Thursday, September 22, 2016

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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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lisman Supporters to Lead Campaign for Vermont

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 6:06 PM

  • Courtesy photo
  • Ben Kinsley
Campaign for Vermont, the public policy organization that Bruce Lisman launched in 2011, has a new executive director and plans to ramp up its advocacy efforts — without Lisman.

But will the nonpartisan organization be haunted by the shadow of Lisman’s recent failed bid for governor? That remains to be seen.

At least two Lisman associates have joined Campaign for Vermont this week. Ben Kinsley, who will take over as the group’s new executive director, spent the last several months working as the Republican Lisman’s gubernatorial campaign field director.

And Pam Mackenzie, a former South Burlington city council chair, will replace founding member Tom Pelham on the organization’s board. Mackenzie prominently supported Lisman’s run for governor.

The two appointments could make it all the more difficult for Campaign for Vermont to persuade state residents that the group really is nonpartisan, which it long has argued. After a sometimes-bruising primary campaign between Lisman and Republican gubernatorial nominee Phil Scott, how would Kinsley fare in lobbying the Scott administration if the candidate defeats Democrat Sue Minter in November?

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Media Note: Hardwick Gazette Essay Contest Gets a Final Deadline

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 1:12 PM

  • File: Courtesy of Hardwick Gazette
  • The Hardwick Gazette
Ross Connelly is still short on the number of essays he needs in order to give away his weekly newspaper, the Hardwick Gazette. But the 71-year-old owner and publisher is extending the contest deadline a second and final time — until October 10.

Connelly attracted national attention in early June by announcing he would give the Hardwick Gazette to whomever submitted the most compelling 400-word essay, along with a required $175 entry fee. He determined that he would need at least 700 entries to make the arrangement financially viable.

When he didn’t hit that mark, Connelly extended the deadline, from August 11 to September 20.

Now, he says, he’s pushing it back one last time.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Transparency Group: Cops Should Release Winooski Shooting Video

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 1:55 PM

The location behind the O’Brien Community Center where police shot and killed 29-year-old Jesse Beshaw. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • The location behind the O’Brien Community Center where police shot and killed 29-year-old Jesse Beshaw.
A group that calls for government transparency is urging Vermont law enforcement to release videos that show a sheriff's deputy fatally shooting an unarmed man in Winooski last week.

The New England First Amendment Coalition wants officials to release body camera videos of the incident so the public can evaluate Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Nicolas Palmier's decision to open fire on Jesse Beshaw, 29, after a brief foot chase Friday evening in downtown Winooski.

Beshaw, the subject of an arrest warrant for burglary and unlawful mischief, approached Palmier with his right hand behind his back and did not respond to Palmier's verbal commands, Vermont State Police said. He was shot seven times and died at the scene.

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Burlington Residents Will Vote on Capital Bonds, Bike Path Question

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 9:52 AM

The capital bond would fund additional repaving of the Burlington Bike Path. - FILE: ALICIA FREESE
  • File: Alicia Freese
  • The capital bond would fund additional repaving of the Burlington Bike Path.
Updated at 4:15 p.m. to add in estimated tax increases in the event the bond proposals pass.
Burlington residents will have a say at the polls this November on several big-ticket items. 

The city council on Monday unanimously approved Mayor Miro Weinberger’s proposal to put a $27.5 million bond for capital upgrades on the ballot. Among the repairs it would pay for: sidewalk and street upgrades, bike path improvements, and several new fire engines.

At the same meeting, the council approved an $8.4 million bond to replace aging water pipes. Forty percent of Burlington’s water mains are more than 75 years old, according to the administration.

The water bond needs a simple majority to pass, while the capital bond requires approval from two-thirds of voters. 

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Unilever to Buy Seventh Generation

Posted By on Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 2:52 PM

Company headquarters in Burlington - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Company headquarters in Burlington
The same multinational company that purchased Ben & Jerry’s back in 2001 is scooping up another Vermont-based company.

Unilever announced plans Monday to purchase Burlington-based Seventh Generation for an undisclosed sum.

Unilever North America President Kees Kruythoff hailed the acquisition of Seventh Generation — which makes Earth-friendly laundry soap, toilet paper, dishwashing detergent and personal care products — as beneficial for both companies. 

“We’re thrilled to add Seventh Generation to our brand portfolio, providing us with the opportunity to accelerate growth with our retail partners and connect in new ways with consumers,” Kruythoff said in a press release. 

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Unarmed Winooski Man Shot Seven Times in Deadly Police Shooting

Posted By on Sat, Sep 17, 2016 at 4:19 PM

The location behind the O’Brien Community Center where police shot and killed 29-year-old Jesse Beshaw. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • The location behind the O’Brien Community Center where police shot and killed 29-year-old Jesse Beshaw.
Updated at 7:52 p.m. with additional information from the Vermont State Police.

A Winooski man was unarmed when he was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy Friday afternoon, Vermont State Police said Saturday night.

After a brief foot chase through the Malletts Bay Avenue neighborhood in Winooski, Jesse Beshaw, 29, approached Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Nicolas Palmier with his right hand behind his back, state police said.

Beshaw did not respond to Palmier’s verbal commands and Palmier opened fire as Beshaw continued to advance, state police said. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found that Beshaw suffered six gunshot wounds and one “apparent grazing” gunshot wound to his head and torso, state police said.

Winooski police officers arrived soon after the shooting and administered aid, but Beshaw died at the scene. Palmier was wearing a body camera that captured the shooting, state police said.

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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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The Rutland Herald and Times Argus Are Officially Sold

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 5:56 PM

The headquarters of the Rutland Herald - FILE: CALEB KENNA
  • The headquarters of the Rutland Herald
The Rutland Herald and the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus newspapers were officially sold Friday, according to the newspapers’ own report.

Terms of the deal were not released, but the transaction was expected after reports of financial difficulties at the papers. Rob Mitchell, whose grandfather purchased the Herald in 1947 and the Times Argus in 1964, will stay on in his role as editor in chief. 

The new owners, Reade Brower of Maine and Charles “Chip” Harris of New Hampshire, have extensive experience owning and printing newspapers in New England.

As part of the sale, current employees can stay in their positions, Rutland Herald reporter Susan Smallheer reported Friday.

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Artwork Mocks Burlington City Officials for ‘Drinking the Kool-Aid’

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 1:34 PM

  • Stop the 14-Story Mall Facebook page
  • “Oh yeah!”

This drink goes down anything but easy.

An unknown artist created a series of at least four satirical postcards using old Kool-Aid ads to mock Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and city councilors who are in favor of a zoning amendment that will allow developer Don Sinex to build up to 14 stories high.

“An appreciative City Council says … ‘Mayor knows best,’” reads the riff on a vintage advertisement. The original shows a family paying tribute to Mom, whose head in the edited version has been replaced by Weinberger’s. It reads: “He keeps Kool-Aid in the ice box by the pitcher full — and they’re drinking it!”

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