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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
  • Burlington Police Chief del Pozo Hospitalized After Serious Bike Crash in ADKs
    Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo could remain hospitalized "for a sustained period" after a serious bicycle crash Saturday in the Adirondacks, the city said in a press release.

    The chief suffered a head injury and broken bones in a single-bike crash in Keene, N.Y., the office of Mayor Miro Weinberger announced Sunday. Del Pozo was taken to the intensive care unit at the University of Vermont Medical Center, where doctors "are optimistic about a full recovery," the city said. Deputy Police Chief Jan Wright will serve as acting chief while del Pozo is sidelined.

    “Our thoughts are with Brandon and his family at this time,” Weinberger said in the press release. “Chief del Pozo has done so much for the community, and we look forward to him returning to command. Until then, I have full confidence that the Burlington Police Department will continue to keep the city safe and perform at the high, effective level that Burlingtonians expect.”…

  • Dancing the Day Away With Vermont Dance Alliance and Artists Imperative
    On Saturday, June 16, Burlington was struck by a confluence of dance-related events: "Traces," an all-day, multi-venue, outdoor performance hosted by the Vermont Dance Alliance, and "Lime Peach Mint: High Crimes Misdemeanors, Bountiful Performances" by Artists' Imperative at Maglianero. What follows is a diary of observations from the day.

    9:45 a.m.: I walked from the top of Church Street Marketplace to the bottom looking for dancers. I didn't see anyone, because I forgot I was supposed to stay at the top. It was really nice out.

    10:01 a.m.: I made it back to the top of Church Street. Six people were dancing in the street.

    10:17 a.m.: I poked my head into the Gap after seeing employees peering out the windows. One said, "I thought they were warming up for AcroYoga."

    10:23 a.m.: A little girl in a purple dress stopped in the street and stared at the dancers. "What are they doing?" she asked her mom, who was 15 feet away and looked impatient. "Contact improvisation!" whispered a gray-haired dancer clinging to the statue of late Burlington saxophonist Big Joe Burrell.

    10:25 a.m.: Other people started to join in — two young kids, the children of some of the dancers, and a dancer's mother.

    10:40 a.m.: A street performer started clapping and singing with the dancers, and they improvised to his tune. Everyone seemed jubilant.
    10:45 a.m.: The performer said his name is John Holland, "like the old country." He asked me to stay and listen to a song that he promised I would love. The lyrics include the line: "Dance till you're dead, that's what the praying lobster said."

    10:55 a.m.: By now we were all at the southernmost end of Church Street. Two blond women passing by Sweetwaters cringed and giggled. One said, "That's weird."

    11 a.m.: The dancers weaved in and out of circular patterns, singing something along the lines of "Round and round we go, weaving ourselves in a circle / The day is done and the dance goes on." 

    11:30 a.m.: I stopped into Onyx Tonics Specialty Coffee for a cup of drip that I definitely didn't need. It was delicious.

    11:55 a.m.: I found myself overly caffeinated and in the middle of the Burlington Farmers Market. A male passerby commented,…

  • Entrepreneurship Community Planned for Cambrian Rise
    Vermont's first co-living and coworking business accelerator will find a home at Burlington's Cambrian Rise.

    Local investors will help pay for and design one of 12 buildings that will make up the development. The "innovation hub" will allow entrepreneurs to work and learn together, get access to startup funds for business and live in a place that facilitates "the intense collision of ideas and mentoring," according to a description of the project provided by its creators.

    The project, called the Vermont Innovation Commons, will "bring talent and capital and business growth and, ultimately, jobs to a place that really needs it," said Mark Naud, who's heading up the effort. "There's ... nothing like that in the state of Vermont or in Burlington, certainly."

    Vermont Works, an investment firm started last year by Charlotte residents Robert Zulkoski and Frank Koster, launched the project. The duo hired Naud, a lawyer and former head of Burlington's Community Sailing Center, to get the initiative off the ground.

    The goal? To help startup companies grow, create living-wage jobs, and attract and retain young workers.

    Naud said he settled on Cambrian Rise for its proximity to downtown, the gigabit internet available from Burlington Telecom, and the variety of housing, retail and offices that will make up the planned community on North Avenue. He reached out to project developer Eric Farrell about two months ago. The sides shook hands on a deal in late May, according to Farrell.

    The innovation commons will provide an "anchor" for the…

  • The Cannabis Catch-Up: Vermont State Government Preps for Legalization
    We’re two weeks away from legalization day and Vermont state government is getting its ducks in a row. On Thursday, the Attorney General’s office released workplace guidance on the new cannabis law. Seven Days' Sara Tabin took a spin through the 17-page document and found that, really, not much has changed. Meanwhile, also on Thursday, the Vermont State Police issued a 10-page training bulletin to all its troopers (full bulletin viewable below). The document contains facts and definitions about elements of the law to help guide officers out in the field. A few of the more interesting bits: If you’re 21 or older and give someone younger than 21 marijuana, it’s a criminal offense. Selling remains illegal (but you already knew that). Landlords must stipulate in a lease agreement any tenant prohibition on cannabis possession or growing. “Unless the cultivation or possession is otherwise prohibited by law, treat as a civil landlord/tenant issue,” the bulletin reads. Smoking in public is a civil violation subject to a fine up to $100 for first-time offenders. As for one frequently asked question regarding vehicle searches and seizures: “Odor of marijuana alone does not constitute reasonable suspicion for purposes of search and seizure,” the bulletin reads. “However, odor of burnt marijuana may lead to investigation of DUI for signs of impairment.” Police have scheduled a “media roundtable” for Tuesday, June 19, at state police headquarters in Waterbury to discuss “the impact of recreational marijuana legalization on agency operations such as training and enforcement.” Should be informative. Here are some other cannabis stories we followed this week: June 11: Once cannabis is legal in Vermont, the rules will be different for medical marijuana patients and recreational users. How is that going to work? [April McCullum, Burlington Free Press] June 12: According to Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George, about 40 people showed up at the Costello Courthouse on Tuesday to file petitions to wipe out past misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions. Sara Tabin talked to several of them. Spoiler alert: Most were pretty pumped about the whole thing. [Sara Tabin, Seven Days] June 12: Getting ready to home-grow some cannabis? Wondering about its potency? Some Vermont labs will open their doors for everyday schmoes who wanna get their weed tested. [Joel Banner Baird, Burlington Free Press] June 12: Now that we’ve conquered mapping the human genome, scientists have turned their attention to the next most important…

  • Local Film 'The Nightingale Chronicles' Shows in Burlington This Month
    A Franklin County film production will hit a Burlington big screen on June 26.

    The Nightingale Chronicles, written and directed by East Fairfield resident Harry Goldhagen, stars Bruce Jones as a womanizing glamour photographer who faces an unexpected reckoning with his past when he accepts a photo-essay assignment from a smarmy agent (played by former “Late Night Saturday” host Tim Kavanagh). His subject: a reclusive Vermont doctor (Dawn Kearon).

    The 66-minute film is Goldhagen’s second feature. His 2014 debut, Bridges — which included Jones and Kavanagh in supporting roles — addressed the hot-button national topic of affordable health care in a rural Vermont setting. Goldhagen’s latest effort, filmed mostly in Franklin County, also includes footage shot in Burlington and Montréal.

    The Nightingale Chronicles premieres Saturday, June 16, at 7 p.m. at the Meeting House on the Green in East Fairfield. More info here.

    The Burlington screening takes place Tuesday, June 26, at 7 p.m. at Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas. More info here.

  • The Parmelee Post: Burlington Named Best Construction Site to Raise a Family In
    Time magazine published its annual “Best Places to Raise a Family in the U.S.” report Wednesday. The Queen City took home the top spot in a brand new category. Burlington surpassed nine other work zones, including the eastern parking lot of the Harbor Square Mall in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., to be named the best construction site in the country in which to raise a family. “This 15 square mile construction site by the lake has no shortage of hard-hatted fun to offer the entire family,” the report begins. It goes on to list a variety of family-friendly activities, including the hugely popular “guessing game.”  "This is where Burlington families entertain themselves for hours by trying to predict which roads will be closed on any given day or where the next sinkhole will pop up," explains the report. Time cited quality of education as one of its primary metrics. Local residents did not seem surprised that Burlington received such high rankings. “Our daughter, Aster, can barely read three-letter words,” Dr. Sue Suss told the Parmelee Post. “But since we moved to Burlington, she can suddenly read longer words such as ‘detour’ or ‘warning gas pipeline.’” “It seems like only weeks ago that our son, Xavier-Lavender Smith III, could barely tell the difference between a bus and a bicycle,” said Chelsea Orland. “Now he can differentiate between a long reach excavator and backhoe loader just by the sound it makes outside his bedroom window each morning!” The report also praised Burlington for its overall safety rating. It found that traffic accidents decreased by nearly 100 percent after all cars and bicycles were replaced with heavy machinery. “An overabundance of ‘local traffic only’ signs not only serve to further reduce traffic, but create an aura of exclusivity that allows residents another opportunity to feel superior to visiting tourists,” states the report. Although this is first year Time has ranked U.S. construction sites, there is plenty of reason to believe the Queen City will remain in the top 10 for the foreseeable future. “Our research indicates that more buildings are being born in Burlington than actual babies, guaranteeing that it will remain a top construction destination for many decades to come,” the report concludes. The Parmelee Post is an occasional series featuring tough investigative reporting on news that hasn't happened.…

  • Scott Vetoes Vermont Budget as July 1 Shutdown Looms
    Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the latest iteration of the Vermont state budget on Thursday, sending legislators back to the drawing board as a July 1 government shutdown looms.

    The governor's veto came as no surprise. He had warned legislators that he would oppose any tax increase. The bill, H.13, would have resulted in an automatic 5.5 cent property tax increase on nonresidential landowners. Earlier Thursday, both Scott and legislative leaders appeared to dig in at separate press conferences about the spending bill stalemate, which has lasted more than a month.

    Scott had until midnight Thursday to sign or veto the legislation. He announced his decision around 8 p.m.

    "One easy solution to resolve the budget debate would be to send me a new bill that prevents the automatic increase in the nonresidential rate," Scott said in a publicly released letter addressed to Vermont House Clerk William MaGill. "This would ensure we have a budget in place long before July 1 and require us to work together, on a level playing field, to resolve our remaining differences in the tax bill."

    In the letter, the governor made clear that he considers it the legislature's job to rectify what he called "the one remaining area of disagreement." Scott pointed to the state's estimated surplus of $55 million as a source for funding school budgets and paying down debt in the state teachers' retirement fund — an effort legislators have made a point of emphasis in budget negotiations.
    Less than 30 minutes after the veto announcement, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero) and Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) released a statement of their own calling the governor's decision "disappointing."

    The legislative leaders pointed to four aspects of the vetoed budget that the governor supported, including a level residential education tax rate and approximately $30 million in income tax reductions intended to offset the effects of President Donald Trump's federal tax cut.

    "The bill reflects movement by the legislature toward the governor, while the governor has not made a single concession," the statement read.

    Ashe indicated earlier Thursday that the legislature could try to override the governor's veto — a tall task, especially in the House.

    Read the full veto letter and the response from legislative leaders below:

    Disclosure: Tim Ashe is the domestic partner of…

  • Vermont AG Issues Weed Law Guidance for the Workplace
    Under certain circumstances, Vermont employers will still be allowed to drug test their workers for marijuana once recreational weed is legalized on July 1, according to guidance released on Thursday by Attorney General T.J. Donovan.

    The pot law, known as Act 86, “did not change Vermont’s existing laws strictly regulating when and how employers may drug test,” the guidance reads.

    The 17-page document spells out the rights of employers and employees once weed is legalized. The general takeaway? Not much has changed. Donovan’s office said in a press release that it created the guide in response to queries from the business community.

    Seven Days outlined some of the confusion and concerns in an article last month.
    [content-1] Existing Vermont laws stipulate that employers can’t ask job applicants to take a drug test unless three conditions are met: The employer has already offered an applicant a job, contingent on a negative drug test result; the employer provides a written notice about the drug test; and the drug test is sent to a laboratory approved by the Vermont Department of Health.

    Once hired, employees are generally not to be randomly drug tested unless four requirements are met, including probable cause to believe the employee is using drugs on the job.

    Employers may still prohibit pot on their premises, and Act 86 can't be used as a basis for suing an employer with a zero-tolerance cannabis policy.

    Existing medical marijuana laws, meanwhile, protect those employees who are patients from discrimination,…

  • Rodgers to Run as Democratic Write-In Candidate for Governor
    Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans) is running for governor of Vermont after all.

    The deadline to get onto the ballot was May 31, but Angelo Napolitano, a self-described right-leaning Libertarian from Waitsfield, is launching a campaign to get voters to write in Rodgers during the Democratic primary.

    Rodgers, a fierce gun rights supporter, toyed with the idea of running in April after Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed sweeping gun regulations into law. The state senator decided against it last month, citing the demands of running his construction business.

    Rodgers acquiesced when Napolitano and others approached him about running as a write-in candidate, but he said his construction work would prevent him from campaigning for the primary.

    "It's sort of grassroots effort, and they certainly seem to be doing some work," Rodgers noted in an interview Thursday.

    Rodgers also made it clear he wanted to run as a Democrat, though he'd previously considered running as a Republican or independent. "I’ve always served as a Democrat. That’s what I feel like I am, even though I feel like the state party has left me," he said.

    Rodgers will face off against four other Democratic candidates whose names will be on the ballot: James Ehlers, Christine Hallquist, Brenda Siegel and 14-year-old Ethan Sonneborn.

    Calling the arrangement a “win-win” for Rodgers, Napolitano pointed out that if the write-in campaign fails, Rodgers can still run for his state Senate seat. “If he beats the other Democrats, which he will, then he goes on to face Phil Scott, and he’s got a better than 80/20 chance of beating Phil Scott,” Napolitano predicted.

    Napolitano said the gun legislation was only part of what inspired the effort. “He’s one of the last blue dog Democrats,” he said of Rodgers, noting that the write-in candidate "is the only one that has the fire in his belly to beat Phil Scott.”

    Vermont Public Radio first reported the resurrection of Rodgers’ candidacy.…

  • Walters: Governor and Legislature Still at Odds Over Taxes
    In back-to-back press conferences Thursday, Gov. Phil Scott and leaders of the Vermont Senate made clear that a compromise budget agreement remains elusive. The two sides have little more than two weeks to strike a deal and avert a possible government shutdown on July 1.

    No one knows for sure what a shutdown would mean because there's no precedent in Vermont history. "The [Vermont] constitution is clear," Sen. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) said at a Statehouse press conference. "We cannot spend money we haven't appropriated."

    The governor, speaking at a press conference at Elmore State Park, refused to discuss whether his administration has prepared contingency plans, even as state employees and recipients of state funds grow increasingly anxious. "I'm confident we'll come to an agreement," Scott said. When another reporter raised the contingency question, he said again, "I'm confident we'll come to an agreement."

    During last year's budget standoff, Scott promised that there would be no shutdown, even if he had to give ground to avoid it. This year, he is making no such promise. Still, he insisted, "We're not going to get to that point."

    The Republican governor's confidence is apparently based on his belief that the legislature will ultimately cave in on taxes. Senate leaders argued that they've been doing all the compromising so far.

    "If we started on the goal lines of a football field, we've moved beyond midfield and the governor is still on his goal line," said Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden). "We've more than moved in his direction; it's time for him to move in our direction."

    Scott has until midnight Thursday to sign or veto H.13, the legislature's latest budget bill. His signing it would avoid the prospect of a shutdown while setting aside remaining unresolved issues, including the legislature's desire to use unanticipated revenue to pay down overdue obligations in the teacher pension fund. Scott wants to use the money to keep nonresidential property tax rates level.

    Scott made it clear he will veto the bill, but not until sometime Thursday evening — not because he hasn't made up his mind, but because he said he wants to give lawmakers one last chance to come to the table.

    Of course, when the governor said those words, he wasn't at his table. He was in a rough-hewn building…


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