News

Newsworthy for the front page.

Recent Posts

Shumlin administration releases emails it sought to delete

Reply-to-my-Email_0

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration has released the first batch of emails sent and received by five former staffers that it sought to destroy last month, a request that drew heavy criticism because it came just days before state and federal fraud charges against two Northeast Kingdom developers were revealed. The first batch of emails — about 5,500 — that were slated for deletion was released to the Vermont Press Bureau Friday as part of a public records request. The administration agreed to release the emails after they were reviewed to redact protected and privileged information. Scott Coriell, spokesman for Gov. Peter Shumlin, said all members of the governor’s staff, excluding the governor, have spent the past week completing the request, which required about 200 staff hours. There are tens of thousands of emails that are subject to the records request, according to Coriell, and the administration has no precise timeline for when the remaining records will be released. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Peep the duck will stay at East Montpelier home

Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter

MONTPELIER — The state has issued a possession permit to an East Montpelier woman to keep a wild wood duck at her home after the duck’s fate captured the attention of Vermonters and even lawmakers. Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter said the permit will allow Kim Stevens to keep the duck named Peep at her home. The Department of Fish and Wildlife sought to remove the duck in March after it came to the department’s attention that she was keeping the animal as a pet. Steven’s dog found Peep as a baby and brought it home. Stevens cared for the animal and it has been allowed to roam outside, but it always returns. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Independent contractor bill gets new lease on life

Rep. Bill Botzow

MONTPELIER — A bill seeking to clarify who can be classified as an independent contractor by employers was recalled to the House floor Thursday by Democrats after they got wind of a Republican effort to do the same. The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development passed the bill out of committee unanimously in March, but was it recommitted to the committee after House Speaker Shap Smith said the bill would face opposition on the House floor and had a slim chance of passing in the Senate. The issue has been brewing for several years, but legislation clarifying the difference between an employee and an independent contractor has never made it to the finish line. Representatives of labor and business groups have been unable to find common ground. On Thursday, Rep. Kurt Wright, R-Burlington, was preparing to make a motion to relieve the committee of the bill and return it to the House. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Senate tries to spur House into action on marijuana legalization

141393-142333

MONTPELIER — The Senate on Wednesday attached the language it passed earlier this year creating a legal, regulated marijuana market to a House-passed bill dealing with criminal procedures, a move designed to spur the House into action on legalizing pot. The House has not considered S.241, the Senate’s marijuana legalization bill passed earlier this year, on the floor. After being scaled back by the House Judiciary Committee to only include a commission to examine the issue, the House Ways and Means Committee amended it again to legalize up to 1 ounce of pot and the cultivation of two marijuana plants. The legislation has been stalled in the House Appropriations Committee for nearly two weeks, however. Without the votes to advance it, the committee has opted to let the clock tick down on the legislative biennium. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Sanders searches for path, purpose

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during an election night campaign event at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Huntington, W.Va. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

MONTPELIER — After suffering four more losses Tuesday, softened just a bit by a victory in Rhode Island, Sen. Bernie Sanders must now plot a way forward for his campaign without viable path to winning the nomination. Sanders’ Democratic primary rival Hillary Clinton coasted to double-digit margins of victory in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and also won a closer contest in Connecticut. After losing New York, Sanders’ path to the nomination was extremely narrow. Now it has essentially eroded. Sanders was able to win Rhode Island, but the small state offers him few delegates and Clinton now has about 90 percent of the delegates she needs to secure the nomination. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

VSEA, Democratic candidates call for funding labor contract

Vermont State Employees Association Executive Director Steve Howard calls for lawmakers to fully fund a new labor contract at a State House news conference. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — The Vermont State Employees Association and the three Democratic candidates for governor are calling on lawmakers to fully fund a new labor contract for state workers recommended by the Vermont Labor Relations Board, but Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin says it is too costly. The VSEA and the candidates — Matt Dunne, Sue Minter and Peter Galbraith — held a State House news conference Wednesday calling on the Legislature to include a 2 percent salary increase for state workers in the 2017 fiscal year state budget and a 2.25 percent increase in the 2018 fiscal year budget. That increase was recommended by the Vermont Labor Relations Board Tuesday in a 3 to 2 split decision over the Shumlin administration’s proposal for a 1 percent increase in 2017 and a 1.25 percent increase in 2018. VSEA President Dave Bellini said Wednesday the union has been seeking a fair contract through collective bargaining since last August that respects state employees. “You show respect and support by putting your money where your mouth is — funding our contracts, our retirements, making investments in safety for the hardworking Vermonters who are state employees,” he said. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

After New York defeat, Sanders says a ‘path to victory’ remains

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to reporters at the Burlington International Airport after losing the New York Primary to Hillary Clinton. (VPR/Taylor Dobbs)

Sen. Bernie Sanders says he’s looking forward to next week after Hillary Clinton beat him by about 15 percent of the vote in the New York primary Tuesday. “Today we took Secretary Clinton on in her own state of New York and we lost,” Sanders said to reporters after landing in Burlington Tuesday night. “I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victory.”

Sanders didn’t say much about New York after that. “Next week, we will be competing in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland and Delaware, and we look forward to winning a number of those states,” Sanders said. He didn’t venture a guess as to how many of those states he thinks he can win, but Sanders says he still thinks he can win the nomination. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , ,

VSEA prevails with the Vermont Labor Relations Board

irmY8HhD

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Labor Relations Board ruled in a split decision Tuesday in favor of the Vermont State Employees Association in its contract dispute with the Shumlin administration. Both parties agreed to seek a two-year labor contract to succeed the current deal that is set to expire on June 30. The two sides had difficulty agreeing to terms, however, and reached in impasse. A deal was still elusive after mediation efforts, resulting in the appointment of a mutually agreed upon fact finder who held two hearings in January. Both sides submitted their last best offers to the Vermont Labor Relations Board last month and it was tasked with choosing between them. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Documents show feds were onto Quiros long before state launched probe

Ariel Quiros (Courtesy photo)

ederal authorities launched an investigation into Jay Peak’s EB-5 projects nearly a year before state officials had their first inkling that something illegal was afoot. And documents on file at the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate that the agency had strong forensic evidence of a massive fraud well before the changes in state regulatory oversight that Gov. Peter Shumlin now credits for taking down the “Ponzi-like” scheme. On May 22, 2014, at about 10:30 in the morning at SEC offices in Miami, Florida, federal lawyers grilled Ariel Quiros about a series of financial transactions detailing alleged misappropriation of funds from the foreign investors. The 245-page transcript of their day-long interview reveals pieces of the evidence the SEC would later use to file dozens of federal civil charges against Quiros, the owner of Jay Peak, and Bill Stenger, the resort CEO that federal authorities say facilitated the scam. SEC lawyers conducted that deposition seven months before a memorandum of understanding that shifted the state’s financial oversight of Quiros’ and Stenger’s dealings away from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and over to the Department of Financial Regulation. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Saint-Gobain appeals state’s enforcement level for PFOA

logo

MONTPELIER — The company believed by the state to be responsible for contaminating private water supplies in southern Vermont has filed an appeal challenging the state’s acceptable level for perfluorooctanoic acid. A former Chemfab factory in North Bennington, purchased by Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics in 2000 and shuttered in 2002, used the chemical known as PFOA to manufacture non-stick coatings like Teflon. The chemical is now showing up in groundwater and soil samples collected near the former factory. Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz created a 20 parts per trillion limit for PFOA in groundwater on March 16 through an Interim Enforcement Standard. Setting an interim standard is allowed under the state’s existing Groundwater Protection Rule and Strategy. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , ,