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Burlington Progressives Caucus II
Sunday, January 14, 2007

I. Welcome
Amy Stewart- chair Burlington City Progressive Committee
Colin Robinson- vice chair of the Burlington City Progressive Committee

Between 31-35 people attended.

II. Bob Kiss

Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss is introduced and speaks first.

BK- ‘People were[2006] voting for the history the Progressives represent.’ ‘ There is power in the mayor’s seat and how that power is used makes a difference.’

Kiss said he had recently attended a design institute at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) with six other mayors, some of whom told him they wished they had some of Burlington’s problems, such as traffic congestion in their downtowns. He said Burlington’s “success story” was good but also posed some threats. “We don’t want to become a Disney World.” Kiss said.

Kiss said Progressives generally should keep focus on Housing, Healthcare, and from Burlington’s perspective getting more PILOT (payments in lieu of property taxes from VT to the city for state owned buildings.) He mentioned something about “the Champlain Parkway” but in the interest of full disclosure I should tell you I’m not even sure what that is. Is that the same as the “southern connector?” Is that the thing that’s cut in two by Pine Street down by K-mart? You’d think I would know something like that. Anyone who knows about the Champlain Parkway is invited to comment.

Kiss said that after many years of Clavelle in charge, aspects of city government are finally starting to reflect his own touch where changes have been made. Kiss quipped that he used to oppose extending the term of the mayor, but now as mayor appreciates having a third year. He said he came to the job “with a fair amount of knowledge,” yet still has been learning a lot about Burlington’s operation.

III. Dave Zuckerman and Chris Pearson

State Representatives Dave Zuckerman and Chris Pearson (both from Chittenden 3-4) spoke next. Chris Pearson was appointed by Governor Douglas last year to fill Bob Kiss’s seat when he became mayor. In November he won election is his own right from 3-4 and has also been elected by the Progressive house caucus to be their leader. Chris reported to his party caucus that the Progressive delegation was receiving relatively good amounts of ink of late from the Burlington Free Press who, he said, had quoted him in all of, and Dave Zuckerman in two of the “four or five” stories about the new legislature thus far. Pearson said he was pleased with how Progressives were being treated by their counterparts from the other parties, and with his appointment to the government operations committee. He noted the start of a new Progressive Party Blog, and said he was going on the program "Under the Dome" with Mark Johnson Tuesday at eight o’clock. Zuckerman noted, among other things, that he had just been sent to the legislature for the sixth time.

IV. School Board Member and Candidate Introductions

School Commissioners Marissa Caldwell (W3) and Chris Haessly (W2) spoke next. Caldwell said the School Board had just passed a budget that included funding for a librarian at Barnes and a librarian at Wheeler, and for after-school programs used by seventy percent of the district’s kids. Pearson said he is on the SEI (Socioeconomic Integration) task force. (He later told me he had a long SEI discussion with my across the street neighbor Tom the night before.) Pearson said it had been twelve years since there had been a “comprehensive look” at the district, and the he hoped more people would take a ‘long term’ view when it came to the mission of the board.

Then Chris asked that the meeting participate in a moment of silence for the ninety-fifth anniversary of the Bread and Roses strike and for the groundbreaking participation of women and immigrants in that event.

V. City Council Member and Candidate Introductions

Speaking from Ward Two was Jane Knodell who (You may recall Jane came in second in the “Crackpot Mock Poll” I took back in Whenever.) noting that she has served six non-consecutive terms on the city council, and is currently on the Board of Finance, said it is fun working under a new mayor with a fresh set of eyes. “There’s always going to be a lot of push-back whenever changes are made,” Knodell said “but we should be continually re-thinking service delivery.”

Knodell said she had been involved with Burlington’s Legacy Project with a focus on encouraging development in the urban core for to prevent sprawl and protect the environment. She said Barnes and Wheeler schools continue to be an important part of community development in the old north end and that she planned on helping “amp up” the city’s fair housing efforts. Lastly she floated the idea of a downtown ice skating rink in Burlington à la Rockefeller Center.

Next up was Ward Three city councilor Tim Ashe who started out with great praise for the mayor who he said has been amazing in his ability to find savings in the city budget. He said it was great to work with Jane Knodell whom he described as “smarter than everyone else.” Tim said he looked forward to continuing work on issues like development and housing.

VI. Ward Caucuses for Candidate Nominations

Both Knodell and Ashe were unanimously re-nominated on voice votes.

Now I’m not a reporter so I don’t have to feel too bad about this, but there was a woman there by the name of Jen from Ward Two, who may have been nominated to run for school board, but I’m not sure. If anyone wants to fill me in, feel free.

VII. Dinner

VIII. Informal Questions and Answers.

People pretty much skipped to the Q&A while dinner preparations were underway. I think it's worthy of mentioning that the dinner immediately following the Progs caucus cost $3.00 per person whereas the dinner immediately following the Democratic Party caucus cost $25.00 per person.

I jumped over to the table at which sat Bob Kiss and Don Horenstein….


Coming up…

My conversation with Horenstein and follow ups with Bob Kiss and Jane Knodell in:

Burlington Progressives Caucus III

Watch for it!
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 11:54 PM  
  • At January 15, 2007 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    yeah, Southern Connector = Champlain Parkway as I understand it the original idea was to give truck traffic a shortcut from 189 near k-mart to Battery Street unfortunately it was recently found that it won't be able to go through the superfund site near the train yard (no shit!)

    So the new plan, maybe because they've already sunk so much money into this idea, is to have it dump out on Pine Street @ Lakeside which to me seems straight retarted and a waste of money to keep a few trucks out of the idylic South End neighborhood even if it does work as well as they say it will.

    The Prog's generally don't believe in expensive road projects given that money isn't being spent on maintenance for existing roads so I'd be interested in what was said.

  • At January 15, 2007 8:40 PM, Blogger Haik Bedrosian said…

    Thanks for the insights, Ivan. I'm sorry but I don't remember exactly what Bob said about the Champlain Parkway, only that he mentioned it.

  • At January 15, 2007 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think you meant Colin Robinson...brown messy hair?

    He just graduated from UVM and active in the Livable Wage movement. good guy.

  • At January 15, 2007 11:30 PM, Blogger Haik Bedrosian said…

    Hmmm. Yes. Fixed it. Thanks.

  • At January 18, 2007 9:46 AM, Blogger Haik Bedrosian said…

    Hey! The Dems took down the page that showed the cost of their dinner was $25!

    Don't play that game, Dems. Be proud of your fund-raising ability. It means people share your values and are willing to sacrifice for them.

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