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April 28, 2011

Burlington Telecom Seeks Delay in Civil Case (Again)

Gavel If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And again. And again. And …

For the sixth time, Burlington Telecom is asking Superior Court Judge Helen Toor to delay a civil court case filed by two disgruntled Burlington taxpayers.

Instead of Toor, BT wants the Vermont Public Service Board to weigh in on proposed fixes to its financial and regulatory problems first — fixes the city has yet to propose to the PSB.

The city is expected to update the PSB later this week on its efforts to restructure its finances and potentially find a new business partner.

The civil suit — filed last year — seeks immediate repayment of the $16.9 million BT borrowed from the city’s “cash pool” to prop up the struggling muni telecom. It also names Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold as a defendant, and he is potentially on the hook to repay some of the money. Leopold sought, and was denied, immunity from the lawsuit.

Leopold offered a tempered, and brief, apology to city taxpayers two weeks ago when he announced his resignation, which is effective June 30.

According to its original certificate of public good, BT was required to repay the money within 60 days and it failed to do so. Last year, the city agreed to a court order barring BT from incurring additional debt to the city.

The two taxpayers, Fred Osier and Gene Shaver, argue that the city is currently in contempt of that order.

How so? In December, the city revealed that it paid $227,795 to consultants Dorman & Fawcett to renegotiate BT’s lease with CitiCapital, along with roughly $9000 in other BT-related expenses — all out of the city’s general fund. The city defended those payments, claiming the consultants’ work benefited the city, not just BT.

The taxpayers’ attorney, Norman Williams, disagrees.

“There should be nothing coming out of the general fund to support Burlington Telecom,” said Williams. “BT should stand on its own.”

A hearing on the contempt charge is set for May 23, unless the judge grants the stay. Toor has denied BT’s requests for stays five previous times. BT's latest request was filed April 15. Williams filed his response last Friday.

As Williams notes in his brief asking the judge to deny BT’s request, "Defendants' Motion for Continuance recalls Albert Einstein's definition of insanity: 'Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.'"

Sounds like BT's business plan these days.

A separate criminal review being conducted by Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan is near completion. His office interviewed more than 15 people earlier this year and is now wading through testimony and state law to determine what, if any, laws were broken and if any charges will be filed.

Donovan was handed the case last November, after the previous prosecutor — Orleans County State's Attorney Keith Flynn — was named Vermont's public safety commissioner by Gov. Peter Shumlin.

My outrage meter has been pegged by this so many times, I got nothin more to write.

But you wrote anyway. And we're so glad you did. You added so much to the debate.

At least Burlington (and their insurer) will be off the hook for Leopold's significant legal costs once he's out. Unless Kiss pulls a fast one.

Which probably means we'll be paying out for a long time.

Let's see . . . The latest is that the Mayor's choice for Airport Director can't get confirmed so he's withdrawn his application.

Can Mayor Clown get ANYTHING right?




(Echoing silence)

The workweek starts on Monday morning at about 8:00 am or so. When this guy goes to the office every day, what exactly does he do? It seems that there's not really a lot going on, and what little work product the taxpayers see is complete nonsense.

I doubt that Burlington will be off the hook when Leopold leaves wishful thinking dude. He is covered as an employee at the time of the suit. I just hope that Toor shoves a red hot poker into Johnny sideways and deep.

Leopold will be facing Federal charges soon for the misappropriation of Federal funds ask your self why the airport bonds were downgraded to junk status---connect the dots and Leopold's name comes up like three lemons on a one armed bandit.

He commingled funds and used them for what? The BT over build doesn't add up look deeper you may be snorkeling in the Bahamas before you get your answers.

Burlington should have been off the hook as soon as Toor ruled that he's not protected as an employee. He's on his own legally, but Burlington's insurer is still paying for his representation - which was never anyone in the City Attorney's office, of course. There's really no reason for it, but I'm not surprised.

It's time someone steps up and does something...anything.

Toor : Find Kiss and Leopold in contempt and hear this trial.

PSB : BT is making them look useless, time and time and time again nothing has been accomplished. They continue to miss deadlines and dates set asking for extension after extension. It's ridiculous.

AG's office : File some fucking charges already!! Flynn, screwed around for months, then ducked out. Donovan has been sitting around with his fingers up his butt for 5 more months. Exactly, how hard is it to figure out "if there are charges?" The evidence is already there on record, under oath, etc. They broke state statute. Audit shows it was repeated and intentional. For Christ's sake, TJ is worthless, please someone with some actual drive to do the job run against this guy next time around.

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