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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

N.C. Prosecutor to Seek Death Penalty for Vermont Man

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 4:36 PM

Mikel Brady - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Mikel Brady
North Carolina prosecutors announced Wednesday that they will seek the death penalty for Randolph native Mikel Brady.

Brady, 28, and three other inmates at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City, N.C., were charged with murder after they fatally wounded four prison employees in an October escape attempt, according to news station WTKR-TV.

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Woman Charged in Ricin Case to Remain in Custody

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 4:14 PM

Wake Robin - GOOGLE
  • Google
  • Wake Robin
The 70-year-old woman who allegedly made ricin at the Wake Robin retirement community in Shelburne has a history of mental health hospitalizations and will remain in federal custody without bail.

The lawyer for Betty Miller did not oppose the government's request to keep her in custody during a hearing Wednesday at U.S. District Court in Burlington.

Paul Volk agreed that his client should remain incarcerated while he searches for a suitable place for Miller to live. He also raised no disagreement after Judge John Conroy referred to Miller as a person with a history of numerous hospitalizations and prior suicide attempts.

Conroy attributed that description to a government document prepared prior to the hearing that argued for Miller to stay behind bars as the case moves forward.

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Leahy, Sanders Call for Franken to Resign Over Sexual Misconduct Claims

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 2:33 PM

Sen. Al Franken addresses Vermont Democrats at Nectar's in November 2016. - FILE: TERRI HALLENBECK
  • File: Terri Hallenbeck
  • Sen. Al Franken addresses Vermont Democrats at Nectar's in November 2016.
Updated at 4:02 p.m.

Vermont’s two U.S. senators on Wednesday joined a growing chorus of their colleagues calling for Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Calling Franken's continued service in the U.S. Senate "untenable," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a written statement, "He has to step aside." In a separate statement issued later Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said, "The right thing is for him to resign."

A friend and ally of Franken's, Leahy initially dismissed calls for his colleague's ouster after a California broadcast journalist accused the Minnesota Democrat of forcibly kissing and groping her.

"I don't condone this action, nor does he," Leahy told Seven Days late last month. "He's apologized rather profusely, and, in fact, he asked for an Ethics Committee investigation before anybody else did. He's been a very effective senator."

Asked directly whether Franken should resign, Leahy said at the time, "Then is Donald Trump going to resign, when he's admitted to doing a lot more? I say that rhetorically. Let's see what the Ethics Committee comes up with."

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Sold: That Burlington House Under Construction Since 1969

Posted By and on Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 4:15 PM

The front of 97 Dunder Road - FILE: SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • FILE: Sasha Goldstein
  • The front of 97 Dunder Road
A home that's been under construction for nearly five decades has new owners.

The long-unfinished structure at 97 Dunder Road has been a source of controversy. Some consider it an eyesore in a well-kept South End neighborhood.

Tom Walsh purchased the property from the current owners, Don and Carroll Albertson, on November 2 for $350,000, according to city records. His friend Eric Flegenheimer, who is also on the sales deed, helped with the sale and closing, Walsh said.

Walsh, who lives in Charlotte, filed for city permits to renovate the home in early November and said he plans to move in with his family next spring. "It's kind of uneventful," Walsh said. "I bought it and we're going to finish it, and then we're going to live in it."

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UVM Inks Deal to Sell Land in South Burlington for $3 Million

Posted By on Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 3:12 PM

The parcels that would be sold - UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
  • University of Vermont
  • The parcels that would be sold
The University of Vermont has finalized terms to sell 44 acres in South Burlington to a private housing developer for at least $3 million. Up to 176 units could be built on the property, near the corner of Swift and Spear Streets.

It's about 1.5 miles from campus, south of Interstate 189.

A land swap is an element of the deal, which was signed Monday. Under the contract, developer Frank von Turkovich will give UVM 22 acres of land adjacent to the UVM acreage he plans to acquire.

The 22 acres are at 150 Swift Street, next to the UVM East Woods natural area. UVM will use the new land for walking, biking and other recreation, according to the contract. It could also be used for parking and for restrooms for the recreation area, and for utilities serving the new housing.

The final purchase price could be more than $3 million, but it's unclear how much more. The university blacked out a clause defining a "supplemental price" that can be added to the $3 million, subject to various conditions in the contract with Swift & Spear Associates, where von Turkovich is manager.

One of the conditions is that the development not exceed 176 housing units.

Seven Days obtained the contract in a public records request.

The closing will not take place until von Turkovich, a South Burlington resident, obtains local approval for the housing as well as a state environmental permit under Act 250.

Von Turkovich must convince the city to change the zoning for a portion of the land. He has until January 31, 2019 to obtain the zoning change and April 30, 2020 to obtain municipal and state permits under the contract deadline.

Otherwise, UVM can back out of the deal.

The South Burlington Land Trust came out against the sale after UVM issued a request for proposals earlier this year. The group has contended that dense housing is inappropriate in the area, and that it would disrupt animal habitat in the East Woods natural area. Water quality problems in Potash Brook could worsen, critics say.

UVM has argued that the land is only a few miles from downtown Burlington and would provide much needed housing.

In a statement released by UVM, von Turkovich vowed to work closely with residents of South Burlington:

As a local developer and neighbor of the site, I am looking forward to sharing our vision of the project, one that includes adding needed homes to the neighborhood while also adding features such as expanded networks of walking and biking trails that will enhance the quality of life. As we are in the beginning stages of developing the proposal, we have a unique opportunity to have a conversation with local groups to refine our project and ensure it respects the community’s values prior to entering the city’s regulatory process.
The contract gives UVM the option to buy or rent the new housing units. UVM would have a similar opportunity at a different von Turkovich development close to campus in Burlington, on Colchester Avenue.

UVM vice president for executive operations Gary Derr said the redacted information in the contract was exempt from public disclosure in an email to Seven Days. Enrique Corredera, UVM executive director of news and public affairs, would not provide details on the supplemental price or offer additional information on why it was blacked out.

Seven Days is appealing the redaction.

UVM selected Swift & Spear Associates because their proposal most closely fit with the institution's vision for the development of new housing, according to UVM's statement.

"The proposal adds needed homes to the community, at the right scale, and adds value to the overall neighborhood through an expanded walking and biking trail network and the enhancement of our East Woods Natural Area,” said John Evans, UVM senior adviser to the president and provost.

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Carina Driscoll, Bernie Sanders' Stepdaughter, Announces Run for Burlington Mayor

Posted By on Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 10:39 AM

Carina Driscoll - JON SHENTON
  • Jon Shenton
  • Carina Driscoll
She's running.

Carina Driscoll, the stepdaughter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), on Monday announced she'll run for Burlington mayor. Driscoll, who said she'll run as an independent, will challenge incumbent Democrat Miro Weinberger, who's up for reelection in March. Another independent candidate, Infinite Culcleasure, announced on Friday that he'll run.

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Infinite Culcleasure Declares His Candidacy for Mayor of Burlington

Posted By on Fri, Dec 1, 2017 at 5:52 PM

Infinite Culcleasure - COURTESY OF INFINITE CULCLEASURE FOR MAYOR
  • Courtesy of Infinite Culcleasure for Mayor
  • Infinite Culcleasure
Infinite Culcleasure announced Friday that he will run for mayor of Burlington. He's the first candidate to say he'll challenge Mayor Miro Weinberger, who is seeking reelection on Town Meeting Day.

Weinberger, a Democrat, plans to seek a third three-year term. Carina Driscoll, Bernie Sanders' stepdaughter, has said she's considering a run.

Culcleasure said he would run on a platform of increasing citizen engagement in city government, building community justice initiatives and protecting vulnerable communities. He would also implement a policy that requires developers to contribute to social and environmental causes.

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FBI: Wake Robin Resident Said She Made Toxic Ricin, Fed It to Others

Posted By and on Fri, Dec 1, 2017 at 12:19 PM

Wake Robin - GOOGLE
  • Google
  • Wake Robin
Updated at 5 p.m.

A Wake Robin resident said she made ricin and attempted to poison others who live at the Shelburne retirement community with it, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit filed in court Thursday.

Federal prosecutors have charged Betty Miller, 70, with possession of “an unregistered select agent.”

She was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Friday and was being held without bail. Judge John Conroy noted that Miller, who will return to court next Wednesday, has a history of mental illness.

The affidavit states that Miller said she harvested 30 or 40 castor beans from a garden on the property and used instructions she found online to process them into several tablespoons of the powdered poison. When swallowed, ricin can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, bloody urine, hallucinations and seizures.

castor beans - DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
  • castor beans
Miller said she put the powder in food and beverages at the facility on at least three occasions, according to the affidavit, which notes that she “indicated her goal was to injure herself, but she wanted to test the effectiveness of ricin on others.”

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

O'Keefe Exercises His Right to Free Speech Without Disruption in Middlebury

Posted By on Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 11:44 PM

James O'Keefe speaking in Middlebury - CALEB KENNA
  • Caleb Kenna
  • James O'Keefe speaking in Middlebury
The controversial conservative activist James O'Keefe spoke on the topic of free speech without interruption in Middlebury Thursday night.

About 40 people gathered in a small event room at the Courtyard Marriott to hear O'Keefe, whose Project Veritas has been in the national news this week for a botched sting that targeted the Washington Post.

He declined to answer questions about why Veritas apparently attempted to plant a fake story in the Post, saying the group does not discuss its "motives or methods." But O'Keefe vowed to keep doing undercover work and video exposés. "I don't consider anything off limits," he told the audience.

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Brian Pine to Run for Ward 3 Burlington City Council Seat

Posted By on Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 4:27 PM

Brian Pine - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Brian Pine
Old North End resident Brian Pine announced Thursday that he will run for Burlington City Council, competing for the Ward 3 seat that Progressive Sara Moore plans to relinquish. Pine, who served as a Ward 3 city councilor from 1991 to 1995, said he will seek both Progressive and Democratic support.

Jim Lockridge, who runs local music incubator Big Heavy World, declared in September that he would run for the seat, which represents downtown Burlington and part of the Old North End.

Moore announced on Facebook Wednesday night that she would not seek a second three-year term, citing the time commitment and career changes. She's currently pursuing her master's degree in social work at the University of Vermont.

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