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May 2010

May 18, 2010

Legislature Asks Homeland Security to Reconsider Border Port Expansion

F-crossingtheline-border From the office of non-binding resolutions:

Last Thursday, the Vermont Legislature issued a Joint Senate Resolution on the matter of the Morses Line border port of entry expansion plan (see "Crossing the Line," 9/30/09). Basically, the folks in Montpelier don't like the idea of a family farm being destroyed in the name of homeland security.

Quick synopsis of the border issue: the Department of Homeland Security wants to expand and upgrade the border port of entry at Morses Line, a tiny crossing that sees about two and a half cars an hour and about 14,000 cars a year. The expansion would require the acquisition of five acres of property owned by the Rainville family, whose 240-acre dairy farm abuts the border.

The Rainvilles argue that losing five acres of hay for their 75-milker herd would be so financially devastating that it would likely put the farm out of business. The feds argue that the $5 million port expansion (down from  $15 million) is essential for border security.

The government has proposed to pay the family $39,500 for the five acres, but the family won't sell. In mid-April, they received a letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informing them that the corps will likely file a condemnation notice within 60 days of the letter, meaning that their property could be taken by eminent domain for the purpose of "securing our borders."

The Vermont Legislature doesn't like this at all. Here's what they had to say about it last week (just the highlights):

Continue reading "Legislature Asks Homeland Security to Reconsider Border Port Expansion" »

May 17, 2010

Burlington Telecom Won't Make Lease Payment

Bt_logo Burlington Telecom, the beleaguered municipal utility that owes taxpayers $16.9 million, will not make a scheduled lease payment due today to CitiCapital.

As noted in "Fair Game" two weeks ago, Burlington Telecom and city officials have been in talks with Citi, hoping to avoid defaulting on the $33.5 million lease. Burlington officials are encouraging Citi to draw down money from a reserve fund set up when the lease was first penned back in 2008. The reserve fund — which once held $1 million — is to be used by Citi to cover missed payments.

"BT will not be making the payment. Citi will have to decide if they wish to use the escrow," said Chris Burns, BT's general manager. Citi indicated in February it would rather dip into the fund than force an outright default. A default could mean that Citi would seize control of BT and sell off the assets to settle past debts — or find someone else to run the system to ensure it makes its money back on the lease.

If Citi chooses to draw from the fund, the $1 million reserve will have about $210,000 left — not nearly enough to cover a nearly $700,000 payment due to Citi in August.

Continue reading "Burlington Telecom Won't Make Lease Payment" »

May 13, 2010

Sidewalk Sitting Ban Proposed in Burlington

Wtf_3 A proposed ordinance being reviewed by Burlington City Councilors could ban people from sitting on the sidewalks of five key downtown streets that feed onto the Church Street Marketplace.

The ban would also extend to sandwich board signs or other types of advertising, though it would allow any existing licensed "encumbrances" to continue until their license expires.

The Burlington City Council Monday night agreed to send the proposed ordinance to its Ordinance Committee for review. The three-member committee is chaired by Councilor Joan Shannon (D-Ward 5), and includes Councilors Sharon Bushor (I-Ward 1) and Bram Kranichfeld (D-Ward 2).

The ordinance would create a "right of way" extending six feet from the edge of buildings, and would mirror existing bans on the Church Street Marketplace. The Marketplace "right-of-way" extends nine feet from the edge of buildings.

The affected streets would be Pearl, Cherry, Bank, College and Main Streets between South Winooski Avenue and St. Paul Street.

Continue reading "Sidewalk Sitting Ban Proposed in Burlington" »

Rock You Sideways

As the well-known Bible story goes, Jesus pulled the world's greatest party trick by turning water into wine at a wedding that had run dry. Talk about a savior, right? Anyway, it turns out JC's trick was kid's stuff, at least compared to the efforts of Maynard Keenan's efforts to legitimize northern Arizona as world class wine country.

The hard rockin' Tool front man is the subject of a new documentary film called Blood Into Wine that chronicles his journey from splitting eardrums with Tool and Puscifer to smashing grapes with Caduceus Cellars. The flick, directed by acclaimed filmmakers Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke (Moog, The Heart is a Drum Machine), has been lauded by critics across the country, including a scribe at FilmCritic.com who called it, "a rock ’n' roll version of Sideways." High praise, indeed.

Here's the trailer for Blood Into Wine, which will screen at Merrill's Roxy Cinema from Friday, May 14 through Thursday, May 20 as part of the theater's Food & Wine Film Festival and 7D's Vermont Restaurant Week. And if all this talk about wine has made you blush (ha!), prior to the 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. screenings this Friday, The Vermont Wine Merchants and Daedalus Wine Shop will offer tastings of Keenan's spirits.


         

"Earthquake Defense" Will Make Haitian a Free Man — Probably

Haiti_earthquake_map Did the "earthquake defense" work for Felicier Edmond, a Haitian immigrant busted illegally crossing the Canadian border into Vermont?

Looks that way. Edmond secured a plea deal in federal court in Burlington on Tuesday that got him a lesser charge (a misdemeanor instead of a felony) and no additional jail time in exchange for a guilty plea. He could have gotten 6 months in prison and up to $5000 in fines.

The sentence came with a big ironic twist: Felicier will probably be allowed to remain in the U.S., even though he, like thousands of other Haitians who came here after the quake, have standing deportation orders.

Click here for background on the flood of Haitians into Vermont. Click here for background on Edmond.

Continue reading ""Earthquake Defense" Will Make Haitian a Free Man — Probably" »

May 12, 2010

Missing Pages in the May 12 Issue

F-Carpets Due to a production error, we printed last week's page 39 & 48 in this week's newspaper.

You can read the full text of Megan James' piece "Finer Weave" or download the pdf of the correct page 39 here.

You can read the full text of Dan Bolles' piece on Unrestrained, "Pedal to the Metal" or download the pdf of the correct page 48 here.

Our apologies to Unrestrained, Kirsten Edey, owner of Conscious Carpets, Dan Bolles, and Megan James.

Raw Salmon: Vermont's State Auditor In His Own Words

Salmon In this week's "Fair Game," State Auditor Tom Salmon demonstrated his way with words. I had queried him about an email sent from his office, welcoming Sen. Ed Flanagan into the auditor's race.

Using state computers for political business is not allowed, as is spelled out in the state's personnel manual and other administrative bulletins.

In fact, last year Salmon ran afoul of state regs by allowing a state staffer use a taxpayer-bought  camcorder to videotape a political fundraising speech in Burlington.

Salmon's response to my email?

Fuck off

Immaterial

I'm wasting more state time on your political bullshit

Clever. Several more well-placed syllables would have netted Salmon a nice little Haiku.

After receiving this email on Monday, I responded to Salmon with this email:

Tom,
 
I asked the same question of Katie Manaras back in April 2008 when she sent a political note for Peter Shumlin from his state email account congratulating House Speaker Gaye Symington's entrance into the governor's race, and of Dennise Casey later that year after she left the Douglas administration and was a campaign worker and was using her state-issued ID badge to get to the fifth floor after hours.
 
But, thanks for the frank response.
 
Shay

He then responded with an even longer response, in which he calls me "son," suggests I'm an "unadulterated hypocrite" and that I "find out what the hell you were put on earth for."

My editors and I decided we should post this email exchange in its entirety. Here is what he wrote in response to my reply:

Continue reading "Raw Salmon: Vermont's State Auditor In His Own Words" »

May 11, 2010

What's Up With Bite Me Organic Pizza?

A Craiglist ad that went up on May 10 implied that Bite Me would be shutting its doors. "Restaurant closing...Everything must go," it proclaimed. "Ovens, POS systems, dishwashers, sinks, etc. all need a new home."

Although we were unable to reach owner Jack O'Brien, staffers at the restaurant, including his daughter Emily, say the post is fraudulent. "My dad is trying to call Craigslist to find out who's saying it," she notes. "There was a different [inaccurate Craigslist post] a while ago, and none of us knew what it was talking about."

In the meantime, the Bite Me team is working on quelling the rumor. "It's disrupting business because people are calling and asking," says Emily.

The good news? Bite Me is actually growing, not shrinking. This summer, O'Brien is adding organic creemees to the menu, and a note on Front Porch Forum suggests he's got some other schemes in the works, too. More on that when we reach him!

VIDEO: Running of the Bulls in Burlington

5/8/10: Vermont artist Abby Manock celebrated her May birthday with a Running of the Bulls down Church St.  Spectators participated by dashing in front of the bulls who were making good time despite the high winds that threatened their paper bag bull masks. 

Please note: Video shot with the FLIP camera while running, more than a little bumpy.

Burlington Bombarded by Bovines

IMG_4778 In keeping with the grand tradition of Vermont being about a half a decade behind on every major trend, the painted fiberglass cows have arrived in downtown Burlington. Today (Tuesday), crews put the finishing touches on the lumbering herd, drilling them into their concrete moorings to ensure that no cow tipping takes place.

The bedazzled bovine initiative, dubbed "The Cows Come Home to Burlington," is an effort by the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce to get people to visit Church Street and presumably spend money and feel some sort of civic pride while they're doing it. The chamber's website calls it "a 24/7, non-weather dependent event." If by event they mean stationary objects for little kids to look at, then I suppose it can be called that.

Each of the 38 cows has been gussied up in its own special way by local artists including Katherine Montstream, Woody Jackson and Alex Dostie. Some have been decoupaged, others have stenciled, and still others been landscaped to within an inch of their inanimate lives. Vermont never met a bucolic farm landscape painting it didn't love and these cows are proof of that. A number of cows stand as homages to the Hudson River School.

Continue reading "Burlington Bombarded by Bovines " »

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