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November 2009

November 19, 2009

Town Meeting Day Campaign to Shut Down VT Yankee Launches Today

Radioactive_2_2 A group of prominent Vermonters today will call on fellow residents to vote on Town Meeting Day whether to relicense Vermont Yankee for another 20 years.

In March 2009, 36 Vermont towns voted to ask the legislature not to approve Vermont Yankee operation for another 20 years and to require the plant's owner, Entergy, to pay the full cost of decommissioning the plant, which could near $1 billion. The resolutions also called on the legislature to focus on finding non-nuclear sources of energy to replace Vermont Yankee, which supplies about one-third of the state's power needs.

As of now, 18 Vermont towns are organized to get this resolution on their Town Meeting Day warnings.

The group hopes today's announcement and release of the letter signed by prominent Vermonters will  inspire residents of more towns to participate, and adopt their own version of the resolution.

"Entergy is doing intensive lobbying and is expected to increase its efforts to get the legislature to pass the required resolution as we approach decision time. The only way we can counter their efforts to get the 20-year extension is if citizens in the towns are actively involved, and town meeting resolutions facilitate that," said James Marc Leas, an attorney, and one of the campaign organizers.

Continue reading "Town Meeting Day Campaign to Shut Down VT Yankee Launches Today" »

November 18, 2009

State Auditor to Host Wide-Ranging Press Conference Friday

State Auditor Tom Salmon announced today he is hosting a press conference Friday to answer a wide range of topics — from revelations of past personal financial troubles to his recent arrest for driving while under the influence.

The auditor also plans to talk about how his office is responding to the ongoing state budget challenges, what efforts his office is undertaking to save the state money, and how the projected budgetary shortfall of $88 million can be faced.

The press conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. in the Cedar Creek Room at the Vermont State House.

Salmon said he also expects to take questions on his DUI, his comments at a recent unemployment insurance hearing, and how he personally plans to proceed as a result of the recent revelations.

Continue reading "State Auditor to Host Wide-Ranging Press Conference Friday" »

Progressive Reaches out to Democrats in Race for Lt. Governor

Progressive State Rep. David Zuckerman (P-Burlington) is reaching out to Democrats as he contemplates a run for lieutenant governor.

One option Zuckerman is entertaining is running in the Democratic primary, in an attempt to garner the backing of both Democrats and his own Progressives. A similar approach was used, successfully, by former Burlington City Councilor Tim Ashe.

Ashe, a Progressive, ran in the Democratic Primary in 2008 for state senate in Chittenden County and won. He later won in the general election and now sports a "D/P" after his name.

On Monday, Zuckerman will meet with the Washington County Democratic Committee to talk about the common political ground shared by the two parties, as well as his possible run in the Democratic primary.

"Before jumping in, I feel it's important to discuss the issues and challenges that face our state.  Because part of my considerations include running in the Democratic Party primary, I feel it is important to reach out to the various county members to see what the reception is like," said Zuckerman. "This is all part of the bridge building process, we will see where it goes from there."

Jack McCullough, chairman of the Washington County Democrats, confirmed Zuckerman's appearance and said he welcomes the dialogue.

Continue reading "Progressive Reaches out to Democrats in Race for Lt. Governor" »

Segway Supporters Turn Out for Bike Path Hearing

Local-segway-istock A Parks and Recreation Commission public meeting last night on the question of whether to allow Segways access to the Burlington bike path drew a number of supporters for the proposal. Kevin J. Kelley wrote about the issue in last week's Seven Days. His story is currently the most popular item on our website.

Kevin attended the hearing last night at the P&R office on Pine Street. He said the room was filled, and estimated a crowd of 30 to 50 people. He writes, "Steve Allen, chair of the P&R Commission, said at the end of the 90-minute session that it's unlikely a decision will be made prior to the commission's scheduled meeting in January. P&R staff, headed by new director Mari Steinbach, will study last night's testimony and do additional research on Segway use around the country that will inform the commission's decision."

Here's the full report Kevin sent this morning:

Vt attorney Rick Sharp, one of the pioneers of the Burlington bike path, spoke in favor of Segway use. Sharp, who was injured in a 1996 accident, moved with visible difficulty from a seat in the front row at the hearing to the witness chair less than 5 feet away.

Sharp framed Segways as an earth-friendly mode of transportation that would fit on the bike path philosophically as well as physically. He described Segways as "another step in the save-the-planet movement." The devices are battery-powered and produce no emissions.

Continue reading "Segway Supporters Turn Out for Bike Path Hearing" »

November 17, 2009

Best Bites: The Bearded Frog

5247 Shelburne Road, Shelburne 985-9877

I bet you're thinking I've gone crazy. "Alice," you're saying. "Are you making such huge Seven Days bucks that you think a special occasion spot such as the Bearded Frog is a great deal?"

Fall 2009 188 Yes and no. Most of the time, The Bearded Frog and its sister, The Black Sheep Bistro, rest squarely on my list of requests when someone else is paying. But like many fine restaurants in big cities, The Frog cuts people like me a break in the form of a kick-ass bar menu.

If you're hungry enough for an appetizer, don't you dare pass up the Venison Cigar Rolls. They're a menu staple for a reason – addictively spiced lean meat encased in salty, flaky pastry. Dip it in the syrupy maple dipping sauce (there's also creamy horseradish) and I'm in heaven.

Burgers can be made with beef or venison. Either way, you win (see photo). Cooked to my ideal medium rare-verging-on-rare, the juices from my beautifully seasoned venison patty soaked into the kaiser roll without making it one bit soggy. Executive Chef Michel Mahe's trademark cone of frites makes the meal, which also includes a bistro-style side salad. Basil mayo and the best straight-up garlic aioli I've ever had accentuate the perfection of the crisp fries.

Continue reading "Best Bites: The Bearded Frog" »

Council Balks at Burlington Telecom Refinancing

After two hours of feisty, and at times acrimonious and partisan debate, the Burlington City Council early Tuesday morning scuttled a $61.65 million refinancing proposal for Burlington Telecom.

Mayor Bob Kiss came to the council with a resolution offering to repay any money BT borrowed from the cash pool since October 1 within 60 days, while at the same time seeking council approval to work with financier Piper Jaffray to fully develop a refinancing deal to keep BT afloat and help it complete its buildout.

A complete deal, he said, would come back to the council sometime in mid- to late January for final approval.

In October, the council asked the administration to come back to it with refinancing options, and financing strategies, no later than November 16. Kiss, and Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold, said the proposal with Piper Jaffray was in response to that request.

Of course, no one said the council would approve what the administration proposed. The council also felt as if the administration was unfairly pushing the council to make a rush decision without giving it enough information.

Continue reading "Council Balks at Burlington Telecom Refinancing" »

Williston Neighbors Target Gun Club Over Lead Contamination

Mona and Leo Boutin of Williston (pictured) want the shooting range next door to clean up its act — and ensure that tons of lead shotgun pellets in its soil aren't contaminating the neighborhood's groundwater.

The Boutins A neighborhood coalition calling itself Lead Free Williston held a press conference Tuesday morning to release results of water tests that show elevated levels of lead in a stream that originates on the gun club property, and to call for more testing.

A dozen neighbors convened on the Boutins' 50-acre family farm on Old Creamery Road to call on the North Country Sportsman's Club to take more aggressive steps to clean up the spent lead shot and prevent contamination of local wells and streams.

After becoming concerned about potential lead leeching, the Boutins hired Environmental Compliance Services out of Waterbury to test samples from the brook that cuts through their property, where for years beef cattle raised by the Boutins would drink. The results showed .09 miliigrams of lead per liter — almost double the safe level for watering livestock, and approaching the level where human consumption becomes risky.

Continue reading "Williston Neighbors Target Gun Club Over Lead Contamination" »

VT: Not the Most Porntastic State in the Union

Blog1 Man, do we love our lists here in the U.S. There's a list for everything — the hottest men, the most expensive properties, the ugliest babies, etc. In Vermont, we have the (dubious) honor of being named to just about every list ever published.


The photo at the right is what a list looks like.

Nation's fittest city? Check. It's Burlington. Best outdoor towns? Check. We've got four of them. Best adventure towns? Check. We can claim three of those as well. Most healthy state? Check. It's Vermont. Highest percentage of stoners? Super check. Vermont can toke with the best of them. No really, that's a real list.

Heck, we even made it onto National Geographic Traveler's survey of iconic places. There we came in at #78, in between Ancient Kyoto, Japan, and Slovenia. Depending on how you read the list (I couldn't make heads or tails of it), we're way more awesome than the Bavarian Alps in Germany and the entire country of Wales.

Need some more listicles? The City of Burlington has been collecting the accolades it's garnered since Jesus walked the Earth. Burlington is one of the "best walking cities," "prettiest towns," "greenest cities" and "gayest places on the planet."

But here's one list we're not on: the top U.S. states for online pornography.

Continue reading "VT: Not the Most Porntastic State in the Union" »

November 16, 2009

Shumlin Launches Bid for Governor

It's officially, official: Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin is running for governor.

The Windham Democrat, who has been the Senate leader since returning to the post in 2007, enters an already crowded field of Democrats. Five candidates, including Shumlin, are vying for the right to challenge the putative GOP nominee — Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie.

Already in the race are: State Sen. Susan Bartlett (Lamoille), former State Sen. Matt Dunne, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz and State Sen. Doug Racine (Chittenden).

Shumlin said he believes his small business background, coupled with his legislative leadership, provides the right mix of skills to be an effective governor.

"Our next governor is going to have the toughest budget challenges in recent memory. Over the past eight years, our state has overpromised and underperformed," said Shumlin, 53. "Promises of job growth have not materialized. Our expenses far exceed our revenues, and our long-term financial obligations outpace Vermont's ability to pay. Vermont, and Vermonters, cannot bear further tax burden."

Given his party has been in control of the Legislature and he one of the legislative leaders, what has the Democratic majority overpromised? Seven Days asked.

Continue reading "Shumlin Launches Bid for Governor" »

It's Not Just Vermont — Seven Gay Publications Shut Down

Vermont hasn't had a GLBT newspaper since Out in the Mountains folded in 2006. Now seven more gay publications are following suit. All Window Media publications abruptly closed up shop today, including the Southern Voice, the Houston Voice and the venerable Washington Blade. Staffers at the Southern Voice arrived at work this morning to find the locks had been changed

Here's the link from the Poynter newsletter that arrived in my inbox this morning. Washington DC GLBT newsmagazine Metro Weekly is reporting that the investment fund that owns the publications has been forced into receivership by the Small Business Administration.

This news comes on the heels of the announcement of changes at the national glossy The Advocate. That magazine will now be distributed with Out mag, and may cease appearing on newsstands altogether. Times are tough in the gay mediasphere.

Oddly, the best coverage of the Window Media shut down that I've read so far is from the non-gay Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I love the quote at the end:

[Laura] Douglas-Brown became editor of Southern Voice three years ago. She spent a total of 12 years with the weekly, having been an intern for six months before Window Media bought it, she said.

The new owners contributed an infusion of cash as well as energy, she said. Having sister publications also beefed up their own coverage, as Douglas-Brown said she could rely upon the Washington Blade to cover a Congressional hearing and use their story.

“We were like our own little gay AP,” she said.

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