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February 08, 2014

The Weekly 7: This Week in Vermont News

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Each weekday, Seven Days scans the news across the Vermont media landscape to find the smartest, best and most compelling stories. We bundle them up in an email and send them out to our subscribers early each afternoon. It's called the Daily 7.

So which Vermont news stories are you reading? And which should you be reading? Here are the stories you clicked on most from this week's editions of the Daily 7:

 

#1Disharmony on Prospect Street: A Dispute Between Neighbors Strikes a Sour Note
By Alicia Freese, Seven Days — Wednesday, February 5

A feud between neighbors over a Burlington man's home guitar workshop has gone on for a year and a half and could reach the Vermont Supreme Court.

 

#2 Potent Synthetic Being Sold as Heroin Causes Three Vermont Deaths
By Taylor Dobbs, Vermont Public Radio — Thursday, February 6

The Department of Health says three people in Addison County died after overdosing on what they thought was heroin but was actually the prescription painkiller Fentanyl.

Continue reading "The Weekly 7: This Week in Vermont News" »

February 07, 2014

To Simulate a Shooting, Vermont State Police Occupy Burlington Town Center

_MG_2688_1It was only a drill. Five Vermont state troopers were moving through Burlington Town Center on Thursday evening, when suddenly, they came under fire. Four journalists had infiltrated the deserted mall and wouldn't stop shooting at them. 

Click. Click. Click. 

Undettered by the paparazzi's cameras, the troopers went on with their demonstration, proceeding from the mall's Bank Street entrance in a diamond formation, making their way down to the J. Crew store with guns drawn, turning around and exiting the way they came.  

Continue reading "To Simulate a Shooting, Vermont State Police Occupy Burlington Town Center" »

February 06, 2014

This Week's Issue: A Neighborly Noise Feud in Burlington, 'Border' Security and Maple Saplings

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Find these news and politics stories in this week's Seven Days...

February 04, 2014

Burlington Telecom Deal Could Be Big Win for Weinberger — And for Taxpayers?

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The administration of Mayor Miro Weinberger appears to have negotiated a good deal for the city in the proposed $10.5 million settlement of Citibank's $33.5 million lawsuit over troubles at Burlington Telecom.

While the settlement would pay off the city-owned utility's debt to Citibank, it does not immediately reimburse taxpayers for an additional $16.9 million improperly spent by BT — although Weinberger said in announcing the deal Monday that it could eventually lead to at least partial reimbursement.

And the settlement may eventually come at the price of ceding control of the city-owned utility to private interests, as well as requiring taxpayers to cover at least a portion of the $1.3 million city contribution to the settlement.

The plan unveiled Monday will likely lead to the city ceding majority ownership to an outside partner or partners  within four years, Weinberger said. While corporate interests would be most likely to have the necessary cash, the local group working to form a telecom co-op could conceivably emerge as the new owner, Weinberger said.

Alan Matson, a leader of the co-op effort, said in an interview that his group will seek to “seize this opportunity” to keep BT in local hands and under democratic control. But the fledgling co-op, which has so far raised less than $300,000 from supporters, will have to achieve a stunning financial breakthrough in order to come up with the $6 million “bridge loan” the city needs to pay off part of its debt to Citibank. 

Weinberger said at the news conference that “investment banks” would be the likeliest source of the bridge financing. 

Continue reading "Burlington Telecom Deal Could Be Big Win for Weinberger — And for Taxpayers?" »

February 03, 2014

A Place on Burlington's Ballot Eludes a 'Lost Boy'

LM-peterdeng-MTPeter Garang Deng, a former “Lost Boy” from South Sudan, was poised to become the first refugee to seek elected office in Vermont. But the city clerk last week barred Deng from running for a seat on the Burlington school board because he failed to submit the required number of valid signatures on his candidate petition form.

“It’s very unfair,” Deng said after being notified of his disqualification. “They should be more welcoming of candidates.”

The 27-year-old employment counselor for the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program added that his disappointment is such that he’s unlikely to run for office in Vermont in the future. And that’s a potential loss for those who would like to see more racially diverse representation in the nation’s second-whitest state. (Only Maine is more monochromatic).

Burlington’s 16-member school board may be especially in need of a broader racial mix. There are no people of color on the board sets policy for a school district whose students are 30 percent nonwhite.

Continue reading "A Place on Burlington's Ballot Eludes a 'Lost Boy'" »

January 28, 2014

Burlington City Council Approves Sweeping Waterfront Redevelopment Proposal, Sending it to Voters

IMG_0240The Burlington City Council gave its blessing Monday night to a multimillion-dollar plan for redeveloping Burlington's downtown waterfront. The approval clears the path for the proposal to go before voters on Town Meeting Day.

The redevelopment plan bundles six projects into one and would rely on $7.5 million in tax-increment financing (TIF) to come to fruition. TIF money lets cities and towns allocate future tax revenues from within a defined district for use on public infrastructure projects. 

The plan would also draw on other public and private funding sources.

At its cornerstone is a $26 million proposal to convert the Moran Plant into a performance space,  rooftop restaurant, “nano-brewery” and "maker space."

Continue reading "Burlington City Council Approves Sweeping Waterfront Redevelopment Proposal, Sending it to Voters" »

January 27, 2014

Candidates Declare for Seven Open Burlington City Council Seats

Two Republicans — one veteran and one newcomer — are seeking to hold onto their party’s meager presence on the Burlington City Council.

Monday marked the filing deadline for council hopefuls, meaning that the candidate pool for the seven open seats has solidified. Elections will be held on Town Meeting Day, March 4. 

Democrats and Republicans are vying for two seats in Ward 4 and Ward 7; if Democrats secure both, they would lay claim to all four New North End seats, leaving Republicans without representation on the council.

Democrats currently control seven seats on the 14-seat council, while Progressives hold four, Independents two and Republicans one. Two incumbent Democrats and one Republican opted to vacate their seats this spring rather than seek reelection.

Continue reading "Candidates Declare for Seven Open Burlington City Council Seats" »

January 24, 2014

Progressives Poised to Take Over Ward 1 Seat in Burlington City Council Race

600819_10150872857517031_1721988787_n(2)Progressive Selene Colburn (pictured at right) has all but secured a seat on the Burlington City Council. Her Democratic opponent for the open Ward 1 seat, Molly Loomis, has dropped out of the race.

Loomis’ exit likely clears the way for Progressives to at least retain their four seats on the 14-member council. They could claim a fifth, depending on what happens in Ward 2, where former Vermont Democratic Party spokesman Ryan Emerson is challenging Progressive Councilor Max Tracy.

Tracy is one of four Progressives currently serving on the council.  Democrats occupy seven seats, while independents hold two and Republicans one. Independent Councilor Sharon Bushor often votes alongside the Progressive caucus. 

Continue reading "Progressives Poised to Take Over Ward 1 Seat in Burlington City Council Race" »

January 22, 2014

Burlington's 'Civic Cloud' Wins $35K Grant From the Knight Foundation

800px-Cisco-Gigabit-Switch-Router-Performance-Route-Processor-0aEarlier this month, Techie.com dubbed Burlington one of the most promising tech hubs to watch in 2014; today, an innovative coalition of Vermont groups calling itself the Civic Cloud Collaborative demonstrated why. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced today that it's awarding the Collaborative a $35,000 grant from its Prototype Fund.

The coalition will use the funding to develop an online space — a so-called “Civic Cloud” — for community-minded, nonprofit entities to expand their digital footprint. Members of the Collaborative include the civic-hacking group Code for BTV, the public-access television station CCTV Center for Media and Democracy and the web-based music platform Big Heavy World

In an email to Seven Days, Big Heavy World executive director James Lockridge explained that the Civic Cloud is essentially "an internet makerspace."

Continue reading "Burlington's 'Civic Cloud' Wins $35K Grant From the Knight Foundation" »

This Week's Issue: Aging Prisoners, Woodstoves and Public TV Trouble

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A new issue of Seven Days hits the newsstands today. Here's what you'll find inside:

Get all these stories and more in print, online or on the app.

Cover photo by Tom McNeill

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