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November 2009

November 30, 2009

Burlington to Host Public Meeting on Moran Plant Plans

The public is invited to hear a status update from city officials on the Moran Center Project tomorrow night.

The 7 p.m. meeting will be held at the Burlington Electric Department on Pine Street, Mayor Bob Kiss announced today.

The meeting is roughly one month after the Green Mountain Children's Museum pulled out of the project as one of three private partners, and just one week after the city's Community and Economic Development Office issued requests to fill that tenancy.

The City of Burlington and project partners from the Ice Factor and Community Sailing Center will discuss current plans for the Moran Project and the process for selecting a new tenant, as well as provide an outline for how the public can weigh in at upcoming meetings.

Ice Factor representatives from Scotland will be in Burlington this week, and will take questions from the public during the meeting.

Last week the City issued a Request for Letters of Interest for a replacement tenant for the Green Mountain Children’s Museum.

Continue reading "Burlington to Host Public Meeting on Moran Plant Plans" »

Sen. Randy Brock to Stay Put: No Run for Lite Guv

UPDATED BELOW (5:55 P.M.) — Sen. Phil Scott (R-Washington) to make "important announcement" Tuesday at 5 p.m. in South Burlington.

The GOP contest to succeed Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie narrowed today, with the news that State Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) will seek reelection in 2010.

Brock was one of several current and former senators contemplating a run for lieutenant governor — a job whose primary duty is to preside over the state senate while it's in session.

"As lieutenant governor, my role would be limited and I would rarely be able to weigh in on issues of importance. However, in the senate, I would continue to have the ability to introduce, advance and influence key legislation. I would continue to be able to speak out forcefully on issues that affect all Vermonters," said Brock in a statement. "The 2010 elections are now far away. We still have a legislative session that begins in January. That session will be a difficult one, and by not entering into the race for a statewide office, I will be free to concentrate on the business that Franklin County and Alburgh voters sent me to Montpelier to do."

With Brock out of the race, all eyes now fall to state senators Phil Scott (R-Washington) and Sen. Vince Illuzzi (R-Essex/Orleans). Illuzzi has said he’s going to wait until after the legislative session to determine if he’ll make a run for lite guv.

As of two weeks ago, Scott was 75 percent sure he would enter the race. Brock's announcement may be all he needs to make it official. 

So far there is only one declared GOP candidate — Republican Mark Snelling,the son of former Gov. Richard Snelling and Lt. Gov. Barbara Snelling. His sister, Sen. Diane Snelling, is currently the lone Republican in the six-member Chittenden County senate delegation. 

Continue reading "Sen. Randy Brock to Stay Put: No Run for Lite Guv" »

Vermont Couple Attends State Dinner

StateDinnerCrashpers While high society gatecrashers nabbed the headlines from last week's state dinner at the White House, one Vermont couple was among the event's 400 legitimate guests.

DSC00124_2 The event was held under a tent on the South Lawn in honor of a visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (see second photo).

Michaele and Tareq Salahi, of Virginia, found their way into the dinner and eventually came face-to-face with Pres. Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The Secret Service has since admitted it made mistakes and said the couple should never have made it inside.

Jane and Bill Stetson of Norwich were at the event, and Bill Stetson snapped a few photos, including this photo, top right, of the Salahis. Michaele Salahi is in the center of the photo.

Bill Stetson told Seven Days that he and Jane Stetson entered the receiving line room to shake hands with Pres. Obama and Prime Minister Singh with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his wife.

Bill Stetson said it was interesting watching House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell chat.

"It seemed like they were old friends," said Stetson.

InsideRoomStateDinnerBut, not everyone in the room was a household name. "They didn't invite the usual suspects," Bill Stetson said of the White House.

While Bill Stetson was invited, in part, because of his environmental activism and policy work during the Obama campaign, Jane Stetson was on the guest list as she is the Finance Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

During the dinner, Bill Stetson was seated next to Lisa Jackson who is the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 "It was a very interesting dinner and very much like the briefing I had been to the week before that was presided over by Lisa Jackson," said Bill Stetson. "It was a total cross-section of the country — a lot of regular folks, even community organizers. These were not all multi-millionaires or cabinet members."

Stetson said there were top administration officials, along with other political and Hollywood luminaries such as Colin Powell and director Steven Spielberg.

In the opening few seconds of the official White House video of the event, you can see the Stetsons sitting down at the table at the center of the frame.

Photos courtesy of Bill Stetson.

November 28, 2009

The End of the World in Our Ordinary Multiplex on a Night Full of Rain

2012 To reward myself for working on Black Friday, I finally saw 2012 this evening. Having watched the trailer, I knew it was going to be stupid, but I was up for that. So was our intrepid video journalist, Eva Sollberger. We both have a high tolerance for stupid disaster movies and enjoy watching the world end.

As we grabbed coffee at Starbucks, Eva told me about the local news reports of Black Friday shopping she'd just watched. According to stories like this one, many Vermonters are still struggling to get by this holiday season, and they lined up at 3 a.m. to shop at deep discounts. One interviewee Eva had seen spoke of trying to feed two parents and a couple kids on $150 per month.

We went into the Majestic feeling rich and lucky. And found our theater packed with folks also eager to watch the world end.

Continue reading "The End of the World in Our Ordinary Multiplex on a Night Full of Rain" »

November 25, 2009

Leahy Blasts Pres. Obama on Refusal to Sign Landmine Ban Treaty

UPDATED AT 4:45 PM — Obama administration backs away from statement that it won't sign international landmine treaty (see below).

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy is blasting Pres. Barack Obama's decision to refuse to sign a 10-year-old international treaty banning land mines.

The decision, which supports the position of the previous administration, comes as representatives of nations around the world meet this coming week in Cartagena, Colombia, to assess compliance with the decade-old treaty.

“This is a default of U.S. leadership and a detour from the clear path of history,” Leahy said in a statement.  “The United States is the most powerful nation on earth. We don't need these weapons and most of our allies have long ago abandoned them."

For two decades Leahy has been a leading voice in Congress advocating an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines. Leahy-backed legislation, which included the world’s first export ban on landmines, was a catalyst in launching the treaty effort.

In 1997, the year the international treaty was signed in Ottawa, Canada, Vermonter Jody Williams won the Nobel Peace Prize along with the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines. The treaty went into effect two years later.

"It is a lost opportunity for the United States to show leadership instead of joining with China and Russia and impeding progress," Leahy said. "The United States took some of the earliest and most effective steps to restrict the use of landmines. We should be leading this effort, not sitting on the sidelines.”

Leahy said the Obama administration’s review “can only be described as cursory and half-hearted.”

Continue reading "Leahy Blasts Pres. Obama on Refusal to Sign Landmine Ban Treaty" »

November 24, 2009

Seeing the Smaller Picture — Arthouse Cinema at the Catamount Arts Center

35-shots When you go to the movies today, you feel less like a guest of the house and more like a sheep in transit. In the barnyard maze of a mega-cinema multiplex, you’re lucky if you get a seat — really lucky if you’re a row’s distance from the rest of the pack, especially the chatty couples and compulsive text messagers.

The romance (really, the feed) begins not a moment before the tacky trivia and trailers finish. Seconds into the flick, the bombs explode, the high-speed car chase rears its head, and the predictable love affair sparks. Before you can say, "Bah," you’re in a two-hour, $8.75 Hollywood entertainment coma.

What’s missing from this modern picture isn’t only a red curtain and a greeting face. It’s an appreciation for the art of film and the experience of an independent theater.

Enter Catamount Arts, an independent theater in St. Johnsbury. It's "one of about 200 left in the country," claims Jerry Aldredge, film director.

Continue reading "Seeing the Smaller Picture — Arthouse Cinema at the Catamount Arts Center" »

Judge Puts Down Milton's "Junkyard Dog"

F-junkyarddog2 More bad news for Gil Rhoades, owner of ABC Metals of Milton (pictured). On Friday, Vermont Superior Court Judge Helen Toor ruled that the junkyard operator has been operating illegally without state or local permits and must immediately stop accepting waste and scrap automobiles. Toor's decision comes on the heels of a ruling late last month upholding the Town of Milton's decision to not issue Rhoades and ABC Metals a certificate of location, a necessary first step in becoming a legitimate, state-licensed waste processing facility. 

Rhoades' neighbors, who last year formed the environmental group Milton CLEAN, hailed the decision as a long-overdue victory in their fight to get the unlicensed facility closed. In the last few years, neighbors have grown increasingly concerned about elevated levels of heavy metals and other chemicals in their soil and the pond adjacent to Rhoades' property. Their concerns were further heightened after the Milton fire chief remarked at a public meeting that if Rhoades' massive tire pile on his property ever caught fire, no fire department in the state could put it out.

Earlier this year, Milton CLEAN worked with the environmental group  Toxics Action Center to enact legislation that more stringently regulates automobile scrap yards and puts them under the jurisdiction of the Agency of Natural Resources rather than the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Seems logical, since once the wheels are off and the engine is pulled, an auto isn't doing much in the way of transporting.

Secretive Religious Sect Settles Lawsuit with Williston Couple

After a full day of negotiations in Brattleboro, the religious sect Exclusive Brethren agreed yesterday to drop its federal lawsuit against Tim and Sallie Twinam (pictured), the Williston couple who run a website that exposes and criticizes the religious sect and reconnects former followers.

F-bretheren Tim Twinam emailed Seven Days this morning to say he reached a confidential settlement with Bible & Gospel Trust, the Exclusive Brethren's publishing arm, which sued the Twinams for copyright infringement, tortuous interference and conversion.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Twinam's website  is still up. The Brethren sued the webmaster of a similar site several years ago, and reached a settlement that paid him $10,000 in exchange for shutting down the site.

Continue reading "Secretive Religious Sect Settles Lawsuit with Williston Couple" »

November 23, 2009

Fairies — The World's Most Recession-Proof Biz

Firstpic Around here at 7DHQ, we get a steaming load of ridiculous press releases. I swear I spend half my day opting out of news releases. No, I do not want to know that "Groundbreaking documentaries make 'radical' gifts!" Nor do I care that I can get "Incredible Savings on New Luxurious Wooden Yachts." I'm pretty sure my life will go on without knowing the "Top 10 Most Fabulous U.S. Golf Homes."  However, I am interested to find out that "This Holiday Season Eat What You Want and Still Shed the Pounds!"

You're picking up what I'm putting down, I'm sure. What I'm saying is that, no matter how bad my life gets, there are always lives that are worse. Like the life inhabited by the person who wrote this sparkler (from a holiday gift guide): "6. BumbleRide CarryCot with FootMuff and Stroller Liner. Available in Seagrass (Green), Lava (Black), Viti (Hot Pink) and Ruby (no color clarification needed), 99.99. New for 2009, the BumbleRide CarryCot combines the luxury of a bassinet with the ease of a baby carrier."

But of all the PR pitches sent to me by flacks making three times what I do, the following takes the cherry. If you're feeling ADD and can't read to the end, here's the nuggetized version: Fairies gewgaws make the recession blues go bye-bye. 

 87823_bigShe's making you feel better already.

Continue reading "Fairies — The World's Most Recession-Proof Biz" »

Old Radio Signal Gets Farm Fresh Sound

FarmFresh102-9-Logo If you've tuned into WCLX (102.9 FM) recently and heard music wafting through your car stereo, you're not imagining things.

As Seven Days readers recall, WCLX was taken off the air Labor Day weekend after a dispute between the station owners — Diane Desmond and Russ Kinsley — and the license holder Dennis Jackson.

Since being booted off the air by Jackson in September, Desmond and Kinsley have been broadcasting via the Internet. And, trying to raise the funds to bring their music back to radio-land.

But, the sounds coming from 102.9 FM — dubbed "Farm Fresh" —  is not a rebirth of WCLX. Instead, the music mix originates from a couple associated with the non-profit station WMUD. They hope to buy the license from Jackson. 

Continue reading "Old Radio Signal Gets Farm Fresh Sound" »

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