Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Hunt On In Mexico For Stolen Radioactive Load - NPR[Hide Story...]BBC NewsHunt On In Mexico For Stolen Radioactive LoadNPRVERACRUZ, Mexico (AP) — A cargo truck hauling extremely dangerous radioactive material from used medical equipment was stolen from a gas station in Mexico, and authorities put out an alert in six central states and the capital to find it, Mexican officials ...Report: Truck with radioactive material stolen in MexicoFox NewsDangerous radioactive substance is stolen in MexicoThe Globe and MailWhat's the risk? Radioactive medical material's biggest threat is to unwitting ...NBCNews.comReuters -BBC News -CNNall 421 news articles »
Martin Bashir exits MSNBC in wake of Sarah Palin outburst - ...[Hide Story...]Philly.comMartin Bashir exits MSNBC in wake of Sarah Palin outburstLos Angeles Times[This post has been updated. See bottom for details.] Martin Bashir has learned something Alec Baldwin already knows: Even a cable news host can say too much. MSNBC announced Wednesday that Bashir, a commentator and host of the 4 p.m. hour, ...Martin Bashir Resigns, Finally, From MSNBCTIMETV host Martin Bashir resigns over offensive remarksReutersDonald Trump lauds 'loser' Martin Bashir firingPoliticoSeattle Post Intelligencer -New York Daily News -Daily Beastall 169 news articles »
Elizabeth Warren takes sides in Democratic feud - Politico[Hide Story...]International Business TimesElizabeth Warren takes sides in Democratic feudPoliticoAs Elizabeth Warren waded in and a congresswoman running for Pennsylvania governor distanced herself, an escalating feud Wednesday between left-leaning groups highlighted a major fault line among Democrats over entitlements. It started with an op-ed ...Sen. Warren says she won't run for president in 2016USA TODAYUS Sen. Warren Vows to Serve out Six-Year TermABC NewsDemocratic Sen. Warren vows not to run for president in 2016Fox NewsCBS Newsall 58 news articles »
911 calls show anguish and tension in Conn. school - Houston...[Hide Story...]Wall Street Journal911 calls show anguish and tension in Conn. schoolHouston ChronicleHARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — As gunfire boomed over and over in the background, a janitor begged a 911 dispatcher to send help, saying, "There's still shooting going on! Please!" A woman breathlessly reported seeing a gunman run down a hall. And a teacher ...Chilling 911 tapes of Sandy Hook massacre releasedKSDKSandy Hook Elementary 911 Calls Reveal Panic From Inside School90.5 WESASandy Hook shooting: Harrowing 911 calls releasedNew Zealand HeraldIrish Independentall 1,173 news articles »
Mass. boy denies raping, killing his math teacher - Houston ...[Hide Story...]Mass. boy denies raping, killing his math teacherHouston ChronicleSALEM, Mass. (AP) — A 14-year-old boy accused of killing his high school math teacher pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery charges on Wednesday. Philip Chism is charged in the Oct. 22 death of Colleen Ritzer, a popular ...and more »
Economic inequality is America's 'defining challenge': Obama...[Hide Story...]Boston GlobeEconomic inequality is America's 'defining challenge': ObamaMSNBCCalling economic inequality the “defining challenge of our time,” President Obama renewed his call to raise the federal minimum wage on Wednesday. “It would be good for our economy. It would be good for our families,” Obama said, speaking in Washington ...Pope Francis calls on leaders to fight poverty, inequalityFox NewsObama: Economic Inequality is Hurting America's FutureVoice of AmericaObama: Income inequality "the defining challenge of our time"CBS NewsFox News Latino -San Francisco Chronicle -Wall Street Journalall 322 news articles »
Pooches Bo, Sunny star at White House Christmas party - USA ...[Hide Story...]Baltimore SunPooches Bo, Sunny star at White House Christmas partyUSA TODAYWhat's better than first pooch Bo at a White House Christmas party? Bo AND little sis Sunny together at the annual party to show off the White House holiday decor. Oh, and FLOTUS was there, too. First lady Michelle Obama, dressed in a fetching gray frock ...Sunny knocks a little girl over in the White HouseBeaumont EnterpriseObama's puppy knocks over young child at White HouseTelegraph.co.ukMichelle Obama unveils White House Christmas decorPost-Bulletinall 59 news articles »
CRUISIN' CELEBRITY NEWS
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson's explosive courtroom confession - ...[Hide Story...]
The GuardianCelebrity chef Nigella Lawson's explosive courtroom confession
Los Angeles Times
Oh dear. Nigella Lawson, a star of ABC's competitive cooking show, “The Taste,” was forced to admit in a London court Wednesday that she has used cocaine and pot. The confession came during the fraud trial of two sisters who worked in Lawson's ...
Celeb Chef Nigella Lawson Admits Cocaine Use
Nigella Lawson: Husband wanted to destroy me
TV's 'Domestic Goddess' Nigella tells UK court she took cocaine
Reuters TIME- Fox News- Telegraph.co.uk all 621 news articles »
Three Rockwell Classics Bring Nearly $57.8 Million - New York Tim...[Hide Story...]
ABC NewsThree Rockwell Classics Bring Nearly $57.8 Million
New York Times
Three paintings by Norman Rockwell celebrating homey, small-town America, among the most popular of his 322 covers for The Saturday Evening Post, sold at Sotheby's on Wednesday morning for a total of nearly $57.8 million, about twice their high ...
Norman Rockwell painting sells for record-breaking $46 million
Los Angeles Times
Norman Rockwell painting sold at auction for record $46m
Norman Rockwell masterpiece sells at record price
USA TODAY ABC News- TIME all 254 news articles »
Paul Walker autopsy reveals 'Fast & Furious' actor died from ...[Hide Story...]
New York Daily NewsPaul Walker autopsy reveals 'Fast & Furious' actor died from impact of car crash ...
New York Daily News
“Fast & Furious” star Paul Walker died of impact injuries and burns in the fiery weekend wreck of a speeding Porsche, according to autopsy results released Wednesday. But toxicology reports on the blue-eyed Hollywood hunk and the car's driver were still ...
'Fast & Furious 7' shutdown is a loss for Georgia film business
Los Angeles Times
'Fast and Furious 7' could be canceled after Paul Walker's death
Autopsy blames impact and fire for actor Paul Walker's death
CNN Reuters- TMZ.com- People Magazine all 7,492 news articles »
'Her' wins National Board of Review best 2013 film award - Reuter...[Hide Story...]
New York Times'Her' wins National Board of Review best 2013 film award
NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Her," a story about a man who falls in love with a computer operating system, on Wednesday won the National Board of Review award for 2013 best film of the year and best director, the second major film awards in the run-up to the ...
Her, Emma Thompson, and Octavia Spencer Win Early Surprise Awards from ...
National Board of Review names 'Her' best film
San Jose Mercury News
National Board of Review selects 'Her' as best picture
Los Angeles Times Contactmusic.com- Entertainment Weekly all 131 news articles »
Carrie Underwood shares her favorite things in anticipation of Th...[Hide Story...]
Washington PostCarrie Underwood shares her favorite things in anticipation of Thursday's "The ...
The hills are indeed alive this week as six-time Grammy winner Carrie Underwood, who hails from Checotah, prepares for her much-anticipated performance as Maria in NBC's three-hour television production, “The Sound of Music Live!,” based on the original ...
Carrie Underwood is no Julie Andrews — and that's a good thing: Secrets of the ...
Family-Friendly New Promo For THE SOUND OF MUSIC Live On NBC
Hatch: Peoria was alive with the sound of music
Peoria Journal Star E! Online- The Gossip Girls- Washington Post all 249 news articles »
Meet Your New Wonder Woman: Who Is Gal Gadot? - MTV.com[Hide Story...]
New York Daily NewsMeet Your New Wonder Woman: Who Is Gal Gadot?
She may not be a household name, but chances are you recognize Warner Bros.' latest addition. By Kevin P. Sullivan (@KPSull). Warner Bros. surprised just about everyone this afternoon with the announcement that, yes, Wonder Woman will appear in the ...
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman: 13 thoughts on the bombshell-casting bombshell
Five things to know about your new Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot
Los Angeles Times
Meet the New Wonder Woman Heading to the Big Screen
Wired Daily Beast- CBS News- Detroit Free Press all 304 news articles »
Jay Z, Beyonce begin 22-day vegan challenge - New York Daily News[Hide Story...]
New York Daily NewsJay Z, Beyonce begin 22-day vegan challenge
New York Daily News
"On December 3rd, one day before my 44th birthday I will embark on a 22 Days challenge to go completely vegan, or as I prefer to call it, plant-based!!" the rapper wrote in a blog post on his Life + Times website. "Psychologists have said it takes 21 days to ...
Jay Z and Beyonce are going vegan ... for 22 days
Los Angeles Times
Beyonce Flaunts Her Toned Bikini Body, Shares New Photos of Blue Ivy and Jay Z
Jay Z, Beyonce going vegan
NewsOK.com Celebuzz- Entertainmentwise- People Magazine all 176 news articles »
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Road Worriers: Budget Cuts Bring Fewer Mobile Meals to Senior Cit...[Hide Story...]
You could say Werner Ostmann was racing against the cold one week before Thanksgiving. In the backseat of his silver Toyota Corolla, 30 sloppy joe sandwiches — paired with string beans and butternut squash — steamed up inside their plastic containers as he navigated the streets of Burlington’s Old North End.
On the door of one North Champlain Street apartment, a sign warned visitors against letting the cat out. Ostmann knocked and called out, “Meals on Wheels!” A petite woman opened the door. Thanking the deliveryman with a shy grin, she took the food and disappeared back into her apartment.
Ostmann returned to his car. Ignoring the electronic reminders to buckle his seat belt, he headed east to Intervale Avenue. “Some people loiter about, but I usually just say, ‘Hi, how you doing?’ You’ve got the hot meals, and you don’t want them going cold,” said the volunteer driver.
Burlington has one of state’s largest Meals on Wheels programs. With funding from the Older Americans Act, the program delivers free, well-balanced meals to fixed- and low-income seniors. Five days a week, a skeleton staff arrives before the crack of dawn to begin cooking. By midmorning, they hand the meals to drivers who spread out across the city and into South Burlington, Shelburne, Charlotte, Winooski and Colchester.
Ostmann has been driving two of the Burlington routes for a year. Tall and white-bearded, the 75-year-old is more senior than some of his clients. But he’s spry and, as a retired geriatric nurse, goes about the job with an air of cordial professionalism. Despite his goal to keep encounters brief, Ostmann inevitably gets waylaid by a few conversations on the morning ride.
“The big man takes care of me,” said Theron Blaisdell, also 75, who rents a small apartment off Pearl Street.
Blaisdell, a Stowe native, first got on the meal program five years ago after pneumonia parked him in Fletcher Allen Health Care for more than two months. Upon his release, a social worker gave him the options of entering a rehab facility or staying in a hotel on Shelburne Road and signing up for Meals on Wheels. A veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars who was homeless for many years, Blaisdell chose the latter. It was a temporary situation until he could find his own place.
Now Blaisdell lives on Social Security and a veteran’s pension and periodically bikes to the Hannaford supermarket on Dorset Street for groceries. Without a kitchen, he depends on the deliveries for a hot meal, but he doesn’t rely on the service as much as some clients. “I can get around,” Blaisdell said. “But some of these people are tied up. They see a Meals on Wheels driver, and it’s like Christmas.”
But the food offerings aren’t what they used to be. After budget cuts from the federal sequestration earlier this year, the White House estimated that four million fewer meals would be delivered in 2013. The Meals on Wheels Association of America suggests that number may be closer to 19 million.
In many states, that has resulted in waiting lists. But in Vermont, where home-delivered nutrition services are set to lose $52,000 — a 5 percent drop — Meals on Wheels has taken a different approach.
Instead of cutting the number of clients served, Champlain Valley Agency on Aging nutrition director Zoe Hardy explained, the amount of food in each delivery has dropped from two meals — one hot and one not — to just one hot meal. (Through private fund-raising, Hardy added, the Essex program still manages to deliver both.)
An aging population, rising gas prices and a drop in donations haven’t helped the cause. But the program’s administrators argue for its preventive value.
“People want to stay out of the hospital and nursing home. They want to be in their old home, around their old things,” said Burlington Meals on Wheels director Peter Carmolli. “That’s why we exist. We can feed one person for a whole year for less than the cost of one day in the hospital.” Meal deliveries may be the only time clients interact with another person, Carmolli added.
En route back to the Burlington Meals on Wheels headquarters at Cathedral Square, Ostmann launched into a story that explained his own in...
Home for Whom? COTS Feels Out a 'Hood on Transitional Housing[Hide Story...]
Struggling with opiate and alcohol addictions, Aaron Greene should have been relieved to be admitted to an inpatient program in the White River Junction VA Medical Center. But the Essex native had no idea where he would go after the six-week program was over, and he feared a return to his old life — periods of homelessness interrupted by spells of couch surfing with people who wouldn’t help him maintain sobriety.
“You have to call people your friends, and they might not be the best people to be around,” Greene said. “To not have someplace to go, it’s not a good feeling when you’re coming out of a program like that, because everything is up in the air. I didn’t want to feel like a feather, floating around.”
Greene shared his story from the lounge of a transitional-housing facility in Winooski that is owned and operated by the nonprofit Committee on Temporary Shelter, aka COTS. Since summer, his home has been this five-story building — a mix of transitional and longer-term affordable housing units — that feels like a mix between a dorm before move-in day and an antiseptic chain hotel.
Greene rested in a plastic chair near a community kitchen, while an older resident played computer games in the corner. Other residents shuffled in and out, offering the occasional, “Hey, Aaron.”
Although Greene, 26, has a high-school diploma, he knows “that’s not something that’s going to help me in the future,” he explained. “I want to have a career that’s fulfilling. I don’t want to go from menial job to menial job. I want to have to wake up, have my alarm go off at 6 a.m. and get up and take a shower and get a coffee and go to my job and meet someone, you know?”
As Greene attempts to build his life, COTS is trying to expand its housing network to serve a growing population of people with similar needs in Vermont.
The nonprofit recently informed neighbors on Burlington’s Lakeview Terrace that its administrative headquarters, at the street’s southern terminus, could be the future site of 12 to 16 units of affordable housing for single adults. On the same spot, its day station could provide a place for homeless people to meet with counselors and make phone calls between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
COTS hasn’t had a permanent day station since 2012, when flooding destroyed the former facility in downtown Burlington. After two years at a temporary location — in the United Methodist Church — the organization is looking for a new spot. When other options proved too pricey, COTS officials circled back to HQ, at the corner of North Street and North Avenue, as a potential building site.
COTS has no final design for the project, nor an estimated price tag, and is several months from filing even a preliminary plan with Burlington City Hall. But it has already reached out to neighbors to address their concerns.
COTS executive director Rita Markley acknowledges the Old North End project could be a tougher sell than any other endeavor proposed by COTS. In 31 years, COTS has grown from a single volunteer-run emergency shelter to an organization of 52 paid staffers that offers an array of services to homeless men, women and children at nine locations.
The Winooski complex where Greene lives is on a quiet stretch of Canal Street it shares with a few homes and businesses and an alternative school. Before COTS arrived, Markley said the site was nothing more than an abandoned hole in the ground.
The current day station, one block from Church Street, is adjacent to student-saturated Buell Street.
The proposed North Avenue facility, in contrast, is surrounded on all sides by residential housing, the most vocal occupants of which are expected to hail from Lakeview Terrace, which runs three blocks north along a bluff overlooking the lake.
The neighborhood has a reputation for opposing development projects. Most recently, some residents were engaged in a protracted, and ultimately unsuccessful, battle against the upscale condominium project at the street’s northern terminus. From permitting to touch-up paint, it took eight years to get the 25 rental units known as Packard Lofts built and on the market.
COTS is no stranger to such neighborhood opposition. While many of its recent buildin...
Vermont's Chief Justice Is Speaking Out Against the Drug War: Is ...[Hide Story...]
In recent weeks, Vermont Chief Justice Paul Reiber has gone public with an unusually assertive critique of the war on drugs and the “tough on crime” approach that has defined criminal justice for decades.
Reiber, who holds an office in which occupants usually avoid saying anything remotely controversial, has stopped short of recommending policy or criticizing any individuals or government bodies. But in a pair of speeches and a brief interview with Seven Days, he has declared ineffective the current reliance on police and punishment, and touted the merits of treatment-based models for dealing with crime rooted in substance abuse.
“Even with our best efforts, we are losing ground,” Reiber told a crowd at Vermont Law School last month. “The classic approach of ‘tough on crime’ is not working in this area of drug policy. The public responds very well to this ‘tough on crime’ message, but that does not mean it’s effective in changing individual behavior. If the idea is law enforcement alone will slow and eventually eliminate drug use altogether, that isn’t going to happen … The criminal justice system can’t solve the drug problem.”
Experts note that Reiber’s stance isn’t exactly revolutionary, as judges across the country have become more comfortable in recent years speaking publicly about issues affecting the court system.
But, backers say, his entrance into the politically fraught debate about drug policy lends a powerful voice to their cause.
“The public sees them as more of an authority figure and having a better understanding,” State Rep. Alice Emmons (D-Springfield) said of Supreme Court justices. “They command more respect than a legislator or commissioner, and they are held in high regard.”
After initially declining an interview request, Reiber spoke with Seven Days and explained his reasons for speaking out.
As top administrator of the court system, Reiber said he is worried that failures to curb addiction have led to wave upon wave of both criminal and family court cases that have pushed the system to a breaking point. Often, he said, the Vermont judiciary takes too long to provide resolutions that don’t end up fixing anything.
“It’s a fine line that we have to walk; we don’t make policy,” Reiber said in an interview. “Our oath says that we will defend the Constitution, and if you look at the Constitution, my responsibility and the responsibility of every judge is to protect the system as well as make independent decisions on the issues that come before us. I guess I’m trying to do what’s right in my mind for the state.”
Sitting and Standing Up
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Reiber earned his law degree from Suffolk Law School in Boston and worked in a Rutland law firm from 1986 until 2003, when former governor Jim Douglas, a Republican, appointed him associate justice. Although Reiber’s political leanings are not clear, observers say the vast majority of Douglas’ appointments — as with most governors — came from within his party.
Douglas promoted Reiber to chief justice the following year.
The appointment made Reiber the leader of the five-member Supreme Court, which hears appeals from Vermont’s criminal, civil and family courts. The job also came with an administrative responsibility: The chief justice is the head administrator of the court system and oversees the judicial budget.
It was in that capacity that Reiber first came to public attention outside the Supreme Court’s chambers.
In 2009, he became the first chief justice in 20 years to address both chambers of the legislature, which faced deep budget cuts as a result of the recession. Reiber advocated consolidating the state’s 60 separate courts under one management system, culling the number of probate court judges and stripping independently elected assistant judges — commonly known as “side judges” — of much of their power.
Those ideas were well received and largely implemented. Reiber said his more recent speeches, which he delivered in September at a drug court conference in Boston and at Vermont Law School earlier this month, are an extension of those efforts. <...
After a Decades-Long Fight, St. Albans Adjusts to Its Newest Neig...[Hide Story...]
When the St. Albans Walmart opened its doors in mid-October, the nation’s longest-running battle against the big box chain finally drew to a close.
On and off for two decades, city officials, local citizens and anti-sprawl activists fought the store, while others in Franklin County clamored for Walmart’s cheap goods and one-stop-shopping convenience. The opponents won once, in the 1990s, and Walmart went away for a while. But in 2003 developer Jeff Davis revived plans for the store. Ten years later, shoppers queued up in anticipation of the grand opening on October 16.
For the grassroots band of opponents to the project, the store’s opening marks the beginning of a new mission. Sue Prent, who lives in the heart of downtown St. Albans, said she’s now focused on documenting the ways Walmart changes the community moving forward.
“It was wrong in so many ways — but there it is,” said Prent. “We’ve got it now.”
“It” is the largest Walmart in the state, located in a former cornfield two miles north of the main downtown stretch and with easy access to Interstate 89. Walmart is situated in the town of St. Albans, which surrounds the city, a separate municipality.
Now the question is, what does — not “would” — Walmart mean for St. Albans? Six weeks in, and with the holiday shopping season looming, is the community any different?
On a recent, dreary Friday afternoon, a long line of cars, turn signals blinking, pulled into the smooth blacktop parking lot. The expansive lot was about half full. Inside, shoppers pushed brimming carts through the store. A pregnant woman guided a cart laden with baby supplies and a new rocking chair. In a nearby aisle, a couple scrutinized the price of a 92-pack of diapers. Over in the grocery section, two women scanned the eggs for the best deal: $2.88 for 18. A sign near the front of the store advertised this year’s Black Friday specials — which are actually scheduled for 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Eight-inch pumpkin pies were selling for $2.98 apiece; in a nearby freezer, 13-pound turkeys went for $13.98.
“We just appreciate the community support,” said store manager Ryan Hanson, who moved to St. Albans from a Walmart in Maine. He said the store’s been “very, very busy” since opening — more so than expected, though he wouldn’t say by how much.
Is there room for everyone in St. Albans’ retail market? “Totally,” said Hanson.
“We’re glad to be here,” he said. “‘Save money, live better.’ That’s the company motto, and that’s what we’re doing here.”
That motto lured customers away from the nearby Price Chopper — at least initially. Assistant grocery manager Heath Duchaine said sales were slow in the first few weeks after Walmart’s opening — down roughly 15 percent. He was nonetheless upbeat about the situation, calling Walmart “great competition,” and said shoppers were already coming back to his store, located a half mile south of Walmart on Route 7, for its friendly service.
Managers at other chain stores in town — including the Hannaford grocery store, JCPenney and Rite Aid — declined to comment on the Walmart effect; any comments, they said, would have to come from their corporate offices.
But smaller businesses are paying attention. At Amy’s Gift Shop, located in the strip mall next to Rite Aid, owner Larry Cummings said he isn’t in direct competition with Walmart — but that doesn’t mean he isn’t worried. The gift shop peddles Yankee candles and Sabra Field calendars, among other items.
“When a department store like Walmart opens two miles away, the focus is two miles away from downtown,” said Cummings. He estimated that sales are down 20 percent from where they were last year at this time.
He said he’ll get by — but with less help. The store employs five people, including Cummings and his wife. He wanted to add another part-time employee but won’t be doing so now. “We’ll work more hours,” said Cummings.
Inside As the Crow Flies, a kitchen supply store on Main Street, owner Jessica Gaudette was busy gear...
Photo Finish: AP's Toby Talbot Is Retiring After 30 Years Shootin...[Hide Story...]
During her January 1985 inauguration as Vermont’s first female governor, Madeleine Kunin stood out from the crowd in more ways than one. “She was surrounded by all these guys in dark suits and she was wearing white,” Talbot recalls. “It was a beautiful moment, and it told the whole story that was going on.”
Suspecting child abuse at a commune run by the Northeast Kingdom Community Church in Island Pond, state officials in June 1984 rounded up 112 children and bused them to Newport for interviews with social workers and a judge. The kids were off-limits to reporters and photographers, but Talbot managed to sneak upstairs in a nearby building, where he had an unobstructed view of them. “I made a picture that showed the expansiveness of the raid,” Talbot says.
All photos courtesy of the Associated Press/Toby Talbot
For more than 30 years, Toby Talbot says, he’s had “a front-row seat to history.”
As the Associated Press’ sole staff photographer in Vermont, the 63-year-old Calais resident has captured floods and fires, soldiers and politicians — and plenty of cows grazing in the fields.
“I’ve just seen incredible joy and incredible sadness and made what I think are great pictures out of them,” he says.
On Friday, Talbot is retiring from the AP. He’ll still take photographs, he says, and contribute occasionally to the wire service. But he plans to spend more time pursuing his other passion: serving as deputy chief of the East Montpelier Fire Department.
“I don’t know how many times we use the phrase, ‘It’s the end of an era,’ but this truly is,” says Chris Graff, who served as the AP’s Montpelier bureau chief — and Talbot’s boss — from 1980 until 2006. “The position Toby has didn’t exist before Toby had it, and it won’t exist after he retires.”
A contractor and amateur photographer at the time, Talbot got his first pair of assignments from Graff in December 1980, when, in a single weekend, fires destroyed the Trapp Family Lodge and a city block in downtown Montpelier. Three years later, Graff hired Talbot as a part-time stringer. In 1987, he brought the photographer on full time.
In the early days of his career, it took Talbot eight minutes to send a black and white photograph to New York City using a drum print transmitter. When the AP switched to color, the process took 24 minutes and three separate transmissions. These days, any yahoo with an iPhone can submit images to the local newspaper.
“There is some value to the feet on the ground of the person being there to see it,” Talbot says of reader-submitted photos. “But I think what a good photojournalist does is have creativity and artistry and storytelling all in one little image, which doesn’t happen with reader photos for the most part.”
Wilson Ring, who now runs the Montpelier bureau, says that Talbot knows how to capture the essence of a story. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s been driving his pickup truck around the state for decades.
“He knows all the nooks and crannies and how to get there,” Ring says. “And whene...
Making the Grade? Cuts at Burlington College Lead to Protests and...[Hide Story...]
Budget cuts have eliminated three department heads at financially challenged Burlington College and sparked protests by students who say they’re worried about the school’s viability and credibility.
Anna Blackmer and Emily Schmidt, chairs of the humanities and fine arts programs, respectively, recently resigned after being offered contracts that would have made them half-time employees and terminated their health benefits. Film department head Gordon Glover was not offered a new contract, although he will be teaching courses as an adjunct instructor next semester. Mary Arbuckle, a professor in the film department, had her hours cut in half and her benefits terminated.
The reduction in film studies constricts what former department chair Barry Snyder describes as the school’s “flagship program” and “the engine of its renewed growth.” Established in 1995, the film department has served as one of the college’s main attractions for prospective students.
Senior Ned McEleney says the film and media activism programs were what led him to transfer to Burlington College two years ago. “I feel like I’ve been sold a false bill of goods,” McEleney said. He noted that the film department had two and a half full-time faculty members instructing 40 majors prior to the recent cuts.
In response to those losses and to what they say is a lack of transparency on the part of the administration, students decided last week to dissolve the student government and replace it with a “more democratic” structure. They have also presented college president Christine Plunkett with a statement of values and a list of grievances. Students had planned to stage a protest last week during the college’s recruitment event for visiting high schoolers, but Plunkett dissuaded them from taking that action, McEleney said.
Plunkett said she’s met twice with concerned students for a total of five hours to explain the school’s recent actions and long-term plans. Those plans include tripling enrollment from 250 at present to 750 a decade from now.
In an interview with Seven Days, the president characterized the changes as a “restructuring” designed to ease a budget squeeze and increase teaching loads. Remaining full-time faculty members are now being required to teach four courses a semester; a few years ago, full-timers did not have to teach more than two courses, Plunkett said.
Department chairs will also be required to take part in student-recruitment efforts by visiting high schools — an expectation, Plunkett acknowledged, that makes faculty members “uncomfortable.”
The cuts will save the school about $210,000 a year, she noted.
Federal tax returns indicate that Burlington College recorded a $553,000 deficit in fiscal year 2011-2012, which is the most recent period for which the information is available. In the same year, revenues, which are derived almost entirely from student tuition, totaled about $4.5 million.“We’ve been running on an extremely tight budget for quite some time,” Plunkett said.
Not so tight, however, that it prevented the college from launching a new school of music. Board of Trustees Chairman Adam Dantzscher says this addition amid several faculty subtractions is “not contradictory.” The plan to offer a variety of music courses gives the college “new opportunities” for growth, adds Dantzscher, who heads up a local credit counseling firm.
Plunkett said that the college’s decision to winnow its staff of 35 full-time employees has nothing to do with the $10 million debt the school took on two years ago to finance the purchase of 32 acres along Lake Champlain north of downtown. The college has not missed any payments due on the mortgage held by People’s United Bank, Plunkett said. “I don’t feel we’re at risk of missing any,” she added.
“We’ve been working closely with the bank, and they’ve been very helpful,” Plunkett continued, noting that the college has hired a consultant to focus on financial issues.
How is the college going to cover the cost of the property it bought from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, which includes a 85,000-square-foot building that requires substantial renovation?
Can You Hear Us Now? Richmond Officials, Residents Have Little Sa...[Hide Story...]
Ezra Hall isn’t a land-use expert. But after receiving a packet in the mail from AT&T several weeks ago, the Richmond resident may be on his way to becoming one. The telecommunications giant was letting Hall know that it had signed a contract with his neighbor to build a 140-foot-tall cell tower on her Cochran Road property.
As an adjoining landowner, Hall has 45 days to file any input about AT&T’s project with the state. Hall has his worries, including the possibility of lower property values and health issues arising from nearby telecom equipment. Of greater concern to the electrical engineer, though, is the way a corporation as large as AT&T was able to bypass the town’s zoning regulations and design codes.
To be approved by Richmond’s development review board, telecom equipment is supposed to have a “stealth design” that blends in with the surrounding buildings or landscape, according to the town code. AT&T has already constructed a stealth antenna in Richmond, on the Verburg Farm silo near I-89. But according to Hall, the only thing stealthy about AT&T’s more recent proposal is the way it was allowed to skirt town planners.
“You buy into a town based on the value of the school, the neighborhood you’re going into, what it looks like, who your neighbors are, what’s next door to you. Because you’re expected as a homeowner to comply with the zoning regulations, you have an expectation that others will, as well,” says Hall.
In this case, though, Hall says he and other residents are victims of a bait and switch. As part of the effort to blanket Vermont with broadband internet service, the state has allowed AT&T and other telecoms to bypass town boards and win their approval directly from the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB).
Hall has a higher stake in the issue than most. To live on Greystone Drive, residents must pay a property tax premium — commonly known as the “view tax” — because the road snakes up a ridge and offers vistas of the valley below.
The Cochran Road cell tower may have company in those vistas. AT&T has plans for two others in the Snipe Ireland Road and Williams Hill areas. Meanwhile, SBA Communications, a Florida-based wireless equipment provider, has also proposed a 140-foot-tower on Johnnie Brook Road. Vermont Telephone Company (VTel) plans to rent space on that structure for a wireless broadband antenna. For that project, SBA and VTel also went straight to the state.
It’s no accident that telecom companies have been able to skip the town’s zoning process. The permission they need to break ground on the projects, called a certificate of public good, is issued by the PSB, a quasi-judicial entity whose three members are appointed by the governor to supervise Vermont’s public utility services.
As former governor Jim Douglas and Gov. Peter Shumlin have pushed to expand high-speed broadband access across the state, a linchpin of their efforts has been Vermont Statute 248(a), which allows telecom companies to circumvent municipalities by applying directly to the PSB for their certificates.
In 2012, the Shumlin administration announced a goal of relieving every Vermont home of dial-up connectivity by the end of this year. The state won’t quite hit the December 31, 2013, deadline, just as the Douglas administration wasn’t able to make good on a similar pledge of statewide coverage by 2010. However, that’s not for lack of trying to ease the way for faster expansion.
Originally passed by the state legislature in 2007, 248(a) streamlined the process by which funds from federal, state and private sources could translate into real telecom infrastructure. The law “has proven itself to be a useful tool for encouraging companies to make their wireless investments here in Vermont, to expand service or upgrade their networks to faster speeds,” says Christopher Campbell, executive director of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority.
As director of the VTA, Campbell has been on the front lines of the Shumlin administration’s telecom push. His agency helps marshal public funds to independent telecom companies that — after receiving certificates of public good — can lay fiber-optic cables and build wireless broadband towers in parts of t...