Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Vermont Publisher First with Sanders Campaign Book

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 7:48 AM

COURTESY
  • Courtesy
Writer and activist Jonathan Tasini was the first to get Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to admit he might run for president. Well, sort of. 

When Tasini interviewed Sanders for the October 2013 edition of Playboy, the senator said it "would be tempting" to bring his platform to the presidential race, despite all the drawbacks. Asked whether he was ruling out a run, Sanders said, "Absolutely? 100 percent? Cross my heart? Is there a stack of Bibles somewhere? Look, maybe it’s only 99 percent."

Back then, that qualified as news

Now that Sanders is a little more than one percent running for president, Tasini's offering another first: an election-season book about Vermont's two-term senator. 

Chelsea Green, the White River Junction publishing house, has ordered up a 50,000-copy print run of the book, called The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America (192 pages; $14). According to Chelsea Green spokesman (and former Seven Days political columnist) Shay Totten, it's scheduled for release September 8.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Vermont Could Get $720 Million for Lake Champlain Power Lines

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 2:15 PM

TDI New England president and chief executive officer Donald Jessome (left) and Project Manager Josh Bagnato hold disks that represent the circumference of two transmission lines the company proposes to place under Lake Champlain. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • TERRI HALLENBECK
  • TDI New England president and chief executive officer Donald Jessome (left) and Project Manager Josh Bagnato hold disks that represent the circumference of two transmission lines the company proposes to place under Lake Champlain.
If a new project to put electric transmission lines under Lake Champlain is completed, Vermont stands to receive a boatload of money for playing host.

In an agreement announced Tuesday, TDI New England would pay more than $720 million to the state over 40 years. Some of that money would help clean up the very lake that would serve as the conduit. Another sizable chunk would pay for renewable-energy generation in Vermont. Vermont electric customers would also get a piece.

“It’s a lot of money,” said Chris Recchia, commissioner of the Vermont Public Service Department. “This is probably the biggest energy project in Vermont since Vermont Yankee.”

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Bernie Bits: Sanders Stumbles During 'Black Lives Matter' Protest

Posted By on Mon, Jul 20, 2015 at 11:06 AM

bernie-bits-header.png
During a weekend swing through red-state America, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) drew huge crowds Sunday in Houston and Dallas. The day before, he broke a new campaign attendance record in Phoenix, where 11,000 people crowded into a convention center to hear him speak.

But Sanders drew the most weekend press coverage for what many perceived as a tone-deaf response to a Black Lives Matter protest earlier Saturday in Phoenix. 

The independent candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination had been expected to receive a hero's welcome at Netroots Nation, an annual gathering of progressive activists staged this year at the Phoenix Convention Center. A group of African American activists had other ideas. They burst into the convention hall as Sanders rival Martin O'Malley, the former Democratic governor of Maryland, addressed the conference — and they didn't let up until Sanders left.

According to several media outlets, Sanders didn't handle the episode terribly gracefully.

When Sanders took the stage, according to Time, he "flashed with annoyance."

Despite watching O’Malley fumble, Sander[s] immediately began with his prepared stump speech, criticizing the media and calling for a political revolution, trying to speak over the protesters. “What are we doing here?” he grumbled to Vargas, who was unable to control the crowd. Halfway through his time, Sanders looked at the protesters and finally said “Black people are dying in this country because we have a criminal justice system that is out of control.”

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Neil Young Chips In $100K for Vermont's GMO Suit

Posted By on Mon, Jul 20, 2015 at 8:21 AM

Neil Young pledges $100,000 Sunday to Gov. Peter Shumlin toward Vermont's legal battle over the state's GMO labeling law. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Neil Young pledges $100,000 Sunday to Gov. Peter Shumlin toward Vermont's legal battle over the state's GMO labeling law.
A few hours before Neil Young sang a note Sunday night in Essex Junction, he put his money where his mouth was about to go. The rock legend pledged $100,000 toward Vermont’s legal bills to defend the state’s GMO labeling law.

"I'm just a rock 'n' roller who believes people should know what they're eating," Young said at a backstage pre-show press conference with Gov. Peter Shumlin. Then he upped the ante.

“We would like to see some of the high-rollers in Vermont who believe in this come up and match that, 'cause if you’ve got it, break it out,” Young said. “Remember, this is a big, multinational group of corporations working together to make sure you don’t know what you have on your food table.”

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Media Note: Vermont PBS to Replace Carlson as 'Connect' Host

Posted By on Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 4:38 PM

Mary Brown-Guillory and Kristin Carlson in the first episode of "Connect" - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Mary Brown-Guillory and Kristin Carlson in the first episode of "Connect"
Updated at 5:40 p.m.

Green Mountain Power spokeswoman Kristin Carlson will end her run hosting a new interview show on Vermont PBS after just two episodes, according to station CEO Holly Groschner.

Vermont PBS has faced blowback since it announced last week that Carlson, a former WCAX-TV reporter and anchor, would lead the half-hour program, called "Connect ... with Kristin Carlson." Critics questioned whether it was appropriate for a corporate spokesperson to fulfill a journalistic role at the publicly funded station.

After hearing from viewers, staff members and board members, Groschner said, she and Carlson discussed the matter Thursday morning and decided to part ways. Both characterized the decision as mutual.

"We agreed that probably the best approach is to look at other opportunities of how to accomplish our mission of connecting Vermonters with Vermont stories," Groschner said.

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Shumlin's Staff Exodus Begins

Posted By on Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 2:26 PM

David Mears - CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
  • Contributed photo
  • David Mears
 When Gov. Peter Shumlin announced last month that he will not run for reelection in 2016, there was lots of buzz about how effective his administration would be for the next year and a half. One of the most significant questions was how quickly and how many staff members would flee for other jobs.

That flight has started.

David Mears, a Vermont Law School professor who cut short his Fulbright scholarship work in China to join Shumlin's administration  as  Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner in 2011, is going back to the law school, Shumlin’s office announced Thursday. He’ll lead the South Royalton school's Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, .

Mears’ departure is significant. It comes just as the state is about to hear from the federal Environmental Protection Agency on its Lake Champlain cleanup plans and just after the governor signed a hefty new water cleanup bill into law. The highly regarded Mears has been managing that for the state, but won’t be there to implement the plans.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sanders Raises $13.7 Million, Spends $3.1 Million

Posted By on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 at 5:02 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking in Madison, Wis., earlier this month. - FILE: ERIC TADSEN
  • File: Eric Tadsen
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking in Madison, Wis., earlier this month.
Updated at 9:19 p.m., with more details on Sanders' spending.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) raised $13.7 million in his first two months as a presidential candidate, according to a 10,047-page report his campaign filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission. In that time, he spent $3.1 million building a national political apparatus. 

Earlier this month — and again Wednesday — Sanders' presidential campaign asserted that it raised more than $15 million. But that includes $1.5 million he had previously collected for his Senate reelection campaign and transferred to his presidential account June 30.

Sanders reported having $12.2 million remaining in the bank at the end of June.

More than three-quarters of the new money Sanders raised — roughly $10.5 million — came in donations of $200 or less, according to the FEC report. Sanders' campaign said it received 390,730 donations averaging $35.18.

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New NAACP Chapter Forms in Vermont

Posted By on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 at 2:40 PM

Mary Brown-Guillory, president of the Champlain Area NAACP, left, introduces other officers of the local chapter at a meeting Tuesday. - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Mary Brown-Guillory, president of the Champlain Area NAACP, left, introduces other officers of the local chapter at a meeting Tuesday.
The mood was celebratory Tuesday night as about 60 people gathered at a meeting of Vermont's newly founded chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"This is a momentous occasion," said Mary Brown-Guillory of Burlington, president of the Champlain Area NAACP.

The group will fight racism and work to educate Vermont on issues of fairness, she said. The chapter has 168 members so far and needs more, Brown-Guillory emphasized to the crowd gathered at the Waterman Building on the University of Vermont campus. 

"We cannot do this without you," she said.

According to the organizers, the chapter is the first in Vermont to affiliate with the national civil rights group, which since its founding more than a century ago has played a pivotal role in battles for equal access to jobs and housing, integrated schools and voting rights. There was an earlier effort to create a chapter in Vermont, but that group was not directly tied to the national organization, Brown-Guillory said. 

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First-Time Candidate Raises Six Figures, Mostly From Self, Family

Posted By on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 at 12:51 PM

Brandon Riker - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Brandon Riker
Updated at 10:11 p.m., with more on other statewide races.

A novice politico raised nearly $103,000 for his lieutenant gubernatorial campaign in the first half of the year, though much of it came from his own pockets and those of his family members.

Brandon Riker, a 28-year-old Marlboro Democrat, donated nearly $60,000 to his fledgling bid, according to a disclosure filed late Tuesday with the secretary of state's office. Eight family members donated another $32,000.

"This is about building a grassroots campaign and engaging people in the process," Riker says. "The idea is going around the state talking to people one-on-one, and the money is just a part of it."

Riker’s hefty haul was one of the few surprises to come out of Vermont’s first campaign-finance filing deadline of the 2016 election cycle. Candidates who raised or spent more than $500 this year were required to disclose that information by midnight Wednesday. Another surprise was former Democratic state senator Matt Dunne’s announcement that he’d raised nearly $134,000 for his all-but-certain gubernatorial campaign.

As Seven Days reported in this week’s Fair Game column, Dunne accepted donations from more than 100 donors over the course of 10 days — including some from top Vermont Democrats and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. The Google executive, who lost a 2006 lieutenant gubernatorial race and a 2010 campaign for governor, claims he still hasn’t decided, for sure, whether he’ll run again.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Burlington City Council Backs del Pozo for Police Chief

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 at 11:53 PM

Brandon del Pozo listens as Mayor Miro Weinberger speaks. - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Brandon del Pozo listens as Mayor Miro Weinberger speaks.
The Burlington City Council voted Monday night to approve the appointment of Brandon del Pozo as the city’s next police chief, following a four-hour debate that was at times testy.

Del Pozo, 40, is due to start September 1 in the $114,363-a-year job. Mayor Miro Weinberger chose him from a field of nearly 30 candidates. He replaces Michael Schirling, who retired in June.

Councilor Joan Shannon (D-South District) abstained, citing a work conflict of interest. The remaining 11 councilors voted for del Pozo.

Despite the council’s support of del Pozo, it was a tumultuous evening. About 130 people filled city hall’s Contois Auditorium, the majority protesting del Pozo’s appointment.

A long line of critics argued that del Pozo should be rejected because of his 18-year career with the New York Police Department, where he is a deputy inspector. Some blatantly accused him of being responsible for the department’s racial profiling, systematic infiltration of Muslim communities and mistreatment of protesters.

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