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Election Achives

Election Day was Tuesday March 3, 2009
All 2009 Burlington Candidates
2009 Mayoral Race

Bob Kiss (P)
*The Bob Kiss Interview
Andy Montroll (D)
*The Andy Montoll Interview
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*The James Simpson Interview
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*The Kurt Wright Interview

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Sharon Foley Bushor (I)
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Gregory Knopps (G)
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Nicole Pelletier (D)
Ward 3
David Cain (D)
Marrisa S. Caldwell (P)
Steve Ekberg (G)
Ward 4
Eleanor Briggs Kenworthy (R)
Nancy C. Kaplan (D)
Ward 5
Lisa Ann Oberbrunner (G)
Joan Shannon (D)
Ward 6
Mary Kehoe (D)
Kim Mason (G)
Ward 7
Ellie Blais (I)
Vincent Dober Sr. (R)
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Sharon Bushor (I)
Ward One
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Tim Ashe(P)
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René Kaczka-Valliere (G)
Joan Shannon(D)
Basil Vansuch(I)
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Andy Montroll (D)
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Ellie Blais(I)
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2006 Mayoral Race

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Kiss's 7 Days Profile (Old Link)

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BFP on Kiss 01.28.06

BFP on Kiss 03.01.06

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Question 9 (Yes)

Ward Seven Run-off Election

Tuesday March 21 at Hunt School

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Open Microphone IX
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wow. Look at all of you starving for local election coverage. 240 people have visited BurlingtonPol so far today. That's a wicked lot for this blog. And really for the size of Burlington. You poor things. You can't get enough of the action packed drama. Who will win? Dan Smith? Bob Kiss? Andy, Kurt, or that other guy? And what's going to happen to the city council when five, count 'em five seats change hands? Inquiring minds want to know. "I want to know."

So I'd thought I'd officially open it up so you don't have to awkwardly keep commenting on the last string. Talk amongst yourselves while I go back to transcribing my interview with Kurt Wright as fast as I can.


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:15 PM   59 comments
Stimulus Watch
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
This is interesting: "shovel-ready" stimulus projects in Burlington. Thanks to Eli Lesser-Goldsmith for the link.
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:56 PM   0 comments
IRV and Election Integrity II
So I went to the election training for poll workers at city hall last night. I knew Shay wasn't going to be able to cover it, and I didn't see any other press there. I only stayed until I got the information I wanted, which only took about ten minutes. The meeting was led by assistant administrative officer Ben Pacy, with backup by the city's I.T. guy "Dana". They answered questions from those present including me.

So here's how the election will work as I understand it. Each ward will get two machines. One for the IRV mayoral ballots and one for all other candidates and ballot questions. Ballots meant for one machine will not fit in the other.

The tabulators for the IRV machine will arrive at the wards in black bags closed with zippers and the zippers will have seals. Poll workers will confirm the seal number, break the seal, open the bag and then confirm the serial number on the machine. Then they will turn the machine on and a tape will print indicating that zero ballots have passed through it, and each mayoral candidate has zero votes. Poll workers will have to sign that tape.

At the end of voting, poll workers will print a new tape that will indicate the number of ballots that have passed though the tabulator, and that the mayoral candidates still have zero votes. The reason that the tapes won't show the candidates' vote totals, is because the voting machine can't interpret IRV votes. All it does is "take a picture" of them and count how many ballots there were. How many ballots pass though the machine is the only information the printed tapes will give us, but it's very important.

I asked Dana and Ben Pacy how we could be sure there aren't already mayoral votes in the tabulator's memory card before voting begins. They told me that the machine would not turn on if there are any votes on the memory card. I asked Ben how they know that and his reply was not reassuring. "That's what they tell us" he said. Great.

So we really can't be sure there aren't already votes on the cards before they go out to the polls, but at least we will get the number of votes that should be coming from each ward at the end of the night. So if 500 ballots go through a ward's machine, the vote total from that ward's memory card should be 500, not more.

Unfortunately the memory cards from all the wards are all fed into one machine (the "VTS" system) at city hall which will give us a "ballot soup" from all the wards. I'm not sure how we could parse out which votes or how many came from a given ward once they all go into the soup.

In fact there are two machines at city hall the ballots are likely to be fed into. The "VTS" system will "consolidate" the votes (Dana's word) into a giant soup pot (my analogy) and if no candidate has a majority of the soup, then the soup will get strained through yet a third machine (after the voting machine tabulator and the "VTS")- the "Choice-Plus Pro" software that calculates the IRV and picks a winner.

I'm hoping at the very least we can get the ballot totals from all the wards and add them up. That total should equal the combined total of first choice votes for all mayoral candidates. If it doesn't, there's a problem. Of course in order to do this basic check, someone would have to personally, physically see all seven signed tapes showing ballot totals from all the wards.

Frankly I hate how complicated IRV has made counting the votes. Simply put, IRV makes our mayoral election results less trustworthy. I hope there's a recount so the paper ballots get counted by humans.

Call me paranoid all you want. If asking smart questions and being concerned about election integrity makes me paranoid, then I don't want to be sane.


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 8:15 AM   20 comments
The Andy Montroll Interview
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The following is a faithfully transcribed conversation between me and Democratic Ward Six city councilor Andy Montroll recorded at The Bagel Cafe and Deli in the Ethan Allen Shopping Center on North Avenue on February 1, 2009 between 11:00am and noon. Andy Montroll is currently running for mayor of Burlington.

HB: OK. Thank you Andy for joining me today. Thanks for taking the time.
AM: Sure. You’re welcome Haik.

HB: I know it’s a busy schedule, being a candidate for mayor. How’s it going so far? How’s the campaign going?
AM: It’s been going really well....

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posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 4:15 PM   9 comments
Smith Campaign Spends 40K
Breaking News

There will be more on this later, but the first big headline from the local candidate campaign finance reports filed this week is the wide disparity in campaign spending among the mayoral contenders. Dan Smith spent the most with $39,845.00 more than tripling the campaign expenditures of incumbent mayor Bob Kiss who spent only $13,050.55. Kurt Wright's campaign has spent $19.869.25. Andy Montroll's campaign has spent $16,047.73. Story developing...


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 1:42 PM   18 comments
Burlington's "Gayoral" Election
Check out House of Lemay's take on how the mayoral candidates should court the gay vote. They made funny pictures with all of the candidates, except Dan Smith. They left his picture un-doctored for some reason.
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 8:59 AM   1 comments
Ivan Jacobs Free Post 1 of 5
Monday, February 23, 2009
Ivan Jacobs gets five free posts. Here's number one (below the row of stars). I think he wrote it. Did you write it Ivan? Anyway please welcome BurlingtonPol's guest host, Ivan Jacobs...

Ward 3 Neighbor,

Town Meeting Day is about a week away. With such pressing issues and so many new faces on the council it's so important that we make our voices heard.

Schoolboard Commissioner and City Council Candidate Marrisa Caldwell has been knocking on doors and meeting neighbors to learn about the issues that are important to The Old North End, Downtown, The Waterfront and our community as a whole. Here's Marrisa's take on what she's hearing from citizens in our neighborhood:
We live in a great neighborhood. By knocking on many of your doors, I've learned about the issues that matter to you - issues like affordable housing, health care, renewable energy and global warming, media literacy, having a safe city for bicyclists and pedestrians, livable wages, waste in government and so many more that we have the potential and the power to change.

I hope to bring these issues and all the others you've shared to the City Council. As a councilor I will work tirelessly to promote the best interests of Ward 3. It has been great to have the opportunity to meet so many of you. Through this campaign I have gained a new appreciation for what an amazing community we have. I hope to work with many of you in a responsive way to make sure that people come before politics on the Burlington City Council.
If you're undecided on the race, or would like to discuss these issues and all the others, Marrisa needs to hear from you! If Marrisa already has your support, thank you!

We need your help
to make sure Marrisa is reaching every voter and building the relationships she'll need to be a responsive and connected councilor.

To this end, a few fun events, please make an effort to come out, and if possible bring one or more Ward 3 neighbor:

, 9pm - just after the People's Forum on the Mayoral Race (Details Here:
Come to T. Ruggs to Celebrate our Community and also Marrisa's Birthday around 9pm. Marrisa would love to meet the neighbors she's missed at the doors.

, 8:45
pm - friends, supporters, and downtown neighbors will meet up at The Daily Planet, 11 Center Street

Marrisa especially wants to talk about her candidacy with the, harder to find, folks in the downtown area. If elected Marrisa will be a strong representative for the whole community. Please spread the word to your downtown neighbors. This will happen right after the DFA/GMD Mayoral debate next-door at Sapa Coffee & Tea.

Saturday, 8:45am - 11:15 am - Bagels & Coffee with Marrisa at the Barnes Elementary Community Room.
This will be a nice opportunity for folks to meet Marrisa before March 3rd.

If you can't make it to any of the events feel free to Contact Marrisa @ 578-7325 or, anytime.

Thank you for participating in your local democracy!

Vote March 3rd at Barnes Elementary,

Caldwell for Council

Please forward this email to your neighbors!
Don't know your Ward? Go Here:


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 7:37 PM   1 comments
Kurt Wright Interview
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Yes. Even Kurt asked me how I'm going to do this when I haven't even finished Andy's interview yet. I Had to bail on the house party I was going to go to Saturday. And I only got to minute 26 of 45 transcribing Andy. But I had a good radio show with guest Eli Lesser-Goldsmith on Saturday morning, and I did conduct an interview with Kurt Wright Sunday. See, here's a picture. That's me on the right.


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:13 PM   10 comments
Andy Montroll
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Click the Picture!
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 11:11 PM   14 comments
Mayoral Election Polls IV
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Alright kids! Two weeks left... you wouldn't want your candidate to fall behind in this totally unscientific poll of self-selected internet participants, now would you!? Not in a four way race this close and exciting! You can't allow any perception of weakness, no matter how meaningless! So let's get back to the voting and telling your friends to vote so I can get lots of visitors to this blog, for very little work on my part.

Free polls from
Who is your first choice for Mayor?
Bob Kiss Andy Montroll Dan Smith Kurt Wright

Free polls from
Who is your second choice for mayor?
Bob Kiss Andy Montroll Dan Smith Kurt Wright

posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 6:35 PM   4 comments
The World According to AARP
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
"...With Disc golf and potholes for all"

There are like a billion mayoral debates this year for some reason. Here are three four five six of them...

Tonight (2/17): The UVM Student Government Association Mayoral Debate
Dudley H. Davis Center on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 in the Grand Maple Ballroom at 7 PM.

Thursday (2/19): The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is having a debate Thursday in the Hilton Hotel on Battery Street in Burlington from 6-7:30 p.m.

Thursday (2/19): Heineberg Center, Ward 4/7 NPA. Mayoral Candidates take questions about issues in the NNE. 8 PM.

Sunday (2/22) Ohavi Zedek Synagogue Mayoral Candidates Debate 188 N. Prospect St., Burlington. 3-5 pm.

Tuesday, (2/24) The Imani Youth and Family Center, 294 N. Winooski Ave., Burlington, hosts The People's Forum, on the Burlington Mayor's Race. 7-9 pm

Thursday (2/26) Burlington DFA and Green Mountain Daily, Vermont's finest political blog, are hosting a mayoral candidate forum at Sapa Coffee and Tea at 9 Center Street in Burlington! 7pm
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 12:42 PM   7 comments
IRV and Election Integrity
Monday, February 16, 2009
Ward clerk for ward six Owen Mulligan wrote to Seven Days reporters Ken Picard and Shay Totten last week, expressing concern about the removal of a process designed to safeguard the integrity of elections in Burlington. He said that in the past ward clerks would start election day by printing tapes from the electronic memory cards in the voting machines that would indicate no votes had been cast yet. Says Owen,
City Hall does a check on each memory card before they are sealed just like every election before they are delivered to each polling location, the difference this time is we are not able to do that print out at each polling location and check the "electronic ballot box" to make sure the races are pre-set at zero. There is nothing for us to sign off on and we are supposed to blindly trust the memeory card that City Hall has provided us.
Someone who should know tells me the machines at the polling places are incapable of counting IRV votes and would produce tapes showing zero votes, regardless of whether there were votes on them or not. The software in the voting machines can't interpret IRV ballots. Only the Windows-based "Choice Plus Pro" software at City Hall can.

Unless you run those memory cards through "Choice Plus Pro" before they go out to the polls, there would be no way to be sure they didn't already have votes on them. That didn't happen in our first IRV election three years ago. Although there is no evidence whatsoever that there was any funny business last time around, it's clear that the integrity of the our mechanisms here merit improvement and serious public scrutiny.

In a comment string on this issue at Blazing Indiscretions Terry Bouricius, THE original Progressive city councilor of 1981, and a partner in the company that consults on our IRV said...

At my request, Dana Baron, the city's IT person working on the election, double checked with the voting machine vendor, LHS Associates, and found out that what the poll workers were told at their training about the running of zero tapes was NOT correct. The tabulators WILL indeed run meaningful tapes before voting commences that will show if any ballots have been fed in. The tape will be printed again at the end of the day that will show how many ballots the machine read.

Hmmm. I guess.

Owen mentions that he will be questioning Ben Pacy about this at election training.
Feb. 24th 5-6:30pm Contois @ City Hall. There is never a bigger or more important election story than one that deals with how the ballots are handled and counted.


Brainstorm: Integrity and other Concerns about Burlington's IRV

*The transportation of memory cards from the polling places to city hall increases the likelihood of their compromise. Under the old system, results had to be read at the polling places and usually were known in minutes. No more.
*Process for establishing votes total zero before ballots are cast needs improvement
*Having a single, Windows based program decide the mayor is disconcerting. The program could be hacked or manipulated.
*An election manipulated to produce a wide enough margin of victory is unlikely to be audited against the paper ballot.
*In a real runoff, if you voted for the top vote getter the first time around, you could change your mind and pick another candidate when you came back to vote in the runoff. In ranked voting, it isn't the same. If your first choice is the top vote getter in the first round, other people's second choice will likely decide the winner. You don't get to participate in the runoff.
*The Chief elections officer who can establish election procedures, improperly injects himself into politics.
*The Chief elections administrator thought a time crunch justified breaking into a ballot box last year, and has yet to run an election without an obvious flaw.
* A manual recount in the mayors race this year would be a good idea regardless of the winner or his margin, just to make sure we can do it.
*Maybe we should scrap IRV. It solves a problem that never existed. There had never been a mayoral runoff before 2006 that I'm aware of.

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posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 7:49 PM   18 comments
Get Well Kurt
Republican mayoral candidate Kurt Wright has been sick in the last couple of days. He's even had to miss a debate or two. It's tough timing, but hopefully he will get better and be back in the game soon.
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 6:37 PM   1 comments
Briggs vs. Leopold vs. Montroll vs. Kiss
Friday, February 13, 2009
Spy vs. Spy

Yes, yes. The big news of the day. Leopold tells Briggs Andy's got a conflict of interest between his roles as a board of finance member overseeing Burlington Telecom, and as a lawyer for Vallynet. Andy becomes irate, starts calling Leopold a liar, says he talked to Leopold about this nine months ago and they agreed it was no big deal. Leopold says he remembers the conversation but they talked about something else. Says he learned about Andy and Valley net just last week. Briggs doesn't bother to ask the next obvious question- how did Leopold learn last week.

Here are my findings in this case:

1) It is improper for the Leopold as the chief elections official of the City of Burlington to engage in a blatant political attack like this. This is not the first time Leopold has displayed this kind of improper behavior.
2) It is improper for the Leopold as the Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Burlington to respond to a perception of a conflict interest by dropping a dime to the press.
3) Andy Montroll obviously felt a little guilty about his job with Valleynet or he wouldn't have brought it up to Leopold.
4) There is no legal conflict of interest in this case vis-a-vis the city charter. There is some theoretical moral conflict in that Andy might possibly share some BT trade secret with Valleynet.
5) If Andy felt there was any possibility of a conflict of interest, or appearance of a conflict of interest, then he should have gone to the full board of finance and the city attorney. Not doing so was a display of poor judgment.
5) Andy displayed poor judgment in going to Leopold alone without any recording or witness. Whom did he think he was talking to? His friend?
6) Bob Kiss is Jonathon Leopold's boss.
7) As recently as February 1, Andy Montroll was willing to consider the possibility of keeping Leopold on as CAO if he won the election. It's true. You'll read it in my interview with Andy.
8) John Brigg's should not just print any old thing that he hears.
9) As a general axiom, if we are paying attention to this, then there is something else that we're not paying attention to. I'm a lot more worried about whatever that other thing is.

This story has no legs, and I don't intend or expect to spend any more time on it.

Labels: , , , , , ,

posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:57 PM   37 comments
From: Michael Wood-Lewis, Ward 5
The following is a question Michael Wood-Lewis has for the mayoral candidates...

"A surprising two-thirds of Burlington public school buildings are not fully accessible to people with disabilities. Edmunds Middle School is the worst offender. It is, arguably, the most prominent school building in the State of Vermont, sitting, as it does, on Main Street in our largest city. Yet, this public school building and community meeting place is segregated. Students, parents and grandparents, teachers, and community members who use wheelchairs are not welcome. They are, effectively, barred from entering.

In the decades since our federal disability civil rights laws were enacted, we have done almost nothing to remedy this problem here in Burlington. So, my question for each of the candidates...

If elected Mayor, what steps will you take to concretely fix this problem within the next two years?"

-Michael Wood-Lewis, Ward 5
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:10 PM   6 comments
Caldwell on the Radio
My guest on tomorrow's radio show will be Ward 3 Progressive city council candidate Marrisa Caldwell (Picture Below) Tune in from 11am-12pm on 105.9fm or at Call in too! (861.9666)

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posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 3:59 PM   4 comments
Historic Local Political Ad
There's some election law that keeps Marselis Parsons from selling TV advertising time to local candidates for mayor or city council. Therefore I don't think any video ads for local candidates had ever existed before now. Please correct me if you know otherwise. This video for Bob Kiss, as far as I know, is the first. It looks like Burlington political campaigns are entering the YouTube age.

Note- This video was not produced by the Kiss campaign. It was created by an independent filmmaker and Kiss supporter named Art Bell, who tells me he hopes the Kiss campaign is not offended by his "attempt to find an interesting way to tout what I think he [Kiss] has done for us."

This is similar to what we saw in the presidential race. A lot of people made YouTube videos for Obama that were independent of the campaign as well.

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posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 11:58 AM   10 comments
The Bob Kiss Interview
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The following is a faithfully transcribed conversation between me and Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss recorded at The Bagel Cafe and Deli in the Ethan Allen Shopping Center on North Avenue on February 1, 2009 between 8:30 and 9:30am. The mayor is currently running for a second three year term.

HB: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me this morning, Mr. Mayor.
BK: Glad to be here Haik.

HB: It's now February, that's when local elections get into full swing. How is your campaign going?
BK: Good. I think it's underway and when I look at the calender, you're right, February is packed. So there's going to be a lot of forums and house parties and opportunity for people to talk about the issues.

HB: I see on facebook that you were in DC for the inauguration?
BK: That's true...

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posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 2:59 AM   11 comments
Third Mayoral Debate II
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Third Mayoral Debate (not counting Charlie and Ernie) II

I showed up. James Simpson didn't. Charity watched remotely and live blogged it really well.

...back to transcribing.
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 9:59 PM   3 comments
Council Rejects Montroll Proposal
At least night's city council meeting Democratic mayoral candidate and Ward Six city councilor Andy Montroll sponsered a resolution designed to change the city's retirement system.

Apparently the Dems all voted for it and everyone else (including Kurt Wright) voted against it. You can read the Montroll campaign's press release below the row of stars. My immediate thought here is this- if Andy really felt this was important, he should have let someone else sponsor it. Proposing sweeping changes to the city's retirement system in the heat of one's own campaign for mayor, less than a month from the election- well- that just appears blatantly political, regardless of the merits.

Andy Montroll spoke to me about the retirement system when I sat down with him last week. I expect to publish that interview in about a week. For those of you keeping track, I'll be publishing my interview with Mayor Kiss tomorrow. You'll want to read both interviews.

Here's the press release on what happened last night from Andy's campaign (under row of stars below). I'm not sure its inclusion of the words "Progressives, Republicans, Independents, Refuse Common Sense" in that order, was the best idea in an instant runoff voting election.

Montroll for Mayor
Reid DeWolfe(802-XXX-XXXX)

Burlington Democrats Stand United for Burlington Taxpayers

Progressives, Republicans, Independents, Refuse Common Sense Solution for Retirement Fund

A resolution, proposed by Andy Montroll, which would have begun the process of modifying the city's retirement system, was defeated by an 8-6 vote on Monday. As of 8 months ago the retirement system had obligations of $155 million, and assets of $118 million. Today the obligations have only increased and the assets have decreased to only $88 million. Yet the administration continues to use stale numbers from June of last year to back up its arguments. Said Andy, "We can't afford to wear rose-colored glasses when we examine this issue. Despite what the administration may claim, the system is in serious jeopardy".

The current structure of the plan means that when the system is severely underfunded, Burlington's taxpayers will be responsible for filling the gap. This system also creates a situation in which the city of Burlington is forced to plan its budget around the vagaries of the stock market. Explained Montroll, "In the current economy we cannot force the taxpayers of Burlington to be the guarantors of a system based on the stock market. We need to move forward with real change, and not simply put band-aids on a broken system".

The defeat of the resolution means that Burlington's retirement fund will continue to be a broken system. Said Montroll, "The administration is blindly following a path that has already led to disaster and change is needed now. As Mayor, fixing this system would be one of my top priorities. The retirement fund is nearing the point of no return, and we must seek to change its direction immediately".


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 3:04 PM   0 comments
Forum on Health Care
Monday, February 09, 2009
A notice from the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG)...

The Burlington Community Forum on Access to Health Care will be held at 6pm on Tuesday, February 10, at the St. Paul's Cathedral Church, which is located at 2 Cherry Street.

Please come to provide your thoughts on how health care access can improve, educate legislators about the challenges you and the people you love experience in accessing health care in Vermont, or simply attend to listen!

If you would like to participate or help spread the word about this great opportunity, please contact VPIRG advocate Susan Baker for more information at or 802.224.8421 ext. 8420.
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 2:44 PM   2 comments
Dean for HHS (For America)
Obama totally shafted Burlington Pol Howard Dean. If you want to join the movement to help right that wrong... then here's your website:
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 2:35 PM   0 comments
Third Mayoral Debate
Press Release from Channel 17...Debate tomorrow!
For Immediate Release
contact, 862-3966
Channel 17's Burlington Mayoral Candidates Forum

On February 10, 2009 at 5:25 p.m. until 6:40 p.m. Channel 17/Town Meeting TV will host a Live forum open to participation of all Burlington mayoral candidates. The following candidates are scheduled to appear, Bob Kiss (P), Andy Montroll (D), James Simpson (G), Dan Smith (I) and Kurt Wright (R), we anticipate that all candidates will be in attendance. Viewers are encouraged to call in with their own questions to 862-3966. This program will repeat on the air multiple times and on the web at

The general public and press are invited to attend all Channel 17 election forums at our studios, 294 North Winooski Avenue, Burlington, VT.

Channel 17/Town Meeting TV provides government access and public affairs programming to the Comcast cable subscribers of Colchester, South Burlington, Burlington, Essex Town, Essex Junction, Winooski, Williston and St. George as well as to the subscribers of Burlington telecom cable. Channel 17’s mission is to make government more accessible and accountable to Chittenden County residents and to provide citizens with a direct link to public policy makers. CCTV Productions provides affordable high quality production services to area non-profits and community organizations.

Who: Candidates for the Burlington Mayor's Seat
What: Appearing on a Live Call in Forum at Channel 17/Town Meeting TV
Where: On Channel 17, Comcast and Burlington Telecom
When: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 5:25 p.m.
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 9:00 AM   11 comments
City Council Agenda 02.09.09
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Here's an MS Word .doc of Monday's City Council Agenda.


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:40 PM   0 comments
Second 2009 Mayoral Debate III
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:26 PM   0 comments
The Magic Garden
Thursday, February 05, 2009
"Friends of Burlington Gardens" has released its 2009 Mayoral Candidate Survey. Click on the pretty gardener's full, ripe tomatoes to learn more!

Then treat yourself to a few minutes with Carole and Paula.

posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 9:37 PM   3 comments
Montroll Proposes Retirement Changes
Just got a press release from Reid DeWolfe, one of Andy Montroll's campaign volunteers. Following up on what Montroll said last night about his biggest mistake being support for retirement fund changes in 2000, Montroll is now proposing to end the city's pension by attrition. One might ask why it took nine years for Andy to draw up this plan. I'm not asking that, but one might. Press release below the row of stars...


Montroll for Mayor
Contact Reid DeWolfe(802-XXX-XXXX) or Sam Winship (802-XXX-XXXX)
February 5th, 2009

Andy Montroll to Propose Fixes for Retirement Fund
Council Resolution Would Change the Structure of the City Pension Plan

Two years ago the city's retirement fund was thirty million dollars under where it needed to be to meet our obligations. Today the fund is more than sixty million dollars underfunded. Said Montroll, "If $30 million short was a crisis, than $60 + million short is a pending catastrophe. We need to take strong action to prevent the current crisis from destroying the financial stability of the city".

Montroll's resolution would start the process of moving from the current defined-benefit retirement plan, a classic pension, to a defined-contribution plan, similar to a 401k. Switching to a defined-contribution plan would prevent city finances from being adversely affected by the whims of the stock market. Montroll continued, "Burlington's taxpayers should not be responsible for funding a broken system. We have an obligation to our citizens to make sure that their tax dollars are not poured into a bottomless hole".

Minor changes to the management of the investment portfolio have not changed the underlying problems with the structure of the system. Montroll explains, "Mayor Kiss has repeatedly stated that he has fixed the problems with the retirement fund. Band-aids don't fix broken bones, and the minor changes that Bob has implemented do not address the root problem".

Andy's proposed solution would only affect new employees. Existing employees would be able to keep their current retirement benefits, or switch to the new system if they so desire. Montroll elaborated, "We do not want to break our promises and punish our existing employees, many of them have planned their retirement around having a stable pension and we can't disrupt those plans. We will have to renegotiate the contract with the union, but I am confident that we can find a solution that will work for both the city and its employees"."


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 4:17 PM   3 comments
Second 2009 Mayoral Debate II
Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Live Blogging the Debate

OK- I'm back home and I'm still live blogging the debate.

10:19pm- I will now transcribe the notes I took at the debate that ended at 9:00pm. Note: These are NOT EXACT QUOTES. These are merely my interpretive renderings. Therefore, anyone I'm about to maliciously mischaracterize should stop reading now.

Everyone else: First of all, can we get each candidate a mike? Left to Right before the audience sit Dan and Kurt sharing one mike, then Bob and Andy sharing another. (Then Ken Picard and Shay Totten sharing another.) Really? No inputs for four candidate mikes? Isn't there some kind of signal splitter or something that would have allowed for that? Really, no?

Shay Totten: Blah blah blah...blah blah blah...streaming, texting...blah blah...blag blah blah. Hope you already took your bathroom breaks, and if you can't hold it for two hours then you shouldn't have come... blah blah blah.

Opening Statements:

Dan: Energy, Vision, Reinvent, Long term thinking, smart growth, sustainability, efficiency...

Kurt: On a lake. On a beautiful lake. Economic vitality. Great schools but affordable schools. Not about partisan politics. About who is the best person to lead city forward.

Bob: Here since 1972. Lifetime of public service. Experience in legislature, judiciary committee, mayor.

Andy: People looking for change. Burlington coasting. Coasting ok for a little while. Been on council 15 years.

Ken Picard: You've heard enough from us (Shay). Now questions.

Question: New Technology Use?

Dan: City should live blog, video blog, web platform for permitting.
Dan's Rebuttal: City has 15 websites on 5 platforms.

Kurt: Open government, need to do a better job with technology, created a committee...
Kurt's Rebuttal: Things not fast and easy (Dan).

Bob: Hardware needed requires investment, Burlington Telecom (BT) a far sighted investment...
Bob's Rebuttal: Investment needed.

Andy: A fellow councilor convinced me to buy a blackberry.
Andy's Rebuttal: City departments have piecemeal web presence.

Question: Carbon Footprint?

Kurt: Bring green industries to Burlington.

Bob: Goal is 20% reduction by 2020. 80% by 8080. Bill McKibben. City using same amount of electricy as it was in 1989. Burlington Electric Department (BED) programs.

Andy: More recycling, alternate transportation.

Dan: Development planning for communities where people can walk everywhere. Photovoltaic cells on roofs.

Question: Mistake?

Bob: Gave poor people moldy butter.
Andy: Voted to change city retirement system in 2000. Was 30 million underfunded then. Now 60 million.
DS: Didn't run for mayor three years ago.
Kurt: Voted to raise dog fees.

Question: The Poor ("underserviced")?

Andy: Homeless, hungry opportunities education jobs childcare.
Dan: Handy's counter, refugees, at risk youth, non-profits, mentoring.
Kurt: Refugees, develop Catholic Diocese and DMV into senior housing. Middle class getting priced out.
Bob: City has 25 year commitment, 2000 housing units subsidized, non-profits, support human need.

Question: City Weighing in on national/international issues?

(They all said it's fine if it doesn't take too much time from city business.)

Question: Arts?

Kurt: Festivals on waterfront.
Bob: City Arts, SEABA. Individual Artists, Incumbent on us to make that spirit move.
Andy: Arts and culture, African dance troupe at Flynn Theater, parking lacking.
Dan: Artist energy draws employers. Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Rebuttals- Kurt mentions quadra-centennial. Bob realizes he should have mentioned it, and mentions it. Andy has to then chime in and mention it. Then Dan launches zinger- 'Just to be clear, I also support the quadra-centennial (audience laughter).

11:20pm- Alright. I'm getting tired. Maybe I'll come back and keep live-blogging this tomorrow...

2/5/9, 7:00 am- (This time stamp is totally fake)

Question: Radical Idea?

Bob: Paving the marketplace stopped us from "scooping the loop," Alden Plan vs. people's plan on Waterfront. Burlington Telecom is a radical idea.

Andy: We don't need a radical idea now. We need to build on what we have.

Dan: I didn't take notes. I think it was a good answer. Maybe something about photovoltaic cells again.

Kurt: Joked that Peter Clavelle told him putting a dome over Burlington is a good idea, Hotel and conference center on waterfront.

Question: Yes / No Questions

1) Do you support the current school budget?
Dan: Yes
Kurt: No
Bob: Yes
Andy: Yes

2) Do you support the disk-golf course as proposed?
Dan: Yes
Kurt: Uncertain
Bob: No
Andy: No

3) Do you support same-sex marriage?
Dan: Yes
Kurt: That's not a yes or no question. (Shay: Yes it is.)
Bob: Yes
Andy: Yes

Question: Ambiguously worded question. What's not a core service? or What would you end?

Bob: The budget is lean.
Andy: BED, BT and Airport (BTV) are not core services, but they're great.
Dan: Run things efficiently and effectively. Bad accounting practices at Waterfront (Adam Cate)*.
Kurt: There was a problem in the Parks Department (Adam Cate).

*Here somebody finally throws a punch in this debate.

Rebuttals on Adam Cate affair-

Bob: Followed rule of law when it came to personnel issues.
Andy: Questionable accounting practices, but "I don't think any money was stolen."
Dan: Issue was also slow pace of investigation.
Kurt: Mayor should have not let Public Works director speak about classified information before the Parks commission.

Question: Affordable housing downtown?

Andy: Housing on all levels.
Dan: Housing shortage in Burlington.
Kurt: Permitting easier in South Burlington. More senior and student housing to decrease pressure on market.
Bob: city has 15,000 housing units- 9000 rental, 6000 owned. Zoning re-write allows for more residential density downtown.

Audience Question: Guy in Green Hat: Fluoride in Water?

Dan: Still thinking about it.
Kurt: 75% of voters voted to keep fluoride in, but position not set in stone.
Bob: City reduced fluoride to lowest recommended dosage, but fluoridated water still not recommended for infants and those with kidney disease.
Andy: More research needed. There is a correct scientific answer, but we don't know what it is.

Audience Question: Guy in Sweater: Town-Gown Relations?

Kurt: Vital institutions
Bob: Challenges in neighborhoods
Andy: Vital institutions
Dan: Friends brought students banana bread, said their baby goes to bed at 7pm.

Audience Question: Woman in blue hat: Style vs. Substance?

Bob: I encourage citizen participation.
Andy: I insisted on twelve foot wide sidewalks.
Dan: Background in economic development.
Kurt: (Attacks mayor's leadership.)

Audience Question: Woman in blue sweater: Southern Connector?

Andy: I've lost track of how many times council voted to move it forward.
Dan: Git-r-done.
Kurt: Clavelle brought control of project into mayor's hands eleven years ago.
Bob: Agreement reached with Vermont Railway two years allowing for Pine to Battery street route.

Closing Statements

Andy: 12 foot setbacks! Who should make decisions? Developers or people?

Bob: Effective government. Efficient. Moving forward. City gets accolades. 25 years of values. Burlington open for business but not for sale.

Kurt: Thanks to other candidates. Special blend of vision, leadership and experience. Five new councilors joining. Got endorsement of firefighter union and of some Progressives*

Dan: 12 foot setbacks Andy? Really? That's your line in the sand? Really? (Then solid oratorical closing.)

*(Note to self: Ask Kurt what Progs endorse him.)

Shay Totten: Blah blah blah... blah, blah, blah.... blah blah... blah blah blah blah....
(Audience eventually had to just bigfoot him and start applauding so we could leave. Totten may still be talking right now as far as I know.)

The End.


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 10:17 PM   0 comments
Second 2009 Mayoral Debate
Live Blogging the Debate

6:11 pm: I'm live blogging the debate right now. I'm sitting at home getting ready to go to the little Seven Days Mayorial Debate and Racketeering Fiesta. I'm gonna go and take notes by hand on paper and then come home and continue live blogging from here.

"Don't Tase me bro."
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 5:50 PM   13 comments
A BurlingtonPol Shout Out?
Philip Baruth sent me a tip that Kurt Wright may have sent a shout-out of sorts to BurlingtonPol on Channel 17. About a minute or so into the show, Vince Dober clarifies that he, not his son Vince Dober Jr. is the Republican Ward 7 council candidate. There was some confusion about that on this blog at one point, which Kurt makes reference to.


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 12:25 PM   0 comments
James Simpson
The Seven Days staff blog Blurt has a revealing story about James Simpson, the Green candidate for mayor. I'm not going to worry too much if I don't get around to interviewing him.
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 12:01 PM   2 comments
Interview Weekend II
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Yikes. The audio of my interview with Dan Smith was only 27 minutes long, and you saw how long that took me to transcribe. Sunday I sat down with Mayor Bob Kiss and his Democratic challenger Andy Montroll. Both recordings are 45 minutes long! I'm not sure how I'm going to publish those pieces in a timely way- but I'm gonna, darn it! Just Stick with me.

I also wrote to Kurt Wright and offered him a chance to be interviewed too. No word back yet from Kurt. I guess there's a Green candidate on the ballot too. Frankly I was disappointed to hear that, since it might be more work for me.

Saturday I was joined by Democratic council candidate David Cain on my radio show, and his Progressive opponent Marrisa Caldwell called in. They got into it a little bit over the sexy snowboards, with Caldwell calling them abuse, and Cain saying it wasn't the city's business. That means I accidentally hosted the first city council debate of 2009- Live on The Radiator, 105.9 fm, WOMM-LP Burlington.


posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 8:58 AM   5 comments
Radio Deli IV
Monday, February 02, 2009

Editor's Note- Despite my disclaimer which allows me to do anything, I really am a responsible blogger/fake journalist. When I promise an interviewee I'll let them vet my story before I publish it, then I always do. In one case I even scrapped publishing an entire juicy interview loaded with stunning revelations because my subject changed his or her mind about wanting to go public.

And regarding this long lost Radio Deli story from last April, I have been responsible as well. Sure it took me months to write it up, but when I did I sent to to both principle subjects for review at least twice. I have asked them both about it in person several times when I've been in the deli buying chili or other assorted sundries and have been told again and again that they just haven't gotten around to it. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But the last time I was in buying chili, and I asked Michael Neiderer about it again- he basically gave me implicit permission to just go ahead and run it. He said something to the effect of 'Hey- you tried. You did what you were supposed to do and if we're not getting back to you- then hey- you gave us a chance-'

He didn't come right out and say go ahead, but I'm pretty sure that's what he meant. And when I went on to say something like- 'It's not like there's anything horribly controversial or damning in there about you- it's actually just free advertising for your deli-' he basically agreed and joked right along. 'It's not like it's a hit piece against Radio Deli or anything...'

And it's not. So what the hell. I'm publishing it.


Radio Deli Interview- April 23, 2008

Pam Scanlon and Michael Neiderer (pictured below L to R) bought Radio Deli from Louis Manno. Lot’s of Manno’s stuff remains adorning the nooks and crannies of the store. Simpsons dolls, celebrity autographs, Coke collectibles and decades worth of other kitsch and Americana.

“Someday he’ll get it…” Scanlon explains, meaning someday Manno will come retrieve his collectibles. She says Manno’s memorabilia helps maintain continuity between owners and that visiting Radio Deli now should be at least “as fun an experience or better …why not?”

Scanlon who live in the fourth floor “penthouse” above Radio Deli says her goal in owning a store “was to never run out of half and half.” For his part Michael says he never wanted to run out of Rolling Rock beer.

Neiderer and Scanlon met while they were both doing computer work for the same employer in 2002 and 2003. He was doing programming from Tennessee. She was doing web development from Brattleboro. She was impressed with his ability to break into a particular script log.

"I could crack your code” Neiderer says to Scanlon with a grin. He then explains that he was living in a trailer, in a pasture, in the woods, in the hills in Tennessee. I was pretty safe and well hidden, but… I fell in love.” He moved up to Vermont to be with Scanlon. They bought Radio Deli in March of 2007.

Pam explains that the Deli’s home in the old brick building at the corner of Pearl and Pine, which is also home to Leonardo’s Pizza, has a rich history. Radio Deli’s location had been briefly boarded up before Louis Manno took it over in 2007. Before that there was a Vietnamese market. And before that, the location was home to the Merola brothers M & M market for about 30 years. Before that it was a store called “Izzo’s.” In fact, Scanlon says, there has been a grocery store in one form or another at Radio Deli’s location since at least 1894.

Scanlon says one of the things she’s done since she and Neiderer took over was to add some healthy snacks to the menus. “It’s so great to see kids come buy an apple or an orange,” she says “and we have cherries for 8 cents each!”

“Let me mention one thing,” Michael adds. “Our recipes and portions are consistent, and our soups are unbelievable! We make our own stock. It’s good.”

Beside himself and Scanlon, Neiderer says Radio Deli employs three other people who each work between 8 and 35 hours per week. “They’re all smart, energetic, hard working and have personalities,” he explains. “The only way you survive in this business is if you like people.”

In the midst of all the fun, Pam says she’s trying to make room for all of her Ron Popeil kitchen products. “I’ll have to bring in my Bass-o-Matic” She quips.

On a more serious note, Scanlon and Neiderer say they are concerned at potential plans to move a bus depot into spot down the street where the Vermont Department of Labor is now. “This is a neighborhood, not a bus depot.” says Scanlon “and the Department of Labor doesn’t want to sell the building.” Scanlon has a blog on the topic at: She says the city can sometimes be quirky in the way it operates. “They made me pay my late fees at the Fletcher Free library before they would give me a liquor license” she says with a chuckle. But the bus depot proposal has been a little more mysterious. “It’s so weird, “she says “It’s one of those odd city things where I know stuff is going on…”

As I prepared to leave, Neiderer introduced me to a frequent customer and former employee (named Bernie or Bennie or something. I can't remember). “He still gets the employee discount” Michael quipped. When I asked the gentleman for a few words about Radio Deli, he delivered a glowing review with heart.

“It’s definitely a great place for everybody to come and get good food at a decent price- without having to deal with City Market. It’s a great place for family and a great place to be social.”

Post Script 02/02/09: The bus stop project at the Department of Labor building is still moving forward.
posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 8:43 AM   3 comments
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