News

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Burlington Council Candidate to Sue State’s Attorney for Discrimination

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 12:19 PM

Abdullah Sall - OLIVER PARINI
  • Oliver Parini
  • Abdullah Sall
Updated at 6:01 p.m.

Abdullah Sall, a former legal assistant in the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office, plans to file an employment discrimination lawsuit against his former boss, newly appointed State’s Attorney Sarah George, his lawyer told Seven Days on Tuesday. The lawyer, John Franco, alleged that Sall faced “disparate treatment” in the office because he is a Muslim immigrant from Liberia.

In an interview with Seven Days earlier this month, George confirmed that she had let Sall go, but she declined to elaborate on her reasoning. Reached again Tuesday, she said she “cannot comment on specifics” of what she called “a personnel matter.”

“I would say that any time an employer has to make a decision, it’s guided by performance, the needs of the office and the law,” she said. “And I followed those principles when making my decision.”

Sall is currently running for the South District seat on the Burlington City Council. The independent is facing off against longtime incumbent Democratic Councilor Joan Shannon and Progressive challenger Charles Simpson.

In an interview Tuesday, Sall alleged that his firing may have been motivated by a desire to “undermine [his] campaign.” He did not offer evidence supporting that assertion.

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Vail to Purchase Stowe Mountain Resort for $50 Million

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 9:03 AM

Skiers at Stowe in January - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Skiers at Stowe in January
Updated at 3:45 p.m.

The rumor mill was right.

Vail Resorts is buying Vermont's most iconic ski area, Stowe Mountain Resort, from the American International Group, the two sides announced Tuesday.

The Colorado-based company will pay $50 million for the Mt. Mansfield ski area, which began as a Depression-era trail cutting project and became known as a luxury winter resort.

“We’re thrilled to add Stowe Mountain Resort to our family of world-class mountain resorts. With the investments in both mountain infrastructure and base area facilities that AIG has made over the years, Stowe Mountain Resort has become the premier, high-end resort for East Coast skiers and snowboarders," said Vail chairman and CEO Rob Katz. "We look forward to working with AIG to continue enhancing the guest experience and to ensure the resort’s long-term success.”

The purchase includes "base area skier services (food and beverage, retail and rental, lift ticket offices and ski and snowboard school facilities) at Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak,” Vail said in a statement. Other related facilities — including the Stowe Mountain Lodge, Stowe Mountain Club and Stowe Country Club — will remain in AIG’s hands.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

At Public Meeting, Federal Officials Seek to Calm BTV Airport Uproar

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 10:19 PM

Richard Doucette presents at the Burlington airport. - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Richard Doucette presents at the Burlington airport.
Eight suited officials, including representatives from the Vermont National Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Burlington International Airport, spent two hours Thursday evening answering community questions about noise lines and mitigation, FAA protocol, and home buyout rules.

The officials hoped the question-and-answer session would relieve rising tensions as a controversial home buyout program proceeds around the airport in South Burlington. In September, the airport announced 39 new home buyouts. More than 100 homes have been bought since the program began in 1997.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Winooski Finds Its Next City Manager in Montpelier City Hall

Posted By on Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 6:29 PM

nooski.mgr_1200x627.jpg
Montpelier assistant city manager Jessie Baker is leaving one city hall for another. She’ll start a new job March 13 as city manager of Winooski.

Both cities are small riverside communities, but Winooski is undergoing a major downtown redevelopment. That was one of the attractions for Baker.

“Winooski is an incredibly vibrant, growing community,” she told Seven Days Monday.

Baker will earn a base salary of $97,000 annually in Winooski, a step up from her current pay of $80,000 a year.

She’s worked as Montpelier assistant city manager for almost four years, and before that she worked for the city of Somerville, Mass.

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Shelburne Selectboard Abandons Effort to Oust Member

Posted By on Sat, Feb 4, 2017 at 1:12 AM

Josh Dein at Friday's Shelburne Selectboard meeting - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Josh Dein at Friday's Shelburne Selectboard meeting
The chair of the Shelburne selectboard and two other members dropped their effort to oust fellow selectman Josh Dein at a packed meeting Friday night.

With lawyers hovering, both sides hashed out a compromise agreement in executive session. The pact allows Dein to stay on the five-member board as long as he agrees not to vote on matters related to a controversial Vermont Railway salt shed.

Dein had questioned the town's mounting legal bills in its bid to fight the rail facility, which opened last year despite the town's opposition. His three critics on the board, meanwhile, alleged that Dein publicly shared confidential legal strategies surrounding the issue.

Dein's opponents on the board — who include chair Gary von Stange, John Kerr and Colleen Parker — also said he behaved in a threatening and disruptive manner by raising his voice and pounding his fist at meetings. Dein denied those allegations.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Legal Session Over Immigration Executive Order Draws a Crowd

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 11:00 PM

Information session at the Association of Africans Living in Vermont - COURTESY OF BARB PRINE
  • Courtesy of Barb Prine
  • Information session at the Association of Africans Living in Vermont
"Will we be allowed back in?"

That question was on the minds of more than 100 people — mostly from refugee communities — who attended an information session on immigration rights Thursday night at the Association of Africans Living in Vermont in Burlington's Old North End. They wondered what would happen if they leave the country.

Vermont Legal Aid and the Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department organized the session to address concerns from the community after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that closed the U.S. to refugees and nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Arthur C. Edersheim and Erin Jacobsen, attorneys from the South Royalton Legal Clinic; Michele Jenness, legal services coordinator at the AALV; and Jay Diaz, a staff attorney with the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, each gave a short presentation on the travel and immigration ramifications of the executive order.

Representatives of Vermont's congressional delegation also affirmed their commitment to helping those who are affected by the changes. Many attendees took down the contact information of the attorneys and delegates.

A lively hourlong question-and-answer session ensued. A Muslim man said he was worried he would not be granted citizenship because of his religion. A Somali-born parent wondered if her U.S-born children would be stripped of their citizenship. A Bhutanese woman said she wants to bring her husband, who's a Nepali citizen, to Vermont.

Despite the attorneys' repeated assurances that U.S. green card holders will not be affected by the executive order, many Bhutanese attendees, including those who have already acquired U.S. citizenship, were worried they would be barred entry into the U.S. after visiting their relatives in Nepal.

As a safety precaution, Diaz advised green card holders whose country of origin is one of the seven countries to inform family members or friends of their travel plans, in hopes they can get them assistance if they're detained.

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Rebels No More: SBHS Student Isaiah Hines on the End of the Rebels Nickname

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 8:47 PM

Isaiah Hines - DAN BOLLES
  • Dan Bolles
  • Isaiah Hines
On Wednesday, the South Burlington School Board voted to abandon the high school's contentious nickname, the Rebels. The decision came after more than a year of heated community debate centered on the racially insensitive implications of the nickname due to its roots in the Confederate South. While school officials have long acknowledged those origins, fully addressing them has been a decades-long process.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Scott Wants Local Officials to Defy Trump’s Immigration Order

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 9:43 PM

Gov. Phil Scott - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Gov. Phil Scott
Gov. Phil Scott is calling for a new state law that would prohibit local officials from enforcing President Donald Trump’s refugee and immigration edicts.

His legal team, together with Attorney General T.J. Donovan, will also consider challenging Trump’s travel ban in court if they conclude that it’s unconstitutional. The temporary ban prohibits refugees, as well as citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, from entering the United States.

To further study whether the ban is unconstitutional or unlawful, the governor is creating a “Civil Rights and Criminal Justice Cabinet” that will include legislative leaders, members of Scott’s cabinet, the defender general and law enforcement leaders.

“We believe we need all hands on deck,” Scott said in an interview Monday evening. “This isn’t about trying to make a name for ourselves … it’s about trying to protect Vermonters and Americans alike.”

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Scott, Welch Call Trump Executive Order Unconstitutional

Posted By and on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 3:12 PM

Gov. Phil Scott addresses business leaders Monday in Rutland. - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • Gov. Phil Scott addresses business leaders Monday in Rutland.
Updated at 5:26 p.m.

Gov. Phil Scott and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) on Monday called President Donald Trump’s executive order halting refugee resettlement and banning immigration from seven Muslim nations unconstitutional.

The bipartisan condemnations came during separate events in different parts of the state. Scott, a Republican, addressed the presidential action Monday afternoon while addressing business leaders at Rutland’s Southside Steakhouse.

“I think this infringes upon our constitutional rights,” Scott said in response to reporters’ questions. “So we’re looking for — seeking ways to push back.”

Trump’s executive order, issued last Friday, halted the resettlement of 25 Syrian families in Rutland. Two families relocated to the city in the week before the order was issued.

Speaking earlier that day at the Community Health Centers of Burlington, Welch said he also viewed Trump’s action as unconstitutional.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Louras: Trump Plan Would Be ‘End of Refugee Resettlement for Rutland’

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 5:14 PM

Rutland Mayor Chris Louras - CALEB KENNA
  • caleb kenna
  • Rutland Mayor Chris Louras
President Donald Trump’s reported plan to stop admitting Syrians to the United States would prevent more refugees from moving to Rutland and keep the city from becoming a resettlement hub, Mayor Christopher Louras told Seven Days.

Last week, two Syrian families arrived in Rutland from a Jordanian refugee camp, after months of heated debate in the city. They were to be the first of an expected 25 families.

But Louras, who has staked his mayoral legacy on his plan to make Rutland a refugee resettlement hub, said the plan appears to be dead after multiple media outlets reported that Trump plans to sign an executive order to stop accepting refugees from Syria. The Associated Press reported that he further intends to temporarily suspend immigration from several other predominantly-Muslim countries.

“I think that these first two families are the only two families,” Louras said. Barring some unexpected development, he continued, “I’d say it’s the end of refugee resettlement for Rutland. While not a shock, it certainly is just as much a kick in the gut as if it had been a surprise.”

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