When local governments thinks and act like a business, everyone but business owners and landlords lose. Burlington’s Downtown Improvement District (DID) process shows that while ‘stakeholders’ and self-selecting and unscientific ‘focus groups’ may work for businesses, they are quite useless and even harmful for effective, local democratic government. Lousy and rushed public processes have become a hallmark of Burlington’s Weinberger administration, and the DID process was is ugliest process yet.
Burlington is a strange place, where oftentimes we put more effort into appearances over substance, intentions over impact. This situation is best exemplified in the recent South End District Burlington city council race. While Jafar, a low-income man of color, was held responsible for his actions, Councilor Shannon, a wealthy white woman who has been … Continue reading The Problem with Identity Politics by Councilor Joan Shannon in Liberal Burlington
The BBA is made up of very wealthy business owners and homeowners, many of whom have little personal interest or stake in Burlington, who care more about bringing wealthy tourists to the city than serving regular Burlington residents, while a handful of BBA Members have extra influence. The BBA doesn’t represent ‘mom and pop’ businesses or Burlington residents in any real way, and when they support the Downtown Improvement District it is not to the benefit of most Burlington residents and workers.
This is Part 1 of a 4 Part series on how Mayor Weinberger and the Burlington Business Association don’t represent regular Burlingtonians and are using their influence to push a rushed and rigged Downtown Improvement District that gives a handful of wealthy folks even more power at the expense of actual Burlington residents. Parts 1,2, … Continue reading The Downtown Privatization Folks Are Wrong – Burlington’s Downtown Economy Is Healthy
After my 3-part series last year on Burlington’s unrepresentative boards and commissions, I spent a good deal of time thinking about why that is the case and how we could change the process so that marginalized voices are included in our local government. This is list is neither complete nor full of the best ideas – … Continue reading How Do We Make Burlington’s Boards and Commissions Representative?
Out with the old and in with the new. It seems that the door for folks who work for Mayor Weinberger will revolve a couple more times in the next few weeks. Recently hired CEDO Director Noelle MacKay will be leaving her position after just two years, and the mayor’s chief of staff Brian Lowe will … Continue reading Mayor Weinberger’s Revolving Door and Political Patronage Machine
It’s hard to look at Tuesday’s results and feel excited for the Progressive Party, a party with a very tarnished brand, a party that purports to help working and low-income residents, but is unable to actually attract said folks to their ranks. While Mayor Weinberger lost 15% in the polls from 2015, Progressives were unable … Continue reading Is the Progressive Party Becoming Irrelevant?
One of the symptoms of atrophying boards and commissions is that it is sometimes very difficult to fill commission spots with new faces. Whenever I talk to less political friends, they have no idea what commissions do or how to apply to be on one, and the Vehicle for Hire Board is a symptom of … Continue reading Why is Councilor Roof on the Vehicle for Hire Board?
Correction: Councilor Knodell has let me know she is not a housing consultant and did not vote on Cambrian Rise. I stand corrected and apologize for the error. The Inclusionary Zoning Working Group* is the sort of group that makes you want to bang your head against a wall. Approved unanimously by city council, it’s … Continue reading Updated: Why Are Developers and Housing Insiders Deciding Our Inclusionary Zoning Policy?
Post title updated to reflect that a large portion of city employees are not unionized, and to reflect that many union members are saying that membership never took a vote. What at first looked like a huge win for Carina seems to be blowing back pretty hard, especially when several other city unions had already … Continue reading Updated: Burlington City Employee Union Opposes Mayor Weinberger
Update: I included the average and median home value of commissioners (priced to current value) compared to citywide median and average. (If you did not get the chance to read part 1, I mapped out last year’s commissioner data to show what areas of the city commissioners come from, and in part 2 I looked … Continue reading Are Burlington’s Boards and Commissions Representative? Part 3 of 3
Every election cycle, local news organizations mention that Mayor Weinberger has strong financial connections to the developer, landlord, and real estate communities. But how strong are those connections? By scouring old campaign finance records, along with current finance reports, I have discovered that more than half of Miro’s campaign contributions, $150,000, come from local businesses, … Continue reading Who Funds Mayor Weinberger’s Campaigns?
Today I’d like to delve a bit deeper into the data that I first presented in part 1. To ensure that the sample sizes were large enough, and not just the aberration of small commissions, I chose to look only at the commissions with at least 4 members. You may be surprised by what the … Continue reading Are Burlington’s Boards and Commissions Representative? Part 2 of 3
In the coming week I will discuss, in a several part series, why our board and commission process, from public outreach to voting, is deeply deeply flawed. It is so flawed, in fact, that it’s impressive our boards and commissions have any diversity, but homogeneity isn’t as far off as you may think. Today I’d … Continue reading Are Burlington’s Boards and Commissions Representative? Part 1 of 3
Please do not excuse the pun – little do you know I get paid by the pun. There was a PIAP (public investment action plan) that occurred a couple years ago when the city wanted to redevelop parts of the waterfront. I remember reading about the details and finding a couple points that just didn’t … Continue reading Burlington’s Fishy Private Marina Process
We, as a community, are at a crossroads. Recent policy decisions by our current administration continue to put the welfare of businesses and wealthy landlords over the needs of our residents. But we can change that! A case study can be the Boves family, especially local landlord Rick Boves, shows us how if we let … Continue reading The Boves are Slumlords and the City Shouldn’t Work with Them
While lawsuits will likely abound (potentially from Citibank!), it seems like the untransparent, debacle of a process-to-end-all-of-the-city’s-failed-processes has finally come to an end. With that in mind, it’s time to see who succeeded and who lost during last night’s marathon city council meeting to decide the fate of Burlington Telecom. The Winners: Mayor Weinberger It’s … Continue reading The Winners and Losers of Last Night’s Burlington Telecom Debacle
Public engagement in Burlington is tricky. I attended a meeting in City Hall on August 14th, where city officials presented new plans about the City Hall Park redevelopment. I spoke from my perspective as a preschool teacher who works with many young families and children from many different cultural, economic, social, gender, and racial backgrounds. … Continue reading Public Engagement in Burlington
*Update* I heard through the grapevine that the city is looking to revive the committee. I hope they will reach out to all the folks who left, especially committee chair Ralph Montefusco, and work to make sure this committee has the access and voice it deserves. *Update 2* – I asked the Mayor’s office for … Continue reading *Updated* The Death of Burlington’s Accessibility Committee