"Facing Facts" is a new feature that appears each week in Local Matters, the local news section of Seven Days.
September 24, 2008
The Maine-based bank blamed "advisors" for setting up three phony companies to avoid paying $3.5 million in taxes. Oldest excuse in the book.
Winooski's city workers said the city manager was "a source of extreme embarrassment," and the council voted to fire him. Maybe he'll find a job in North Hero . . .
A deal with the Chittenden Solid Waste District will keep the composting operation open until 2010. That's a scrap of good news.
The good: Another $2.5 million in federal heating assistance. The bad: It's $18 million short. The ugly: A $700 billion bailout for Wall Street.
Citing financial uncertainty, city council declined to put a $92 million upgrade before voters in November. Somebody didn't do their homework . . .
September 17, 2008
The Douglas administration unveiled a plan that would make about 30,000 more residents eligible for food stamps. Just in time for winter - and the election.
BURLINGTON ELECTION OFFICIALS
Two wards ran out of ballots after the city failed to notice that the state sent too few of them. Hope they counted 'em right after the vote.
The Vermont Teddy Bear CEO lost her job last week in the wake of layoffs and lagging sales. Not so crazy for her, after all.
SEEMORE THE GORILLA
The 8-foot mechanical primate found dumped in a Vermont cornfield has been repatriated to Maine. It's a jungle out there.
The town's government is a wreck after a handful of feuding officials, including the town clerk, quit. Now Winooski's got competition.
September 3, 2008
Transportation officials say the original route through Williston is the best option for the lost highway. Round and round we go . . .
Lawmakers axed $50,000 earmarked for a state celebration of Lincoln's 220th birthday. Anything to avoid shrinking the governor's PR posse.
Backers file suit over law that limits campaign contributions to $1000 per donor. You'd think they'd want a refund instead.
The city's projected budget deficit doubled in a month, to as much as a $1 million. Wait until they add on this summer's legal fees.
ST. JOHNSBURY SOOTHSAYERS
The town has repealed a law banning fortunetellers and tarot card readers. We predict a rise in false hopes and rash decisions.?
August 27, 2008
The Norwich runner's Olympic-medal dream died when he finished fourth in an 800-meter qualifying race. Back to the "Dog River Run."
The lieutenant governor arranged for the return of 14 Vermont Little Leaguers stranded in Cuba by bad weather. That's a home run.
The governor cut $436,000 from a program that helps low-income Vermonters pay for daycare, but every one of his PR flaks escaped the ax. He'll need 'em now.
Two students received a year's probation for moving an apostrophe on a historic Grand Canyon sign. When good editors go bad . . .
Fans of the Green Mountain Daily blogger bought him a laptop and a plane ticket to the Democratic National Convention. What's next? Will post for food?
August 20, 2008
A local college student is offering $50 tours of Burlington's brew pubs, ferrying his customers around in a 12-passenger van. Just in time for the fall semester.
The cable giant has reneged on a promise to give basic subscribers a discount, offering free digital boxes instead. How about just pulling the E! channel?
After 40 years, the Brandon electronics manufacturer closed last week, putting 47 employees out of work. The good news: The state still needs scrap-wood collectors.
Ridership on the Amtrak Vermonter is up more than 23 percent. Meanwhile, there's a derailment in White River. That can't be good for business.
The slug population has exploded in Chittenden County. Iron phosphate is the best deterrent. Or you can sautée 'em in butter and white wine. Hey, they're local.
August 13, 2008
WINOOSKI CITY HALL
Personnel squabbles. Closed-door sessions. Missing money. Chittenden County's tiniest town has some big honking problems. Why can't they all just get along?
After losing its billionaire benefactor, the cash-strapped historic site may have to sell off some of its valuable art collection to pay the bills. Another bloody battle.
Across-the-board budget cuts bypass cops and corrections, but eviscerate the defender general's office. So much for fair trials. Guan-tan-a-mo!
The Vermont Telecommunications Authority goes on record saying, "You will be able to purchase an iPhone in a few months." Hey, they're the authority.
RICO DIAMOND CASE
An all-white jury exonerates a South Burlington cop in a weird non-bust the victim claimed was racially motivated. Next time, hide the money and the bling.
August 6, 2008
A recent study ranked Vermont 47th in the nation in manufacturing output. You know you're in trouble when Green Mountain Roasters starts brewing in Tennessee.
The governor credits a frugal lifestyle for the doubling of his family's assets since he took office. Hey Buddy, can you spare a dime?
The Red Sox dealt Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Jason Bay and a minor league infielder. Can "Manny be Manny" at Chez Ravine?
CONGRESSMAN LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART
The Florida Republican came down on a bunch of kids for a planned trip to play baseball in Cuba. That's bush league, man.
VERMONT STATE EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION
VSEA was hit with a $1700 bill for documents it requested under the state's public-records law. Open government doesn't come cheap..
July 30, 2008
WINOOSKI CITY COUNCIL
The council violated state law last week when it voted in closed session to retain City Manager Josh Handverger. Will the saga never end?
VERMONT'S "OIL ADDICTION"
A national environmental group says Vermont lags behind other states in its efforts to reduce dependence on petroleum. Too many Subarus . . .
A coalition of regular folks who oppose nuclear power has spent $250,000 challenging Entergy. If only the Douglas administration had that kind of zeal.
A Rutland company will hire the unemployed to collect scrap wood to help the poor heat their homes. Welfare-to-Wood program?
CHAMPLAIN HOUSING TRUST
The trust, which has been developing affordable housing since 1984, has won this year's United Nations World Habitat Award. World-class.
July 23, 2008
The care and treatment of people who live to 100 and beyond represents a new frontier in medicine. See Granny run!
Hoping for a broader coalition of support, the Progressive and gubernatorial candidate now says he'll run as an Independent. How does this help?
IBM IN VERMONT
Earnings are up, but revenues at the company's Essex Junction operations continued to decline. Are they still blaming it on the Circ?
The Queen City is the fifth-healthiest city in the country for women, according to Self magazine. That's gotta be good for guys, right?
Both the Douglas administration and the legislature are talking tough about child sex offenders. How about a stiffer penalty for false abduction claims, too?
July 16, 2008
Parking rates go up next month; an hour at a meter will cost ya $1. The good news: Leaving the car is still cheaper than driving it . . .
A nationwide survey found that Vermonters are less likely to believe in God than other Americans. At least there's no better place to be left behind.
Drug companies spent more than $3 million on marketing and promotion in Vermont last year. This is your brain. This is your brain on advertising.
Vets score five permits to shoot Vermont moose this fall. Wouldn't a walk in the woods - without a gun - be a healthier home-front approach?
Vice President Dick Cheney's heartbeat is normal for a 67-year-old man with a history of cardiac problems, doctors say. Please insert joke here.
July 9, 2008
A fungus and lack of research funding threatens yet another tree species with extinction. Global warming will be that much hotter without shade.
A not-so-jolly St. Nick was charged with assault after hitting Gov. Douglas with a pie last week in Barre. The summer equivalent of a lump of coal?
Foreclosure filings are on the rise across the state they've more than doubled in Chittenden County this year. Can't wait for next year's homeless report.
His views on wiretapping, gun laws and the death penalty show Obama pursuing "the vital center" with a vengeance. Some voters say his flips are flops.
Cable shouters are outraged over the state's supposed "kid-glove treatment" of sex offenders. But can the law pick up where parenting skills leave off?
July 2, 2008
ALBURGH GETS ITS "H" BACK
The town lost its last letter in 1890, in a national Americanization campaign. Now the anglophile spelling is officially restored just in time for the Fourth of July.
IBM SHEDS 180 JOBS
Vermont's largest employer let a lot of workers go last week. The bright side? What doesn't kill you . . . can lead to an exciting career as an entrepreneur.
AL JAZEERA PULLS THROUGH
Terrorist promoters or a singular source of free speech? An advisory board instructs Burlington Telecom to keep Al Jazeera on the air. Stay tuned.
SICK KITTY CAUSES CAR CRASH
Distracted by her sick cat, a South Royalton woman crashes her car en route to the vet. Now the animal is MIA. Cat carrier?
HOME HEATING OIL CRISIS
With oil prices at record highs, officials are anticipating a heating oil crisis this winter. Get it while it's hot a wood-burning stove, that is.
June 25, 2008
Special-ed services, building repairs, energy costs and legal bills add up to a $900,000 deficit. No taxpayer left behind!
Unemployment is on the rise in Vermont, and the state's work force continues to lose jobs. Time for some of that Yankee ingenuity.
"Racist" jury selection in federal criminal cases excludes minorities and could lead to hundreds of sentences being overturned. Democracy sure is messy.
The Lake Monsters are back, but not exactly batting 1000. Maybe this week's six-game home stand will cure what ails 'em.
Nearly 2000 Vermont soldiers could be deployed in 2010, leaving the National Guard unable to respond to local disasters. Another reason to bring them all home.
June 18, 2008
In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court says Guantanamo prisoners have a constitutional right to challenge their detention in federal court. Take that, "King" George.
Mysterious flower thefts from yards and front porches in Burlington provoke Front Porch Forum subscribers to ask: Who are these petal pinchers?
VERMONT'S DIGITAL NETWORK
Recent "highly unusual" communications outages in Vermont were caused by outside influences, says the state's digital-services provider. Guess our information superhighway's full of potholes, too.
No tornadoes, but there were dozens of reports across the state of damage from vicious thunderstorms packing rain and hurricane-force gales. Now, that's wind power.
Despite the national economy, Church Street commerce is booming. Guess nothing takes the sting out of the recession like a couple of Chardonnays at Leunig's.
June 11, 2008
Vermont Yankee owner now claims it's not responsible for cleaning up the state's nuclear power plant. A broke subsidiary is. That's quite a "restructuring" of facts.
Salmonella-poisoned tomatoes have sent 23 people to the hospital around the U.S. - but not in Vermont. One more reason to buy local . . .
Declining state tax revenues suggest Vermont - and its trust-funders - are finally feeling the economic pinch. Word to the wise: Learn some French-Canadian.
VERMONT STATE PARKS
Stay-at-home Vermonters will find state parks the worse for wear this summer. Repairs would cost $40 million. Solutions? A WPA for today.
The state tax on cigarettes is going up 20 cents on July 1, from $1.79 to $1.99 per pack. Another reason why it's a bad habit.
June 4, 2008
WINOOSKI CITY HALL
The battle between City Manager Josh Handverger and Police Chief Steve McQueen heats up this week. Is the Onion City big enough for both of them?
STATE ENERGY NEEDS
An "action" plan for the future "encourages" renewable energy but continues reliance on Hydro-Québec and Vermont Yankee. Is our energy policy hot air?
Vermont's children are the second-healthiest in the country, says a new report. As for the rest of us, health and happiness are expensive.
THE FAMILY PET
Shelters are taking in more dogs, cats and livestock because owners can't afford to keep them. Gives "working animal" a whole new meaning.
Opening weekend of Sex and the City tops $55 million at the box office. That should about cover the clothes and Cosmopolitans.
May 28, 2008
Mayor asks city-owned cable company to keep Al Jazeera English on the air until the public has its say. Let there be light.
Judge tells former Phish guitarist that he's a free man - if he completes drug rehab next month. Did anyone record the hearing?
Game officials report that Vermont is, once again, having quite a spring turkey-hunting season. The gobblers could not be reached for comment.
Huge crowds lined the 26.2-mile route as more than 7200 runners raced through Burlington's streets. Lovely day for a stroll, wasn't it?
Our Honored Dead
Nearly 4100 Americans, and counting, have been killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. We know not what we do.
May 21, 2008
Mortarboards, lofty speeches, relieved parents. The free fun is over for thousands of Vermont college graduates. Now let the grind begin.
Roman Catholic Diocese
An $8.7 million judgment in a clergy abuse case brings the diocese to its knees. "Onanism" may be a sin, but it beats losing the farm.
Food prices are up, the federal farm bill passes and the weather's perfect. Barring a plague of locusts, things look good to grow.
Another low-tech gaffe at Vermont's sole nuclear reactor shakes collective confidence in the plant's safety. Get a grip.
Burlington's fastest-growing college buys the Eagle's Club and lands a site for a new downtown dorm. There goes the neighborhood...
May 14, 2008
The state kicks in $170,000 to cover free breakfasts for low-income children — a deal compared to the cost of fixing what makes 'em hungry.
Air Force Pilots
A Vermont company creates special underwear to replace "piddle packs" and keep fighter pilots in their seats when nature calls. What's next? Don't ask.
The Progressive candidate's bold leap may become a fall now that Symington is in the race. Will he take the Dems down with him?
Smugglers' Notch Pass
Vermont 108 — the road that connects Stowe and Jeffersonville — is open for the season; it's closed in winter. Now you can put your snow shovel away.
Speeding For Love
Troopers pulled over a 33-year-old man driving 119 mph on I-91 last Sunday, in a Bentley. Says he was speeding to a dinner date — with Mom, right?
May 7, 2008
Senate approves sale of higher-octane specialty brews at grocery and convenience stores. Cheers to that, but can Vermont's beer aisles get any bigger?
Forty percent of Vermont schools failed No Child Left Behind, and state officials blame higher federal benchmarks. Reading, 'riting and regulation.
More than 56,000 Vermonters received food stamps in March, the most in 15 years. Another 20,000 may be eligible. Good thing it's "wild edibles" season.
Rising feed and energy costs won't hurt Vermont milk producers under the new Farm Bill. At least our cows are fat and happy.
Lawmakers approve a $4.2 billion budget and pack it in two weeks early. Could be evidence of Yankee thrift or Symington for Governor.
April 30, 2008
Life vests save two flatlander canoeists who capsized on Lake Willoughby. Good thing they absorbed Vermont's tacit motto: Function before fashion.
Campaign Finance Reform
By a single vote, Democrats fail, again, to override Douglas' veto of a bill that would limit political contributions. Well, party on,then.
A five-year survey of breeding birds identifies 17 new species hatching here since the 1970s, including the bald eagle. Now we need some whip-poor-will power.
Collapse of ATA Airlines leaves two Vermonters among scores of soldiers stuck in Baghdad. Is the military replacing stop-loss program with a market-based model?
With food prices on the rise, hyper-localvores head to the backyard for sustenance, and seed sales are booming. Zucchini bread ahead?
April 23, 2008
Two weeks before the session ends, Douglas' "stimulus" plan needs a lot of thought. In this case, is late really better than never?
The University of Vermont says it will cover tuition and fee increases for 150 Vermont college students. A good investment in tough times.
$1 million to stabilize insurance premiums for low-income Vermonters could come from a Catamount fee increase. The sick get sicker, the poor get poorer.
South Burlington Pooches
City Council throws dog owners a bone with canine park proposal. Not to pet stores: Re-stock the pooper-scooper aisle.
It's been nice. It's supposed to stay nice. Let's not jinx it with unbridled enthusiasm. It is, after all, the weather.
April 16, 2008
Vermont Guard Pilot
Crowd-pleasing top gunner is benched after tricky maneuver over Fenway Park. Meanwhile, the Sox seem a bit "remedially grounded" themselves.
Odds are that lottery players are wealthier and better educated than previously thought. Can we have some new games now?
Stuck in the Middle
Middlebury College a capella group is given the hook for "embarrassing and even humiliating behavior." The school's not singing, either.
Lawmakers propose keeping Intervale Compost open another year while they reconsider regulatory role. The calm before the shit storm?
Elected officials agree to go without raises to save the state some money. Are we getting what we pay for yet?
April 9, 2008
UVM's Canadian Studies Program
The once-popular department is being downsized, maybe even phased out. Meanwhile, Church Street is crawling with Canadians. Good timing, eh?
Murder Suspect Brian Rooney
The accused demands a hearing to discuss his attorney's performance, then claims he didn't have time to prepare for it. So much to do in the slammer . . .
Burlington's breadbasket will stop accepting food scraps at the end of the month. Whither to bring our stinking compost? How about ANR?
Parking Ban Fund
It was a tough winter for road crews, but Burlington shoveled in almost $70,000 from parking-ban violations. That'll buy a couple more meter "maids."
In defiance of the bottled-water industry, the Vermont Senate recognizes the state's groundwater as a "public trust." Good planning. House?
April 2, 2008
Vermont Human Right Commission backs discrimination complaint against Freedom Airlines. A kid's gotta eat, right?
Pat does the math and says Hillary should concede nomination to Barack. Yo, Bernie?
Private Pot Plots
Vermont Supreme Court bans nosey cops from backyard airspace. Porch-tokers rejoice.
Raises or Roads?
A bill proposes pay increases for Vermont's top state officials, including the guv. What about the potholes?
131 Battery Street
Developer of former Waterfront Video building says the project wouldn't be "prudent" right now. While the economy tanks, he's in the Caymans.