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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Walters: Scott Creates Cybersecurity Team, Talks EB-5

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 9:17 PM

Gov. Phil Scott speaks to reporters at his cybersecurity press conference Tuesday. - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Gov. Phil Scott speaks to reporters at his cybersecurity press conference Tuesday.
Gov. Phil Scott issued an executive order Tuesday creating a Cybersecurity Advisory Team, a 10-member panel including representatives of state government, the private sector and academia. In doing so, he rolled out a seemingly eye-popping statistic.

“Since January, the state has seen over 3.3 million potentially malicious cyberattacks against our information resources,” he said. “This is equal to 524 attempts to subvert our defenses and gain unauthorized access every single hour for the last nine months.”

Shocking, isn’t it? Well ...

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Mayor Urges City Council to Reject Co-op Bid for Burlington Telecom

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 5:54 PM

Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington Telecom Advisory Board Chair David Provost - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington Telecom Advisory Board Chair David Provost
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger on Tuesday plugged the out-of-state companies offering the two highest bids for Burlington Telecom and urged city councilors to reject a substantially lower offer from the Keep BT Local co-op.

The co-op's $12 million bid is doomed by legal, financial and regulatory concerns, and is inferior to the $27.5 million offer from Ting and the $30.8 million put up by Schurz Communications, the mayor said at a press conference in his City Hall office.

Weinberger voiced his opinion loud and clear several days before the City Council holds a key vote Monday to narrow the field from three to two finalists.

"Fundamentally, at this point, the KBTL proposal is not viable," Weinberger said.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Burlington's Lays Off 45 Employees

Posted By on Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 2:35 PM's Pine Street headquarters - FILE: MARK DAVIS
  • File: Mark Davis
  •'s Pine Street headquarters
Updated at 6:03 p.m.

Forty-five people were laid off Tuesday at, one of Burlington’s largest employers.

The layoffs at the Pine Street tech company amount to about a 4 percent workforce reduction, according to company spokeswoman Alison von Puschendorf.

Employees were aware of the looming layoffs. Cox Automotive, Dealer’s parent company, announced plans last week to trim from its 35,000-person worldwide workforce by approximately 3 percent — a total cut of about 950 employees.

The impact on Burlington was unclear until the layoffs Tuesday.

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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.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Vermont Regulators OK Sale of the State's Largest Phone Company

Posted By on Mon, Jun 26, 2017 at 8:53 PM

  • David Junkin
The Vermont Public Service Board unanimously approved the sale of the state’s largest telephone service provider to a larger company that the board said would be in a better position to offer reliable service.

Consolidated Communications of Illinois will take over FairPoint 
Communication’s operations in Vermont and 16 other states. The board determined that Consolidated’s ownership will be in the state’s public interest.

“The combined company will be more financially stable than FairPoint on a standalone basis, with stronger credit ratings, more flexible access to capital, and greater revenue and cash flow diversity,” the board said in its decision, released Monday evening.

In a memorandum of understanding with the state Department of Public Service, Consolidated has agreed to invest an average of 14 percent of its Vermont revenues in the Vermont telecommunications network. The company also pledged to spend $1 million to address areas of the state where service has been unreliable. Those investments were key to the sale’s approval, the board said.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Burlington Telecom Draws Eight Bids, None From Telecom Giants

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 7:09 PM

Keep BT Local chair Alan Matson, at microphone, speaks at a BTAB meeting Wednesday. - SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • Sasha Goldstein
  • Keep BT Local chair Alan Matson, at microphone, speaks at a BTAB meeting Wednesday.
The city received eight bids for Burlington Telecom — and none came from the 10 biggest national telecoms, officials said Wednesday.

Some city residents had objected to the idea of selling to a major outfit, said Burlington Telecom Advisory Board member David Provost. That fear won’t be realized based on the letters of intent the board received ahead of Monday’s deadline.

“The process has worked,” Provost said during a BTAB meeting Wednesday at Burlington City Hall. “The criteria set forth by the BTAB after public input, as well as the strategy to implement a deliberative sales process, have proven beneficial to position Burlington to find the right partner.”

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Potential Buyers Submit Bids for Burlington Telecom

Posted By on Mon, Jun 5, 2017 at 7:47 PM

As the bidding deadline for Burlington Telecom neared Monday evening, the utility’s general manager said he hoped to get written interest from three to six potential buyers.

Sorting through the “letters of intent” — which include a proposed purchase price and descriptions of how bidders will meet the city's sale criteria — is the first step in a process that will continue through the summer, Stephen Barraclough told Seven Days at 4 p.m., an hour before the bids were due.

“We’ve had a number of pretty meaningful conversations, but until it's in writing you really don’t know,” the GM said. “And if you say 5 o’clock, people leave it to the last minute or ask for an extension.”

The identity of at least one of the bidders is common knowledge. Keep BT Local, a cooperative aimed at — you guessed it — keeping the utility locally owned, submitted a bid late last week, co-op chair Alan Matson said Monday.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

BTV Ignite Hires New Executive Director

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 2:03 PM

Dennis Moynihan - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Dennis Moynihan
Burlington tech nonprofit BTV Ignite has hired a new executive director from across the pond.

Dennis Moynihan will relocate from London to take the helm of the three-year-old organization, the city announced at a news conference Wednesday. He'll replace Mike Schirling, a former Burlington police chief whom Gov. Phil Scott chose in December to serve as Vermont's commerce secretary.

"We live in an ever more rapidly changing world that's not only benefiting from technology, but being really disrupted by it," Moynihan said. "My job ... is to help Burlington, Chittenden County and Vermont thrive in this 21st century digital world."

Moynihan comes to Vermont after 11 years working across the Atlantic, most recently as the London node director of EIT Digital, a branch of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. He led an "innovation accelerator" that invested in digital technologies to integrate education, research and businesses.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Media Note: Vermont PBS Reaps $56 Million in FCC Spectrum Auction

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 1:16 PM

Vermont PBS board chair Patricia Gabel, left, and station president Holly Groschner - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Vermont PBS board chair Patricia Gabel, left, and station president Holly Groschner
Vermont PBS announced Friday that it sold one of its four broadcast licenses for $56 million, money it plans to use to fund new programs and expand services for years to come.

The station said the loss of the license would not cause any reduction in over-the-air coverage. Instead, the windfall could transform the sleepy station into one of the most financially powerful media organizations in Vermont.

Vermont PBS, which airs syndicated shows such as "Sesame Street" and "NOVA," along with local productions "Outdoor Journal" and "Vermont This Week," says it plans to use the bulk of the money to provide expanded offerings in both over-the-air and digital platforms. It has no plans to use the money for "brick and mortar" improvements, Vermont PBS president Holly Groschner said during a press conference inside the station's Colchester studios.

"We are doubling down on the Vermontness of our broadcast," Groschner said. "We are hoping to be able to produce more Vermont content and [explore] more Vermont issues."

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Norwich Students Win National Contest for Counterterror Tool

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 12:36 PM

Team “Norwich EMIT” includes (L to R): Professor William “Travis” Morris, Emran Babak, Naomi Rinaldo, Jacob Freeman, Akshay Awasthi and Yushan Xireli. - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Team “Norwich EMIT” includes (L to R): Professor William “Travis” Morris, Emran Babak, Naomi Rinaldo, Jacob Freeman, Akshay Awasthi and Yushan Xireli.
Students from Norwich University have once again proven their mettle in taking the fight to America’s adversaries. On Wednesday, a team of Norwich students were awarded the nation’s top prize in “P2P (Peer-to-Peer): Challenging Extremism,” a nationwide collegiate competition aimed at countering foreign and domestic extremism through social media campaigns.

The five-member team, whose members hail from four countries and collectively speak 14 different languages, were among four final teams — from an original pool of 44 — chosen to present their projects in Washington, D.C. this week. Seven Days profiled the team in a January 25 story, “Extremist Measures: Norwich Students Work to Intercept Would-Be Terrorists.”

“We’re still in a little bit of shock that it’s all over,” said Jacob Freeman, a senior in war and peace studies from Wake Forest, N.C., who was reached by phone Thursday while the team was still in the nation’s capital. Freeman said that the judges, who included officials from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, asked “very pointed questions” about their project.

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