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NOTE: Blurt has been retired and is no longer updated regularly.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

« March 2010 | Main | May 2010 »

April 2010

April 29, 2010

Burlington Selected to Join Elite 'Carbon War Room'

Covershot Burlington is among 15 cities from around the world that will take part in a 30-month challenge to develop new, market-driven solutions to combat climate change.

The Carbon War Room, a non-profit organization founded by Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson, made the announcement Wednesday.

The thrust of the Carbon War Room, and the Green Capital Global Challenge, is to connect private investment and entrepreneurs with environmental projects – building a new economy based on green development that in the end is both good for the environment and investors' bottom line, said Joe Reinert, a spokesman for Mayor Kiss.

Mayor Bob Kiss attended a Carbon War Room forum in Vancouver, Canada in February during the Winter Olympics at the invitation of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who co-hosted the forum.

Continue reading "Burlington Selected to Join Elite 'Carbon War Room'" »

April 27, 2010

Alice Eats: 51 Main at the Bridge

51 Main Street, Middlebury 388-8209

003 Sometimes, we do things simply for the love of the game. Visiting 51 Main in Middlebury is one of them. The tapas menu is appealing, but so is the wall packed with board games.

Created by Middlebury College as a wholesome social space for its students, the café is open to the public, and most of its patrons when I visited were more in the parent-of-college-student age range. Many were likely there to enjoy the strains of gypsy jazz outfit, Swing Noire.

The international menu is composed mostly of small plates and nibbles, but diners will find it easy to assemble a hearty meal. We started with the Tapas Platter, a giant square plate filled with North Country chorizo and chicken, basil and sun-dried tomato sausage, along with little glass cups of spanish almonds, pinchos, toasted pita points and chimichurri. The chorizo was extraordinarily mild, but very tasty, as was the chicken sausage. The other offerings were also on the bland side for Spanish food, but still satisfying.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: 51 Main at the Bridge" »

Vermont Daily Newspaper Circulation Continues to Fall

CR Circulation continues to plummet at Vermont's daily newspapers, but not as badly as the record drops experienced last fall.

Six of Vermont's largest dailies reported numbers to the Audit Bureau of Circulations on Monday for the six-month period ending March 31. When compared against numbers from March 2009, Vermont's dailies  fared somewhat better than the national averages for print circulation, which declined 8.7 percent for weekday papers and 6.5 percent for Sunday editions.

Circulation at the Gannett-owned Burlington Free Press, Vermont's largest daily, fell 6.9 percent weekday (from 35,448 papers to 32,993) and 2.9 percent Sunday (from 43,513 to 42,216). Their peers also saw circulation drops, in some cases by double-digits.

  • The family-owned Rutland Herald lost 12 percent weekday and 6.1 percent Sunday
  • The Montpelier/Barre Times-Argus (same owners as the Herald) dropped 9.4 percent weekday and 7.7 percent Sunday
  • The Brattleboro Reformer, owned by Media News Group, fell 5.6 percent weekday, 6.4 percent weekend
  • The Bennington Banner lost just 1.9 percent weekday and 5.3 percent Saturday

The single biggest circulation drop belongs to the Caledonian-Record in St. Johnsbury, which dropped 13 percent for its Monday through Saturday editions.

Continue reading "Vermont Daily Newspaper Circulation Continues to Fall" »

April 26, 2010

IRV Repeal Signed into Law


Before about a dozen onlookers, Gov. Jim Douglas signed into law Saturday a charter change that eliminates the use of instant-runoff voting to elect Burlington's mayor.

"I'm signing this today for two reasons: One, to respect the decision of the people of Burlington, and two on the substance of the issue," said Douglas, who reminded onlookers that he was Secretary of State for 12 years.

"Voting ought to be transparent and easy to understand, and affects the will of the voters in a direct way," said Douglas. "I'm glad the city has agreed to a more traditional process."

Though it wasn't on his official public schedule, Douglas agreed to make a detour Saturday at the request of Rep. Kurt Wright (R-Burlington). Wright is also a city councilor.

The signing took place in front of the The Robert Miller Community & Recreation Center on Gosse Court in Burlington's New North End.

Wright, and a group led largely by New North End residents, successfully put a repeal of IRV on the March ballot. Voters agreed to repeal IRV by a 52-48 margin.

Continue reading "IRV Repeal Signed into Law" »

April 23, 2010

St. Mike's Journalism Students Show and Tell

[Ed. note: This post was written by our intern, UVM student Lea McLellan, editor of the weekly campus newspaper, The Water Tower.]

When people tell me that journalism is a dying field, I usually hang my head low, mutter “shut up” under my breath and vow to never friend them on Facebook. But after attending St. Michael’s Journalism and Mass Communication senior seminar showcase, I was able to pick up some convincing comebacks to this claim. The projects represented the work of around 30 St. Mike’s seniors within the Journalism and Mass Communication major. While there was a range of subject matter, a good number of students focused on the Internet’s effect on our social interactions as well as the growth of new media. If these St. Mike’s seniors can represent at least a small slice of the future of journalism, it is clear to me that the field isn’t dying — but it is headed in a new direction.

When asked, most students said that they would like to pursue a career in the journalism field. But “journalism” for students in this major is very broadly defined. Almost everyone I asked also said that they weren’t interested in being a writer in the traditional, print journalism sense. Many students hope to find jobs in web design, film, and other new media outlets after graduation.

Continue reading "St. Mike's Journalism Students Show and Tell" »

State Files New Charges Against Filmmaker Mac Parker

Local-macparkerState regulators have filed two new charges — including an allegation of securities fraud — against filmmaker and storyteller Malcolm "Mac" Parker.

Parker is under scrutiny from state financial regulators for a 10-year, $10 million fundraising effort connected to his yet-to-be completed film, Birth of Innocence.

Regulators with the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration contend the agreements signed between Parker and his financiers were securities and therefore should be registered by the state, and Parker should have had a license to sell them.

In its amended legal complaint filed Wednesday in Washington Superior Court, BISHCA adding the allegations of securities fraud, and claiming Parker lied to potential financiers by failing to disclose he would use some of the money for personal use, and that he was paying millions to a silent partner.

In a statement emailed to the media yesterday, Parker asked the state to sit down and work out an amicable deal rather than continue with the court case.

Continue reading "State Files New Charges Against Filmmaker Mac Parker" »

April 22, 2010

F-35 Fighter Jet Hits Turbulence in Congress

Localmatters-jet Vermonters who think the Vermont Air National Guard's future is tied to us all getting warm and fuzzy about basing F-35 fighter jets in South Burlington should take a closer look at the project's flight plan through congressional airspace. 

Last night, PBS "NewsHour" devoted nearly 10 minutes of the show to the growing congressional dogfight over what they're calling the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program. Apparently, the F-35 is facing serious cost overruns — from $59 million to $112 million per plane —  production delays, and other technical problems. Senate Democrat Claire McCaskill, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, referred to the project as "too big to fail" just as taxpayer "push money across the table." Hmm, when have we heard THAT phrase before?

Things aren't looking especially rosy on the technical side of things, either. In February, Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the F-35's program manager. According to NewsHour's Kwame Holman who reported the story, a General Accounting Office report on the F-35s noted that "hot exhaust may damage runways and flight decks on ships, and heat buildup inside the aircraft may impede its ability to operate in hot environments." Great news if we go to war with Iceland or Norway. But for use in our current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or future wars in Iran, Yemen or Pakistan? Not so much. 

Still, BTV wouldn't have to worry about icing on the runway anymore... 

April 21, 2010

Zuckerman Won't Seek Reelection to House

DZ-CP_floor Burlington Progressive David Zuckerman has decided not to seek reelection to the Vermont House of Representatives this fall.

A former House member — Progressive Chris Pearson — has decided to run for the seat and will kick off his campaign Friday.

Zuckerman is part of a two-seat Burlington district covering the neighborhoods in and around the University of Vermont. The other seat is held by Rep. Kesha Ram (D-Burlington), who bested Pearson in 2008 in a spirited four-way race between two Democrats and two Progressives.

Zuckerman, an organic farmer who has purchased farmland in Hinesburg but still resides in Burlington, said the demands of expanding his organic farm clinched his decision.

"It's the reality of life — the business is taking up a lot of time and energy right now, which is what happens when you take on a half-million dollars in debt," said Zuckerman, who runs Full Moon Farm with his wife Rachel Nevitt. The pair also has a 4-year-old daughter, and Zuckerman said a desire to spend more time with her also played into his decision.

Zuckerman said he had given up the idea of running for the House months ago, and has considered a run for lieutenant governor and Chittenden County senate.

"I've served now for 14 years, and it's time to take a break," said Zuckerman. "I may re-engage in a few years, but for now I'm going to step back."

Earlier this year, Zuckerman admitted to putting in for mileage allowances even though he carpooled to Montpelier. That drew a lot of ire from constituents, but the lead lawyer for the legislature said it's perfectly legit.

Continue reading "Zuckerman Won't Seek Reelection to House" »

April 20, 2010

My Secret Fantasy

Hi, my name is Dan, and I play fantasy baseball.

Before you laugh, understand that I'm not alone. Fantasy geeks are no longer banished to the great mother's basement of society. It is estimated that more than 30 million people play fantasy sports worldwide. While major American sports like baseball and football are the most prevalent varieties, there are fantasy leagues for virtually every professional sport on the planet, from bowling and fishing to cricket and golf. The fantasy sports industry — that's right, industry — nets somewhere in the neighborhood $4 billion annually. In terms of fetish industries, that's not quite porn territory — although fantasy sports may well be responsible for an equal number of failed relationships. While playing fantasy sports may be an incredibly dorky hobby — OK, it is definitely incredibly dorky — it has become a legitimate and, for some, a lucrative pastime. If only the folks who invented it had thought to cash in.

Tonight, ESPN will air the premiere of "Silly Little Game," the next installment in the sports entertainment network's critically acclaimed documentary series 30 for 30, which explores some of the most overlooked and underappreciated sports stories of the last 30 years. Directed by Brooklyn filmmakers Adam Kurland and Lucas Jansen, the film tells the largely unknown tale of the very first "Rotisserie" baseball league, invented by a group of New York City writers, scholars and intellectuals in 1979. That league, named for La Rotisserie Francais, the NYC restaurant in which the idea was conceived, was the progenitor of what we know as modern fantasy sports. And yes, you read that correctly. Highly educated intellectuals invented fantasy sports. Although, since none of them made a dime following its eventual explosion in popularity, maybe they weren't so smart after all. Moving on …

By now, you may be wondering what the local tie-in could be, this being a locally focused blog and all — not to mention me moonlighting outside my typical domain as "music guy." Here it is. The film uses re-enactments to recount that first Rotisserie season, spliced with interviews with the actual members of the league and other notable dorks, er, people relevant to the topic. Playing Dan Okrent, the league's driving force and the man regarded as the godfather of Rotisserie baseball — and by extension, all of fantasy sports — is Vermont native Ben Rameaka. Nifty, right?

Continue reading "My Secret Fantasy" »

Alice Eats: Dutch Mill Family Restaurant

4309 Shelburne Road, Shelburne 985-3568


I've lived in Vermont for 12 years. For 12 years, I passed the Dutch Mill and fantasized about it. Was it as old-timey as it looks on the outside? Did the interior have a mini golf theme to go with the windmill? Maybe it was falling apart around the diners, with cobwebs at every table! My hunger for knowledge finally drove me to Shelburne on Sunday.

I was encouraged by a barbecue smoker in the parking lot. It turns out they smoke their own meat for pulled pork sandwiches. But I was there with breakfast in mind. The crowd was as I hoped – I was at least 30, if not 40 years younger than every other patron. No wonder there is more than one sign in the place advertising catering for birthdays, rehearsal dinners and funerals. The room was bright and cheerful, more family restaurant than diner.

The menu was chock full of appealing takes on basic breakfast, with an old-fashioned flair. Eggs Fred (pictured) stood out immediately. Poached eggs, corned beef hash, home fries and homemade toast? No way could that go wrong. The tangy corned beef had less body than I'm used to – almost as if it had been ground rather than chopped, but as it fell apart with the tiny flecks of potatoes in the surprisingly light hollandaise, I couldn't complain.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Dutch Mill Family Restaurant" »

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