Sunday, July 24, 2016

Wasserman Schultz to Resign as Democrats Seek Convention Unity

Posted By on Sun, Jul 24, 2016 at 5:48 PM

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz at a debate last December in New Hampshire - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz at a debate last December in New Hampshire
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said Sunday she would resign her chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee at the conclusion of the party's convention this week in Philadelphia. 

The move came as party leaders sought to quell an uproar over leaked DNC emails suggesting that committee staffers had undermined Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) campaign for the presidency. In one such email, released Friday by Wikileaks, DNC chief financial officer Brad Marshall asked two other party officials whether the organization could "get someone" to ask Sanders about his faith — an apparent effort to hurt his electoral chances in Kentucky and West Virginia.

Speaking earlier Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Sanders called the emails "outrageous," but "not a great shock to me."

"I mean, there's no question, to my mind, and I think no question to any objective observer's mind, that the DNC was supporting [presumptive Democratic nominee] Hillary Clinton — was in opposition to our campaign," he said. "So I'm not quite shocked by this."

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Authorities Make Mass Drug Arrests in Winooski Neighborhood

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 5:16 PM

U.S. Attorney Eric Miller is joined by local and federal law enforcement officials during a press conference in Burlington. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • U.S. Attorney Eric Miller is joined by local and federal law enforcement officials during a press conference in Burlington.
Federal authorities on  Friday charged eight people living in a three-block stretch of Winooski with helping out-of-state drug dealers set up a large heroin and cocaine distribution ring.

The defendants, seven of whom were arrested Friday, allowed dealers to use their apartments along a stretch of Malletts Bay Avenue, just a few blocks from the downtown Winooski traffic circle, authorities said.

U.S. Attorney Eric Miller said that law enforcement is increasingly focused on arresting "local facilitators": Vermonters who provide housing, transportation, links to customers and other support to out-of-state drug dealers who set up shop in local communities.

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Guantanamo Detainee Represented by Vermont Attorneys to be Freed

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 1:17 PM

  • Wikipedia Commons
  • Abdul Zahir
An alleged Al Qaeda member who has been represented for years by two St. Johnsbury attorneys is slated to be freed from his Guantanamo Bay prison cell after 14 years in captivity.

Abdul Zahir, 44, will likely return home to Afghanistan in the coming months after a recent military ruling, his attorneys said. The accused terrorist has been imprisoned at the prison in Cuba since his suspected involvement in a 2002 grenade attack that injured a Canadian journalist and two others in Afghanistan.

The Center for Constitutional Rights assigned attorneys David Sleigh and Robert Gensburg to represent Zahir. The lawyers have made roughly a dozen trips to Guantanamo to visit their client, and have fruitlessly lobbied military officials to grant him a trial.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Groups Sue Vermont State Agencies Over Assisted Suicide Law

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 3:51 PM

Senators reaffirm the state’s end-of-life law in 2015. - TERRI HALLENBECK/FILE
  • Senators reaffirm the state’s end-of-life law in 2015.
Updated at 10 a.m. Friday with comments from Attorney General Bill Sorrell and Compassion & Choices Vermont State Director Linda Waite-Simpson.

A local and a national organization have combined forces to sue the state over its 3-year-old end-of-life law that allows qualifying terminally ill patients to seek a prescription to hasten their deaths.

The Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Tennessee-based Christian Medical & Dental Associations filed the lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in Vermont. They argue on behalf of several Vermont medical professionals that being required to offer patients the option of assisted suicide violates their religious or ethical beliefs.

Vermont is one of four states to legalize assisted suicide, but the only one that requires medical professionals to advise patients of the option, said Steven Aden, a Washington, D.C., attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom and one of several lawyers representing the plaintiffs.*

“They share a reasonable fear of this being imposed on them,” Aden told Seven Days.

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Mayor, New Moran Terminate Agreement to Redevelop Coal Plant

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 12:52 PM

Mayor Miro Weinberger holds a press conference outside the Moran Plant on Thursday. - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger holds a press conference outside the Moran Plant on Thursday.
Mayor Miro Weinberger confirmed Thursday that his administration and the group trying to redevelop Burlington's waterfront coal plant have terminated the memorandum of understanding they signed in 2014. 

At a press conference held behind the derelict brick building, Weinberger told reporters he is giving the New Moran team until November 11 to prove to the city that they have an updated, financially viable proposal.

What, exactly, that entails, Weinberger couldn't say. But he reiterated his ongoing concerns — that the team lacks people with significant development experience and that they've failed to secure firm commitments from longterm tenants for the building. 

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With Focus on Guns, Minter Seeks to Separate Herself From the Pack

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 12:48 PM

Two years ago, Ann Braden wouldn't have predicted that a major candidate for governor of Vermont would run a television advertisement calling for gun control.

"But it often takes time for the state capital to catch up to public opinion," says Braden, who founded Gun Sense Vermont after the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Now, with less than three weeks remaining before Vermont's gubernatorial primary, one candidate is staking her candidacy on the controversial issue. In a television advertisement released Wednesday, Democrat Sue Minter ties firearms to domestic violence and pledges to take on "the gun lobby."

"We need to keep guns away from domestic abusers and require background checks on all gun sales," she says. 

It may not be the riskiest strategy in a Democratic primary. The Castleton Polling Institute found last February that 97 percent of Democrats support universal background checks. Even independents and Republicans overwhelmingly support the concept, the poll concluded.

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Vermont Public Service Board Closes Pipeline Hearing to the Public

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 12:27 PM

Construction last month on the Vermont Gas Systems pipeline in St. George - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Construction last month on the Vermont Gas Systems pipeline in St. George
***Updated at 10:10 a.m. Friday to reflect the board's decision to allow media to attend.

A hearing next month on Vermont Gas Systems' pipeline project will be closed to the public, the state Public Service Board has decided — a move that observers say is unprecedented.

As first reported by Vermont Public Radio, the board last week said that the August 4 technical hearing will be open only to the parties involved. Access to the hearing, at a state building in Barre, will be controlled by police.

The Public Service Board subsequently decided to allow members of the media to attend the hearing in person, board deputy clerk Holly Anderson said on Friday, though the number may be limited by space constraints.

The board ruled that the move to exclude the public was necessary because protesters have disrupted other pipeline hearings.

"Many members of the public rose from their seats in the hearing room and raised their voices loudly in song, refusing to heed appeals from the hearing officers to lower their voices so as not to interfere with the proceedings," the board said in its ruling, describing one protest.

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Tenants Must Vacate Memorial Auditorium by Year’s End

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 11:37 AM

242 Main at Memorial Auditorium - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • 242 Main at Memorial Auditorium
Memorial Auditorium tenants must leave by the end of the year because structural problems threaten to make the building unsafe.

Burlington’s 242 Main youth center and concert venue, the Burlington City Arts clay and print studios and the Generator maker space all must move. Burlington city engineer Norm Baldwin has concluded that the 1927 red brick auditorium on Main Street needs major work. 

“The city engineer is not comfortable with the building remaining in use beyond the end of the year,” Mayor Miro Weinberger told Seven Days

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Merger Proposed for Lyndon and Johnson State Colleges

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 11:18 AM

Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Jeb Spaulding - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Jeb Spaulding
Vermont could soon have a Lyndon Johnson State College.

Two schools in the beleaguered Vermont State College system could become one under a proposal that would merge Lyndon State College and Johnson State College. Johnson president Elaine Collins would take the helm of the unified college when it opens on July 1, 2017, the chancellor’s office said in a statement Thursday. 

Chancellor Jeb Spaulding recommended the merger, which has since been approved by the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees. The board will vote on a final plan for the change on September 29.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Burlington May End Agreement With Moran Plant Developers

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 7:05 PM

  • file: matthew thorsen
  • Moran Plant
The city of Burlington is considering terminating its memorandum of understanding with the group that is working to redevelop the Moran Plant, according to an email obtained by Seven Days.

New Moran sent the email to its council of advisers on Monday, explaining that they were working with the city "on a mutual dissolution" of the agreement because it "has become woefully out of date and inhibits the city from exploring all its options for the Moran Plant."

The MOU was signed in 2014. Now, the $20 million project is behind schedule. What the possible dissolution means for the future of the project is unclear.

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