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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 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'" »

December 05, 2013

Demonstrators Tell SoBu McDonald's 'We're Not Lovin' Poverty Pay'

Mcd 001

On top of the customary musical accompaniment to their Happy Meals, customers at the McDonald's on Williston Road in South Burlington were serenaded on Thursday with a noontime chant of "Hold the burgers, hold the fries, make our wages supersize!"

About two dozen protesters brought their demand for livable wages into the busy fast-food eatery as McDonald's workers looked on silently — and seemingly stunned. It was unclear how much those workers make; local managers also declined to comment on the local manifestation of a nationwide day of walkouts and solidarity demonstrations at fast-food restaurants in support of a $15-an-hour wage.

The demonstrators weren't at all reticent. One of them led several others in the "mic check" call-and-response popularized by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"On this day ..." the leader shouted.

Her fellow protesters joined in with this chant: " ...Workers in 100 cities/are going on strike/and people like us/are standing with them/to demand McDonald's respect the right/ to work with dignity."

A South Burlington police officer rushed into the restaurant at that point and told the protestors they had to leave. They filed out a couple of minutes later, resuming their chant and sign-waving on the sidewalk for half an hour as several passing motorists honked in response. 

Continue reading "Demonstrators Tell SoBu McDonald's 'We're Not Lovin' Poverty Pay'" »

September 27, 2013

Carbon-Free Shipping Project Sets Sail up Lake Champlain


Photo-1The Vermont Sail Freight Project's 39-and-a-half-foot sail barge, the Ceres, completed its maiden voyage today, gliding into Burlington Bay around 4:30 this afternoon; it left Vergennes shortly after 10 this morning. A lone trumpeter played classic tunes from a dock at the Burlington Boathouse as the 19th century-style, wind-powered craft approached.

As Seven Days reported in April, Erik Andrus, a Ferrisburg farmer and baker, conceived of Project as a carbon-neutral way to shuttle food grown and produced in the Champlain Valley to spots around the northeast.

Roughly 30 people were on hand to celebrate the vessel's arrival — including fans of the project, tourists basking in the sun, and a burly cyclist from Bike Recycle Vermont with a small trailer in tow. After a small crew unloaded the craft's cargo of grain and garlic, the cyclists delivered the produce to Great Harvest Bread Company and City Market.

PhotoNot only was today the maiden voyage for the project's barge — built with support from the Willowell Foundation and named for the Roman goddess of agriculture — it was also practice for a trip the crew will be making to New York City next month. Brian Goblick, who built parts of the Ceres and has been handling logistics for the project, explained they will be stopping at ports along the Hudson Valley to drop off goods and hold dockside events and demonstrations.

The Ceres arrives in Burlington. With his sons, Erik Andrus prepares to disembark. Photos courtesy of Charles Eichacker. 

August 29, 2013

"Bloom Season" Is Upon Us

AlgaeFall is right around the corner. But until the leaves turn red and gold, people around Lake Champlain must contend with changing colors of a different sort: For the last two weeks, pea-green blooms of algae have been popping up in Missisquoi, St. Albans and Malletts bays.

“Mid-August through September is, unfortunately, what we in the business call ‘bloom season,’” says James Ehlers, executive director of the nonprofit Lake Champlain International.

Scientists have determined that early summer rain brings nutrients like phosphorus into the lake, and long stretches of sunlight facilitate photosynthesis, resulting in the pea-green film, Ehlers explains. 

“It’s not unlike April showers bring May flowers,” he says.

Continue reading ""Bloom Season" Is Upon Us" »

July 24, 2013

Totally Looks Like: Vermont Politics Edition

We interrupt our mostly serious political coverage to bring you this totally ridiculous waste of time.

One of my favorite sites on the World Wide Web is TotallyLooksLike.com, run by the good folks at ICanHasCheezburger. The premise is simple: "Stuff that looks like other stuff." Pair 'em up, and have a good laugh.

Here at Off Message, we couldn't help but notice that a lot of Vermont politicos look like other people. Or stuff. And with Google's help, we found the matches. So, without further ado, we present "Totally Looks Like: Vermont Politics Edition."

 Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) totally looks like former congressman Chris Shays (R-CT).

Welch Shays

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April 22, 2013

Spotted on Route 74: Landowners Protesting the Pipeline

Photo (8)As the lone member of Seven Days' Addison County bureau (I live in Shoreham), I spend a fair amount of time schlepping back and forth along Route 74, the two-lane highway that runs from Cornwall through Shoreham to Lake Champlain. In recent days and weeks, it's been impossible to ignore the growing number of homemade signs sprouting along the roadside. 

The sentiment is clear: Neighbors here are not pleased about the possibility of a natural gas pipeline cutting through this neck of the woods.

The proposed pipeline would carry natural gas — some of which is derived from the controversial drilling technique known as "fracking" — from Middlebury to the International Paper plant in Ticonderoga. Vermont Gas is pushing the pipeline as part of its effort to expand its natural gas network. The company currently serves customers in Franklin and Chittenden counties, and plans to expand south to Middlebury and across the lake.

The pipeline proposal has incited protests from neighbors and environmentalists alike; neighbors are raising concerns about health, safety and environmental impacts, while environmentalists are pointing out the hypocrisy of Vermont's willingness to expand natural gas access after becoming the first state in the nation to ban fracking.

The so-called "Phase II" project (the section of the pipeline that would run to Ticonderoga, which would be funded by International Paper) is still in the early stages of planning. Vermont Gas identified five possible routes for the pipeline, which they narrowed down to two "feasible" options; both would run through Cornwall and Shoreham before cutting under Lake Champlain. The company's timeline calls for selecting a route this spring, securing the necessary permits next year, and constructing the pipeline in 2015. The planning group that is hashing out the Phase II leg will meet next on Thursday, April 25, at 7:30 a.m. at the Addison County Regional Planning Commission.

What do Vermont landowners have to say so far about all of this? The signs speak for themselves. Here's a recent sampling:

Continue reading "Spotted on Route 74: Landowners Protesting the Pipeline" »

January 22, 2013

Leahy's Lens: Inauguration Photos from Vermont's Senior Senator

Vermont's most powerful photographer was at it again Monday as President Barack Obama was sworn in to a second term.

Armed with a camera and pretty decent seats, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) captured the magic of the inauguration from up-close.

We've posted a few of Leahy's photos below, courtesy of his congressional office.

Also, if you missed last week's Seven Days, be sure to check out Pamela Polston's review of Leahy's ongoing exhibit in the lobby of the Vermont Supreme Court.

PJL_5958

Continue reading "Leahy's Lens: Inauguration Photos from Vermont's Senior Senator" »

January 17, 2013

This Week's Issue: A Biomass Battle; The Revolving Door Spins Again

Cover-011613In this week's print edition of Seven Days, which you can read on your iPhone or iPad with our new free app...

November 05, 2012

Photo: Conservative Super PAC Funder Lenore Broughton Caught on Camera

Lenore BroughtonIt took all campaign season, but we finally got a photo of Lenore Broughton, the Burlington heiress who's bankrolling the conservative super PAC Vermonters First to the tune of $1 million this election. 

Despite her outsize influence on state elections this year, Broughton keeps a low public profile. She declines every interview request she gets and has turned away numerous reporters looking for quotes from her front door this fall.

Prior to a recent Seven Days story and others that followed, there wasn't much known about her background or the source of her sizable fortune. And there don't appear to be any photos of her on the web.

Our last attempt to photograph the elusive Broughton didn't go so well. She walked away from a public meeting rather than be photographed. So we had to get a little more aggressive on the second try.

Seven Days hired freelance photographer Andy Duback to photograph Broughton at a public meeting of a board on which she serves. On Monday, Duback snapped this photo at Burlington City Hall as Broughton was getting on an elevator following the meeting. Along with being a member of the Burlington Telecom Cable Advisory Council, Broughton serves on the Burlington Board for Registration of Voters. That's the volunteer panel charged with maintaining Burlington's voter lists.

Continue reading "Photo: Conservative Super PAC Funder Lenore Broughton Caught on Camera" »

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