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Posts from — January 2012

A real letter!

I had a nice surprise in the mail when I got home from work today.  Somebody has sent me a hand-written, hand-sealed envelope.  You know, like a human wrote me a letter with a pen.  That never happens any more.  It was a blast from the past!

Inside was an old campaign flyer with this picture and a note from Peter Clavelle saying he’ll be overseas for an extended period, but will follow Burlington politics on this blog from abroad.  Thank you very much Peter!  And yes, we both looked a lot younger in the picture.

January 28, 2012   2 Comments

Obama’s Challenge II

Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:50 PM

Hi Philip,

How’s it going?  Jeanne mentioned there might be a bill in your senate committee that takes up the allowed dropout age.  I’m in favor of not allowing kids to drop out.  I did a short post on it  Got anything I can add to it and attribute to you about this bill Jeanne mentioned, should it exist?


Friday, January 27, 2012 8:19 AM


Good to hear from you — I keep checking Burlingtonpol for breaking gossip on the mayor’s race, but you seem stubbornly fixated on performing the job the voters elected you to do . . . but what about my needs? A photo of Kurt kicking a puppy, or Miro pushing an old woman down a service elevator when he thinks no one’s looking?  Enquiring minds want to know . . . because you’re the only one who does Burlington in HD.

We do have this bill, and we heard testimony all of yesterday.  Everyone we talked to — the reps for the teachers, the school boards, the principals, the literacy advocates, higher ed, everyone with a stake in educating kids and eliminating the drop-out rate altogether — thinks the idea is powerful and very worth pursuing.  New Hampshire made this change not too long ago.  But NH also dropped about $6 million into robust new retention programs over the last three or four years — because if you suddenly close the legal drop-out door to a small but resource-intensive population, you need to think really carefully about their needs, and the needs of the kids who would now be sharing classroom space with them for an additional two years. So like everything, it’s money.  If we make this move, it costs — just like expanding pre-K or early college programs.  And in this environment (Post-Irene, Great Recession) fists are tight.  My bottom line?  We created the land-grant college system during the Civil War.  We can do this now, if it’s the right thing to do.  And more and more I think it is.

Feel free to use any or none of that rant . . . and I’ll see you soon.


January 27, 2012   Comments Off

Obama’s Challenge

My ears perked up a bit when I heard Obama challenge the states not to let kids drop out of school until age 18.  I think that’s a wise idea.  Right now in Vermont it’s 16.  Now one could argue that raising the no-dropouts threshold to the age of majority limits freedom, but to that I’d say then that we already limit the freedoms of children in many other ways, in particular forcing them to go to school until they’re at least 16.  Dropping out of school before graduating your period of free-to-you, government-sponsored education (ie k-12) is bad for you and bad for society.  Bad for you because you will be less employable, and bad for society because you will be less employable.  It’s a waste of the investment.  If we love our kids we shouldn’t let them drop out of school!  It’s the installation of rigor at an early age that sets the path for a person’s success in life, and a nation is only as good as the people in it.  We need an America Built to Last!  I’m going to bring this up at the next school board policy committee meeting, but I’m not sure a school board policy would supersede state law…  Is there a bill about this in the VT senate now?  The superintendent mentioned there might be…

January 26, 2012   Comments Off

More Chip Mason

Sorry about the lack of blogging.  Do you people know how freaking busy I am?  Full plate people.  Full plate.  I am a very busy, very important man, and I don’t have a lot of time for baloney.  So without further ado- here is the email that helped another very busy, very important man about town win the Ward 5 Democratic city council nomination 100% to zero.  Lady’s and gentleman, Mr. Chip Mason!

On Thu, Jan 12, 2012 at 4:02 PM, Chip Mason <> wrote:

Friends and Neighbors,
I am seeking the nomination for Ward 5 City Councilor at the Ward 5 Democratic caucus next Tuesday, January 17, at 6:00 p.m. at Champlain Elementary School.  I am writing to ask for your support.

Burlington is very important to me.  I am a lifelong Burlington resident who attended Burlington public schools and graduated from the University of Vermont.  I have lived in Ward 5 for over thirteen years with my wife, Rebecca and two daughters.  I have invested a great deal of my time to try to make Burlington an even better place to live and work.  I am an active community volunteer currently serving as a commissioner of the Burlington Employee Retirement Board, on the Board of Directors of the Lund Family Center and the Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation.  I also coach for the Greater Burlington Girls Soccer League, Burlington Catamounts and Burlington Youth Hockey Association.  In my professional life, I am a corporate attorney with a law firm located in downtown Burlington.  In my work, I represent many Vermont-based businesses on a variety of matters including debt and equity financings, mergers and acquisitions.

Iam eager to take the next step and serve the community on the City Council.  I am concerned about the challenges facing Burlington and feel that I have the professional and civic experience to help us face them.  I am excited about the prospect of working with the next Mayor and the City Council to finally deal with these challenges, including the underfunded pension obligation, Burlington Telecom and the Moran Plant.  I believe that my experience and relationships will bolster the City Council’s ability to address these issues. 

I am writing to ask for your help.  If you are able, please attend the caucus on Tuesday the 12th  at 6:00 p.m. and vote for me so that I can be on the ballot in March. 

I have a facebook page at where you can learn more about me.  I am eager to hear from you about the issues you are concerned about in Burlington and Ward 5.

I am ready and eager to serve Ward 5 and the Burlington and hope I can count on your support.

Thank you,

Chip Mason

Scarff Avenue

January 24, 2012   1 Comment

Bob Kiss Vetoes Smoking Ban

Today Mayor Bob Kiss vetoed the Marketplace Smoking Ban passed by the city council 8-6 Monday.  Thank you Bob.  I agree!

“Yana” says thanks again for the flag pin and the maple syrup!

Click here to ready the mayor’s veto message.

January 13, 2012   Comments Off

The Poll

There was a flurry of votes and this is where my mayoral poll appears to be leveling off.  The current results…

Pretty freakishly exactly what you’d expect, isn’t it?  It’s a poll of self-selected participants and not scientific, and this is a snapshot of now, but damn.  Those percentages.  They probably haunt Miro in his sleep.

January 10, 2012   Comments Off

Painful Everything

Ugh.  It looks like there’s some action in the mayor’s race today.  Painful, disappointing, disheartening action that has been unfolding while I’ve toiled today at wherever it is I work.

Friday Kurt called into a live show on channel 17 and said it would be “morally wrong” to walk away from Burlington’s debt to Citibank, whether or not they are successful in their lawsuit to get the 33 million bucks they loaned the city back.

Today Miro pounced on the statement saying it put the city in legal Jeopardy.  Then Kurt accused Miro of going negative.

Kurt is still pushing the sale of BED, which is a bad idea.  Philip seems happy with Miro’s apparent willingness to scrap.

You know Miro has reached out to me in weird ways.  He left me a nice voicemail on the day of the re-vote.  He sent me a nice card (terrible, terrible handwriting) and he’s left a couple of comments on this blog.  But so far he has ignored my request to do an on the record interview.  To this point that’s just as well, since I still haven’t fully recovered from my nearly 2 hour long interview with Tim Ashe.  That transcription was 31 pages long.  It almost killed me.  I saw Tim yesterday at the school board’s legislative party held at Jill Evans’s house.  We had almost the whole school board there and only four legislators- Tim Ashe, Chris Pearson, Jason Lorber and Suzi Wizowati.  It was very nice to meet you Suzi.

Tomorrow the school board will vote to send a double-digit tax increase to voters.  I don’t know if I can support that.  I have this very strong suspicion the school department is wasting money.  For example, nobody seems to know what the “Magnet School Coordinator” does for 100K.  Also we want to buy laptops for every kid whether they already have one or not.  I think that’s probably a waste.  We could lease laptops to the 25% of kids who really need them at a low rate for a fraction of the cost.  And compliance with act 60 is great and everything, but maybe we could spread the pain of taking on take on the cost of  non-teacher retirement over two years instead of one.  That actually was the plan right up until the last minute.  Oh and did you know the school department’s diversity director got a ten thousand dollar raise last year?  And it’s really hard to get a handle on exactly what he does, too. [cut to the Bobs from Office Space: “What would you say it is that you do here?”];  If diversity and equity were truly embedded in the culture of the Burlington School District, we wouldn’t need a separate diversity office (125K), now would we?  Those policies and attitudes would be manifested through our regular old HR department.

Wednesday the Ward 7 Democrats will  caucus (7PM at Burlington College/Catholic Diocese) and will be looking to run a school board candidate.  Yikes!  I hope they just support me, but do I have to call myself a Democrat?  I thought school board races are supposed to be non-partisan!  I’m gonna have to show up there with my petition and hope for the best.

January 9, 2012   6 Comments

Media Bias vs. Wanda Hines

On the Day Wanda Hines announces for mayor…

The Burlington Free Press Website does not have the story present, but they do have a HUGE picture of Peter Clavelle endorsing Weinberger.

WPTZ has a story up titled Miro (6.5 for Miro, 5.5 for  Kurt).

WCAX has Will Burlington’s Next Mayor Inherit Some Old Problems? Excellent question WCAX.  On the surface this piece appears to be critical of Miro Weinberger, but there are 40 lines of text devoted to Miro, 2 lines to Kurt and 2 lines to Wanda.

For more information see Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky.

January 6, 2012   5 Comments

Hines Running for Mayor

Andy Bromage is reporting at Blurt that Wanda Hines has confirmed she is running for mayor of Burlington as an Independent. 

Time for a poll:

Who is your choice for mayor?
Wanda Hines (Independent)
Miro Weinberger (Democratic)
Kurt Wright (Republican)
Free polls from

January 5, 2012   2 Comments

Chip Mason Running for Council

William A. Mason IV, or “Chip” Mason an attorney at for city council at the party’s ward caucus January 17th, 6pm at Champlain Elementary School.  He did not say whether this meant incumbent Democrat and city council president Bill Keogh who’s up for re-election, is stepping down.

January 5, 2012   5 Comments