Thursday, December 05, 2013
White House changes story on Obama's uncle - USA TODAY[Hide Story...]MiamiHerald.comWhite House changes story on Obama's uncleUSA TODAYTwo years after saying President Obama had not met an uncle who faced deportation, the White House said Thursday that Obama lived briefly with him back in the 1980s. White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Obama met Onyango Obama when he ...White House corrects record, says Obama did live with uncle briefly in 1980sWashington PostIn Reversal, White House Says Obama Did Meet UncleNew York TimesWhite House changes story, says Obama briefly lived with uncleFox NewsLos Angeles Times -Boston Globeall 183 news articles »
Pope Francis forms commission to advise on sex abuse - First...[Hide Story...]FirstpostPope Francis forms commission to advise on sex abuseFirstpostVatican City: Pope Francis has responded to complaints that he has largely ignored the clerical sex abuse scandal by assembling a panel of experts to advise the Holy See on protecting children from pedophiles and helping abuse victims heal. It remains to ...Pope Francis sets up committee against child sex abuseTimes of IndiaPope sets up child abuse committeeThe Standard Digital NewsPope Francis Forms Vatican Commission On Sexual Abuse Of Children In ...Huffington Postall 504 news articles »
Obama: NSA reforms will give Americans 'more confidence' in ...[Hide Story...]U.S. News & World ReportObama: NSA reforms will give Americans 'more confidence' in surveillance ...NBCNews.comBy Andrew Rafferty, NBC News. President Barack Obama said he will propose new reforms to the National Security Agency aimed at giving Americans "more confidence" in the organization after various leaks revealed numerous wide-ranging government ...Obama plans new limits on NSAPoliticoObama says he will propose NSA reformsReutersObama to Propose Curbs on National Security Agency SpyingBloombergBBC News -Washington Postall 523 news articles »
Evidence Insufficient to Charge FSU's Winston, Prosecutors S...[Hide Story...]New York TimesEvidence Insufficient to Charge FSU's Winston, Prosecutors SayNew York TimesJameis Winston, the Florida State quarterback who was a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy as the nation's top player before accusations of sexual assault surfaced, will not face charges, the state attorney for Florida's Second Judicial Circuit said ...Brennan: Laughter about Winston sex assault case disturbingUSA TODAYFSU quarterback Winston not charged; prosecutor cites woman's 'memory lapses'Palm Beach PostFSU's Winston won't be charged in sexual assault caseHouston ChronicleSan Francisco Chronicle -Fox News -Charlotte Observerall 1,498 news articles »
World leaders, celebs react to Mandela's death - USA TODAY[Hide Story...]ABC NewsWorld leaders, celebs react to Mandela's deathUSA TODAYWhen Nelson Mandela died on Thursday, we lost one of the most revered human rights leaders of our time. Global leaders and celebrities reacted to the icon's death: FULL COVERAGE: Mandela's life and legacy. President Obama: "A man who took history in ...Nelson Mandela, former South African president and anti-apartheid leader, dies ...Fox NewsMandela Dies With Rainbow Nation Dream Still Work in ProgressBusinessweekS. Africans Gather Outside Mandela's Johannesburg HomeVoice of AmericaWall Street Journal -Washington Post -Los Angeles Timesall 4,294 news articles »
Two German aid workers killed in Yemen - Xinhua[Hide Story...]Wall Street JournalTwo German aid workers killed in YemenXinhuaBERLIN, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- The German foreign minister said Thursday that two German aid workers and a local colleague were killed in the terrorist attacks against Yemen's Ministry of Defense which has reportedly claimed lives of at least 52 people.Suicide bomber, gunmen kill 52 at Yemeni defense ministryReutersAttack on Yemen Defense Ministry Attack Kills at Least 52 PeopleWall Street JournalYemen: Suicide Car Bomb, Assault Kill 52Voice of AmericaBusinessweek -Fox News -The Daily Starall 655 news articles »
Amber Alert in California for kidnapped girl - San Francisco...[Hide Story...]San Francisco ChronicleAmber Alert in California for kidnapped girlSan Francisco Chronicle(12-05) 17:08 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- California authorities issued a statewide Amber Alert on Thursday for a 14-year-old girl who was abducted in Washington state, saying the kidnapper could be trying to take her to Mexico. Elizabeth Romero was last ...Amber Alert issued for Kennewick teenWalla Walla Union-BulletinAmber Alert issued for missing teen10NewsAMBER ALERT: Teen taken from Washington may be headed to MexicoNews10.netNBC Bay Area -KCBY.com 11 -KVEWall 45 news articles »
CRUISIN' CELEBRITY NEWS
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Keri Russell splits from husband - USA TODAY[Hide Story...]
ABC NewsKeri Russell splits from husband
Just one day after authorities say Keri Russell was the victim of a home burglary, the actress has more news to share. The actress' rep confirms that she and her husband of nearly seven years have split -- but the breakup is apparently old news. "They have ...
Keri Russell burglary suspect has illicit past
New York Daily News
Keri Russell Steps Out With Daughter After Confirming Separation From Husband
Keri Russell Steps Out With Daughter Willa Following Separation News—See ...
E! Online Newsday- PerezHilton.com- Seattle Post Intelligencer all 61 news articles »
'American Hustle' Reviews: Do Critics Think David O. Russell's La...[Hide Story...]
Philly.com'American Hustle' Reviews: Do Critics Think David O. Russell's Latest Is ...
‘American Hustle’ Review: It&#. 'American Hustle' Review: It's Grifters vs. Feds in David O. Russell's Sexy, Hilarious and Vivid Triumph · Jennifer Lawrence Steals the Show in ‘American Hustle’. Jennifer ...
American Hustle: Sex, Scandal and Flat-Out Fun
Bradley Cooper and director David O. Russell Talk 'American Hustle'
Wall Street Journal
Life's a 'Hustle' for Jennifer Lawrence
USA TODAY Hollywood Reporter- Los Angeles Times all 90 news articles »
Amanda Bynes Checks Out of Rehab, Plans to Go to College - AceSho...[Hide Story...]
AceShowbizAmanda Bynes Checks Out of Rehab, Plans to Go to College
December 05, 2013 08:09:25 GMT. The 'Easy A' star will stay with her parents while continuing her outpatient treatment and plans to study fashion design to pursue her dream career as a designer. Tweet. Amanda Bynes Checks Out of Rehab, Plans to Go to ...
Lawyer: Amanda Bynes leaves inpatient treatment
Amanda Bynes Leaves Rehab
Amanda Bynes -- Fit to Walk the Dog ... After Leaving Rehab
TMZ.com Newsday- People Magazine all 325 news articles »
'Out of the Furnace' - Wall Street Journal[Hide Story...]
Wall Street Journal'Out of the Furnace'
Wall Street Journal
One of the many bright surprises of Scott Cooper's 2009 debut feature, "Crazy Heart," was how well the rookie filmmaker worked with actors. A near-indispensable step in the process is casting good actors to begin with, but the uniform excellence of the ...
Bare-knuckle melodrama in 'Out of the Furnace'
Out of the Furnace reworks Killing Them Softly with mixed results
'Out of the Furnace' boasts super cast, weak story
News & Observer Reuters UK all 408 news articles »
Review: The Coen brothers' 'Inside Llewyn Davis' doesn't miss a b...[Hide Story...]
New YorkerReview: The Coen brothers' 'Inside Llewyn Davis' doesn't miss a beat
Los Angeles Times
As much as any directors working today, the brothers Coen, Ethan and Joel, are unmistakable auteurs, filmmakers who place their own distinctive stamp on everything they do. But while the bleak, funny, exquisitely made "Inside Llewyn Davis" echoes familiar ...
'Inside Llewyn Davis' Star's Crazy Cat Nightmare?!
Entertainment Tonight News
T Bone Burnett makes beautiful music by doing the 'wrong' thing
“Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Frozen.”
New Yorker Christian Science Monitor- Wall Street Journal- USA TODAY all 491 news articles »
'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' trailer: A deep dive - Entertainment W...[Hide Story...]
National Post'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' trailer: A deep dive
2014 is the Year of the Superteam. There's Marvel's goofball space-squadron Guardians of the Galaxy. There's an X-Men movie starring two or three or seven different groups of X-Men. Captain America's on furlough from The Avengers, but in The Winter ...
'Amazing Spider-Man 2': All The Best Moments From The New Trailer
'Amazing Spider-Man 2' trailer has Parker and villains in fine form
Los Angeles Times
"Amazing Spider-Man 2" trailer: New villains poise new threats
CBS News USA TODAY- E! Online- Rochester Democrat and Chronicle all 516 news articles »
Springsteen's handwritten 'Born to Run' draft fetches $197000 - R...[Hide Story...]
Montreal GazetteSpringsteen's handwritten 'Born to Run' draft fetches $197000
(Reuters) - Rocker Bruce Springsteen's 1974 handwritten draft of his hit song "Born to Run" has sold for $197,000, auctioneers Sotheby's said on Thursday. Springsteen's "Born to Run," the title song from his 1975 album of the same name, has become an ...
Springsteen's handwritten 'Born to Run' lyrics sell for $197K
Bruce Springsteen's 'Born to Run' Handwritten Draft Sold for 197000 Dollars
Springsteen 'Born to Run' draft sells for $197K - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New ...
WLNE-TV (ABC6) Ct Post all 198 news articles »
Thursday, December 05, 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...