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March 2011

March 31, 2011

Entergy: No Sale of Vermont Yankee

Yankee At the close of business yesterday Entergy issued a press release straight out of "Deal or No Deal."

The deal? The company announced that it had completed contract talks with Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC), the state's third largest utility, on a two-year agreement to sell power.

The no deal? That it had failed to find a buyer for Vermont Yankee.

In reality, the proposed deal with VEC is subject to approval by VEC’s Board of Directors, and is contingent on the plant running after March 2012.

Last week, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued VY a 20-year license extension, allowing it to operate until 2032. However, the state Public Service Board has yet to issue a certificate of public good, because the Vermont Senate last year voted to deny VY a license extension. In 2006, when the Vermont Legislature approved the storage of spent fuel in dry casks it also inserted itself as an arbiter in whether VY could remain open beyond 2012.

It is expected that Entergy will file suit against Vermont, arguing that federal law preempts any state decision on the operation of nuclear power plants.

"Of course, we're expecting an Entergy preemption suit, perhaps any day now," Attorney General Bill Sorrell tells Seven Days. Sorrell is continuing to investigate whether Entergy Vermont Yankee officials lied under oath to state regulators about the existence of underground pipes — pipes that later were the source of several leaks of tritium into the groundwater and Connecticut River.

Continue reading "Entergy: No Sale of Vermont Yankee" »

March 30, 2011

Rejected Headlines: Philip Glass

Philip Glass Writing snappy headlines is hard work. No, really. It is. Choosing a handful of words that both grab the reader's attention and impart some clue to what a story is about can be an exercise in madness. And especially in a pun-friendly environment like 7D, there is a fine line between clever and precious.

This week's edition features a story I wrote about composer Philip Glass, an enigmatic and intimidating figure if ever there was one. Given his stature, his body of work and the general direction and tone of our interview, deciding upon a headline that worked was especially challenging. There was a lot of brainstorming involved. And a lot of bad ideas. What follows are some of the best — by which I of course mean the worst. Feel free to add your own in the comments. 

- "The Imaginarium of Dr. Glass"

- "Art of Glass"

- "Breaking Glass"

- "Blowing Glass"

- "Wait … Philip Glass Scored Candyman 2?"

- "Shards of Glass"

- "A Brief Interview with Philip-fucking-Glass"

- "Minimalism: High Art, or Intellectual Masturbation?" 

- "The Glass Menagerie"

- "Minimalism: … "

- "Philip Glass: the Polka Years"


Dean on Government Shutdown: If DNC Chair, 'I'd Be Quietly Rooting for it'

Dean Former Democratic Gov. Howard Dean is garnering some national attention for doing what he does best — shoot from the lip.

In today's installment of "Did Howard Dean Really Say That?", the former blunt-speaking presidential aspirant and chairman of the Democratic National Committee said he if were at the helm of the DNC he'd be "quietly rooting" for a government shutdown.

"I wouldn't like a shutdown from a statesman-like point of view, but if I was the head of the DNC I'd be quietly rooting for it," said Dean. Nervous laughter ensued and his comment seemed to take the audience, and the moderator by surprise. "Because I know who's going to get blamed. We've been down this road before."

And who would be blamed, Dean was asked?

"The Republicans are going to be blamed for it. They appear to be intransigent and overreaching and that is exactly what happened after 1994," said Dean. "They came in and they went too far."

During his remarks, Dean stoked the fear that Social Security checks and Medicaid and Medicare payments might cease if the government were to shut down.

The moderator corrected Dean that, in fact, as a practical matter Social Security checks would still be mailed.

Continue reading "Dean on Government Shutdown: If DNC Chair, 'I'd Be Quietly Rooting for it'" »

Artist George Tooker, 1920-2011

Eyewitness-tooker Artist George Tooker of Hartland, Vermont, died Sunday at his home. He was 90. The Burlington Free Press noted his passing in a front-page story this morning.

Writer Kevin J. Kelley profiled Tooker for Seven Days in 2009, after a career retrospective revived the painter's reputation. Wrote Kelley, "Hailing Tooker’s 'visionary imagination,' the New York Times called the show 'richly affecting.'"

Here's an excerpt from Kelley's profile:

If ever there was a radical disconnect between artist and subject matter, it can be found in the personality and paintings of George Tooker.

Now 88 and nearly deaf, Tooker lives modestly in a semi-decrepit farmhouse on a craggy hillside in Hartland. He smiles placidly, Buddha-like, while discussing a body of work filled with haunting images of urban angst and alienation. Many of Tooker’s paintings exude menace, but the man himself, clad in a checkered flannel shirt and denim pants, seems the very model of a mellow old Vermonter.

Tooker stopped painting in the last few years, so his meagerly furnished home displays no tools of his trade. It doesn’t contain his paintings, either; those reside in museums, in private collections or in storage with his dealer in New York. Casual visitors could never guess that their gentle host is one of the great American artists of the 20th century.

Click here to read the rest.

Image: "The Waiting Room" by George Tooker, 1959.

March 29, 2011

Investigative Series Finds New England Nukes Packed with Spent Fuel

Canary-nuclear-plant2On the heels of Japan's nuclear bad news comes this, closer to home.

Vermont Yankee and several other New England nuclear power plants are packed with up to five times more spent fuel than the storage pools were originally designed to hold. This discovery was made by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and Connecticut Hearst Media Group.

Allowing the industry to store additional fuel in the pools within the reactor containment building has saved nuclear power plant owners millions of dollars, the report found.

The investigative series — The Canary in the Nuclear Plant — launched Sunday in several Hearst papers in Connecticut as well as four Hearst television stations: WPTZ NewsChannel 5, WCVB in Boston, WMUR in New Hampshire and WMTW in Portland, Maine.

Continue reading "Investigative Series Finds New England Nukes Packed with Spent Fuel" »

Brunoise This!: Jr. Iron Cheftestants Serve It Up

Jrironchef1 Over the weekend I had the great good fortune of serving as one of 12 judges for the Vermont Jr. Iron Chef high school cooking competition, a collaborative project organized by Vermont Food Education Every Day and the Burlington School Food Project. I was asked to be a judge most likely because Tom Messner, weatherman to the stars, was already booked for some sort of local celebrity obligation and I'm clearly game for everything (see examples of gameness here and here). 

On my way to the Champlain Valley Expo, where the fourth annual event was being held, I had a mini panic. It went something like this: "Oh, shit. I'm super finicky. I don't eat meat, most nightshades, any stone fruits, food with the letter B in it, anything that has been "reconstituted," tree nuts, ground nuts, things with husks, things with stems, anything that has had dirt on it, food that is yellow, food in 'natural casings' and cilantro. I'm either going to have to fake it something fierce or pull out now." But since it was too late to ditch out and I was sort of hungry, I pulled on my big-girl pants and got to it. 

Continue reading "Brunoise This!: Jr. Iron Cheftestants Serve It Up" »

Alice Eats: The Café Window

97 Blakely Road, Suite 5, Colchester, 802-652-2444

IMG_2103 There's a new restaurant in Colchester, though you might not have noticed. The new owners of the former Café Window, have renamed the airy waterfront eatery the Café Window.

For better or worse, you can't get pho and eggrolls there anymore. You also can't get ice cream from the take out window — yet. A chalkboard entices that "The countdown to ice cream has begun!" Even on a somewhat gray March day, the wall-sized windows overlooking the lake made it feel like summer.

Though the place is all deli inside, diners are invited to sit down wherever they like and enjoy table service. Our server/counter girl brought the menus to our table and filled us in on specials.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: The Café Window" »

March 28, 2011

"Amnesty" Period Turns Up 52 Unregistered Apartments in Burlington

Apartment In the course of their travels, Burlington code-enforcement inspectors see a lot of apartments like this one (at right), with broken fixtures, missing smoke detectors and dangerously exposed electrical wires.

But it's the problem apartments the city doesn't know about that worries Code Enforcement director Bill Ward.

That's why, in February, Ward's office launched a two-month "amnesty period" to let landlords declare unregistered rental properties without incurring the normal penalties — up to $500 in fines and up to 30 days in jail. With three days to go before the amnesty window slams shut, Ward reports that the experiment turned up 52 previously unregistered apartments, which the city will inspect over the next 30 to 60 days.

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Annual Survey Finds Support for VY's Relicensure in 2012

Vy It's official: By a slim margin, Vermonters believe that Vermont Yankee should be relicensed in 2012. That's the key finding from this year's annual Doyle Survey, an unscientific snapshot of opinions collected on Town Meeting Day.

State Sen. Bill Doyle (R-Washington) — for whom the survey is named — collected roughly 15,000 surveys from 142 towns and cities.

"The results on the Vermont Yankee question this year was probably the closest of of any question," Doyle told Seven Days. It is also a sharp turnaround from preliminary results issued earlier this month. At that time, about 47 percent of respondents said they wanted VY closed in 2012, 40 percent wanted it relicensed and 12 percent weren't sure.

Now, with the results finalized VY supporters top opponents. Of those who filled out the survey, 45 percent wanted VY relicensed, 41 percent do not and 14 percent are unsure.

Last year, only 31 percent of respondents wanted VY relicensed. Perhaps the news coverage of those tritium leaks had something to do with public sentiment?

Illustration credit: Tim Newcomb

Continue reading "Annual Survey Finds Support for VY's Relicensure in 2012 " »

March 24, 2011

Super Hottt VT Birding Spots

File:Dendroica-pensylvanica-003 In our recent Animal issue of Seven Days, we profiled Bridget Butler, Bird Diva. If you've heard her dish about finches on VPR or seen her miraculously take flight with migratory snow geese on WPTZ (OK, that didn't happen), you know Butler is like one-stop shopping for all things bird. Her knowledge is so deep, in fact, that we couldn't fit it all in one article. 

For our story, Butler kindly supplied us with a list of top birding spots in the area. Unfortunately, we didn't have room for it in the paper. So, rather than deprive you of this insider info, we thought we'd throw it on the Web. Here it is:

Continue reading "Super Hottt VT Birding Spots" »

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