Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Your guide to the budget deal compromise - NBCNews.com[Hide Story...]Wall Street JournalYour guide to the budget deal compromiseNBCNews.comBy Tom Curry, National Affairs Writer, NBC News. Budget fights in Washington are rarely simple or without rancor. Some conservative groups have already begun attacking the compromise deal announced Tuesday, lobbing complaints Republican House ...Congress likely to approve budget pact despite complaints from right and leftMiamiHerald.comPaul Ryan: Critics not spoiling momentPoliticoBipartisan negotiators reach modest budget pactUSA TODAYWashington Post -Wall Street Journalall 1,516 news articles »
Interpreter at Mandela memorial branded 'fake' - USA TODAY[Hide Story...]National PostInterpreter at Mandela memorial branded 'fake'USA TODAYPRETORIA, South Africa -- The sign language interpreter used at Tuesday's memorial service for Nelson Mandela, and whose image was broadcast around the world as he shared a stage with world leaders including President Obama, was being called a ...Mandela memorial's fake interpreter shocks deaf communityCBC.caIt was Deaf Con 4 at FNBTimes LIVESouth Africa hunts for mystery Mandela mimerReutersCNN International -The Independent -Wall Street Journalall 478 news articles »
NSA director defends surveillance programs as necessary - US...[Hide Story...]The GuardianNSA director defends surveillance programs as necessaryUSA TODAYWASHINGTON — National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander said Wednesday that "there isn't a better way'' to help defend the country from potential terror threats than the ongoing and controversial bulk collection of telephone records involving ...NSA says global surveillance best way to protect USWTVQNSA: No better way to protect US than surveillanceSTLtoday.comLeahy Pushes For Stronger NSA OversightTalk Radio News ServiceFox Newsall 42 news articles »
Uruguay's Marijuana Law Challenged By Watchdog Group, Claims...[Hide Story...]The HinduUruguay's Marijuana Law Challenged By Watchdog Group, Claims It Violates ...Fox News LatinoWhile Uruguayans celebrate the legalization of marijuana in the South American nation, an international watchdog agency claimed that the country's move violates an international convention on drug control. The International Narcotics Control Board said that ...Uruguay's move to legalize marijuana breaks treaty: INCBReutersUruguay to legalize marijuana, Senate saysCNN InternationalUruguay makes history by legalising entire marijuana marketeuronewsNEWS.com.au -U.S. News & World Report -Seattle Post Intelligencerall 461 news articles »
US halts aid to rebels in northern Syria - CNN International[Hide Story...]AFPUS halts aid to rebels in northern SyriaCNN InternationalSyrian rebel fighters clash with pro-government forces in Aleppo on Wednesday, December 11. More than 100,000 people have been killed, according to United Nations estimates, since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most ...US, Britain suspend non-lethal aid to north SyriaABC OnlineUS halts aid shipments to Syrian rebels after Islamists seize warehousesMiamiHerald.comUS Suspends Nonlethal Aid to Syrian Rebels in NorthNew York TimesFox News -Bloomberg -Washington Postall 262 news articles »
Zimmerman won't be prosecuted for domestic abuse - USA TODAY[Hide Story...]ABC NewsZimmerman won't be prosecuted for domestic abuseUSA TODAYFlorida prosecutors said Wednesday that they would not file domestic violence charges against George Zimmerman after his girlfriend told police he had pointed a shotgun at her three weeks ago. The move comes two days after Zimmerman submitted an ...George Zimmerman won't be charged in domestic dispute, prosecutor saysCNNProsecutors drop domestic violence charges against George ZimmermanReutersZimmerman won't be charged in alleged domestic incident with girlfriendFox NewsTIME -New York Daily News -BBC Newsall 84 news articles »
The Mysterious Surge of Higher-Income Obamacare Enrollees - ...[Hide Story...]Washington PostThe Mysterious Surge of Higher-Income Obamacare EnrolleesThe AtlanticOnly 40 percent of those getting cleared to sign up through the exchanges so far are eligible for subsidies, far short of the 90 percent predicted. Garance Franke-Ruta Dec 11 2013, 5:21 PM ET. Tweet. More. Email · Print. David McNew/Getty Images. Buried in ...Health insurance enrollment up in NovemberWashington PostAffordable Care Act lurches forward, deadline loomsabc27Low ACA enrollment figures won't raise rates, but this trend willInsurance Business AmericaThe Fiscal Times -New York Times -Fox Newsall 972 news articles »
CRUISIN' CELEBRITY NEWS
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Second man surrenders in theft of Paul Walker wreckage - USA TODA...[Hide Story...]
Financial ExpressSecond man surrenders in theft of Paul Walker wreckage
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A second man charged with stealing a piece of the car in which Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker died has surrendered. Authorities say 25-year-old Anthony Janow surrendered Tuesday at the San Fernando courthouse. He was ...
Paul Walker family probing road bumps as cause of actor's fatal crash: report
New York Daily News
Yahoo Runs Fiery “Fast And Furious 6″ Advertisement Days After Walker's Death
The Raleigh Telegram
Why It's Truly Unlikely Paul Walker's Crash Was Caused By Road Dots
Jalopnik Celebuzz- The Smoking Section- TMZ.com all 1,152 news articles »
PSY, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry make the Top 10 YouTube music videos...[Hide Story...]
New York Daily NewsPSY, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry make the Top 10 YouTube music videos of 2013
New York Daily News
The end of year means endless eggnog, ugly sweaters and a stream of top ten lists. YouTube Rewind added their roundup to the pile with their list of the most viewed music videos of the year. What made the cut? Lots of Miley Cyrus, but no Ylvis.
The Most Popular YouTube Videos Of 2013
San Francisco Chronicle
Psy's 'Gentleman' is YouTube's most-viewed video of 2013
Los Angeles Times
This is what YouTube looked like in 2013
Washington Post (blog) CBC.ca- Business Recorder all 243 news articles »
Spotify streamed 4.5 billion hours of music in 2013 - Christian S...[Hide Story...]
Christian Science MonitorSpotify streamed 4.5 billion hours of music in 2013
Christian Science Monitor
Spotify released some impressive numbers at an event Tuesday: Spotify users have streamed more than 4.5 billion hours of music over the last year. That translates to about 38 minutes of music for each person on the planet. Skip to next paragraph. Related ...
Spotify adds free mobile service, 20 new markets and Led Zeppelin
Los Angeles Times
Spotify snags Led Zeppelin catalog, bulks up free app offerings
Daniel Ek 'not worried' about Spotify's competition
BBC News Businessweek- Kansas City Star all 247 news articles »
'12 Years a Slave' tops SAG Awards with 4 noms - Seattle Post Int...[Hide Story...]
Washington Post'12 Years a Slave' tops SAG Awards with 4 noms
Seattle Post Intelligencer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steve McQueen's historic saga "12 Years a Slave" topped the nominations list for the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Wednesday, cementing it as a solid Academy Awards prospect with four nominations. John Wells' ...
2014 SAG Award Nominations Announced! Who Got Snubbed?
SAG Awards analysis: Sprawling and showy carry the day
Los Angeles Times
'12 Years a Slave' leads nominations for Screen Actors Guild Awards
OregonLive.com E! Online- Washington Post all 455 news articles »
Edge of Tomorrow Trailer Finds Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in Live...[Hide Story...]
E! OnlineEdge of Tomorrow Trailer Finds Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in Live, Die, Repeat ...
Talk about a nightmare. In the new trailer for Tom Cruise's upcoming sci-fi flick Edge of Tomorrow, we see the star's character caught in a killer loop. Literally. Cruise plays Major William Cage, who finds himself fighting in the same battle over and over again ...
Call of Duty Meets Groundhog Day in Epic Edge of Tomorrow Teaser
Trailer Battle: GODZILLA Vs EDGE OF TOMORROW
Comic Book Movie
Sneak peek: 'Edge of Tomorrow' suits Cruise and Blunt
USA TODAY We Are Movie Geeks- Los Angeles Times- Just Jared all 106 news articles »
Review: Lively 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' has welcome ...[Hide Story...]
Stuff.co.nzReview: Lively 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' has welcome ring
Los Angeles Times
The Hobbit lives … In the wake of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," last year's dreary, dense, disappointing slough through Middle-earth, "The Desolation of Smaug" comes as a relief. Peter Jackson's newest installment of the Tolkien trilogy is set afire by ...
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
A Minute With: Martin Freeman on 'Hobbit,' 'Sherlock' and Hollywood
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Is Killing It In Ticket Pre-Sales
Cinema Blend Toronto Sun- Hollywood Reporter- New York Daily News all 820 news articles »
Gisele: She's not just like you - Fox News[Hide Story...]
Daily MailGisele: She's not just like you
Gisele takes a village. The supermodel wife of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady put this photo of herself breast feeding while getting her hair, makeup and fingernails done up on Instagram on Tuesday with the caption: ”What would I do without ...
Gisele Bundchen's History of Controversies
Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen -- Building Mega-Mansion from Scratch ... 100 ...
Gisele's breastfeeding photo is picture-perfect | DailyDish
USA TODAY Los Angeles Times- Kansas City Star- Daily Mail all 146 news articles »
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Introvert or Extrovert? Psychoanalyzing Farmers[Hide Story...]
When John Torres stood up before some 50 farmers and agricultural service providers last week, he said he wanted one thing to be clear: “If you were worried about coming here and doing a Dr. Phil and sharing all your emotions, don’t worry. You won’t have to do that.”
Flanked by a projector screen and a Christmas tree, Torres was running a conflict-management workshop for members of Vermont’s farming industry. Dressed mostly in blue jeans and sweaters, his audience had come from all corners of the Green Mountain State. Some tapped away at laptops; others knitted. Nearly all availed themselves of the free coffee, crackers and cheese at the back of the conference room at South Burlington’s DoubleTree Hotel.
True to his word, Torres never solicited an emotional confession from anyone during the workshop — in part because everyone had already done that with him. In advance of the event, all attendees had taken online assessments that included the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a questionnaire that asks a range of hypothetical questions meant to determine your personality type.
After delivering a short lesson on Jungian psychology, Torres, director of leadership development for the American Farm Bureau, handed back the individual results and launched into an explanation of its four main sets of traits. Under the Myers-Briggs rubric, human personalities are marked by these contrasting variables: extraversion-introversion, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling and judging-perceiving (see sidebar for more information).
The assessment classified Tina Burt, a dairy farmer sitting near the back of the conference room, as an ISFP — an introvert with sensing, feeling and perceiving qualities. In her late thirties, Burt wears many hats as the owner and manager of a 220-head dairy farm in St. Albans: accountant, payroll manager, laborer, equipment operator. While Burt enjoys the solitary nature of the farm work, she acknowledged, “You get so involved with working alone, you almost forget how to work with other people.”
Burt signed up for the workshop, she explained, to help her interact with suppliers and her four employees. Appreciating that her own introversion had been confirmed by the test, she joked, “It’s good to know that there are people as screwed up as I am.”
If anything, Torres set out to destroy that stigma. The E-I axis of the Myers-Briggs tends to be the most controversial, he explained, because our culture places a premium on being outgoing. While extroverts thrive on interaction, introverts can emerge from their solitude with much to offer — unless groupthink drowns out their quiet voices.
On this day, the quiet types had plenty of company.
After a buffet-style lunch of tacos and cornbread, Matt Chaput — an ISTP with a black beard and shaved head — expressed similar frustrations. As the hoof trimmer at Chaput Family Farms, a large dairy farm in North Troy, Chaput’s boss happens to be his second cousin — and an extrovert to boot. Although the farm holds regular meetings for its employees, Chaput doesn’t always go. He only recently trained under a hoof-trimming expert from Wisconsin, and now likes to focus as much as he can on that task.
Sometimes, he blows up when people try to talk to him. “I’m trying to process things I’ve learned,” Chaput said. “My boss said I don’t work so well with people, and I thought it would be educational for me to learn a little about why.” As a youth basketball coach, Chaput added, he has already learned that every member of a team has a different personality.
Louise Waterman, an education coordinator at the state agriculture agency, conceived of the workshop as a way for producers and service providers to understand their personality types, leading to better management practices. To that end, Torres devoted a healthy chunk of the program to the topic of managing conflict.
According to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, another assessment all attendees took ahead of time, there are five ways to manage conflict: competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding and accommodating. After having everyone write down in journals a time they did and didn’t manage to get their way, Torres explained the merits of each approach....
Too Close to the Edge: Vermont Lawmakers to Focus on Shoreline Pr...[Hide Story...]
When legislation to restrict development along the edges of lakes and ponds failed to pass the Vermont Senate last spring, the bill’s supporters left the Statehouse with a new concern: What if property owners began to preemptively clear their lakeshore parcels to avoid restrictions that might win approval in the 2014 legislative session?
It may have already happened at Sunrise Lake, which straddles the border of Benson and Orwell, according to state environmental officials.
“Word is that the landowner did this ‘now’ because he was led to believe that he would lose all control over the management of his own shoreland property if a statewide shoreland bill passes,” ANR environmental scientist Amy Picotte wrote in a July 24 email to Trey Martin, the agency’s senior counsel for government affairs. Their email exchange came to light as the result of a public-records request filed by the Conservation Law Foundation that asked for documentation of any shoreland development “of concern” to ANR since the legislature’s adjournment.
“As you know, CLF was very concerned by the legislature’s failure to enact strong shoreland protection legislation prior to its adjournment,” is how CLF senior attorney Anthony Iarrapino explained the request. “While I hope that those concerns are unjustified, I fear they may not be in all cases.”
In this case, the Sunrise Lake property belongs to Orwell resident Peter Bonvouloir, who bought a roughly 900-square-foot cabin on a two-acre parcel last April, according to Benson town records. A photograph attached to Picotte’s email shows the small white structure perched above the water, on what looks like a freshly logged slope of stumps and raw dirt.
Picotte says ANR employees learned about the clearing while doing some routine monitoring at the lake. Technically, Bonvouloir did nothing illegal, and ANR didn’t take any enforcement action against him. Bonvouloir did not return messages from Seven Days seeking comment for this article.
But for Susan Warren, the program manager of ANR’s Lakes & Ponds Management and Protection Program, the shoreline clear cutting perfectly illustrates “why we feel we need some kind of regulation.” She and other scientists at ANR say Vermont needs to adopt statewide rules governing lakeshore development, rather than relying on a patchwork of local rules — which in many cases amounts to no rules at all.
Vermont passed some shoreland development rules in the 1970s, but they expired a few years later and were not reinstated. Ironically, those old regs inspired legislation in Maine that Vermont lawmakers are considering as they craft proposed restrictions here. Today, ANR says, Vermont is the only northeastern state without a statewide lakeshore protection rule on the books.
According to a 2010 report from the Environmental Protection Agency, shoreline degradation is the number-one problem for lakes all around the country. Vermont is no exception. Here, 82 percent of lake shorelands are in “poor” or “fair” condition because of excessive clearing that’s often compounded by the installation of driveways, parking lots and other impervious surfaces.
In a report to the legislature in January of this year, ANR officials confirmed that damage rates in Vermont’s lakes exceed the national average. In fact, they’ve fared worse, in terms of shoreland disturbance, than other lakes in the northeast region.
A well-vegetated shore is the first line of defense, according to the same ANR report: Vegetation filters runoff, prevents erosion and provides habitat for fish and other shoreland-dwelling wildlife.
But in Montpelier, crafting legislation to protect lakeside vegetation has been an uphill battle. Environmentalists and some lake property owners supported a House-passed version of new rules, which would require permits for most new or expanded clearings for impervious surfaces within 250 feet of a lakeshore. H.526 also calls for ANR to create vegetation management standards for those lots.
But concerns about property rights and governmental overreach caused the bill to stall out in the Senate, specifically in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. Over the summer, lawmakers dispatched a shorelan...
Afterburned? Residents in the F-35 Flight Path Share Their Views ...[Hide Story...]
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy stood with the top brass but sounded a populist note at a press conference last week celebrating the U.S. Air Force’s announcement that 18 F-35 fighter planes would fly out of Burlington International Airport.
“I’ve never seen such a grassroots effort in this state,” Leahy remarked to 200 members of the Vermont Air National Guard.
But for some people who make their homes near the airport, Leahy’s statement didn’t convey the whole picture.
“Yeah, there’s broad grassroots support. But there’s also broad grassroots opposition,” said Julian Portilla, a Winooski resident and associate professor at Champlain College who counts himself among the opponents.
This past weekend, a Seven Days reporter visited roughly 20 households in the flight path in Winooski and South Burlington. Residents were divided evenly between those who welcome the jets and those who do not.
A former Air Force pilot who still flies privately, Tyler Hart lives on Kirby Street in South Burlington. In fact, he and his wife, Kathy, moved there seven years ago in order to better access BTV. Hart says he and his wife don’t mind the noise from the F-16s currently based there, and the couple doesn’t worry about the F-35s on the horizon.
If anything, he and his wife have felt like minorities in their support for the F-35, he said. The months of debate leading up to last week’s decision were dominated by the opposition, Hart said, so when the South Burlington City Council held a meeting near his home for residents to voice their opinions, he took the opportunity to present “a more neutral position.”
In his argument, Hart made a case for the strategic importance of the Vermont Air National Guard base. As the Northeast’s largest, he said it deserved the most advanced military technology. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Hart pointed out, the Vermont Guard was the first to establish an air patrol in New York City.
Several Winooski residents echoed that point, including Kelley and Karon Sims on West Spring Street. Their son just reenlisted with the Green Mountain Boys, they explained, and Kelley used to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. Now retired from working as a lineman and firefighter, Kelley enjoys watching the F-16s fly over their home.
“They’re gonna be noisy,” he said of the F-35s, “but every jet is noisy.”
“That’s the noise of freedom,” his wife added.
Portilla and his wife, Kari Hoose, a teacher at Champlain Valley Union High School, listed several reasons for their opposition to the planes. The Air Force hasn’t demonstrated the safety or cost-effectiveness of the jets, Portilla said, and no one has raised the possibility of creating a fund for homeowners whose property values drop as a result of the basing. With three young children, the couple is worried about the impact on students and believes thicker windows should be installed in schools to protect their hearing.
Referring to the closed-door process by which the Air Force ranked locations for the basing of the F-35s, Hoose added, “One of the pieces that’s been undemocratic is that elected leaders haven’t discussed the risk and benefits.”
Although he now lives in Colchester, Tom Campbell, an operations director at the University of Vermont, grew up in the Onion City and on Saturday was repairing his sister’s porch there. He pointed to IBM’s recent layoffs as a reason to welcome the economic development that may come as a result of new jets, which are expected in 2020.
“I’m not a warmonger, but I support the F-35s,” Campbell explained, pointing to the mom-and-pop stores that rely on business from the airport.
But on Valley Ridge Road in South Burlington, William Gay, also a UVM staff member, expressed shock at the Air Force’s decision. The claims of economic development, he says, haven’t been fleshed out. “I think couching it in terms of, ‘It’s going to bring all kind of jobs to the area,’ well, no one’s saying what kind of jobs,” said Gay.
Donna Carlson moved to Kirby Road in 1986 and — although she stresses that she isn’t anti-military — has alwa...
Plane and Not So Simple: Who Spent How Much Arguing For and Again...[Hide Story...]
Seventeen months ago, Nicole Citro tied a green ribbon to a railing on the front porch of her Essex Junction home. Her simple gesture started something big: what Sen. Patrick Leahy and Gov. Peter Shumlin both recently hailed as a winning “grassroots campaign” to base a squadron of F-35 fighter planes at the Burlington International Airport.
But to the plane’s opponents, the Green Ribbons campaign is more like political AstroTurf, an effort underwritten by Vermont’s biggest business interests and hyped by the state’s most powerful pols. It’s a case of the 1 percent pretending to be the 99 percent, says Paul Fleckenstein, a leader of the Stop the F-35 Coalition.
Citro, owner of a South Burlington insurance agency and daughter of a Vermont Army Guard master sergeant, acknowledges receiving financial help from organizations such as the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp. and the regional and statewide chambers of commerce. Wealthy executives such as realtor Ernie Pomerleau also made contributions, as did “20 or so” local companies, Citro adds.
Together, she reckons, business sources accounted for “around half” of the Green Ribbons campaign’s total take of “a little more than $20,000.” Citro says the rest of the money came from “hundreds” of work a day Vermonters who either made small donations or bought marked-up merchandise such as hats and T-shirts emblazoned with pro-F-35 slogans.
“I love jet noise” was a particularly popular bumper sticker associated with Citro’s campaign.
“It was definitely a grassroots thing. Nicole really worked Facebook hard,” Pomerleau says. And for opponents who depicted the campaign as “a bunch of big, bad business guys” who wanted the F-35 for the money it would bring in, Pomerleau has two words: “That’s bullshit.”
Proponents such as he and Citro were actually motivated by a desire to “stand up for the Guard,” Pomerleau says. F-35 opponents, he charges, were “demonizing” the 1100 Vermonters who serve with the Green Mountain Boys. Citro adds that she got involved because “I didn’t want the men and women of the Guard to think the community wasn’t behind them.”
The plane’s opponents deny they have been critical of the Guard. Their objections, they say, have been directed solely at the F-35.
GBIC president Frank Cioffi depicts the Green Ribbons campaign as a genuinely populist push for a local basing option favored by a majority of Vermonters. “One thing I learned from working with Nicole,” Cioffi says, “is that grassroots support for the F-35 just overwhelmed the opposition” in terms of numbers. That was despite backers not being “as loud or as well organized” as those opposed.
Citro initiated the campaign spontaneously, without prompting from, or coordination with, any established organization, Cioffi adds. “She’s a one-woman army.”
As evidence of the rootsy nature of the effort, Citro points to the “many gas stations and mini-marts” that gave away green ribbons, along with pre-addressed postcards that supporters were asked to sign and send to the Air Force.
Citro says that over a four-month period earlier this year, F-35 backers in Vermont mailed more than 10,000 of the postcards to officials mulling the basing decision. The campaign printed 40,000 cards in all and also bought advertisements on TV and radio stations, as well as in several northern Vermont newspapers, including Seven Days.
In light of that lobbying blitz, F-35 opponents maintain that Citro’s “little more than $20,000” calculation lowballs the amount actually raised and spent in support of stationing the plane in Vermont. Roger Bourassa, treasurer of the Stop the F-35 Coalition, puts pro-F-35 expenditures at “over $100,000.”
The price of printing and mailing all of those postcards came to around $17,000, according to Citro’s calculations. Bourassa, a U.S. Air Force and Vermont Air Guard veteran, estimates, “It must also have cost thousands and thousands” to buy two weeks’ worth of 30-second spots on WCAX, WPTZ and Comcast channels, as well as full-page color ads in the Burlington Free ...
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. <...