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August 2013

August 22, 2013

Leahy Stands by Assertion That Aid to Egypt Is "Not Being Sent"


Senator Patrick Leahy (right) with Norwich University President Richard Schneider. Photo by Taylor Dobbs
Senator Patrick Leahy (right) with Norwich University President Richard Schneider. Photo by Taylor Dobbs

In Sen. Patrick Leahy’s first public appearance since his office publicly parted with the White House over whether the U.S. has suspended military aid to Egypt, Vermont's senior senator stuck to his guns.

“It’s not being sent,” Leahy said Thursday in an interview after announcing new federal funding for Norwich University.

The answer came on the heels of a Daily Beast story published Monday quoting Leahy spokesman David Carle as saying, “[Sen. Leahy’s] understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest refuted that report Tuesday — calling it “not accurate” — and said the administration's review of its Egyptian aid policy was ongoing.

But, according to Leahy, it was accurate.

Continue reading "Leahy Stands by Assertion That Aid to Egypt Is "Not Being Sent"" »

Reports Shed New Light on the Death of Michael Hastings


Michael Hastings, the acclaimed journalist who considered Vermont his "spiritual home" after spending parts of his life here, died in a fiery, early-morning car wreck in Los Angeles in June. The strange circumstances surrounding the crash and Hastings' history of reporting articles unfriendly to the powers-that-be prompted a flurry of theories suggesting that the incident was an assassination.

Now an autopsy report and an exhaustive newspaper feature have revealed new details about Hastings and the crash that killed him.

On Tuesday the Los Angeles coroner's office released its official report about the Hastings crash, declaring it an accident and noting that drugs were found in his system, but, in the coroner's view, they did not play a role in the crash. Via the Los Angeles Times

Coroner's officials said Hastings had traces of amphetamine in his system, consistent with possible intake of methamphetamine many hours before death,  as well as marijuana. Neither were considered a factor in the crash, according to toxicology reports. 

The cause of death was massive blunt force trauma consistent with a high-speed crash. He likely died within seconds, the report said.

Continue reading "Reports Shed New Light on the Death of Michael Hastings" »

Vermonters Follow in the Footsteps of Original MLK Marcher Richard Kemp

KEMP 001At least 50 Vermonters will be in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to take part in a mass march remembering and updating the historic protest held at the Lincoln Memorial 50 years ago.

Richard Kemp, 80, won't be part of the throng converging on the nation's capital this weekend to demand racial justice. He's been there, done that.

Kemp participated in the August 28, 1963, March on Washington with his wife and their six young children. They journeyed to D.C. by bus from Peekskill, N.Y., where Kemp was working for IBM.

Still an activist, Kemp recalls feeling "elevated, uplifted" for being part of what a book reviewer in last Sunday's New York Times described as "the most famous mass gathering in American history."

Continue reading "Vermonters Follow in the Footsteps of Original MLK Marcher Richard Kemp " »

Morning Read: In Iowa, Howard Dean Says He's... Backing Hillary

MorningreadAs we noted last week (quoting the great Chris Cillizza), "No politician goes to Iowa by accident." The same generally holds true for New Hampshire — unless you're already in Vermont and you really, really need to get to Boston.

So former governor Howard Dean's trip to Iowa Wednesday and his plans to visit New Hampshire next month have gotten bored, horse-race-loving political types (I admit it! I'm one of them!) into a tizzy.

Of course, the less-often-stated corollary to the Cillizza maxim is this: "Most politicians who go to Iowa just want people to think they'll run for president." In our view, Dean falls squarely in that camp. Dude's looking for some press coverage — and he knows that's the way to get it (see: this blog post). 

Continue reading "Morning Read: In Iowa, Howard Dean Says He's... Backing Hillary" »

August 21, 2013

Video: Fifty Years After Joining March on Washington, Sanders Looks Back

Sanders.UCFifty years ago next week, a young University of Chicago student activist took a bus to the nation's capital to take part in the March on Washington.

Now a 71-year-old U.S. senator from Vermont, that same man is reminiscing about what he calls "one of the most memorable and important speeches in the modern history of the United States of America."

In a video produced by his Senate office, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) appears in front of the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in August 1963. Gesticulating to the camera like a museum docent or a college professor, the senator recalls what he saw that day.

"I remember that very well, not by simply seeing it on TV or reading about it," Sanders says, pointing in the direction of the Washington Monument. "I was way, way back there — one of the several hundred thousand people who were here."

(Pictured above: Sanders leading a protest against discriminatory housing in 1962 at the University of Chicago.)

Continue reading "Video: Fifty Years After Joining March on Washington, Sanders Looks Back " »

This Week's Issue: Fixing Shabby Burlington Apartments; New Cops Learn How Not to Be Racist

Happy Hump Day, everyone. Here's what you'll find in this week's Seven Days:

Grab this week's issue in print, online or on the iOS app.

August 20, 2013

Fear and Loathing Among Airport Neighbors Affected by Home Buyouts

Airport 002Uncertainty and anxiety now pervade a 23-year-old program involving the purchase and planned demolition of scores of homes in a high-noise zone adjacent to Burlington International Airport.

Several remaining neighbors affected by the emptying of those houses and subsequent vandalism to many of them expressed anger and worry at a South Burlington city council meeting Monday night.

Aviation director Gene Richards (seated in photo) repeatedly assured the council that Burlington, the owner of the airport, wants to "mend relations" with South Burlington and to ensure "a better tomorrow." But airport officials were unable to allay concerns about the future of the buyout program or the condition and fate of some 60 vacated homes.

These already-purchased properties are slated to be wrecked or moved away. But a lawsuit filed in Vermont Supreme Court is preventing implementation of that plan, airport planning and development director Bob McEwing (standing in photo) told about 100 residents attending the council meeting at the Chamberlin School.

The vacated homes are meanwhile being vandalized "across the board," added council member Pat Nowak. "Glass has been replaced again and again" in smashed windows in several houses, she said. South Burlington councilors have assessed the current state of about 80 properties in the high-noise zone, Nowak reported.

"We try to keep them secure," McEwing commented prior to Nowak's remarks, "but it's pretty tough." Richards added, "We spend an abnormal amount of resources to take care of those homes."

Continue reading "Fear and Loathing Among Airport Neighbors Affected by Home Buyouts" »

August 16, 2013

The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers

Scoreboard.newWho won and lost the week in Vermont news and politics?

Nukers, governors, firefighters, posturers, farmers, government contractors, Wiffleballers and... Bill Sorrell.

Here's the Scoreboard for the week of Friday, August 15: 


Entergy — Say what you will about Vermont Yankee — that its finances are shaky, its employees are being laid off, it won't last another refueling cycle or two, the Public Service Board will shut 'em down — but a win's a win. And Entergy, VY's Louisiana-based owner, won big this week. Runner-up winner: Entergy's hired gun, attorney Kathleen Sullivan, who's now two for two.

Peter Shumlin — Three and a half years ago, Senate President Pro Tem Shumlin heroically led his chamber to reject granting Vermont Yankee another 20-year license. That political victory led him to the governor's office — and the state to a two-year, million-dollar legal battle. Now that the state's lost at the appellate court level, ol' Teflon Shummy seems once again to be dodging the blame. Which reminds us of an apt question posed by Vermont Public Radio's Bob Kinzel last September: "Some say your strategy has been a total failure. You've achieved none of your goals, and you've cost the state millions in legal fees with more costs to come. Why are they wrong?" 

Peter Shumlin — Because Dodge Gate is now finally, totally, officially over. Runner-up loser: Peter Shumlin in 14 months, when Dodge Gate will be featured in his opponent's 30-second TV ads. Second-runner-up loser: Peter Shumlin in five years, when the bulk of Dodge's $30k debt comes due.

Continue reading "The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers" »

Morning Read: Times Profiles the Lynn Sisters, Vermont's Next-Gen Newspaper Publishers

MorningreadIt ain't all bad news in the world of newspapers, writes New York Times media reporter Christine Haughney.

Up in Vermont, three twentysomething sisters are making a go at extending their family's publishing reign to a fifth generation. And the papers they run, Haughney writes in a B1 story in Friday's Times, "have been surprisingly profitable."

That's right. She's talking about the one and only Lynn family, whose small empire of Vermont newspapers includes the Addison County IndependentSt. Albans Messenger, Milton Independent, Colchester Sun, Essex Reporter, Brandon Reporter and Mountain Times

As Seven Days' Shay Totten did back in January 2011, Haughney focuses mostly on Addy Indy publisher Angelo Lynn's three daughters: Polly, Elsie and Christy:

[I]nstead of fleeing the newspaper business, the Lynn sisters have embraced it, and not just because it is part of their heritage.

“I’ve grown up in the papers,” said Elsie Lynn. “But I don’t think that’s the reason I’m in it. The future is exciting for me. We have this chance and this opportunity to be pioneers and change our career and change this industry.”

You can read Haughney's story here. And while you're at it, check out Seven Days' Ken Picard's January 2010 profile of the fourth-generation Lynns, Angelo and Emerson. (Haughney, btw, must really dig the Vermont newspaper industry. Last September, she wrote about recent changes at the Burlington Free Press.)

August 15, 2013

In VY Loss, Sorrell Sees Political Redemption — and Jabs Donovan

Sorrell announceMoved on from last summer's Democratic primary for attorney general?

Bill Sorrell hasn't.

After a federal appellate court ruled against the state Wednesday in its bid to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, we reached out to Attorney General Sorrell for comment. His office, with the help of outside counsel, argued the case.

In a voicemail message in response to our call, Sorrell said he was "disappointed" that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court judge that the state improperly considered radiological safety when it tried to close the plant. 

But Sorrell clearly wanted to focus on the positive.

In the same decision, the court reversed an earlier finding that the state violated Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Corp.'s constitutional rights by demanding lower energy prices. The court's reversal means that Vermont won't have to pay Entergy's considerable — and rapidly growing — legal bills.

That's a signficant victory, at least in Sorrell's eyes.

"We're very happy we didn't violate Entergy's constitutional rights, so consequently we're not on the hook for something in excess — and potentially well in excess — of $5 million of attorneys' fees for them," Sorrell said in the message.

And then the AG said something surprising: "For those who questioned the wisdom of taking the appeal to the 2nd Circuit, that was a great decision because we saved millions of dollars on the constitutional issues."

To whom was Sorrell referring?

Continue reading "In VY Loss, Sorrell Sees Political Redemption — and Jabs Donovan" »

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