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September 2009

September 08, 2009

Salmon Jumps Midstream: Leaves Democrats for GOP

At a Statehouse press conference Tuesday morning Democratic State Auditor Thomas M. Salmon — the son of a former Democratic governor — will announce he is leaving his party to become a Republican.

That's according to a confidential letter sent by Salmon to key supporters, and obtained by Seven Days. Salmon issued the letter on Saturday.

SalmonIn the letter, Salmon explained his choice as a need to align himself with the party that he felt most identified with his fiscal concerns.

"I am changing my political affiliation to align myself with the party closest to my core beliefs," wrote Salmon. "It is my belief that the VT Republican party is closest to accepting the realities of our times; and is therefore the party best equipped to manage the very real and troubling economic and social conditions which confront us not only today, but in the coming decade."

Salmon said he has been warning fellow Democrats about the need to do more to combat the coming fiscal crisis, only to be rebuffed.

Continue reading "Salmon Jumps Midstream: Leaves Democrats for GOP" »

September 07, 2009

Stand By Your Van (Jones)

Over the weekend, presidential adviser Van Jones resigned after a smear campaign by FOX News patron patriot of the week Glenn Beck.

So, why should Vermont care?

For starters, Sen. Bernie Sanders chairs the Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy, which is part of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Sanders has worked some with Jones — but also with the White House Council on Environmental Quality—  on ways to spur the "green" economy by creating manufacturing jobs in the United States to build solar panels, wind turbines and other environmentally-friendly energy technology.

VanjonesOn Friday, the ranking Republican — Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO) issued a letter to Sanders, asking him to hold hearings on Jones' "behavior and comments to reassure the American people that their government is safe from his divisive, incendiary and ultimately counterproductive sentiments."

Sanders now doesn't have to worry about responding to Bond's letter, but he is disappointed in Jones' resignation.

Equally, Sanders is bothered by the lack of counterattack by Democratic leaders and the Obama administration on the "right-wing echo chamber."

"To surrender to them is ridiculous, because they're not going to stop. They're just going to go after the next guy," said Sanders. "We need to be standing up to them more vigorously and exposing their lies."

Continue reading "Stand By Your Van (Jones)" »

September 04, 2009

Obama to Address Vermont Schools

Today, Vermont's Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca issued a statement in advance of Tuesday's planned speech by Pres. Barack Obama to the nation's schoolchildren.

The department has received calls from parents complaining about the planned speech, said Jill Remick, a department spokeswoman. 

Nationally, some parents and conservative talk show hosts have complained that Obama's speech is designed as some form of Communist indoctrination.

"We have gotten about a dozen calls, which is actually a lot for a specific topic like this, especially one that we don’t actually control," said Remick. "We don’t know of any districts in Vermont who will not air it."

Here is Vilaseca's letter:

Continue reading "Obama to Address Vermont Schools" »

Salmon: Political Fish Out of Water?

Will Democratic State Auditor Thomas M. Salmon, the son of a former Democratic Vermont governor leave the party and become ... a Republican?

That's the question lighting up comment threads on one prominent liberal blog as well as one prominent conservative blog. It's also been a topic of a story earlier this week in the Rutland Herald.There are rumors abound that Salmon will run for reelection as a Republican—even run for governor as a Republican if Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie takes a pass on the race.

Salmon Salmon (pictured right) told Seven Days he plans to issue a statement Tuesday to clear up the air around his intentions, but doesn't expect to make any concrete decisions in the immediate future.

"I'll make some statement on my intentions, but it's not going to be a big glamorous proclamation," said Salmon. Instead, it's likely to outline how he's approaching the question, and what information he'll seek out in the coming weeks before making a final decision.

He's already been seeking the counsel of friends and family, stopping by his father's house last night in southern Vermont. "My dad told me to count to twenty," said Salmon. Meanwhile, a legislative friend told him to "count to thirty."

Continue reading "Salmon: Political Fish Out of Water?" »

September 02, 2009

Dutch TV Puts VT Secession in Context

For this week's paper I wrote a very short State of the Arts item about Vermonter Jim Hogue's upcoming appearance on the Dutch TV and online series Metropolis, which commissions short videos from all over the world on a weekly given subject. Tomorrow at 4 p.m., U.S. correspondents Kel O'Neill and Eline Jongsma will be filming Hogue at the Adamant Co-op as he does his "living history" presentation in Ethan Allen drag and talks about Vermont's future and the notion of secession.

I emailed O'Neill to ask him the theme of the episode in which Hogue will appear, but he didn't answer till after press time (not surprisingly, since my missive was pretty last minute). When he did respond, though, he had some interesting stuff to say, which I'm quoting below.

Continue reading "Dutch TV Puts VT Secession in Context" »

What's Gone: Interns

Photo(9) Our summer intern team rode off into the sunset on Friday. Actually, Mike DiBiasio left the day after our Daysies party, in mid-August.

Here are the remaining three interns eating a farewell lunch at Siagon Bistro last week. Left from right: Will Ryan, AlexaRae Wright and Jessica DiNapoli. Their main focus this summer was putting together What's Good, Volume 2, the second edition of our award-winning college students' guide to Burlington. It hit newsstands last week. You may see copies floating around town.

In addition to their WG responsibilities, this tight-knit team also produced blog posts, videos and even a couple stories for the paper; both Alexa and Mike scored bylines this week. Mike wrote about the director of Wilderness Programs at St. Mike's. And Alexa, who actually goes to St. Mike's, wrote about how hard it was for some of her friends to find internships this summer.

I just wanted to publicly thank them for all of their work, and wish them well. Enjoy your last year of classes, friends. Good luck to you.

September 01, 2009

Hatin' with the Phelpses: Epilogue...

...wherein Lauren waxes philosophical and crap about hanging with the haters.

Now that the charming and affable Phelps clan of Westboro Baptist Church infamy have finished up their whistle-stop tour of hate here in Vermont and have zoomed out of the state in their peppy little Kia minivan, it might be appropriate to reflect on the day. Other people more introspective and cerebral than I might offer some sort of analysis about hate and peace and love and all that junk, but I can only tell you what I took away from the day. And in order to tell you what I took away from the day, I have to tell you what the day entailed. So here goes. Apologies if you nod off.

I hauled my fanny out of bed at 6 a.m., which for a reporter is like being asked to do math or not make stuff up. I hit the road to Montpelier by 6:45 a.m. so I could make it to the high school in time to watch the Swiss Family Bonkers picket students as they rolled into school for their first day back from summer vaykay. Of course when I arrived I was the last media person on the scene. Everyone was there- radio, TV, the daily print papers from around the region. No one was going to miss the most exciting thing to happen to sleepy Vermont since gay marriage.

Everything about the scene was predictable. The signs the four adults Phelpses waved were the same ones they trot out for every soldier's funeral, football game and Catholic church they picket. They read "God Hates You," "Fags Wed," "Antichrist Obama" and "Mourn for Your Sins." I quite liked the sign that read "You Will Eat Your Babies." Still not sure why I might be inclined to eat my babies, but I truly hope it never comes to that; I'm a vegetarian.

My personal favorite was the sign that read "Bitch Burger" and showed a picture of a hamburger with a baby making up half the bun. When I asked Shirley Phelps-Roper, the multi-childrened daughter of church founder Fred Phelps — Shirls to me — what that meant, she broke into some tirade about people in California eating baby eyeballs. Right, then.

Continue reading "Hatin' with the Phelpses: Epilogue..." »

Best Bites: AJ's Country Pantry Restaurant

Summer 2009 165 It's always a little scary when new owners take over one of your favorite restaurants, particularly when the place specializes in old timey food at old timey prices. Would the Country Pantry in Fairfax be as good now that it belongs to A&J? Oh my, yes.

In fact, the things that were already great about the place have gotten even better. Waitresses have always been over-the-top friendly, unerringly referring to guests as "Hon." On my latest visit I was also called "Love" and "Sweetheart." If that kind of thing makes you uncomfortable, you can console yourself with french toast – all day.

Continue reading "Best Bites: AJ's Country Pantry Restaurant" »

Snelling Mulls Bid for Governor

Mark Snelling, the son of former Gov. Richard Snelling and Lt. Gov. Barbara Snelling, just may soon follow in his parents' footsteps from the business world to the world of politics.

The younger Snelling confirmed to Seven Days that he is seriously considering a run for either governor or lieutenant governor. He joins a growing list of hopefuls to announce gubernatorial intentions after Gov. Jim Douglas announced last week that he won't seek a fifth term for governor in 2010.

“I’ve spent 35 years in business full time, and my part-time job has been public policy, and I believe that my set of skills and experiences would be a particular good fit to meet the challenges that Vermont is facing,” said Snelling.

Snelling, who lives in Starksboro, is currently the president of the Snelling Institute, which was created in honor of his father. He also runs Shelburne Corporation, the family business, which makes brass wire products.

He’s also chaired the governor’s council of environmental advisers, and been the past chairman of the board of Housing Vermont, and Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.

His sister, Diane Snelling, serves in the Vermont Senate and is the only Republican from Chittenden County.

Continue reading "Snelling Mulls Bid for Governor" »

Hatin' with the Phelpses- part 4

11:15 a.m.- After a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday outside of OZ Synagogue- "Happy Birthday to Kennedy's death, Happy Birthday to Kennedy's death, the Jews lost their favorite waterboy, Happy Birthday to Kennedy's death"- the Phelpses piled into their sweet Kia Sedona and hightailed it out of town. Please indulge me in a few observations:

1. The Phelpses (and I say Phelpses because there wasn't a one of them who wasn't part of the clan. They like to keep in the fam, nomsayin?) are nothing if not law-abiding. There's not a jaywalker among them. They hit every crosswalk and followed every directive they're given by police. When they were told to stand in the greenbelt outside of Chabad, goshdarnit, they stood in the greenbelt. I bet they even drive the speed limit.

2. The Phelpses are really fast walkers. Shirls is a powerhouse. She could go to the Hate Olympics for speedwalking.

3. The Phelpses are really bad singers. No, like REALLY bad. Like braying donkey bad.

4. The Phelpses are not nice. Despite appearances, they're actually pretty mean. Shirls told me I didn't look like a professional journalist. Ok, what part of my jeans, T-shirt, sneaker outfit made me look unprofessional?

5. The Phelpses don't really have their facts straight. Shirls called Seven Days a "fag paper," which I take exception to since neither of the female owners of the paper are fags. They're not even dykes.  WTF!!! Factcheck, Shirls, before you make outrageous claims like that.

IMG_3316 Oh, how I love college kids.

Nothin' says get the hell out of our state like a little pie in the face.

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