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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Supreme Court Hears Records Case in Which Burlington Schools Sued Seven Days

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2019 at 7:26 PM

Vermont Supreme Court justices during oral arguments Wednesday - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Vermont Supreme Court justices during oral arguments Wednesday
The Vermont Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a public records case involving the Burlington School District and Seven Days that could have implications for how Vermont agencies handle thorny requests.

Last June, the Burlington School District had a small but potentially costly decision to make. Adam Provost, the Burlington Technical Center's interim director, had resigned in January 2018 after months on administrative leave, citing medical reasons. Seven Days requested a copy of the resignation agreement between Provost and the district.

District officials believed the resignation agreement was a public document. Provost did not, and he threatened to sue the district if it gave the unredacted agreement to Seven Days.

Rather than respond to the records request, the district asked a judge to decide, by making what in legal parlance is known as a request for declaratory judgment.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

WCAX Seeks to Make Vermont Media Shield Law Ruling Public

Posted By on Mon, May 13, 2019 at 8:26 PM

A still from WCAX's report on a police shooting at Montpelier High School in January 2018 - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • A still from WCAX's report on a police shooting at Montpelier High School in January 2018
In a significant victory for press freedom, a Vermont judge ruled in February 2018 that the state's newly enacted media shield law protected WCAX-TV from having to provide prosecutors raw footage of a police shooting.

But because the judge's decision was part of a secret investigative procedure, the ruling's very existence has gone undisclosed to the public — until now.

On Tuesday, WCAX is scheduled to argue before the Vermont Supreme Court that the judge's order ought to be unsealed. "This case presents a straightforward question," the TV station's lawyers argued in a brief filed with the court. "Are members of the public allowed to see the court decisions that interpret and apply Vermont's statutes and shape its common law?"

Washington County State's Attorney Rory Thibault, whose office sought and failed to obtain video of the shooting, thinks the answer to that question — at least in this case — is no. Though he "recognizes the value of transparency and fairness in the justice system," Thibault wrote in his own brief, "transparency must yield and defer to public safety considerations in the context of criminal investigations."

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Bernie Sanders
Media Note: Sanders Aide Accuses VTDigger of 'Systemic Racism'

Posted By on Fri, May 10, 2019 at 4:33 PM

Jeff Weaver in South Carolina during the 2016 presidential campaign - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Jeff Weaver in South Carolina during the 2016 presidential campaign
A senior adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) presidential campaign accused the nonprofit news organization on Thursday of "helping to uphold" systemic racism.

The adviser, former Sanders campaign manager and Senate chief of staff Jeff Weaver, made the charge as VTDigger reported on the past criminal conviction of another Sanders aide, Chuck Rocha, who is Latino.

“Sadly, like too many others in our society, the Vermont Digger wants to brand people like Chuck Rocha for life — an attitude that disproportionately impacts black and brown people and poor people,” Weaver told the online news outlet in a written statement. “This is just another way systemic racism works. It’s disappointing that VTDigger is helping to uphold it.”

In an interview Friday with Seven Days, VTDigger founder and editor Anne Galloway rejected the claim and called Weaver's words "a bullying tactic."

"These are the kind of tactics you'd expect from the Trump administration," she said.

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Friday, March 8, 2019

Media Note: VTDigger Scores a Small Win on EB-5 Documents

Posted By on Fri, Mar 8, 2019 at 6:18 PM

VTDigger founder and editor, Anne Galloway - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • VTDigger founder and editor, Anne Galloway
Gov. Phil Scott, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan and founder and editor Anne Galloway issued a press release Friday afternoon touting a settlement in Digger's lengthy battle for access to documents in the EB-5 scandal.

Digger is seeking a total of 1.5 million pages of relevant documents. The state has refused to release them, citing ongoing litigation.

At first glance, Friday's press release appeared to signal a major step in the legal battle — but in actual fact, according to Galloway, it only included 100 or so pages.

She called the document release "minuscule," and added that, "We worked really hard to get them. We had a team of lawyers at work for at least four months." Galloway called it an "outrage that it takes so much effort to get so little."

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Friday, March 1, 2019

Media Note: Kurt Wright to Take Over WVMT Morning Show

Posted By on Fri, Mar 1, 2019 at 2:30 PM

Rep. Kurt Wright - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Rep. Kurt Wright
After only two months on the air, the "Pete and Sarah in the Morning" show on WVMT (620 AM) has come to an end. Cohosts Pete Belair and Sarah Mitiguy were informed after their Friday broadcast that they were being fired, Belair said. A new local talk show featuring Burlington City Council President Kurt Wright and DJ/podcaster Marcus Certa will take over the 6 to 9 a.m. broadcast on Monday.

Belair and Mitiguy had been cohosts of a morning music show on WXXX-FM (95 Triple X) until late last year. They moved to WVMT at the beginning of January, taking the place of longtime morning hosts Charlie Papillo and Ernie Farrar, who both retired. Now, with their new show coming to an abrupt end and their Triple X time slot filled by a nationally syndicated show, Belair and Mitiguy are looking for work.

  • Courtesy photo
  • Marcus Certa
"They told me how good I was at music but [that] I didn't have the chops for political talk," Belair said. Perhaps, but what did WVMT management expect? Belair is a veteran music host who'd never done talk radio before, and Mitiguy's radio experience was all music, as well. If they were going to make a successful transition, two months was hardly enough time.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Media Note: Vermont Statehouse Tightens Press Access Following Inaugural Outburst

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 8:40 PM

  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Ralph Corbo

The Vermont Statehouse has tightened up its credentialing process for journalists ahead of Gov. Phil Scott’s budget address Thursday. The stricter requirements come after an activist posed as a reporter and disrupted the governor’s inaugural speech earlier this month.

Media members who wanted to cover Scott’s address from the press gallery were required to email the sergeant at arms by noon Wednesday. Previously, reporters could sign in on the day of the event.

The governor's communications office detailed the new process in an email sent Tuesday to members of the media.

Reporters and photographers must show photo ID to pick up their yellow press badges ahead of the speech. Only those who follow the new registration rules will get access to the House balcony for the event, Sergeant at Arms Janet Miller said.

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Media Note: Lynns Sell the St. Albans Messenger

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 4:34 PM

The St. Albans Messenger website features a photo of new owner Jim O'Rourke. - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • The St. Albans Messenger website features a photo of new owner Jim O'Rourke.
Emerson and Suzanne Lynn, the owners of several local newspapers in Chittenden County, are selling the St. Albans Messenger.

The buyer is Chicago-based publishing executive Jim O’Rourke, according to a story posted on the Messenger's website. The announcement did not disclose the terms of the sale.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Media Note: Valley News Taps Web Editor to Be Newsroom Chief

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 6:35 PM

  • Courtesy of Valley News/Jennifer Hauck
  • Maggie Cassidy
The Valley News searched far and wide for its next top editor, according to publisher Dan McClory, but ended up promoting one of its own. Starting next month, 30-year-old web editor Maggie Cassidy will take over the West Lebanon, N.H., daily, which serves the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire.

"She's wise beyond her years, is very level-headed and has developed a great rapport with the people she works with," McClory said.

A resident of White River Junction and native of Framingham, Mass., Cassidy joined the Valley News in January 2012 and worked her way up the ranks from news assistant to web editor of the previously tech-averse paper. She'll succeed Martin Frank, who is retiring after more than three decades at the paper and five years as editor.

"I don't know how many times I'm going to be in the position I'm in right now, which is to have been working at a newspaper that I love for seven years and to have an editor position opening that I feel like I can do," Cassidy said.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Media Note: Second Woman Alleges Sexual Harassment at ABC 22/Fox 44

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 at 2:23 PM

A TV satellite receiver - KOBFUJAR | DREAMSTIME.COM
  • Kobfujar |
  • A TV satellite receiver
Two women say they were victims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination while working at local Vermont TV stations ABC 22/Fox 44.

The Burlington Free Press reported in March that Catherine Iraheta, a former sales and marketing executive, had sued the stations’ owner, Nexstar Broadcasting, and its former general manager Craig Marrs. On Monday, the Free Press reported that a second former employee, Desiree Roberts, is seeking to join the suit. Both are represented by attorney John Stasny.

Iraheta's suit describes a “good old boys’ club” atmosphere and claims that Marrs complimented her legs and, while staring at her breasts, asked if she was wearing a bathing suit. After she complained to the human resources department, the suit claims that Iraheta experienced retaliation and was ultimately forced to resign.

Roberts, who worked as a photographer and backup director for the stations from November 2017 until this summer, claimed that Marrs berated her during a meeting after she made complaints about anchor Michael Hoey-Lukakis, who she said made derogatory comments about women and graphic sexual insults. She, too, said she was effectively forced to resign.

Marrs retired earlier this year and did not respond to a phone message seeking comment. Reached by email, Hoey-Lukakis, who is not named as a defendant in the suit but is accused of misconduct, said he could not comment.

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

'Samantha Bee' Segment Loves Up Hallquist — and Vermont

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 1:06 PM

Ashley Nicole Black, left, a correspondent for "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Ashley Nicole Black, left, a correspondent for "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee"
Christine Hallquist is the face of the “rainbow wave,” according to a Wednesday night segment on the TBS show "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee."

The show profiled Vermont's Democratic gubernatorial candidate as one of hundreds of LGBT candidates running for office around the nation. But the comedy segment was as much about Vermont’s politics as it was about Hallquist. The six-minute dispatch shows correspondent Ashley Nicole Black searching for a classic good-versus-evil social justice narrative. But the Vermonters she speaks with focus on broadband access and socioeconomic diversity — not the candidates’ gender politics.

“I’m here to make, like, a beautiful Oscar-winning film about a woman who’s just become, like, a champion for the people,” Black tells Hallquist in a sit-down interview at the beginning of the segment.

“Okay, that’s ... Yeah, sure,” Hallquist responds.

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