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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Mental Health Commissioner Melissa Bailey to Resign

Posted By on Tue, Sep 25, 2018 at 12:43 PM

statehouse.fall.jpg
Department of Mental Health Commissioner Melissa Bailey is leaving her post at the end of October, she said Tuesday.

The commissioner said she and her husband are both from the Philadelphia area and still have family there.

“It’s with mixed emotion, but we’re excited to get back to where we grew up,” Bailey said.

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Burlington Voters Will Consider $100 Million in School, Wastewater Bonds

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2018 at 11:53 PM

Rendering of the proposed renovation to Burlington High School - COURTESY OF BURLINGTON SCHOOL DISTRICT
  • Courtesy of Burlington School District
  • Rendering of the proposed renovation to Burlington High School
Burlington voters will decide in November whether to approve what would be a record amount of bonding for the city. The city council agreed Monday to put on the ballot a $70 million project to renovate Burlington High School and a separate $30 million wastewater infrastructure plan.

The $70 million bond would be the largest ever issued by a Vermont school district, according to Michael Gaughan, executive director of the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank.

Councilors acknowledged the magnitude of the projects but backed them wholeheartedly, passing both measures with overwhelming support.

Councilor Dave Hartnett (D-North District) said voting on the high school made it "one of the best nights" for the council. But he acknowledged that the expense means "we're going to have to sacrifice." 

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Leahy: Firing Rosenstein 'Would Scream of Cover-Up'

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2018 at 10:13 PM

Sen. Patrick Leahy - RON SACHS / CNP VIA AP
  • Ron Sachs / CNP via AP
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy
As the fate of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein hung in the balance Monday, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said that firing the official overseeing the Special Counsel investigation into President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign would be "a bad mistake."

"It would be very, very damaging — both to the president and to the Republican Party because it would scream of cover-up," said Leahy, the senior-most member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Leahy made the remarks near the end of a day of furious speculation over whether Rosenstein would offer his resignation or Trump would fire him. His status has been uncertain since Friday, when the New York Times reported that Rosenstein had suggested in the spring of 2017 that he wear a wire to record the president and seek Trump's removal from office by invoking the 25th Amendment. The White House said Monday afternoon that Rosenstein remained at the Department of Justice but that he was scheduled to meet with the president on Thursday.

According to Leahy, firing Rosenstein could effectively end Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election because Rosenstein would be replaced as acting attorney general overseeing the inquiry by Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who Leahy referred to as "a Trump acolyte."

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GOP County Chair Deletes Tweet That Said Kavanaugh Accuser 'Was Having a Sexual Fantasy'

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2018 at 1:42 PM

The tweet - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • The tweet
Orleans County Republican Party chair Chet Greenwood denied writing a tweet posted to his account that suggested one of the women accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault was instead recalling a “sexual fantasy.”

Greenwood said he doesn’t know how the tweet appeared on his account but confirmed that he deleted it.

“I don’t think I did that,” Greenwood said Monday. “I don’t know how that got there. And I saw that and I deleted it. I don’t know. I can’t say how it got there. I deleted it.”

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Vermont Lawmakers Question Untreated Inmates and Unspent Money

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 5:54 PM

FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
Vermont legislators are questioning why so few inmates receive hepatitis C treatment, and they're demanding to know what happened to $2.2 million of state money that was designated for prison health care.

The state’s chief health care advocate, Michael Fisher, told the Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee on Thursday that the Department of Corrections had only treated one inmate for hepatitis C in 2017.

Antiviral drugs can cure hepatitis C, an infectious disease that can lead to liver cancer and other potentially fatal complications. The virus, transmitted by blood, is more common among prisoners than the general population.

Fisher also directed lawmakers' attention to a significant amount of unspent money. In 2017, the Department of Corrections paid about $4.8 million to its private health care contractor, Centurion, for pharmaceutical drugs and off-site medical expenses, according to information Fisher provided the committee. Centurion only spent about $2.6 million, however.

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Opinion
Walters: Scott Appears to Snub Addison Republican Senate Candidate

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 5:36 PM

Paul Ralston and Marie Audet - FILE: OLIVER PARINI; COURTESY OF MARIE AUDET
  • File: Oliver Parini; Courtesy of Marie Audet
  • Paul Ralston and Marie Audet
Republican Gov. Phil Scott will attend an October 2 fundraiser for two state Senate candidates from Addison County.

Two independent candidates, Marie Audet and Paul Ralston.

Conspicuous by his absence from the invitation: Peter Briggs, a 28-year-old selectboard member from Addison and the Republican candidate in the Senate race.

Audet and Ralston's joint campaign committee organized the event. The independents announced their candidacies together in late July.

Ralston, a former Democratic state representative, has said that he supports Scott. He explained in July that he and Audet teamed up because they would be "running against a party establishment and that party has a lot of resources."

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Burlington Officials Unveil $30 Million Fix for Wastewater Problems

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 4:07 PM

Mayor Miro Weinberger - SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • Sasha Goldstein
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger
After wastewater discharges plagued the City of Burlington all summer, officials on Thursday unveiled a plan intended to stanch the flow of dirty water into Lake Champlain.

It's not without a cost — $30 million. On Monday, the Burlington City Council will consider whether to put a related bond vote on the November ballot.

If Burlingtonians approve it, they can expect to pay $64 more annually for water by the time all the improvements are implemented within the next four or five years, Mayor Miro Weinberger said at a press conference in front of the city's main wastewater treatment plant.

“This is an opportunity for Burlington to take strong, decisive action to keep the lake the economic, cultural and recreational driver of our city and state that it has been since our founding,” said Weinberger, surrounded by city councilors, city workers and advocates for Lake Champlain.
Officials initially planned to come forward with a plan by December 1, in time to get a bond on the March Town Meeting Day ballot, but accelerated the timeline after repeated overflow problems.

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Few Vermont Inmates Receive Hepatitis C Treatment

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 11:32 AM

MATT MORRIS
  • Matt Morris
In August, 250 inmates in Vermont prisons had hepatitis C, but just eight of them received treatment for the infectious, potentially deadly virus that can damage the liver. The number of those treated is actually an increase over 2017, when the Vermont Department of Corrections appears to have provided hepatitis C medication to just one inmate, according to its own data.

The state’s chief health care advocate, Michael Fisher called the statistics “very, very concerning.”

Fisher was part of a coalition of organizations that successfully pushed the state’s Medicaid health insurance program to start paying this year for hepatitis C medication for patients who don’t yet have liver damage.

Now advocates are turning their attention to Vermont’s prisons, where alarmingly few inmates are receiving the antiviral drugs that can cure hepatitis C, according to Fisher.

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UVM Medical Center, Nurses Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 7:38 AM

Nurses and supporters rallying this summer - FILE: SARA TABIN
  • File: Sara Tabin
  • Nurses and supporters rallying this summer
The University of Vermont Medical Center and its nurses' union have reached a tentative contract agreement after months of failed negotiations, the parties announced late Wednesday.

UVM Medical Center said the agreement with the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals is a three-year contract that includes a 16 percent average base salary increase. The union, in turn, agreed to eliminate proposed increases to certain shift differentials. Pay increases for ambulatory nurses will be retroactive to the first full pay period in September, the hospital said.

"We believe this agreement provides meaningful wage increases and allows us to maintain our commitment to all employees and be responsible stewards of limited health care dollars," hospital spokesman Michael Carrese said.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Vermont Inmates Moving to CoreCivic Prison in Mississippi

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2018 at 10:04 AM

Lee Adjustment Center in Kentucky, where CoreCivic (then called Corrections Corporation of America) housed Vermont inmates until 2015. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Lee Adjustment Center in Kentucky, where CoreCivic (then called Corrections Corporation of America) housed Vermont inmates until 2015.
Vermont’s out-of-state inmate population is moving to a private prison in Mississippi, the Department of Corrections announced Wednesday morning.

The Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility is operated by CoreCivic, the corporate prison contractor formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America.

Vermont will pay CoreCivic $71 per day for each of the state’s roughly 200 inmates who are housed out of state, according to a Vermont DOC press release. There is room for up to 350 Vermont inmates in the 2,600-person facility in Tutwiler, Miss. The per diem amount will increase annually; the contract runs for a minimum of two years with an option for two more.

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