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Category — Seven Days

Where is Cassandra Gekas?

WCAX Reports VPIRG fired Cassandra Gekas, and her former boss Paul Burns freaked out and wrote an email saying she’s “completely unprepared” to run for lieutenant governor.

Hmm…I think she might win.

Related Links:

Health care advocate Gekas sets sights on lieutenant governor office (VT Digger)

oh… and Paul Heintz writing for Seven Days covered this too for “Fair Game” although he got one thing wrong saying that in the Digger story she said she quit.  I didn’t read that in there.  The Digger story says

Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, said he did not know Gekas had plans to run for lieutenant governor. Now that she is running for office, she has cut ties with VPIRG.

Burns said because the group is a nonpartisan organization, she could not work for VPIRG and run for office. Similarly, he said, the group does not endorse particular candidates.

Where in that did Paul Heintz read that she said she quit? And why is the column still called “Fair Game?” Isn’t that what Shay Totten came up with when Peter Freyne died? Heintz should give the Seven Days political column a new name… like “Heintz Site” or some other silly Seven Days-type pun.

Heintz also posted the full freak-out email from VPIRG (Vermont Public Interest Research Group) executive director  Paul Burns at Blurt.  How does the executive director of anything decide to click send on such a stupid email?

And the Freep’s VtBuzz blog strongly infers Gekas is related to  former congressman George Gekas of Pennsylvania.  I wonder if he’s her father.

June 28, 2012   13 Comments

Color Bind

Katherine Flagg wrote a pretty good synopsis of the race-related issues facing the Burlington School District for today’s Seven Days titled:

“Color Bind Everyone agrees the Burlington School District has a race problem. Now what?”

The title is a little weird, but the piece is good. Katherine Flagg interviewed me at the OP last week for my contributions to the article. Nice work Katie! Click the text-link or the image to go to the story at Seven Days.

I may as well say now that I will vote to extend Jeanne’s contract on June 12, although I don’t know what the board will decide collectively. I think she’s doing well enough not to deserve to get fired. That isn’t to say the schools aren’t grappling with issues of racism, cultural insensitivity, achievement gaps, harassment of all types, bullying, ignorance and everything else. Of course we are. Issues like these are more pronounced as an environment becomes more heterogeneous, and Burlington schools are arguably the most heterogeneously popluated societal microcosms in Vermont - The Schools are responsible for the safety and the education of all children so we can’t tolerate any of this type of baloney. 

The fundamental philosophical element of human rights, most religions and the American Way is equality.  Equality.  The board has recently passed a tough new anti-harassment policy the prohibits attacks for all manor of protected characteristics.  Jeanne has been getting cultural training to the staff.  We will be doing a new bullying policy soon.  I would like to hear that Amy Mellencamp is integrating the ‘English Language Learners’ more both physically and educationally at BHS so the kids can all get to know each other better… but I don’t see how firing Jeanne is going to get me that.  We did create a standing board committee on diversity and equity too. 

The arc of the moral universe doesn’t bend itself toward justice.  We have to bend it with persistence and hard work.  Simply getting rid of Jeanne won’t solve these problems at all in my opinion.

June 6, 2012   6 Comments

Weinberger Wins!

8:16pm Miro Weinberger has won the election for mayor of Burlington!  Congratulations to the mayor-elect…

10:55pm- Time for a little unpacking of the day’s events here in Burlington, Vermont.

*Thank you to Kurt and Wanda  for running honorable campaigns. 

* From a personal standpoint, thank you very much to the 1,392 people who voted to re-elect me to the school board from Ward Seven.  It’s an honor to serve you.  I believe I received the 4th 8th highest vote total in the city behind Miro, Kurt and Bernie O’Rourke. Oddly Bernie was the one school board member with an opponent on the ballot and he got more votes than all 6 of the rest of us who were unopposed.

*Thank you Lauren Glenn, Meghan O’Rourke, Nat Ayer, Jess Wilson and everybody at Channel 17 for hosting election HQ tonight, and to Kathryn Flagg, Paula Routly, Tyler Machado, Cathy Resmer, Andy Bromage and the rest of the crew at Seven Days for inviting me to blog with them there.

* Jay Vos, formally of the wonderful local blog “Blazing Indescretions” tells me that Blogger has deleted his entire blog because they mistook it for spam.  That is upsetting.

*The school budget passed  5359 to 4490 . 

*Council Winners by Ward:  1- Ed Adrian, 2- Max Tracy 3-Rachel Siegel 4-Byran Aubin 5-Chip Mason 6-Karen Paul 7-Paul Decelles  Congratulations all. 

*The council takes a step to the left.  Kurt departs in 4 and is replaced by a Dem.  Berezniak departs in 2 and is replaced by the Prog he Bram beat by 13 14 votes 2 years ago.  Paul Decelles, whom I voted for today, got 54 more votes than ge got last time, yet only won by 97 votes, beating Tom Ayres 52.6% to 47.3%.  Ayres is likely to run again next year when Vince Dober retires from the council.  Ed Adrian envisions a “New New North End” that is solidly Democratic.  Is his vision correct?

 *Chart and numbers stolen from Seven Days:

Burlington Mayoral Race

7 of 7 wards reporting results.
The winning candidate must receive more than 40% of votes to avoid a runoff.

Miro Weinberger (D) 5801 Kurt Wright (R) 3746 Wanda Hines (I) 498

Burlington City Council Races
Ward 1 Adrian (D) 709 Write-ins 0
Ward 2 Tracy (P) 503 Hammerslough (D) 297 Write-ins 0
Ward 3 Siegel (P) 755 Hurley (D) 440 Ruloff (I) 44 Salese (I) 40 Write-ins 0
Ward 4 Aubin (D) 1095 Kenworthy (R) 974 Write-ins 0
Ward 5 Mason (D) 1177 Daigle (I) 453 Write-ins 0
Ward 6 Paul (I) 1118 Write-ins 0
Ward 7 Decelles (R) 965 Ayres (D) 868 Write-ins 0

March 6, 2012   8 Comments

Town Meeting Day 2012

Tuesday 3:24pm

Election Day live-blogging in random chronological order.  Just got back from hanging out at Ward 7 polling place.  I go back and forth between standing with the dems and the republicans.  If I stand in the middle I block the way.  I got yelled at for that last time.  It isn’t easy being an independent so I was happy to see Wanda there for a while.  Some thoughts on the ballot:

I voted.  When I finally had the ballot in front of me and I had to make a choice, I wrote in Bob Kiss for mayor.  I cherish my freedom.

The wording of the school budget question is so poor, the budget might just pass.  It doesn’t ask for a tax increase.  It just says ‘spend 65 million? Y or N?’  You know it hadn’t occurred to me to think about how it looks on the ballot.  I’ll be wiser about that next year.  Don’t get me wrong, as I said earlier, I want the budget to pass today, but I think people should know what they’re voting on.

About 2000 ballots had been cast in Ward 7 as of 3pm including presidential primary ballots, so I think it’s safe to say at least 1000 people have voted in ward 7 as of now.

Helen Hossley told me the 200 annual reports they had to give out at Ward 7 were sold out by 10am.

I took the CNN exit poll.  Ron Paul Revolution!  Woot!

Poopsie and the kids are still at the Lorax.  I’m going to try to eat something and go to city hall to get an annual report.  I’m going to be on the seven days live blog later (if I can find it; link?)  physically seated at channel 17, home or both.  Does channel 17 have WiFi?  Anybody?  And I guess folks from the school board are meeting at RiRa’s later, but I’m not really sure why… The school board’s finance committee will be meeting with the mayor-elect tomorrow to either start picking up the pieces if the budget fails, or a nice meet-n-greet if it passes…

More later… (but not necessarily within this post.)


Monday Night:

I’m from Burlington.  I’ve never been to a town meeting.  I just didn’t want to call the post “Election Day 2012″ because I might want to save that title for November.

The 2012 race for mayor is almost over.  My guess is Wanda will get between 10 and 20 percent of the vote and that Kurt and Miro will each receive between 40 and 50 percent of the vote.  We will know the winner very soon after the polls close.

The school board will get at least one, and at most two new members.

The city council will get at least four, and at most five new members.

More later…

Tuesday morning…  Election/Town Meeting Day…

10:19am  I’ve been invited by Seven Days to join their live-blog tonight where I and several real journalists will unpack the day’s events.  I have not wanted to say much about the mayoral race.  I still don’t know who I’m going to vote for.  Hell, I might just write-in Bob Kiss.  Or myself.  In the race between Kurt and Miro, I have not wanted to step on either of their toes or hurt either of their feelings.  They are both good guys.  I think.  Kurt and I joined the city council together in 1995 and Poopsie knew him before that even.  I only ever heard of Miro a few months ago, and only ever met him in person twice.  Normally that dynamic alone would make my decision a slam-dunk for Kurt- but although I really like Kurt personally and respect him, I never ever pictured myself actually voting for him.  More often I’ve envisioned myself running against him.  Not because of his party.  I am an independent, and I vote however I want.  My most enthusiastic vote today will be for Ron Paul, for example.  It’s more because I have never been able to grasp what Kurt’s core philosophy is.  I think he would probably be an ok caretaker for the office of mayor, but I don’t imagine him really doing anything special with it, and I’m not sure how much he understands.  Miro on the other hand, I see as a bit of a wild-card.  He’s never been elected to anything, and I’m not sure of how much he understands either.  With Miro it kind of feels like he himself is simply the tip of the spear trying to pierce city hall, and just behind his smiling face the entire apparatus of the Democratic National Committee is waiting to come set up shop and control my city for the next 50 years.

I don’t know.  Let’s talk about the school budget.  I am voting for it.  As a member of the school board I was one of 2 votes against sending this version of the budget to the voters.  That is not the same thing as voting for or against this budget now that it is before the voters.  Most of why I am voting for it now, is because once a budget is put before the voters the effects of if failing are costly and damaging.  Let’s say a majority of the school board had voted against sending this version of the budget.  We would have come up with something else.  Personally, I would almost never vote against a school budget when it’s on a ballot in front of me.  As a school board member I have a responsibility to represent other people, and use my votes to try to send the best budget I can to voters.  So I just want to put that out there right now.  To vote against the budget as a school commissioner and for it as a citizen is not a reversal and not inconsistant.  I know it’s a nuance not everyone will grasp, but the votes are really for different things.

As is my tradition on the first Tuesday in March, I am not at work today.  It’s 10:58am, I have to shave, shower, vote and hang around the Ward Seven polling place a little bit.  Gotta promote my “fill in the bubble” campaign.  Me, Poopsie, Koko and Yana will all go vote together.  Then I will hang back, and Poopsie will take the Kids to see The Lorax movie.  Yup, ok… sounds like a plan…

More Later…

March 6, 2012   2 Comments

Non-Citizen Voting Rights

City Council Dem Caucus Chair Ed Adrian forwarded me this memo written by attorney Dan Richardson of “eat more kale” fame.  He indicates the city would have an uphill battle to give voting rights to non-citizens.

Click Here to Read Memo

December 30, 2011   1 Comment

Ober Out

Lauren Ober doesn’t work for Seven Days any more…. Hard to tell if she quit or got fired, but I think we all probably have a guess. See if you can figure it out at her blog…

or here:

This is a clear lesson that unless you change course, you eventually get to where you’re headed.

You offended/bothered/annoyed me a bunch of times LO- but I always kinda thought maybe I knew where you were coming from… sort of. It’s impressive you lasted as long as you did. Good luck.

November 15, 2011   3 Comments


FROM:Haik Bedrosian
TO:Tim Ashe
October 19, 2011 7:10 PM

“Ashe said he’s running as a Democrat but would accept the Progressives’ endorsement if offered…” -from Shay’s Fair Game column today.

Hi again Tim,

For the record, would you please explain or reconcile the quote from Seven Days above with what you wrote to me 47 hours ago (” if i don’t win the caucus, i am out of the race… “) vis-a-vis the possibility of your continuing in the mayoral race even if you are not the Democratic nominee? It appears to be a direct contradiction.

Actually- It’s only a contradiction if we don’t assume Tim Ashe will be the Democratic nominee. The fact that the statement isn’t quilified in the quote is a curiosity. He should have said either “If I win the Democratic nomination, then I would also accept the Progressive one,” or “I would accept the Progressive nomination only if the Democrats nominate me first” or something like that.

For him to tell me “if i don’t win the caucus, i am out of the race…” (sic) and then tell Shay simply that he would accept the Progressive nomination gives me the impression he presumes he’ll win the Democratic nomination.

Maybe he will win the Democratic nomination, but there’s at least an appearance here that he’s counting a second chicken before the first one has hatched.

Are we also to assume the converse? That if the Democrats don’t nominate Tim Ashe, then the Progs won’t either? I guess so, because based on his statement he’d presumably not accept their nomination if that happened, even if the Progs offered it.

So let’s say the Democrats nominate Tim Ashe. If that happens are the Progs going to run Brian Pine or Emma Mulvaney-Stanak and split the left? Kurt Wright probably hopes so.

So this is what I think- If Ashe wins the Democratic nomination, the Progs will nominate him too. Then it’s Ashe vs. Wright. If Ashe does not win the Democratic nomination then the Progs might run somebody else preferring to split the left and elect Kurt elected over an actual Democrat.

So are these our choices to replace Bob Kiss? Already this early we know them? Tim Ashe or Kurt Wright? Oy Vey… forgive me if I don’t start break-dancing.


From: Tim Ashe
To: Haik Bedrosian
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 11:09 PM
Subject: Re: Re:

Do I still need to respond to this or is it now clearer? I would accept the P nomination IF I am still in the race having won the D caucus.

Tim Ashe
State Senator
Chittenden County

FROM:Haik Bedrosian
TO:Tim Ashe
Thursday, October 20, 2011 12:08 AM

Well, that is a response. Thank you, I guess,

And let’s say you don’t win the Democratic nomination, and the Progressives re-nominate Kiss. Under that scenario, whom would you support… the Democratic nominee or Kiss?

October 19, 2011   Comments Off

Lauren Ober’s Workday

Lauren Ober invites Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott to work at Seven Days for a day, and outlines what a typical day at work looks like for her. From Blurt:

“…Wake up around 7 a.m.

Diddle around for two hours reading the New Yorker and the backs of cereal boxes.

Maybe get into the office by 9 a.m. Maybe not. 

Check email. Realize that none of the emails are personal correspondence from friends or admirers. Pout. 

Delete emails. Unsubscribe from nine PR distribution lists.

Check phone messages (don’t worry — no one will have called you back for a story). 

Look at schedule. Figure out who might be available go to lunch with you. 

Make lunch plans. 

Think about lunch. 

Make tea. 

Check Facebook. 

Check Twitter. 

Talk to coworkers about a story idea. Realize story idea is lame as it’s tumbling out of your mouth. Pout. 

Roll around on swivel chair. Tap pencil on desk…”

First of all, Cathy Resmer- I do like Lauren Ober. I like her very much. Of course I also hate her in a way, because I identify with her so strongly, and am so deeply envious of her ability to profit from her sardonic, sarcastic, meta-humor while I pay so dearly for mine.

Secondly, Pamela Polston and Paula Routly- you’ve probably known this for years, but you could hire me to write for you at any time.  From Lauren’s description, it sounds like I could hit the ground running.

March 16, 2011   1 Comment