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Posts from — December 2010

Review for Tonight

Here are the documents School Board Members are reviewing for tonight’s meeting.  I would like for the district to post them like this on its own website so interested parties can always play along at home.  I have brought this prospect up with the administration,  but have received unsatisfying responses so far.  I’m told posting these documents online like I am doing here, will be possible only after we spend twenty thousand dollars on a software system called “Board Docs.”  Nobody will explain to me why this is necessary, when 1) I can obviously post documents without that system, as I am right now; and 2) The School District already posts many documents on its own site, including meeting minutes

All well.  You have to pick your battles in life.  I might pick this one further in 2011, or not.  I don’t know.  Or maybe there will be benefits to buying “Board Docs” that I will learn about later.  Again, I don’t know.

But for now, I’ll consider posting these documents here as fulfilling part of the civic engagement voters who supported me may well have expected from a blogger write-in candidate.  I’m not going to do this for every meeting, but there’s a lot to review for tonight’s, and I thought readers might like a peek into the glamorous and exciting world of the school board by seeing what we are going into one meeting with.  Here you go- the docs just as they were emailed to me- enjoy…

Board Narrative121410.doc
121410 Agenda.doc
110910 Minutes.doc
050610 minutes.doc
052110 Retreat Curr minutes.doc.
111710 Curr Minutes.doc
110810 Finance Minutes.doc
120710 Finance Minutes.doc
101910 P&A Minutes doc.doc
113010 P&A Minututes doc.doc
JEB Entrance Age.doc
St. Joe’s & St. Marks.pdf
FinCom11302010 for Board Mgt 12142010.doc
FY10 Year End Forcast Fin Comm.xls
121410 Motion for Board Meeting.doc
Analysis of Central Office Admin for Budget Review Complete.pdf
Admin Efficiencies.pdf
Bridging the Gap.pdf
Board Events Calender 2011_1.xls
120710 budget recommendations memo.doc

December 14, 2010   2 Comments

Midnight Round-Up

*Jane Knodell has been named the UVM Provost.  That’s the #2 UVM administrator behind the president.  Congratulations to her.

*Jonathan Leopold is on the Board of Trustees  at Burlington College.  Did you know that?  Anybody know how Burlington College can afford the Diocese?  I just don’t see how that’s possible.  Didn’t Burlington College try to buy a much smaller property recently and fail for lack of financing?  Or was that just a rumor?

*Dave Harnett is running for city council from Ward Four.  Will he have an opponent?

*There’s a school board meeting tomorrow night when we will officially find out if Burlington plans on meeting “Challenges for Change.”  Oh the suspense!

*TJ Donovan is taking over the State’s BT investigation.

*Um…oh!  1000 years ago Abenaki Indians used to walk from Appletree Bay to the Intervale  across what is now North Avenue.

*And 3 years ago there was all this…

December 14, 2010   2 Comments

The Future of Burlington Telecom

This comment was forwarded to me from a friend who vouches for its author’s topic knowledge…

“Do you appreciate the BT mess in full? Not just the part about replacing the large debt obligation with new equipment purchased at a cheaper price (allowed in the lease)….but why the lender is taking such a hard line?

BT is toast if any equipment is swapped out..and all Citi would get is one year’s payment….so that is their worst case scenario. And if Citi caves on BT, it sets a massively bad precedent on the other large number of situations they have cooking with other municipalities across the US. So expect a hard line from both parties as well as a long period of litigation.

Kiss and crew must not appreciate karma. Criminal at best.

Go back to earlier posts (months) and look at math on the value at the time. Worth less now.”


That was “Kiss and crew” in the quote. But spell it “Kiss and Crue” and you got a monsters of rock concert. I digress.

BT may continue to operate on its own revenue until Citifinancial pays to rip the wire out of the street.   And that may never happen.  Why would we, as a city allow a bank to come rip up our streets for spite?  I don’t know about you, but I just got new shock absorbers, and I can’t afford more anytime soon.

Meanwhile Citifinancial will sue the City of Burlington for their 33 million dollar note.  After a lot of hemming and hawing some high court will eventually rule, and the ruling will stand, that the note was backed by the full faith and credit of the City of Burlington and we owe them the money.

Then, *if we don’t sell it* Burlington Telecom will become an actual City Department, with a capital D, and as long as BT’s expenses don’t eat more than the 40% of the cash pool Joe says is generated by means other than taxes, the Public Service Board can go sit on it. 

It will become a City Department because when debt service is removed from the equation- BT can be cash flow positive.  If the City of Burlington is going to have to pay the 33 million either way, we might as well keep BT.  At the end of the day, unless that fiber is torn out of the roads, the state of the art fiber to the prem network we built is an asset.  Throwing it in the dumpster would be incredibly stupid.

BT should have been a full City Department the whole time, and the city council deserves blame for not making it so last year.  A full Department.  Fully Public.  Nothing secret.  As public as Parks.  As public as Arts.  As public as Schools.  I have always said that it is impossible to escape the fact that a city-owned department is owned by the city.  It’s your network, remember?  Except that you’re not allowed in executive session.

I think the problem this whole time has been in the disconnect between the illusion of running a business, and the reality of laying an infrastructure for the city.

You might ask “but how could Burlington sell something it does not own any more?  How can they even keep using the BT equipment without Citifinancial’s permission?”

I don’t know.  But I’m using Citifinancial’s equipment to blog this post right now, and it’s working.

December 9, 2010   13 Comments

Cops at Tanning Salon

Breaking News

I don’t know why, but there are two or three cruisers at the Tanning Salon at the Ethan Allen shopping center, another with its flashers on parked next door at the DMV, and another with its flashers on slowly rolling through the neighborhood on Ethan Allen Parkway. WCAX has a camera on the Salon and (I’m guessing) will report what happened at 11 pm.

December 9, 2010   2 Comments

Joan Shannon May Run for Mayor in 2012

On Dec 6, 2010, at 10:54 PM, Haik Bedrosian wrote:
“Hi Joan, I heard you might be running for mayor. Inquiring minds want to know…”

On December 7, 2010, 8:56 AM, Joan Shannon wrote:
“Hi Haik, Where’d ya’ here that? There are some very nice people who have been encouraging me to run, but up to this point they don’t include my husband and daughter. At the moment my focus is on keeping my Council seat as I am up for re-election in March. I will say with certainty that we are in need of a new Mayor. Whether or not I am a candidate, I look forward to working very hard on a campaign to accomplish that goal. Joan”

December 7, 2010   Comments Off

Challenges For Chump Change

And, oh yes. I received a letter from Peter Shumlin. It’s the first time he’s talked to me since he stopped following me on Twitter. ‘Course this letter ain’t personal to me, but it does say “Dear School Member…”

The text of the letter is below the row of stars to follow. In it Peter says we have to cut about 47 million dollars over two years and we might have 19 million dollars to ease the pain a bit, depending on the legislature (which has yet to elect him).

Burlington is not going to make its target goal of saving 1.2 million in the next budget. Our demographics won’t allow it. Our enrollments are increasing while while those in other Vermont school districts are deceasing. The Burlington budget is tight as it is. I’m not saying there aren’t savings to be found. I’m sure there are. Just not 1.2 million by next Tuesday. Sorry.

The power to set our school budget belongs to the people of Burlington, not to Montpelier. I’m not going to vote to decimate our academic program. I will however try to find some real savings during the regular budget process coming up after the school board deals with Montpelier’s ‘challenge’ on December 14.

December 1, 2010

Dear School Board Member,

Thank you for your hard work to maintain the quality of our public schools and contain costs. I am deeply grateful for your commitment to Vermont’s children. It is due, in large part, to your hard work that our students have access to one of the best education systems in the country. As we both understand well, our state’s economic success and future relies on this quality. In addition, your work to keep FY2011 spending at a level rate is critical and greatly appreciated by all Vermonters.

Given the uncertainty around achieving budget reduction targets and allowing for the Legislature to be involved with the determination of how to best allocate the additional $19 million in one-time funds, it seems prudent to work on the expectation of maintaining the current tax rates for 2012 that the acting tax commissioner has recently recommended.

I know that this year the task before you is even more daunting as you have been asked to meet Act 146’s directive of reducing education spending by $23.2 million in FY2012. I appreciate your understanding of the need to meet this goal and also understand that it may take a little longer to make the kinds of changes necessary to achieve the savings targets. I remain supportive of using the $19 million in additional one-time federal funds as bridge financing over one or two years to accomplish the necessary cost savings. I look forward to working with the legislature to develop a specific plan in this regard. I do not support using the one-time federal funds for anything other than supporting our schools or lowering property taxes.

Thank you again for your hard work and dedication to our state.

Governor-elect Peter Shumlin

December 5, 2010   4 Comments

“That’s what this place is about…”

Bernie speaks truth to power in a great senate speech. Worth the 15 minutes. He’s right. The ultra rich are sucking our skulls. I’m not playing the politics of blame, or trying to make excuses for my own failures (which are many), but the facts are the facts. Everything is made in China, and the nation’s fiscal policies are insane. All us little guys are fighting among ourselves while the fat cats make out like bandits! Am I wrong?

December 5, 2010   Comments Off

Burlington Telecom’s Master Lease

I asked in the comments of the last post if anyone wanted to send me a copy of the CitiCapital-Burlington Telecom lease agreement, and somebody did.  Thanks!

Click here to view CitiCapital-Burlington Telecom Lease

December 2, 2010   Comments Off

Reboot BT

Thanks to Andy Montroll for forwarding a copy of the ‘Reboot BT’ letter sent to city officials last week. Click here to read the whole letter. Here’s a clip…


“…In light of today’s announcement that CitiCapital is terminating BT’s lease and has requested that BT return all of the equipment that is secured by the lease (which presumably includes, among other things, all of the electronics in the central office, the fiber on the poles and in the ground, and the boxes mounted on customers’ homes), both groups desire to reiterate their proposals regarding BT to the City of Burlington, which includes the outright purchase of BT.

As you surely appreciate, once the equipment starts being removed, it will be difficult if not impossible to continue providing services. The mere possibility of such an interruption of services may cause otherwise loyal BT customers to begin seeking alternative service providers, which in turn will make it even more difficult for BT to recover from its current financial struggles.

We do not believe that it is too late to save BT (in some form) as a community focused entity. However, time is clearly running short. As stated above, both the RebootBT group and the group that is proposing to purchase BT remain ready and willing to help…”

December 1, 2010   3 Comments