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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Burlington Council Votes to Divest From Fossil Fuel Companies

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 12:39 AM

  • File
Burlington city councilors voted unanimously on Monday to divest the city's pension funds from fossil fuel companies and invest in more sustainable  industries.

Spearheaded by Councilor Jane Stromberg (P-Ward 8), the resolution asks for the city to consider creating a "Burlington Green New Deal Investment Fund" to support the city's goal of becoming a net zero community by 2030.

Stromberg said the move combats the climate crisis and sets an example for other cities and towns.

"We need to step up, and we need to be brave," she said. "For some, this is long-awaited and overdue, and for others, this may be a new priority.  But the point is we have an incredible opportunity to lead the way."

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Kilburn Family Files Wrongful Death Claim Against Burlington

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2020 at 8:04 PM

Douglas Kilburn (left) and Officer Cory Campbell - COURTESY OF LISA WEBBER | BURLINGTON POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Courtesy of Lisa Webber | Burlington Police Department
  • Douglas Kilburn (left) and Officer Cory Campbell
The family of Douglas Kilburn is suing the City of Burlington, the mayor and police over his death last year following an altercation with a city cop outside the University of Vermont Medical Center.

The civil complaint, filed Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court, accuses Officer Cory Campbell of using excessive force when he punched Kilburn in the face, breaking multiple bones. The officer's actions in March 2019 ultimately caused Kilburn's "unjustified death," his family asserts.

The suit also targets former police chief Brandon del Pozo and Mayor Miro Weinberger, claiming they tried to conceal Campbell's wrongful conduct by seeking to change the state medical examiner's conclusions in the case.

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A Traveler Says Quarantine Info Is in Short Supply at BTV

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2020 at 2:06 PM

A sign in baggage claim - KEN PICARD ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Ken Picard ©️ Seven Days
  • A sign in baggage claim
Last week, before returning to Vermont from California, Bari and Peter Dreissigacker scheduled coronavirus tests for seven days after their November 17 flight home. All Vermonters returning from out-of-state trips must complete either a 14-day quarantine or a seven-day quarantine followed by a negative COVID-19 test.

But upon their arrival at Burlington International Airport Tuesday evening, Bari Dreissigacker said, she was “astonished” to find that no one was greeting arriving passengers at the gate to inform them of the travel restrictions, nor did she notice flyers or signage to that effect. She had even printed the paperwork about the couple’s COVID test scheduled for November 24, expecting that someone in the airport would ask for it. No one did.

“There was no information in the airport [about the quarantine]. Zero,” Dreissigacker said. “Isn’t that surprising?” The only sign she noticed that referred to the mandate was a flashing highway sign as they drove off the airport grounds. That sign reads, “If you enter Vermont to stay / self-isolate 14 days.”

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Burlington High School to Relocate to Macy's for In-Person Learning

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2020 at 10:26 PM

Burlington High School - FILE: OLIVER PARINI
  • File: Oliver Parini
  • Burlington High School
After months of remote learning, Burlington High School students will return to classrooms early next year in the vacant Macy's building downtown.

Nine school commissioners voted Tuesday night in favor of leasing the former department store for three and a half years while the district decides what to do about cancer-causing chemicals found on campus. Commissioners Monika Ivancic (Ward 7) and Kendra Sowers (North District) abstained; board Chair Clare Wool (Ward 6) also did not cast a vote.

The district will pay $1.2 million the first year, and rent will increase by 3 percent each subsequent year. It will also pay more than $3 million to renovate the building, which is owned by the developers of the adjacent CityPlace Burlington site. Superintendent Tom Flanagan said the district is "aggressively" pursuing state aid to help pay for the new digs.

Commissioner Stephen Carey (Ward 2) said that while it's not ideal, the arrangement gets students back into classrooms as soon as possible and presents creative learning opportunities.

"I'm excited about the potential for a dynamic downtown high school that's connected to the city in the way that none of our schools are," Carey said. "I think our community and our students are going to adapt really well to it."

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Monday, November 16, 2020

School Board to Consider Leasing Macy's as Temporary High School Space

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2020 at 7:35 PM

  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • A sign at BHS
The Burlington School Board on Tuesday will consider approving an agreement to convert the former Macy's store downtown into a high school while the district investigates cancer-causing chemicals found on campus.

District officials have agreed to lease the 150,000-square-foot vacant storefront for $8 per square foot, plus taxes, utilities and insurance, for three and a half years, according to a memo from Superintendent Tom Flanagan.

Rent would cost $1.2 million in year one and would increase by 3 percent each subsequent year. The Cherry Street building is owned by the developers of the CityPlace Burlington project, which is slated for construction on an adjacent parcel.

School commissioners earlier this month agreed to allow Flanagan to pursue a lease but have not yet signed off on its terms. If the deal is approved, the district would also pay more than $3 million to fit up the space before students could move in early next year, according to Dave Farrington, one of the owners.

The district is seeking state and federal funding for the project, Flanagan's memo says.

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Pine Touts Experience in Formal Mayoral Campaign Announcement

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2020 at 2:44 PM

City Councilor Brian Pine - COURTESY OF BRIAN PINE
  • Courtesy of Brian Pine
  • City Councilor Brian Pine
City Councilor Brian Pine (P-Ward 3) formally announced his campaign for Burlington mayor in a virtual press conference on Monday, pledging to rely on his three decades of experience in local politics if elected to the top post at City Hall.

Pine kicked off the announcement with a pre-recorded clip at the Northgate Apartments in the New North End, the birthplace of his local political activism. In the video, Pine recounted his work in the 1980s to help residents purchase the low-income housing complex, saving it from a plan to revamp the units into market-rate condos.

Pine said his experience advocating for people “left at the margins” will inform how he’d govern as mayor.

“We need more than a custodial government for our city. We need bold action, grounded around a commitment to values,” he said, adding, “I want Burlington to once again be a city government that stands for positive change.”

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Burlington Candidates Seek Open Council Seat in North District

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2020 at 10:33 AM

Kerin Durfee (left) and Mark Barlow - COURTESY PHOTOS
  • Courtesy photos
  • Kerin Durfee (left) and Mark Barlow
Burlington City Councilor Franklin Paulino (D-North District) has said he won't run for reelection this March, prompting two New North End residents to declare their candidacies for the seat.

Kerin Durfee will seek the Democratic nomination, while Mark Barlow is running as an independent. Kienan Christianson, who lost the North District race to Paulino in 2018, said he's "strongly considering" another run. He said he'll formally announce his decision in the coming weeks.

Spots in all four city council district seats, which represent two wards apiece, are up for election in March. Paulino, a Democrat and one-term councilor, announced on Twitter in September that he would not seek reelection.

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Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger Will Run for Reelection

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2020 at 9:55 AM

  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger is running for reelection.

The three-term Democrat announced his decision Tuesday morning in an email to supporters, writing that "serving as mayor has been the honor of my life."

Voters will cast ballots on Town Meeting Day in March.

"Together, we have accomplished so much over the last nine years," his statement says. "I will always be deeply grateful for your support and belief in my ability to work with our community to move Burlington forward."

Weinberger's announcement came hours after the Progressive Party put forward city councilors Max Tracy (Ward 2) and Brian Pine (Ward 3) as candidates. "Burlington is ready for new leadership and a new direction from City Hall," Progressive Party director Josh Wronski said in a press release Monday evening.

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Monday, November 9, 2020

Pine, Tracy to Seek Progressive Nomination for Burlington Mayor

Posted By on Mon, Nov 9, 2020 at 7:50 PM

Progressives Max Tracy (left) and Brian Pine - FILE: COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Progressives Max Tracy (left) and Brian Pine
Updated on November 10, 2020.

Progressive Burlington city councilors Brian Pine (Ward 3) and Max Tracy (Ward 2) are seeking their party's nomination for the mayoral election in March, party director Josh Wronski told Seven Days on Monday night.

Mayor Miro Weinberger, a three-term Democrat, announced Tuesday morning that he is running for reelection. Hours later, independent City Councilor Ali Dieng (Ward 7) confirmed he is “considering” a mayoral bid, signaling what could become a crowded race for City Hall.

The Progressive Party announced Pine and Tracy’s bid in a press release about a series of upcoming candidate forums, the first of which is Wednesday.

"We want to give Burlington voters a chance to really get familiar with the choices that they have on the Progressive side," Wronski said. "We also want to give the candidates an opportunity to really present their vision."

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Saturday, November 7, 2020

After Biden Win, Election Celebrations Erupt in Burlington

Posted By on Sat, Nov 7, 2020 at 4:52 PM

A man waving a flag to passing vehicles in downtown Burlington - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • A man waving a flag to passing vehicles in downtown Burlington
People sang, cheered, honked and literally danced in the streets of downtown Burlington on Saturday as word of Joe Biden's election victory spread.

A crowd gathered on Church Street at the intersection with Main Street, where volunteers just months ago painted a huge Black Lives Matter mural on the road. Drivers honked their horns as they rolled through the crowd, which erupted into cheers each time.

Some waved American flags. A few held up homemade signs: "You're fired!" was a popular one.

Drivers turned on songs like "Celebration," "God Bless America" and the hip-hop song "FDT" — Fuck Donald Trump.

Downtown streets were gridlocked through the afternoon, and the crowd showed no sign of letting up.

Shortly after the Associated Press and other news outlets called the race for Biden, Gov. Phil Scott issued a statement congratulating the president-elect and his running mate, Kamala Harris.

“This is our moment in time to reclaim our moral compass, move the United States forward and live up to our greatest ideals: Equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for every American," wrote Scott, who voted for Biden.

Outside the Statehouse, some Trump supporters waved flags and signs. A few dozen Biden and Harris supporters celebrated as well on the sunny afternoon.  Lauren Griswold was among the latter group. 

"It's just a huge sigh of relief," Griswold said.
Kevin McCallum contributed reporting. The slideshow on this post was updated with additional photos on November 9, 2020.

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