Saturday, January 21, 2017

Vermonters Swarm Into Montpelier for Women's March

Posted By on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 6:50 PM

One of many young girls at the Statehouse Saturday - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • One of many young girls at the Statehouse Saturday
Protesters bathed the Statehouse lawn in a sea of pink Saturday as Vermonters turned out for the Women's March on Montpelier. So many attendees swarmed into the city that authorities temporarily closed Interstate 89 exits, saying the city's roads couldn't handle the traffic. The city police later estimated the crowd at 15,000 to 20,000.

Event organizers said the protest to voice opposition to Donald Trump's inauguration was the largest march in state history.

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'Viva the Vulva!' Vermont Women March on Washington, D.C.

Posted By on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 5:26 PM

Vermonters gathered on the steps of the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill prior to the rally and march. - COURTESY OF BOB PIERNO
  • Courtesy of Bob Pierno
  • Vermonters gathered on the steps of the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill prior to the rally and march.
Some of the estimated 3,000 Vermont women marching in Washington on Saturday said they had journeyed 500 miles or more with the aim of transforming their anger and despair into affirmation and hope.

“The election result was so negative,” lamented Nina Brundage, an 18-year-old student from Waterbury. “But now there's a positive movement coming out of it.”

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Scenes From the Women's March on Montpelier

Posted By and on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 1:44 PM

The Statehouse lawn, covered with people - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • The Statehouse lawn, covered with people
Thousands of people attended the Women's March in Montpelier Saturday afternoon in a jubilant celebration outside the Statehouse.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made an appearance and addressed the crowd to thunderous applause.

"Too many women have fought for too many years for equal pay for equal work; we are not going back," he told those assembled. The massive crowds caused miles-long traffic backups along north and southbound Interstate 89, according to Vermont State Police. Authorities suggested drivers find alternate routes to avoid the gridlock and temporarily closed exit 8 and exit 9. "Commuters will NOT be able to access Montpelier via the interstate and are advised to find alternate routes of travel until further notice," police said. From Vermont State Police spokesman Scott Waterman: "Per the Montpelier City Police Chief, travel within the city is highly restricted and city roads cannot support any more people or vehicles. "

Both exits were reopened at 2:45 p.m., police said.

The event was scheduled to run from about 1 to 3 p.m. The throngs were among an estimated 2.5 million people marching around the world.

Here are some of the scenes:

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Friday, January 20, 2017

St. Mike's Grad Designs Inaugural Outfits for Ivanka Trump's Kids

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 8:42 PM

Kate Bowen makes final touches on inauguration week outfit for Ivanka Trump's daughter. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Kate Bowen makes final touches on inauguration week outfit for Ivanka Trump's daughter.
A children's wear designer who launched her company in Charlotte watched the inauguration events coverage with delight.

The blue velvet dress and matching wool coat that Ivanka Trump's daughter wore at a pre-inauguration event Thursday is one of 11 pieces that former Charlotte resident and St. Michael's College grad Kate Bowen designed for the festivities.

Accompanying her parents and grandfather, Donald Trump, 5-year-old Arabella Kushner wore the blue ensemble to the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday. Seeing the outfit on TV was a thrill, said Bowen, in a telephone interview with Seven Days.

“Oh my gosh, I, like, couldn’t breathe for a minute. I was so excited."

It's possible that little Arabella will wear another Bowen-designed outfit to the post-inaugural prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Saturday.

Bowen founded her company, Petit Peony, when she and her husband were living on a dirt road in Charlotte, having moved to the town in 2013.  Two of Bowen's three young children had been born and it seemed like a good time to pick up a needle and thread.

“I was staying at home and that’s when I took up sewing, sewing my daughter’s clothing and it turned into a business,” Bowen said.

One of the investors in Petit Peony knew Ivanka Trump, herself a clothing designer, and she became a customer, said Bowen.

Bowen lived in Charlotte for three years before moving with her family to Duxbury, Mass., last June.

 When Ivanka Trump called to see if Bowen was interested in designing outfits for the inauguration, she jumped at the chance.  She flew to New York three times for fittings with Arabella and also designed inaugural rompers and pint-sized coats for her little brothers, ages 3 and 9 months.

In all cases, Ivanka Trump wanted "traditional, classic, tailored pieces,” said Bowen, who declined to say how much the garments cost.

The former Vermont resident, who grew up outside of Albany, N.Y., says she chooses not to mix fashion with politics. Bowen wouldn't say whether she voted for Ivanka Trump's dad, newly-sworn-in President Donald Trump.

“I don’t discuss my political views," said Bowen, but added that she likes what Ivanka Trump stands for.

"I think her taking a leap of faith and reaching out to a small designer says something about her.”

From Petit Peony's Instagram account - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • From Petit Peony's Instagram account

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The Internet Branded Her a Racist. Does It Matter That She's Bipolar?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 8:10 PM

  • Sasha Goldstein
  • Heather Wick
It all started last week when Heather Wick logged onto her now-deleted Facebook page and wrote: “Do you think Trump will bring back slavery? I could use a maid.”

Reaction was swift as the post went viral. The 44-year-old Burlington woman says she has been deluged with death threats, upward of 300 per hour.

The phone calls come from across the country, originating in states such as Texas, Illinois, Indiana, New York and South Carolina. She doesn’t answer the phone, which rings incessantly, but the callers leave voicemails saying some of the most nasty things imaginable.

“Go to hell, you’re a nasty woman,” one man hissed. “Oh haha, get a sense of humor! No shut the fuck up with your racist fucking jokes, bitch. Fuck you! I can’t wait for you to fucking die and go to hell. But I’m not going to do that; you’re just going to do that on your own you fucking son of a bitch, kill yourself.”

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Vermonters Join Inaugural Protests in Washington, D.C.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 5:17 PM

Demonstrators march on the street near a security checkpoint inaugural entrance. - AP PHOTO/JOSE LUIS MAGANA
  • AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
  • Demonstrators march on the street near a security checkpoint inaugural entrance.
Inauguration Day has proven chaotic in parts of downtown Washington, D.C., with masked anti-Trump demonstrators clashing with police and smashing windows as flash grenades explode at intersections and military choppers hover above the nation's capital.

Some Vermonters joined in street-level nonviolent resistance to the Republican regime, which got off to a disorganized start. At least three marches of 2,000 or so protesters meandered separately along avenues devoid of cars and lined with soldiers in combat fatigues and police officers wearing black gas masks.

Even the peaceful protests have had a bitter tone. A frequent chant was heard of “No KKK! No Fascist USA! No Trump!” Placards bobbing above crowds of marchers bore messages such as “Dump the Racist Rapist,” “Not Mein Fuhrer,” “Trump: You Can Kiss My Ass But Not Grab My Pussy” and, incongruously, “Seek the Living Jesus.”

The day's most joyous moments were supplied by a Bread & Puppet contingent featuring a bouncy brass band, women with painted faces dancing on stilts, and whooping banner wavers who periodically fall writhing in the street. A slogan shouted by this group echoed in contrast to other marches' militant choruses. “We're all in the same boat,” the Bread & Puppet celebrants sang. “Keep the boat afloat!”

A group of 10 workers from City Market/Onion River Co-op in Burlington were gathered near the corner of K and 13th streets, half a dozen blocks from the inaugural parade route. They wore black T-shirts emblazoned with their union's name — UE Local 203.

Shawn Corey, one of the co-op grocery store's workers, said he had driven overnight from Burlington to Washington, D.C., “because this election was disastrous, and when I think something is wrong, I do something about it.”

Jillian Phayer, another City Market employee, added that she had come to protest Donald Trump's inauguration for a variety of reasons. Defense of women's rights is one, Phayer said, “but I'm primarily worried about climate change.” Pointing toward a group of protesters hemmed in by police 50 yards away, Phayer declared, “None of what we're here for will mean anything if we don't have a livable planet.”

The day's anti-Trump actions seemed “a bit disorganized,” Phayer acknowleged. “It's inevitable,” she added. “There are a lot of angry and frustrated people here today. It's an unpredictable situation, and that can be toxic.”

Protesters took to the streets in Washington, D.C. on Friday. - KEVIN J. KELLEY
  • Kevin J. Kelley
  • Protesters took to the streets in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

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Montpeculiar: State's Attorney by Week, Waitress by Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 2:41 PM

Gov. Phil Scott swears Sarah George in as Chittenden County state's attorney. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Gov. Phil Scott swears Sarah George in as Chittenden County state's attorney.
Sarah George, newly sworn in as the head prosecutor in Vermont’s largest county, said Friday that she likely will curtail her part-time weekend job as a waitress. But she probably won’t give it up entirely.

George, 33, of Monkton, has been working since she was in graduate school as a waitress at the tony Simon Pearce restaurant in Quechee,
 near where her parents live.

In 2013, George testified before a legislative committee that she needed the waitressing job to make ends meet. She told lawmakers that she earned more working part-time at Simon Pearce than the $42,490 she made as a deputy state’s attorney.  She was speaking on behalf of an effort to unionize deputy state's attorneys.

Gov. Phil Scott swore George in as Chittenden County state’s attorney at noon Friday before a large gathering of family, colleagues and legislators who were ignoring the simultaneous presidential inauguration.

Scott appointed George after T.J. Donovan left the job to become Vermont's attorney general in January. George had worked in Donovan’s office since 2011, her salary climbing to $59,509 last year.

The new title comes with a higher salary — Donovan’s was listed at $105,914 last year. So George might not need the Simon Pearce gig to pay the bills. But she said she plans to keep working tables, though perhaps not at the 20-hour-a-weekend pace she has been.

“I certainly won’t have to work there every weekend,” she said, but she noted there’s a payoff beyond the financial.

“I think being a waitress makes me a better lawyer,” she said. “Social skills, people skills and talking to people from all walks of life. I go down there and I meet hundreds of people on weekends who are coming from all over the country.”

George said she plans to run for the office when her term is up in 2018. She acknowledged that living in Monkton she’s not a resident of Chittenden County, which is not required for the job, but she said she’s shopping for land there.

Either way, it’s about an hour and half drive to Quechee.

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Party Time: Vermont Republicans Take D.C. for Inauguration

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 12:31 PM

The Capitol on Friday morning - AP PHOTO/CLIFF OWEN
  • AP Photo/Cliff Owen
  • The Capitol on Friday morning
Not every Vermonter traveling to Washington is coming to protest the Donald Trump takeover. A score or so of the state’s residents gathered on inauguration eve at a downtown D.C. steak house to celebrate the advent of a new national leader.

A tofu-tinged meeting of Onion River Co-op members it was not. The proudly carnivorous venue and the sentiments expressed at it set this group of Vermonters well apart, culturally and politically, from many of their neighbors back home.

“These are good people,” Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said as he surveyed the scene at the Ruth’s Chris Steak House located less than a mile from the White House. Welch, who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) presidential bid, had handed out tickets for inaugural festivities to several of the Republicans on hand.

“I prefer any of these Vermonters to Trump himself,” the state’s sole U.S. House member added. “If your car went into a ditch, they’d definitely pull you out.”

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Walters: Slouching Toward Transparency

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 11:05 PM

Vermont Statehouse - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Vermont Statehouse
The two branches of the state legislature each made the tiniest of moves toward financial transparency on Thursday. The Senate’s was almost devoid of meaning, while the House took a brief sidestep on the long and winding road to full disclosure.

First, the House. In a session expected to be brief and painless, lawmakers heard first readings of a number of bills and then took up House Resolution 6, which would make minor changes to existing financial disclosure procedure. Currently, state representatives’ disclosure forms are only available in person at the House Clerk’s office; H.R. 6 calls for the forms to be posted online. It had unanimously passed the House Rules Committee, and was expected to sail through.

But lawmakers are very particular about disclosure rules applying to themselves, and a flurry of questions ensued.

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Family of Syrian Refugees Arrive in Rutland as Resettlement Begins

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 8:59 PM

Center left to right: Erica Wallstrom, Madison Akin and Bex Akin in September - CALEB KENNA
  • caleb kenna
  • Center left to right: Erica Wallstrom, Madison Akin and Bex Akin in September
A family of Syrian refugees arrived in Rutland on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Another family is expected to make it to the city on Thursday evening, said Stacie Blake, the USCRI’s director of government and community relations.

The newcomers will live with host families for “just a few days” before they move into their own apartments, Blake said. Such an arrangement is “not unusual when you’re staying at a new resettlement site.” It acts as a “way to help the first families get on their feet,” she explained.

Mayor Chris Louras, who put his political career on the line by proposing Rutland as a resettlement site, said he learned that the first family would arrive just hours before they showed up.

His first words to his city’s newest inhabitants? “I’m so happy and delighted to have you as our new neighbors,” Louras recalled.

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