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February 10, 2014

Video: Shumlin Talks Heroin on ABC's 'This Week'

Gov. Peter Shumlin made his Sunday morning talk show debut this weekend with an appearance on ABC's "This Week."

The topic? You guessed it: Vermont's "full-blown heroin crisis."

Shumlin appeared with guest host Martha Raddatz, ABC News correspondent Dr. Richard Besser and journalist Seth Mnookin, who wrote last week in Slate about his own struggle with heroin addiction. The segment segued from actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's death by heroin overdose last week to Shumlin's State of the State address, in which he focused on Vermont's "growing epidemic" of opiate abuse.

Here's the video (and here's the transcript):

February 08, 2014

The Weekly 7: This Week in Vermont News


Each weekday, Seven Days scans the news across the Vermont media landscape to find the smartest, best and most compelling stories. We bundle them up in an email and send them out to our subscribers early each afternoon. It's called the Daily 7.

So which Vermont news stories are you reading? And which should you be reading? Here are the stories you clicked on most from this week's editions of the Daily 7:


#1Disharmony on Prospect Street: A Dispute Between Neighbors Strikes a Sour Note
By Alicia Freese, Seven Days — Wednesday, February 5

A feud between neighbors over a Burlington man's home guitar workshop has gone on for a year and a half and could reach the Vermont Supreme Court.


#2 Potent Synthetic Being Sold as Heroin Causes Three Vermont Deaths
By Taylor Dobbs, Vermont Public Radio — Thursday, February 6

The Department of Health says three people in Addison County died after overdosing on what they thought was heroin but was actually the prescription painkiller Fentanyl.

Continue reading "The Weekly 7: This Week in Vermont News" »

February 06, 2014

This Week's Issue: A Neighborly Noise Feud in Burlington, 'Border' Security and Maple Saplings


Find these news and politics stories in this week's Seven Days...

January 09, 2014

Shumlin Pushes Tough Penalties Along with Treatment for Drug Crime

Immediate reaction to Gov. Peter Shumlin's state of the state address yesterday focused on his declaration that drug addiction is a public health crisis that should be tackled with prevention and treatment rather than "simply doling out punishment."

Advocates for criminal justice reform were overjoyed that the governor used his bully pulpit to declare that drug crime is primarily a "health crisis," not simply a law enforcement problem.

"I think this is profound,' said State Rep. Bill Lippert, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, in an interview. "This is a really big deal. There is a fundamental shift that's been articulated."

But Shumlin's speech also included little-noticed proposals that came from the more traditional tough-on-crime playbook.

Continue reading "Shumlin Pushes Tough Penalties Along with Treatment for Drug Crime" »

With Focus on Opiates, Shumlin Turns the Page

Shumlin SOS"Well, what's there to oppose in that?" a reporter asked me a moment after Gov. Peter Shumlin concluded his 34-minute State of the State address Wednesday afternoon.

What, indeed?

For the second time in as many years, the second-term governor dispensed with tradition and focused his legislative session-opening remarks on a single topic: in this case, what he called "the rising tide of drug addiction and drug-related crime spreading across Vermont." (See Mark Davis' account of the State of the State.)

But unlike last year's education-themed inaugural address, into which Shumlin shoehorned an array of policy priorities, this year's speech barely strayed from the topic at hand. And unlike the typically jingoistic and self-congratulatory remarks governors tend to make on such occasions, Shumlin's address was a solemn and somber affair, rarely punctuated by applause.

But if you measured the gov's success Wednesday by the frequency of standing ovations, you missed the point. Because Shumlin hit it out of the park.

Continue reading "With Focus on Opiates, Shumlin Turns the Page" »

January 08, 2014

Shumlin Launches Campaign Against "Opiate Crisis"

State of state 1Gov. Peter Shumlin devoted his State of the State address Wednesday to highlighting what he called a "rising tide of drug addiction and drug-related crime" that he said threatens the quality of life in Vermont.

During a 34-minute speech, Shumlin said Vermont is imperiled by opiate addicts who cannot access  treatment and commit crimes to raise money for drugs. The governor proposed steps to bolster treatment for addicts, shift the focus of the court system from punishment to a treatment and slap tougher sentences on out-of-state dealers who bring drugs to Vermont.

"In every corner of our state, heroin and opiate drug addiction threatens us. It threatens the safety that has always blessed our state," Shumlin said. "It is a crisis bubbling just beneath the surface that may be invisible to many, but is already highly visible to law enforcement, medical personnel, social service and addiction treatment providers, and too many Vermont families. It requires all of us to take action before the quality of life that we cherish so much is compromised."

Continue reading "Shumlin Launches Campaign Against "Opiate Crisis" " »

September 25, 2013

This Week's Issue: Methadone, Molly and More


Grab your favorite pumpkin-flavored coffee drink — that little chill in the morning means fall is here, and the first Seven Days of the season hit the streets today. Here's what you'll find for news and politics this week:

Pick up this week's issue in print, online or on the app.

This week's cover image by the late Stephen Huneck is courtesy of the Stephen Huneck Gallery. See this week's cover story about the future of Dog Mountain.

September 19, 2013

Shumlin Joins Pro-Pot Legalization "Strategy" Session; Reporters Excluded


* Updated below with new comments from Gov. Shumlin *

Gov. Peter Shumlin starred in a fundraising conference call held by the Marijuana Policy Project Thursday afternoon. In an invitation obtained by Seven Days last month, the call was billed as a "strategy" session to discuss how to legalize marijuana nationwide.

The "exclusive conference call," as MPP executive director Rob Kampia put it in the invitation, was open only to the pro-legalization advocacy group's major donors. Participants had to pledge to contribute $1000 to $10,000 to the group itself — or to pro-pot politicians.

Seven Days requested permission from MPP and the Shumlin administration to listen to the call, but was denied by the former and ignored by the latter.

"The idea was that it would be an opportunity for donors to hear from MPP staffers and from Gov. Shumlin, so we did not envision any media being on the call," MPP legislative analyst Matt Simon said Wednesday. "I don't think we have anything in particular to hide. At the same time, I'm not authorized to let you join us."

Simon added, "We figure members of the media already have plenty of opportunities to ask questions. Our donors do not."

Continue reading "Shumlin Joins Pro-Pot Legalization "Strategy" Session; Reporters Excluded" »

September 02, 2013

Gun Play Across from a Burlington Elementary School? It's Legal in Vermont.

Spring st 006Police have responded 29 times in the past year to incidents on the single block of Spring Street opposite the Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler in Burlington's Old North End.

Principal Bobby Riley insists both the school and the neighborhood are safe, but Jeff Sherman, a resident of one of the units in the 69-85 block of Spring Street, describes conditions there as "pretty bad." The sense of danger has grown in the 12 years he's lived there, Sherman says.

In February 2011, a domestic assault spilled onto the street in front of the elementary school, whereupon a man fired a shot that didn't hurt anyone. The students were on vacation that week, but Wheeler went into lockdown to protect the staff inside.

Continue reading "Gun Play Across from a Burlington Elementary School? It's Legal in Vermont." »

August 26, 2013

New UVM Fines Aim to Deter Marijuana and Alcohol Abuse

Dreamstime_m_28053840University of Vermont students caught on campus with drugs and alcohol this year are paying a price. With advice from a national group of schools, Vermont’s largest university is implementing new fines for students caught doing drugs, and upping the fines for those with too much booze on hand. And since UVM is a dry-halls campus, they apply even for students 21 and older.

Annie Stevens, vice provost for student affairs at UVM, says the new fines are intended to serve as a deterrent, not to make a mint for the university — though they’re likely to do both.

According to Stevens, UVM signed onto the National College Health Improvement Program two years ago. Founded in 2011 by then-president of Dartmouth College Jim Kim, the program includes 32 member schools collaborating to reduce high-risk drinking. UVM's decision to implement its new fines, says Stevens, was based on that program.

So, what are the fines? $250 for possessing a “common source” of alcohol — that’s 12 servings or more; $150 for empties found during routine Health and Safety inspections of dorm rooms; $150 for a student's first drug offense; and $250 for the second drug offense. The common source fine went up this year from $150, and all the other fines are new this year, Stevens says.

Continue reading "New UVM Fines Aim to Deter Marijuana and Alcohol Abuse" »

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