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July 2010

July 23, 2010

Markowitz Fires Back Against "Half Truths and Mischaracterizations"

Markowitz Secretary of State Deb Markowitz fired back late Thursday against claims that her office has dropped the ball in handling its election responsibilities.

Earlier in the week, Republican Jason Gibbs, who hopes to succeed Markowitz in the role of the state's chief election officer criticized Markowitz for failing to show leadership and taking ownership of problems that arose in the days before early voting began on July 12.

Chief among those problems included town clerks' access to the statewide voter checklist, an internal email system that crashed, and improperly printed ballots delivered to several of the state's largest communities, including Brattleboro, Burlington and Montpelier. He also criticized Markowitz for not adequately notifying the public about the earlier primary date of Aug. 24.

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July 22, 2010

Combo Platter: Rutland Festival; Hardwick on "Here & Now"

By Alice Levitt and Suzanne Podhaizer

Rutland 'Round the World

Rutland has a rich history of introducing world cuisine to Vermont. The original Kong Chow restaurant opened more than 70 years ago. The Palms Restaurant served the Green Mountains' first pizza in 1949. The diverse city is continuing to represent with the Rutland Ethnic Food Festival, an event held by the Downtown Rutland Partnership, in conjunction with the city's sidewalk sale.

Both Kong Chow — now part Vietnamese and called Kong Chow Fusion — and the Palms will be there. The city's Italian heritage also will be celebrated with booths from Sabby's Pasta House & Sports Lounge, Cara Mia's and Sal's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria. Another vendor will be scooping Italian Ice.

A Rutland-based caterer named Youngla Nam will serve Vietnamese egg rolls and rice noodle stir fries. Festival staple Samosaman will represent the Republic of Congo. An Sim Benham of Rutland will offer Korean eats.

Of course, unadventurous eaters will have plenty of choices, too. Expect sandwiches, sausages and hot dogs from vendors ranging from Emma T's Take It to Go Buffet to the local Price Chopper.

Alice Levitt

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Seven Days Writer in the Slammer?

43a55_prison_girls_01 Because I am a complete navel gazer, I want to know everything there is to know about me. Particularly, I want to know everything there is to know about me on the WWW. Which is why I have a Google Alert set up with my name. Yep, that's right. I don't even have to manually ego-surf anymore; Google does it for me.

Basically, what this means is that when I do something awesome, Google lets me know about it. Like when I Tweet about being hungry or using the toilet, my Lauren Ober Google Alerts light up. Or when I blog about lost sweatshirts or cats stuck in trees, I am notified of my aforementioned awesomeness.

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July 21, 2010

Centennial Field: A Major League Monster


If there’s one thing Burlington politicians agree on, it’s keeping minor league baseball in the Queen City.

The Vermont Lake Monsters currently hold the best record in the New York-Penn League with a 21-9 record, and are at the top of their division (Stadler) by six games. At home, they have a 12-4 record.

Last week, the city council got behind an effort quietly taking place at City Hall — raising money from private and public sources to make millions of dollars' worth of improvements to the aging Centennial Field.

A task force will report back to the council in October with a range of possible ways to raise the funds necessary to either fix up Centennial or possibly build a new park in the county.

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July 20, 2010

Report: Entergy Vermont Yankee Lacks "Questioning Attitude"

250px-Vermont_Yankee_Nuclear_Power_Plant A key legislative oversight panel is criticizing Entergy Vermont Yankee's for lacking  a "questioning attitude" that has led to a number of system failures at the aging reactor in recent years.

The Vermont Yankee Public Oversight Panel (POP) also concluded that Entergy didn't deliberately mislead a legislative panel or a state consultant when it neglected to inform them last August about underground pipes that carry radionuclides.

The three-member panel includes former Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Peter Bradford, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, and retired nuclear scientist Fred Sears.

Last summer, Gundersen questioned key Entergy engineers about whether there were underground pipes that could potentially be leaking.

The response: No. Case closed.

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Wheeler Principal Removal Makes New York Times

“You can buy a lot of help for children with that money.”

That's what Joyce Irvine told a New York Times reporter after she was dismissed from her job as principal of the H.O. Wheeler Elementary School in Burlington's Old North End. The school, renamed the Integrated Arts Academy this year, has been deemed an "underperforming school" by the Obama administration.

Her ouster has raised hackles locally, but the national attention is giving new fuel to critics of federal education policies that punish schools even when they are showing improvement.

Wheeler students performed below federal standards on tests. The Burlington School District could qualify for $3 million in federal money to help its students -- provided it removed the principal of the underperforming school.

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Sarah Palin Protects Patriotic Americans From Racist Slurs

Freelance columnist for Seven Days Judith Levine sent this in:

Sarah-palin-thumb “Peaceful New Yorkers,” tweeted Sarah Palin, “pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.”

An hour later came another message: “Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing.”

These gentle words come in response to the proposal to build Cordoba House, an Islamic cultural complex including a mosque, on the site of the old Burlington Coat Factory building in downtown Manhattan near the site of the former World Trade Center.

Cordoba’s mission, according to its prospectus, is “promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture ... guided by Islamic values in their truest form – compassion, generosity, and respect for all.”

The Grizzly Mama in Chief adds her 140 characters of diplomacy to the less-couched comments of opponents testifying  against the complex at a New York landmarks hearing. These patriots denounced the mosque as a base for “spreading subversion,” “a citadel of Islamic supremacy” and tantamount to “moving the sunken ship from Pearl Harbor to erect a memorial for the Japanese kamikazes killed in the attack.”

Last we heard, Sarah (whose husband is a Yup’ik, in case you hadn’t heard) was expressing her outrage at the NAACP’s race-baiting demand that the Tea Party renounce its racist elements. “The charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand,” posted Sarah on her Facebook page.

Never mind the pictures circulated by "Tea Party Americans" of President Obama as a fuzzy-hatted pimp.  Or a savage with a bone in his nose.

Or Tea Party Express’ Mark Williams’ endlessly Islamaphobic spewing.

I could go on, but that would be an UNNECESSARY provocation.

Bite Club TV: Culinary Chainsaw Massacre

What better way to spend a hot summer day than getting sprinkled with ice as a chain saw carves away at it? I had that distinct pleasure a couple of weeks ago, when I joined Chef Dave Coolidge for a lesson in ice sculpting at The Essex, Vermont's Culinary Resort & Spa.

Not that he let me handle the heavy machinery. Instead, I helped scrape some ice into a giant trout sculpture, which took an honored place at Butler's brunch that Sunday.

Chef Coolidge shared with me that many of his frozen artworks end their lives when he and his kitchen staff use them for target practice. Guess this one was like shooting fish...

Alice Eats: Shelburne Steakhouse & Saloon

2545 Shelburne Road, Shelburne 802-985-5009

Two weeks after opening, 7 Nights reviewers have written six reviews of Shelburne Steakhouse. The diners were all eager for a return to Sirloin Saloon form in the space previously occupied by the lost classic. Critiques ranged from one star to five. I had to see for myself.

My server was clearly new  — and nervous. After taking my order, he had to return more than once with a question about something he forgot. When I had questions, he didn't have all the answers, but was eager to please and quickly found out what I wanted to know.

Pate Having already seen the menu online sans prices, I was expecting to pay $20 or more for entrées. I was surprised to see that tenderloin medallions cost only $16. Dinners, with unlimited visits to the salad bar, mostly cost right around that amount.

Though the salad bar is not as large as it was at the Sirloin Saloon, I filled a plate and still regretted missing several items. There were all the basic veggies, plus sweet, grilled squash and zucchini, sesame noodles and bacon-speckled potato salad. The best part: Homemade honey-chile vinaigrette, with a wonderful balance of tangy, earthy and sweet, in which I ended up dipping my bread once the salad was gone.

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July 19, 2010

Combo Platter: Flynn Food Festival Canceled; Barre Bites

By Alice Levitt and Suzanne Podhaizer

Flynn Moves On

After 26 years of hosting an annual Fine Wine & Food Festival, the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts has decided to move in a new direction. This year's event, originally scheduled for Sunday, September 19, has been canceled.

"We just made the decision within the last couple of days," says Membership and Special Events Manager Paula Roberts. Although last year's festival was a success, she says, the Center's staff decided it was time for some fresh ideas. "I don't know the people who originally conceived [the festival] because I wasn't here then, but I don't think anybody thought it would last 26 years," she says. "I think that says a lot."

Back then, there were only a few ways for artisan food producers to get the word out about their products, and the FWFF provided a cherished opportunity. Now, says Roberts, producers can do the same thing at myriad farmers markets. Not to mention that, over the past quarter-century, a bunch of other opportunities for wining and dining have cropped up.

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