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Category — Peter Clavelle

Five Years Ago

February 5, 2011   1 Comment

Interview with the Mayor

Friday was the first time I’ve been in the mayor’s office in almost exactly 20 years. Twenty years ago around this time in January I went there to tell Peter Clavelle I was running against him in his first bid for re-election. He suggested I run for the school board instead. I probably should have listened to him. All well.

I’ve finished transcribing my interview with mayor Kiss. My thanks to him for for taking the time to speak with me on the record, and my thanks to you for reading Visit often!

Click here to read 01.14.11 Interview with mayor Bob Kiss.

January 17, 2011   19 Comments

Poopsie for Shumlin

My wife Poosie is all into Peter Shumlin for governor. She likes his appearance, she likes his voice and she likes what he stands for- fiscally conservative and environmentally liberal she says. She loves his nose.

I think p-p-p puttin’ on the ‘witz has a lock, but I also thought Hinda Miller had lock on mayor of Burlington and that Hillary Clinton had lock on president. Women rarely become chief executives. Markowitz just seems like the best candidate to me right now. But it’s early.

Poopsie is definitely not into Racine. She always likes to brag about voting for Douglas over him in 2002. I never had the guts to go all the way and vote for Douglas. I voted for Racine in 2002, Clavelle in 2004, Benjamin Clark in 2006 and Tony O’Connor in 2008. These four votes were made with both increasing enthusiasm and increasing apathy. That’s right. Enthusiasm and apathy are not mutually exclusive, as nihilistic as that may sound. Not when it comes to the last three gubernatorial elections in which there was never any question who would win.

I like Jim Douglas. I never voted for him, but I’ve always liked him. Next year we will elect new governor of Vermont. The first republic in North America. The fourteenth state in the USA.

November 17, 2009   1 Comment

Bob Kiss For Mayor

I am so late with this endorsement. I didn’t really feel right about openly supporting Bob before I had actually published my interviews with all the candidates. I realized that would be weird when Eva Sollberger asked me if I had an endorsement at the Seven Days debate, just minutes after Kurt and I had agreed to meet. I actually had the stink of responsibility on me this election. I promised Eva I’d eventually make an endorsement and here it is…

…But first: Let’s dispense with the pleasantries and get the city council endorsements and predictions out of the way. No graphics for the city council races. Sorry kids. Quick and dirty. Here we go.

Ward 1- Endorsement: Bushor. / Prediction: Bushor.
Ward 2- Endorsement: None. / Prediction: Mulvaney-Stanak
Ward 3- Endorsement: Caldwell. / Prediction: Caldwell.
Ward 4- Endorsement: None. / Prediction: Kenworthy.
Ward 5- Endorsement: Shannon / Prediction: Shannon.
Ward 6- Endorsement: None. / Prediction: Kehoe.
Ward 7- Endorsement: Lesser-Goldsmith. / Prediction: Lesser-Goldsmith

Note: Ward Three- David Cain: What the hell is “UC-La?” I’ve heard of Pepperdine!

Note: Ward Seven- Eli Lessor-Goldsmith: You must keep your promise to live-blog from city council meetings.

OK. Now the mayor’s race-

Prediction- Only a fool would pretend to know how this one will go down. I will say this, though. I remember running into Richard Sugarman up at UVM the day before Town Meeting in 1993. He was frantically scrapping around, looking for Clavelle votes in a panic.

A national change-election in 1992 preceeded a Burlington change-election in 1993. Same for 1980 nationally and 1981 here. Obviously 2008 was a national change-election. So if it worked out that way here in Burlington for 2009, there would be precedent.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Bob Kiss has done a very good job in his first term. When it comes to what counts- the budget, taxes, streets, sidewalks and basic city services- his challengers don’t go there. They go after vague concepts like “leadership.”

Peter Clavelle left a mess behind for Bob Kiss to clean up and a couple of live grenades with their pins pulled to boot. Joe McNeil’s insane sexual misconduct and Brendan Keleher’s corrupt personal raid on the pension fund jump to mind.

If Kiss loses, I think he’d have a right to contemplate the twisted irony of a universe that would give Clavelle fifteen years as mayor and him only three. Which is to say, I think Bob Kiss is a better mayor than Peter Clavelle was. Kiss created a rainy day fund for the city. Wisdom. Quiet wisdom.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Don’t be fools Burlington. Stick to the devil you know. Dance with the one that brung ya. Don’t change horses mid-stream.

And yes. Everybody hates Jonathan Leopold. Everybody thinks Leopold has too much power, or is the one really running the city. But let’s remember people. The whole CAO system is new. I think we will have some of the same complaints with the next CAO too. I mean you slip in a brand new position right below the mayor and above everyone else, and sure people are going to see the person in that position as running the city. The CAO system is stupid. The mayor is the CAO. I don’t understand why having someone who wasn’t elected helping to do the mayor’s job is a good thing at all.

But let’s face it also. Leopold is Bob’s main problem. To be honest I wish he’s fired him a year ago. Absent that, they could have at least manufactured some public disagreement for show, so that Bob could have been seen as putting Leopold in his place a time or two. No need to have a real disagreement even, but it would have helped this mayor a lot to have invented one for public consumption. Play a little “good-cop” to Leopold’s “bad-cop.” But no. He didn’t. So here we are.

Bob is my first choice. He’s the best. And if we toss him out we’re a bunch of fools who when full of bread, forget about bread and think only of circuses. Are we so petulant as to stomp our feet and complain because Bob Kiss is not a fire breathing dragon, or clown juggling bowling pins?

The entire nation is crumbling around us, but Burlington is still pretty good. We have good leadership now. We’re going to toss out, the oldest, wisest, smarted, most serious person in the race? The one with a track record of doing a pretty damned good job?

We can’t be that stupid. If you’re reading this on election day and you’re still making up your mind, I urge you to vote for Bob Kiss as your first choice for mayor today. Do it because it’s in the best interest of our city.

Yes. Yes. You want to know my second choice, and all of that. Stupid IRV. Fine. My second choice is Dan. Dan F. Kennedy Smith. If we’re going to change, then let’s really change. I’m talking Camelot. I share a generational connection with Dan. He speaks in terms of solar power and regional planning that allows people to walk places instead of drive. I get that. His learning curve would be huge and he’d have all these developers crowding around him trying to tell him what to do, but I still like him. I think he would be very engaged and he would excite a lot of interest in local politics, which can only be good for this blog. Plus, it was Dan’s campaign that got me started doing all my interviews with the mayoral candidates. They reached out to me, and once I had interviewed Dan, I was stuck. I had to interview everybody else too. So you can thank Dan Smith for that.

I toyed with making Kurt number two, but nah. Kurt’s number three. Andy’s number four. Regardless of what may actually happen today, this is what I see. I see Marcellus Wallace telling both Kurt and Andy “You came close, but you never made it. If you were going to make it, you would have made it before now.”

Again- the pictures may not accurately predict what’s going to go down tonight. But what the hell. I have to give you people something. You’re good readers and you deserve it. During this election you have given this blog your clicks and comments more than ever before, and I’m very grateful.

Thanks for reading Visit often!

March 3, 2009   Comments Off

Second 2009 Mayoral Debate II

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.

February 5, 2009   Comments Off

Adrian Drops Mayoral Bid

The five day mayoral campaign.

Ed Adrian has sent an email to supporters announcing his decision to drop out of the mayoral race this year. Here it is…

“Fellow Burlingtonians,

Less then a week ago I announced my intention to run for Mayor of Burlington. I am writing to you again to let you know that this is no longer my intent. The thrust of my platform was to make Burlington a 21st Century city that would encourage families of all types to stay and move into Burlington.

Thanks to all of you who have reached out to me in the interceding time period. However, it has become evident to me that if I put 100% of my efforts into helping the families of Burlington, I will not be giving my young family the attention it deserves. This decision has not been made lightly, however it has been made that much easier in that I am confident that the only other announced Democrat in the race, Andy Montroll will be striving towards many of the same goals that I planned to work on. I will be working vigorously on Andy’s campaign and hope you will join me in that pursuit.

It is also evident to me that were I to start down a similar path in the future, there are a number of bridges I need to build, as well as some that I need to work on repairing. Over the months and years to come, it is my intention to reach out to those who share similar ideological interests, even if our partisan allegiances differ.

I hope to see you all at the Democratic Caucus at Champlain Elementary on December 3, 2008 at 6:30 PM.


Well that was fast. What do you suppose that ‘bridge building’ paragraph was about? “..intention to reach out to those who share similar ideological interests, even if our partisan allegiances differ.” Do you think he’s talking about David Zuckerman and the bitter aftermath of the Chittenden 3-4 legislative race?

Well anyway… it looks like Andy Montroll is finally going to get his shot after losing the democratic mayoral nomination to “fusion” candidate Peter Clavelle in 2003 and to State Senator Hinda Miller in 2006.

Now it seems we’ll have Kiss, Montroll, Wright and possibly Smith on the ballot for mayor in March. Let’s see what happens next…

November 17, 2008   Comments Off

Elijah Bordello

I ran into Elijah Wood downtown after work today. I figured I’d say hello, since you don’t run into too many movie stars around here who aren’t Luis Guzmán. I introduced myself as a friend of Cooley’s to give him a frame of reference. He was very nice and introduced me to his girlfriend Pamela Racine. She asked me if I was coming to the show tonight at higher ground. Show? Oh. Gogol Bordello, her band, and Eugene’s, is in town tonight. I told her I wish I could, but I have these two little kids at home you see… She said her brother has the same excuse. They both said Burlington is a great town.

When I got back to my car I realized I had left my keys back at the office. Darn. I called Poopsie. She had to drop off some books at the Fletcher anyway, so I had a nice chat with Caribbean Pat, grabbed a beer at the OP and met her and the library. We decided to take a walk up Church Street. Crossing Winooski at College we saw Bernie Sanders walking by Pure Pop. Then we crossed paths with Peter Clavelle who was walking East on College. I can’t tell if he said hi to us or not. Poopsie thought he did. I think he might have just been glancing at her because she’s hot. I took a look back to see if Bernie and Peter were going to run into each other. I’d have been interested to see how they react when they cross paths, but I think Bernie was already across College by the time Clavelle got there. All well. I still remember somebody in Peter’s office back in 1989 saying “Somebody should tell Bernie he’s not mayor anymore!” Ah. The good old days.

Anyway. We took our walk and had a nice time. Koko and Yanna danced to the one-man-band guy before we headed back to Poopsie’s car. Then she went home and I went and got gas, picked up blankets at the laundry, bought some food at Hannaford and some deodorant and razor blades at Rite Aid. New north end Rite Aid. Not downtown Rite Aid. Damn it’s amazing how fast you can drop $80 on a Tuesday.

Now I’m home blogging and Poopsie is not happy about it. I gotta get off the computer and go help with the kids and dinner. It would be fun to be moshing at the Bordello show tonight, but hey- I’m 35 and I have a good life.

I wouldn’t trade it.

August 5, 2008   Comments Off

Amateur Hour at City Hall II

Amateur Hour at City Hall II: Confusion in Ward 7 Vote Count IV

Andy Potter has the story for Channel 3. Sam Hemmingway has it for the Free Press.

The Free Press’s website isn’t great, by the way. It’s visually hectic and poorly organized. They make you answer a survey and they only keep their stories up for about a week. Then you have to pay for them. They didn’t even have a non-scientific poll disclaimer on their dumb online poll, until I suggested it. On the other hand, they do have Ed Shamy. But I digress.

Getting back to my coverage of the hearing last Wednesday… The ladies at the courthouse couldn’t copy the complaint for me because it was upstairs at the hearing. I guess they only had one copy. I couldn’t take pictures without asking the judge for permission, so forget that.

I said hello to Paul Decelles and asked him for a quote. He said he was “disappointed” and said O’Sullivan’s case was “purely partisan.”


All rise for Judge Dennis Pearson. You may be seated.

The Plaintiff: Jean O’Sullivan and attorney Jake Perkinson

The Defendants: Jonathon Leopold, Assistant City Attorney Eugene Bergman, City Attorney Ken Schatz.

Seated in the courtroom: Ben Pacy, Roxanne Leopold, Andy Potter, Sam Hemmingway, Channel 3′s videographer, the Free Press’s photographer, Paul Decelles, me, Kurt Wright, Barbara Perry, David Berezniak, David Zuckerman, and a few people I didn’t recognize.

The first thing Judge Pearson did was take Leopold’s name off the case. The case would be against the city in general, not Leopold specifically. Then he denied the city’s motion to dismiss the case. Then Ken Schatz asked to have the case continued for further discovery, but he didn’t have a decent answer to “what further discovery would you do?” when asked by the judge. The judge said “the complaint as a whole states a viable claim” that there was a ‘defect in the election that questions its validity’ so the hearing proceeded.

Editor’s Note- The following is not word for word quotation, unless it happens to be in quotes. The Q&A may not be in perfect chronological order either, but they are close. These questions and answers are mostly paraphrased, but they give you the gist of what I heard. [My commentary will be bold.]

Perkinson called Leopold to the stand.

Leopold hobbled over with crutches and was sworn in. Leopold explained that he is the city’s chief administrative officer (CAO) which means he is the Clerk-Treasurer. As the Treasurer, he is the CAO (yeah right? that’s circular logic) and as Clerk, he “has general responsibilities for city functions, including overseeing the elections.” He said there are about 35 people working under him in the Clerk-Treasurer’s office, eight of whom worked on elections in some way.

Perkinson: Who managed the staff directly?

Leopold: Ben Pacy.

Perkinson: You are not responsible for what Pacy does?

Leopold: Basically no, because I was out of the office. Pacy only asked me a couple of questions leading up to the election of March 4 and I didn’t discuss it with him again until two days after.

[This was a very disappointing answer. Leopold said he was not responsible for the actions of his subordinate. That is incorrect and dishonorable.]

Perkinson: Are you aware of the legal requirement to attend an election workshop?

Leopold: No, but Ben Pacy was in contact with the Secretary of State’s office.

Perkinson: Do you know anyone in the Clerk’s office who has had any election training?

Leopold: We used to have Jo LaMarche, but she quit in December.

[Jo LaMarche was the true City Clerk and she was shafted for years by Clavelle (in favor of Brendan “13K extra for life” Keleher) and now unfortunately by the Kiss administration. To think this Ben Pacy character was above her in the pecking order! That’s an outrage! Burlingtonians should be outraged by that. Is it any wonder she quit?]

Perkinson: Do you think it was appropriate for Pacy to break the seals?

Leopold: Assistant city attorney Bergman said it was legal. The Secretary of State’s office was unclear on that point.

[Dude… Yes or No please. What do you think? Because if you think it was OK, you’re nuts. And he didn’t even know Pacy broke the seal until the following Saturday?]

Perkinson: Is it your belief that no party should hold a majority on the city council?

Leopold: Yes. It makes my job easier if no party holds a majority.

[It would be harder to do the bidding of a Progressive mayor if the Progressive’s had a majority?]

Perkinson: Did you tell Barbara Perry you were supporting her opponent because you didn’t want to see Ed Adrian gain any more influence on the city council?

Leopold: No, I wouldn’t have said such a thing.

Perkinson: Did you meet with any sitting city councilors to discuss strategy leading up to this last election?

Leopold: I met with Kurt Wright and Jane Knodell, along with David Zuckerman, Karen Paul and her husband to talk about how to support Karen’s campaign.

Perkinson: When was this?

Leopold: I don’t remember. I was recovering from my motorcycle accident and out of sorts because of medication. Maybe it was a Saturday. And except for Kurt Wright, we all met again the following Saturday to discuss the election.

[Great. You’re whacked out on drugs because you tried to jump 40 barrels on your motorcycle and broke your leg, and you have an amateur with no training running the election. Later Leopold admitted he tried to put Pacy out in front on the recount too, before pressure forced him to do it himself. ]

Perkinson: Did anyone at these meetings question the propriety of the person in charge of counting the ballots working on a campaign?

Leopold: No.

The witness is dismissed. Ben Pacy is called to the stand and sworn in.

Perkinson: Are the votes supposed to be counted at the polling place?

Pacy: “In a perfect world.”

[So what about IRV? If the votes have to be counted at the polling place, then IRV is against the city charter because the mayoral votes are now gathered at city hall and counted. And they’re counted by Terry Boricious. I can’t say I’m all that comfortable with that, either.]

Perkinson: “Is it your understanding that it is the duty of the clerk to ensure ballot boxes aren’t tampered with?”

Pacy: We put the boxes in a safe place. In the Clerk’s office in City Hall.

Perkinson: What authority allowed you to break the seals?

Pacy: I had a time crunch. I only had 48 hours to certify the election.

[You dummy! A time crunch doesn’t give you any authority to break into the ballot box! Did you seriously not understand the question?]

Judge Pearson: What was the discrepancy that made you take action?

Pacy: There were approximately 70 hand counts. The tabulator counted 971-958 but there was all this hand written stuff on the tabulation sheet…36, 20, 3, 4… so the number represented to the folks at the polling station was 1010-982. The guy from LHS thought ward 7 was weird too. That’s a high number of handcounts. I called the ward clerk Diane and asked how many handcount ballots there were and she said six or seven. I broke the seal on the box that said B, C, and D ballots. “I was a little nervous about it” so I asked Sue Trainer from the Clerk’s office to join me.

[The numbers were all a jumble. I never really have been able to follow what happened since the time Kurt Wright told me about all this weirdness in the grocery store. But for Pacy to say “I was a little nervous about it” shows very clearly that he knew it was wrong to tamper with the ballots. Like it’s not obvious. But what may be obvious to most people, might not be obvious to Pacy, if his testimony is any guide. Still this statement is a clear admission of a guilty conscience.]

Perkinson: How was the tabulation sheet transmitted to you from the polling place?

Pacy: Somebody in the Clerk’s office handed it to me.

[No, you dope! Was it FAXed, emailed, delivered by currier, or what? “Somebody handed it to me.” Give me a break! He didn’t even know who!]

Perkinson: Did you ever compare the vote totals to the entrance checklist?

Pacy: No.

Judge Pearson: Do you have anything that shows the total number of votes cast?

Pacy: No.

Perkinson: When you broke the ballot box open, were there other people in the room?

Pacy: There were like fifteen people all over the place.

Perkinson: When did you learn you would take the lead role in running this election?

Pacy: I was appointed in November to oversee the Clerks’s office. I didn’t know I’d be running the election until Jo LaMarche quit in December.

Perkinson: Did Jonathan Leopold give you any direction or training on how to come up to speed on how to run an election?

Pacy: No, but I was in contact with the Secretary of State’s office getting pointers on how to run the election. “I got the impression the Secretary of State’s office was a little concerned.”

[Did he just say that? That’s pretty damning.]

Perkinson: So you were responsible for your own training?

[Has anybody seen Stripes? Where Bill Murry, Harold Ramis and John Candy have to train themselves? “Boom Chuga-Luga-Luga! Boom Chuga-Luga-Luga! Boom Chuga-Luga-Luga! Boom!” It’s funny in a Bill Murry movie. Not so much in a Burlington election.]


That’s all I could stay for. I only expected the thing to run an hour and I had been there two. Poopsie needed me to run an errand and my parking meter had expired. And yes, I got a $10 parking ticket, but I hope this post is worth more than that to the city. I missed Barbara Perry’s testimony and that of whomever else, unfortunately. But since it took almost a week to write up my notes, I guess I should be satisfied with the part of the hearing I witnessed.

A couple of things. One- Bob Kiss: You can’t just let this slide. You need to fire Pacy or Leopold, or both. If not fire, then demote, suspend or punish somehow. You have to do something. Somebody on your team tampered with the ballots. Do something about it, or you risk losing the endorsement of this blog. Ben Pacy seems like a nice guy who made a mistake. He wasn’t trying to change the election, but he made a serious mistake. He is in a position he is not qualified to handle. Through his entire testimony I never had the feeling that he “got it.” Pacy was defiant and annoyed. Never contrite. Leopold was defiant and aloof. Never contrite. The person in charge of running the election needs to understand the sanctity of the ballot box. Pacy doesn’t, therefore he isn’t qualified. He’s got the wrong job. Maybe move him back to Parks.

Two- This whole “Clerk-Treasurer-CAO” thing is baloney. It’s a worse idea than merging Police and Fire. The functions are different. Leopold is the Treasurer, just as he was in the 80s. The “CAO-” Chief Administrative Officer is the Mayor, really. We still need a City Clerk, and we will never get one better than Jo LaMarche was, even though she never got the title. To think Ben Pacy was her boss is an outrage. And I am sorry, Mr. Kiss. Even you were not in the courtroom last Wednesday- it’s your administration and the buck stops with you.

April 7, 2008   Comments Off

Council Unknowingly Approves Double Pension

The Burlington Free Press reports Peter Clavelle and Brendan Keleher were able to slip an extra pension for Keleher past the board of finance and the full city council in 2005:

“…In September 2005, approximately two months before Keleher announced his retirement, Clavelle asked the Board of Finance to allow Keleher to join the pension system, with pension credits retroactive to 1990. He also requested that his top financial officer be allowed to keep the payments the city had made over the years into his private plan. He made no mention of the interest those payments had earned.

Clavelle said in an explanatory memo to the board that allowing Keleher to keep the money from his private plan would compensate Keleher for years of underpayment. Clavelle also argued that allowing Keleher into the pension system would act as an inducement to keep Keleher on the job. The board unanimously approved the request…”

“Years of underpayment.” That’s rediculous. All Clavelle did was make Brendan Keleher Jo LaMarche’s boss and give him all the credit for her hard work. What about the years of underpayment suffered by Jo? Well, we’ve lost her now, and that’s too bad.

But why did the board of finance approve this unanimously? Why did the city council? Is Peter Clavelle some kind of hypnotist? No! But he is foxy, and the council is weak. That’s what allowed this to happen. People on the city council are deathly afraid of looking as confused and uninformed as they really are. So they all hold hands and walk blindly together, trusting in the mayor to lead them. After all, it’s the mayor who has a full time salary, a staff, an office, an operating budget and a parking spot. He must know better than any one of the fourteen lowly city councilors, right? Well, apparently…

“…In December 2005, after Keleher’s retirement, the City Council accepted the minutes of the September board meeting, but it didn’t discuss Keleher’s pension arrangement.

Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold said in November that the total city pension payments to Keleher, based on calculations from actuarial assumptions, could amount to $510,000. Keleher was 59 when he retired from the city to take another job. City officials have said the arrangement with Keleher was unprecedented…”

$510,000. That’s over half a million dollars coming out of the city’s pension fund which Keleher himself has said is in deep trouble.

The point is, we need somebody on the city council who isn’t afraid to get in the mayor’s face every now and then. Who will keep pressing until you get answers. Who isn’t afraid to stick out like a sore thumb, and say “Hey! Wait a minute! Why the hell are we about to give an extra pension to Brendan Keleher?! That’s not right!”

That’s why the council exists, actually. It’s the legislative civic counterweight to the executive authority of the mayor, and they need to start feeling their oats a little more. The city is growing and changing all the time, and we need leaders with open eyes, independent thoughts and firm voices.

I’m Haik Bedrosian, and I approved this message.

March 29, 2008   Comments Off

Interview with Paul Decelles

There was a recount tonight to determine if councilor Decelles is actually re-elected over Democratic challenger Steven McIntyre. It went 779 to 764 in favor of Decelles. What happened to those other 50 votes?

And now… The BurlingtonPol Interview: Paul Decelles

Here at last is the long awaited interview between BurlingtonPol (Haik Bedrosian) and Republican freshman incumbent, and senior Ward 7 city councilor, Paul Decelles, 30. Currently is the youngest city council member. This interview was conducted on the morning of December 27, 2007 at the Bagel Café in the Ethan Allen Shopping Center.

BP- When the Hell are you going to pave Matthew Avenue?!
PD- I asked Steve Goodkind specifically about Matthew Ave. A few meetings back he gave us a hand out that scored all city streets. Most streets in your neighborhood averaged around a 75. That is pretty good. Mathew Avenue received a 22. A score of 61 is fair and a score of 51 is failing. I told him “Steve please give me some words of wisdom to share with folks who live on Matthew. They ask me why they have to drive on the moon to get home, or whether their share of property tax isn’t good enough…I don’t know what to tell them!” Steve Said Matthew is slated to be repaired this summer.

BP- Hmmm… “repaired,” huh?… So what’s going on at city hall?
PD- Things are relatively quiet right now. The council is about to ratify the zoning re-write.

BP- How about the Beltline slip ramp closure?
PD- It seems like it is working, but in the first three or four days after it closed, I got non-stop complaints about it by phone and email, but Steve Goodkind said he heard some positive feedback. Neil Lunderville speaks as if there will be no state money to make the change permanent.

BP- Is the rumor about Craig Gutchell stepping down this year true?
PD- Craig will finish his full elected term, but he is frustrated with the slowness of government.

BP- Compare and contrast Ian Carlton with Kurt Wright as city council presidents.
PD- Ian was very regulated and precise. Kurt has a different style. More laid back, but still in control. Kurt will crack a joke, or maybe Bill Keogh will- and it might break some tension or give us that needed pause- it’s useful to have a laugh and take a deep breath sometimes. I’d say we’re as productive or even more productive under Kurt as we were under Ian Carlton. It’s sort of like a “business-casual” style with Kurt, whereas Ian was more of a “three piece suit” guy.

BP- You have one daughter right?
PD- Yes, Ella. She’s 4.

PB- How does being a parent inform your work on the council?
PD- Well take zoning for example. Throughout this whole process I’ve kept my mind on how it will effect the city twenty, thirty years from now. How it will effect the business climate in Burlington? How will it effect the new north end? Will my daughter is grown up, will she love the neighborhood like I do? Will she be able to live here?

BP- Speaking of the zoning re-rewrite, there seemed to be an awful lot of cooperation between the Progressives and the Republicans on that. What’s with the unholy alliance?
PD- Kurt, Jane Tim and myself got together at Kurt’s to meet on this stuff. Kurt and I sided with the Progs on a number of business and economic issues, like setbacks, and bonuses for environmental efficiencies. For example on LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design]- those aren’t the law, they’re just standards, so we agreed with the Progressives that there should be bonuses for LEED construction. Democrats on the council were more towards the opinion that LEED should be made the minimum.

BP- I know it’s not in your ward, but have you been through the intersection of North and South Prospect where they intersect at Pearl Street and Colchester Avenue? You know, between Dewey Hall and the De Goesbriand?
PD- Yes.

BP- That intersection sucks, doesn’t it? It’s skewed so nobody knows who’s supposed to go when and it’s always a dangerous mess. I have an idea for staggering the lights that might fix the problem. Of the four directions covered by the existing light, only have it green for one direction at a time, and maybe rotate clockwise which direction gets the green light while all the others are red. No more tangles and it would be a lot cheaper for the city than physically changing the road.
PD- I’ll take ideas from anywhere. There are professionals at city hall, but sometimes Johnny Public has better ideas. That’s why I love public forum- The guy with the guitar- That’s democracy! It’s a town meeting feel. I try not to take bathroom breaks during the public forums.

BP- What happened to the City Kids program?
PD- Last summer it was consolidated from Parks to the School District. Many kids were already being served after school by both programs and the School District has federal funding to run it. Under Parks and Recreation City Kids relied on fees and state subsidies. But we definitely still have the City Kids.

BP- What’s your take on Jonathan Leopold? I mean, is he the Bad Cop to Bob Kiss’s Good Cop, or what? Do people hate working under him? I mean, what’s the story?
PD- Jon runs things different than Brendan. Keleher would answer questions, or speak at certain appropriate times, but Jon really likes to talk- and Bob will defer to him on a lot of the substantive dollar issues. And Bob is a lot different than Clavelle. Clavelle was a consummate politician. He loved the camera. He loved the limelight. Bob, not so much.

BP- Hmmm…. Changing the subject- Do you go to church?
PD- Yes, my family and I attend services at North Avenue Alliance Church every Sunday. We’re Protestants. Our church lets us have a more direct relationship with God. They sort of take the middle-man out.

BP- OK I know national politics and local politics are totally different animals, but you are a Republican. What do you think of some of the thing Republicans are doing lately? Do you think waterboarding should be allowed, for example? Or is it torture? Should America be torturing people?
PD- That’s a tough one. I’ve never seen waterboarding done. But I do think that 2001 changed everything.

BP- Let’s talk about Burlington Telecom. Are or were you in favor of the city getting into the telecom business?
PD- You have to ask yourself if this is something government should be doing? Should government be competing with private companies providing these same services? But at this point, Burlington Telecom is here and I think from the city’s standpoint, we have to make it succeed now. BT just signed up its 2000th customer, and we think there are potentially 12 or 14 thousand more potential customers in the city.

BP- Some people have been critical of the mayor’s reluctance to sell BT services or bandwidth to neighboring communities. What are your thoughts on that?
PD- I actually agree with Bob on this. We don’t have all the kinks worked out. We don’t have HDTV yet. There are a lot of people in our city yet to be signed up or who don’t even have access yet… so it’s not something we want to do half-baked. We don’t want to grow it too fast and watch it fail because it’s over extended.

BP- What’s your philosophy regarding representational government? Should you be representing your constituents’ wishes, or their best interests as you see them? Have you ever run into a time when those two things conflicted?
PD- Luckily that hasn’t happened, but you do have to take both into account.

BP- How long to you think you will keep doing politics?
PD- I love door knocking and meeting people. I love listening to ideas. I think I’ll be involved as long as my wife tolerates it.

BP-Thanks for your time today.
PD- My pleasure.

March 11, 2008   Comments Off