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Town Meeting Day

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Former Rutland Mayor Describes Election Loss in VICE Interview

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 5:47 PM

Chris Louras - COURTESY HBO
  • Courtesy HBO
  • Chris Louras
The show’s over for Chris Louras.

“VICE News Tonight” followed the former Rutland mayor Monday as he prepared for his last day in office. He lost his reelection bid March 7 to David Allaire by a big margin: some 776 votes.

The HBO show captured Louras packing up his things inside city hall, exchanging a hug with a colleague and driving off into the sunset in his Smart car (which bears an “I Love Rutland, VT!” bumper sticker).

Much of what he told Vice News during the four-minute clip echoed what he told Seven Days reporter Mark Davis. His loss was a referendum on his decision to relocate refugees to Rutland, he said, and he never saw it coming.

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Act 46 Voting Leads to the Creation of Six New Unified School Districts

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 5:34 PM

  • File: Matthew Thorsen
Thirty-eight towns voted Tuesday to create six new unified school districts across Vermont in the latest round of Act 46 mergers, according to unofficial results provided by the Agency of Education.

A record total of 57 towns voted on mergers on Town Meeting Day, with 62 percent of residents voting in favor of the proposals, according to statistics the Agency of Education compiled. Bloomfield had yet to report its results, while a revote was needed in Plymouth.

In Wells, a one-vote difference stalled mergers involving schools in the Rutland Central and Rutland Southwest supervisory unions. Town residents can petition for a revote within 30 days of Town Meeting Day.

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Knodell Wins Tight Race to Keep Burlington City Council Seat

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 12:08 AM

  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Jane Knodell
Burlington City Council President Jane Knodell eked out an 81-vote victory on Tuesday over independent challenger Genese Grill en route to securing a ninth term on the council.

Knodell will retain her Central District seat after a hard fought campaign by Grill, an activist who made her mark during the debate last year surrounding the Burlington Town Center redevelopment.

The Progressive Knodell told two dozen well-wishers who celebrated at Butch + Babe's in the Old North End that she had her doubts about the race's outcome. "I think I've lost," she said she confided in fellow councilor Sara Giannoni in the final hours before polls closed.

In the end, though, her supporters came through, giving her the victory by a 6-point margin. For the celebration, Knodell donned a T-shirt emblazoned with a quote that referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): "She was warned, she was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted."

"It was a great team effort," Knodell said to cheers.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

South Burlington City Council Incumbents Reelected

Posted By on Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 11:22 PM

Pat Nowak - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Pat Nowak
Thomas Chittenden and Pat Nowak survived vigorous election challenges for their South Burlington City Council seats Tuesday.

Nowak beat Jimmy Leas 1,811 to 1,512 in a contest in which Leas claimed the incumbent did little to protect city residents from airport noise and home demolitions.

Nowak thanked her supporters after the victory, saying via email that she was "very happy to be continuing on the SB City Council and very appreciative of the support I received from so very many residents."

Chittenden defeated Katie Langrock 1,843 votes to 1,584 in a race that also touched on the Burlington International Airport. Chittenden pushed for possible new governance over the the Burlington-owned commercial and military airport.

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In Referendum on Refugees, Rutland Mayor Loses Reelection Bid

Posted By on Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 8:25 PM

Rutland Mayor Chris Louras - CALEB KENNA
  • caleb kenna
  • Rutland Mayor Chris Louras
Rutland Mayor Chris Louras, who endured months of withering criticism for his plan to bring Syrian refugees to the city, lost his reelection bid on Tuesday.

In unofficial voting results, David Allaire, a city alderman and leading critic of the resettlement, trounced Louras, a 10-year mayoral incumbent, by a 776-vote margin, according to results cited by the Rutland Herald and WCAX-TV.

"I'm simply wishing him luck and I'm moving on," Louras told Seven Days Tuesday night. He declined further comment, saying he would "not hazard a guess" as to what the election results say about Rutland's support for refugees.

Allaire did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

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Happy Town Meeting Day, Vermont! Here's What's Going On

Posted By on Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 7:18 PM

This Town Meeting Day, Vermonters came together for town and school budget discussions, heated debates and, of course, potlucks.

In Royalton, Tunbridge, Sharon and Strafford, residents voted to oppose the planned NewVistas settlement.

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Richmond Passes Resolution Welcoming All People to Town

Posted By on Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 4:33 PM

Mike Foote - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Mike Foote
Richmond voters passed a resolution Tuesday at Town Meeting declaring it a community that welcomes all people, regardless of their nationality or religion.

It also welcomes people regardless of their color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and gender identity.

Longtime resident Jeff Forward introduced the non-binding resolution and explained to the crowd of about 180 people that he began by researching a sanctuary city resolution proposed in Burlington. Numerous other towns around Vermont planned to discuss similar proposals at Town Meeting in the wake of President Donald Trump's efforts to restrict entry of immigrants and refugees from six majority Muslim countries, including war-torn Syria.

Forward decided not to include any reference to sanctuary status after he concluded that Richmond has already adopted a fair and impartial policing policy. But, Forward said, he wanted the town to respond to national trends that he sees as worrisome.

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Two Burlington Council Members Pay a Colleague for Campaign Work

Posted By on Thu, Mar 2, 2017 at 3:42 PM

  • matthew thorsen
  • Jane Knodell
Burlington City Council President Jane Knodell recruited and paid a fellow councilor $2,000 to run her reelection campaign.

Knodell (P-Central District) made the one-time payment on January 30 to Cobble Knoll — an LLC registered with the state three weeks earlier by Councilor Adam Roof (I-Ward 8).

Both Knodell and Roof asserted that the relationship does not involve any conflict of interest. And Roof said he is also doing paid work for incumbent Joan Shannon (D-South District) and political newcomer Richard Deane, a Democrat who's running for a council seat in the East District.

Neither Shannon nor Deane reported payments to Roof in their campaign finance filings, though Roof said he has not yet billed them. Shannon said she would pay Roof $1,000 for his work. Deane did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Middlebury-based ethics expert Mike Palmer said such business relationships involving councilors could raise questions of real or perceived impropriety — whether "the judgment and decisions of the government official [are] unaffected by any interests other than that of the city." Palmer is a lawyer and owner of the consulting and training business Ethics by Design.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Richmond Residents to Vote on Funding for Proposed Town Forest

Posted By on Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 2:43 PM

View of Camel's Hump from the land proposed for Richmond town forest - COURTESY PHOTO BY OLIVIA WOLF
  • Courtesy photo by Olivia Wolf
  • View of Camel's Hump from the land proposed for Richmond town forest
It has a round church and a ski area, and now Richmond could have a new amenity — a town forest.

Voters will be asked on Town Meeting Day if they want to spend $125,000 to help purchase 428 acres of the former Andrews Farm for a town forest.

The land, located about a mile east of Richmond village, could be used for recreation, birding, nature education, hunting and other activities.

The total cost of the land and conservation is $597,000. Grants and private donations would make up the difference between the full sum and the proposed $125,000 allocation from the Richmond Conservation Reserve Fund.

Voting on the question will take place by secret ballot from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 7 at Camels Hump Middle School.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Vermont Voters Want Candidates for President to Release Taxes

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 3:46 PM

Town Meeting Day action poster - COURTESY OF BILL BUTLER
  • Courtesy of Bill Butler
  • Town Meeting Day action poster
Bill Butler says it took him a while to get "out of a coma" following Donald Trump's presidential election in November. With Town Meeting Day just around the corner, he's using that local platform to take a stand on national issues.

Butler, who lives in Jericho, is recruiting residents across the state to vote in support of a requirement that presidential candidates disclose their tax returns in order to appear on Vermont ballots. He came up with the idea after Trump claimed in a January press conference that "the only ones that care about my tax returns are the reporters."

"That's when the light went on," Butler said. "I was like, 'I care.'"

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