July 17, 2002 – News at a Glance

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Candidates Run as Progressives
Vermont’s Progressive Party will be holding its first statewide primary in September. Party officials say they are not concerned that a number of Liberty Union candidates are seeking office under the Progressive banner. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Vermont Leaders Criticize Bush Policies
Three of Vermont’s top elected officials Tuesday strongly criticized the Bush administration s plans to ease Clean Air rules. Attorney General William Sorrell went to Capitol Hill to testify before a joint hearing chaired by Senators James Jeffords and Patrick Leahy. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Vermont Economic Recovery
Two economists say they expect to see signs of an economic recovery in Vermont by the end of the year. Speaking last night on VPR s Switchboard program, state economist Jeffrey Carr said there could be more job cuts in Vermont before a turnaround takes place. (VPR)

Markowitz Seeks Re-election
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says she s seeking another term in office because there are still many projects she wants to work on in the next few years. Markowitz, who is a Democrat, has been elected to two terms as secretary of state. (VPR)

Unemployment Rate
The Department of Employment and Training says the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was three-point-nine percent last month, the same as it was the month before. That’s below the comparable national average of 5.9%. Unemployment in June was the lowest in Hartford, and highest in Springfield. Commissioner Steven Gold says job cuts in some industries are still evident as employers continue to adjust to the economic downturn, but Gold says unemployment appears to have stabilized for now. (AP)

Sorrell Testifies on Capitol Hill
Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell was on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Sorrell testified at a Senate hearing on the Bush administration’s decision to change Clean Air Act rules. Sorrell said the country must take, swift and decisive action to improve air quality. (AP)

Vermont Yankee Sale
There’s still no word on the status of the Vermont Yankee sale. The Public Service Board last week rejected a request by Entergy that it drop its requirement that any extra money in the plant’s decommissioning fund be returned to ratepayers. It’s estimated the excess could amount add to $100 million. The Board’s decision left Entergy to decide whether it wanted to proceed with the purchase of Vermont’s lone reactor. An Entergy spokesman says the matter is still under review. (AP)

Nicotine Candy
Vermont is one of 40 states asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to halt marketing of a candy-like tobacco product that delivers as much nicotine as a cigarette. Ariva, which looks like a small breath mint, contains tobacco powder, sweeteners, mint and other flavors. Officials say that since Ariva does not have a tobacco odor, parents and teachers may be unable to determine when a child is using it. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell is one of 40 attorneys general who presented comments to the FDA, warning that Ariva raises serious health concerns that warrant immediate attention. (AP)

Medicaid Prescription Benefits
Vermont Senator James Jeffords is in the middle of negotiations in Washington intended to create a prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries. Jeffords has joined a Democratic senator and several moderate Republicans in offering a compromise for the prescription plan. Their $370 billion dollar plan is less expensive than one proposed by Democrats and a little more generous than a Republican alternative. There doesn’t appear to be adequate support for any one of the plans to pass, yet. But debate on the Medicare prescription plan is scheduled to begin as early as today. (AP)

Parks on Historic Register
More than two dozen Vermont state parks have been recognized as historic places. There are 16 parks remaining of 20 that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the depression. They’ve all been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The newly designated parks are in Brookfield, Windsor, Plymouth, Elmore, Killington, Maidstone, Charlotte, Peacham, Groton, Milton, Stowe, Thetford, Townshend, Underhill and Weathersfield. (AP)

EPA Fines Arlington Company
Mack Molding will pay a fine of nearly $21,000 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to report that it used a toxic chemical at its plant in Arlington. The EPA says Mack used about 30,000 pounds of a flame retardant additive in 1999 and 2000 without submitting the required reports. As part of a negotiated settlement with Mack, the agency dropped its original claim that the company released the toxic chemical into the environment. Mack did not admit to any wrongdoing in the case. (AP)

Neighbors Fight Deportation
A man arrested as an illegal alien in the southern Vermont village of Saxtons River says he’s more determined than ever to stay in the United States. Silvestre Gallegos, who’s operated a restaurant in the village for three years, says he’s been encouraged by the outpouring of support he’s received from the community. Gallegos came to the United States from Mexico twelve years ago, married an American woman and had a son. But his marriage ended in divorce before he was able to get a green card. Now he faces deportation, and friends and neighbors in Saxtons River have been contacting state and federal officials in a bid to keep that from happening. (AP)

Leahy Critical of TIPS
Vermont U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy is criticizing a Bush administration plan to create a new army of one-million government informants around the country. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee tells the Brattleboro Reformer that the TIPS program, Terrorism Information and Prevention System, smacks of the old Soviet Union. Leahy says the system could be open to widespread abuses. He says someone upset about a neighbor’s barking dog could report the dog’s owner to the TIPS hotline. The Senator also questions the FBI’s competence to handle the thousands of leads, many of them useless, that the system is likely to generate. (AP)

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