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Seven Days
Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice, Seven Days
Independent Vermont alt-weekly covering news, politics, food, arts, music and culture.

Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice, Seven Days
  • Hallquist to Run for Governor, Leave Vermont Electric Coop
    Vermont Electric Cooperative CEO Christine Hallquist plans to resign from the company Tuesday in order to run for governor.

    "That is my intention," she told Seven Days Monday.

    While Hallquist said she does not plan to make a formal campaign announcement for several more weeks, she has settled on a campaign manager and intends to negotiate a "permanent separation" from VEC on Tuesday at a meeting of its board of directors.

    "I want to respect the company and not leave things in limbo," she said, adding that the exact timing of her departure remained up in the air.

    Hallquist, a 61-year-old resident of Hyde Park, would join Lake Champlain International executive director James Ehlers and eighth-grader Ethan Sonneborn in seeking the Democratic nomination. Gov. Phil Scott, a first-term Republican, is expected to seek reelection.

    If she wins the Democratic nod, Hallquist would become the nation's first transgender, major-party gubernatorial nominee. Seven Days first reported her interest in the race last month, and WPTZ-TV broke the news Monday that she plans to leave VEC to run for governor.

    Hallquist said Monday that she has been "organizing a campaign team" and is preparing to hire Cameron Russell as her campaign manager. Russell led the Vermont Democratic Party's coordinated campaign in 2016 and currently serves as outreach director of the advocacy group Rights & Democracy. He said he plans to remain with R&D "through the end of this week" and then settle on an exact start date with the Hallquist campaign.

    "I think she's in this for the right reasons," Russell said. "I believe in her candidacy and what she stands for and what she'll be able to do as governor."

    The would-be candidate said she would have to raise "over $2 million" to finance a winning campaign, but she expressed confidence that she would be able to do so. "I expect to be able to raise more," she said.

    Hallquist said that rural economic development would be the "No. 1" issue of her campaign. She also plans to advocate for "proper safety nets" for unemployed Vermonters, universal healthcare, universal broadband and a $15 minimum wage. Hallquist said she supports "sensible gun legislation," including bills requiring all those purchasing firearms to undergo background checks.

    "That has to be a…

  • At Endorsement Event, Weinberger Supporters Rebut Rival Driscoll
    The battle of the endorsements is on in the Burlington mayoral campaign.

    Mayor Miro Weinberger on Monday trotted out a dozen supporters to sing his praises, including Burlington city councilors, legislators and union employees. The incumbent Democratic candidate also rehashed the list of endorsements he's tallied during his reelection campaign and announced another key backer: Republican Kurt Wright, a longtime city councilor, state representative and one of Weinberger's opponents in the 2012 mayoral race.

    The laudatory press conference Monday appeared to be a direct response to independent candidate Carina Driscoll's announcement last week that the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees had voted to back her campaign. The union represents more than 200 city employees, some of whom later pushed back against Driscoll's assertion that the endorsement was unanimous.

    "I was extremely concerned when I read Carina's announcement characterizing her union support as 'the unanimous endorsement of the city's workers,' a statement that, as you can see here, is patently untrue," said City Councilor Joan Shannon (D-South District), a Weinberger supporter. "If there's one position in this city that's more important than the mayor, it's the one of city workers, collectively."

    Weinberger noted pointedly that he had received the support of three of the four unions that negotiate contracts with the city of Burlington: the Burlington Police Officers Association, the Burlington Fire Fighters Association, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 300. Weinberger had announced those endorsements in press releases earlier in the campaign.

    "We are just over two weeks from Town Meeting Day and the broad coalition supporting our campaign is coming into focus," Weinberger said.

    At Monday's event, City Councilor Dave Hartnett (D-North District) read a statement from Wright, who was too sick to attend in person.


  • Burlington's Honey Road Restaurant and Chef Get James Beard Nod

    Honey Road restaurant in Burlington is a semifinalist for a  James Beard Award  for best new restaurant,  the James Beard Foundation announced February 15. Its chef-owner Cara Chigazola-Tobin is also in the running for best chef in the Northeast.

    Chigaloza-Tobin, a former chef de cuisine at Oleana in Cambridge, Mass., owns Honey Road with Allison Gibson, formerly of Hen of the Wood and the Inn at Shelburne Farms.  Honey Road opened on the corner of Church and Main streets last summer. It specializes in Mediterranean food and features a menu that encourages diners to share plates.

    Honey Road is one of 28 restaurants — including two in New England — that are semifinalists for best new restaurant.  Chigazola-Tobin belongs to a group of 20 chefs  in the Northeast who could win best chef in the region.

    "It’s a pretty crazy feeling," Chigazola-Tobin wrote in an email to Seven Days.  "I’m stoked to even get this far. "

    Vermonter Deirdre Heekin of La Garagista, a farm and winery in Barnard, is a James Beard semifinalist for outstanding wine, beer or spirits professional.

    In recent years, several Vermont chefs were semifinalists for the prestigious award, including Eric Warnstedt and Jordan of Ware of  Hen of the Wood in Waterbury and Burlington,  Aaron Josinsky and Nathaniel Wade of Misery Loves Co. in Winooski, and Wesley Genovart of SoLo Farm & Table in South Londonderry.

    James Beard finalists for 2018 will be announced on March 14 in Philadelphia, with a black-tie awards ceremony to be held May 7 in Chicago.

    According to its website, the James Beard Foundation aims  "to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone."



  • Dining on a Dime: Four Corners of the Earth
    Ladislav Pancisin said he's made about 395,000 sandwiches at Four Corners of the Earth, his restaurant on Pine Street in Burlington.

    "I was going to make one sandwich for every Vermonter and then be done with it," he said the other day. "But then the population keeps growing."

    The population of Vermont has risen by about 14,000 people since Pancisin opened his small, subterranean sandwich shop in 2000. He'd be roasting salmon, chopping cabbage and mixing spice blends — all sandwich ingredients — until eternity if he kept pace with the people.  I recommend getting to Four Corners in the here and now, and adding a sandwich or two to Pancisin's tally.

    The challenge at Four Corners of the Earth is choosing from 40 or so sandwich varieties, plus another set stored in the owner's head and available to mind readers.

    "My ideas come from the great spirit," Pancisin said. "I'm just the medium."

    I discussed a couple of possibilities with him on my recent visit — Sicilian eggplant and Hungarian chalamada.  "You hit two good notes," he said. "Try a third."

    We settled on Greek artichoke, which consists of  artichoke hearts seasoned in a 12-spice blend, tomatoes, lettuce (Bibb and romaine), provolone cheese, basil (if available), olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

    Pancisin piled  the ingredients between thick slices of white bread, then grilled the sandwich in a panini press long enough to toast the bread. The inside ingredients remained unheated, the cheese unmelted.

    "It's an interesting experience: toasted, but cold within," he said. "That's what the great spirit wanted me to do. So that's what I do."

    Pancisin said his sandwiches follow a basic guideline: For every dollar you spend, you consume about 100 calories. By that measure, my $11.99 Greek artichoke sandwich was roughly 1,200 calories.  That seemed high to me, so I checked with Pancisin. He amended the formula slightly to apply mainly to meat sandwiches.

    "It's all made with love," he said. "That's all I can say."

    Pancisin, a self-described "hillbilly from Slovakia," carved out his space on Pine Street before Great Harvest, ArtRiots, Citizen Cider, et al., appeared in the neighborhood. He built the kitchen counter out of an old bowling lane.

    The walls of his restaurant are filled with original…

  • Walters: Scott Shifts Gun Stance Following Fair Haven Threat
    Gov. Phil Scott, who has long opposed any new restrictions on gun ownership, shifted his position Friday following the arrest of a young man who allegedly intended to commit mass murder at a Rutland County school.

    Eighteen-year-old Jack Sawyer of Poultney was arrested Thursday and, in an interview with police, outlined a detailed plan for shooting students — "as many as I can get," according to the arrest affidavit submitted in court — at Fair Haven Union High School. It seems clear from reading the affidavit that Sawyer would likely have carried out his plan, if not for private individuals alerting authorities on two separate occasions.

    Scott appeared deeply shaken by this very close call as he addressed reporters Friday afternoon in his Montpelier office. "If we are at a point when we put our kids on a bus and send them to school without being able to guarantee their safety, who are we?" he asked.

    "Just yesterday, I did an interview noting that we are the safest state in the nation," he continued, referring to remarks he made to Seven Days' Taylor Dobbs. "But the reality of how close we came to a devastating tragedy underscores the threat of violence that faces the entire country.

    "As a result, I've been asking myself, 'Are we doing everything we can to protect our kids?'" Scott said. His change in heart, he added, means opening the discussion to such issues as mental health, school safety, gun safety and, potentially, at least, some form of gun control legislation.

    Scott would not identify any specific actions or bills he might now support. In response to questions, he said, "Everything should be on the table at this point." He indicated that bills currently being considered by the legislature — including one that would mandate criminal background checks for all gun purchasers — would be "a starting point for us to at least have a conversation."

    And he admitted that his mind had been changed by Fair Haven's close call. "With the events in Florida being so far away, and feeling as though we were immune to this type of threat," he said, "but reading the affidavit and seeing how close we came to disaster, led me to believe that I have an obligation to protect our citizens."

    While a simple willingness to open…

  • The Cannabis Catch-Up: Vermont Lawmakers Know the Value of Taxing Weed
    State budget gaps are not unique. But Vermont legislators took a novel tack last year to fill a shortfall by using money raised through the state’s medical marijuana program. That means lawmakers know full well the value of taxing marijuana, but they’ve yet to figure out how to legalize and implement a full taxed-and-regulated system. Instead, legislators have come up with a system that legalizes adult use and possession but doesn’t cash in on potential tax revenue. The state medical marijuana program fund gets an annual cash infusion, though. The state's five dispensaries each pay $25,000 annually in licensing fees, while patients pay $50 to register each year, Vermont Public Radio reports. How useful is that cash? Here’s what Adam Greshin, the state’s finance commissioner, told VPR’s Emily Corwin about the $300,000 lawmakers siphoned from the medical marijuana fund. "We needed to raise almost $30 million; that is not a small chunk of change," he said. Greshin added: "We’re not taking this fund and buying luxury items for certain Vermonters. It’s helping to run government which is exactly what happened in this case." Go figure. Here are some other cannabis stories we read from the week that was: February 12: The Vermont Hemp Company responded to a lawsuit filed by a woman who said the biz’s founder, Joel Bedard, made off with her crop without paying. Spoiler alert: The company called the allegations “unfounded.” [Sasha Goldstein, Seven Days] February 13: Rick Steves likes weed! Well, he thinks it should be legal, anyway. Read this interview he gave to Dan Bolles. Steves visited the Vermont Statehouse this week and also met up with folks at the Skinny Pancake in Burlington to expound on his vision for cannabis reform.  [Dan Bolles, Seven Days] February 13: A company that wanted to sign up a large number of patients for Vermont’s medical marijuana program has stopped operating in the state. Turns out lawmakers and other regulators weren’t too keen on the business model of Canna Care Docs.  [Sasha Goldstein, Seven Days] February 14: Guess what — law enforcement agencies are unclear on some aspects of the new Vermont law legalizing cannabis. And some drug-sniffing pooches might have to go into early retirement because, apparently, once they train on the scent of marijuana, they can’t get it out of their heads. Who knew? [Mark Davis, Seven Days] February 15: Cannabis has been shown to help…

  • Museum of Everyday Life Announces New Season, Invites Participation
    Each spring since 2011, a humble barn in the Northeast Kingdom comes to life — not with buds and blooms, but with a riot of ordinary things. Under the direction of artist and veteran Bread & Puppet performer Clare Dolan, Glover's experimental Museum of Everyday Life dedicates itself every year to a quirky and spirited exhibition that sprouts from a mundane but thematically potent object.

    Last year's exhibit was on bells and whistles; the year before that, mirrors. Other previous exhibits have focused on such prosaic items as pencils and dust. Dolan has just announced the theme for the coming season at MoEL: locks and keys.

    Artists and creative community members alike are invited to submit completed artworks and installation ideas. The museum is also accepting theoretical musings, which may be as expansive or as literal as their authors would like. Proposals must be received by April 15.

    In a press release, Dolan offers some ideas to get the juices flowing. She writes that contributions can include, but are certainly not limited to, "padlocks, door locks, combination locks, lever handle locks, cam locks, rim/mortise locks, profile cylinder locks, wooden pin tumbler locks, double-sided keys, dimple keys, barrel keys, skeleton keys, tubular keys, paracentric keys, abloy keys, key cards, etc.,"

    She adds: "We will explore related topics such as imprisonment, escape artists, chastity belts, diaries, safe cracking, locksmithing and lock picking."

    In addition to creative submissions, MoEL eagerly welcomes donations of raw materials — i.e. locks, keys and the like. Folks are also invited to be a part of the installation process, with open workdays scheduled for May 4 and 6, and the weekends of May 12-13 and 19-20. The completed show will open to the public with a springtime celebration on May 27.

    To contribute or request further information, use the museum's contact form.


  • The Parmelee Post: Scott Administration Proposes $140 Million Military Training Complex for Students
    The administration of Gov. Phil Scott is proposing that Vermont contract with a private company to build a $140 million military training complex for the state’s public school students and faculty. The proposal came just days after Gov. Scott said the state should focus on providing more training and drills for staff and students rather than consider limiting access to firearms. Instead of taking practical steps to try and prevent school shootings, said administration spokesperson Belinda Sorryfam, it is more important to convince students that these tragedies are unavoidable by encouraging them to train harder for the day when it inevitably happens in their school. “It’s literally the best solution this administration has to offer your children,” she stated. The state-of-the-art facility would provide a range of training programs designed to keep Vermont’s students competitive in the modern job market. These include lessons on classroom camouflage and how to dress wounds using only the school supplies your teacher had to purchase with his or her own money. “I think it’s a great proposal,” said Vermont House representative Chad Lockenstoc (R-Hartland). “It’s not like we’re constantly asking students and teachers to do more with less or anything. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to add ‘dodging bullets’ to their list of responsibilities." Lockenstoc added that responsible gun owners could also help the cause by going online immediately after school shootings to tell concerned parents that they don't know enough about guns to voice an opinion. “What we don’t need are new laws,” Lockenstoc continued. “Laws don’t change anything anyway, which is why I became a lawmaker, obviously.” “We need a fundamental shift in the way we approach education in this state,” echoed Rep. Sammy Auto. “Students and faculty get so hung up on the idea of obtaining a quality education that they forget to spend more time worrying about whether or not they’re prepared for a deadly encounter in the very classrooms they’re required to attend five days week. “And, just like the Governor himself said, Vermont. Is. A. Safe. State.” Auto acknowledged that the proposal faces an uphill battle in the Statehouse and encouraged lawmakers to focus on areas where there already seems to be bipartisan agreement. “For example, I think we can all agree not to talk about, you know, the ‘G-word,’” he said. “We must never forget that a specific group of adults’ sense of freedom is far more…

  • Vermont Senate Approves $15 Minimum Wage
    The Senate gave final approval Friday to a bill that would raise Vermont’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024. Supporters of the proposal called the vote a victory for working Vermonters and said the bill would have long-term benefits for the state’s economy.

    If the House passes the proposal and Gov. Phil Scott signs it into law, employers would be required to increase hourly pay every year through 2024. The first increase would come January 1, 2019, when the minimum wage would rise from $10.50 to $11.50 an hour.

    The legislation passed the Senate by voice vote Friday. It first cleared the body on a 20-10 procedural vote Thursday, indicating that supporters could override a gubernatorial veto — at least in the Senate.

    The bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden), said it would help reduce income inequality in Vermont.

    “Despite whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, independent, I think everybody acknowledges and everybody agrees that we have great problems with income inequality in this state and in this country and in every corner of this state,” Sirotkin said.

    At a press conference after the Senate approved the bill, Majority Leader Becca Balint (D-Windham) and Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) joined Sirotkin in praising the the legislation as an economic boon for the state — and especially for low-income families.

    Sen. Rich Westman (R-Lamoille) voted against the bill. He said a mandated increase in wages would push families off of the so-called benefits cliff, raising household incomes above the eligibility threshold for public assistance programs.

    To explain his no vote, Westman pointed to a report from the legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office. It said a couple working full time in minimum wage jobs with one school-aged child would see its annual income increase by $1,155 in the first year of proposed minimum wage increases. That same couple, however, would lose $1,334 in benefits.

    Gov. Phil Scott also has concerns about the bill's impact, though his are more focused on businesses and job growth. Spokesperson Rebecca Kelley said Friday that Scott opposes the version of the bill passed by the Senate.

  • Waking Windows Announces Initial 2018 Lineup
    Brace yourselves: Waking Windows has just announced its initial 2018 lineup. The three-day music festival in downtown Winooski runs Friday through Sunday, May 4 through 6,  and features over 150 bands, artists, comedians and DJs. The first wave of confirmed acts is just as dynamite as you'd expect.

    Taking the headlining spots are Chicago rapper Noname and Providence-based rock band Deer Tick.
    Also included in the top tier are indie-rock bands Palm, Bully, the Districts, Ohmme and Hoops, plus locals Rough Francis.
    An eclectic lot of singer-songwriters — Steve Gunn, Bedouine, Lief Vollebekk and Vermont's own Anaïs Mitchell — also receive high billing.
    Sammus and Jaw Gems are the only other hip-hop acts given premier billing. Over in the pop/electronic sphere, Braids, Anna Wise and the APX are among the prime acts announced.
    And that's just the headliners. Rounding out the initial lineup are a bajillion other bands, most of whom are local. We can expect more artists — both local and nonlocal — to be added in the coming weeks and months.

    We'll take a deeper dive into the current list in next week's edition of Soundbites. In the meantime, feast your ears on this sumptuous Spotify playlist featuring this year's headliners.
    Tickets for Waking Windows Winooski are on sale now. Visit wakingwindows.com for more information.


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