Monday, October 17, 2016

Media Note: In Essay Contest, Nobody Wins the Hardwick Gazette

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 8:04 PM

The Hardwick Gazette office - FILE: COURTESY OF HARDWICK GAZETTE
  • File: Courtesy of Hardwick Gazette
  • The Hardwick Gazette office
An attempt to give the Hardwick Gazette to whoever wrote the most compelling essay has failed. Publisher and owner Ross Connelly didn't get enough submissions to follow through.

Connelly, who is 71 and has spent three decades as publisher of the Northeast Kingdom weekly, announced the contest back in June. The concept was simple: People would submit a 400-word essay along with a $175 entry fee, and a panel of judges would pick the winner.

News outlets across the country, including the New York Times and Washington Post, picked up the story. Despite the media buzz, there apparently aren't many people interested in the grueling job of running a local newspaper in a remote, rural community. Connelly had determined that he needed 700 entries to make the contest financially viable for him; the Associated Press reported earlier today that he'd received only 140. 

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Howard Center Had No Contact With Accused Wrong-Way Driver

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 6:14 PM

Steven Bourgoin is wheeled into his arraignment at the UVM Medical Center Friday morning. - GLENN RUSSELL/BURLINGTON FREE PRESS
  • Glenn Russell/Burlington Free Press
  • Steven Bourgoin is wheeled into his arraignment at the UVM Medical Center Friday morning.
The Howard Center on Monday said it was never contacted to evaluate Steven Bourgoin in the hours before he was involved in a head-on crash that killed five teens, contradicting previous statements from law enforcement officials.

Initial law enforcement statements indicated that the mental health provider was called after Bourgoin, 36, of Williston, showed up at an emergency room hours before the fatal collision.

But in a statement released Monday afternoon, the Howard Center said that an internal investigation, including a review of phone and electronic records and interviews with staffers, showed that it was "not contacted to evaluate, assess, or screen this individual on the day of the crash nor at any other time prior to this incident."

The statement said that Bourgoin was not a Howard Center client, and that no organization had sent the Howard Center a referral on his behalf.

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Sanders Schedules Rallies With Vermont Democratic Candidates

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 3:23 PM

Bernie Sanders - JAMES BUCK/FILE
  • Bernie Sanders
Updated at 4 p.m. October 19, 2016, with times and details about the rallies

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will join state Democratic candidates for six rallies across the state this weekend.

The events start Friday in Montpelier with a 7 p.m. rally (doors open at 5) at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Alumni Hall, according to Meg Polyte, the spokeswoman for Progressive/Democratic governor candidate David Zuckerman.

Zuckerman will attend five of the events, Polyte said. 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter plans to attend all six events, her spokesman, Elliott Bent, said.

Also expected to attend at least some of the rallies are Democratic attorney general candidate T.J. Donovan and state House candidates.

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Leahy Raises Nearly 10 Times More Than Milne

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 12:04 AM

Sen. Patrick Leahy last month in Barre - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy last month in Barre
When it comes to campaign fundraising and spending, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Republican rival Scott Milne aren't even in the same league.

New disclosures filed late last week with the Federal Election Commission show that Leahy, a 42-year incumbent, raised more than $445,000 in the two and a half months ending September 30. He collected another $55,000 in that period through a leadership political action committee called Green Mountain PAC.

Milne, a Pomfret businessman, raised just $57,000 from donors during the three months ending September 30 — and contributed another $12,000 of his own cash to his long-shot bid. 

Since winning his last six-year term, Leahy has raised more than $4.67 million through his main campaign account, his latest filing shows. Milne, meanwhile, has collected just $74,000 — including $17,000 of his own money — since joining the race last May. 

In the lead-up to next month's election, Leahy has been drawing down some of his reserves. The incumbent Democrat spent nearly $649,000 in the most recent reporting period, roughly $297,000 of which went toward television advertising produced by the Philadelphia firm Shorr Johnson Magnus. Milne, who has no paid staff, spent a mere $35,000. 

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Spending Exceeds $9.6 Million in Vermont Gubernatorial Race

Posted By on Sun, Oct 16, 2016 at 2:22 PM

Sue Minter and Phil Scott - FILE: JAMES BUCK AND MOLLY WALSH
  • File: James Buck and Molly Walsh
  • Sue Minter and Phil Scott
Candidates for Vermont's top office and those supporting them have doled out more than $9.6 million this campaign season, according to a new analysis by Seven Days. With more than three weeks remaining until Election Day, that puts the 2016 gubernatorial race on track to be the most expensive in state history.

The majority of the money, nearly $6.5 million, has been spent by the five major-party candidates themselves: Democratic nominee Sue Minter, Republican nominee Phil Scott and their three vanquished primary election rivals. Another $3.1 million has come from national party organizations, special-interest groups and one wealthy individual. 

The analysis reflects only money spent exclusively on the gubernatorial race, so it likely undercounts the total. For example, it does not include the $7,904 that the National Rifle Association spent on postcards last week, because those mention not only Scott but 19 other candidates. More significantly, it does not include spending by the Vermont Democratic Party or the Vermont Republican Party, since that money typically benefits the respective parties' entire slates.

By far the biggest player in recent months has been a super PAC funded by the Washington, D.C.-based Republican Governors Association. The organization, called A Stronger Vermont, has spent more than $1.8 million bolstering Scott's campaign, according to a disclosure filed late Saturday with the Secretary of State's Office. In the latest 15-day filing period, which ended October 12, it spent $573,000 — largely on television advertising criticizing Minter. 

The RGA continued to vastly outspend its Democratic counterpart. A super PAC funded by the D.C.-based Democratic Governors Association, called Our Vermont, has invested $767,000 in Minter's candidacy. In the latest period, it spent $288,000. (It dropped another $98,000 on TV ads last Friday, after that period had ended.)

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Steven Bourgoin Pleads Not Guilty to Five Counts of Murder

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 11:43 AM

Steven Bourgoin is wheeled into his arraignment at the UVM Medical Center Friday morning. - GLENN RUSSELL/BURLINGTON FREE PRESS
  • Glenn Russell/Burlington Free Press
  • Steven Bourgoin is wheeled into his arraignment at the UVM Medical Center Friday morning.
Updated at 1:40 p.m.

Steven Bourgoin, the alleged wrong-way driver who slammed into a car, killing five teenagers, pleaded not guilty Friday to five counts of second-degree murder.

Bourgoin is being held without bail and is in the custody of the Department of Corrections at the UVM Medical Center, where he’s been a patient since the late Saturday wreck.

Judge James Crucitti arraigned Bourgoin in a UVM Medical Center conference room converted into a makeshift courtroom. Hospital personnel and a State Police officer wheeled the 36-year-old Williston man into the room on a partially reclined hospital bed. Bourgoin, his face still bruised, did not speak and his eyes remained closed throughout the appearance.

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Race Issues Flare During Lieutenant Gubernatorial Debate

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 10:08 AM

Republican Randy Brock (left) and Progressive/Democrat David Zuckerman, candidates for lieutenant governor, debate Thursday at Vermont PBS. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Republican Randy Brock (left) and Progressive/Democrat David Zuckerman, candidates for lieutenant governor, debate Thursday at Vermont PBS.
Through five campaigns — for state auditor, governor and state senator — race was never an election issue for Republican Randy Brock, who is African American. But it keeps resurfacing as he competes for lieutenant governor with Progressive/Democrat David Zuckerman, who is white.

Sparring between the two over racial sensitivities escalated Thursday night during a debate on Vermont PBS.

Last month, Brock accused Zuckerman of politicizing the race issue. At Thursday’s debate, Brock pressed the issue further and Zuckerman lashed back.

Brock accused Zuckerman of making a series of “derogatory” and “offensive” racial comments. In particular, he pointed to a comment made earlier in the campaign in which the ponytailed Zuckerman mentioned that stereotypes over a person’s race or hair length are worrisome.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Accused Wrong-Way Driver in I-89 Crash Charged With Murder

Posted By and on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 7:04 PM

From left to right: Liam Hale of Fayston, Mary Harris of Moretown, Eli Brookens of Waterbury, Cyrus Zschau of Moretown and Janie Cozzi of Fayston - FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM AND COURTESY PHOTOS
  • Facebook, Instagram and courtesy photos
  • From left to right: Liam Hale of Fayston, Mary Harris of Moretown, Eli Brookens of Waterbury, Cyrus Zschau of Moretown and Janie Cozzi of Fayston
Steven Bourgoin, the accused wrong-way driver of a pickup truck that crashed into a car on Interstate 89 late Saturday and killed five teenagers, has been charged with murder.

The State of Vermont filed five counts of second-degree murder against Bourgoin, Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan announced Thursday afternoon. Bourgoin is to be arraigned Friday morning at 10 a.m. in a conference room at the University of Vermont Medical Center, where he has been a patient since the wreck. 

The penalty for a second-degree murder conviction is 20 years to life in prison.

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Burlington Teachers Vote to Strike if Next Negotiating Session Fails

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 7:00 PM

Burlington teachers picketing last month. - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Burlington teachers picketing last month.
Updated at 9:32 p.m. to include a statement from the school board.

They'll give it one more shot.

Burlington teachers voted overwhelmingly Thursday to strike if negotiations with the Burlington School Board fail next week. The last-ditch session is scheduled for Wednesday. Teachers won't show for work next Thursday if a negotiated settlement isn't reached, according to Burlington Education Association president Fran Brock.

"We did not ever think it would come to this," Brock said Thursday afternoon following the union's vote, "but the leadership of this board has decided that division, political gamesmanship, and walking away and imposing employment conditions was a better course than settling during more than a year of talks." 

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Seven Things to Know About Burlington’s New Bus Station

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 6:07 PM

The new station - SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • Sasha Goldstein
  • The new station
Burlington’s gleaming new Downtown Transit Center opened Thursday with a ceremony featuring a slew of city, state and federal officials. Here are seven things to know about the new bus station.

Decades in the Making

Plans for a new terminal date back to at least 1992. In subsequent years, city officials considered building it on Battery Street, near the waterfront. After a backlash from riders, who wanted a more centralized location, officials canned the idea. The latest plans came to be around 2011, according to Stephen Carlson, the Green Mountain Transit project manager.

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