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Monday, January 14, 2019

Madelyn Linsenmeir to Cops in Booking Video: 'I'm Very Ill Right Now'

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 7:46 PM

Madelyn Linsenmeir, center, on September 29, 2018 - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Madelyn Linsenmeir, center, on September 29, 2018
Video of the booking room at the Springfield, Mass., police department on September 29 captured a distressed Madelyn Linsenmeir asking for water and medical care as officers methodically went through the booking routine and ignored her requests.

Several days later, on October 7, the Vermont woman died at a Massachusetts hospital. She'd battled drug addiction for years.

A poignant obituary for Linsenmeir, written by her sister Kate O'Neill, went viral. O'Neill wrote that the family hoped her sister's story would help others let go of the stigma related to addiction. (After it ran, Seven Days hired O'Neill for a special reporting project on the ongoing opiate crisis.)

Linsenmeir's family members are also looking for answers about their loved one's final days. The family, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, sued the Springfield PD in November, seeking video and other information related to her arrest.

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White Nationalist Crashes Press Conference on Racial Harassment of Kiah Morris

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 3:52 PM

Kiah Morris - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Kiah Morris
Updated 8:14 p.m.

A self-proclaimed white nationalist accused of harassing former state representative Kiah Morris strode into the Congregation Beth El synagogue in Bennington during a press conference held Monday to announce the findings of a state probe into alleged racist acts against the ex-lawmaker.

Morris, a Bennington Democrat who is African American, cited years of racial harassment when she resigned from her position last fall before the end of her term.

The press conference went off the rails when Bennington resident Max Misch entered the room as Morris answered a television reporter's question about the AG's probe. Misch had been subject to a yearlong protective order in 2016 prohibiting him from contacting Morris over a series of racist tweets, messages and online comments he aimed at her.

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Hartnett Withdraws From Burlington City Council Race

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 11:24 AM

Dave Hartnett - FILE: OLIVER PARINI
  • File: Oliver Parini
  • Dave Hartnett
Longtime Burlington City Councilor Dave Hartnett has withdrawn from the race for the North District seat he currently occupies.

The New North End Democrat said he made the decision last week due to a series of family obligations, which he refused to specify. The announcement comes as a surprise: The eight-year incumbent had already submitted his petition for reelection and earned the Democratic endorsement at the party caucus last month.

The native Burlingtonian said he notified Mayor Miro Weinberger and Democratic Party leadership on Friday. "I could run and win, but it was about whether I could serve with 110 percent," Hartnett said.

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Bagpipes, Speeches and Drive-By Protesters Mark the Raising of New Trump Flag

Posted By on Sat, Jan 12, 2019 at 7:27 PM

Gus Klein raising Trump campaign flag - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Gus Klein raising Trump campaign flag
Gus Klein strode through the crowd assembled in his New North End front yard Saturday, followed by a bagpiper in a MAGA hat. Klein proudly carried a new Donald Trump sign to a flagpole that had duct tape around it.

The charred, tattered remains of Klein’s original “Trump 2020” flag were still hanging atop the pole. It had been burned one November night by two girls, ages 14 and 15.

Klein attached the desecrated flag’s still-creased replacement to the pole and hoisted it up. Several people who spoke Saturday at Klein's North Avenue home called that a courageous act of defiance. They said they regarded the vandalism as a demonstration of the intolerance and un-American impulses of Trump’s opponents.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

HOPE Works Director Resigns One Week After Entire Staff Quit

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 6:17 PM

SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
Cathleen Barkley announced Friday that she'll resign as the executive director of HOPE Works, a Burlington nonprofit that supports victims of sexual violence. The decision came one week after Barkley's entire staff quit in protest of her leadership.

The organization, which announced the decision in a press release, said the board had hired four interim employees who will stay on for 90 days.

In mid-December, the organization's eight staff members issued a 39-page list of grievances and ultimately went on a three-week strike before resigning en masse on January 4. One of their demands was the removal of Barkley.

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Government Shutdown Puts Pressure on State Food Assistance Program

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 6:03 PM

Many federal agencies are currently shuttered. - ALYAKSANDR STZHALKOUSKI | DREAMSTIME.COM
  • Alyaksandr Stzhalkouski | Dreamstime.com
  • Many federal agencies are currently shuttered.
The partial shutdown of the federal government has left Vermont state workers scrambling to get food assistance to those who qualify for it.

The Vermont Department for Children and Families and the nonprofit Hunger Free Vermont found out Tuesday that they must process all applications for the federally funded 3SquaresVT program by January 15 and issue the benefits by January 20.

State employees are "making heroic efforts to make sure they can process everything they possibly can before the deadline," said Hunger Free Vermont executive director Anore Horton, who has been trying to educate families to make sure they file their paperwork on time.

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More Police Officers Report 'Career-Altering' Training Injuries

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 2:26 PM

DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
Three additional law enforcement officers have come forward reporting serious injuries sustained during training drills at the Vermont Police Academy, according to attorney Jerry O’Neill, who is representing a Burlington officer in a lawsuit against the academy.

VTDigger.org reported Monday that an investigation by the Burlington Police Department found that Officer Erin Bartle and two others sustained injuries such as concussions and hearing loss during an academy drill known as the “hitchhiker scenario.” A fourth officer was knocked unconscious. During the drill, instructors punched recruits in the head without warning. Bartle is suing the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, which oversees the academy.

Since news of the lawsuit broke, O’Neill said, at least three more law enforcement officials have come forward. Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Poulin, 44, is one of them.

Poulin gave Seven Days the following account of what happened to him: He has a history of concussions and traumatic brain injuries, so he warned instructors before a training at the Washington County Sheriff's Office that a hit to the head could end his career. The instructors were certified by the Vermont Police Academy as use-of-force trainers.

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Opinion
Walters: Scott Administration Explores Radical School System Reorg

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 10:20 AM

Gov. Phil Scott, left, and Education Secretary Dan French - FILE: JOHN WALTERS
  • File: John Walters
  • Gov. Phil Scott, left, and Education Secretary Dan French
Updated at 4:13 p.m.

Gov. Phil Scott's administration is discussing a dramatic restructuring of Vermont's public schools. There is no specific proposal, but rather a planning memo that envisions sweeping change in the school system.

At this point, the memo is described as a thought experiment that may or may not lead to a specific reform proposal. Basic elements of it include a single statewide school district, statewide school choice including nonsectarian independent schools, a statewide teacher contract, an end to the Vermont Board of Education, the transfer of all public school property to the state and a thorough reform of the school funding system.

The memo promises to ensure "local participation" but would effectively end local control. School boards would be abolished in favor of four elected regional boards, each of which would hire a superintendent. Budgetary authority would flow from the superintendent to the education secretary; the regional boards would not have a say.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Catholic Diocese Reviews Sexual Abuse Allegations Involving 52 Priests

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 10:12 PM

Bishop Christopher Coyne - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Bishop Christopher Coyne
A lay committee created by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has identified 52 former or deceased priests accused of sexually abusing children in Vermont. The names of those with substantiated allegations against them will be released as soon as next month, Bishop Christopher Coyne said Thursday night at St. Mary's Church in St. Albans.

About 75 people attended the first in a series of what the bishop calls public town hall meetings around the state this month.

The meetings are being held as the diocese faces a fresh investigation led by the Vermont Attorney General's Office into decades-old abuse of children at the former St. Joseph's Orphanage in Burlington.

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Opinion
Walters: Lyons, Benning Named Senate Committee Chairs

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 6:07 PM

Sen. Ginny Lyons - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Sen. Ginny Lyons
Two committees in the Vermont Senate will have new chairs this biennium, Senate leadership announced Thursday afternoon. But in contrast to the House, which saw a substantial makeover Wednesday, Senate committee composition is relatively unchanged.

The new chairs replace two members who chose not to seek reelection last year. Sen. Ginny Lyons (D-Chittenden) will replace former senator Claire Ayer, a Democrat, as chair of the Health and Welfare Committee. Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) will chair the Institutions Committee, a post formerly occupied by Republican Peg Flory.

Benning also replaces Flory as the only Republican committee chair. "Even with the diminished number of Republicans, we respect the minority's point of view and want to include them in leadership roles," said Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden). Only six of the Senate's 30 members are Republicans; the GOP lost one seat in last November's elections.

Senate committee seats are assigned by a three-member panel called the Committee on Committees. Its members are Ashe, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and Sen. Dick Mazza (D-Grand Isle).

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