Statehouse | Off Message | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Attorney General Donovan: DMV Facial Recognition Program Illegal

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 12:50 PM

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan - FILE
  • File
  • Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan
Updated at 1:15 p.m.

The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles' facial recognition program violates state law and should remain suspended, Attorney General T.J. Donovan said Tuesday.

Donovan said the program, which includes 2.7 million images of license applicants and has previously been shared with police, violates a 2004 law barring the DMV from using "biometric identifiers" in granting identification cards.

The DMV suspended use of facial recognition in May after Seven Days, using documents uncovered by the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, published a story on the program.

The DMV should not restart the program unless it gets legislative approval, Donovan said.

"This is about balancing public safety with the privacy rights of Vermonters," Donovan said.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,

Friday, July 14, 2017

In a Surprising Turn, McAllister Takes the Witness Stand

Posted By and on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 1:08 PM

Norm McAllister testifying Friday - GREGORY J. LAMOUREUX/COUNTY COURIER
  • Norm McAllister testifying Friday
Updated at 7:45 p.m.

Former state senator Norm McAllister took the witness stand in his own defense on Friday morning and said the woman who has accused him of sexual assault cajoled him into a months-long consensual relationship.

He was the final witness, and faced tough questions during cross-examination. Jurors began deliberating the case around 5:30 p.m.

McAllister forcefully denied ever coercing or assaulting the alleged victim during testimony in Franklin Superior Court. He claimed that she initiated a sexual relationship in January 2014, several months after she had come to live and work at his farm.

At the time, McAllister said, he was grieving the loss of his wife, who died of cancer in September 2013, only two months after she was diagnosed. Meanwhile, the victim had lost her children to the Department for Children and Families, and took the job in hopes of getting them back.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alleged Victim Takes the Stand in McAllister Trial

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 12:55 PM

Updated at 4:50 p.m.

The alleged victim in the sexual assault trial of former state senator Norm McAllister took the witness stand Thursday morning and said she agreed to a sex-for-rent scheme with him out of desperation.

Back in 2012, the woman testified, the Department for Children and Families had taken her children. She was living in a homeless shelter in St. Albans. To have any chance to get her kids back, she needed a job and a place to live, she testified. She answered a Craigslist ad for someone willing to live and work on a Highgate farm.

McAllister, who had taken out the ad, told her he had other applicants with more experience, she recalled.

She recounted the following conversation while on the witness stand in Franklin Superior Court: To land the job, she told McAllister she would be willing to do anything, including household chores, cooking meals or running errands.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Jurors Hear Tape of Graphic Phone Call Between McAllister, Accuser

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 6:50 PM

  • Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Norm McAllister
Former state senator Norm McAllister ensnared a desperate woman into a forcible sexual relationship, and he all but confessed to his crimes in a recorded phone call, a prosecutor said during opening arguments in his sexual assault trial on Wednesday afternoon.

Deputy Franklin County State's Attorney John Lavoie said that McAllister targeted a woman who was desperate to live in a dilapidated trailer he owned and to work on his Highgate farm. She allowed him to take advantage of her for years, Lavoie said.

"Rape is not about sex," Lavoie told jurors in Franklin Superior Court. "It's about the rapist using sex to exercise power and control."

Lavoie devoted most of his opening argument to unveiling a 30-minute recording of McAllister speaking on the telephone with the alleged victim. On the recording, McAllister discusses, in often graphic detail, some of their sexual encounters.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Jury Selection for McAllister Trial Will Continue Into Third Day

Posted By on Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 5:43 PM

Norm McAllister in court January 10, 2017 - FILE: POOL PHOTO/GREGORY J. LAMOUREUX/COUNTY COURIER
  • File: Pool Photo/Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Norm McAllister in court January 10, 2017
After two tedious days, lawyers in the sexual assault trial of former state senator Norm McAllister still have not managed to select a jury.

Attorneys continue to question prospective jurors individually. But of approximately 100 people summoned for the jury pool, 70 have been sent home for a variety of reasons: they've formed an opinion about the case, they have a personal connection to someone involved in the case or they have a personal connection to a sexual assault victim.

Deputy Franklin County State's Attorney John Lavoie and McAllister's attorney, Bob Katims, have each used three of their six allotted challenges. Judge Martin Maley said he wants to select four alternates to the 12-person jury.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, July 10, 2017

Jury Selection Begins in Trial of Former State Senator McAllister

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 1:34 PM

  • File: Pool Photo/Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Norm McAllister in court in January
Updated, 5:10 p.m.

Jury selection began Monday in the second sexual assault trial of former state senator Norm McAllister, and attorneys were having trouble identifying jurors who are eligible to serve.

By day's end, not a single juror had been chosen from among the roughly 100 people summoned to Franklin Superior Court. Selection was to continue Tuesday, and the testimony was expected to commence on Wednesday.

Last week, prosecutors from the Franklin County State's Attorney's Office and Bob Katims, McAllister's attorney, submitted a list of prospective jurors who they believe should be struck, either because they had formed opinions about the case or had other conflicts. That was based on questionnaires the prospective jurors had completed.

But Judge Martin Maley agreed to strike only half of them. The remaining ones were being interviewed one by one by the judge and attorneys.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Special Interests Spent $5.4 Million Lobbying Vermont Lawmakers

Posted By on Tue, Jul 4, 2017 at 5:19 PM

Vermont Public Interest Research Group executive director Paul Burns - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Vermont Public Interest Research Group executive director Paul Burns
Updated 7/5/2017

The biggest spenders of Vermont's 2017 legislative session included a liberal advocacy group, the state workers' union and a trade group representing hospitals. Each shelled out more than $100,000 on direct lobbying expenditures over a five-month period, according to a database maintained by the Secretary of State's Office.

From January 15 to June 15, 364 groups collectively devoted $5,445,009 to lobbying — slightly less than the $5,583,285 spent last year during the same time period. The Vermont Public Interest Research Group, the Vermont State Employees' Association and the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems led the way — each spending $25,000 more than the No. 4 lobbyist employer, Entergy, which owns the shuttered Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

VPIRG spent $113,738 to push an assortment of liberal causes in the Vermont Statehouse. It focused on environmental issues — including climate change, toxic chemicals and recycling — and an ethics reform bill, which passed in watered-down form.

At various points during the 2017 session, some 36 people registered as lobbyists for VPIRG, according to the database. Many were members of the nonprofit's staff, but others were contract lobbyists for the Montpelier firms Ellis Mills Public Affairs and the Necrason Group.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Walters: Scott Taps Greshin as Finance Commissioner

Posted By on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 2:41 PM

Adam Greshin works a lift line at Sugarbush Resort in January 2015. - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Adam Greshin works a lift line at Sugarbush Resort in January 2015.
Gov. Phil Scott on Thursday named Rep. Adam Greshin (I-Warren) as his next state finance commissioner.

The Mad River Valley resident has been a partner at Summit Ventures NE, which owns Sugarbush Resort, since 2002. He has served in the legislature since 2009, carving out a reputation as a fiscal conservative. He replaces Andy Pallito, who announced in late April that he would leave the post on July 1 to become director of health system finances for the Green Mountain Care Board.

Greshin will occupy a crucial post in state government. The finance commissioner is responsible for writing budgets and providing accurate fiscal information — and must have a comprehensive understanding of state finances. The new commissioner served for seven years on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. Greshin is also a chartered financial analyst, and before assuming co-ownership of Sugarbush’s parent company he served as research analyst and lead portfolio manager for 16 years in the global bond group at Scudder Stevens & Clark.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Walters: Scott Ponders New 'Everyday Jobs Tour'

Posted By on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 4:52 PM

  • Gov. Phil Scott
Gov. Phil Scott is pondering a revival of a regular feature of his lieutenant governorship — the Everyday Jobs Tour, in which he spent one day working alongside Vermonters in a variety of workplaces, from factories to bakeries to golf courses.

“I enjoyed that, putting myself in the shoes of others and learning different aspects of the challenges of Vermont,” Scott said at his weekly press conference Wednesday, at which he signed the state budget bill.

This time, the Jobs Tour would have a twist: He would concentrate on state government. Scott already knows plenty about elected office, having spent 10 years in the state Senate and another six as lieutenant governor.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , ,

Monday, June 26, 2017

Walters: Hoffer Audits Critique State Employee Disciplinary Process

Posted By on Mon, Jun 26, 2017 at 1:35 PM

  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Doug Hoffer
State Auditor Doug Hoffer released a pair of audits Monday that reveal woefully inadequate procedures in several state agencies for tracking complaints of employee misconduct.

The audits prompted a dismissive written response from Department of Human Resources commissioner Beth Fastiggi — although in a phone interview Monday morning, she took a much more conciliatory tone.

One of the audits covered complaints in three departments of the Agency of Human Services from 2014 through 2016: the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Corrections.

The second audit did the same for other state entities: the Agency of Transportation except for the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Buildings and General Services, the Department of Labor and the Vermont Veterans’ Home. It also included complaints involving civilian employees in the Department of Public Safety. (Separate audits were done because AHS conducts its own investigations of employee misconduct, while DHR investigates cases in the five entities covered in the second audit.)

Both audits are sharply critical of how complaints are recorded and documented.

The audits reveal that records are kept only for complaints that result in investigations. Other complaints are not recorded, nor is there any accounting for why those complaints didn’t trigger investigations.

Continue reading »

Tags: , ,

Recent Comments

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2017 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation