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September 2008

September 30, 2008

Peter Freyne Hospitalized

Peterfreyne_2 Many Vermont political observers are already aware that former Seven Days political columnist Peter Freyne is ill, and has been hospitalized for the past week.

Before retiring from his "Inside Track" column, Peter wrote and blogged prolifically about his fight with cancer. Although his current medical problem is not cancer-related, Peter is not in a position to blog at this time. Please know that he is stable and recovering, and has a supportive team of people making sure that he gets excellent care.

Peter and his caregivers request that you not visit him or call him in the hospital at this time. He's trying to rest. If you'd like to leave comments here for Peter, please do. We'll share them with him. And please feel free to send him cards or well-wishes, care of Seven Days, 255 S. Champlain St. Burlington VT 05401.

Burton's Offensive New Boards *UPDATED*

Burtonprimodetail Burton Snowboards has a reputation for pushing the boundaries, but the Burlington company may have gone over the edge with two new product lines that have outraged women's groups and anti-violence advocates.

One, called "Love," features Playboy models in various stages of undress; the other, dubbed "Primo," features graphic illustrations of hands being mutilated by scissors, a box razor and a pit bull. The company is selling "Primo" with the tag line, "Mutilate the mountain, then terrorize the streets."

An email and phone campaign to register consumer disgust with the new products made its way to Seven Days today. Among the organizations that plan to contact Burton (or already have) are the Girl Scout Council of Vermont, the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and S.A.F.E Alternatives, a national group that offers counseling and treatment advice to people who "self-injure."

In an email to the company, one Colchester resident asked Burton, as "a leading producer of youth culture," to "rethink" the new lines. "Is this what you want as 'cool' in our world? And why aren't there nude males on any of the boards??"

An email response from Burton explained that the Playboy "limited edition" boards were created at the request of two professional snowboarders. "Both Burton and Playboy were founded on principles of individual freedom," the response stated, "and the collaboration has resulted in boards that reflect this attitude."

The company's response also offered the opinion that the "Love" boards, which will be "fully wrapped with an 18+ age disclaimer," are destined to become collector's items.

While the Playboy line is misogynist and distasteful, the "Primo" boards are violent and outright disturbing. Stephanie Kaza, of the UVM President's Commission on the Status of Women, called the bloody images "unconscionable" and pledged to help organize pressure on Burton.

We called Burton for comment, but the company has yet to respond. We'll let you know what they have to say.

UPDATE: Editor's Note: Opponents of the boards have started a Facebook group.

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Shana Frahm, Burton's global PR director. Frahm forwarded two brief corporate statements on the "Love" and "Primo" lines and told me the company would have nothing else to say about the matter for now. Burton executives, she said, "were not available for comment." I asked Frahm whether the company had received many complaints about the new product lines, but she declined to speak on the record.

Here are statements. I included hyperlinks to some recent press about the artists behind the new boards.

Burton/Playboy Love Collection
The Burton Playboy limited edition snowboards were created at the request of two of Burton’s professional snowboarders Mikkel Bang and Keegan Valaika.  Both Burton and Playboy were founded on principles of individual freedom, and the collaboration has resulted in boards that reflect this attitude.  The imagery on the boards is tastefully done, and we believe that they will be collector's items. The 1000 snowboards will be fully wrapped with an 18+ age disclaimer to purchase.

Burton has a long history of working with artists on snowboard graphics. When collaborating with an artist, Burton does not restrict the artist’s freedom of expression. The Primo graphic was created by world-renowned skate artist Todd Bratrud, who has worked on projects for such companies as Vans, Volcom and Flip Skateboards. Burton is proud to collaborate with artists like Todd.

Bush to Sell Vermont to Fund Bailout

* * * * * * BREAKING NEWS * * * * * *  BREAKING NEWS * * * * * * BREAKING NEWS * * * * * *

WASHINGTON, DC: A new bailout proposal is being touted by Pres. George W. Bush as "the plan to end all plans" and we've learned the plan includes selling off a few of Uncle Sam's assets. Oregon, Vermont, and Idaho are being put up on the auction block.

As Vermonters know, Bush has yet to set foot in Vermont — the only state in the union he has failed to visit during his presidency. And, as we all know AIG was just saved from extinction by the feds. AIG, for those who might now know, owns a huge stake in the Stowe Mountain Resort.

In announcing the plan, Bush said of Vermont:

"I think it borders New York and maybe New Hampshire. I mean, I've been to New Hampshire, and I know where that is; but Vermont is a little too 'out in the woods' for me even. As I said, some sacrifices will need to be made. I'm thinking the Dutch, and maybe some other northern Europeans, will be very interested."

Note to Vermont's secessionists and critics of the Douglas administration who thought we should buy those Connecticut River dams and become energy independent: Start weighing out your gold and holding a few bake sales, maybe the price will be right. Maybe set up a PayPal account.

I bet people from other states will chip in and help us buy our way out of the union. Quick, call Bill O'Reilly!

No response yet from Gov. Jim Douglas, or Vermont's congressional delegation, on the plan. Staff need to revive them first.

Editor's Note: Clearly this is a parody, taken from The Spoof. George Bush would never sell Idaho.

September 29, 2008

New Media Evangelist Dan Gillmor to Speak in Vermont

225pxdan_gillmor_2005 Dan Gillmor, author of We The Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People, is coming to Vermont this Saturday. He'll be at the 30th anniversary celebration for the Center for Rural Studies, on a panel about communicating with rural communities.

Dan spent 25 years as a journalist in the newspaper business (including several years here in Vermont) before leaving the biz to focus on developing "citizen media." He's currently running the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, a new project of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

I interviewed Dan back in 2006, prior to a talk he gave in Montpelier. Here's an excerpt, describing his departure from the San Jose Mercury News:

When he departed in 2004 to become a citizen media evangelist, news junkies took note. In a letter to his editor, Vindu Goel, Gillmor said he was sorry to go. "Something powerful is happening," he wrote. "It's in the early stages and I have a chance to help figure this out... I hate the idea of leaving. But I'd hate not trying this even more."

Goel praised Gillmor in an announcement about his departure: "Dan has a rare gift among journalists: foresight," he wrote. "He can see what's going to be important long before other people, and he tells readers why they should pay attention."

See Gillmor — with panelists Chris Braithwaite of the Barton Chronicle, Dick Drysdale of the Herald of Randolph, Lauren-Glenn Davitian of Ch. 17, and Jim Leddy of Vermont Agricultural College Board — on Saturday, October 4, from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Mount Mansfield Room in UVM's Davis Center.

Thanks, Michael, for the tip!

Cross-posted at the Vermont 3.0 blog.


Welch votes against bailout

Just when you thought everyone was drinking the DC Kool-Aid and about to give $700 billion (that's $700,000,000,000) to Wall Street, in pops this headline in my inbox:

Welch votes against Wall Street bailout

Yep, and so did enough of his House counterparts to sink the deal by a 228-205 vote. The current plan is now dead in the House and stocks are tumbling precipitously. More to come.

Meanwhile, here's Welch's complete statement:

“The economic crisis we face is real.  However, I voted against the bailout because it isn’t paid for and because I don’t believe it will work.

“First, the Paulsen plan does not offer a path to a strong economic future.  Quite simply, it is the biggest taxpayer bailout in American history.  It proposes to solve a problem caused by reckless borrowing and reckless lending by borrowing $700 billion more.

“Second, it is appalling that the plan is not funded.  It is yet another expense put on the taxpayers’ credit card.  Just as President Bush told us his tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans would pay for themselves, and Secretary Rumsfeld told us the Iraqi oil revenues would pay for the Iraq war, now Secretary Paulsen is telling us he can sell toxic debt securities that Wall Street can’t.

“Since the administration first proposed its Wall Street bailout, I have heard from thousands of Vermonters concerned about their hard earned tax dollars rewarding Wall Street’s reckless behavior.  Vermonters are furious about the financial crisis and they have every right to be.  They bitterly resent being asked to pay $10,000 each for a $700 billion Wall Street rescue.”

“Chairman Frank, Chairman Dodd, and House and Senate leadership did a good job making a bad proposal better, but it is still a bad plan.  I cannot in good conscience vote for a fundamentally flawed plan that puts so much financial risk on the backs of the already stretched middle class.

“There are responsible ways to accomplish stabilizing our markets without leaving the middle class holding the bag.  Many of us proposed to pay for an economic stability plan by establishing a financial stabilization escrow account paid for by a small transaction fee on security trades.  This would protect the taxpayer and give any plan the financial muscle required for success.

“Instead, total responsibility for this crisis is transferred to the middle class.  The risk of this proposal is simply too great.  The burden on Vermonters is simply too heavy.  Vermonters should not get caught in the undertow of greed on Wall Street.

“Resolving our economic problems will take more than a quick-fix, taxpayer funded bailout. It will take a return to the core truth Vermonters know: our economic policies must focus on building and preserving our middle class.  We must reward work and entrepreneurship, not speculation, market manipulation and corporate self dealing."

No word yet on how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) or Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) felt about the House package, but it's rather moot at this point.

In the past week, Sanders has garnered national attention thanks to a petition he's circulated calling for any bailout plan to include measures that would protect the middle class. Roughly 30,000 people have signed the petition.

Sanders is also asking for a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers. His office says such a measure would yield more than $300 billion in revenue to cover losses the government will incur when it resells troubled mortgages it acquires from banks.

September 28, 2008

Palin-Couric Comedy

Tina Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin is uncanny. Here's last night's Saturday Night Live opener. Below is part of the Palin-Couric interview. The remarkable thing, really, is how much of the SNL interview was taken from the actual transcript. Yikes!

September 26, 2008

Bristol Zoning Board Rejects Gravel Pit Proposal

Fgravel1 Last week, Bristol's Zoning Board of Adjustment rejected a controversial application for a 39-acre gravel pit. Debate over the proposed pit has been stewing for over five years and, according to Smart Growth Vermont, is a bellwether for other natural-resource conflicts in Vermont. (For more info on the Bristol controversy, see our June 2008 cover story, Open Vein.)

In its 5-2 decision, the Bristol board concluded that, under his current proposal, applicant Jim Lathrop would "create a pit for which [his application] does not make any provision to refill." Dissenting board members disagreed, claiming Lathrop's gravel extraction would create something resembling "a shallow dish, similar to a type of dinner plate."

Reached by phone Wednesday, Lathrop's lawyer, Mark Hall of Paul, Frank + Collins, said Lathrop might reapply for a zoning permit or challenge the board's decision in Vermont Environmental Court. "This decision is not even close to being fatal," Hall said, noting that the pit issue was the only one the board addressed in its decision. "The one point that they sided against us on is something we can cure."

John Moyers, a leading advocate for the anti-pit crowd, offered a different opinion. Moyers said by phone that Hall's argument was "spin." The zoning board, Moyers explained, didn't need to address "bigger, deeper issues" that had been raised by pit opponents, such as the pit's potential impact on the town of Bristol, because the pit-definition problem was enough to prevent Lathrop's application from passing muster.

"Frankly," said Moyers, "I think Mr. Lathrop should be pretty angry at his attorney."

Photo by Mike Ives.

Double Nipple Ripple?

Everybody's heard about how PETA suggested that Ben & Jerry's use human breast milk in their ice cream, right? Well, Seven Days Food Editor Suzanne Podhaizer is having some linguistic fun with this concept on her Omnivore blog.

Check out her list of suggestions for B&J flavor names:

  • Straw-bra-berry
  • Mammary Munch
  • T&A (Mammary Munch swirled with Ben & Jerry's Cinnamon Buns — a real flavor)
  • Nipple Chip (if you put this atop a banana, it's a Nipple Chip Tit Split)

There's more...

Another delay for the Intervale

Another week, another round of questions regarding the fate and future of the Intervale in Burlington. Will there be farming? Will there be gardens? Will there be composting of any kind?

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, the Intervale Center and the Chittenden Solid Waste District signed an agreement for the district to take over all composting operations by Oct. 1. That's good news, and it also means that large-scale composting will likely happen somewhere other than the Intervale.

But, the two organizations may have to sign a new agreement because the state has yet to finalize its settlement to deal with past violations.

Both the IC and CSWD have agreed to all conditions proposed by the Attorney General's office, according to Glenn McRea, IC's executive director.

When asked why the delay when IC and CSWD had signed off on the conditions, Scot Kline, the lead attorney on the case for Attorney General Bill Sorrell, would only say, "Can't comment at this time. Sorry."

The IC and CSWD hope the Douglas administration and Sorrell's office, which is representing several agencies including the Agency of Natural Resources and the Division of Historic Preservation, will return with a full settlement to review soon.

But if the two entities in charge of the composting operation have signed off on the conditions, one has to wonder why the hold-up by the Douglas adminstration?

Potential VP's VPL

Palin I have to say this is the best VPL (Visible Panty Line) I've seen in a long time. But what's most interesting is that it's the VPL of one of the VP candidates.

Yes, that's Sarah Palin (#22) playing for the Wasilla Warriors against their rivals, the Palmer Moose. My friend played for Palmer. (Thanks for the yearbook, Maria). 

Did she even get off the ground? I think not. At least Joe Biden's got a jump shot.

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

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