The Mountain Times

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Rutland Region news briefs

Parking company to focus on customer service
The city is in the final negotiation phase with the company it hopes to hire to run the downtown parking deck. LAZ Parking of Hartford, CT, is the company recommended to the board of aldermen. Mayor Chris Louras noted that the company bases its business on customer service, planning for a flexible parking system with allowance for hourly, daily and monthly parking rates. The aldermen have already voted to lease the deck from the state, the first hurdle in providing local-needs-oriented parking in the structure.

Rec audit at a standstill
Before appointing a new recreation superintendent, mayor Chris Louras wants to have a departmental audit completed and to have the Courcelle Brothers building roof repair underway. Mayor and aldermen seem to still be at loggerheads over who will prepare the bid request for the audit, with the board asking the mayor to prepare the RFP and the mayor believing the board should set the parameters. Louras also has said that it is up to the board to find funding for the audit, refusing to spend contingency fund moneys for that purpose.
At question is whether the board can insist that the mayor comply.
Citizens around town have questioned why roof repair on the Courcelle building should cost close to $100,000, with some commenting "what do they plan to use? Copper?" Maybe replacement is a better long-term option because roof insulation has also been damaged by water leaking through the surface.

Stalled investigation?
Barre police have supposedly been looking into former City police officer Andrew Todd's allegations of corruption in the Rutland department. After 100 days since Barre police detective sergeant Hal Hayden began working the case, Todd is questioning whether the investigation has made any progress other than minutia. Todd believes his concerns on civil rights violations and aggravated stalking are being ignored.
The investigation began in late May but seems to have made no progress, Todd wrote in a letter to the head of the Rutland police union, Lynette Gallipo. Gallipo has observed that the union has not received a formal update on the investigation's status. Gallipo plans to bring the subject up at an upcoming union meeting.
A 10-year study released by the American Civil Liberties Union earlier this year seemingly adds weight to the possibility that Todd may have some real grounds for concern, and not hypersensitivity. In Rutland County (not the city alone) black people were nearly 17 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. In 2010, 70 Caucasians and 7 blacks were arrested in Rutland County on that charge; statistically, black arrests were 17 times higher per capita.
Statistics also show what may be interpreted as racial bias across the state as a whole. Blacks faced more than four times more likely to face arrest for possession across the state. 
Rutland police chief James Baker has said he wants to dig deeper into those statistics and develop a plan to reduce what appears to be police bias in his jurisdiction.
Max Schlueter, director of the Vermont Center for Justice Research, has agreed to review the report and do a trend analysis. He has already been working with the city, analyzing the calls and locations to which police respond as a means of identifying criminal activity trends.
Baker has also initiated bias training for Rutland police officers and changed policy on traffic stops. A data collection process is tracking the number of stops involving racial minorities and their handling, a process that the ACLU says is lacking in most departments in Vermont.

West Rutland construction improves roads, sidewalks
West Rutland's High Street improvements are complete. The street itself is now wider, complete with sidewalks, and stormwater system improvement so that cars no longer throw up a wall of water on heavy precipitation days.
Skyline Drive, a residential area, is to receive a 550-foot water line, closing the loop between South Lane and Skyline Drive without adding any new customers. A new sidewalk is also to run from South Lane to the housing area.
The first project was a street widening, sidewalk installation and stormwater system improvement project on High Street, while the upcoming project will be a water line and sidewalk project on Skyline Drive. Fabian Earthmoving, a West Rutland company, brought the bid home for $125,357, well below an estimate of $162,000.

Lani's weekly calendar picks
Fri.-Sat., Oct. 4-5 - Prepare for cold and blowy days by stocking your book shelves from the Rutland Free Library's fall book sale. Friday, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. 773-1860.
Monday, Oct. 7 - Listen to A.J. Croce, son of singer-songwriter Jim Croce, at The Brick Box in the Paramount Theatre, 30 Center St., 7:30 p.m., 775-0903.