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Monday, April 24, 2006

Just in case you didn't know yet...

Tomorrow is Ben & Jerry's Free Cone day!

The Church Street Scoop shop is partcipating, enjoy & be warned, there's usually quite a line ;-)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Protecting & Serving Online? & Should they live here too?

Just finished reading Peter Freyne's column, he made some good points about a few Burlington issues towards the end of the column:

1 - Burlington Police Dept. (BPD) website out of date
I've never visited their website, until Peter mentioned it that is. According to the update information (as it's still in the City's old website format, not the new one), the last update was made in October 2005! Also, on an even worse note, the Fire Dept.'s site hasn't been updated since July 2004!
Now, I can understand that they may be set back on updating due to the Telecom project, but some things like the link to 'Report a Crime' are no longer valid! It makes me wonder if anyone's ever tried using that link to report a crime... hopefully they don't. It also makes me wonder where our taxpayer funds (as well as the grant monies they receive) are going in the BPD.

2 - Department Head Residency Requirements
I would think that most anyone you would ask on the street "Should their government official that makes decisions over your city should live within the city as well", would say yes.
Now, as time goes on, I'm finding more and more Burlington city employees that are somewhat high up in the department's ranks do not live in Burlington either
For example, last year, a proposal was brought forth to the Neighborhood Planning Assemblies (NPAs) from a Dept. of Public Works official (who happened to be an out-of-towner)... now this resolution called for a 5 to 6 foot no-parking zone from all driveways in Burlington, with those who did not comply being slapped with a tow and or fine. Now, in some neighborhoods around the city (including mine), this would prevent the property owner from even parking on their own land. Needless to say, the resolution never made it to the NPAs.
Also, just last night, at the NPA in my ward, the member of the Fire Dept. who was scheduled to present for 15 minutes about an Emergency Preparedness workbook asked to cut his presentation short so he could be home for dinner (outside of Burlington).

Now, I understand that some people may have the qualifications for the job, but their family is 'tied-down' to a certain community; and some people are even being hired to the department head position from other states, such as our new Code Enforcement director, Greg McKnight, who moved from Colorado to take his job. Is it too much to ask to have your official be a resident of the town they oversee?

I'm curious to know our New Mayor's response to this issue.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Tarrant solicits students for campaign

Just stumbled across this article from's Vermont RSS feed... thought it was interesting: Went to Rich's website, no mention of this program.

U.S. Senate candidate solicits students for campaign

WASHINGTON --Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Tarrant has offered Vermont high school students money and laptop computers to help with his campaign.

Tarrant has written to teachers saying he would give students $3,000 and a laptop computer to work on his behalf.

"Getting our youth involved in the democratic system is more important now than ever before," Tarrant wrote in a letter obtained by the Bennington Banner and the Brattleboro Reformer.

Rep. Bernie Sanders' campaign accused Tarrant of disguising a multi-million dollar campaign as education for students and said the effort could make the Senate race even more costly.

"He's trying to buy volunteers," said Jeff Weaver, chief of staff to Sanders, who is leaving the House to run for the Senate. "The truth of the matter is he doesn't have hundreds of people who want to come out and work on his campaign."

Tarrant's letter offers students a 10-week internship in which they would campaign for Tarrant in their own towns.

"This program offers high school students an exciting opportunity to spend their summer learning about the American democratic process while earning additional money (and a laptop computer that they will be able to keep)," Tarrant wrote. "Hopefully you agree and will encourage students to participate."

Students would be required to write 500 words about "why Rich Tarrant should be elected to the United States Senate" and must submit their grade point average and list of extra-curricular activities to be considered.

Tarrant, who founded IDX Systems Corp. of Burlington, has put $2 million into his campaign.

Sanders has raised $1.8 million and plans to have 1,000 volunteers to canvass for him around the state.

Tarrant's plan to solicit students drew a mixed reaction.

"That smacks of bribery," said Garrison Nelson, a political science professor at the University of Vermont. "He just opens himself up to misusing his money. This is the quintessential rookie mistake."

Jason Gibbs, spokesman for Republican Gov. Jim Douglas, said he was not aware of the program.

"It seems on its face to be a legitimate employment opportunity for high school students," he said. "I don't see that it would be any different than a manufacturer offering paid internships to students."

An interesting approach for campaigning, something I've never heard of... even in my home state of Texas.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Getting to Know Mayor Bob Kiss

This morning Jeremy and I attended the monthly Burlington Business Association's (BBA) meeting at the ECHO center, where we were able to get a glimpse of what the newly elected Mayor, and former State Rep. Bob Kiss had in mind for the city of Burlington.

I'll do a recap of my personal thoughts of the meeting in italics for you, as I know everyone's wondering right now what Mayor Kiss has in mind for the city.
Also, FYI: Jeremy's already made an observational post about the Q&A session on his blog.

The meeting started off as usual, with a light breakfast, where people could meet personally with Mayor Kiss.
I guess there were quite a few who wanted to speak with him personally, as the meeting started about 10 minutes past the scheduled time to start, something that struck me as odd, as BBA is usually on schedule.
Mike Monte the head of CEDO was in attendance (and was actually dressed in a black suit, something I've never seen him do before at any meeting... kinda odd for a meeting taking place at 8AM), Police Chief Tremblay, Parks and Rec director Wayne Gross, and the newly appointed manager John Leopold were also in attendance, recognized at the beginning of the meeting.

Right before Bob's turn to speak, it was mentioned that John Leopold may also be able to speak and answer questions as well, to which Leopold immediately shook his head no. I feel it's another odd thing to be happening for a public official, to not answer questions, or at the very least introduce yourself to the public.

When it came to Bob's turn to speak, he repeatedly said in his opening statement that it's his 3rd day in office.
As if to say, don't ask any questions of depth because I'm not familiar with anything yet. But wasn't he elected almost a month ago now? It seems to me that once you are elected, or hopefully before you are elected, you should try and make an effort to become familiar with the workings of the city, so you may be able to address questions. Another odd thing.

Bob went on to say that he had just got his email set up -
and that he would prefer people to reach him by that way, or by phone
No mention that his door was always open or anything like that... kinda struck me as odd as well, but he did mention that he is making an effort right now to meet with people.

Total number odd things happened at the meeting: 5

The meeting actually ended a bit early, which didn't surprise me, as Bob's known to be a man of few words.
So, as I recount this meeting with the new mayor, I have to say I'm a little worried about the growth of what Bob calls 'good government', and hope to see that odd meter go down in numbers as time goes on.