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December 17, 2013

At 11th Hour, Burlington City Council Approves Redistricting Plan

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 7.30.01 AMEarning itself a small round of applause last night, the Burlington City Council eked out a redistricting plan for Burlington voters to decide on next March. Known as the “8-4-12 plan,” the new map divides the city into eight wards and four larger “precincts,” each represented by one councilor. Currently, 14 councilors represent seven wards.

In the council’s final meeting of the year, the 9-5 vote came just in time to bring the plan before voters on Town Meeting Day in March. Under the “one-person, one-vote” legal principle, the city would have been vulnerable to a lawsuit from virtually any voter had it not approved the redistricting plan.

That’s because changing population patterns have left certain wards disproportionately represented in the council. Based on the 2010 census, the less-densely populated New North End is currently made up of two wards — 4 and 7 — giving that part of the city a total of four councilors. Meanwhile, even as the population of Ward 1 has swollen due to University of Vermont student housing, only two councilors currently represent those residents.

Continue reading "At 11th Hour, Burlington City Council Approves Redistricting Plan" »

November 20, 2013

This Week's Issue: Union Drives, Big-Money Developers and a Long Time in the Clink

112013-coverAnother week, another Wednesday, another Seven Days. Here's this week's lineup of news and politics stories:

Pick up this issue in print, online or on the iOS app.

June 17, 2013

VPR Interactive Tracks FEMA Irene Relief Money

Screen shot 2013-06-14 at 5.03.15 PMAs the geek-in-residence at Seven Days, I love it when an online news story comes with a good interactive or multimedia element — a "news app," as the cool kids say. That and I have a laughably tiny attention span, such that pushing buttons is more appealing than reading 3000 words (don't tell my bosses).

The NPR mothership has long pioneered the use of web-native technology in journalism (a recent favorite is their exhaustive guide to "Arrested Development" jokes), and now that's trickled down to their Vermont member station. Vermont Public Radio published a great multi-part interactive breaking down which towns and organizations have received the $185 million in grant money FEMA doled out after Tropical Storm Irene.

Continue reading "VPR Interactive Tracks FEMA Irene Relief Money" »

November 09, 2012

Nerding Out With Maps: Post-Election Edition

Maps are cool! Especially these maps created by Stone Environmental's Charlie Hofmann for the Vermont Secretary of State's elections web site.

Since they rely upon data from the state's voluntary election night reporting website, they are sadly incomplete for now. Town clerks reported the results from just 206 precincts that night — roughly 75 percent of the state's 275 precincts.

The secretary of state's office hopes to release unofficial results this weekend and certified results next Tuesday. We'll try to bring you complete maps when they're available.

Despite the missing info, these maps show some pretty interesting regional trends. The most obvious, of course, is the northbound retreat of the Vermont Republican Party. The GOP still has a couple southerly pockets of strength — particularly in Rutland County — but they are few and far between.

You can check out all the maps here. Also, in case it's not obvious, you can zoom in to view town names and check out a town's results by clicking on it.

President: This is both the most and least interesting map. Yeah, we all know President Obama beat Mitt Romney 67 to 31 percent in Vermont, but this map shows just one town going for Romney: Maidstone. (Of course, it's likely several other of the 69 precincts not included in the map also voted for Mittens.) Even in Maidstone, it was a close one. Romney won 52 votes to Obama's 50. If only the two voters who backed Gary Johnson and Rocky Anderson had backed Obama, it would've been a tie!

Continue reading "Nerding Out With Maps: Post-Election Edition" »

October 25, 2012

Burlington's Neighborhoods, Mapped By You: The Results

Screen shot 2012-10-25 at 7.16.29 PMRemember that crowdsourced neighborhood-mapping project in Burlington you read about back in August? Well, cartographer Bill Morris now has the results. Morris says 104 participants submitted 404 neighborhood "shapes" for the project, a screenshot of which you can see at right. 

Some parts of town, like the centers of downtown and the New North End, were nearly unanimously named as such. Other spots, like the Burlington College area and the Henry Street/Brookes Avenue neighborhood, weren't included in many shapes at all — as such, they're not lumped in with any of the neighborhoods. (Mansfield Avenue? More like No-Man's Land Avenue!)

Head on over to Geosprocket for an interactive version of the map. For more information about the project and modern, high-tech mapmaking in general, read Kathryn Flagg's story about cartography technology in this week's Seven Days, and see Morris speak this Friday at 3 p.m. at the Vermont Tech Jam.

October 24, 2012

This Week's Issue: High-Tech Cops and Henry Rollins

TechcoverIn this week's Tech Jam-celebrating issue of Seven Days, now available on your newsstands and your Internets... 

September 07, 2012

Mapping Out the Democratic Attorney General Primary Results

One of the storylines heading into last week's Democratic attorney general primary was that Chittenden County state's attorney T.J. Donovan might not have enough name recognition in Vermont's other 13 counties to unseat Bill Sorrell for the nomination. Of course we know now that Sorrell won the primary by a thread, but now that we have official results from the Secretary of State's office, we can see how the vote broke down geographically.

Was geography a factor? Maybe, but it's hard to discern a pattern. Donovan did well in Burlington and its surrounding areas, but Sorrell won some Chittenden County towns including Williston and Shelburne. Donovan generally performed well in Windsor and Rutland counties, but not well enough to match Sorrell's big wins in Brattleboro, Springfield and other parts of Windham County. (One exception: The vote was very close in Vernon, home of Vermont Yankee, where Donovan beat Sorrell by a single ballot.)

Below, take a look at the results map for yourself. Darker blues indicate a bigger Sorrell win, darker greens indicate a bigger Donovan win, and towns in grey saw remarkably close results. You can also click on each town to see its results by the numbers.

Continue reading "Mapping Out the Democratic Attorney General Primary Results" »

August 30, 2012

Vermont is the Most Liberal State in the Union — When It Comes to Reading


That Vermont is among the most liberal places in the United States is not exactly a revelation. But a fun little project from reveals a new slice of political leanings in the Green Mountains.

With the helpful disclaimer "Just remember, books aren't votes," the Internet's leading purveyor of books and other stuff created its own red state-blue state map, based on the books its customers bought in the past 30 days (e.g. Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope is a "blue" book, while Mitt Romney's memoir Turnaround is a "red" book). Crunching the numbers, Amazon found that 58 percent of book purchases in Vermont come down on the liberal side. That's the highest percentage of any state in America, although Washington DC beats Vermont — a whopping 67 percent of the books purchased there are considered "blue."

Vermont is in pretty rare company as a "blue" state on this map. Just four states plus the District of Columbia purchase more liberal books than conservative ones on Amazon, while 45 states prefer right-leaning books. (California comes down smack in the middle with a 50-50 split.) Overall, 57 percent of political books sold on Amazon are considered conservative.

Another fun stat: the most conservative state, Mississippi, is more "red" than Vermont or D.C. are "blue" — there, 73 percent of the books sold lean right. Bet Bill McKibben won't pay a visit there on his next book tour.

After the jump, find out what Amazon says are Vermont's top-selling "blue" and "red" books.

Continue reading "Vermont is the Most Liberal State in the Union — When It Comes to Reading" »

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