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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Vermont Senators Press Natural Resources Head on Lake Funding

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 10:37 AM

Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore speaks Tuesday night at a forum in Shelburne sponsored by the Chittenden County Senate delegation. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore speaks Tuesday night at a forum in Shelburne sponsored by the Chittenden County Senate delegation.
Julie Moore, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources secretary, insisted Tuesday night that state officials are committed to cleaning up Vermont waterways.

Her boss, Gov. Phil Scott, intends to make the investments needed to meet goals for reducing phosphorus, she said. Chittenden County senators, who sponsored the hearing in Shelburne that drew about 45 local residents, wanted to know if that means Scott will agree to a new funding source to get it done.

"He hasn't said absolutely no," Moore responded.

Wary senators pressed further.

Sen. Phil Baruth (D-Chittenden) asked if the governor would require new spending to be offset by cuts to other environmental programs. Baruth noted that Scott made a similar proposal this year in education, when the governor called for increased investments in early and higher education while reducing spending on pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade education.

"I haven't heard that from the governor," Moore said, noting that a legislatively mandated working group is scheduled to produce water-quality funding recommendations by November 15.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Nine Vermont Hospitals to Participate in All-Payer Experiment Next Year

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 9:34 PM

OneCare Vermont CEO Todd Moore - FILE: ALICIA FREESE
  • File: Alicia Freese
  • OneCare Vermont CEO Todd Moore
Nine of Vermont’s 14 hospitals have agreed to participate, to varying degrees, in the state’s all-payer experiment, starting next January. But some major health care providers, including the Community Health Centers of Burlington, are opting out — for now.

OneCare Vermont, the accountable care organization that is spearheading the move toward an all-payer system, announced the participants Tuesday.

OneCare estimates that 120,000 Vermonters will receive health care next year through the all-payer model, in which health care providers are paid based on patient health outcomes, rather than the number of procedures performed.

“It’s a huge step — 120,000. I’m happy with it,” OneCare CEO Todd Moore said.

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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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Monday, October 9, 2017

Burlington Activist Takes Aim at 'White Supremacist' Mural

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 7:09 PM

The graffiti - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • The graffiti
Updated on October 11, 2017.

A Burlington activist said he used graffiti Monday to make a political statement about a mural off Church Street.

Albert Petrarca, who describes himself as a member of the Off the Wall coalition, said in a press release that he and other members of the group defaced an identification plaque that accompanies the “Everyone Loves a Parade!” mural downtown. Petrarca described the public art, which is 124 feet by 16 feet, as a “white supremacist symbol” that obliterates “First Nation peoples’ lives and history.”

The goal? “To reset the debate on why an undeniably racist piece of ‘art’ and ‘history’ occupies our town square,” wrote Petrarca, an activist who is outspoken on a variety of Burlington issues.

“Colorful and hyperrealistic,” Seven Days reported in 2012, “the mural unspools an eclectic cast of major and minor Vermont celebrities.” It’s located on the side of a building that houses Banana Republic along the pedestrian-only Leahy Way, which leads to the Marketplace parking garage. And yes, for those wondering, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is also depicted in the mural.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

UVM Student Cited in 'Racist and Threatening Language' Case

Posted By on Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 6:28 PM

The University of Vermont - SALLY MCCAY
  • Sally McCay
  • The University of Vermont
University of Vermont police cited student Wesley Richter on Thursday for disorderly conduct after he was allegedly overheard on campus using "explicitly racist and threatening language directed toward African Americans," the university said in a statement.

News of the citation came three days after a university administrator emailed the UVM community about the incident. Someone reportedly overheard Richter, 20, making the comments on a phone call. He also allegedly made disparaging remarks about UVM's diversity initiatives.

"Such detestable remarks and threats directed to any group or individual are antithetical to our values and commitment to work toward racial equality and greater inclusion," wrote Annie Stevens, a vice provost for student affairs.

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Pride Center Leader Steps Down, Interim Director Named

Posted By on Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 6:17 PM

The executive director of the Pride Center of Vermont has stepped down from the post after just five months on the job. Susan Hartman resigned effective Monday, according to Rex Butt, the nonprofit’s interim executive director.

“Susan was aware that it wasn’t working, and she had the guts to say, ‘You know, I’m not the person to continue,’” Butt said. “So she said it’s time for us to make a change.”

Hartman moved to Vermont from Fayetteville, Ark. She started the job May 1 and replaced Kim Fountain, who left the Pride Center in September 2016 after five years on the job.

Hartman could not be reached for comment Thursday, and Butt said she was out of town on a previously scheduled vacation. But in an interview with Vermont Public Radio in May, Hartman said she’d worked in nonprofits since she was 18.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Walters: Bennington Banner Faces Backlash Over Las Vegas Massacre Cartoon

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 5:42 PM

An image of the cartoon in the Bennington Banner - WCAX
  • WCAX
  • An image of the cartoon in the Bennington Banner
Updated on October 5, 2017.

The owners of the Bennington Banner were trying to tamp down a firestorm of criticism over a political cartoon in Tuesday's paper that addressed the Las Vegas mass shooting. Top executives of its owner, New England Newspapers, have written public apologies, and the firm's president made a quick trip from company headquarters in Pittsfield, Mass., to Bennington Wednesday to meet with offended readers.

The cartoon, by syndicated cartoonist Randall Enos, included the legend "Whatever Happens In Vegas..." above a drawing of a haphazard pile of bodies, drawn in outline without features, scattered on the ground. More than 1,000 people posted comments on the Banner's Facebook page objecting, in very strong terms, to the publication of the cartoon.

The story has brought widespread attention to the paper — so much so that when you Google "Bennington Banner," the first autofill option is "cartoon." Not only have national media picked it up, but so have papers in Great Britain and Australia.

Enos is an illustrator and cartoonist with more than 60 years of experience. When reached at his Connecticut home Wednesday afternoon, he was apparently unaware of the controversy he had sparked.

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Former AG Sorrell Skips Deposition, Sparks War of Words

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 5:03 PM

Former attorney general Bill Sorrell - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Former attorney general Bill Sorrell
Former Vermont attorney general Bill Sorrell didn’t show up Wednesday morning for a deposition related to a case brought by the industry-funded Energy & Environment Legal Institute, which claimed Sorrell flouted court procedure by skipping the proceeding.

For more than a year, the Washington, D.C.-based group has sought records from Sorrell and other state attorneys general regarding a potential investigation of ExxonMobil. The organization twice sued the Vermont AG's office while Sorrell still held the post, and the cases have continued since his departure. Among other issues under dispute, E&E Legal argues that Sorrell must hand over files from his private email account.

Current Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan, whose office is also a defendant in the case and is representing Sorrell, told Seven Days that Sorrell didn't show up Wednesday because the judge had yet to rule on their motion to dismiss the case.

“Our position is the motion to dismiss has to be adjudicated first,” Donovan said. “We’re not saying, ‘Hey you don’t get to depose the guy,’ but that threshold question has to first be answered by the court.”

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Ben & Jerry's Vows to Better Conditions for Migrant Workers

Posted By on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 5:43 PM

Will Lambek, left, and Enrique Balcazar of Migrant Justice - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Will Lambek, left, and Enrique Balcazar of Migrant Justice
After more than two years of prodding by a local migrant farmworker advocacy group, Ben & Jerry's has agreed to improve employee conditions at the farms in its supply chain.

Members of Migrant Justice and Ben & Jerry's CEO Jostein Solheim announced the deal Tuesday during a celebratory gathering in front of the ice cream shop on Church Street in Burlington. Solheim touted the program as "first in the dairy industry, first in the world."

Then he and members of Migrant Justice signed the Milk With Dignity contract that will eventually be applied to all northeastern farms in Ben & Jerry's supply chain.

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