Saturday, September 24, 2016

After Criticism, Scott Says He'll Sell Business if Elected Governor

Posted By on Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 5:37 PM

Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Scott (left) announces he will sell his share in DuBois Construction's if he's elected governor, as co-owner  Don DuBois looks on Saturday outside the company's Middlesex offices. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Scott (left) announces he will sell his share in DuBois Construction's if he's elected governor, as co-owner Don DuBois looks on Saturday outside the company's Middlesex offices.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Scott will sell his share of the Middlesex excavation company he co-owns if he wins the November election, he told employees at a company party Saturday.

"Should the people of our state hire me for this important job, I will sell my portion of the company before taking office and will therefore be completely separated from DuBois Construction," Scott said, standing alongside his co-owner and cousin, Don DuBois.

Scott and DuBois have co-owned the company for 30 years. Founded by DuBois' father and uncles, it celebrated its 70th anniversary Saturday.

The move comes after Scott faced criticism from opponents that a previous plan to create a blind trust would be insufficient to wall him off from a company that bids on state contracts.

“At first, I thought a blind trust would work,” said Scott, who currently serves as lieutenant governor. After his Republican rival, retired Wall Street banker Bruce Lisman, slammed Scott over the issue during the primary election, he said he reconsidered.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Addressing Women's Issues, Scott Portrays Himself as a Moderate

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 11:35 PM

Sue Minter and Phil Scott at a gubernatorial forum Thursday at the Statehouse - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sue Minter and Phil Scott at a gubernatorial forum Thursday at the Statehouse
From the moment he opened his mouth Thursday at a gubernatorial forum on women's issues, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott tried to make one thing clear: He's not your average Republican. 

"Despite what you'll hear from my opponent's party and my opponents at large, I'm pro-choice. I support marriage equality. And I support equal pay for equal work," the GOP nominee said. 

But despite his best efforts, Scott was at an obvious disadvantage throughout the Statehouse forum, which was sponsored by the Vermont Commission on Women, the League of Women Voters, and Business and Professional Women/Vermont. Put simply, his Democratic rival, former transportation secretary Sue Minter, had a bit more experience with the subjects at hand.

"Like a majority of Vermont women, I've lived this," she said, referring to the gap in wages between men and women. "I've worked hard — probably harder than many of my male counterparts — and known that I was probably earning less."

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National Guard Pilot Crashed Plane, Left Local Police in the Dark

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 8:16 PM

The crashed Piper PA-11 on the Savage Island runway - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • The crashed Piper PA-11 on the Savage Island runway

An off-duty Vermont National Guard airman crashed a small private plane on a Lake Champlain island around noon Monday and left the scene with his passenger — another airman — apparently without calling police.

Local authorities found out about the badly damaged Piper PA-11 on Savage Island only after the pilot of another small plane noticed the wreckage six hours later while flying over the 207-acre island, according to Grand Isle County Sheriff Ray Allen.

That pilot radioed the tower at Burlington International Airport to report it. The tower staff contacted Vermont State Police, who in turn patched in Allen around 6 p.m.

Allen mobilized a massive response to what he thought was an active crash scene.

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Top Shumlin Administration Official to Join Montpelier Lobbying Firm

Posted By and on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 11:31 AM

Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR/FILE
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur/File
  • Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson
Updated at 2:42 p.m.

With just months remaining in Gov. Peter Shumlin’s administration, his top cabinet official is preparing to take a spin through Montpelier’s revolving door. Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson plans to leave state government next Friday for a gig with the Vermont lobbying firm MMR.

According to MMR president Andrew MacLean, the Australian-born public servant will launch a new practice focused on helping business and government meet new climate regulations.

“Justin brings with him more than 20 years of state, local and federal government experience in the US, Australia and abroad, and will be a great asset to our dynamic firm,” MacLean said in a statement.

Trey Martin
  • Trey Martin
Replacing Johnson through the remainder of Shumlin’s tenure, which ends in January, will be Agency of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Trey Martin. He has some experience following Johnson, having succeeded him nearly two years ago in the No. 2 position at ANR.

Johnson’s move to a powerful Montpelier lobbying firm is sure to raise eyebrows, but both MacLean and Shumlin spokeswoman Sue Allen insisted Thursday that it was perfectly legal.

The Executive Code of Ethics, which Shumlin signed in July 2011, bars former appointees such as Johnson from lobbying “any public body or … the state legislature” on matters in which the state has “a direct and substantial interest” and “in which the appointee had participated personally and substantively while in state employ.”

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Man Killed in Officer-Involved Shooting in Winooski

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 6:59 PM

Officers and onlookers by the Namaste Community Center at Union Street and Malletts Bay Avenue - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Officers and onlookers by the Namaste Community Center at Union Street and Malletts Bay Avenue
Updated at 9:50 p.m., September 16, 2016, to reflect new details provided by Vermont State Police.

A man was killed in an officer-involved shooting in Winooski that happened late Friday afternoon near a popular community center.

Winooski cops contacted Vermont State Police around 4:55 p.m. after an officer shot dead a man behind the O'Brien Community Center on Malletts Bay Avenue. Several agencies responded to secure the scene. Police did not reveal any details surrounding the circumstances of the shooting and said the name of the man killed would not be revealed until family members have been contacted.

A few neighbors said they heard several gunshots around 5 p.m.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Leahy, Minter Launch General Election Television Ads

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 8:49 PM

Sen. Patrick Leahy in April - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy in April
Updated below

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) plans to launch his first television advertisements of his reelection campaign Tuesday, according to records filed Monday with the Federal Communications Commission. 

Leahy spokesman Jay Tilton confirmed the buy Monday but would not disclose its size. One order placed by the campaign indicates that the seven-term senator plans to spend $31,000 to air ads on Vermont's four broadcast television stations over the course of a week. That figure would not include cable and satellite television advertising. 

The move comes soon after Leahy's Republican opponent, Pomfret travel agency owner Scott Milne, held a formal campaign launch Saturday in Washington, Vt. Milne's Senate campaign has yet to buy any television advertising, but his business, Milne Travel, spent nearly $20,000 in August on ads featuring the candidate promoting his company, according to FCC records.

Leahy appears to be the first candidate in Vermont to run TV ads during the general election. (See update below.) Five gubernatorial candidates and one lieutenant gubernatorial candidate ran ads before the August primary election, but none have since then. Super PACs affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association and Republican Governors Association are currently airing ads backing gubernatorial nominees Sue Minter and Phil Scott, respectively. 

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Media Note: Herald Publisher to Retire, Photographer Fired

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 4:20 PM

The Rutland Herald headquarters - FILE: CALEB KENNA
  • File: Caleb Kenna
  • The Rutland Herald headquarters
Updated at 11:19 p.m.

The longtime owners of the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus are preparing to hand off the papers to two out-of-state investors.

"It looks like we will close the sale late this week, although that may still change," editor in chief Rob Mitchell wrote employees Monday, according to an email obtained by Seven Days. Mitchell's family has owned the Herald since 1947 and the Times Argus since 1964.

Chip Harris, who agreed last month to buy the papers with partner Reade Brower, confirmed Monday that the sale was imminent. 

"There's been no official date at this point," said Harris, a semi-retired publishing executive who lives in New Hampshire. "But the hope is we'll be closing by the end of the week."

In his email, Mitchell said that, "as part of this transition," publisher and CEO Catherine Nelson "has decided to leave the company and is retiring." 

"We should all wish her well in whatever comes next for her," Mitchell wrote. "My father [Herald Association president R. John Mitchell] and I will be backstopping her role this week or until the sale is final, so if you have questions please come to me or to Dad."

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Media Note: Free Press Hires Virginian to Run Newsroom

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 4:59 PM

Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot
Nearly a year after the retirement of former executive editor Mike Townsend, the Burlington Free Press has settled on a replacement. The paper announced Friday that it has hired former Virginian-Pilot editor in chief Denis Finley of Norfolk, Va., to take the reins of the Burlington newsroom.

"He's a good guy — a good find," said Free Press publisher Al Getler, hailing the new hire as a "solid leader" with a "very positive attitude."

Finley spent 28 years at the Virginian-Pilot, working his way up the ranks from staff photographer to the paper's top job. He served as editor in chief from 2005 until March 2015, when he took a job as communications director for the nearby Chrysler Museum of Art. Finley told Seven Days Friday that he "definitely missed journalism" and had been looking for opportunities to return to the field.

"I miss the daily drumbeat of news coverage — especially when there's an election coming around the corner," he said.

The Free Press has been without a newsroom chief since October 2015, when Townsend and four other veteran employees took a buyout offer from corporate owner Gannett. Getler said that he had stepped in during that period to "provide day-to-day leadership in the newsroom" and was looking forward to handing it off to Finley. 

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

At Health Care Rollout, Scott Leaves Key Questions Unanswered

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 10:55 PM

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Lt. Gov. Phil Scott
As he unveiled his long-awaited health care agenda Wednesday afternoon, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott made clear what he thinks of Vermont Health Connect, the state's federally mandated insurance exchange.

"Once the foundation is broken, I'm not sure that you get it back," he told reporters at an outdoor press conference on Burlington's Church Street. "We need to do something different."

What that "something" would entail, Scott didn't seem to know. Asked repeatedly what he would put in place of the state-based exchange, the Republican gubernatorial nominee demurred, saying he continued to investigate his options.

"Well, we're still obviously waiting for the results of the study that was enacted by the legislature," he said, referring to a $250,000 independent assessment that's due to lawmakers in December. "They might come up with something as an alternative model to go towards."

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Democratic Governors Association Backs Minter in First Vermont Ad

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 3:34 PM

A Democratic Governors Association advertisement supporting Sue Minter for governor - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • A Democratic Governors Association advertisement supporting Sue Minter for governor
The Democratic Governors Association joined Vermont's gubernatorial race Wednesday with its first advertisement backing former transportation secretary Sue Minter.

The ad, which is running on broadcast, cable and satellite television, compares Minter's education policies with those of her Republican rival, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott. Its narrator claims that the Democratic nominee would make college more affordable, while Scott thinks Vermont spends too much on education.

The group behind the ad, Our Vermont, is an independent-expenditure political action committee — or super PAC — funded entirely by the DGA, a Washington, D.C., organization devoted to electing Democratic governors. A spokesman for Our Vermont, Sterling Clifford, says the group will spend $150,000 to run the ad through September 19. In that same period, according to Clifford, a super PAC funded by the Republican Governors Association is slated to spend $132,000 on television advertising.

"We are committed to doing whatever we can to help elect Sue Minter," he said. "We think she's a great candidate. We're confident she's in a good position to win this race, and we intend to do everything we can to make that happen."

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