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April 2010

April 20, 2010

Vermont Adaptive Scores Invite to White House

Vermontadaptive_r2_c1 Tomorrow, while the rest of us working slobs will be sitting at our anti-ergonomic desks dreaming of what life could have been, Maggie Burke, a program coordinator with Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sport, will be pressing the flesh with the POTUS on the South Lawn of the White House.

On Wednesday, Burke will join 250 Olympic and Paralympic athletes as they are honored by the Obamas for their performance in the Vancouver games. That means, while you are selling your soul for pennies on the dollar, Burke will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn and homegrown Olympians Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark.

Burke found out last Tuesday that she had been invited to the event when she opened her email and saw a note from the White House requesting her presence. "I said, 'OK, cool. I'm going to the White House,'" Burke said in a phone interview today.

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Winooski Vets Group Fights for Tax Break, Liquor License


Should a Winooski veterans organization get a new liquor license — even if it's failed to pay a $22,000 overdue property tax bill?

That's the question the Winooski City Council is grappling with as the Regular Veterans Association Post 514 lobbies for help paying what's due and for tax-free status going forward.

The RVA is seeking renewal of its first-class liquor license from the city council, which doubles as Winooski's liquor control board. Winooski officials are holding out on the license until the vets come up with a plan for settling a $21,888 tax tab that's been accruing since summer 2008.

The Regular Veterans Association, which is open to any honorably discharged service member, is struggling financially in the wake of numerous "embezzlement" scandals and a pending sexual harassment lawsuit that could also prove costly for the group. 

Winooski police arrested two members of the RVA in 2004 on charges of embezzling $2800 from the organization, according to Deputy Chief Rich Benoit. Last November, the RVA asked police to look into the theft of $807 from the post. Now RVA officers claim that a half dozen individuals fleeced the organization to the tune of $200,000 over a six-year period. Winooski police confirm they're investigating yet another claim of embezzlement lodged by RVA in 2009, but could not comment on the scope of the probe.

"Yeah, there's been some stinkers over here, people who I would not say were honorable officers," says Post Commander Marty Martinez, a former Naval crew chief who completed two tours in Vietnam. "I want to bring it back, to make it a place veterans can call their second home." 

Continue reading "Winooski Vets Group Fights for Tax Break, Liquor License " »

April 15, 2010

Whoops! Miss Congeniality Was Congenial, Just Not in Vermont

Sandra-Bullock-Oscar From the Department of Big-Ass Mea Culpas:

Well, friends, it turns out that America's favorite scrappy-do movie star was NOT actually in Vermont over Easter. Contrary to what I wrote a few hours ago on Blurt and what a number of online gossip sites "reported" a couple days ago, Sandra Bullock did not dine at the Fair Haven Inn on the day Jesus rose from the dead.

Yikes! That means I was wrong. But how could that have happened? I'm never wrong.

Here's the deal: After reading the celebrity sighting on, I called the Fair Haven restaurant where Bullock, her sister Gesine Bullock Prado and her brother-in-law Raymond Prado allegedly dined. I spoke with the restaurant's owner, Mihaela Ieremias, and our conversation went exactly like this:

Me: I read a report that Sandra Bullock ate at your restaurant with her family on Easter Sunday. Is that true?

Ieremias: Yes, they were here.

Me: So can you tell me anything about it? 

Ieremias: I don't want to give no more answers. We want to respect everyone's privacy so when they come back a second time, they can come back and be safe. And I don't want to say any more than that.

Then we hung up.

It turns out the Bullock-Prado family spent Easter in Chicago, where Ray was shooting a movie. Gesine wrote on her personal blog about visiting Portillo's, Yolk and Intelligensia among other places. No word on where Sandra was over Easter. However, she was not at my house, nor was she at the Fair Haven Inn.

Ray kindly called me up earlier today to clarify. "This is a horrible situation we're in," he said, referring to his brother-in-law Jesse James' alleged infidelities. "It's hard." Apparently, when the Hartford couple returned from Chicago, they had a legion of paparazzi camped out on their lawn, hoping to catch a glimpse of Bullock seeking refuge in our fair state. Ick.

So it seems that Ms. Ieremias was a Fibber McGee. I called her back to ask her about this. Here's how that went:

Me: You told me earlier today Sandra Bullock ate in your restaurant over Easter, but her sister and brother-in-law say she was never there. Why did you say that?

Ieremias: (screaming) We just want everyone to leave us alone and stop all this gossiping.

Then she slammed the phone down. Awesome.

So here's the takeaway from this: When you ply in celebrity goss, even if it's seemingly innocent and you do your homework, you end up looking like a gigantic baboon's ass (Ref. — Perez Hilton). And nobody wants to look like that.

Sandra Bullock Dries Her Tears... In Vermont

HBDEAwXaaGK_Pxgen_r_363xA A few days after Sandra Bullock took home the Oscar for best gal-next-door actress, it was revealed that her motorcyclist husband Jesse James was slumming it with a woman who has multiple facial tattoos and a fascination with White Power. Classy.

Naturally, our pal Sandy went into hiding after the philandering was revealed. What else do you do when your husband, whom you credit your career turnaround, has been caught engaging in a colossal act of scumbaggery?

But Sandy, sweet Sandy, didn't bury her head under a mountain of eiderdown pillows on her California king-size bed. No, the Blind Side sasspot repaired to the Vermont countryside where she could cry on the shoulder of her sister Gesine far from the long lenses of the Hollywood paps. Gesine used to own the eponymous bakery in Montpelier and currently peddles fancy French macarons (they're not macaroons, you philistine hayseeds) from somewhere in southern Vermont.

According to, Sandy (I call her Sandy because we're chummy like that) spent Easter noshing on Greek specialties at the Fair Haven Inn. Mihaela Ieremias, owner of the Fair Haven resto confirmed that in fact Sandy B., her sister Gesine Bullock Prado and Gesine's husband Raymond dined there with a few other folks on the day that Jesus rose from the dead. But Mihaela's lips were sealed beyond that.

"I don't want to give no more answers," Ieremias said when I called her yesterday to confirm the rumor. "We want to respect everyone's privacy so when they come back a second time, they can come back and be safe. And I don't want to say any more than that."

So there.

Continue reading "Sandra Bullock Dries Her Tears... In Vermont" »

Forbes: CVPS Among Nation's Most Trustworthy Firms

Forbes It seems like a day doesn't go by when we don't hear of how some of the nation's top companies, as well as some high-profile Vermont firms, have misled the public and investors.

A new national report offers a glimpse at the flip side — companies doing right by their investors and the public.

And, a prominent Vermont energy company ranked near the top of that list.

No, it's not Entergy Vermont Yankee.

But, it is a power company.

Forbes named Vermont's largest utility — Central Vermont Public Service one of the nation's most trustworthy companies. CVPS earned a score of 99 (out of 100). Only four companies ranked higher in its category of "small-cap" firms.

For the fourth year in a row, Forbes contracted with an outside auditing firm to develop a list of the top 100 companies in the United States.

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April 14, 2010

Leahy: New Supreme Court Justice to Be Named by August

Leahy U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy said today he expects a new Supreme Court Justice to be named before lawmakers break for their August recess.

Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, will lord over the nomination hearings as the president seeks to replace Justice John Paul Stevens, who announced last week that he is retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Talk of a filibuster on any nomination made by President Barack Obama, says Leahy, is just that for now — talk.

"I would be absolutely amazed if there was a filibuster," said Leahy. "It would be virtually unprecedented. But, if there was one, the Senate would not stand for it."

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court overturn gay marriage in Vermont?

Marriage This week, Vermont will host a national conference taking stock of the decades-long civil rights battles of gays and lesbians and where the movement is headed.

Appropriately, the conference is being held 10 years after Vermont enacted civil unions and one year after it approved same-sex marriages—the first state to enact such a law by legislative fiat, and it happened thanks to an override of a gubernatorial veto. The law went into effect on September 1.

The conference, titled "The Law and Politics of Marriage Equality: Vermont, The Nation and the World," is free and open to the public. It will be held at two venues: Vermont Law School and the University of Vermont.

The conference will start at VLS on Thursday with a keynote address at 4 p.m. by Andrew Koppelman, a professor of law and political science at Northwestern University. His address, titled “Careful with that Gun: The New (?) Arguments Against Marriage Equality,” will explore how religious conservatives have retooled their opposition to same-sex marriage.

The conference then moves to UVM and continues on Friday at 9 a.m. with a day-long series of panel discussions on civil unions, legal marriage, parenting rights, religious politics and other national, international and New England issues, plus a look back at Baker v. State and the landmark litigation, legislative debate and law that resulted in civil unions in Vermont.

A key question in the back of many minds is the one posed in this post's headline. The answer?

Continue reading "Will the U.S. Supreme Court overturn gay marriage in Vermont?" »

April 13, 2010

Flynn Center Hires Replacement for E.D. Andrea Rogers

John_Killacky It's a good news day for Burlington's largest arts venue: John Killacky (pictured), a program officer at the San Francisco Foundation, has been hired to replace outgoing CEO and founding executive director Andrea Rogers at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, its board of directors announced this afternoon.

Killacky has headed the Arts and Culture Program at the Foundation for the past seven years, managing a "multimillion-dollar portfolio" and forging partnerships with national, regional and local entities. He also led an initiative to fund individual artists and commissioned more than 300 multimedia artists during his tenure.

Prior to his S.F. stint, Killacky directed the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for six years, and was curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis for eight years before that. In addition, he's managed the Trisha Brown and Laura Dean dance companies.

The Flynn's press release touts Killacky's "international brand for innovation, creativity, courage and his profound passion for arts and culture." For his part, Killacky calls Rogers "a national treasure."

She certainly has made the Flynn a Burlington treasure. We look forward to meeting the man who will follow in her footsteps. A free, community-wide gala honoring Rogers is scheduled for June 26.

Alice Eats: Lake-View Restaurant

1710 Shelburne Road, South Burlington 865-3900

Alice-eats Years ago, I tried to have lunch at the Lake-View. I waited at the bar forever for someone to come seat me. They never did, and I never went back  – until last night. Working on their Vermont Restaurant Week menu, I was so tantalized, I just had to give the place another try. I was not disappointed.

The table I chose in the bar section of the greenhouse-like space was extraordinarily comfy. The seats were stuffed as soft and cuddly as grandma's sofa. A neon sign blaring "The Beef" hung jauntily over the bar, a tribute to the room's long-ago existence as What's the Beef II.

The meal started with a basket on teensy honey wheat rolls, hot from the oven. I tried the blood orange salad. The whole assemblage worked together wonderfully –  the richly sweet citrus paired with anise-redolent fennel, tangy chèvre, field greens and sunflower seeds in white balsamic vinaigrette. The creamy garlic soup tasted of just that and was eminently satisfying.

The Chicken Pot Pie also had a pleasantly garlicky taste, along with perfectly cooked chunks of root vegetables, spinach and Misty Knoll chicken, all housed under a dense umbrella of puff pastry. Pork Schnitzel (pictured) was coated unconventionally in cornmeal as well as bread crumbs. The dish, served over sharp dijon spaetzle and spinach, brought to mind the chicken schnitzel that for years was my favorite lunch dish at Butler's in Essex.

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"Project Runway" Wants You!

PR-Email-logo The other day Tim Gunn, the kindly mentor on Lifetime's "Project Runway" and all-around dashing fellow, gave me a call. He was all like "Hi, Lauren. This is Tim Gunn. Can you get some Vermonters to audition for "Project Runway"? We're tired of these slick city kids and their geometric, bedazzled pap. Thanks." Then he gave me air kisses over the phone and hung up before I could say anything.

Because I love Tim Gunn and wish he was my rad gay uncle, I vowed to help him recruit some crafty clothiers who are tired of toiling anonymously in the sartorial backwater that is Vermont. But I found it a little odd that Tim (and his plucky German liebchen Heidi Klum) would want a Vermonter in the fray. I mean, we're known for our fashion like the British are known for their good teeth. Last I checked, hemp necklaces, patchwork pants and Jesus sandals weren't exactly burning up the Paris runways. Nor were North Face puff coats, Carrharts or Ugg boots from four seasons ago. 

The ice skating outfit in the middle bottom row is what I wore to work yesterday. Big hit.

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