Bob Kiss

Mayor Bob Kiss, Burlington

Blodgett, KFC unveil new oven deal

April 21, 2009, the Burlington Free Press, by John Briggs

Burlington’s Blodgett Corporation, which describes itself as “the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial ovens,” displayed this morning the new energy-efficient grilling oven it developed over three years for KFC.

Blodgett has sold 5,000 of the ovens to the Kentucky-based fried chicken restaurant chain, and hopes to expand sales overseas, company president Gary Mick said Tuesday.

The new oven was displayed at the local KFC on Shelburne Road. Restaurant owner David Purinton, who also serves as the president of the nine-restaurant Lake Champlain KFC co-op, said KFC will begin a national advertising campaign Wednesday to highlight Kentucky Grilled Chicken — KGC — as a new “unfried” offering at the national chain.

The new oven, Mick said, delivers a consistent product, is energy efficient and is self-cleaning, reducing the labor costs for restaurants.

Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss said the KFC contract demonstrates Blodgett’s continued health and KFC’s adaptability to changing consumer tastes.

“It’s not a love story yet,” Kiss said, patting the jacket pocket where he had placed his coupon for a grilled chicken meal, “but it brought me back to KFC.”


City cracks down on graffiti

April 17, 2009, the Burlington Free Press, by Dan McLean

Burlington residents have signaled that graffiti is a top-tier problem, and police and prosecutors have taken their prompt.
A community survey of 760 residents completed this month found graffiti to be the No. 2 problem facing Burlington, Police Chief Michael Schirling said Thursday (drugs were No. 1 and violent crime was No. 3). Noise complaints have dropped off the top of the list, he said.

If graffiti isn’t cleaned up, Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss said, it rises from a nuisance to a quality-of-life issue. “If we don’t respond, pretty soon we’ll all say, ‘Oh my God, what happened to Burlington?’” he said.

Police have ramped up efforts to curtail graffiti. Through March, 10 people have been arrested — more than double the four people arrested during all of last year for graffiti-related offenses, Schirling said.

“This is unacceptable behavior, and it will be dealt with swiftly and pretty harshly by the courts,” Schirling said.

Prosecutors are taking a hard line.

Two people remain jailed, and a third was released after 12 days in custody after he agreed to a deal with prosecutors to remove the graffiti he was alleged to have painted, Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan said.

[Full Story]

Mayor Kiss: City is Strong

Mayor Bob Kiss

Newly re-elected Mayor Bob Kiss delivered his state of the city address in front of a full house Monday.

"Our common goal should be efficient and effective government that meets the needs of people. We must make decisions based on the merit of the plans and proposals that we consider, not on personal or party politics.  I am confident that in the future we’ll work closely together to serve the people of Burlington and their interests. While there are always challenges, our community has the resources and vitality to meet them along with the optimism and goodwill to move forward and to build better lives and a better City."  Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss – April 6, 2009

[Full Speech (pdf)]

Vermont Has Questions on Recovery Act

March 21, 2009, WCAX, by Andy Potter

Vermont officials are still waiting to hear the details about the upcoming federal stimulus money under the Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Green Mountain state stands to get close to $950 million. Some of it will be used to plug a deficit in the state budget. But what about the stimulus -- or job creation -- part of it?

It's been two weeks since hundreds of Vermonters packed into the first of two meetings on what to expect from Vermont's share of federal stimulus money. Mayor Bob Kiss, P-Burlington, said, "A billion dollars into the state has to have an impact. Whether it's going to move our economy forward dramatically -- who knows?"

Kiss says the uncertainty is due to the fact that even now, federal officials have not specified exactly how the money will be allowed to be used. But the city has drawn up a list of projects -- based on the jobs that would be created. Such as school building renovations. Community & Economic Development director Larry Kupferman said, "We'll be meeting with state officials now, in understanding what's available to the city, especially infrastructure. Grants versus loans, and so on."

Burlington has 32 projects that city officials think would qualify for federal recovery money, although no one expects that more than a fraction would get any. One obvious project is the Burlington waterfront bike path, a $3.5 million project. It's almost thirty years old, badly in need of repair and with no other source of funding."

Recovery Act grants for projects like the bike path will probably be awarded on a competitive basis. Others appear to be a sure thing, such as home weatherization -- more than $17 million headed to Vermont to improve home energy efficiency.

But there are questions. Tim Searles, who heads the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, wonders how that much money can be spent effectively when the stimulus runs out in less than two years. "Creating jobs is great," he said, "but not if they go away eighteen months from now. That's the over-riding concern right now about the stimulus money. When it goes away, then what?"

That's a question for which there is no immediate answer, although Vermont political leaders may have more to say on that at a second stimulus meeting set for Brattleboro on March 30.

Andy Potter - WCAX News


Ideas for Burlington garden park begin to take shape

March 15, 2009, the Burlington Free Press, by John Briggs

Myrtle Street Garden activist Maggie Standley threw a garden party Saturday and no one came.

No kids came, at least, and just one neighborhood parent.

The occasion was a garden design session Saturday at Lawrence Barnes School, and about 10 adults showed up -- two of them Burlington officials, and most of the others from elsewhere in the city than the Old North End.

One neighborhood woman, Jen Berger from Decatur Street, said she attended to explore garden options.

Neighborhood activists called their idea the "Avant Garden" as they worked last spring to persuade the city to buy the tiny lot on the one-block street to forestall a developer's plan to build a house there.

The Parks and Recreation Department, with a limited maintenance budget, had reservations about the plan, but Mayor Bob Kiss supported it -- "Pocket parks have value," he said. The City Council ultimately agreed 10-4 to spend $69,000 from the Conservation Legacy Fund to make the purchase.

[Full Story]

Bob Kiss Re-elected

3 Progressive Candidates

Tuesday was a great day for Progressives and the city of Burlington. Stalwart Progressive organizing over the past thirty years combined with a re-energized base in Burlington brought home a sweet victory celebration last evening!

Mayor Bob Kiss (center) was re-elected over Republican Kurt Wright in the third round of instant run-off voting.  The final vote tally was Kiss: 4313 (51.5%); Wright: 4061 (48.5%). Democrat Andy Montroll, Independent Dan Smith, and Green James Simpson were eliminated in early rounds, when both Kiss and Wright were shy of the 50% threshold.

In Ward 2, Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (right) took roughly two-thirds of the votes, besting Democrat Nicole Pelletier 447-173.  Emma now holds the seat previously held by Jane Knodell.

In Ward 3, Marrisa Caldwell (left) edged out Democrat David Cain 498-461.  Marrisa was running to fill the seat vacated by Tim Ashe, who was elected to the Vermont Senate in November.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who helped out on the three campaigns, especially a frigid final week of leafletting, sign waving, and parading!

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