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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Winooski Green Card Holder Faces Deportation for Pot Conviction

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 12:27 PM

Thao Vo with his fiancee and her daughters - COURTESY OF THAO VO
  • Courtesy of Thao Vo
  • Thao Vo with his fiancee and her daughters
Thao Vo was riding to the bank on his motorcycle last August when a man driving a black Dodge Durango pulled him over. A federal agent got out of the SUV and told Vo he was being detained and taken to a federal immigration facility in St. Albans.

It was the beginning of six months behind bars for Vo, a Vietnamese citizen who has lived legally in the U.S. with a green card since 1999, when he was 6. He got out in March on supervised release. But officials have since told him that he must wear a GPS tracking device until he's deported to Vietnam in February because of a 2016 conviction for marijuana possession.

Along with his fiancée, Desiree Mora, and close friends, Vo is trying to raise money and publicity to fight the government’s decision.

“My whole immediate family is over here. Everybody,” Vo said in an interview. “I’ve been here for 20 years. I’ve made my mistakes, but I’ve never blamed anybody for my mistakes.”

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Walters: Baruth to Propose Waiting Period for Gun Purchases

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 7:32 PM

Sen. Phil Baruth - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Phil Baruth
In the wake of a young Vermonter's suicide, Sen. Phil Baruth (D/P-Chittenden) said he will introduce a package of gun safety measures in the 2019 legislative session that includes a mandatory 48-hour waiting period before purchasing a firearm.

Baruth announced his intention on Facebook Wednesday, and he referred to the death of 23-year-old Andrew Black, an Essex resident who died in his home on December 6. Black's mother, Alyssa Hughes Black, told WPTZ-TV that her son bought a gun late that morning and shot himself within a few hours.

In Black's obituary, his parents urged people to "work for legislation that imposes a reasonable waiting period between firearm purchase and possession to provide a cooling off period to guard against impulsive acts of violence."

California, Illinois and Rhode Island are among the states that have established waiting periods in law.

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Burlington City Councilor Accuses Other Members of Racism

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 6:41 PM

  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Ali Dieng
A Burlington city councilor has accused six of his colleagues of voting against a resolution he introduced because he is black.

Ali Dieng (D/P-Ward 7) fired off the accusation in a tweet around midnight Tuesday, shortly after his proposal to provide increased support to the city's Neighborhood Planning Assemblies failed in a 6-6 vote.

"Thank you to all the councilors that voted to support the motion calling for an open process to strengthen our NPAs," Dieng wrote. "The motion failed 6-6 because it came from @diengali the only back [sic] councilor in #BTV."

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Welch's State Director to Leave for Colorado

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 4:50 PM

  • Courtesy of George Twigg
  • George Twigg
George Twigg, the state director for U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), is leaving his post later this month.

Twigg, who replaced Tricia Coates in March 2015, said he's moving with his wife to Boulder, Colo., where he’ll work as a policy analyst for the Boulder Board of County Commissioners. “Unlike Vermont, Colorado has a pretty robust county government system,” he said.

As Welch's top Vermont staffer, Twigg oversees the congressman's outreach and constituent service operations, coordinates his in-state schedule and serves as Welch's eyes and ears in the district.

Of his time in Welch's office, Twigg said, “It’s been an especially interesting time to be in national politics, with the 2016 elections." It required, he continued, “trying to not just respond to the tweet of the day but think about long-term solutions to real challenges and issues that Vermonters have.”

Before he went to work for Welch, Twigg was public affairs director for the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.

Welch’s office has yet to hire a replacement, according to Twigg. 

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Moran Redux? Officials Present New Plan for Burlington Landmark

Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2018 at 11:35 PM

  • Courtesy of Lincoln Brown Illustration
  • A Moran plant design
Is the Moran building back from the dead?

Burlington officials are once again considering a plan to redevelop the old coal-fired power plant, which has sat vacant on the Lake Champlain waterfront for more than 30 years and seemed destined to be demolished.

This time, the city is proposing a partial redevelopment — not a full renovation, said Neale Lunderville, interim director of the city's Community and Economic Development Office. And unlike previous, divisive proposals, the idea was met with unbridled enthusiasm by city councilors at a meeting Monday night.

Under the plan, the basement of the old structure would be filled in and most of the brick exterior would be removed. The remaining structural steel skeleton and roof would create an open-air space for concerts or events, a skating rink or public park. It would be built and run by the city and would cost between $5.2 and $5.5 million.

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Five-Story Hotel Proposed for Williston Road in South Burlington

Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2018 at 6:40 PM

The hotel proposal rendering - COURTESY  OF BMA ARCHITECTURAL GROUP
  • Courtesy of BMA Architectural Group
  • The hotel proposal rendering
A local development group is proposing to build a 100-room Hampton Inn & Suites on Williston Road in South Burlington.

The five-story building would be constructed between the road and an existing 176-room Holiday Inn, which would be renovated as part of the project. Both properties, located near Dorset Street and an Interstate 89 entrance, would be accessed by a new section of city street.

The new hotel would have awnings, an outdoor terrace with public seating and a rooftop overlook, according to the proposal submitted to the South Burlington Development Review Board by the developer, Burlington-based Larkin Hospitality.

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Joe Biden Talks Family — and a Bit of Politics — in Visit to Burlington

Posted By on Sun, Dec 9, 2018 at 7:26 PM

Jodi Picoult and Joe Biden - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Jodi Picoult and Joe Biden
For those expecting Joe Biden to deliver a political stump speech — or a taste of his future plans — during a visit to Burlington on Sunday, he failed to deliver.

The former vice president and senator avoided all but an ambiguous hint when it came to discussing a possible 2020 presidential run, and he steered clear of any direct attacks on President Donald Trump — even as he came to the home turf of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a possible 2020 competitor.

Instead the 76-year-old appeared intent on offering a more personal message. For those who are grieving or bereaved, he told a packed house at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, "There's a reason for hope, believe it or not."

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Bernie Sanders Raises Nearly $1 Million in Under Six Weeks

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2018 at 1:56 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) reelection campaign raised more than $925,000 in fewer than six weeks, according to his latest filing with the Federal Election Commission. Sanders, who easily won a third Senate term in November and is contemplating a second presidential run in 2020, reported spending nearly $730,000 during the same period, from October 18 to November 26.

That leaves him with nearly $8.8 million, which could be transferred to a campaign for president, should he decide to run.

Sanders' expenses are consistent with those of a probable presidential candidate. They include about $113,000 on events; nearly $92,000 on salaries to 31 individuals; more than $64,000 on travel by car and plane; more than $60,000 on research, including $52,000 to the polling company Tulchin Research; and more than $37,000 on lodging.

His travel expenses also included a $6,800 payment to the private charter plane company Apollo Jets, as well as $5,000 in carbon offsets to NativeEnergy to compensate for his air travel. According to a previous FEC filing, Sanders spent nearly $300,000 on chartered planes earlier in the campaign season, as reported last week.

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Madaila Band Member Charged With Defacing Burlington Mural

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2018 at 1:38 PM

A tarp covering the mural after the Halloween vandalism - FILE: MATTHEW ROY
  • File: Matthew Roy
  • A tarp covering the mural after the Halloween vandalism
  • Burlington Police
  • Eric Maier
Burlington police charged a member of the now-defunct psychedelic-pop band Madaila with twice vandalizing the controversial “Everyone Loves a Parade!” mural in October.

Eric Maier, 32, faces a felony and misdemeanor charge of unlawful mischief; he’s due in court next week. Cops also cited Margaux Higgins, 21, as an accessory to the crime.

Police believe Maier spray painted the word “Colonizers” across the public art on October 19. Then on Halloween, police say, Maier used a solvent to remove the faces of the white people leading the parade depicted in the 124-foot-long mural and spray painted pink dollar signs in their places.

“Damage is estimated at $5,000 to $10,000 and may not be repairable,” Burlington police Det. Thomas Chenette wrote in a press release Friday announcing the arrests.

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Jared Carter to Run for Burlington City Council Seat

Posted By on Thu, Dec 6, 2018 at 7:34 PM

Lawyer Jared Carter will make a bid to represent the Old North End on the Burlington City Council.

Carter will seek both the Progressive and the Democratic nominations in his run for the Central District seat, he said in his campaign announcement Thursday. He's contending for one of four council seats up for grabs on Town Meeting Day in March.

Carter is hoping to unseat longtime incumbent Councilor Jane Knodell (P-Central District), who has served for nearly 20 years on the council, including two stints as its president.

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