Backstory: Worst-Timed Vacations | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

News + Opinion » News

Backstory: Worst-Timed Vacations


Published December 29, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated December 29, 2021 at 2:17 p.m.

Mayor Miro Weinberger at an event last summer - FILE: COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger at an event last summer

This "backstory" is a part of a collection of articles that describes some of the obstacles that Seven Days reporters faced while pursuing Vermont news, events and people in 2021.

In July 2019, I was lounging in a Maine hotel room when I took a break from my Jodi Picoult novel to check Twitter. There in my timeline, I saw that a colleague had written the story I'd been chasing for weeks: Developers of the long-stalled CityPlace Burlington project downtown had announced that the entire development would be redesigned, from top to bottom.

I had worried that the story would break while I was on vacation, and I felt guilty that my coworker Kevin McCallum had to pick up my slack. My colleagues covered for me again when I went to Vacationland the following year, picking up a couple of stories about the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

There seemed to be a trend: Every time I had a break, news broke, too. I began joking with my editor that maybe I shouldn't take time off, lest some ugly fate befall the city of Burlington.

This year, not one but three stories broke while I was gone. In March, I was on a much-needed staycation when newly reelected Mayor Miro Weinberger made a controversial management decision: He removed Tyeastia Green, a Black woman who oversees the city's racial equity department, as manager of a crucial study on policing — and gave the task to the white, male manager of the city's electric utility. The city had just spent months reckoning with police violence and racism, and the move did not sit well with the public. When the story broke, I couldn't pry myself away from reading the Facebook comments. My friends, who were visiting Burlington from Baton Rouge, La., asked me to explain why I was wildly scrolling social media. I could only stammer, "It's a long story."

In July, I was on another Maine trip when a city councilor was accused of sexual assault and the city's airport director was placed on leave for what we'd later learn was a pattern of abusive behavior. I felt awful knowing that my coworkers once again had to cover what's probably the paper's busiest beat while I was basking in the ocean breeze.

So I soothed my anxiety the best way I knew how: with a steaming hot lobster roll and a pile of saltwater taffy.