Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Resolution For Vermonters

Mary and I want to wish you a very Happy New Year in 2014!
Today, like many, I went through the exercise of what I wanted to have for a New Year's Resolution(s). 
I wanted something I could not only make, but also keep.
So, I will share my New Year's Resolution with you and ask if you want, you too can adopt the same one or create a similar wish with your own features.
My New Year's Resolution is based upon the following:
The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, Inc., established a fund to help defray the costs generated to defend "OUR" Sportsmen's Bill of Rights. 
This is one of the most precious laws we have and need to vigorously defend it for all Sportsmen.
My resolution is to pledge the amount of $19.00 per month for 12 months in 2014.  I know this resolution is one I can easily make and easily keep. 

I am asking as many as possible to make the same or similar pledge for which I thank you in advance.
The pledge can be sent to VFSC; 14 Stafford Avenue; Morrisville, VT 05661with a note stating for the "Sportsmen's Bill of Rights Defense Fund" or at www.vtfsc.org.

Again, Happy New Year from our home to yours.

Clint and Mary
Clint Gray,
Immediate Past-President
Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, Inc.
Care Trak Northeast

Friday, December 27, 2013

Public Records Request - Burlington Report #11

Proudly Serving Vermont Since 1875
Report for Day #11 of On-site VT Public Record Law Review of Burlington Anti-Gun Proposals
Burlington City Hall, 12/23 1:00PM – 4:30PM
On Monday, December 13, Chris Bradley and Evan Hughes were in Burlington City Hall for a document review session for the Vermont Public Records Review Law request the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs (VFSC) submitted to the city on September 19.
On December 16 the VFSC filed an "appeal" letter challenging the city on numerous deficiencies of the city in complying with the public records request. Below and above is the written response of Burlington Miro Weinberger to the federation's challenge.
In the letter the mayor acknowledges that of the 117 documents it had previously withheld from public view, 25 would be released in a file among other documents made available in a computer file. A cross-reference of a log of withheld documents, with 25 marked for disclosure and the computer file revealed that only 3 of the listed 25 had been released.
When the city IT personnel were advised of the missing 22 document, the city administrator and city attorney were notified and the staff provided hard copies of the documents. The documents were provided at closing time and there was insufficient time to again cross-reference the materials with the log. A review reveals that one document is still missing and has again been requested.
The city attorney and city administrator has previously told us that there were 900 documents that had been set aside for review and the review would be completed by the end of the year.
Chris Bradley & Evan Hughes
Office of Mayor Miro Weinberger
December 23,2013
Evan Hughes, VFSC Vice-President
16 Millstone Blvd.
Barre, VT 05641
RE: Appeal of Public Records Request dated December 16, 2013
Dear Mr. Hughes,
This letter is in response to your email of December 16, 2013, concerning an appeal of records issues under 1 V.S.A.§31B(c).
I begin by restating the City's commitment to transparency and to meeting the requirements of Vermont's public records law. To that end, the Administration has been working steadily to respond to your request. As you know. the initial search terms led to
many thousands of documents, and we have now reviewed over 9,000 of those. Of those, we have produced to you over 2,500 documents and identified 117 as exempt. We are reviewing and logging a further batch of exempt documents and are working to have a complete log of those exempt documents to you by the end of the calendar year.
The first seven paragraphs of your letter do not request or appeal records under the Vermont Public Records Act, so do not require a response. I do want to emphasize that, as you have been told, the City has taken your request for public records seriously and has been working diligently to respond to it. All City officers, employees, and Council members have been asked to provide all communications or other materials that are responsive to your request, and it is my understanding that they have done so.
As to paragraphs B,9, and 10, you request that I revisit and reverse the City's exemption of documents under 317(c)(17). I have reviewed your request and the documents we have withheld under that exemption. As you undoubtedly are aware, this exemption is designed to "allow decision makers access to the fuller spectrum of competing ideas that the promise of candor encourages and the specter of public scrutiny chills before voting or otherwise choosing a particular course." Montpelier Firefighters Ass'n v. City of Montpelier, No. 85-2-13 Wncv (Vermont Superior Court, Washington Unit, March 4,2013). Vermont courts have recognized the importance of municipal officials' having an opportunity for private exchange and analysis prior to making a decision. See, e.g., Bethel v. Bennington School District, Inc., No. 403-10-07 Bncv (Bennington Superior Court July 24,2008). These court decisions support my personal belief that the most effective decision-making for the public
good comes through thoughtful, well-reasoned analysis and debate.
However, after careful re-examination, I have found that the City's exemption of documents under (c)(17) may have been applied too broadly with respect to certain documents, and I have decided to disclose a number of records previously claimed as exempt and as outlined in the attached log. This log cross-references the previous five exemption logs that have been provided to you. These documents are included in the records being provided to you today. For the remaining documents claimed under this exemption, the City will continue to exert the exemption for the reasons described above.
Your next request in paragraph 12 is for me to reconsider the attorney-client privilege and you specifically reference email correspondence with Eric Miller. It appears to me that the exempt log does incorrectly reference (c)(3) for some of these communications when they should just have cited (c)(17). These references are corrected on the attached complete log.
As to paragraph 13, the City does not currently maintain a record reflecting all personnel hours spent in responding to your requests to date by date, hours, and person. We are working to pull together the information on Attorney Bergman's time that was previously promised.
As to paragraph 14, the City is diligently attempting to try to complete its review and production of the exemption log and most of the responsive documents (although perhaps not the updated records requested more recently) by the end of the calendar year. To that end, we have hired outside personnel to assist. If, for some reason, we cannot meet that timeline, we will let you know but believe we are on track to do so at this point.
Miro Weinberger, Mayor
Chris Bradley - Secretary
Vermont State Rifle And Pistol Association (VSRPA)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

VFSC Burlington Report #9

Proudly Serving Vermont Since 1875




Report for Day #9 of On-site VT Public Record Law Review of Burlington Anti-Gun Proposals

Burlington City Hall, 12/11 9AM – 11:30AM



Chris Bradley and Evan Hughes were at the Burlington City Hall on Wednesday, December 11th for a material review session. 


The day started with a meeting between Eileen Blackwood (City Attorney) and Bob Rusten (Chief Administrative Officer) which lasted approximately 40 minutes with all parties demonstrating their professionalism. 

In this meeting, Chief Administrator Rusten indicated that they believed they have reviewed a total of approximately 5,000 documents.


Of those 5,000 documents, Mr. Rusten explained that they have produced approximately 2,400 documents (mostly emails) for our examination.  He then explained that another 1,600 documents from the 5,000 total were not produced as the City deemed them "not responsive" (meaning that they were not given to us as it was felt that they had no bearing on the Federation's Public Records Request). 


They then explained that approximately 800-900 additional documents have been set aside by the City for further review by them to ascertain whether they should be exempted, redacted or otherwise given to the Federation for review.


In considering the 800-900 documents which have been set aside for further review by the City, it must be noted that the City has already made the determination to redact or exempt 117 documents from Public Review and Inspection.  It should be further mentioned that in the trip to Burlington on 12/4, the Federation was informed by a City Official that the Federation would likely be receiving "hundreds and hundreds" more exemptions and/or redactions.  While it is purely conjecture, the Federation has reason to believe that most of the 800-900 documents will be the likely source of these additional redactions/exemptions, as these documents were already set aside at least once by the City for further internal scrutiny and consideration.


City Attorney Blackwood indicated that she would be pursuing the hiring of a person to help the City expedite the production of records, and she clearly stated that she felt the City had not been prepared at all to be responsive to the Federation's Public Records Request.  Mr. Rusten further indicated that there was still another 13,000 records to be reviewed – but that it was felt that most of these would not be responsive the Federation's Public Records Request.


As of today, December 16th, the Federation has formally appealed to Mayor Weinberger in regards to the 117 redacted or exempted documents to date.  In this letter we have requested that these documents be opened for inspection and, among other points concerning Burlington's responsiveness (or lack thereof), reminded him of his commitments to open government – which so far has been slow to be seen by the Federation.


We have additionally requested that the city return to not merely listing redacted or exempted documents, but physically provide them with appropriate sections blacked out.  We have further requested the amount of time spent by the City to date, and have now specifically asked for documents not previously provided (but requested), such as the notes kept by Charter Change Committee Chairwoman Siegal, and documents from/to Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Letter of Appeal of Public Record Request to City of Burlington

Proudly Serving Vermont Since 1875
16 Millstone Blvd, Barre, VT 05641
To:       Miro Weinberger, Mayor, City of Burlington
            City Attorney Office Personnel, City of Burlington
            City Council Members, City of Burlington
            City Management Personnel, City of Burlington
Date:   December 16, 2013
Re:       Appeal of Records Issues under 1 VSA § 318(c)
Dear Mayor Weinberger:
By this Letter, the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs (VFSC) appeals the issues described below in regard to VFSC's Public Records Requests to the City of Burlington.
By appealing the specific issues below, VFSC does not waive the right to appeal other issues (to you or to court), or concede that the City has been in compliance with law on matters not mentioned below.
1.      As a preliminary matter, please be aware that VFSC's forty five different member clubs have thousands and thousands of members throughout Vermont, and a number of these individuals serve in local offices and are thus familiar with Vermont's Public Records law.  We request that you and the City of Burlington refer to and review the Vermont League of Cities and Towns' excellent "How to Respond to A Public Records Request" contained at pages 8 through 56 of VLCT's 'Selectboard Institute' 2012 materials, which can be found at the following:


2.      Please acknowledge that VFSC's initial September 18, 2013 letter to the City was and at all times has been a request for public records giving rise to obligations under Vermont's Public Records Law.

3.      Please acknowledge that the Public Records law specifically does not contain any basis to refuse or delay compliance, and, in fact, 1 VSA § 315 states that "Officers of government are trustees and servants of the people and it is in the public interest to enable any person to review and criticize their decisions even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment."

4.      Please acknowledge Vermont's well-settled principle that under the Public Records Law, any ambiguity as to whether an exemption applies is to be resolved in favor of the requester and against the government.

5.      Please acknowledge that "records" for purposes of a Record Request consist of "any written or recorded information, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which is produced or acquired in the course of public agency business" (1 VSA § 317(b)) and that any records that public officials create, transmit, revise, or receive, regardless of the method or means, relating to the topics before them, or business that they contemplate future action on, are public records. Therefore, please confirm that the City and all Officers, Employees, and Council Members have provided VFSC with all materials, including but not limited to emails from accounts or systems other than City IT systems, social media, text messages, communications on or by web sites, and other communications, within the scope of VFSC's requests, or make prompt arrangements to provide all such materials and give VFSC a date certain by which all such records will be provided.

6.      Please identify any other known instances in which the City or its officers or employees have invoked the inter- or intra-departmental exemption (c)(17) to withhold materials or portions of materials in response to a Public Record Request.

7.      Please:
a.      Acknowledge that you as Mayor have been communicating and coordinating with other Mayors and government officials within and beyond Vermont with interests or goals in restricting firearms and/ or other weapons.
b.      Acknowledge that you are aware that members of the City Council in general, and the Charter Change Committee in particular, have been actively communicating and coordinating with organizations and persons outside of Burlington's own City Government that support restricting firearms and/ or other weapons.
c.       Acknowledge that no exemption applies in those instances, and provide any such communications to or from or copied or forwarded regarding such other officials, persons, or organizations.

8.      VFSC asks that you, as Mayor, revisit and reverse the City's withholding of records that the City has withheld on the basis of exemption (c)(17) (intergovernmental deliberations related to policy formulation) for the following reason:  the Vermont Supreme Court has repeatedly held that even where certain materials may be subject to an exemption from the Public Records Law, the exemption does not justify the withholding of records if the public interest in availability of the records outweighs the purpose of the exemption. See for example Rutland Herald v. City of Rutland, 2013 VT 98, October 11, 2013, paragraph 10. The City's contemplated course of action would affect the statewide statute that preempts individual municipalities from regulating firearms (24 VSA Section 2295). The City's involvement with other governments and advocacy organizations elsewhere in Vermont and beyond Vermont also raises the importance of transparency as to what the City is doing, how, why, and with whom. All of this renders what the City is doing, how, why, and with who, subjects where the importance of disclosure outweighs the purpose of the inter- or intra- governmental exemption, and VFSC requests disclosure of all materials that the City has been withholding, or will or would withhold, based on that exemption.

9.      VFSC asks that you, as Mayor, revisit and reverse its withholding of records that the City has withheld on the basis of exemption (c)(17) (intergovernmental deliberations related to policy formulation) for the following further reason:

Although VFSC is not aware of any Vermont court decisions interpreting or applying this exemption, the State of Washington has an equivalent exemption and the Washington Supreme Court has made clear that the exemption does not authorize the type of carte blanche blanket withholding that the City has sought to date regarding records of communications within government:

"The purpose of this exemption severely limits its scope. Its purpose is to protect the give and take of deliberations necessary to formulation of agency policy. For that reason, the exemption "only protects documents which are part of `a deliberative or policy-making process'. We have specifically rejected the contention that this exemption applies to all documents in which opinions are expressed regardless of whether the opinions pertain to the formulation of policy. Moreover, unless disclosure would reveal and expose the deliberative process, as distinct from the facts upon which a decision is based, the exemption does not apply. In order to rely on this exemption, an agency must show that the records contain pre-decisional opinions or recommendations of subordinates expressed as part of a deliberative process; that disclosure would be injurious to the deliberative or consultative function of the process; that disclosure would inhibit the flow of recommendations, observations, and opinions; and finally, that the materials covered by the exemption reflect policy recommendations and opinions and not the raw factual data on which a decision is based. Subjective evaluations are not exempt under this provision if they are treated as raw factual data and are not subject to further deliberation and consideration. Once the policies or recommendations are implemented, the records cease to be protected under this exemption."
Progressive Animal Welfare Society v. Univ. of Washington, 884 P.2d 592 (1994).

The burden is on the government to show each of the prerequisites, as to each record it seeks to withhold, in order to validly invoke this exemption.

And once the decision being contemplated has been made, the exemption ceases to apply. Therefore, for deliberations that led up to City Council action to date, even if exemption (c)(17) did apply prior to action, the exemption no longer applies post-action.

VFSC thus requests that you either provide specific justification for each record withheld as to why each prerequisite justifies the exemption, or, in the absence of that justification for each record, that you provide that record, and, also, even if the exemption had applied, if the deliberations were pertinent to action that has now already been taken, that you now provide such records since the exemption now no longer applies.

10.  VFSC asks that you reverse decisions to date and provide all previously-withheld records (and going forward) meeting the following circumstances. Please acknowledge that Vermont law is clear that if privileged materials are shared beyond the immediate scope of persons and roles (in this context, within government) entitled to assert the privilege, then the privilege is waived. See Vermont Rule of Evidence 510. Thus, please provide any and all materials responsive to VFSC's requests, which the City has previously claimed are exempt, but that the City has shared, in any manner and at any time (whether by "CC," "blind CC," forwarding, or other transmittal), with persons or organizations outside of City government and the limited confines of specific outside legal counsel.  These requested records include but are not limited to circumstances where any sender or recipient was not part of the current administration or City Council as of the time that such person sent or received any item. Examples would include (but not be limited to): Andrew Savage, Judith Stanley, and Emma Mulvaney-Stanak.

11.  VFSC asks that you reverse decisions to date and provide all previously-withheld records (and going forward) meeting the following circumstances. Please acknowledge that the attorney-client privilege does not apply merely because a lawyer is the sender or recipient of a message, or copied on a message, but only applies when the communication is necessary to the lawyer's representation of the client. Thus please provide messages that may have involved lawyers but were to or from external senders, recipients, or copies (cc or bcc).

12.  VFSC asks that you reverse decisions to date and provide all previously-withheld records (and going forward) meeting the following circumstances. Please acknowledge that the attorney-client privilege only applies where there is in fact an attorney-client relationship and legal representation that is established and ongoing regarding the subjects of communication, not merely because a sender or recipient happens to be a lawyer.  Thus please provide any and all materials to or from Eric Miller, or on which Mr. Miller was copied, since Mr. Miller, although a lawyer, does not appear to be in any role where he is providing formal legal representation.

13.  Please provide any records reflecting personnel hours spent to date, by date and hours and person, showing what the City has done over time to respond to VFSC's requests.

14.  It has now been nearly three months since VFSC's initial request. Please provide a specific frame of action, and time frames, by which the City will complete compliance with review and disclosure obligations.
Evan Hughes
Vice President - Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fwd: Report #8

Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, Inc.

Proudly Serving Vermont Since 1875



Report for Day #8 of On-site VT Public Record Law Review of Burlington Anti-Gun Proposals

Burlington City Hall, 12/4 9AM – 11:30AM


Chris Bradley and Evan Hughes were at the Burlington City Hall on Wednesday, December 4th for a material review session. The city did not have enough documents available in the preceding week to make a site visit worthwhile.


During this visit the city produced 540 Emails of which 46 were originals and the rest were duplications of previously provided items; this brings the overall total of emails provided by Burlington to 2,544 – of which approximately 625 are non-duplicates. The City of Burlington has informed the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs that thus far it has withheld 117 documents from the Federation review.


During this meeting the city informed the Federation that given a decision by the mayor, city council and city attorney that the number of withheld documents would increase dramatically. The city related the related the increased documents would be in the "hundreds" and when asked for clarification of that term of numbers, the number of "500" was cited.


If the city holds to that number, there would be over six hundred documents that the city will have withheld from public view via the Vermont Public Record Law request the Federation has submitted to the city.


The City of Burlington would be withholding these documents about how it creates a proposal to have the legislature on its proposed gun control ordinance that will give the city the power to arrest, prosecute, imprison, fine and seize the property of citizens.


Is this the way you believe Vermont law should be enacted?


Just FYI:  The 4 attachments to this email are examples of exempted and redacted documents that have been given to us.




Chris Bradley - Secretary

Vermont State Rifle And Pistol Association (VSRPA)



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Another National Recognition of the VFSC battle with Burlington

A national gun rights organization publishes the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs
campaign to protect our Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights.  To read click on the link below:

The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs has created a fund to aid in its campaigns
to defend freedom, such as defending the Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights.  It is
available by clicking on the link above.
You can read the GUNS Magazine article on the VFSC battle with the City of Burlington

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Latest Report on BTV

Proudly Serving Vermont Since 1875
Report for Day #5-7 of On-site VT Public Record Law Review of Burlington Anti-Gun Proposals
Burlington City Hall, 11/13 9AM – 1:30PM; 11/15 1:15PM-3:30PM; 11/20 9:15AM – 11:30AM
Chris Bradley and Evan Hughes went to Burlington City Hall on Wednesday 11/13, Friday 11/15 and Wednesday 11/20.  The number of documents produced on Wednesday 11/20 was so pathetic that there was no sense in traveling to Burlington on Friday 11/22 as originally planned.

In terms of numbers the city has produced approximately 2,500 pieces for review.  Of those, exactly 2,004 have been emails and of those approximately 586 are non-duplicates.  To date, the City has informed the Federation that there are 104 documents that we have been blocked from seeing either through redaction or outright exemption.  In some at least one case, the City has redacted only the subject lines (but none of the body).

This means that so far, the City is withholding about 15 percent of the documents it has acknowledged exists.  What the City is essentially saying then is that several of the discussions over the development of hoped-for City ordinances are not open to public review, which is highly questionable given that this should all have been a very open process.

Remember, the city was informed of the federation request to view these materials on September 19.
The city refused to allow any viewing of the requested materials until the morning of Tuesday, October
22, the morning after the city council voted to proceed forward with their proposed gun control ordinances.

The City has miserably failed to comply with the time requirements of the Vermont Public Records Law and to date has provided only about 2,500 documents of the approximately 18,000+/- items it reports it has.

The review of the requested materials is providing some very revealing information, which is all the more reason for wanting to see what is the withheld and not yet disclosed.  But, would a Mayor and City Council that has no respect for the Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights respect the Vermont Public Records Law? 
Obviously not. If you think this wrong, you can let them know you strongly object to their political shenanigans.
Chris Bradley - Secretary
Vermont State Rifle And Pistol Association (VSRPA)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Burlington City Council moves on gun regulations

The next public hearing are at noon on Friday, January 17 and then 7 PM on Monday, January 27.
The meeting last night was not a public hearing, the city council had no scheduled public comment
session dedicated to the proposed gun control ordinances.
Burlington City Council moves on gun regulations

Two approved, one sent back for fine tuning

Nov. 18, 2013     

Burlington City Councilor Tom Ayres, D-Ward 7, listens to public comment during Monday night's city council meeting at Contois Auditorium. / EMILY McMANAMY/FREE PRESS
Written by, April Burbank , Free Press Staff Writer

The Burlington City Council was expected to approve final ballot language for three proposed regulations on guns Monday but encountered some legal questions along the way.
The Council ultimately approved two of the resolutions — a safe firearm storage requirement and a ban on guns in establishments with liquor licenses — with amendments. Council members sent a third resolution, which would allow police seizure of guns in cases of suspected domestic abuse, back to the committee level for more fine-tuning.
Opponents of the proposed regulations argued in a public comment period, as they had at previous meetings, that the city lacks authority to enact the changes under state law. The issue came up on Monday as City Attorney Eileen Blackwood answered councilors' questions.
"It requires a change in state law for there to be any regulation, so that's the reason why we're going through these steps," Blackwood said. "Then, when it goes to the Legislature, the Legislature has the authority to change whatever the voters of Burlington have voted and can add or subtract things."
Each resolution would ask for permission from the state that "expressly supersedes" a law that prohibits municipalities from regulating the possession of firearms.
The City Council had approved the three proposed charter changes at a highly-attended Oct. 21 meeting; since then, the Charter Change Committee had been working through the exact language of the resolutions with a goal of preparing them for public hearings in January and a public vote in March.
City Council President Joan Shannon, D-Ward 5, first suggested moving on the three regulations as a "slate" on Monday; the Council opted instead to consider them one-by-one.
The City Council adopted amendments that would allow the city to have leeway in determining penalties for violations of the proposed laws, which could include civil and criminal penalties as well as forfeiture of weapons involved in a violation.
The City Council approved the amended ballot language for the ban on guns in bars with a 12-1 vote; Councilor Paul Decelles, R-Ward 7, opposed. The Council approved ballot language for the safe storage requirement with an 11-2 vote; Decelles and Councilor David Hartnett, D-Ward 4, opposed.
Page 2 of 2)
Public hearings on the two provisions have been scheduled for noon on Jan. 17 and 7 p.m. on Jan. 27 in Contois Auditorium.
The City Council voted unanimously to send the domestic violence provision back to the Charter Change Committee after some confusion over what a "violation" of the requirement would actually mean.
The vote was taken with an expectation of receiving a resolution back at the Council's Dec. 16 meeting, the last scheduled meeting that would allow the Council to move forward in time for a public vote in March.
Burlington gun collector Ian Galbraith told the City Council before the votes that gun-rights advocates would speak out against the proposals in Montpelier.
"We're all over the place, and there's a lot of us," said Galbraith, wearing a hunter-orange cap. "Thank you, and thank you for the process."

Also at Monday's meeting:

• The City Council considered an ordinance prohibiting people from leaving their pets unattended in vehicles, which would support a state statute and allow police or other responders to use "reasonable force" to remove an animal from a vehicle and bring the animal to a humane society, veterinarian or pound. The Council voted unanimously to refer the ordinance to the Ordinance Committee.
• City Councilors allowed a cut in their own expense reimbursement account limits — lowering the cap from $5,000 to $3,000 per councilor for the current fiscal year — as they approved a plan to reduce the fiscal 2014 budget by nearly a half million dollars. The proposal, put forward by Chief Administrative Officer Bob Rusten, also calls for the city to find cost savings or increased revenue in its health insurance plan, parking fees and miscellaneous expenses.
• In a work session before the full City Council meeting, Rusten presented Council members with an overview of the city's self-funded health insurance system, which has required increased city contributions in the past several years. Rusten asked the City Council to provide guidance about investigating possible changes to the health insurance system.
• Burlington organizations received the go-ahead to launch a citywide parking initiative with the goal of educating the public, assessing the city's infrastructure, experimenting with new parking-related pilot projects and crafting a comprehensive downtown parking management plan by March 2015. The Burlington Business Association, the Community and Economic Development Office, the Department of Public Works, the Burlington Police Department and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission are among the groups participating in the initiative.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Burlington City Council to Discuss Proposed Gun Control Ordiances

The gun control resolutions will be reviewed, these were were passed on October 21 and signed by the mayor on October 21.
The next public hearings on the proposed gun control ordinances are scheduled for January 17 and 27.  (See BFP Article below)

Gun regulations, health insurance to be discussed at Burlington's City Council

Nov. 18, 2013 1:32 PM      

Written by
April Burbank
Free Press Staff Writer
Burlington's three proposed regulations on guns are slated to return to the City Council on Monday night with ballot language.
The provisions relating to safe gun storage, police seizure of firearms in a domestic abuse incident and a ban on guns in establishments with liquor licenses were approved by the council on Oct. 21. They returned to the Charter Change Committee for fine-tuning. Pending approval Monday night, two public hearings on the gun-related provisions would be scheduled for noon on Jan. 17 and 7 p.m. on Jan. 27 in Contois Auditorium. The measures would go before voters in March and would have to be approved by the state Legislature before taking effect.
The City Council schedule begins with a worksession at 6 p.m. to discuss the city's health insurance plans. Later, in the adjourned meeting that begins at 7:15 p.m., changes to the health insurance plan are one piece of a proposal to adjust the city's current budget by about $500,000.
The regular meeting will also include reports from the library commission and the retirement board, a resolution honoring the Burlington Youth Football Program, and a proposed launch of an initiative to improve downtown parking.
A group of 10 councilors has also sponsored a new ordinance prohibiting people from leaving their pets unattended in vehicles, which would support a state statute.
Contact April Burbank at (802) 660-1863 or

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

City of Burlington Politicians "You Were Wrong to Tread on Veterans Day"

                                                    Honoring Veterans Day

The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs continued our long tradition of honoring the

November 11, Veterans Day, as a day set aside for respecting the service of the active duty
armed forces personnel and veterans of this nation. Service that has been rendered with
sacrifice by our military personnel and their families.  We stand with honoring Veterans Day
by the legal closing of federal, state, county and local government business on this solemn day.
The federation holds it is disheartening that the mayor and city council would allow any activist
events to take place in the city council chambers on Veterans Day.  For this reason the federation
objects to last night's Politically Correct gun control rally, which was thinly disguised as an
"educational forum." 
In allowing the PC gun control rally on Veterans Day the politicians of Burlington have undermined
the sanctity of Veterans Day.  Any political lip service about respecting Veterans Day is worthless
sales talk, for actions speak much louder than mere fancy words of politicians. 
The federation waited until after the PC gun control rally had been held to speak out, so as to not
be falsely accused of working to disrupt the PC rally.  Nor are we not now speaking out to seek
equal city hall access, our objection is to Burlington's politicians wrongly treading on Veterans Day.
It is not surprising that the Burlington politicians who have no respect for the Vermont Sportsmen's
Bill of Rights would have no respect for Veterans Day.  We will not silently endure either insult.
It is most appropriate to contact Mayor Weinberger at 802-865-7272 and the City Council President
Joan Shannon at 802-860-7489 to object to making city hall an activist PC rally site on Veterans Day.
A simple "You Were Wrong to Tread on Veterans Day" should get the conversation moving right along.
 Here is a link to the Burlington Free Press article on the subject. Link

Thursday, November 7, 2013


 The City of Montpelier has a solid precedent in being unbelievably difficult to deal with in their attacks on sportsmen's rights.  See what is underlined below.
From: Sbmcvt@aol.com [mailto:Sbmcvt@aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 07, 2013 3:21 PM
To: info@vermonttraditions.org
    Hello Everyone,
Sorry for the late notice but tonight's public hearing has not been advertised, at least to my knowledge, and Vermont Traditions Coalition got caught by surprise.
This public hearing will begin at 6 PM at the Berlin Elementary School Libarary.  The Berlin School is located directly across the interstate access four corners opposite the Shaw's Grocery Plaza.  The hearing is being held by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation on the City of Montpelier's proposal to ban motorized ice fishing augers and ice shanties on Berlin Pond.
The state's confirmation of this hearing just received this afternoon is below.  It includes a copy of the Petition.
The Petition states that gasoline powered augers should be banned due to the potential to contaminate the Town of Montpelier's water which comes from Berlin Pond.  The Petition states that ice shanties should be banned because of the ability to conceal illicit or terrorist activities.  This justification is perhaps the most far fetched reason for a restriction that I've heard in my 13 years as Executive Director of Vermont Traditions Coalition.
Note that there is also an opportunity for Written Public Comment between now and November 30.
Here's the information VTC received from the state this afternoon:
Yes, there is a public meeting tonight to hear comments on the City of Montpelier's petition at 6pm at the Berlin Elementary School Library, 372 Paine Turnpike North, Berlin, Vermont.  You can find the notice on our website here: http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/rulemaking/docs/petitions/pet_bp10012013_publicnotice.pdf
We will be receiving written comments until November 30, 2013 so there will be plenty of time to get us your comments if you have a conflict with tonight's meeting.  Thanks for contacting me for clarification, Steve.
End State Statement
Steve McLeod, Executive Director
Vermont Traditions Coalition

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hunters Spend $292 Million in Vermont

                                     VERMONT FISH and WILDLIFE
Press Release
For Immediate Release:  November 6, 2013
Media Contact:  Commissioner Patrick Berry, 802-828-1000
Hunters Spend $292 Million in Vermont
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department reports that hunters contribute significantly to the state's economy and spend more than $292 million in Vermont annually, according to a recent survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Census Bureau.
"More than $39 million is spent on travel, such as dining, lodging, transportation, and similar expenses," says Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry.  "Another $190 million is spent on equipment, and more than $62 million is spent on other items."
"Hunting is economically important not just because of its total economic impact," said Berry, "but also because so much of it occurs after foliage season and before skiing, and the spending takes place throughout the state, including in our most rural areas."
In 2012, more than 74,000 people purchased Vermont hunting licenses, including 64,589 residents and 9,428 nonresidents.  Deer are the most important species sought by hunters in Vermont, with close to 90 percent of license buyers planning to pursue deer according to the Fish & Wildlife Department. 
The federal survey also shows that Vermont ranks first among the lower 48 states in participation of its residents in wildlife-related recreation, including hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, with 62 percent of our residents enjoying these resources.  Residents and nonresidents spend $744 million annually in Vermont in pursuit of these activities.
"Vermont isn't Vermont without wildlife and fish. These resources are important to all of us recreationally, socially and economically," said Berry.  "They also contribute greatly to our quality of life.  As hunters continue to enjoy excellent opportunities here in the state, it's good to know that local communities benefit as well."
Editors:  Here is a link to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation -- http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/fhw11-vt.pdf
Caption for attached photo:
VTF&W photo by John Hall
Hunters spend $292 million annually in Vermont, including in our more rural areas, and they do so after foliage tourism ends and before skiing starts. 
John Hall, Outreach Division
[phone]      802-828-1000      [fax]      802-828-1250
[email]    john.hall@state.vt.us
[website]    www.vtfishandwildlife.com
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
1 National Life Drive, Davis 2
Montpelier VT 05620

Thursday, October 31, 2013

BTV Update...

Proudly Serving Vermont Since 1875
The Vermont Federation of Sportsmens' Clubs has been actively following and diligently working against the City of Burlington's gun ban efforts since the issue first surfaced late last year. The Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights must be protected to save guns, shooting, hunting, fishing and trapping.
The Federation is fortunate to have members and allies who have a wide range and deep depth of skills and experience, which in this case includes people with decades of experience in government relations, litigation, and municipal law indeed combined, over a century of experience in those specialized fields, combining vast knowledge and experience, a powerful combination of resources.
The process of challenging government action via litigation/lobbying are also forms of war, though, again with concepts and words rather than projectiles. In the case of litigation challenging government action, the terrain is exceedingly complex, with many hidden traps that the government is very experienced in springing against those who are not wary. In lobbying it is a matter of getting the message right and directed correctly.
Starting a war at the wrong time, without choosing timing, terrain, and the posture and condition of your opponent with the utmost care, is the surest way to lose the war. The City of Burlington has five of its own full time in house attorneys on salary and at least one, probably two, of the most sophisticated and politically savvy law firms in Vermont on retainer.
When you lose a battle in litigation or legislation, the loss haunts you and everyone on your side (our side) now, and in the future, just as much a losing a war. You are stuck with a legal precedent and will never again have the chance to fight the same battles with the same resources that you could have had if you had more carefully chosen the time, place, and manner of attack.
The Federation is currently interacting with legal and legislative experts in the fields of law pertinent to what is happening in Burlington and will keep Vermonters posted on developments. It is more important to get the course of action correct, putting more concern on being right than just fast because
our Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights, which went to effect in 1988, must be protected. We lose this and it will be open season on shooting ranges.

Monday, October 28, 2013

WCAX: Church Street gun incident leads to charges

Existing state law resulted in his arrest and now federal a federal law will be used by
a federal law enforcement agency to have federal prosecutors brings charges in
federal court and if convicted he will serve time in a federal correctional facility and
then be on federal parole by federal parole officers.
Notice a trend here?  The Vermont prosecutors, courts, and corrections will not be
using our all ready overtaxed systems to handle a criminal problem for which the
federal resources exist.
Given the impressive criminal record of this individual, who violated numerous state
and federal laws, does anyone really think a municipal ordinance would have deterred him?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Burlington City Councilor reveals goal is to end preemption in Vermont

Burlington Councilor reveals goal is to end preemption in Vermont

By David Codrea of Gun Rights Examiner

To read David Codrea's article click on the link above. 


Friday, October 25, 2013

FOIA to City of Burlington 10-25-13

Subject: Freedom of Information Request - Response #4

Proudly Serving Vermont Since 1875
16 Millstone Blvd, Barre, VT 05641
To:       Robert Rusten, Chief Administrator, City of Burlington
            Miro Weinberger, Mayor, City of Burlington
            All Personnel in City Attorney's Office, City of Burlington
            All City Council Members, City of Burlington
            City Management Personnel, City of Burlington
            William Ellis Esq., McNeil, Leddy & Sheahan
Date:   October 25, 2013
RE:       Freedom of Information Request
Dear Mr. Rusten:
Please treat this as the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Club's (VFSC) initial response to your letter dated October 22 and to communications made in person to the undersigned on October 22 by Assistant City Attorney Eugene Bergman and Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Scott Schrader during VFSC's initial trip to examine records that the City has begun to make available in response to VFSC's requests.
In making the points made in this correspondence, VFSC does not waive other issues that it may wish to raise in response to your October 22 letter or the verbal communications that day from Messrs. Bergman and Schrader.
As preliminary matters, VFSC wishes to direct the City's attention to its obligation to redact documents to remove only specifically exempt portions and to provide the remainder of documents, per explicit statutory requirement at Title 1, Section 318(e).  VFSC also notes the explicit provision by the Legislature in Section 315 that "It is the policy of this subchapter to provide for free and open examination of records consistent with Chapter I, Article 6 of the Vermont Constitution. Officers of government are trustees and servants of the people and it is in the public interest to enable any person to review and criticize their decisions even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment." VFSC also notes that while, under Section 316(j) "A public agency may make reasonable rules to prevent disruption of operations, to preserve the security of public records or documents, and to protect them from damage," the term "rules" indicates policies of general applicability, developed in advance of a specific situation or controversy, and equally applicable to all requesters. The City has made no indication that it has developed any such generally applicable policies in advance, and VFSC asserts and insists that the City cannot make up standards on the fly to suit the City's own convenience in responding to VFSC's already-pending requests. One need not read very far into the Vermont Supreme Court case law noted in the annotations to Title 1 Subchapter 5 to see the unwavering rulings by the Court that the Legislature has already resolved doubts in favor of requesters over government claims of inconvenience, and that all ambiguities in the records law are to be resolved against government and in favor of requesters.
VFSC does not and will not accept the proposal made by the City to VFSC on October 22 that the City will allocate one day a week for VFSC to examine records, or that the City may proceed at its convenience or leisure to examine or provide records to VFSC.
VFSC also does not accept the City's self-serving contention in your October 22 letter and prior correspondence that VFSC's request somehow originated on October 8; it is and has at all times been clear that VFSC's requests originate in VFSC's initial September 18 request for records- notwithstanding the City's initial attempt, unfounded in either law or fact, to argue that "a request isn't really a request."
It is not lost on VFSC that the City did not begin to make any records available for examination until the day after a hearing and City Council action on the very subjects on which VFSC made inquiry over a month earlier. This is a flagrant departure from both spirit and letter of the law.
Much of what the City provided to VFSC for examination on October 22, such as minutes and agendas, should have been made immediately available within three days of VFSC's initial September 18 request, per the requirement at Section 318(a) that "the custodian of a public record shall promptly produce the record for inspection" and the requirement at (a)(2) to make records available within three days.
The law requires the City to do no less than to rigorously and diligently provide records for examination. Vermont's records law makes no exception for inconvenience or for situations where government has failed to keep and understand its own records in a manner that would allow it to comply with the law's requirement for prompt availability. Such an interpretation would reward and encourage poor record keeping.
Please make specific indication of how the City intends to accelerate and make good on its obligations under law, particularly with regard to the subjects and records highlighted in VFSC's October 8 correspondence (which do not waive or withdraw VFSC's initial broader requests), or in the alternative, please state with particularity that the City is refusing to do so, and the "head of agency" to which VFSC must appeal under Section 318.
Thank you;
Evan Hughes
Vice President - Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs