Burlington

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Drivers for the Chittenden County Transportation Authority submitted a contract proposal to company management Thursday, and the two parties are scheduled to meet this weekend with the hopes of ending the strike that began Monday.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Two days into their strike, Chittenden County Transportation Authority bus drivers said Tuesday they have prepared a counter-offer for management. But CCTA General Manager Bill Watterson said the company hasn’t seen a written proposal from the drivers.
 

The strike started Monday and has left thousands of passengers without reliable transportation. And even the union’s supporters hope the labor action ends soon.

Burlington Public Schools have selected 48 teaching positions that could be cut in an effort to cut back the school system’s budget after voters turned it down on Town Meeting Day. Nine additional positions in the district's central office were also named for potential cuts.

Superintendent Jeanne Collins said the list of positions is just preliminary.

“It’s kind of like setting the stage for the discussions,” she said.

Source: data.burlingtonvt.gov

With the launch of an “open data” web portal this week, the city of Burlington took a big step toward greater government transparency. The portal contains a wide variety of data, ranging from how much money the city spent on a softball field to how frequently the Fletcher Free Library loaned garden tools. 

The portal fits into Mayor Miro Weinberger’s dual goals of restoring accountability to city financial decisions and turning Burlington into a hub of innovative technology project.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Bus drivers and advocates gathered on Church Street in Burlington today to speak out against the management of the Chittenden County Transportation Authority, which they said is pushing for unfair working conditions.

The drivers union and CCTA management have been in an extended standoff since contract negotiation efforts failed in September, and drivers said a “best and final offer” made by management last month was unacceptable. The union voted that proposal down by a wide margin.

The Chittenden County Transportation Authority management and drivers are “really far apart” in contract negotiations and the drivers could strike if a Friday meeting doesn’t lead to a resolution, officials on both sides of the negotiations say.

The drivers are coordinating with Workers Center, a liberal advocacy organization, to hold a press event Wednesday outlining their problems with the management contract proposal.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Burlington officials settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Burlington Telecom last week, clearing the way for the city’s plan to sell the public utility.

Citibank sued the Burlington Telecom in 2011 after it failed to repay $33.5 million in loans to the bank.

A Burlington group of self-proclaimed “civic hackers” won a $35,000 grant this week to build a web service to help local community organizations.

The grant, from the John S. and James L. Knight foundation, will fund the “Civic Cloud Collaborative,” a project by CodeForBTV to help develop online services for the public.

A power outage is affecting many buildings in downtown Burlington as well as on the University of Vermont campus this morning. The outage was reported to UVM students via the university’s campus safety alert system just before 10:30 a.m.

Many businesses on Church Street in Burlington also lost power, including the newsroom of the Burlington Free Press, according to tweets from staff in the offices.

The cause of the outage is still unknown, but Burlington Free Press Associate Editor Adam Silverman tweeted that Burlington Electric Department is working on the problem.

Flickr/zappowbang

Take a walk down by Burlington’s waterfront and your eye will first be drawn to the expansive view of Lake Champlain. Your stroll will take you along a wide, wood-planked boardwalk, giving way to a winding, paved lane flanked by stretches of well-manicured grass, and you’ll eventually come upon a skateboard park and a generous dog park, with art sculptures on the route, all pleasantly within view of the big Lake.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

The efforts of Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger’s administration to improve the city’s troubled financial standing are beginning to pay off, officials announced Thursday.

A $14.6 million bond for low-interest refinancing from the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank might not have been possible when Weinberger took office in the spring of 2102. Burlington’s credit rating was teetering on the edge of “junk bond” status and mismanagement of Burlington Telecom hurt the borrowing power of virtually every city department.

One of Burlington’s largest businesses, Dealer.com, sold to a New York company for almost $1 billion in a deal announced Thursday.

Dealer.com, founded in 1998, is a leading online marketing company for automotive dealerships across the nation and employs about 700 people in Burlington. The company was purchased today by Dealer Track, a Now York-based dealership consulting company with an overlapping business model.

Dealer Track bought Dealer.com for $620 million cash in addition to 8.7 million shares of Dealer Track stock, worth about $300 million.

The City of Burlington settled an appeal with a Burlington landowner this week, removing the final obstacle that could have put a stop to the long-planned Champlain Parkway project.

“This means that at some point ­– and we hope sooner rather than later  – but at some point the Champlain Parkway will be awarded an Act 250 permit,” Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said, referring to environmental permits required by state law.

The Champlain Parkway is a proposed traffic route that would curve from the end of Interstate 189 on Shelburne Road  to Burlington's South End.

Burlington City Attorney Eileen Blackwood released a report Thursday stating her legal opinion that the city has no way to bar the F-35 from basing at Burlington International Airport.

The report reviews a number of factors, including local, state and federal laws in addition to agreements between the city and federal governments. 

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen and three other "human guinea pigs" converged on Burlington City Hall today to protest the possibility of the F-35 fighter jet being based at Burlington International Airport. The group's intent was to express their feeling that basing such a new fighter jet so close to Burlington's dense population makes residents "guinea pigs" for the Air Force.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

BURLINGTON - Mayor Miro Weinberger has plans for the city’s South End, and the Champlain Parkway is just the beginning.

That project, which looks more likely after Vermont Railway dropped a lawsuit this week, is set to extend Interstate 189 in a sweeping loop from its current endpoint at Shelburne Road west and north toward Pine Street. The plan includes funding to make Pine Street more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists.

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