February 23, 2004 – News at a glance

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Douglas opposes constitutional amendment on marriage
Governor Jim Douglas says he opposes efforts to pass an amendment to the federal constitutional that would ban same-sex marriages. Douglas says this issue should be decided on a state by state basis. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Video conferencing replaces some court appearances
The District Court in Bennington has a new player in the courtroom these days: a television. The Court is staging a year long test of the use of video conferencing as an alternative to transporting prisoners for brief court appearances. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Interview: Women in statewide government
Governor Jim Douglas is defending his record on hiring women to top government positions, following a recent survey that shows Vermont’s ranking for women in top government jobs has dropped. The survey showed Vermont was number one in the nation for women in top government jobs in 1999, to number 34 this year. Mitch Wertlieb discusses the findings of the survey with Deb Alden, the editor of Vermont Woman newspaper. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

Vermont lawmakers will shift into full gear in this last week before their Town Meeting break. Among the topics of debate are workers’ compensation, drivers’ license photos and the content of license plates. (AP)

Sex offenders registry
The Senate has given its final approval to legislation that will place the names and pictures of convicted sex offenders on the Internet. The legislation also calls for uniform reporting procedures when individuals contact their local law enforcement officials about suspected sex offenders and it calls for additional training for police officers in this area. (AP)

Sanders opposes Nader’s run
Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders is disappointed with Ralph Nader’s plans to run for President. Last week Sanders urged the consumer advocate not to run as an independent. Sanders fears Nader will help re-elect George Bush by splitting the vote with the Democratic candidate. (AP)

Wind energy debate
Vermont’s congressman is trying to help direct a public debate on encouraging creation of wind energy. Congressman Bernie Sanders said he’s dedicated to getting Vermont and the rest of the country off its dependency on fossil fuel and nuclear power. (AP)

Superintendent shortage
A dozen of Vermont’s 61 school districts are looking for superintendents. Some are in need of principals as well. Education Commissioner Richard Cate says the number of openings is not unusual. Cate, who once served as head of Vermont Superintendents Association, says the annual vacancy rate is somewhere between 20 and 25 percent. (AP)

Regional technical center
Students are weighing in on a plan to create a $58 million regional technical academy in Essex. Some students say they would welcome more space and better programs. Others say they may not want to leave their school to attend the academy. (AP)

Burlington workers’ pensions
A drop in the value of stocks held in Burlington’s pension fund could force higher property taxes. Or else, the shortfall could require city workers to contribute more toward their future pensions, or a combination of the two. The fund stands at 91 percent. It’s not yet critical and it’s largely the result of the poor performance of the financial markets in 2001 and 2002. (AP)

Public skating ends in Montpelier
The city of Montpelier will no longer offer public skating at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center. Recreation officials have decided to scrap the program because of increased costs and a tight budget. (AP)

Kiley funeral service
A private family service will be held on Monday for landscape architect Daniel Urban Kiley. He died on Saturday in Charlotte at the age of 91. Kiley was honored by President Clinton who awarded him the National Medal of Arts in 1997. (AP)

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