan, Tony Bates, Jason Lorber, Kevin Anglin, Justin Rowe, Ben Porter and Abhi Kulkarni.

Here's a clip of Rivers on the hilarious FX sitcom, "Louie."


And here's a Rivers classic from the "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1963.


Soundbites Part Deux: Live Electronic Acts, Mardi Gras Kickoff and Hello Shark

For a variety of reasons, there were a few items we couldn't get to in this week's Soundbites. So in the interest of filling you in on all the music news that's fit to print — but didn't quite fit in the print edition — we're serving up a special Leap Day addendum to the column.


Thursday, March 1, is a big night for the local EDM scene, as two events look to capture the hearts, minds and shakin' asses of B-town bass heads.

Up first, we have a throwdown called Hoptronica M3 Edition, curated by Nexus Artist Management. The two-venue, three-room dance party will occupy Burlington's 1/2 Lounge, Red Square and the Red Square Blue Room and feature some 15 local, national and international (well, Canadian) DJs spinning a variety of genres, from hip-hop (Queen City DJs A-Dog and Dakota) to house (Nexus' Justin REM and Chris Pattison) and techno (Montréal's DJ Mini) to dubstep and moombahton (Montréal's Elo!I & Heights). There will also be a video DJ on hand, Boston's Jay Nightride.

Meanwhile, at Club Metronome, your bass-lovin' pals from Mushpost are hosting a Mardi Gras kickoff  highlighted by a pair of up-and-coming live electronic acts, Shigeto and Mux Mool. Both artists have recently scored national love from the likes of Pitchfork and Stereogum — the former for a snazzy, jazzy new LP called Lineage, the latter for a "mini" LP of beat collages and synth experiments, Planet High School. Also of note, local indie electro act Errands open the show.

Mux Mool Promo from Dan Huiting on Vimeo.

Continue reading "Soundbites Part Deux: Live Electronic Acts, Mardi Gras Kickoff and Hello Shark " »

Farewell, 156 Bistro. Hello, Pizzeria Verita!

Pizzeria_veritaWhen 156 Bistro closed in December, it seemed like it might just be for renovations. Turns out that was only part of the story: While the inside of the St. Paul Street space becomes a tangle of construction, two new partners are busy building a new eatery there, anchored by a two-ton, wood-fired oven,  in which they'll cook authentic Neapolitan pizza.

Owners John Rao and Leslie Wells expect their business, Pizzeria Verita, to be open by April. Their motto: "The truth is in the dough."

Rao says he has spent years perfecting the crust for a true-to-tradition Neapolitan pizza, a distinct and revered style defined by a thin, airy, sometimes charred crust and simple, fresh toppings. "It took me awhile to figure it out," says Rao of the crust, which he eventually mastered with Tipo 00 pizza flour from Italy and a "slow rise" of 24 to 36 hours.

Continue reading "Farewell, 156 Bistro. Hello, Pizzeria Verita!" »

Santorum Surges From Behind — In Vermont

SantorumYou might think Vermont Republicans would be squarely of the Mitt Romney variety — fiscally conservative, socially moderate and extremely bland — and not at all interested in an uber-conservative culture warrior like Rick Santorum.

You would be wrong. At least according to a new poll.

Just in time for Super Tuesday, March 6 — when Vermont and nine other states will cast ballots in the presidential primaries — the new polling institute at Castleton State College has surveyed Vermonters about their attitudes on the presidential contest.

For its inaugural poll, Castleton asked 800 randomly-selected registered Vermont voters (Republicans Democrats and independents): If the Republican primary for president were held today, which of the following would you support for the Republican nomination...?

Romney won overall with 34 percent. No surprise there. But Santorum was a relatively close second, with 27 percent. Ron Paul finished third with 14 percent and Newt Gingrich got 10 percent.

Among survey-takers who identified as Republicans, Santorum is neck-and-sweater-vest-hugging-neck with Romney, at 35 percent each.

Regular readers of this blog may recall that in an August poll of Vermont voters by Public Policy Polling, Santorum wasn't even listed as an option. Dude was that irrelevant. Rick Perry wasn't even a candidate yet and he was included among the choices. Sarah Palin was listed too, even though she's never been a candidate.

Now it would appear that Santorumania has caught fire in our state. And yet with Romney's victories last night in Michigan and Arizona, the pundit class is questioning whether Santorum has what it takes after all. Maybe it's time for Newt comeback number three?

Here are some other highlights from the Castleton poll, which also surveyed Vermonters on repealing Citizens United, switching to a four-year term for governor and moving up Vermont's presidential primary date: 

Continue reading "Santorum Surges From Behind — In Vermont" »

Sanders Endorses Weinberger for Mayor of Burlington

In a rare entry into local politics, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) leant his support Wednesday to Miro Weinberger, a Democrat running for mayor of Burlington.

Citing the need for all levels of government to focus on creating good jobs and affordable housing, Sanders said in a statement, “I am voting for Miro Weinberger for mayor of Burlington because I believe that he is the candidate best able to address these and other serious issues facing our city.”

Mayor graphicAn independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats, Sanders is widely revered by Progressives in Burlington, who have been slow to embrace Weinberger’s candidacy. Without a nominee of their own, Progressives have been split among the three candidates: Weinberger, Republican Kurt Wright and independent Wanda Hines.

"I'm extremely honored to have the support and confidence of Senator Sanders," Weinberger said in a statement. "Bernie, as much as anyone, knows what it takes to make Burlington a great city. With a fresh voice, the right experience, and a new vision, Burlington can continue to make the remarkable progress of our recent past."

Sanders pointed to Weinberger’s record as an affordable housing developer as a key reason he is backing the Democrat.

“I have been impressed by his private sector efforts to create environmentally sound mixed-use development,” Sanders said. “I have seen first hand his beautiful project in Richford which combines a locally-owned grocery store, a rural health center, a dental clinic, a pharmacy and affordable housing — just the kind of development Vermont needs.”

Continue reading "Sanders Endorses Weinberger for Mayor of Burlington" »

February 28, 2012

Vermont Hotel Stars in Luxury-Obsessed Adverti-Art Film

Some might call it a long ad for fancy hotels. The press release from Starwood Hotel Group calls it "a cinematic experience that offers a glimpse into the hidden treasures of some of America’s favorite destinations." But there's no doubt that "Here," the new 15-minute film (or ad) from the acclaimed director of I Am Love, is quite a showcase for the Equinox Golf Resort and Spa in Manchester.

Here's the plot (which, by the way, was cowritten by Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton): A flawlessly attired and groomed young woman, played by model Agyness Deyn, receives a cryptic, handwritten message telling her to "Take the train till you're here."

Rather than tossing the missive and returning to her busy life, as some of us plebeians might do, our heroine smiles, crosses out everything in her appointment book and hops a train to Vermont, where she explores the Equinox and does a spot of rowing and falconing. Though it's foliage season, the inn appears creepily empty.

Continue reading "Vermont Hotel Stars in Luxury-Obsessed Adverti-Art Film" »

The Essex Culinary Resort & Spa to Open Off-site Bakery and Café

RusticosThe prime real estate left empty early this year by Rustico's won't remain dormant long. As soon as May, the space in the Essex Shoppes & Cinema outlet will be home to a new bakery and café.

According to Arnd Sievers, director of food and beverage at the Essex Culinary Resort & Spa, construction has already begun on the Essex Bake & Coffee Shop.

He and the Essex's executive chef, Shawn Calley, will oversee the new restaurant, which will be open for breakfast and lunch. Croissants, danish and quiche will be among the morning offerings. At lunch, Sievers says the shop will serve sandwiches on homemade sourdough bread, along with soups.

Espressos, lattes and cappuccinos will likely attract a grown-up café crowd, but there's something special for younger folk, too: A creemee machine that will extrude soft ice cream year round.

The bakeshop will close in the late afternoon to prepare for evening cooking classes. Sievers says he hopes the spot will host classes on subjects including artisan bread making and cupcakes, at least three times a week, but would be willing to hold them every day if the demand arises. Sievers thinks it might — daily classes at the resort regularly fill up. A small market selling high-end kitchen tools will help students replicate their handiwork at home.

Sievers and Calley are currently interviewing pastry chefs to staff the Essex Bake & Coffee Shop. It's a big job: The new location will also serve as a retail bakery, making birthday and special-occasion pastries and even wedding cakes. Things are about to get sweeter in Essex.



Alice Eats: American Flatbread Burlington Hearth

IMG_3596115 St. Paul Street, Burlington, 861-2999

This week, I continue my mini-series of Burlington artisan pizza surprises.

If you live practically anywhere in Vermont, you know and love American Flatbread for its chewy, almost pretzel-like crust and fresh, local ingredients. But what you may not know is that the St. Paul Street restaurant serves a kick-ass brunch — all on a pizza.

Before I could dig into my pie, I had to find a morning replacement for a mug of Zero Gravity. And did I ever. In fact, I have a new favorite soda.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: American Flatbread Burlington Hearth" »

February 27, 2012

Weinberger Shatters Burlington Mayoral Fundraising Record [Updated]

This post has been updated to add charts.

There’s still a week to go in the Burlington mayoral race, and Democrat Miro Weinberger has already shattered previous fundraising records.

Since the start of the campaign last September, Weinberger has raised more than $118,000 and spent just shy of $100,000. That blows away the previous fundraising record set in 2006 when Democratic nominee Hinda Miller raised $60,000 in her unsuccessful race for mayor.

Mayor graphicNearly half of Weinberger’s expenditures were doled out during a heated, four-way race for the Democratic nomination last fall. In the general election, he has spent just more than $51,000.

That figure is closer to the $40,000 his Republican rival, Kurt Wright, has spent, out of $48,000 raised. Wright did not face a primary opponent. Wanda Hines, an independent, raised just $2260 and spent $767. 

Here are the fundraising and spending totals in chart form. To provide for a more accurate comparison, the lighter green shade next to Weinberger's name represents just how much he spent after the Democratic caucuses.

The Vermont Democratic Party contributed nearly $6500 in in-kind contributions to Weinberger’s campaign, most of which came in the form of printing expenses, use of the party’s voter file and office space. The Vermont GOP did not invest in the Wright campaign.

Continue reading "Weinberger Shatters Burlington Mayoral Fundraising Record [Updated]" »

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