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November 2011

November 30, 2011

Kiss Him Goodbye!

Local-kissWith less than two weeks remaining before Progressives pick a candidate, Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss said this morning he would not seek a third term in March.

Kiss, who is a Progressive, made the announcement on WVMT-AM's Charlie, Ernie and Lisa program, which hosts the mayor each month for a chat with listeners.

Host Charlie Papillo didn't make it easy for the anxious news media. He opened with: "I want to jump right in with the question on everyone's mind: Bob how was your Thanksgiving vacation?"

Turkey and all the trimmings, Kiss said.

Then, the moment of truth: "Is there an announcement you'd like to make?" asked Papillo.

"I will not be running for reelection," said Kiss.

Continue reading "Kiss Him Goodbye!" »

November 29, 2011

Mountaintop "Open House" Looks to Break Big Wind on Lowell Mountain

618LM-LowelMNTWatching politics is akin to watching sausage-making — i.e., not for the squeamish or weak kneed. Opponents of industrial wind development on Vermont’s ridgelines are hoping the view from high atop Lowell Mountain will have a similar effect on anyone who is still undecided on this contentious issue.

For sure, that’s been the effect on Steve Wright. The former Vermont Fish and Wildlife commissioner under Gov. Madeleine Kunin has become a vocal opponent of Green Mountain Power’s Kingdom Community Wind Project, a 21-turbine industrial wind farm now under construction not far from his Albany, Vt., home.

"I’ve seen enough pictures of the site to make me nauseated," says Wright, 69, who can no longer make the strenuous hike up Lowell Mountain due to chronic back problems. "Frankly, I can’t even look at the pictures anymore."

But this weekend, the "Lowell Mountain Occupiers," a group that includes anti-industrial-wind protesters encamped near GMP's construction site as well as other grassroots opponents, are inviting others to make the 45-minute climb and then decide for themselves. On Sunday, December 4, the group is holding its second "Mountaintop Open House" adjacent to GMP's construction zone. The first open house, held November 13, attracted more than 90 people.  According to organizers of that event, a show of hands from the group indicated that they unanimously supported holding a second open house.

Continue reading "Mountaintop "Open House" Looks to Break Big Wind on Lowell Mountain" »

Who's Sitting Next to Vermont Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson in Tuesday's Burlington Free Press? Her Wife!

DSC00924A photo on the front page of Tuesday's Burlington Free Press captured a lighthearted moment from yesterday's swearing-in ceremony of Vermont Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson. The 46-year-old lawyer and gay rights advocate is responsible for the fact that same-sex couples can marry in Vermont.

To Robinson's left is Gov. Peter Shumlin, the guy who appointed her to the bench and for whom she has served as legal counsel for the past year.

To Robinson's right? The picture shows a smiling woman — with a camera — sharing a laugh with Robinson. But the caption doesn't identify her. Not a whisper. And she is, of course, Robinson's wife: Dr. Kym Boyman.

Normally such an omission would be no big deal. Standard, even. But the irony of this one can't be ignored.

Robinson has spent most of her professional life trying to get Vermont to recognize gay and lesbian relationships. She made a convincing case for civil unions before the Vermont Supreme Court in 1999. Then she masterminded the lobbying effort that led the legislature to pass same-sex marriage into law in 2009.

That Robinson's own partner remains nameless in a photo that otherwise perfectly documents her personal odyssey proves there's still work to be done.

If that was Mr. Robinson sitting next to Vermont's newest supreme court justice, do you think a copy editor would have tracked down the photographer to confirm his identity? No doubt.  

Justice for all? Not yet.

Vermont Dept of Health Reports Uptick in Whooping Cough Cases

Picture 101Two weeks ago, I reported this story about efforts by the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) to boost Vermont's rate of childhood vaccinations, which over the last decade has fallen from one of the highest rates in the country to nearly dead last.

Now the health department is reporting a troubling consequence of that trend.

Yesterday afternoon, the VDH alerted health care providers statewide about an uptick in the number of cases of pertussis, a vaccine-preventable disease more commonly known as whooping cough. According to the VDH, 27 cases of pertussis have been confirmed in Vermont this year alone, including six cases in the past month. Four confirmed cases have been reported in Chittenden County and one each in Washington and Bennington counties — with additional cases pending confirmation in Chittenden, Addison and Windham counties. The patients' ages (for confirmed cases) range from 5 months to 67 years old.

The incidence of pertussis had been on the decline since 2005 following the introduction of a new booster vaccine, recommended for children ages 10 and up. Confirmed cases dropped from 110 in 2006 to 11 in 2009. But last year, that number began creeping up again. Health experts say the rise may be due to the cyclical nature of the disease, which seems to reemerge every three to five years, as well as Vermont's declining rate of childhood vaccinations.

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease of the lungs caused by a bacterial infection. Anyone who has clinical symptoms of pertussis should be evaluated by a health care provider.  People with suspected or confirmed cases of pertussis should be kept out of school, work and group activities until five days of antibiotic therapy have been completed.

Continue reading "Vermont Dept of Health Reports Uptick in Whooping Cough Cases" »

Alice Eats: Juniper's Fare

IMG_324923 Commercial Dr., Waterbury, 496-5504

Two weeks ago, many hearts broke when owners John and Jen Kimmich announced that they would not reopen the Alchemist Pub & Brewery in Waterbury. To some, it seemed Tropical Storm Irene had won.

In some cases she has. Last weekend, I decided to look on the bright side and visit a story of triumph. Juniper's Fare, the localvore café owned and operated by the Moretown Church of the Crucified One, was gutted by Irene. With faith and hard work, the restaurant reopened in September, less than a month after it flooded.

IMG_3256I had tried its food just a week prior to the disaster and was eager to get back for another taste.

The interior, with its chalkboard menu against a bright-red wall is new, as is the addition of table service. Reminders that the restaurant is run by a Franciscan ministry, including the Bible and prayer request form at right, remain. Statues gathered on missions in Africa remind diners that a portion of all proceeds go to Everyone's Child, Inc., a charity that builds schools in third-world countries.

There is nothing third-world about the food at Juniper's Fare, though it is rustic and proudly handcrafted.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Juniper's Fare" »

From the Archives: Seven Days' 2002 Profile of Tom Wicker

TomwickerAuthor and journalist Tom Wicker died on Friday, November 25. Wicker was perhaps best known for covering the Kennedy assasination for the New York Times in 1963. After retiring from the Times, Wicker moved full-time to his home in Rochester.

Kevin J. Kelley profiled Wicker for the January 9, 2002 issue of Seven Days in a story called "Wicker's Word: A former Times man and presidential observer weighs in on world — and Vermont — events". The story predates our website, but we've reprinted it below.


One of the great journalists of the 20th century lives quietly now in a comfortable old farmhouse in central Vermont. Tom Wicker has come a long way from Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. That's when he first earned a place in American journalism history by writing the lead story in the New York Times on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Continue reading "From the Archives: Seven Days' 2002 Profile of Tom Wicker" »

November 25, 2011

Movies You Missed 14: The Family Tree

Family-treeThis week in movies you missed: Just for Thanksgiving, a family dramedy that tried to be American Beauty and fell on its face.

What You Missed

The Burnetts are one of those adorably dysfunctional families you only see in the movies. Mom (Hope Davis) is a control freak who organizes charity functions when she isn't having secret role-playing sex with neighbor Chi McBride.

Dad (Dermot Mulroney) barely seems to notice anything besides the rack on a secretary in his office (Christina Hendricks, playing her "Mad Men" role without any of the interesting parts, or really anything to do besides standing around showing off her physical endowments). Teenage son Eric (Max Thieriot) has teamed up with a group of religious zealots and is really into shooting guns, much to his parents' dismay. Teen daughter Kelly (Britt Robertson) wears too much eyeliner and has random hookups.

Then, in the time-honored way of movie contrivances, Mom gets bumped on the head and returns home an amnesiac.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed 14: The Family Tree" »

Mark Bittman and Bernie Sanders Visit Burlington Intervale

IMG_3240This morning, food journalist, author and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman and Sen. Bernie Sanders gathered farmers and employees of the Burlington Intervale Center for a conference concerning the food system at the 350-acre farming compound. "I'm interested in things that move the agricultural system forward," Bittman told Seven Days.

It was in 1988, during Sanders' tenure as mayor, that Will Raap, founder of Gardener's Supply, began to remake Burlington's unofficial dumping ground into a composting facility. At the time, it contained 350 dead cars and 980 tires. Raap started Vermont's first CSA the following year, he remembered. "It was clear that, as a city, we could do better," added Sanders.

Bittman, who published Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes in 2008, seemed particularly impressed with the Intervale's Food Hub. During his tour of the facility, two young farmers, Thomas Case of Arethusa Farm and Eric Seitz of Pitchfork Farm, talked about the boom that their farms have seen since the Hub opened 2007. 

"The Food Hub has been great for us developing our market," said Case of the distribution facility. "We don't have that many accounts that do that [volume] other than City Market."

As Case left the event, Bittman told him that he hoped to see him in the spring. Sounds like the author might have plans to look at more of the Intervale when it's in action. "The Food Hub is really sort of innovative. It will be interesting to see where it goes, though there's no reason it won't do great," said Bittman, who was in Vermont for Thanksgiving with his father-in-law.

I asked Bittman after the tour if he had recently made any restaurant discoveries on the level of his rave about the Green Cup in Waitsfield, currently closed due to flooding.

"I don't think I’ve been to three restaurants in the state since then," said the writer. "Not that I’m suggesting Vermont restaurants aren’t excellent, but I like to cook, and the ingredients here are so wonderful, I like to stay home." He specifically named the 70-share CSA run by Brookfield farmer Clotilde Hryshko. Perhaps Hryshko, a sometime blogger on, will be the next big name in Vermont food. Or maybe the Intervale will get some some sought-after New York Times ink of its own.



November 23, 2011

Leunig's Bistro to Expand — Upward

LeunigsIn spite of the enduring popularity of Leunig's Bistro, co-owner Bob Conlon is sometimes dismayed by the crowds that build in the front room as people wait for tables.

"When you're packed in like sardines and it's three deep at the bar, by the time you sit down, you may not be in the best of moods," he observes. "It's a great problem for us to have, but we want to make the experience better."

So 30-year-old Leunig's is growing — vertically. The owners have taken out a lease on a space directly above the restaurant, and are busy building a bar and lounge that should be open between Christmas and New Year's.

"It will not be Burlington's new nightclub. We'll close it at the same time as the restaurant," says Conlon. "We're really looking for a nice, comfortable place where perhaps you can sit and have a drink and conversation at the same time. We're hoping to keep it pretty civilized." 

A new set of stairs behind the ground floor bar will lead to the upstairs room, which will seat around 40 and have a limited bar menu — pâté, cheese plates and the like. A few new bartenders have already joined the staff in anticipation of the opening.

Conlon hopes the new space will also equip Leunig's to take on private parties. "Right now, we turn down wedding rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, and company parties. So we'll be able to use the room for those," he says. 




Sakura Bana to Shutter

Picture_199Restaurateurs looking for a coveted Church Street space, be advised: According to proprietor Ron Takahashi, the owners of Sakura of Japan Inc., which runs Sakura Bana Japanese Restaurant, have decided not to renew its lease when it expires this winter. Takahashi isn't yet certain when Burlington's oldest sushi spot will close for good, but guesses it will be in January or February.

To prepare for the closure, the menu at Sakura has been streamlined, offering the same dishes at both lunch and dinner, with smaller portions and prices at the earlier meal. Sushido in Williston, also owned by Sakura of Japan Inc., will remain open, serving ultra-fresh rolls and homestyle cooked meals.

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