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September 2011

September 23, 2011

VPIRG Backs Off Criticism of Gov. Shumlin's Energy Plan

Fairgame The Vermont Public Interest Research Group today had some harsh words for Gov. Peter Shumlin's new comprehensive energy plan, but then quickly took them back.

Earlier today, VPIRG clean energy advocate Ben Walsh fired off an email titled "Really? This is what we waited for?" The email criticized Shumlin's plan for being less aggressive in the development of renewable energy than his predecessor — Republican Gov. Jim Douglas.


"After more than six months of anticipation and hard work put forth by Vermonters all across the state, the Shumlin administration’s comprehensive energy plan was released last week. Parts of the plan are visionary but we need action, not just vision. Shockingly, the plan promotes slower clean energy adoption than we saw happen under the Douglas administration*," noted Walsh.

At the bottom of the email, Walsh adds this explanation after the asterisk:

"*Really. Since 2005, Vermont utilities have signed up for 13 percent of their electricity to come from new renewable projects by 2013. That is 1.6 percent new per year. The Shumlin plan is only calling for 1.1 percent new renewable electricity per year. :-("

I bet it was the emoticon that really peeved Team Shumlin. Whatever happened, less than four hours later Walsh's boss — James Moore — issued an apology under the email subject line, "Correction: too harsh, good plan."

Continue reading "VPIRG Backs Off Criticism of Gov. Shumlin's Energy Plan" »

Grazing: Warm Sweet Corn & Pesto Salad at the Black Krim Tavern

Glass Deep in central Vermont is an old farming town, and in that town is an alley-like street, and along that street is a dim, sparkly space, and inside that space is a copper bar and along that bar, recently, was a bowl of garlicky white-wine-butter broth, and in that broth were warm kernels of sweet corn, wedges of heirloom tomatoes, a smear of tangy pesto and wilting baby lettuces... and then, in a few bites, the broth and the corn and the pesto were inside me, and it was happiness.

Sometimes when I'm heading south, I take exit 4, wend down into Randolph and take a seat inside the Black Krim Tavern. Situated on Merchants Row, it's sort of hard to find, but it's magnetic: dim, sexy, friendly and reasonably priced, with small plates of simple but creative fare, turned out by talented hands.

Cornpesto_small Owners Sarah Natvig (front of the house) and chef Emily Wilkins have a reverence for the farmers around them. Natvig is married to one: Chip Allen, who runs Pebble Brook Farm (and took the photo at right), which provides some of Black Krim's produce. Other booty, like the delicate sweet corn, comes from a constellation of local farms. Wilkins uses it all — plus other nonlocal ingredients — to turn out tiny explosions of deliciousness: fish cakes with lemon aioli; poached shrimp over rice noodles with a coconut-lime sauce; braised chicken crépes with napa cabbage and cremini mushrooms; you get the idea. The menu rotates constantly, too, as it should. I had an amazing lentil salad there a few months ago that is no longer on the menu. I trust it will come around again. In the meantime, I have a lot left to try.

I consider any chef who thinks to muddle corn and lettuce in a white wine broth a kindred spirit. Ditto for a bartender (Natvig) who offers samples of her hand-selected wines until you find one you like. She pours craft beer and sake martinis, too. I only wish Black Krim were closer. 

Expat Vermonters Launch Online Art Auction to Benefit Flood Victims

Rockwell_Telephone_Composite2final On the night Tropical Storm Irene pummeled her home state, Charity Clark was relaxing on her couch in Brooklyn, relieved that the much-hyped hurricane had passed without incident in New York. She took a break from reading The Count of Monte Cristo to noodle around on Facebook. That's when she saw the video of floodwaters swallowing up the Lower Bartonsville covered bridge.

"When I saw that video, I practically had to breathe into a paper bag," says Clark, who grew up in Ludlow and Manchester. Then she saw a post from her cousin, who lives in Ludlow, saying she and her mother had to evacuate their home. Clark was horrified. "Immediately you think of not just the covered bridges, but all the people who are suffering," she says.

Clark, 36, isn't an artist; she's a lawyer. But when her childhood friend Shane Chick, a stay-at-home dad and printmaker in Maine, posted a call to artists on Facebook for a flood benefit, she knew she had to get involved. Within 48 hours of the tropical storm, Chick and another Ludlow buddy now living in Brooklyn, Heather Conrad, had hatched "Highwater heART," a four-day online auction to benefit the Vermont Food Bank.

So far, more than 20 works from artists around the country have been donated, plus several pieces by Vermonters, including painters Warren Kimble and Katharine Montstream, cartoonist Jeff Danziger and woodcut printmaker Mary Azarian. The auction opens on the one-month anniversary of the flood, Wednesday, September 28, and continues through Saturday, October 1, at

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Sluts on Parade in Burlington

5858649408_c17ec44494_b No, really. The title is true. Sluts in fact will be on parade in Burlington. At noon on Saturday, self-professed sluts, slut-lovers and friends of sluts will be taking a stand on Church Street against rape-victim-blaming and other crimes against women. The first annual SlutWalk is part of a global movement to draw attention to various women's issues (really humanity's issues) by taking back the word "slut" and empowering the ladies.

Quick history on SlutWalks: Back in April, a Toronto police officer told a class of college students that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." Obviously, this pissed off a lot of ladies and from their ire sprang the SlutWalk concept. They decided to march in solidarity to decry the notion that some women bring sexual violence on themselves and to protest slut-shaming and victim-blaming. As the organizers of the first march wrote, women “are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result…. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work.”

Since the Toronto rally, which drew thousands of participants — many dressed in little more than some lacy skivvies — the movement has spread to more than 70 cities across the globe. SlutWalks have taken place in London, Sydney, Sao Paolo and New Delhi. In the U.S., there have been marches in Chicago, Denver, Boston and Seattle. And now little Burlington, Vt., can join in the fun. 

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Rep. Welch Joins GOP, Approves Disaster Aid Spending Bill (VIDEO)

Welch U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) bucked his caucus early Friday morning and joined the GOP majority to approve additional funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and partially pay for it by making cuts in government loan programs designed to support fuel efficiency and investments in renewable energy.

Welch, a chief deputy whip in the Democratic caucus, was one of six Democrats to join with 213 Republicans in approving the measure. A similar measure failed to pass the House on Wednesday, largely because Democrats opposed linking the disaster relief to budget cuts and Tea Party Republicans who thought there weren't enough budget cuts to offset the disaster relief spending.

Welch's vote came despite his visceral disapproval to linking spending cuts to disaster relief.

Welch railed his GOP colleagues Wednesday (see video below) for forcing budget cuts in order to pay for disaster relief, something he said has never been done before. Despite his objections, however, Welch told Seven Days in a phone interview he voted in favor of the measure both Wednesday and early Friday for a simple reason: He felt it was his obligation as Vermont's lone voice in the U.S. House to support getting money to the flood-damaged state as quickly as possible.

Continue reading "Rep. Welch Joins GOP, Approves Disaster Aid Spending Bill (VIDEO)" »

September 22, 2011

Colchester Town Manager Demands Officials Resign Over Camp Holy Cross Position

Camp Holy Cross In this week's Seven Days, I wrote about Colchester's upcoming special election on Oct. 4 to decide whether the town should buy the 27-acre Camp Holy Cross property from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington for $4.5 million. The diocese is selling off the lakefront real estate on Malletts Bay to help pay settlements to victims of its priest sex-abuse cases in Vermont. To read that original story, click here.

Apparently, Town Manager Al Voegele was less than pleased with Tuesday's announcement by the Colchester Community and Economic Development Advisory Council (CEDAC) that it was formally recommending that citizens vote against purchasing the property — in direct contradiction to the selectboard's own position. In emails and postings on Front Porch Forum, CEDAC Chair James Ehlers and Vice Chair Dave Usher called the potential Holy Cross purchase "fiscally imprudent" and the current time frame for evaluating it "untenable given the scope of the commitment at hand."

In an email response Thursday to CEDAC's announcement, Voegele demanded the resignation of the panel's chair and vice chair.

"CEDAC, as an instrument of the municipality, has no authority to express a public opinion counter to the policy of the selectboard," Voegele wrote. "The selectboard has been very clear that their goal as a board is to inform the public of the opportunities and liabilities of buying [Camp Holy Cross]. The Selectboard’s goal is to turn out a large number of citizens to vote. The Board has established a citizens committee to develop options for public discussion."

Voegele goes on to write that, "Your actions undercut the hard work of this citizens committee and the selectboard’s goal in having a community discussion unbiased by municipal government opinion. Finally, I am always fine with civil discourse but I will never bend to or accept a threat by anyone against myself as a person, as town manager, or as representative of the Colchester Government. Your most recent email demands that you now resign your membership in CEDAC."

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September 21, 2011

Hen of the Wood and WhistlePigs at the New Hotel Vermont

IMG_2772 The Harbor Terrace at the Marriott Courtyard Burlington Harbor was the place to be this evening. Gov. Peter Shumlin was there to cut the ribbon at the ground-breaking ceremony for Hotel Vermont.

Mortimer and Mauve, the mascots of WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey, were there, too, in no less official a capacity. Dressed in a miniature tuxedo and a paillette-bedecked ball gown, respectively, the pigs were the ideal spokespeople for the drinks being served. But more on that later.

Hotel Vermont will open on Cherry Street between the Marriott and Macy's in April 2013. Its 7700 square feet and LEED-certification are notable, but the food is what many Burlingtonians are buzzing about. When Hotel Vermont opens, so will Hen of the Wood Burlington. One of the hotel's owners, Westport Hospitality founder Jay Canning, was able to convince his friend, HotW chef-owner Eric Warnstedt, that two restaurants are better than one.

Continue reading "Hen of the Wood and WhistlePigs at the New Hotel Vermont" »

Eat, Drink & Help a Farmer

Hurrican_flats_2One in 10 Vermont farms lost their summer and fall crops in the deluge of Tropical Storm Irene, but the watertight farm-to-fork connections here mean that plenty of chefs are rallying to their side — with dinners, auctions and other creative endeavors. Next time you go out, why not make it count? Here's an assortment of upcoming benefits and relief efforts around the state.

Ongoing, through Friday, September 23: Proceeds from food sold at The Skinny Pancake's new Airstream trailer — parked on the UVM campus — go to the Intervale Center Farmers Recovery Fund. 

• Friday, September 23, 7 p.m.: At Stowe's Oktoberfest this weekend, all proceeds from the opening gala at the Jackson Arena — aptly named Roktoberfest — benefit flood-relief efforts around Waterbury, including damaged food businesses there. Music from 7 lbs. of Pork is free, but the wursts, beer and wine aren't — each cha-ching means money for flood victims.

Continue reading "Eat, Drink & Help a Farmer" »

Farm Workers File Racial Profiling Complaint With VT Human Rights Commission (Updated With Police Video)


The two undocumented farm workers turned over to the federal immigration authorities by the Vermont State Police last week have filed a racial profiling complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission, asserting that the state trooper's suspicion was based solely on the color of their skin.

Danilo Lopez (pictured in hat) and Antonio Meza-Sandoval, both from Mexico, were detained following a traffic stop on I-89 in Middlesex on September 13, when a car in which they were passengers was pulled over for going 88 mph. On Monday, they filed a formal complaint at the Human Rights Commission offices.

"We are hopeful that this process will confirm that what happened was discriminatory so that it won't happen again to anyone in Vermont," Lopez said in a statement. "We also hope that the State will take measures to improve its Bias-Free-Policing policy and clearly direct police to not discriminate based on suspected immigration status."

The complaint follows public release of the police video (above) from the cruiser that stopped the car the farm workers were riding in. After viewing the 35-minute video, Lopez said he "re-lived the officer's pressure. He focused immediately on us upon approaching the vehicle. He threatened me with one last chance to speak up 'or else,' even though I wanted to remain silent."

Also, state Rep. Kesha Ram (D-Burlington) is wading into the controversy, saying in a statement released by the Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project that, "Upon watching clips of the detention of Danilo and Antonio, I am deeply concerned as both a state legislator and a person of color. We cannot reasonably enforce broken federal immigration policies in our state that are disconnected from the reality of our agricultural needs and practices. This incident strengthens my resolve to end racial profiling in Vermont, and I look forward to working with Governor Shumlin to that end."

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September 20, 2011

Alice Eats: Misery Loves Co.

IMG_2741, 802-825-1909

It's long been my goal to have real-live down-home barbecue available nearby. Much as I love the competition-style ribs at the Belted Cow Bistro, the atmosphere there can feel a little formal for such finger lickin' cuisine. I harbor no such feelings about my own couch.

That's why Misery Loves Co. answers a yearning from deep within my heart. Last Friday, I arrived home from work to find the paper bag at right waiting on my deck. It was packed with the stuff of my wildest dreams, namely two kinds of smoky meats and all the sides I could want.


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