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Robert and Gigi Break Up
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Yeah. Word on the street is that Robert will be performing at the library solo this year. I guess contract negotiations with Gigi broke down or something.
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 7:57 PM   2 comments
Sanders vs. Kudlow
Friday, September 26, 2008

I found the clip at Candleblog. I found a great explanation of events and of Bernie's plan to deal with it at Maverick Media (not the McCain kind of "Maverick," The actual kind of "Maverick") by Greg Guma
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:48 AM   4 comments
Sinking fund
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I learned a new term from a comment in the last post: Sinking Fund. It's a fund of money built up to pay off the principle of a bond at the end of its life, or to buy back the bond earlier.

For a long time I've had the idea that the city should have an endowment that would generate its own revenues. Part of the revenues would go back to grow the endowment and part would go to the general fund. I figure if we could save up a billion bucks or so in an endowment, its revenues could offset taxes by at least ten million per year. We could have a Burlington "Endowment Clock" on city hall residents could point to with pride. It would be like the "Debt Clock" in New York except the number would positive.

It would have to be protected from impulses to raid it, of course. The strongest way I can think to do that would be by an amendment to the city charter forbidding the withdrawal of principle ever. It takes an act of the legislature to change the charter which would be one layer of protection. Another might be for the state to pass its own law or even constitutional amendment making it ridiculously hard to amend charter items having to do with municipal endowments in Vermont. It could require three consecutive statewide yes votes of 99%, for example.

Anyway- Sinking Funds made me remember the idea because even short of a municipal endowment, we could do 'sinking funds in reverse' if you will. Which is to say establish the fund first, and then put out a bond. Pay the interest on the bond with revenue from the fund and pay back the bond's principal at maturity with the money we've had all along. Wait- I know what you're thinking- why not use the money in the fund to purchase whatever we need directly and forget about issuing bonds? Hmmm. Interesting idea reader. I like the way you think. I'm gonna be watching you...

But getting back to the here and now, the anonymous commenter in the last post made a charge against the Kiss administration vis-a-vis a sinking fund for a water bond-
"The failure to fund the sinking fund is another factor (though undisclosed) behind the Administration's magician's [Jonathon Leopold's] claim that Burlington can't afford to educate its kids. I don't have time to explain this to you, but it is a huge problem and you should ask your city councilor to explain it to you if you don't understand it. That's their job."
So I once again put out the call. Anybody know anything about a sinking fund for a water bond that isn't being funded? Because quite honestly, I don't really expect my city councilor to explain it to me. It may technically be his job, but as I've said for years- the civic imbalance between the mayor and the council is one of the most under reported dynamics going. It was me who called for city councilors to be paid back in 1996, and for office space and resources to be dedicated to councilors.

The mayor has a staff. He has an operating budget. He has an office. He has a salary. He has a parking space. The councilors don't have squat and as a result they get pushed around constantly. They got suckered into giving Brendan Keleher a second pension. They lean on each other's credibility like a house of cards and pass the mayor's budget unanimously every year to hide the fact they haven't read it. In psychology that's called "diffusion of responsibility" and it happens for a reason. None of them can possibly analyze the mayor's budget responsibly with the time and resources they have. So they all just vote for it, knowing that if there is ever a problem they can point to the fact that all the other councilors voted for it too.

The institutional power of the mayor's office is so much greater than that of the city council, that the poor suckers aren't even allowed to know what's going on with Adam Cate, a city employee who has been on paid leave for three months because, well... nobody knows. Pathetic.

Oh man- I'm up too late again. One good thing though- John Briggs from the Burlington Free Press finally bookmarked this blog today. Jesus Briggs- for a guy who supposedly knows what's going on in this town, it sure took you long enough to get around to bookmarking the most powerful blog in Burlington Politics!

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posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 11:15 PM   2 comments
Council Defers School Bond Vote
Monday, September 22, 2008
Breaking News

In a heartening display of maturity and common purpose, the city council tonight approved by a vote of 11-3 a motion by councilor Montroll to refer the proposed 92 million dollar 'first phase' school bond to the council's board of finance which will work with the school board to come up with a new proposal for the March 2009 ballot. Only Democratic councilors Ed Adrian, David Berenziak and Bill Kehoe voted in favor of placing the bong on the November ballot.

At issue for most councilors was the question of whether borrowing such a huge sum would place the city's bond rating and capacity to meet other municipal needs at risk. In the end, the notion that the short period of time the proposal has been on the table- about a month since the school board revised its original, RIDICULOUS 226 million dollar over ten year fantasy down to 92 million over five years proposal- was just too little time to allow for due diligence.

Providing some comparative perspective, councilor Sharon Bushor reminded councilors of the budgeting and prioritization process for the much smaller street and sidewalk capital budget, which took well over a year.

During the debate councilor Adrian engaged directly in several lengthy and rather testy exchanges with both Mayor Kiss and city treasurer Jonathon Leopold regarding the exact amount of strain the bond would place on the city's borrowing capacity. While hard and fast numbers were impossible to muster, what was obvious was that, if passed, the added 92 million dollars of debt would have serious adverse consequences on Burlington's ability to deal with all other spending needs.

Adrian also exchanged barbs with council president Kurt Wright regarding the impact the proposal would have on city taxpayers. Adrian said he believed 80% of tax-payers would have the impact of the property tax increase mollified via "income-sensitivity" from state income tax rebates. Wright noted that all residential tax-payers with household incomes of 47K or higher would definitely see higher taxes.

Over and over councilors asserted their agreement that school upgrades are a priority that should and will be addressed, but maintained their overall fiduciary responsibility for keeping the city on solid footing.

Ward Seven's councilor Gutchell suggested that the school board's time may have been better spent if it had begun its deliberations with a clearer understanding of what the city could actually afford.

Some quotes-

"The November ballot is not out last and only chance to do this." -Jane Knodell

"Our role is to look at the big picture here." -Kurt Wright

"The number is shocking...We really need to look at the affordability of the city as a whole." -Joan Shannon

"Are we doing something that's prudent?"- Russ Ellis

In the end councilor Adrian tried to slip in an amendment that would have asked voters for a 37 million dollar bond in November. Councilor Knodell, having been passed the gavel by Wright, allowed a vote on the amendment as acting president, despite the fact that it was out of order and not germane to the motion on the floor. Probably because it was obvious that it would be crushed, which it was. The amendment was defeated 12-2 with only councilor Berzniak voting with Adrian.

Soon thereafter the motion to defer, effectively removing the bond from consideration on the November ballot, was overwhelmingly approved with tri-partisan and Independent support.

The council's finance board will now work with the schools to come up with something more reasonable and affordable to bring to the voters in March.

Burlingtonians can be proud of their their city council tonight. They definitely did the right thing.

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posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:48 PM   14 comments
Karen Paul Takes It Back
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Breaking News...

"What is it going to take for this resolution to go away?"
This is very strange. At the last city council meeting, freshman Ward Six Independent city councilor Karen Paul led a successful effort to table the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and the Childrens Museum slated to go in the old Moran Plant on the waterfront.

She was upset because the city attorney's office had apparently reneged on an agreement to have outside council review the agreement. From the Burlington Free Press:

"...He [Councilor Adrian] and other councilors said Paul, chairwoman of the council’s Parks Committee, had an understanding with the city attorney that the city would use outside legal help to examine the initial agreements. After the administration reneged, Paul exchanged e-mails with other councilors over the weekend urging a tabling — an indefinite postponement — of the agreement with the museum until the administration agreed to an outside counsel. Her perspective was persuasive to nine of her colleagues.

“I have told the city attorney I will not put my name on an agreement that has not been seen by an outside attorney with years of experience in this field,” Paul said Tuesday. “Our potential tenants are getting this kind of advice. Why shouldn’t we?”..."

The article went on to quote Community and Economic Development Office director Larry Kupferman...

Kupferman, who agreed the council vote Monday was important, said, “It seems to me folks might want to know what the reasoning is. Outside counsel has not been part of our thinking. Nor has it been brought up by anyone else, until last night.”

From the email Karen Paul sent the city council Sunday...

"...Putting aside my act of good faith and taking the City Attorney at his word, I have consulted with three local attorneys with many years of experience in contract law who have told me independent of one anther that this MOU is seriously lacking in several areas..." [Emphasis added]
But now BurlingtonPol has learned Karen Paul will reverse herself and move for passage of the MOU at this Monday's city council meeting. Just four days after her first email calling for the MOU's tabling, she wrote to the council again Thursday...

"...I spoke earlier today with Ken [Schatz] and Larry [Kupferman] about the MOU. Ken has fully consulted with Thomas Melloni on this MOU. Thomas did make some additions that add clarity and deepen the understanding between the parties. I also discussed some of the more minor changes with Ken that I had received from other attorneys I spoke with. We have come to an understanding about those points and have made adjustments in the MOU when warranted..."

"...I have asked Ken, after consulting with the President of the Council, to please place the MOU on our agenda for this coming Monday..."

"...I urge you to fully support this MOU and vote in favor of its passage at the City Council meeting on Monday night..." [Emphasis added.]

Ok. So these two emails obviously don't square. Since when do "minor changes" ameliorate an MOU that is "seriously lacking?" Paul provides no specifics or timeline for the 'full consultation' the city has supposedly now had with attorney Melloni. Apparently it all happened on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sure. That's more than enough time for the city to reverse course from "outside council has not been part of our thinking" to "it's fine now, let's all pass the MOU and buy the world a Coke."

If I didn't know better, I might think Karen Paul found a severed horse head lying next to her when she woke up Thursday morning. I mean WTF is going on here? Leave a comment if you know...


PS- I was trying to tell Poopsie just what the heck I'm blogging here, and becoming annoyed with my long-winded explanation- she asked me to break it down to her in simple terms. "Just tell me who the bad guy is," she said jokingly.

"Jonathon Leopold" I said, for the sake of simplicity.

"And who's the good guy?"

"That's easy," I said. "I am."


9/22/8 Update-

First of all I don't really think in terms of "bad guys" and "good guys" and I don't really think of Jonathon Leopold as a bad guy. That was a joke.

Secondly, item 9 was removed form the council's agenda tonight...

9. RESOLUTION: Authorization for Execution of a MOU Between the City and the Green
Mountain Children’s Museum re: Moran Redevelopment Project (Board
of Finance) (to take from the table)(MOU to be sent out on Friday,
September 19, 2008)

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posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 8:00 PM   9 comments
Symington Campaign Push Polling
Friday, September 19, 2008
I just got off the phone with a young woman in Maine calling from Off The Record Research conducting a political survey. It seemed like a normal political survey with an emphasis on the governor's race until toward the end when the caller basically made a speech attacking Jim Douglas on a litany of issues from letting good paying jobs leave the state, to letting the bridge in Richmond deteriorate to misusing state funds for PR.

It wasn't done as subtly as the Douglas push-poll, but it was shorter and sweeter. I told the caller I was voting for O'Connor.

How do I know it was Symington's campaign and not Pollina's behind the poll? Well...polls cost money.
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 9:12 PM   0 comments
Thrax Case vs. The Smell Test II
“If he is the one who sent the letter, I do not believe in any way, shape or manner that he is the only person involved in this attack on Congress and the American people,” -Patrick Leahy 9/18/08

posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:36 AM   0 comments
Karen Paul Brings It
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
So yes, I did go to the city council meeting on Monday, but I only stayed through the public forum which ended around eight o'clock. I even spoke, telling the council they should consider returning to the days when there was a Clerk and a Treasurer and not a botched conflation of the two in our so called "chief administrative officer." The chief administrative officer I said, is ultimately still the mayor.

I later heard that my speech sounded a little muddled, perhaps in part because I've had a cold. So I may have to return with my message again. But think about it. Since the advent of the "Clerk-Treasurer" which then morphed into the CAO position now held by Jonathon Leopold, we've had the council hoodwinked into granting a double pension for Brendan Keleher which will end up costing us nearly a quarter million dollars, we've lost our highly skilled professional city clerk Jo LaMarche, and been treated to the "Ben Pacy Amateur Hour" ever since.

Pacy has shown on multiple occasions that he isn't qualified to handle his job as Acting Clerk (Assistant Chief Administrative Officer). I mean, here we are suspending Adam Cate with pay for a third of a year because he may or may not have broken the law, while at the same time we know damn well Pacy broke the law three times in a row in March when he foolishly broke into the ward 7 ballot box. I was at the hearing about that incident, and he wasn't contrite about it in the least. Nor was Leopold. And he hasn't seen so much as a slap on the wrist. No formal sanction or reprimand. Nothing.

Pacy's crime may have been borne of incompetence and not malice, but its damage is arguably far worse than a few bucks stolen out of the boathouse cash register would be. Burlington's formally pristine and trustworthy elections now have a taint. Under the old way, when we had a separate and discreet Clerk's office, understudies were groomed to run elections, learning the sacred art in a deliberate process of professional maturation that takes years. Under the current structure, we grab some guy from the Parks Department and throw the poor bastard into the fire with no training whatsoever.

If it ain't broke don't fix it and when you're in a hole stop digging. I say we stop digging and go back to the way it was before we fixed it. because the reality is that right now Ben Pacy is the City Clerk, Jonathon Leopold is the City Treasurer and Bob Kiss, like it or not, is the Chief Administrative Officer.


So wasn't this post supposed to be about Karen Paul and how at the meeting she "brought it" to the the City Attorney vis-a-vis the Moran Plant? Yes. And she did bring it. And while I don't necessarily agree with my friends from the Green-Dem Alliance that we should tear down the building, I certainly don't see a problem bringing in another set of eyes to look at the agreements with the potential tenants of the building. I want to keep and retrofit the plant with the kids' museum, etc. But I certainly don't want the city to be left holding the bag. If Paul says there was an agreement to bring in outside lawyers, than there probably was. And that wouldn't be a bad idea.

In the Burlington Free Press, John Briggs quotes CEDO Director Larry Kupferman as saying "Outside counsel has not been part of our thinking. Nor has it been brought up by anyone else, until last night." That I doubt. I wish Briggs had asked Ken Schatz for a quote too.

Here's the money quote from Karen Paul who lead the successful effort to table the Moran Endeavor...
“I have told the city attorney I will not put my name on an agreement that has not been seen by an outside attorney with years of experience in this field,” Paul said Tuesday. “Our potential tenants are getting this kind of advice. Why shouldn’t we?”
Good on you, Karen Paul. Why shouldn't we indeed?

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posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:47 PM   19 comments
Radiator Benefit Show Tonight
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:47 PM   0 comments
City Council Agenda 09.15.08
Monday, September 15, 2008
Here's an MS Word .doc of Monday's City Council Agenda and its amendments.

Highlights include...

*A charter change and tax increase for the Parks and Recreation Department. (Possibly part of Jonathon Leopold's push to combine Parks and Public Works.) Hey, whatever happened to that guy Adam Cate who was suspended from Parks with pay a while back? Anybody know?

*A $92 million dollar School Department ballot item. (Hmmm. Better than $226 million over 10 years, but $92 million over five years is still staggering. It just sounds like a lot less, because of the shrunken time line.) I think the March ballot would still be fine. Why rush to vote on this in November?

*Authorization of a 25-cent surcharge on taxi rides.

*A charter change and creation of a Burlington Telecom Department and Commission.

*A discussion of the Green Mountain Children's Museum. I'm for this. My kids need more cool stuff to do.

*A "How's it going Ward Clerks?" resolution when everybody knows how it's going (poorly since the "Ben Pacy Amateur Hour" began in the Clerk's office).

*(A Resolution to urge Vermont toward gay marriage was originally on the agenda, but has been withdrawn.)

It seems like a rich agenda. I'm going to try be there tonight. No guarantees though. As with everything, it will depend on the state of things with Poopsie, Koko and Yanna. I love my city, but I love my family more, of course.

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posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 11:36 AM   9 comments
City Council Schedule 2008-2009
Here is the schedule of city council meetings for the rest of the current council (until the next Organization Day, April 6, 2009):


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 11:23 AM   0 comments
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What's the point?
by "Vermonter"


Fletcher Free Library
Burlington City Arts
Burlington Free Press
Burlington College
Burlington Currency Project
Burlington Film Makers
Burlington Gardens
Preservation Burlington
Burlington Nights
Burlington Schools Coalition
Burlington Telecom

The Just Once Archives:

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 (BurlingtonPol.com)

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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