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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Republican Jumps Into Burlington Ward 6 City Council Race

Posted By on Tue, Jan 16, 2018 at 7:18 PM

Joel FitzGerald - COURTESY OF JOEL FITZGERALD
  • Courtesy of Joel FitzGerald
  • Joel FitzGerald
Citing a lack of transparency in city government, Joel FitzGerald will run as a Republican candidate for a city council seat in Burlington's South End.

The 56-year-old political novice faces Democratic incumbent Karen Paul and Progressive candidate Charles Simpson in the Ward 6 race.

FitzGerald, a 20-year Burlington resident, decided to run after Paul, citing a last-minute conflict of interest, recused herself from a vote on the sale of Burlington Telecom in October.

"That was the final straw," FitzGerald said. "We got no input, no feedback" on the recusal, he said. "We deserve more than that."

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Private Prison Company Lobbies Vermont Officials to Build Proposed Facility

Posted By on Tue, Jan 16, 2018 at 6:04 PM

Lee Adjustment Center in Kentucky, where Corrections Corporation of America housed Vermont inmates - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Lee Adjustment Center in Kentucky, where Corrections Corporation of America housed Vermont inmates
Private prison company CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, is already angling to build the 925-bed prison that Gov. Phil Scott’s administration proposed Monday.

The company, which rebranded in 2016, is one of the country’s largest private prison operators. For a decade, it housed several hundred Vermont inmates in Kentucky and Arizona.

Under the Scott administration’s proposal, Vermont would contract with a private company to construct a $140 million prison in Franklin County over a 10-year period, which the state would then operate. The vision is far from becoming a reality. Lawmakers only started reviewing the concept Tuesday.

In an apparent effort to position itself for that contract, CoreCivic lobbyists are making overtures to key state lawmakers. The company has four employees registered to lobby in the state and is also represented by the Vermont lobbying firm MMR.

Its outreach isn’t going over well in some quarters of the Statehouse.

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New Prosecutor Rescinds Plea Offers That Scott Williams Made

Posted By on Tue, Jan 16, 2018 at 3:51 PM

Scott WIlliams - FILE: TERRI HALLENBECK
  • File: Terri Hallenbeck
  • Scott WIlliams
Updated 5:30 p.m.

Interim Washington County State's Attorney Rory Thibault has rescinded plea offers in criminal cases that his predecessor, Scott Williams, made before his abrupt departure in November.

Williams disappeared from public view to seek treatment at the Brattleboro Retreat, and then resigned on January 8. Earlier this month, Gov. Phil Scott appointed Thibault, who used to work for Williams as a deputy prosecutor, to the interim position.

Thibault wrote in a letter that he had "concerns over the content, structure, and basis" of some of Williams' proposed plea agreements. Thibault added that he was also rescinding felony plea offers made by prosecutors who filled in for Williams while the office was understaffed.

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UVM Administrators Decry 'Racist' Flyers Posted on Campus

Posted By on Tue, Jan 16, 2018 at 2:42 PM

One of the flyers that was posted on the University of Vermont campus - COURTESY: THE VERMONT CYNIC
  • Courtesy: The Vermont Cynic
  • One of the flyers that was posted on the University of Vermont campus
Flyers featuring photos of men of color who were recently charged with local crimes appeared on the University of Vermont campus Monday, the federal holiday honoring civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.

"Stop Importing Problems," the text on the flyers read, and listed crimes next to each man's photo.

UVM police are investigating, as is the UVM Bias Response Team. UVM president Tom Sullivan and other top administrators issued this statement on Tuesday:

We regret to inform you that a small number of flyers espousing offensive, racist, anti-immigration views were found yesterday in the vicinity of the UVM Green, posted by an as-yet unknown individual or individuals. These abhorrent views are an assault on our values as an institution, as articulated in Our Common Ground. We condemn these flyers unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms. Our University strives to maintain a welcoming environment for all members of our community. 
The Vermont Cynic student newspaper first reported on the flyers. They were discovered as UVM prepared to kick off a series of events to honor King and explore civil rights topics during the coming week.

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Cannabis
Pot Commission Wants Education Programs, More Study of Road Safety

Posted By on Tue, Jan 16, 2018 at 2:31 PM

Marijuana Advisory Commission cochairs Jake Perkinson (left) and Tom Little (standing) - FILE: JOHN WALTERS
  • File: John Walters
  • Marijuana Advisory Commission cochairs Jake Perkinson (left) and Tom Little (standing)
A commission tasked with studying the prospect of marijuana legalization in Vermont recommended on Tuesday that Vermont lawmakers create a separate panel that would set and maintain standards for testing stoned drivers.

During a presentation at the Statehouse, members of the Marijuana Advisory Commission also recommended education and prevention programs for young people, along with data collection to measure and track the effects of cannabis legalization on traffic deaths, youth drug use, substance use disorders and criminal activity.

Gov. Phil Scott created the commission by executive order last August. It's tasked with investigating three primary areas: taxation and regulation, education and prevention, and highway safety.

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