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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Governor's Staff Emails: Burlington Mayor's Autopsy Request 'Does Not Feel Right'

Posted By on Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 3:36 PM

Mayor Miro Weinberger - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger
Top state officials were alarmed by Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger's last-minute request that the governor intervene to delay the release of autopsy findings linking a man's death to an altercation with a city cop.

Weinberger's chief of staff, Jordan Redell, texted, called and emailed the governor's office on the morning of April 10, just as Vermont State Police were preparing to announce that the state medical examiner classified Doug Kilburn's death as a homicide, the emails state.

"She was energetically reaching out trying to have us intervene to pause the release," Jason Gibbs, chief of staff for Gov. Phil Scott, wrote later that day to the heads of the Department of Public Safety and the Vermont State Police.

"That does not feel right to me, at any level," he wrote in another internal email.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Burlington Officials Sought to Change 'Homicide' Finding in Police Case

Posted By on Wed, Apr 17, 2019 at 8:52 PM

Dr. Steven Shapiro, Vermont's chief medical examiner - FILE/MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File/Matthew Thorsen
  • Dr. Steven Shapiro, Vermont's chief medical examiner
Burlington city officials sought to influence how the state's chief medical examiner classified a Burlington man's death after learning that the autopsy would link it to punches thrown by a city cop.

State police announced last week that the medical examiner had deemed Douglas Kilburn's death a homicide. Earlier that morning, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo had contacted the state's top health official with "concerns" about the quality of the medical examiner's work and suggested that his conclusion might be "amended," emails obtained through Vermont's public records law show.

"I have conferred with the mayor and we are in agreement in requesting clarification of these findings before they are made public," del Pozo wrote to Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

One Dead After Shootout in Burlington's Old North End

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 7:37 PM

Police interview witnesses on North Willard Street. - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Police interview witnesses on North Willard Street.
A 23-year-old man was killed and another man was injured during a Tuesday afternoon shootout in Burlington's Old North End.

The two men shot each other in the driveway of a North Willard Street home, police said in a press release. Benzel Hampton was shot in the head and died. The other man, whom Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo did not identify, was also shot but is expected to survive.

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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Bernie Sanders
Campaigning in Indiana, Sanders Rips Trump's 'Cheap' Rhetoric

Posted By on Sat, Apr 13, 2019 at 5:44 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigning Saturday in Gary, Indiana - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigning Saturday in Gary, Indiana
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) doesn’t think much of George W. Bush. “His views were pretty different from mine,” Sanders said Saturday morning in Gary, Indiana. But during a campaign stop in this Upper Midwest city, the senator sounded a wistful note about the 43rd president.

“Do you remember what he did after 9/11? Does anyone remember?” he asked a few dozen community leaders at a downtown Gary convention center. “He went to a mosque. Do you remember that? He walked into a mosque to say that criminals, terrorists attacked the United States — not the Muslim community.”

But now, Sanders continued, “We have a president who, for cheap political gain, is trying to divide us up by the color of our skin, by where we were born, by our religion. My God.”

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Friday, April 12, 2019

Vermont Senate to Vote on Amending Slavery Clause in State Constitution

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2019 at 7:07 PM

The Senate Government Operations Committee - TAYLOR DOBBS
  • Taylor Dobbs
  • The Senate Government Operations Committee
The Vermont Senate will vote on a constitutional amendment to clarify a ban on slavery and officially prohibit indentured servitude in the state.

The proposed change would replace a portion of Article 1, Chapter 1 of the constitution. The section banned slavery in 1777, but it has an exception allowing minors to be indentured servants for the payment of debts.

“Although the original constitution did prohibit slavery, it did not prohibit indentured servitude,” Vermont Law School professor and constitutional scholar Peter Teachout told the Senate Government Operations Committee on Friday.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Saint-Gobain to Pay Millions for Water Lines in Bennington

Posted By on Wed, Apr 10, 2019 at 4:32 PM

Gov. Phil Scott with (from left) Agency of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Peter Walke and Bennington County Senators Dick Sears and Brian Campion. - TAYLOR DOBBS
  • Taylor Dobbs
  • Gov. Phil Scott with (from left) Agency of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Peter Walke and Bennington County Senators Dick Sears and Brian Campion.
Vermont officials announced a deal Wednesday that will bring clean water to hundreds of Bennington-area homes that have had their wells poisoned by perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOA.

The toxins in the groundwater were discovered in early 2016 in private drinking wells near a defunct manufacturing plant once operated by the company Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics. Gov. Phil Scott announced Wednesday that the company has agreed to pay millions of dollars to extend municipal water lines to 245 homes on the east side of Bennington.

State taxpayers will pay about $4.7 million to extend municipal water lines up sparsely populated roads on the outskirts of town, officials said, but Saint-Gobain’s contribution could be as much as $20 million.

Agency of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Peter Walke said the company has also agreed to pay for ongoing PFOA monitoring in Bennington-area drinking water and to pay for treatment systems and new wells for about 20 residences where municipal water lines won’t reach.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Springfield Rep. Robert Forguites Dies

Posted By on Tue, Apr 9, 2019 at 11:12 AM

Rep. Robert Forguites (D-Springfield) - COURTESY OF THE VERMONT HOUSE
  • Courtesy of the Vermont House
  • Rep. Robert Forguites (D-Springfield)
Updated at 12:30 p.m.

Vermont Rep. Robert Forguites (D-Springfield) died in his sleep over the weekend, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero) told her colleagues at the Statehouse Tuesday morning.

There was a collective gasp in the House chamber when Johnson announced Forguites' death. Her voice breaking with emotion, Johnson called on her colleagues to support each other as they remembered “a man that represented the best of Vermont.”

Johnson said Forguites was found dead on Monday. He was 80.

Forguites was born and raised in Brandon, Vt., then served in the Army, according to his legislative bio. He served as Springfield town manager for 16 years and was first elected in 2014 to represent that city in the House. He is survived by a son, Adam.

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Monday, April 1, 2019

Bernie Sanders
Citing Mueller Report Remarks, Vermont GOP Dings Sanders on Burlington College

Posted By on Mon, Apr 1, 2019 at 1:58 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, arrive to vote in Burlington. - FILE: SOPHIE MACMILLAN
  • File: Sophie MacMillan
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, arrive to vote in Burlington.
Updated at 7:33 p.m.

Since U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a four-page memo last week summarizing the work of former special counsel Robert Mueller, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been demanding the release of Mueller's full findings.

“I don’t want a summary of the report,” Sanders said during a campaign rally in California. “I want the whole damn report, because nobody, especially this president, is above the law.”

Now the Vermont Republican Party is using those words against Sanders.

In a letter sent Sunday to his U.S. Senate office, party chair Deb Billado called on Sanders to "apply this same standard of transparency to yourself." She was referring to a long-running federal investigation of a Burlington College bank loan application made when the senator's wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, served as president of the since-shuttered institution.

"Under your proposed standard, surely you would agree that all investigative material related to the criminal bank fraud investigation involving you and your wife should be released," Billado wrote the senator.

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Harassing Emails to City Councilor Are Protected Speech, Judge Rules

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2019 at 3:01 PM

Christopher Hayden at Vermont Superior Court in Burlington - GLENN RUSSELL
  • Glenn Russell
  • Christopher Hayden at Vermont Superior Court in Burlington
Updated at 5:42 p.m.

Chittenden Superior Court Judge Kevin Griffin this week threw out a hate crime charge against Christopher Hayden, writing that harassing a public official is protected by the First Amendment.

Griffin dismissed a count of disturbing the peace by phone that stemmed from numerous racist messages Hayden sent to City Councilor Ali Dieng's government email address. 

The state has filed seven charges against Hayden since October, including hate crimes for his targeting of Dieng, Mayor Miro Weinberger and Police Chief Brandon del Pozo.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Vermont Sues Companies That Distributed Opioids

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 8:33 PM

OxyContin on a pharmacy shelf - DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
  • OxyContin on a pharmacy shelf
The drug distributors were supposed to be gatekeepers in the opioid supply chain. Instead, they pushed through as many of the addictive pills into Vermont as they could, the Attorney General's Office said Tuesday.

Vermont AG T.J. Donovan filed suit in state court Tuesday against Cardinal Health and McKesson, two of the largest drug distributors who profited off the nationwide opioid epidemic.

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