Public plane for private gain?

first_imgby Anne Galloway February 20, 2013 vtdigger.org The Shumlin administration has asked the Vermont Agency of Transportation to upgrade the state’ s 51-year-old flying machine ‘ a four-seat 1962 Cessna 182 ‘ with a 2013 model, six passenger Beechcraft Baron.The cost to taxpayers? $1.2 million through a 10-year lease-to-own arrangement in which the state would pay $117,600 annually, not including the cost of flying the aircraft at a rate of $250 an hour. Total bill? About $155,000 a year.Not many people even knew the state had a plane, and Gov. Peter Shumlin was among them until late last summer, according to his staff. But when the governor, who reluctantly deigned to campaign against his Republican rival state Sen. Randy Brock after Labor Day, realized it was at his disposal he decided to avail himself of the state’ s wings to make his two jobs ‘ governing and hitting the trail ‘ a little easier. After all, Vermont is a tough state to get around in: Without a plane, even the governor can’ t get there from here without long miles on the road.Sue Allen issued a statement to reporters on Tuesday explaining the governor’ s rationale: ‘ Having dealt for a year and a half with the logistics of getting the governor to events and planning attendance and travel time, we decided to use the plane a few times when it made sense to do so.’Trouble is, the plane has a few mechanical issues, according to Shumlin, including a door that likes to flap open. Maintenance of a plane nearly the same age as the governor isn’ t easy. And so, the idea was hatched: Why not buy a new aircraft? And why not a state of the art piston-engine prop plane preferred by CEOs everywhere. The state, after all, the administration reasoned, needs to upgrade anyway. The Cessna is older than the Beatles and state employees who use it for airport inspections, emergency management, river management and other prosaic purposes are potentially putting themselves in harm’ s way. Not to mention the governor.But even Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle/Chittenden, a bosom buddy of the governor’ s, was appalled when the administration came into his committee ‘ Senate Transportation ‘ and made the pitch at a time when the state faces the worst budget crunch since the onset of the Great Recession.Still, it was all going according to plan earlier this month until Paul Heintz, the political columnist for Seven Days, caught wind of the governor’ s aviation aspirations. Heintz, as is his wont, dogged the issue two weeks in a row and discovered the governor hadn’ t reimbursed the state for some of his campaign travel last fall as he flitted from one Vermont town to another on the taxpayer’ s dime.After Heintz’ s most recent revelations, Jack Lindley, the chairman of the Vermont GOP, cried foul. The watchdog of the Republican Party in Vermont was roused from a post-election slumber to bark vociferously at the powers that be (i.e., the Democrats).In a statement to reporters, Lindley accuses the governor of seeking to use the plane as his new vehicle of choice, now that Shumlin is chair of the Democratic Governors Association, for jaunts to Washington, D.C.‘ I think the governor discovered the plane and glommed onto it,’ Lindley said in an interview. ‘ He thought it would be such a good idea to find a plane to carry him in great luxury.’The Shumlin administration won’ t say whether that’ s the governor’ s intent.Lindley says it’ s inappropriate for the governor to set aside money for a new state plane at a time when the state is looking at gas, fuel, property tax increases to shore up the state budget.‘ It’ s bizarre activity on the part of the governor and his administration and it’ s not being very kind to hardworking Vermonters, asking us to pay for luxuries for him,’ Lindley said in an interview. ‘ It’ s a typical plane used by small businesses to transport CEOs, and it’ s fairly fast and efficient and it’ s just something that’ s used in private sector, not generally speaking in government, which has a limited role in which to use airplanes.’Lindley said Vermont doesn’ t have a governor’ s mansion, either. (Shumlin’ s proposal for better gubernatorial accommodations ‘ a four-bedroom apartment in the state’ s Redstone Building last year ‘ was withdrawn quickly when it became apparent that it would be politically unpopular.)The GOP chair also accuses Chris Cole, a policy analyst for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, of ‘ falsely claiming’ to reporters, Heintz in particular, that the Beechcraft is limited to a 400-mile flying range.Cole denies that charge, says he doesn’ t know anything about the limits of the Beechcraft’ s range, and in turn accuses Heintz of misquoting him.The 400-mile range information, however, was right on a fact sheet from the Agency of Transportation handed out to lawmakers on Feb. 8.The actual range of the Beechcraft Baron is about 1,500 miles. The distance between Montpelier and Washington, D.C.? 544 miles, according to the Google.Cole has said the new plane would be used for its old purposes ‘ aerial surveys, mapping and photography.But Lindley says that the new high-speed, low-wing aircraft would be difficult for state agencies to use for the ostensible purpose of observing forests and taking pictures. The 1962 Cessna, by comparison, is a relatively slow and ‘ practical aircraft,’ he says.‘ The information given by Chris Cole was inaccurate and was borderline mischievous on his part,’ Lindley said. ‘ I thought our state employees would rise to better level than sustaining the governor’ s desire to travel at taxpayers’ expense.’Instead of addressing Lindley’ s allegations with regard to the new plane, the Shumlin administration staff has been busily justifying the use of the old one.Here’ s their explanation:The Governor has used the state plane five times in 2 ½ years, each time on official state business. On one occasion (Sept. 27) he ended his day at the Middlebury airport and was driven to a campaign house party and then home; he did not use the plane for that event, and once the Governor’ s office realized it received a single block invoice for travel that day, it asked for the incremental cost of ending the day in Middlebury and asked the campaign to reimburse the $65.80 cost of returning the plane to its home base in Berlin. We have also asked that any future use be billed by leg so that it can be reviewed.  The Agency of Transportation has concerns about the safety of this aging plane and will handle repairs and/or the lease of a replacement as it sees best for the state.FYI, like all agencies that use the plane, we reimburse AOT for our trips:1.            Aug. 30, 2012 to Bennington for the opening of Route 9 ($394.80)2.            Sept. 1, 2012 to Rutland for the State Fair ($253.80)3.            Sept. 27, 2012 to Newport for a press event at Jay Peak resort; Caledonia Airport for a press event at Burke Mountain.  Drop off in Middlebury*  ($332.76; campaign will reimburse $65.80)4.            Oct. 5, 2012 to Brattleboro for a meeting and public event with U.S. Transportation Sec. LaHood ($344.04)5.            Oct. 25, 2012 to Bennington for tour of the Green Mountain Express, Bennington Housing Project, Global Z business ($345.92)The Cessna, by the way, has been grounded for maintenance. It needs $86,000 worth of repairs. The market value of the plane is $80,000.Meanwhile, the governor has put off plans to buy the Beechcraft this year.last_img read more

Read More →

DPS chief says regional planners should develop energy plans

first_imgby John Herrick vtdigger.org Regional planners should be armed with energy plans before developers propose new power projects in their communities, says Chris Recchia, commissioner of the Department of Public Service.Senate lawmakers want to give landowners and residents a voice in the state’s process to approve energy projects, a process that has received heightened attention in the wake of recent industrial-scale wind development.Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia testifies at the Statehouse in September. File photo by Andrew Stein/VTDiggerThe Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill, S.201, to give landowners and regional planners a clear chance to present their case before the quasi-judicial Public Service Board.But these stakeholders should have a plan in place before energy developers arrive with proposals, Recchia said. This would allow developers to adjust their proposals to match the region’s energy development vision.‘If it’s the average citizen and the communities that we want to engage, then don’t throw them into the (Section) 248 process. Throw them into an opportunity to fully vet and analyze and understand a project before it goes to the 248 process,’ he said.The state’s regional planning commissions write coordinated development strategies for their regions, but many communities do not have regional energy plans, Recchia said.‘My hope would be that the regional planning commissions would be given some money and some time and some guidance on how to do that and integrate that into their plan so that the plans could be stronger in advance of getting a project proposed,’ he said.The committee bill includes a fee to apply for an energy production project. The fee, which tops out at $750,000, is designed to cover the state’s cost of reviewing the application.Recchia played an active role in the Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission this summer. Gov. Peter Shumlin appointed the commission last year after the continued controversy over the development of several large-scale renewable energy generation facilities in the state.The commission made several recommended changes to the board’s energy project review process, including an emphasis on local energy planning and the funding to develop these plans.‘This was the concept behind the siting commission, saying, ‘Add more time at the front end,’‘ Recchia said.Property values examinedWind projects have been mired by noise complaints and pushback from environmental conservationists in recent years. But Tuesday’s committee meeting raised the issue of property depreciation resulting from noise pollution as the driver to include adjacent property owners in the board’s review process.Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Windham, a member of the committee, said the Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission did not make recommendations on how to compensate landowners for losses to their property values.‘Inevitably people are going to bear some of the burden,’ he said. ‘I think we all accept that in our society, of course there are issues of where the public interest outweighs the private.’Committee Chair Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington, said the possible burden of these projects could spread statewide.‘I think it is a serious question that Sen. Galbraith is asking, because there have been property assessments reduced in Vermont because of these projects. And if that affects the education statewide property tax, then we are all paying for this. And most of us really don’t want to be,’ Hartwell said.Despite concerns from residents near the Georgia Mountain Wind Project, including some who say the project has depreciated the value of their homes, a 2014 report by the University of Connecticut and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that wind development does not depreciate nearby property values.The study analyzes 26 urban and rural sites across Massachusetts, including property values within a half-mile of wind turbines.‘Weak evidence suggests that the announcement of the wind facilities had a modest adverse impact on home prices,’ the report’s summary states, ‘but those effects were no longer apparent after turbine construction and eventual operation commenced.’last_img read more

Read More →

Weekly unemployment claims fall again, remain high

first_imgVermont Business Magazine New weekly unemployment claims in Vermont fell for the second week and back below 1,000. Claims had been very low during the summer, trending under 500, but have been high since early October. Levels this year had been running consistently lower than those of last year, but are now nearly the same. For the week of Deember 13, 2014, there were 867 new, regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance in Vermont. This is a decrease of 203 from the previous week’s total, and the same as they were a year ago. According to Mathew Barewicz, Economic & Labor Market Information Chief at the Vermont Department of Labor, the cause of the recent increase was predominately the result of “a seasonal transition.”Altogether 6,235 new and continuing claims were filed, a decrease of 913 from a week ago and 434 fewer than a year ago. The Department processed 1 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), the same as the previous week.There were no Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program. There were zero Tier III claims. The Tier I, II and III programs expired on December 28, 2013. Congress would need to act to renew these extended benefit programs. SEE STORYThe total for all programs was 6,236 claims, 913 fewer than last week, and 1,173 fewer than the same time last year.The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/(link is external). Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/lmipub.htm#uc(link is external)Vermont’s unemployment rate fell one tenth to 4.3 percent in November as jobs were added and the labor force grew. It was as low as 3.3 percent in May. SEE STORY.(link is external)last_img read more

Read More →

VtSBDC names Ininger State Star

first_imgVermont Business Magazine State Director, Linda Rossi, announced that Charley Ininger has been selected as the 2015 State Star of Vermont Small Business Development Center. Charles (Charley) Ininger is the Area Business Advisor for Central Vermont, serving Washington and Lamoille counties, and is the statewide Craft Beverage Specialist. Ininger joined VtSBDC in 2009 and has worked on the “Small Business Jobs Act,” focused on job creation as well as a disaster recovery grant helping businesses mitigate future risk with improved planning. Prior to VtSBDC, Charley owned several businesses in Vermont and was a consultant in the hospitality industry and an adjunct instructor at local colleges. “I am pleased to make this announcement, and to recognize Charley for his significant contributions to our organization. He is a highly respected member of the VtSBDC team,” Rossi says.Ininger was nominated by his peers, who described him as someone who brings a lot of industry specific, real-life experience to the team and enjoys his job and it shows!  They say his commitment to clients is apparent.“It is a great honor to be recognized by your peers,” says Ininger. “My recognition is truly a by product of the team at VtSBDC that I am privileged to be a part of.”One of Ininger’s clients states, “My first meeting with him felt like Shark Tank. I wanted the hard questions and I got them. I left that meeting feeling on top of the world.  He helped me create a timeline and mapped out different “to do” items that I had not thought of. Never having to negotiate contracts of this magnitude before, I felt more confident with Charley in my corner. Being able to look ahead and plan how much I will make each month is a wonderful challenge and planning tool. This is a huge contributor for my first year’s revenue to be over 30% more than expected.”Ininger will be recognized for this honor at the national ASBDC conference in San Francisco in September. America’s SBDC (Small Business Development Center) Network is a partnership uniting private enterprise, government, higher education and local nonprofit economic development organizations. It is the Small Business Administration’s largest partnership program, providing management and technical assistance to help Americans start, run and grow their own businesses.Learn more at www.americassbdc.org(link is external).last_img read more

Read More →

Orvis announces Winners of 2016 grants to protect nature

first_imgOrvis Company Inc,Vermont Business Magazine The Orvis Company, Inc of Manchester has announced the three recipients of its annual Customer Matching Grant program. Targeted to raise more than a third of a million dollars, these grants are the cornerstone of Orvis’s annual commitment of 5% of its pre-tax profits to protecting nature.Orvis has awarded cash grants to the following organizations:The Clark Fork Coalition(link is external), to support its Eight Gr8 Trout Streams campaign to re-water, rehabilitate and reconnect critical trout streams in Montana’s Upper Clark River Basin.The Petfinder Foundation(link is external), for its programs benefitting shelters and providing homes for rescued dogs across America, ensuring that no adoptable pet is euthanized for lack of a loving home.The Chesapeake Bay Foundation(link is external), to benefit its Oyster Restoration Program, which works to restore native oyster reefs in Maryland and Virginia, thereby improving water quality and fish habitat in Chesapeake Bay. “If you love the outdoors, you are compelled to protect and restore its lands and waters,” says CEO Perk Perkins. “For Orvis, it is not only a moral obligation but an investment in our future. We know many of our customers feel the same way, but how do you choose what projects to support? Each year we review dozens of worthwhile projects, selecting several that we feel best address these concerns.  We invite customers to participate with their own donations, and we match their contributions dollar for dollar.”Throughout 2016 Orvis will feature each of the grant programs in its catalogs, website and retail stores, as well as in other print and online promotions.  “The in-kind value of this type of exposure exceeds $600,000 on top of the cash grants,” says George Schmidt, Vice President of Multi-Channel Marketing.  “These promotional efforts, coupled with the matching funds from Orvis, provide a remarkable opportunity for customers, organizational members and the general public to amplify their contribution to the protection of nature through these programs.”Learn more about this year’s award winners and the projects that earned Orvis endorsement and matching grant status for its 1 million+ customer base:Clark Fork Coalition: Eight Gr8 Trout Streams(link is external)The Upper Clark Fork River is the headwaters of a 14 million acre watershed which flows between the three largest wilderness complexes in the Northern Rockies.  Nearly 150 years of mining, logging and grazing have damaged this vital ecological corridor.  Thanks to decades of advocacy, the mainstem river is coming back to life.  To fully restore this outstanding fishery, the Clark Fork Coalition’s Eight Gr8 Trout Streams project will partner with ranchers and others to restore the tributaries native trout need for spawning and rearing. Orvis will match customers’ donations, dollar of dollar, up to $60,000.  As a bonus, another generous funder has agreed to match the first $20,000, for a 2:1 match for customer donations, for a total 2016 goal of $140,000.To further enable the healing of this iconic watershed, funds from the Orvis/Trout Unlimited 1,000 Miles Campaign(link is external) will be designated to remove barrier culverts in upper Warm Springs Creek, thereby reconnecting vital headwater spawning habitat to the rest of the Clark Fork River.Petfinder Foundation(link is external)Each year, five out of every ten dogs in shelters across the United States are euthanized simply because there is no one to adopt them.  The Petfinder Foundation’s mission is to ensure that no pet is euthanized for lack of a home. Founded in 2003, the foundation helps homeless pets get adopted, helps shelters prepare for, and recover from disaster, and works to make shelters across the country more sustainable. In 2014 alone, funds from the Orvis Customer Matching Grant helped 5,390 dogs to find forever homes.  In 2016, Orvis will match customers’ donations up to $30,000 for a goal of $60,000 to support and protect these vulnerable pets.Chesapeake Bay Foundation-Oyster Restoration(link is external)Saving the Chesapeake Bay is uniquely tied to restoring the native oyster. Oysters in the Chesapeake were once so plentiful they could filter a volume of water equal to that of the entire Bay in three days. Today it would take the current oyster population more than a year to perform the same task. In 2016 Orvis will once again match customer donations up to $30,000 for a goal of $60,000 to enable Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) to restore native oysters throughout Chesapeake Bay.  This year CBF will plant 5 million oysters and reef balls to re-establish a network of self-sustaining oyster reefs in the Lafayette River, in Virginia.  Oyster reefs like this one not only improve water quality and increase fish habitat, but also benefit the entire Chesapeake ecosystem.In addition to its Customer Matching Grants, Orvis donates smaller, non-matching grants to organizations that preserve and restore fish and wildlife habitat, support communities, and advance canine health and well-being. Key 2016 projects include a variety of initiatives with partners such as Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Casting for Recovery, Project Healing Waters, and the Morris Animal Foundation.  For more information on applying for these grants, go to How We Give(link is external).Over the past 20 years, Orvis has raised and donated in excess of $19 million for a wide variety of conservation programs, from Bristol Bay, AK to the Florida Everglades; from the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda to London’sBattersea Dogs & Cats Home; and in dozens of vital fisheries through America and the world. Details of this and past year’s Orvis Customer Matching Grant projects can be seen at www.orvis.com/commitment.More about the Orvis Company:Since 1856 Orvis has been the premier outfitter for the outdoor lifestyle with a mission to inspire a deep connection to adventure and wonder in the outdoor world.  The brand’s passion originated with the sports of fly fishing and wing shooting. Today Orvis has grown to include a wide range of outdoor products and activities that are backed by the company’s outdoor knowledge and credibility, sourced from many decades of personal experience on the water and in the field.  Headquartered in Manchester, Vermont, Orvis operates multiple catalog titles, three website, more than 80 retail stores in the U.S and U.K., and serves a network of over 400 authorized dealers worldwide.  To learn more, visit www.orvis.com(link is external).MANCHESTER, Vt., Jan. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The Orvis Company, Inclast_img read more

Read More →

Scott appoints Tierney to DPS, Bailey Commissioner of Mental Health

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Thursday, before Governor-elect Scott’s inauguration, he announced that June Tierney has been appointed as the Commissioner of Public Service and Melissa Bailey, LCMHC has been named Commissioner of Mental Health.Prior to this appointment, Tierney served as the general counsel to the Vermont Public Service Board, a position she has held since 2012. A 1986 graduate of Boston University and a 1993 graduate of Vermont Law School, Tierney began her legal career with a clerkship at the Vermont Supreme Court. Before becoming a lawyer, June served four years on active duty as a commissioned officer in the United States Army.Bailey worked for the Department of Mental Health from 2001-2010 in a variety of positions, led the Agency of Human Services Integrated Family Services initiative from 2010-2014, and was the Clinical Director for Otter Creek and Quality Director for Vermont Care Partners in 2014 and 2015. In 2015 Bailey was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Department. Bailey has spent her career focused on increasing access to mental health services for all, building health promotion and prevention services and assuring treatment services are effective and of high quality. Bailey has provided leadership to assure mental health services are a focal point of health care reform and will continue to lead those efforts as Commissioner.“I am excited about these additions to my team, and to have filled my Cabinet with talented, strong leaders who share my vision to strengthen the economy, make Vermont more affordable and protect our most vulnerable,” said Governor-elect Scott. “Commissioners Tierney and Bailey bring incredible experience and industry knowledge, which will serve Vermonters well.”The appointment of Commissioner Tierney rounds out the Governor-elect’s cabinet. In the coming weeks, there will be additional appointments in the extended cabinet. The Governor’s Administration will keep the public well informed.Source: Scott. 1.5.2017last_img read more

Read More →

UVM Health Network launches ‘safety and value’ grant program

first_imgThe University of Vermont Medical Center,Vermont Business Magazine The University of Vermont Health Network has announced the creation of a new grant opportunity that is open to any clinician or team employed by the network. The Safety and Value Grant program will award a two-year $50,000 grant to each of two winning proposals to implement innovative concepts that are designed to enhance safety and value across the UVM Health Network.The grants will support multidisciplinary, cross-departmental or cross-organizational teams that identify areas of health care improvement. Proposals will be screened on criteria that include:Enhancing safetyOptimizing patient outcomesReducing costEnhancing the health of the individuals and communities we serveAligning with the network’s strategic prioritiesProposals selected for funding will receive project management, analytics and research support from the Jeffords Institute for Quality, and electronic health record informatics support from Information Services. An Advisory Panel will provide feedback to all finalists and ongoing support to the selected project teams.“The UVM Health Network endeavors to provide the highest quality care, and to meet this goal, we embrace ideas for improvement from anywhere in the organization,” said John Brumsted, M.D., president and chief executive officer, UVM Health Network and chief executive officer, UVM Medical Center. “I look forward to seeing many great ideas from our team.” Applications for the 2017 grant must be submitted to the Jeffords Institute for Quality by March 31, 2017. Grant details and forms are available on the UVM Health Network website(link is external).“This grant opportunity is the first of its kind here, encouraging clinicians from across the network to come together and test ideas that will improve quality and safety for our patients,” said Anna Noonan, VP for the Jeffords Institute for Quality.About the University of Vermont Health NetworkThe University of Vermont Health Network is a five-hospital system serving the residents of Vermont and northern New York with a shared mission: working together, we improve people’s lives.  The partners are:The University of Vermont Medical Center (link is external) The University of Vermont Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center(link is external)The University of Vermont Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center(link is external)The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital(link is external)The University of Vermont Health Network – Elizabethtown Community Hospital(link is external)Our 4,000 health care professionals are driven to provide high-quality, cost-efficient care as close to home as possible. Strengthened by our academic connection to the University of Vermont, each of our hospitals remains committed to its local community by providing compassionate, personal care shaped by the latest medical advances and delivered by highly skilled experts.Source: BURLINGTON, VT – UVMHN. 3.6.2017last_img read more

Read More →

Vermont landlords settle claims for lead law violations

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The Attorney General’s Office settled with four landlords in Vermont for violations of consumer protection and lead laws. Vermont’s lead law protects all Vermonters, especially children, from the harmful effects of lead poisoning. Every landlord with pre-1978 rental properties is required to submit annual compliance statements which show that the landlords have performed the essential maintenance practices (known as EMPs) and the properties are in compliance with the lead law.Charles Desautels(link is external), owner of thirteen rental properties in Richford and Enosburg Falls, will pay a $5,000 penalty for failing to file annual EMP compliance statements after notice and warning. Gordon Watson(link is external), owner of four rental properties in the Barre City area, will pay a $3,500 penalty for failing to file EMP statements after notice and warning.David Bushey(link is external), owner of seven rental properties in St. Albans, was assessed a $5,000 penalty for failing to file EMP statements after notice and warning. Christopher Wilk(link is external), owner of 1 property in Rutland, was assessed a $5,000 penalty for falsely certifying that his property was lead compliant when it was not. All four landlords must bring their properties into full compliance with the lead law.For more information concerning the Vermont lead law, including the duties of property owners, and for copies of court documents from recent enforcement actions involving lead, see the Attorney General’s website at: www.ago.vermont.gov(link is external) and click on “Lead.”Vermont AG: Aug 22, 2017last_img read more

Read More →

VNRC opposes proposed usage rule for Great Hosmer Pond

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) announced their opposition to the draft proposed Vermont Use of Public Waters (VUPW) Rule for Great Hosmer Pond in Craftsbury and Albany VT. In a letter to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), VNRC requested the immediate withdrawal of the VUPW rule based on significant concerns regarding the proposed rule’s legality.“VNRC has a long history of working to ensure that Vermont’s public trust waters are properly managed,” said Jon Groveman, VNRC policy and water program director. “As former executive director of the Water Resources Board, I am very concerned that DEC is not implementing the VUPW program consistent with the rules and the precedent set for managing use conflicts.”The DEC proposal to restrict the non-motorized use of rowing in favor of motorized use is in direct conflict with Vermont law that prohibits high speed motor boating within 200 feet of a shoreline. In a draft memorandum to the Vermont Secretary of the Agency of Transportation and the Vermont Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Vermont Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, Julie Moore, wrote: “[F]rom a policy perspective, ANR is concerned about codifying in rule specific times when high speed boating is more likely to occur without also giving boaters a means of legally traversing the length of the pond. Without an amendment to the 200-foot safety zone, it is likely that violations of the safety zone in the narrows will continue to occur, creating additional tensions between conflicting users, particularly between high speed boaters, and those opposed to the allowance of high speed boats on the pond.” ANR consequently sought to overturn a safety requirement to accommodate high speed uses on Great a Hosmer, a very narrow body of water, thus imperiling the safety of all others on the pond. In addition to safety and legal concerns over the proposed usage rule, there could be economic ramifications. Craftsbury Outdoor Center is an economic bright spot in the Northeast Kingdom, providing both jobs in the outdoor recreation sector and recreational opportunities for area residents.“Given the Scott administration’s focus on building a strong outdoor recreation economy in Vermont, we’re surprised ANR would promote motorized use of the pond in a manner that has the potential to put Vermonters and our natural resources at risk,” stated VNRC Executive Director Brian Shupe. A group of citizens who recently formed the Friends of Great Hosmer to promote safe enjoyment of the pond by all users welcomed VNRC’s participation in the rule-making process. “The DEC’s proposed rule is not just illegal, it’s completely unnecessary and will hurt our community” said Gina Campoli, a member of the Friends organizing committee. “Motor boats and non-motorized users like scullers and paddlers would have no problem sharing the lake if the state would enforce existing safety laws.  The rule takes aim at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s rowing programs while not recognizing the potential negative effects on all other Hosmer Pond users.”To view the full letter sent to DEC Commissioner Emily Boedecker see below or visit http://bit.ly/GHP_VUPW(link is external).October 4, 2017Emily BoedeckerCommissionerVermont Department of Environmental Conservation1 National Life DriveMain Building, 2nd FloorMontpelier, VT 05620-3520Re: Proposed Rule for Great Hosmer PondVia E-mailDear Commissioner Boedecker:IntroductionThe Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) is writing to express significant concernsabout the legality of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) draft proposed rulefor Great Hosmer Pond. VNRC is intervening in this matter as an organization with a longhistory of working to ensure that Vermont’s public trust waters are properly managed inaccordance with applicable laws. In addition, VNRC’s comments are made on behalf of ourmembers that use and enjoy Great Hosmer Pond, including many individuals who comprise theFriends of Great Hosmer Pond. Based on the legal issues raised below, VNRC requests that DECwithdraw its draft proposed rule for Great Hosmer Pond.Legal Deficiencies with Great Hosmer RuleVNRC has identified a number of legal deficiencies with the draft amendment to the VermontUse of Public Waters (VUPW) Rules regarding Great Hosmer Pond. Most of these deficienciesare based in DEC’s failure to follow the VUPW Rules. My analysis of the draft Great HosmerPond VUPW rule is informed by the fact that I was the Executive Director of the former WaterResources Board (WRB), which administered the VUPW Rules before the WRB was eliminatedby the Vermont Legislature in 2004. I am very concerned that DEC is not implementing theVUPW program consistent with the rules and the precedent set by the WRB for managing useconflicts that were developed over the almost 30 years that the WRB was responsible for theprogram.The following are legal issues with the draft proposed rule:1. VNRC questions ANR’s authority to propose a VUPW rule on its own motion withoutthe filing of a petition. The VUPW Rules establish the petition process for a citizen orgroup of citizens in Vermont to request that state government address use conflicts onlakes, ponds and reservoirs. VNRC is not aware of the WRB ever proposing acomprehensive VUPW rule governing uses on a waterbody on its own without a citizenpetition.1 As described below, one reason for this is likely that a significant amount ofinformation must be presented to develop a complete Petition under the VUPW Rules.By taking on the responsibility of proposing a VUPW rule, the DEC has also taken onthe burden of meeting the petition requirements for proposing a VUPW rule. DEC’sdraft Great Hosmer Pond VUPW rule fails the meet the basic requirements for filing aVUPW petition.2. Even if DEC has the authority to propose a VUPW rule on its own motion, DEC mustfollow the requirements for proposing use restrictions on lakes, ponds and reservoirs setforth in the VUPW Rules. Nothing in Vermont statutes or the VUPW Rules indicatesthat DEC is exempt from following the substantive or procedural requirements for theregulation of uses on Vermont waters.3. The VUPW Rules require that ANR consider the following factors: “the size and flow ofnavigable waters, the predominant use of adjacent lands, the depth of the water, thepredominant use of waters prior to regulation, the uses for which the water is adaptable,the availability of fishing, boating and bathing facilities, and the scenic beauty andrecreational uses of the area.” Vt. Admin. Code 16-5-102:2.2(a), VUPW Rules § 2.2 (a);see also 10 V.S.A § 1424(b). VNRC has reviewed the record of the proposed draft ruleon DEC’s website and the records DEC has provided to VNRC in response to ourrequest to access documents related to this matter. VNRC has not been able to identifythat DEC has gathered and analyzed any of the information required by VUPW Rules §2.2 (a). To the contrary, a review of the documents provided to VNRC indicates thatDEC has essentially taken suggestions proposed by individuals seeking to limit rowingon Great Hosmer Pond, and is putting those suggestions forward without providing anybasis for the draft rule as embodied in the factors set forth in VUPW Rules § 2.2 (a).DEC’s failure to produce the information set forth in VUPW Rules § 2.2 (a) makes theproposed rule contrary to law (it does not meet the requirements of the VUPW rules)and arbitrary.24. Under VUPW Rules § 2.1 (a), unless “public safety or emergency situations requireotherwise, or for other good cause,” the initial public meeting regarding a proposed ruleaffecting summer recreation must be held during the months of June through September.Accordingly, unless DEC identifies safety issues, and emergency or good cause, theprocess to consider a proposed rule on Great Hosmer Pond cannot begin until June of2018 or it would be contrary to law.5. The VUPW Rules clearly state that the petitioner has the burden of persuasion to provethat a use restriction on a given waterway is warranted. VUPW Rules § 3.7.Accordingly, absent a petition, DEC has taken on the burden to prove that restrictingrowing meets the requirements of the VUPW Rules and appropriately balances uses on apublic trust water. VNRC argues that meeting this burden is of particular importance inthis case because this represents the first time that VNRC is aware of the state ofVermont proposing to restrict the use of non-motorized boating in favor of motorizedboating.6. The UPW rules require that DEC “identify all normal uses affected by the petition andinclude a statement as to why the petition complies with Section 2 [of the VUPW Rules]and applicable statutory requirements.” VUPW Rules § 3.7(b)(1). As noted, DEC has notprovided any analysis or data to demonstrate how the proposed rule meets the criteria ofSection 2 of the VUPW Rules. Moreover, DEC has provided no analysis of what the“normal uses” on Great Hosmer Pond are, nor has DEC shown the proposed ruleappropriately balances these uses. Absent this information, the proposed rule putforward by DEC is arbitrary and contrary to law.7. DEC seems to recognize that its proposal to restrict the non-motorized use of rowing infavor of motorized use is in conflict with state law that prohibits high speed motorboating within 200 feet of a shoreline. In a draft memorandum to the Vermont Secretaryof the Agency of Transportation and the Vermont Commissioner of the Department ofMotor Vehicles, the Vermont Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources wrote:“From a policy perspective, ANR is concerned about codifying in rule specific timeswhen high speed boating is more likely to occur without also giving boaters a means oflegally traversing the length of the pond. Without an amendment to the 200-foot safetyzone, it is likely that violations of the safety zone in the narrows will continue to occur,creating additional tensions between conflicting users, particularly between high speedboaters, and those opposed to the allowance of high speed boats on the Pond.” Thisstatement is an admission by DEC that it is proposing to promote motorized use of thepond in a manner that will likely create safety risks is in direct contravention of theVUPW Rules. Moreover, DEC’s concern about the 200 foot rule demonstrates theirunderstanding that the Pond is unsuited for high speed motor boat use. DEC’s interest inoverturning the rule signals to the public a lack of regard for the safety of swimmers,paddlers, and other non-motorized users.ConclusionAs set forth above, there are clear and significant legal deficiencies with the draft VUPW rule forGreat Hosmer Pond proposed by DEC. If DEC proceeds to move the draft rule forward into therulemaking process, VNRC will, at a minimum, continue to raise these objections throughout therulemaking process. Moreover, if DEC adopts the rule without addressing these deficiencies,VNRC will challenge the final rule in court.As former Executive Director of the WRB, I am extremely concerned about the manner in whichDEC is implementing the VUPW program. The WRB developed the VUPW Rules and programto be a petition driven process that relied on people who use and live near the Vermont waters inquestion to gather the information necessary to create a complete petition. As a result, conflictswere often resolved, and almost always ameliorated, by the fact that petitioners were required tocollect data, interact with other water users, and craft a thoughtful proposal.By proposing a rule on its own, without the benefit of the petition process, DEC has not onlyfailed to meet the minimum requirements of the UPW rules, but has also exacerbated an alreadydifficult situation on Great Hosmer Pond. Accordingly, VNRC reiterates our request that DECwithdraw the draft Great Hosmer VUPW rule.Please contact me if you have any questions.Sincerely,Jon GrovemanVNRC Policy and Water Program Directorcc: Gina CampoliJudy Davis1 In at least one case, the WRB found that it does not have the authority to initiate rulemaking in the absence of apetition, In re Lake Raponda (Wilmington) No. UPW 72-07, Memorandum (Apr. 7, 1976).2 The WRB rejected petitions that failed to include the information required by the UPW rules. See In re LakeBomoseen (Castleton, Hubbardton), No. UPW 91-02, Memorandum (May 13, 1991) (Board cannot act based onlimited information in petition; memorandum states requirements); In re St. Albans Bay Mooring Management Zone(St. Albans; Lake Champlain), Unnumbered, Letter (May 17, 1988) (Board cannot act based on limited informationin petition); and In re Cole Pond (Jamaica), No. UPW 87-05, Letter (Oct. 7, 1987) (Board cannot respond to“generalized concerns” expressed in petition; statute contemplates that petitioners will identify a specific regulationthat it seeks Board to adopt).Source: VNRC. 10.4.2017VBM vermontbiz.comlast_img read more

Read More →

Weekly unemployment claims fall by over 600

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Weekly unemployment claims began the new year on a down note, which is good. Hiring and then layoffs spike around the holidays as first retailers and mail order operations hire seasonal workers and then release them. Volatility is common this time of year.  For the week of January 6, 2018, there were 945 claims, 625 fewer than than they were the previous week and 5 more than they were a year ago. Altogether 6,917 new and continuing claims were filed, an increase of 783 from a week ago, but 848 fewer than a year ago. For most weeks of 2017, including the last several months, claims have registered below the year before, until recently when they’ve been similar.For UI claims last week by industry, Services, which typically accounts for most claims, totaled only 28 percent. Manufacturing fell (13 percent from 21 percent) and Construction increased (39 percent from 24 percent, but nearly the same total of 368 vs 376).The Department processed 0 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08).Vermont’s unemployment rate for November was 2.9 percent. This reflects no change from the revised October and September rates (2.9 percent), as all the major indicators improved. SEE STORY.On July 1, 2017, the state reduced taxable rates for individual employers according to their experience rating. The rate reduction cut the highest UI tax rate from 8.4 percent to 7.7 percent, and the lowest rate from 1.3 percent to 1.1 percent. Additionally, July 1 marked the sunset of a provision that required claimants to wait one week between the time they were determined eligible for benefits to when they could collect those benefits.The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/(link is external). Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/lmipub.htm#uc(link is external)NOTE: Employment (nonfarm payroll) – A count of all persons who worked full- or part-time or received pay from a nonagricultural employer for any part of the pay period which included the 12th of the month. Because this count comes from a survey of employers, persons who work for two different companies would be counted twice. Therefore, nonfarm payroll employment is really a count of the number of jobs, rather than the number of persons employed. Persons may receive pay from a job if they are temporarily absent due to illness, bad weather, vacation, or labor-management dispute. This count is based on where the jobs are located, regardless of where the workers reside, and is therefore sometimes referred to as employment “by place of work.” Nonfarm payroll employment data are collected and compiled based on the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, conducted by the Vermont Department of Labor. This count was formerly referred to as nonagricultural wage and salary employment.last_img read more

Read More →