Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

NOTE: Blurt has been retired and is no longer updated regularly. For new content, follow these links:

OFF MESSAGE: Vermont News and Politics
BITE CLUB: Food and Drink Blog

« February 2010 | Main | April 2010 »

March 2010

March 31, 2010

Under Pressure, Feds Open Private Meeting on Vermont Yankee

Vermont_yankee_sections In response to mounting public pressure from state officials and the public, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission today reversed its decision to hold a closed-door meeting in New Hampshire with local officials from the tri-state area surrounding Vermont Yankee.

The NRC's decision to hold a "government-to-government" meeting in New Hampshire was criticized as a way to circumvent Vermont's open meeting law, and keep the media and the public from asking questions about the NRC's role in the tritium investigation at Vermont Yankee.

Vermont's congressional delegation late yesterday, along with U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH), urged NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko to open the meeting to the public.

The April 14 meeting is now being rescheduled to April 12 and relocated to coincide with a public meeting the NRC is hosting at Brattleboro's Ramada Inn.

Continue reading "Under Pressure, Feds Open Private Meeting on Vermont Yankee" »

March 30, 2010

Vermont Yankee: More Tritium! More Meetings!

NRC ** Updated below with letter from Congressional delegation**

Entergy announced with great fanfare last week that its tritium leaks were plugged and, ostensibly, under control.

Or, maybe not.

Yesterday, the Vermont Health Department noted it detected tritium in a deeply drilled test well that was heretofore clean of the radioactive isotope.

To be sure, the level they found — 1000 picocuries — is pretty minimal compared to the ongoing higher levels found in wells closer to the contamination.

"This new result from Vermont Yankee’s analysis is unexpected, because [the contaminated well] is adjacent to its companion shallow well, which continues to test negative for tritium and remains uncontaminated," the department noted.

Entergy is beginning to pump out promotional ads acknowledging that it had misled Vermonters and, well, it was sorry.

Nothing like the time they forgot to monitor dry casks for radiation, or when everything was hunky-dory with the cooling tower inspection program, or its program to check for corroding pipes, or … oh, never mind.

I guess everyone has to start somewhere when they try to make amends.

Continue reading "Vermont Yankee: More Tritium! More Meetings!" »

Alice Eats: Flatbread Factory and Taproom

Shelburne Bay Plaza, 2989 Shelburne Road, Shelburne 985-3303

102 I wasn't sure what to expect of Flatbread Factory and Taproom. Tales of inconsistent food and service gave me pause, but ultimately, I wanted a Pear & Prosciutto pie.

There were pluses and minuses when I entered the main dining room. It was brightly lit and had antique signs for Orange Crush and a diner whose name had long since faded away. Behind the bar, a wall-sized blackboard was decorated with photorealistic illustrations by UVM student Callie Richardson, of cows, Percherons and spilling beer. The chalkboard also listed the beers currently on tap. The day of my visit, those included Brooklyn Brewery Chocolate Stout, Dogfish Head 60 Minute and Penny Wize Ale, along with seven others. These were all pluses. A single minus: It was swarming with kids. Noisy ones.

Fortunately, the family-friendly restaurant had a playroom with a blackboard wall and TV of its own with plenty of toys. I wish families with fussy babies didn't take that as a cue to just let them cry while others tried to eat. The catering to kids made me kind of jealous. Every dish from the kids' menu came in a brightly-colored metal lunchbox with Teddy Grahams on the side. My kind of meal.

Sadly, my flatbread would not have fit. The menu says that each pizza serves two and they mean it. I was able to make two meals of my Pear & Prosciutto ($16.99 — pictured).

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Flatbread Factory and Taproom" »

Vermont War Photographer's Remains May Finally Be Found

[Ed. Note: Contributing writer Kevin J. Kelley sent us this post, via email.]

Dana-photographerAlmost 40 years after the disappearance of Vermont-born combat photographer Dana Stone (pictured), news from Cambodia is inspiring guarded hope that his remains may finally be found.

Stone, a UVM dropout from Wilder, chronicled the U.S. wars in Southeast Asia for five years, first as a freelance photojournalist and later as a CBS News staffer. His work was widely published; one shot of a GI under fire in a foxhole wound up on the cover of Time magazine.

Although he has never been memorialized in his home state, Stone ranks as “one of the greatest war photographers who ever lived,” in the opinion of Perry Deane Young, a Vietnam war reporter who wrote a 1975 book about Stone entitled Two of the Missing.

Sean Flynn, son of Hollywood swashbuckler Errol Flynn, disappeared with Stone. Also a photojournalist, Flynn and his buddy Dana roared off on a pair of red Honda motorcycles on April 6, 1970, in reckless search of a communist guerrilla squad known to be operating along Highway One in eastern Cambodia. The two were never seen again. Flynn was 28; Stone was 30.

On Monday, however, an Associated Press correspondent in Cambodia reported that Flynn's remains may have been found in what could be a mass grave. 

Continue reading "Vermont War Photographer's Remains May Finally Be Found" »

Senate Balks at House Plan to Restructure Judiciary

The Senate made quick work of the House's months-long effort to make sweeping changes to Vermont's judicial system.

Just days after the House overwhelmingly supported a House Judiciary Committee bill to restructure the state's court system, the Senate undid several key components.

Continue reading "Senate Balks at House Plan to Restructure Judiciary" »

March 29, 2010

Burlington Sidewalk Preacher Loses Federal Lawsuit; Christian Soldier Vows: Onward

Local-preacher_0 Sidewalk preacher William Ray Costello's free speech lawsuit against the city of Burlington sort of seemed like a legal Hail Mary.

It was.

On Friday, a federal judge tossed Costello's claim against Burlington police, ruling that Costello (pictured) has no right to shout the Gospel at the top of his lungs on the Church Street Marketplace. Costello, a born again Christian from Milton, sued Burlington in 2007 after police threatened to ticket him for shouting Bible verses on the pedestrian mall and disturbing merchants and outdoor diners.

Costello preaches with a big, graphic sign depicting an aborted fetus. His posters have anti-abortion and anti-gay slogans, such as "No Fags in Heaven" and "Fags Burn in Hell." He sued Burlington police without an attorney's help following an altercation on June 30, 2007 in which police told him to preach more quietly or risk getting a $200 noise fine.

Background story here.

Costello, who notes the Bible commands him to "lift up his voice like a trumpet," argued his preaching was protected under free speech — no matter the decibel level. U.S. District Judge J. Garva Murtha disagreed.

Continue reading "Burlington Sidewalk Preacher Loses Federal Lawsuit; Christian Soldier Vows: Onward" »

Vermont Daily News on Hiatus


The publisher of Vermont Daily News, a virtual daily newspaper, put the site "on hold" this month, and is unsure if it will relaunch in April.

Founded last July, Vermont Daily News aimed to compete with the region's daily media — the ranks of which have been thinning.

The online newspaper was the brainchild of longtime news photographer Alden Pellett (pictured) and a small group of supporters.

"I'm looking at a lot of options, from forging ahead with more risk through much bigger financing to pairing with an existing media outlet in some way. There's some exciting potential if any of it materializes," Pellett told Seven Days.

Whatever happens by April 1, Pellett added, VDN has grown in readership.

"The amazing thing is that traffic hasn't dropped off as much as I thought it might because people are still finding VDN," said Pellett.

Continue reading "Vermont Daily News on Hiatus" »

March 26, 2010

The Mac Attack

IMG_0836 On Friday, Addison County filmmaker and storyteller Malcolm "Mac" Parker defended his multimillion-dollar effort to finance a 10-year movie-making project, rejecting state regulators' claims that he ran afoul of Vermont securities laws.

It's estimated that Parker owes investors roughly $10 million in principal and interest payments for a decade-long film project titled Birth of Innocence. The film has not been publicly screened, though its brief trailer can be viewed online.

"This film is about a story that is older than Arnie's hay truck, older than Vermont, older than the Green Mountains themselves," said Parker, reading from a prepared statement. "It's a story of the beauty and goodness of who we are and a story I've been preparing my whole life to be able to tell."

For now, the film has been put on hold. Not because state regulators are film critics, but because they're  concerned with how Parker raised the money.

In short, the state claims the "loans" investors made, under Vermont law, should be considered "securities," and if they are securities, Parker needs a license to sell them.

State investigators from the Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration opened an investigation last year into Parker's film fundraising after they were approached by one of his investors, said Tom Candon, BISHCA's deputy commissioner and overseer of its securities division.

Continue reading "The Mac Attack" »

Word to the Congo

I found this sweet rap on the way to work today.
Here's my translation, with a few edits:

Start like Evil.
Chicks on my body like mosquitos
physically I let you underground you know!
Prob never see jail. Fuck no!
I shut you club down, now listen to me.
Popular on facebook go ahead add me.
Sick of rapping Dr. find something for my allergy.
A lot of you been hating since then.
Money in my pocket NY in my hand.
Pain bang, Wayne change game end.
Hip hop in dangers. Y'all don't need fireman.
Ca donx (?) plus M (?) yes Power Rangers.
Never die on girls sleep on my shoulders.
Treat them like dogs OK Imma soldier.
Word to the Congo. Imma destroy the
world my people never equal.
Start on the news Free Press.
I don't play games fresh less.
No start over. Driving the same car
I might sleep over. The one she
look at is the number 7 I might die but
the history is made like 9/11. Mom never
been school longer still can speak English
Work harder for my money cut fingers.
I'm from Africa the place of progression
Might go to Haiti to give my donation
Cool boy in school my girls are older

Serious like Joker but I'm not a smoker.


March 25, 2010

Will Burlington's New Smoking Ban Be Enforced? Don't Butt on It

Local-smoker_0 The outdoor smoking ban enacted by the Burlington City Council this week comes with hefty fines for those caught lighting up in city parks and on beaches: $50 to $200 per offense.

But will police really enforce the prohibition? After all, this is Burlington — a town where open pot smoking has been tolerated every April at UVM's annual 420 Festival.

"Much like idling, education and peer/citizen reminders will be the primary tool in any smoking ordinance enforcement," Burlington Police Chief Mike Schirling tells Blurt. "Actual tickets will, generally, be a last resort."

City Councilor Joan Shannon (D-5), who chairs the Ordinance Committee that crafted the smoking ban, also foresees no big crackdown.

"Have you ever known anyone to be ticketed for smoking in a no smoking area?" Shannon says. "I haven't."

Instead, Shannon envisions enforcement playing out like this: "Someone will light up, and someone else will notice and say, 'Excuse me. You might not know, but this is actually a no smoking area.' And the cigarette will be promptly extinguished," Shannon says.

Continue reading "Will Burlington's New Smoking Ban Be Enforced? Don't Butt on It" »

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684