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Category — CEDO

Before the Leaves Grow…

Miro… if you’re reading… I pretty much just have one request. Right about now with the leaves off the trees you can get a fairly clear view from the base of Pearl Street where the fountain is, straight down to the waterfront. There’s even something of a path on the hill there etched by folks seeking a short cut.

Take a walk down there sometime before the bloom and try to envision what it would be like to transplant the Spanish steps of Rome to that spot. That’s a grand vision, but even a wooden staircase and/or ramp system would tremendously enhance the synergy between the Battery Park and the Waterfront by proving a direct pedestrian link between them.

If you do build a permanent stair and ramp structure in that spot, with benches, landscaping, fountains and amenities, it would be an instant tourist attraction. A vantage for sunset watchers, and a treasure that would last centuries, not decades.

In a hundred years nobody will remember if you fixed Burlington Telecom or fired Larry Kupferman, but if you give the city a grand public work made of stone and iron, then you do have a shot at immortality. As a developer, perhaps you can figure out how to do this project. I hope you can see it. I hope you can do it.

March 12, 2012   7 Comments

Ten Thousand Dollar Task Force

Breaking News

In an email with little precedent, Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) director Larry Kupferman told city councilors on Friday his office cannot afford to staff a task force which the council will vote on creating Monday night.  With little explaination he estimates the council would need to give CEDO an additional $10,000 to staff a proposed new task force on urban agriculture.

Does this mean CEDO is now working at its maximum capacity and cannot take on any more work?  If so, then shouldn’t the council have been alerted to that a while ago?

Below the row of stars to follow is Kupferman’s email and below the row of stars after that is the resolution to be discussed at the 03.21.11 city council meeting. 

*****
From: Larry Kupferman
To: Bram Kranichfeld, Ed Adrian, Joan Shannon, Nancy Kaplan, Vincent Dober, Bill Keogh, David Berenziak, Karen Paul
Cc: Ken Schatz, Richard Haesler, Bob Kiss, Jonathan Leopold, Richard Goodwin
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2011 3:30:03 PM
Subject: Urban Ag Task Force?

Councilors:

I notice that a council resolution entitled “Creation of Urban Agriculture Task Force” is scheduled to be discussed at Monday’s meeting.

I have not been involved in the discussions that have led to this resolution nor consulted about the staff time required to staff a task force of this nature.

Based on my experience with past task forces staffed by CEDO, I will state now that the department does not have funds designated now or in the next budget year for such staff assignment. If Council does not appropriate a sum (I estimate $10,000) for this purpose, I am afraid it will be an unfunded mandate until a way to pay for staffing requirements is determined.

I’ll be glad to discuss the intent of this resolution further before Monday night. Thank you.

Larry

Larry Kupferman
Director
Community and Economic Development Office
City Hall, 149 Church St.
Burlington, VT 05401
direct 802-865-7174
fax: 802-865-7024
www.cedoburlington.org

*****

RESOLUTION RELATING TO CREATION OF
URBAN AGRICULTURE TASK FORCE

WHEREAS, a strong community-based food policy can provide benefits to the citizens of the City of Burlington including access to a healthier diet, a stronger local economy, a more robust food supply, and environmental benefits;

WHEREAS, Burlington is home to innovative, community-based food projects including the Burlington School Food Project, the Burlington Area Community Gardens, the Food Systems Spire at the University of Vermont, and the Intervale Center, a nationally recognized leader in food system innovation;

WHEREAS,Burlington residents are engaging in urban agriculture, defined broadly as “the growing of food and related activities within city boundaries,” including urban homesteading, permaculture, gardening, and community farming;WHEREAS, the City of Burlington currently lacks sufficiently clear regulations or a cohesive policy addressing urban agriculture;WHEREAS, this lack of sufficiently clear regulations or policy can cause confusion and creates an obstacle to engaging in these activities;WHEREAS, there currently is no single governing board devoted to review issues related to urban agricultural activities;

WHEREAS, the City of Burlington currently supports the continued development of a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food policy through the Burlington Food Council;

NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Burlington City Council hereby creates the Urban Agriculture Task Force (“Task Force”) which is charged with recommending to the City Council a cohesive urban agriculture policy, improved rules and regulations addressing urban agriculture, and steps to better promote and govern urban agriculture in Burlington;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Community and Economic Development Office is designated as the lead department for providing staff support for the Task Force with additional staff support to be provided as appropriate and as necessary by the Planning & Zoning Department, the Code Enforcement Office, the Parks & Recreation Department, the City Attorney’s Office, and the Public Works Department; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Task Force shall consist of one (1) member of the Burlington Food Council appointed by the Burlington Food Council, one (1) member of the Board of Health appointed by the Board of Health, one (1) member of the Planning Commission appointed by the Planning Commission, and up to 4 additional community members appointed by the Burlington Food Council;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, in particular, the Task Force is to

(1) Generate a cohesive urban agriculture policy informed in part by current research, best practices, and the needs of City residents,

(2) Review the current rules and regulations that govern urban agriculture in Burlington, including but not limited to city ordinances and zoning regulations,

(3) Seek input from residents, stakeholders, and experts as appropriate, such as the Intervale Center and the UVM Food System Spire;

(4) Identify potential inconsistencies or gaps in the current regulations and make recommendations on clarifying and improving them,

(5) Identify barriers to urban agriculture and make recommendations on how the city can better promote and govern urban agriculture,

(6) Make recommendations on how to integrate the needs of city residents with statewide and regional food system development efforts, and

(7) Create a written action plan including actionable next steps for the City Council and city departments, a timeline and outline of necessary work, and potential funding sources for further policy development and implementation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Task Force shall provide a final, written action plan as outlined above to the City Council within 1 year after adoption of this Resolution by the City Council, with interim reports to the City Council at three-month intervals describing activities to date.

March 20, 2011   8 Comments

Kupferman Confirmed, Gross Out

Breaking News

Larry Kupferman was just reconfirmed as CEDO director by the city council in an 11 to 3 vote with only councilors Keogh, Berezniak and Shannon voting against his re-appointment.

Shannon led the effort against Kupferman, essentially saying he lacked the skills and merit for the job, and alluding to specific concerns which she would not enumerate. “I don’t see the point,” she said about going into specific detail about those concerns.

The rest of the mayor’s appointments were confirmed without discussion, including that of current airport director Brian Searles taking over as interim Parks and Recreation Director. Current director Wayne Gross, mayor Kiss explained, will not be an employee of the city as of July 1.

June 16, 2009   Comments Off

Dems Split on Kupferman

Breaking News

John Briggs at the Free Press has been blogging about how the Dems might not vote to reappoint Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) directory Larry Kupferman at tonight’s city council meeting, but he’s failed to get any of them on the record about why. So I wrote to council Dem Ed Adrian and here’s what he said-

“Haik –

I do not think that at this point the Ds are unanimous on this issue. Some will be voting to reappoint and some will not.

I cannot speak for anybody else, but I will be voting to reappoint. Two weeks ago the public was put on notice that there were concerns that have been raised privately about Mr. Kupferman’s ability to do the job. So far, I am not aware of one person going public with their concerns. I was privately contacted by one person asking me to reappoint and one person asking not to reappoint.

I am not going to deny the Mayor an appointment based on private conversations/concerns. If people really are so concerned with the CEDO Director’s abilities and they have concrete examples, then they should be willing to publically state what they are. I understand the counter-argument which is that it is the Council’s responsibility and not the public’s to vote on reappointment, but in this case I am erring on the side of caution since it concerns an individual, rather than a matter of policy.

Best,
Ed”

So there you have it. Some folks might not like Kupferman, but they are too shy to say why publicly. Based on that I’d have to guess he’ll win re-appointment.

*****

What do you think about the new free press “City Hall” blog by John Briggs? Or Briggs’s reporting in general for that matter? He’s biased right? Doesn’t he clearly seem to hate the mayor? I left a comment on his “Not Exactly” post chiding him a little for injecting his own opinions into the posts, and he still hasn’t approved it. Funny how Steve Benen can write a national blog with thousands of comments and he doesn’t feel the need to vet them first, but Briggs and the Free Press do. Weak.

If I can’t get Paul Decelles on my “live at 5:25″ show tomorrow, I’ll definitely fill some time on it soliciting callers’ opinions on John Briggs’s city hall coverage.

June 15, 2009   1 Comment

Karen Paul Brings It

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?

September 18, 2008   Comments Off

Sparks fly in Council Debates III

When we last left the Ward One debate between Independent Dick Bove, Progressive Megan Munson-Warnken and Democrat Ed Adrian- Bove was talking about how he tried to kill Urban renewal when he was on the council in the sixties, but then councilman (and later mayor) Francis Cain cast the deciding vote in favor of it.

Funny story about Frank Cain-When the cold war ended some friends and I cleaned out the bomb shelter in city hall and found these old reel to reel tapes recorded by mayor Cain to be played in the event of a nuclear war. You know- don’t panic, stay in your homes- that sort of thing. I didn’t hear the tapes but they came with written transcripts. Also in the bomb shelter? Saltines- lots and lots of saltine crackers in big metal canisters that were forty years old and rusting away. Nasty.

All right- let me write about this debate already-

Opening statements (continued):

Ed- living in Burlington since 1996. Concerned about “process.” Examples of issues where he’s had concerns about process: School Redistricting and YMCA. Wants to promote a family environment.

Megan- “Deeply invested in Burlington.” “Every day we are walking, driving and biking in Burlington.” “I can be a bold creative and very thoughtful voice for Ward One.”

Call-in question: What’s up with the openness of some local political caucuses and the closed nature of others?

Ed- SEI discussion has been too one-way.

Megan- Only a handful of people go to city council meetings.

Dick- Thank God for Channel 17.

Call-in question: What’s the role of the city council in the school budget?

Megan- I’ll know more “once I get in there and start asking those kinds of questions.”

Dick- Easy question. The council doesn’t have a role in the school budget. That’s what the school board is for.

Ed- That’s why we have a school board.

Question: Reaction to SEI Task Force?

Dick- We have to consolidate schools to keep taxes low.

Ed- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Magnet elementary schools don’t make sense. Ward One voters usually approve school budgets overwhelmingly. Happiness of the children is very important.

Megan- SEI task force has started “wildfires” but I’m not necessarily opposed to their ideas.

Question: Waterfront?

Ed- Keep the ‘north forty’ open. Rip down the Moran plant.

Megan- Maybe retrofit Moran.

Dick- Tony Pomerleau wanted a high-rise on the 40, but Bernie stopped it. The waterfront is “Bernie’s field of dreams.” YMCA deal was suspect because CEDO people were on the YMCA board of directors, etc. Rip down Moran. Fixing it up would be “throwing good money after bad.”

Question: Main economic driver in Burlington?

Megan- UVM-FAHC, tourism and small biz.

Dick- Let’s bring football back. Keep people living downtown. That’s beautiful. Reduce bureaucracy at city hall.

Ed- Let’s look beyond CEDO.

Question: Zoning Rewrite?

Ed- Very important process but hard to make it interesting for people.

Megan- Frustrated with zoning process. “Five years is a long time.” (Note- Megan Munson-Warnken has only lived in Burlington about three years. Unless you happen to know that, it might sound like she’s been watching the process for the last five years. She hasn’t.)

Dick- Owners of historic houses in Burlington are getting totally screwed by a myriad of complicated regulations. (Teacher and Athena Club Chess Guy Bill McGrath recently testified to the city council regarding just this.)

Closing statements.

Blah blah blah. Ed announced his blog and actually gave out his cell phone number. That’s incredible. I’ve never seen another candidate do that. Jerry Brown announced 1-800-426-1112 a lot in 1992 (a number he’s used for subsequent campaigns) but Ed gave out his personal cell number. That’s a clear signal he will be an accessible and engaging councilor if he wins the election.

Debate winner: Ed Adrian.

****
Next debate: Ward three incumbent Tim Ashe faces independent challenger Loyal Ploof. In a nutshell- Tim crushed Loyal twenty million to zero in their debate. Sorry Loyal. Tim was extremely articulate and clearly has commanding knowledge of the issues. Not to mention his positions are totally spot-on. Loyal…not so much.

Debate winner: Tim Ashe.
****

Coming Monday- I tell you who should win this year and why… Stay tuned!!

February 28, 2007   Comments Off

Burlington Progressives Caucus II

AGENDA

I. Welcome
Amy Stewart- chair Burlington City Progressive Committee
Colin Robinson- vice chair of the Burlington City Progressive Committee

Between 31-35 people attended.

II. Bob Kiss

Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss is introduced and speaks first.

BK- ‘People were[2006] voting for the history the Progressives represent.’ ‘ There is power in the mayor’s seat and how that power is used makes a difference.’

Kiss said he had recently attended a design institute at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) with six other mayors, some of whom told him they wished they had some of Burlington’s problems, such as traffic congestion in their downtowns. He said Burlington’s “success story” was good but also posed some threats. “We don’t want to become a Disney World.” Kiss said.

Kiss said Progressives generally should keep focus on Housing, Healthcare, and from Burlington’s perspective getting more PILOT (payments in lieu of property taxes from VT to the city for state owned buildings.) He mentioned something about “the Champlain Parkway” but in the interest of full disclosure I should tell you I’m not even sure what that is. Is that the same as the “southern connector?” Is that the thing that’s cut in two by Pine Street down by K-mart? You’d think I would know something like that. Anyone who knows about the Champlain Parkway is invited to comment.

Kiss said that after many years of Clavelle in charge, aspects of city government are finally starting to reflect his own touch where changes have been made. Kiss quipped that he used to oppose extending the term of the mayor, but now as mayor appreciates having a third year. He said he came to the job “with a fair amount of knowledge,” yet still has been learning a lot about Burlington’s operation.

III. Dave Zuckerman and Chris Pearson

State Representatives Dave Zuckerman and Chris Pearson (both from Chittenden 3-4) spoke next. Chris Pearson was appointed by Governor Douglas last year to fill Bob Kiss’s seat when he became mayor. In November he won election is his own right from 3-4 and has also been elected by the Progressive house caucus to be their leader. Chris reported to his party caucus that the Progressive delegation was receiving relatively good amounts of ink of late from the Burlington Free Press who, he said, had quoted him in all of, and Dave Zuckerman in two of the “four or five” stories about the new legislature thus far. Pearson said he was pleased with how Progressives were being treated by their counterparts from the other parties, and with his appointment to the government operations committee. He noted the start of a new Progressive Party Blog, and said he was going on the program “Under the Dome” with Mark Johnson Tuesday at eight o’clock. Zuckerman noted, among other things, that he had just been sent to the legislature for the sixth time.

IV. School Board Member and Candidate Introductions

School Commissioners Marissa Caldwell (W3) and Chris Haessly (W2) spoke next. Caldwell said the School Board had just passed a budget that included funding for a librarian at Barnes and a librarian at Wheeler, and for after-school programs used by seventy percent of the district’s kids. Pearson said he is on the SEI (Socioeconomic Integration) task force. (He later told me he had a long SEI discussion with my across the street neighbor Tom the night before.) Pearson said it had been twelve years since there had been a “comprehensive look” at the district, and the he hoped more people would take a ‘long term’ view when it came to the mission of the board.

Then Chris asked that the meeting participate in a moment of silence for the ninety-fifth anniversary of the Bread and Roses strike and for the groundbreaking participation of women and immigrants in that event.

V. City Council Member and Candidate Introductions

Speaking from Ward Two was Jane Knodell who (You may recall Jane came in second in the “Crackpot Mock Poll” I took back in Whenever.) noting that she has served six non-consecutive terms on the city council, and is currently on the Board of Finance, said it is fun working under a new mayor with a fresh set of eyes. “There’s always going to be a lot of push-back whenever changes are made,” Knodell said “but we should be continually re-thinking service delivery.”

Knodell said she had been involved with Burlington’s Legacy Project with a focus on encouraging development in the urban core for to prevent sprawl and protect the environment. She said Barnes and Wheeler schools continue to be an important part of community development in the old north end and that she planned on helping “amp up” the city’s fair housing efforts. Lastly she floated the idea of a downtown ice skating rink in Burlington à la Rockefeller Center.

Next up was Ward Three city councilor Tim Ashe who started out with great praise for the mayor who he said has been amazing in his ability to find savings in the city budget. He said it was great to work with Jane Knodell whom he described as “smarter than everyone else.” Tim said he looked forward to continuing work on issues like development and housing.

VI. Ward Caucuses for Candidate Nominations

Both Knodell and Ashe were unanimously re-nominated on voice votes.

Now I’m not a reporter so I don’t have to feel too bad about this, but there was a woman there by the name of Jen from Ward Two, who may have been nominated to run for school board, but I’m not sure. If anyone wants to fill me in, feel free.

VII. Dinner

VIII. Informal Questions and Answers.

People pretty much skipped to the Q&A while dinner preparations were underway. I think it’s worthy of mentioning that the dinner immediately following the Progs caucus cost $3.00 per person whereas the dinner immediately following the Democratic Party caucus cost $25.00 per person.

I jumped over to the table at which sat Bob Kiss and Don Horenstein….

*****

Coming up…

My conversation with Horenstein and follow ups with Bob Kiss and Jane Knodell in:

Burlington Progressives Caucus III

Watch for it!

January 15, 2007   Comments Off