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Yeserday's Burlington Telecom Meeting
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I stopped by City Hall yesterday to get a flavor for the joint meeting of the Burlington Telecom Advisory and the Citizens Advisory Committees. I almost crashed into Rabbi Glazier who was walking out of the building just as I was coming in.

Inside the auditorium it was a packed house. I listened to several speakers, most of whom spoke in favor of keeping Al Jazeera. Applause indicated a mostly pro-free speech audience, as well.

*Councilor Decelles spoke against keeping Al Jazeera on Burlington Telecom, citing veterans who live in Ward Seven. In a moment of muddled logic, he said he would never subscribe to Burlington Telecom because of them. Actually, Paul will never subscribe because he doesn't believe in the city owning a telecom company, whether they have Al Jazeera or not.

*Several speakers including James Vos reminded the committee that Al Jazeera has a large audience in Israel.

*One lady reminded counciler Decelles that veterans fought for our freedoms, including freedom of speech.

*Owen Mulligan said it was pathetic that BT no longer takes cash payments.

*One man in orthodox Jewish clothes questioned how some can say Al Jazeera is free to Burlington Telecom when they don't have a contract hammered out.

*One lady said if Al Jazeera goes, she will cancel her BT subscription.

*And so on. And so forth.

I went home and turned on Burlington Telecom channel 317 and saw the meeting wrap up on live TV.

Note: I am intentionally conflating Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English. Unlike Bill Simmon I think it's better to conflate them than it is to parse them.


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 6:23 AM  
  • At May 28, 2008 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good coverage, HB.
    Yeah, having watched the Ch.17 forum, Decelle's logic is a bit....hard to digest. But, he is also conflating the two entities: as per the Ch.17 forum, he knows vets who have seen AJ in the Middle East and he believes its presentation is anti-American. But does that mean AJE is the same here? I don't drink Miller beer because its owned by Phillip Morris/Altria. Are they the same company, or should they be considered individually? Buying Miller beer supports (financially) Phillip Morris, so I don't buy Miller beer. Does watching AJE indicate support for AJ, which may be more biased (or, may not be)?

    AJE is a product of AJ. Its an interesting question: are we supporting all of it because we want to support some of it? The fact that there appears to be no $$ involved, the question becomes perhaps a bit more philosophical than material.

    I do like the suggestions that BT make an effort to include more programing from various voices/groups. And if that happens, than the inclusion of AJE will have served perhaps a greater purpose than just that of an existential importance.

  • At May 28, 2008 10:02 AM, Blogger Haik Bedrosian said…

    Good thoughts, Senator.

    By the way, did you know Phillip Morris/Altria is the top performing stock of all time and the only one Ben Bernake owns?

    Cough cough.

  • At May 28, 2008 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Jesus, I hope that's not true. But, if he's a smoker, then I guess he'd have fewer theory.

    The worst past of Altria (for me, anyway), is that they own ~30% of SABMiller: Miller joined with SAB (South African Brewing) to form a GIANT company that now owns Pilsner formerly favorite beer. Luckily I found a nice, American made alternative: Prima Pils ). Small brew pub in PA makes it (Victory Brewing). Great stuff, although not distributed in VT. Some good news tho: Altria no longer owns Kraft. Why is that a big deal? Poke around and see all the food companies that Kraft does or did own: scary.

    But I digress...
    Whats perhaps the most concerning aspect of the AJE/BT dust-up is the blatant and unapologetic emotional and irrational reasoning being employed by those wanting AJE to go away. There is soooooo much offensive, mindless, ignorance-inspiring, violence-inducing bullshit on TV already, and these people seem oblivious to that. What perhaps is more intriguing however, is the FEAR their opinion seems to unmask. If AJE is on TV, then what? We all hate Jews? We're going to sudently hate America? We all hate Israel, instantly? Where are their backbones?? Are these people just slaves to television? Stand up for yourselves and turn the goddamned thing off!!! Honestly, people are afraid of the television....its remarkable.
    I know Paul. Paul is a decent guy. Paul is doing a good job representing his people and doing what he thinks is best. For that, he bears no fault. And he has every single right to have something changed that he and those he represents believe to be bad thing. I just think the logic applied here is missing some key ingredients.

  • At May 28, 2008 1:42 PM, Blogger flameape said…

    Councilor Decelles being a good or bad guy is irrelevant. The issue is that he is a public figure, a ward representative- and cannot even distinguish conceptually between free access to information and what he sees as his loyalty to veterans. soldiers take the oath to support our liberties, rights constitutional or otherwise. simple- and i think that Councilor Decelles might do well to , just for once , put the partisan, one-view-only approach to all things arab/muslim aside and realize that his venerated constituancy is not the only one in this town who's opinion is not only valid but "good for business".

  • At May 28, 2008 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Its very relevant that Paul is a good guy. And its important that someone who disagrees with his point (ME!) makes it clear that I believe he's a good guy, despite the disagreement. Otherwise, ideas are conflated for identities and suddenly Paul Decelles is considered a bad person because we disagree with his position. It happens all the time, and we all know it happens all the time.

    What is also important to understand is that many in Paul's ward feel under represented by city gov't. Yeah, the NNE is a bit more conservative-leaning. But it's also a pretty important tax-base. My sense is Paul and those he represents are concerned because they ARE a minority in Burlington, at least in the voting booth. It might not be "hip" to vote Right, but its still legal, last time I checked.

    Remember, as the rather famous Charles Taylor reminds us, "liberalism is a fighting creed." There is no neutrality. Hegemony can come from anywhere, the Left included. Before condemning Paul, let's remember he's not the only voice opposing AJE.

  • At May 28, 2008 6:22 PM, Blogger Haik Bedrosian said…

    Paul is a good guy. I voted for him in March.

  • At May 29, 2008 1:58 AM, Blogger flameape said…

    the only voice? hardly, if he was, this whole situation might be relegated to the misjudgement or bon mot of a misinformed burlington politico- but unfortunately for him, Decelles has defacto become a public representative of this point of view, and this will in turn put him in "flak's way". sorry- that's going to happen no matter what side of the political fence you represent, left, right or otherwise- right haik? you got hit with a stick just writing a few words of poetic liscence a few blog posts ago.

    to infer(imply? ) that i somehow mean to represent paul as "not nice" by not caring whether or not he is "nice" is really some heavy logic/semantical hurdle-jumping i see no need to engage in. I don't mean i don't care about him or his character- i just don't want to enter it in as evidence about this issue one way or the other.

    i don't consider it relevant because i'm not here discussing paul's character; i'm discussing his public desicion as a city councilman to support a certain point of view i disagree with. for me to have a bias against someone's character because they have a viewpoint i don't agree with would be rather stupid and rude. I just want to stay with the debate- not character assessments. i don't "care" about Mr. Decelles' niceness; i care about his opinions, his statements (public official) and his ability to represent and possibly influence the impending desicion regarding AJE. that's it- nothing more. is he a nice guy? of course he's a nice guy- why would anyone want to assume anything else? gimme a break, i may be passionate about this issue, but i'm not callous or rude. i'm glad you have personal relationships with folks you don't agree with politically or ethically- so do i! i just don't see that part of your statement to be more muddying the issue than productive.

    "...It might not be "hip" to vote Right, but its still legal, last time I checked. "

    well, thanks for the clarification-but really, a totally unecessary jump to conclusions. if i understand your glibness; you mean to say that "the citizens(right wing) in paul's ward have a right to be heard and considered as to their opinion on AJE and they are or they might be an important fiscal loss for BT if they should choose to not be BT subscribers over AJE programming", is that right?

    unfortunately it still has no bearing on my questioning Decelles' thinking that being "loyal to vets" requires him to not support the totality of citizens need or want or right to AJE or any other "unpopular" programming! it has no bearing on questioning the troubling notion that those he is in agreement with feel they can stop all of us from having a culture/news source on a public telecom they don't like. it's not about who's hip or not- it's about censoring culture and information on a municipal utility.

    i don't want to slight the "other side". i don't want to piss anyone off- but to be honest i didn't start this incendiary nonsense. and if a group wants to try and lord it over others and push their point of view OVER mine or anyone elses- then sorry, the fight is on, as far as i'm concerned. they can't have it both ways. can't imply that by supporting people's right to AJE that i'm somehow "not supporting the troops" (hate that meme) , or want BT to financially wither and then hide behind momma's skirts claiming, "hey we just have a desenting opinion!! we have rights too!" feh.

    let's try to remember that all the factions who see fit to censor AJE COULD have been less reactionary and less xenophobic. they could have demanded the inclusion of pro-israeli, pro-iraq war programming... as well as armed forces television/voice of america programming. they could have demanded a level playing field; they could have chosen to play ball publically and not support an underhanded approach like burns' first way of handling the problem- then defending the desicion with red herrings like "subscriber revenue" to make it appear rational on live television! they chose different tactics. their choice, not mine.

    please, don't allow my brusqueness to be taken as anything more than my passion and my personal desire to just stick to the issues- nothing more. i'm a snarky guy at times and apologize if i may have led you to think i was attacking your friend.

  • At May 29, 2008 7:00 AM, Blogger JayV said…

    "Everybody has their reasons," as good ol' Jean Renoir said.

    In your next to last paragraph, flameape, lot's of coulda-shoulda-woulda's, but I agree with you. The Israel Centre of Vermont and the reform rabbi in S Burlington are full of inflammatory and vindictive language and they just don't care about alternative solutions (as you proposed). Only their way counts. They are inherently anti-Muslim and anti-Arab. Obnoxious to me, considering they are people of faith (as am I). At the meeting the other night (HB notes I spoke), I concluded my remarks by calling for that committee to question Burns' actions and reprimand him. None of the speakers had brought this up. There was, however, wild applause from the audience when I made that point. What's needed in all city departments is more accountability, none of this sweeping under the rug because the guy is really nice (that's how the Leopold/Pacy voting machine illegalities were handled).

    Mr Nice Guy Paul can make all the comments he wants about offence to vets, but he's also a canny politician and a free marketeer (probably the most conservative Republican on the council in the most conservative wards) and really wants the demise of BT. Offense to vets is a red herring.

    Some people did suggest a more diverse program offering (LBGT, feminist, more cultural stuff). That would be welcomed, I think. Surely it would be better than the corporatist/consumer crap, the infomercial/infotainment stuff that's presented as news.

  • At May 29, 2008 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Let me clarify a bit. I'm not suggesting that knowing Paul, or even liking Paul means that his opinion is somehow more valid. Not at all. Nor do I suggest that you specifically are painting him as a bad. guy. I was making a point that we ALL need to be careful not to do so, because it happens when we're not paying attention. I meant it as a more universal than personal comment.

    The ward's financial contribution to BT is less important than their overall contribution to the city's tax-base. And while BT is claiming no tax burden, it is a public entity. So, there's at least a "hey this is our city too" concern (I'm guessing).

    And yeah, I agree: the vet reasoning doesn't hold much water. Philosophically, vets and free speech can be considered in the exact opposite way that Paul has presented.

    Yup, people should have thought through things a bit more and been less reactionary, agreed.

    But, let me reiterate: the reason I mention that Paul is a nice guy (read: I don't assume bad intentions on his part) is that while a few people here can take the intellectual high-road and distinguish between character and political position, I doubt the same is true of alot of people. Thus, I find it important--and yes, relevant--to make such a point.

    Anywho, we're on the same page here.

  • At May 29, 2008 11:54 AM, Blogger flameape said…

    yeh we are on the same page in the end-i won't forget that. i think this subject has me too damn riled up! but rather be riled up over something important than new lindsay lohan scandals (i mentioned lohan, haik, so that your google and technorati hits would go up). thanks for your explanation and all of you for being committed to this cause.

  • At May 29, 2008 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'll try to do you one better....(see name)

    This is an important issue, and it's good to see people taking it seriously. Although I feel slightly a little self-conscious because I no longer live in B'town, but my concern for the city has not wavered despite the displacement. Haik's work here is really, really important and so I'm more than happy to try to lend a (more often than not) supporting voice.

    Rock on.

  • At May 30, 2008 7:13 PM, Blogger flameape said…

    i didn't know Lindsay Lohan's boobs lived in Burlington!! Now I wonder...If Lindsay Lohan's boobs were a reporter for AJE- would it be any LESS objectionable to these alleged vets or any other groups out there? Ludicrous? Yes. But still... given that in its heyday boob-tastic syndicated TV show, BAYWATCH was for most of its tenure one of the top rated shows in Israel, could hot babes be connected to bridging world peace ? Imagine a sort of "NAKED AL JAZEERA ENGLISH"; "the naked truth from beyond the VEIL..."

    or, not- i'm just sayin.

  • At May 30, 2008 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I completely support your train of thought here. Moreover, I'll defend to the death your right to find out if boobs are the answer for world peace. As long as I can get a gig as an intern....

  • At June 10, 2008 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I wonder if lobbyists in Burlington keep pace with the dynamics of the transnational media & audiences?

    The fact that (in ealy 2007 as the once Israeli Deputy Premier) Shimon Peres would set aside some time to visit the headquarters of Aljazeera News Channel in Doha will not surprise observers of the region's media scene. Peres also appeared in an special interview on the 24 hour news channel launched only in November 2006.

    The attention and engagement accorded to AJ belies and dismisses what some alarmists portrayed to regarding this new channel with a multi-dimensional perspective to current affairs.

    Shimon Peres' 2007 visit to the headquarters of Aljazeera News Channel in Doha would have shocked those oblivious to the region's media scene. In recent years, a dynamic transnational media has emerged that interacts with an engaging and critical audience that makes its own choices to reach its own conclusions. Peres endorsed the need to communicate with a sizeable audience by appearing in an interview programme on this news channel established recently.

    The attention and engagement accorded to AJ sends a message on how seriously the newly established channel is taken by important regional players.

    An Italian scholar of the Arab media, Donatella della Ratta rightly suggests that the West should seriously consider before blaming or blocking channels like Aljazeera that are in fact educating tools to inform rather than a medium providing an embedded version from a warring side. Her analysis is a wake-up call for those who believe that pouring $62 million on Al-Hurra can make the US image right in the Middle-East.

    Instead of making wrong choices and pursuing wrong approaches that are just goose-chasing and witch-hunting exercises US needs to befriend with the ones that capture and portray the facts professionally and far effectively. The fact that Peres made it a point to appear on the channel reflects the significance of reaching out to an audience genuinely interested for peace in the region. This leaves cynics on the wrong foot when it comes to the realities of the Middle East.

    It is an hour of reckoning for critics to come out from his age of denial, dismissal and disapproval of those he dislikes and differs with. Another factor that merits due consideration is what the viewers in Israel prefer to see. BBC World has been dropped by Israel's satellite provider Yes TV in favor of the Al-Jazeera English. The Guardian, London dubbed it as 'the first major distribution blow the corporation's international news channel has suffered since al-Jazeera's English-language service began broadcasting'. Although BBC World will still be available in Israel via cable, it will lose around 50% of its audience in the country as a result of being dropped by Yes. Al-Jazeera English signed the carriage deal with Yes in November 2006, but the damaging consequences for BBC World have only just emerged, remarked media commentator Tara Conlan. The true proof of responsible activism is in promoting and not preventing pluralistic viewpoints.

    Alternative and accountable media is what the global audiences deserve and watch groups should put their energies to ensure the availability of such options.

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Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Burlington Music Scene
Big Heavy World
Icebox Records
Live Music Beth
Tom Azarian

Other Random Websites
Radio Free Quaker
CCTV Channel 17
Here (

Ari K's Strange Blue Planet

Bach's Cello Suite #1 in G Major Prelude

"Bulldog's" Bio

My Dream House


Daily Kos

Michael Moore


CCTV Channel 17

VCAM Channel 15

Vermont Guardian

UVM Cynic

WVAA 1390 AM


90.1 WRUV FM

Lois the Hot Dog Lady

Women Helping Battered Women

Dr. Tuna, et al.


Burlington "Free" Press

WCAX Channel 3 (CBS)

WPTZ Channel 5 (NBC)


Vermont Bar Association

Chittenden Solid Waste District

Chittenden Solid Waste District

Carnegie library building

Wiki Leaks

Madeleine Kunin's Resume

Famous Vermonters Part I

Famous Vermonters Part II

True Crime in Burlington

Kennedy Family Tree

Rockefeller Family Tree

Bush Family Tree

Church of the Subgenius

Robert Anton Wilson

Right Here Writing From China!

Democracy Now!

Neighborhood Planning Assemblies

Huffington Post

Editor and Publisher

Bet on Politics!

Political Graveyard

Rasmussen Reports

Mark Fiore

Frame Shop

The King of All Media

Alexandra Kosteniuk





Boob Nazis



Center for Digital Democracy

Free Radio Burlington

The Freedom Forum

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Random Election Literature





"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

-Emma Lazarus, 1883

Church Street Energy System

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