Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

NOTE: Blurt has been retired and is no longer updated regularly. For new content, follow these links:

OFF MESSAGE: Vermont News and Politics
BITE CLUB: Food and Drink Blog

44 posts categorized "Tropical Storm Irene" Feed

August 02, 2012

Slamming Shumlin on FEMA Funding, Brock Makes Irene a Campaign Issue

Brock1If you thought Tropical Storm Irene wouldn't become a political football this campaign season, think again.

At a hastily-called press conference Wednesday morning on the flood-damaged campus of the Waterbury State Office Complex, Sen. Randy Brock (pictured) took a direct shot at the crowning achievement of Gov. Peter Shumlin's first term: his administration's response to last August's devastating storm.

Clutching a stack of emails he requested from the Shumlin administration, the Franklin County Republican said the correspondence proved the governor misled the legislature and the public into believing the Federal Emergency Management Agency had promised more recovery funding than it had.

"Governors and governments can't withhold facts and information from the public they serve. Vermont taxpayers are not going to be satisfied with vague statements and reassurances that we have from the governor. They demand facts. They demand and deserve answers," Brock said, listing warning signs he gleaned from FEMA's emails to the administration. "These warnings weren't told to the legislature. And the question is: Why weren't we told? Why weren't Vermonters told?"

Brock's charge comes nearly two weeks after the Shumlin administration revealed to legislators new worries about how much money FEMA would provide to help rebuild the Waterbury complex and the Vermont State Hospital. In recent meetings with legislative leaders, administration officials claimed that FEMA had backtracked from earlier guarantees, potentially leaving taxpayers liable for tens of millions of dollars.

Continue reading "Slamming Shumlin on FEMA Funding, Brock Makes Irene a Campaign Issue" »

June 21, 2012

More on Markowitz's Muddled Message

As we reported in this week's Fair Game, Agency of Natural Resources Sec. Deb Markowitz made a bit of a whoopsie last week at a Norwich University panel on Tropical Storm Irene recovery efforts. The ANR secretary and former gubernatorial candidate apparently stepped on her boss' message, criticizing Gov. Peter Shumlin's handling of the state's waterways in the weeks and months afer the August flooding.

The episode was first reported by Vermont Public Radio's Steve Zind, who quoted Markowitz as saying, "[Shumlin] early on made some statements, some ‘dig-baby-dig' type statements, that inspired Vermonters to help out in ways that ultimately are very costly not just to the ecosystem but to the infrastructure."

After administration officials pushed back on her comments, Markowitz declined or ignored several requests for an interview (we suspected she might have been stuck in time out), but she did send us an e-mail saying her comments "were misinterpreted."

Well, VPR has now posted a two-and-a-half minute audio clip of Markowitz's remarks on its website, providing a little more context to the episode.

Did VPR get it wrong? Actually, the comments are even worse than we thought. Markowitz bemoans the fact that she and her agency "didn't have a chance to educate [Shumlin] in advance" and failed to "manage up" — i.e. get her boss on message.

Continue reading "More on Markowitz's Muddled Message" »

June 06, 2012

Radio Show 'State of the Re:Union' Comes to Vermont

Stateoftherunion_wrj_vermont1-300x201A few months ago a young woman named Katrina Roi contacted Seven Days. She's an intern at "State of the Re:Union," a syndicated public-radio show and website that reports on locales around the U.S. I had heard this program on Vermont Public Radio a number of times and really enjoyed its in-depth explorations of not just the who/what/where of a place but of what makes its people tick. The soul of the community, as it were.

I also enjoyed the show's host, Al Letson, who's the executive producer, as well. He came from the poetry-slam movement and really gets delivery.

So I was excited to find out that SOTRU was coming to Vermont. Tropical Storm Irene was the impetus; Letson and crew wanted to know how Vermonters lived through, and came out of, that experience, which devastated so many small towns in our state.

Continue reading "Radio Show 'State of the Re:Union' Comes to Vermont" »

May 17, 2012

License Plate Sales Not So "Vermont Strong" After All

Vermont_StrongTurns out those ubiquitous, green “I Am Vermont Strong” license plates aren’t quite as ubiquitous as Gov. Peter Shumlin thought.

Pete Hirschfeld over at the Vermont Press Bureau has the goods on a bit of a “miscommunication” between the gov’s office and the Department of Motor Vehicles over how many of the $25 plates have been sold. The state hopes to sell 50,000 of them, raising $1 million for the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund, which supports Vermonters affected by last year’s spring floods and Tropical Storm Irene.

At a press conference early last month, Shumlin ceremoniously bought what he thought was the 25,000th “Vermont Strong” plate sold. But as Hirschfeld found out, the gov actually bought the 25,000th plate made. Only 7832 have actually been sold, the DMV now says.Hope Shumlin kept his receipt!

So how did the governor’s communicators miscommunicate so badly?

Continue reading "License Plate Sales Not So "Vermont Strong" After All" »

October 06, 2011

Baseball Execs, Writers Step Up to the Plate for Flood Relief

Vtfarmers Many of Vermont's big names in music and art have stepped up to raise money for Vermonters affected by Tropical Storm Irene. Now it's the sports world's turn. If you're obsessed with your fantasy baseball team — or if you just watched Moneyball and find yourself suddenly interested in Sabermetric analysis — here's a flood relief fundraiser just for you.

ESPN baseball reporter, author and Vermont native Buster Olney is teaming up with his brother, Randolph farmer Sam Lincoln, to present Going to Bat for Vermont Farmers on November 12 at Vermont Technical College in Randolph. The event is a live roundtable on all things baseball with Olney, baseball reporter Peter Gammons, and three MLB general managers: Theo Epstein of the Boston Red Sox (at least for now), Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees, and Neal Huntington of the Pittsburgh Pirates (who's a New Hampshire native). Tickets are $20 for general admission, $50 for premier seating, or $250 for front row seats and access to a "V.I.P. Cocktail Hour" with the five panelists. So if you'd like to ask Epstein what the hell just happened with Terry Francona, now you can do it in person — for a good cause!

If you can't make it to Randolph for the event, you can still help by bidding in an online auction. Items up for bid include a round of golf with former major leaguer John Kruk, a jersey autographed by Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett, and an Olney-led tour of ESPN's Connecticut studio. Or you can just donate through Paypal. All proceeds from ticket sales, auction bids and donations will go to the Vermont Community Foundation's Farm Disaster Relief Fund.

Click here to read Dan Bolles' interview with Buster Olney from the January 19 issue of Seven Days.

October 05, 2011

GPN to Air on VPT

41576377 Miss out on tix for this Sunday's Irene benefit show with Grace Potter & the Nocturnals at the Flynn? You're in luck. Vermont Public Television will carry two hours of the gig, live on the teevee beginning at 8 p.m., and stream the broadcast on their website, And just so viewers don't feel like they're freeloading in our state's great hour of need, they can chip in with donations via phone or online during the broadcast. They won't, however, be able to sample Long Trail's Goodnight Irene Ale, a smooth-drinkin' brown ale brewed up especially for the show, which will be served at the Flynn and other bars around town. They'll just have to settle for cans of Heady Topper at home.

Speaking of Irene bennys, here's a vid put together by the fine folks at Okay Okay Creative documenting the recent Brave Little State benefit concert at Higher Ground.


October 04, 2011

NYC & Blue Man Group Love Vermont, Hate Irene

Land_venetian_header You can't throw a dart at the Seven Days calendar section these days without hitting an Irene benefit (because naturally, you'd be throwing darts at our paper, right?). They're everywhere from church basements to theaters to your neighbor's kid's romper room. And that's a good thing. We need to take care of each other, especially as lady winter breathes her icy breath down our necks, reminding us that tough times may be ahead for some. 

As we work to take care of ourselves and our neighbors, it's nice to hear that other places are trying to take care of us, too. On Monday, Oct. 10, a cadre of Vermont expats living in New York City are hosting a fundraiser for our brave little state. But not just any fundraiser featuring, say, the musical stylings of your cousin's garage band and a chicken supper by the local church's ladies auxiliary. This event, cheekily called I Vermont NY I-vermont-ny (think of an "I ♥ NY" T-shirt, then replace the heart with a silhouette of Vermont. Or just look at the photo at left), presented by Blue Man Group NYC and Brooklyn Bowl, will feature a handful of Blue Men, Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls and a few other special guests. Pretty big firepower for a flood fundraiser.

The event is organized by Vermont-bred artist Zea Barker, a clown, dancer, illustrator, makeup artist, art director, etc., and Isaac Littlejohn Eddy, an animator, cartoonist and Blue Man performer. Barker, who does makeup and wardrobe for the Blue Man Group in New York, says the impetus for the benefit was what she saw as a lack of national coverage of Irene's effect on Vermont. Few in New York took the storm seriously, Barker remembers. "There was a lot of attitude about how it was just nothing," she recalls. "But I started to realize very soon afterwards that Vermont was having problems."

Continue reading "NYC & Blue Man Group Love Vermont, Hate Irene" »

September 30, 2011

Gov. Peter Shumlin Snubs Entergy's Post-Irene Donations

Donation_jar Gov. Peter Shumlin recently thanked a host of private companies for their generous cash donations to state and local flood relief efforts, but there was one major omission: Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee.

The owner of the state's lone nuclear power plant has donated more than $130,000 to Windham County and Brattleboro relief efforts in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

Pro-VY blogger Meredith Angwin first noted the oversight on her blog Yes Vermont Yankee.

Shumlin praised numerous "corporate angels" (see list below) during a glad-handing event at National Life in Montpelier last week — including several that donated far less than Entergy. The media, naturally, were invited, but not the gov's nuclear nemesis. We're assuming that ENVY stills resides on Shumlin's "corporate demons" list.

The $130,000 in donations makes Entergy one of the more generous corporate donors to private and public relief efforts, along with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (which donated $250,000) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont ($150,000). At the top of the list is Vermont Public Radio, which raised more than $625,000 in a single-day fund-raising drive.

Continue reading "Gov. Peter Shumlin Snubs Entergy's Post-Irene Donations" »

September 27, 2011

Farmer Dinner Raises Some Bucks for Intervale Farmers

IMG_6248 I know what you're thinking: if I hear one more thing about an Irene benefit, I'm going to flip. And it's true, there has been a deluge of benefit dinners, concerts and lemonade stands since Irene, um, deluged our brave little state. But stick with me here. Andrea Todd's dinners to benefit flooded Intervale farmers are worth spilling a little ink over.

Todd, 34, is a jill of all trades. She is a self-employed private tutor and landscape designer. She's also a damn fine cook. For the past eight years, she's been hosting weekly dinners at her home during Vermont's short growing season. These dinners, called Café 51 after her house number, began as a way for Todd to use her farm share instead of having to dump half of it in the compost because she forgot about the turnips or arugula sitting in the back of her fridge.

At first, Café 51 was just a dinner party for friends. Then it was friends of friends. Last year it got to be so big, Todd began asking for donations to defray the extra cost of the meals. Todd, who studied studio art in college, says the dinners are a way for her to channel her creativity.

After Irene hit and laid waste to many of Todd's farmer friends' fields, she felt she needed to do something. "It was like, what can I do?" she says. "It just sort of clicked — I can host dinner parties to highlight the food." And so she has. 

Continue reading "Farmer Dinner Raises Some Bucks for Intervale Farmers" »

September 23, 2011

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

Continue reading "Expat Vermonters Launch Online Art Auction to Benefit Flood Victims" »

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684