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Category Archives: Democracy

Montpelier night drone looking in windows?

“Drone flying late at night – if you are flying your drone right now in the First Avenue/Hubbard Street area- knock it off. It’s 10:40 pm and completely disrespectful to be hovering drones outside people’s bedroom windows. This was not a mere flyby, but extended hovering.”
• Stephen, Montpelier Front Porch Forum

“This post was disturbing. I didn’t realize it was legal for people to fly drones around other peoples’ property, let along hovering near windows. Can the City comment on this re regulation or someone from the state comment if there is state legislation? Thanks.”
• Kathy, Montpelier FPF

“It’s legal to use a shotgun here in Montpelier to hunt.Pretty easy to blast it ! lol”
• John, Montpelier FPF

“It may be legal to shoot a shotgun in Montpelier, but downright stupid to fire into the air. What goes up also comes down with the possibility of injury to property or people.”
• Ken, Montpelier FPF

“We’ve been following the report of drone use in the city and have received a few direct calls about nuisance or inappropriate use. We’re compiling information from the Federal Aviation Administration and Vermont Agency of Transportation regarding the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) to shared at a later date. Please see the FAA website on drones below: https://www.faa.gov/uas/ Please contact the Montpelier Police Department if you have a concern about drone use within the city limits so we may respond and investigate. The municipal ordinance regarding the use of firearms in the City of Montpelier is included below and does not permit the use of firearms against drones. ARTICLE V. USE OF FIREARMS, BB GUNS, BOW AND ARROWS, AND SIMILAR WEAPONS. Sec. 11-500. USE OF ARMS. No person shall discharge or fire or cause to be discharged, or fired, any revolver, pistol, rifle, shotgun, air rifle, BB gun, or other similar firearm or weapon within the limits of the city of Montpelier. This prohibition shall not apply to the use of firearms or weapons by any duly constituted police officer or other public official when such use is reasonably necessary in the performance of his duties as such officer or official; nor shall it apply to the use of shotgun, air rifle, or BB gun, by a hunter in the active pursuit of game, except that such shotgun shall not be used with ammunition containing a single slug, pellet or missile in any one cartridge or shell, nor shall either shotgun or air rifle be discharged within a distance of 200 yards from any building and shooting within 100 yards of an accepted street or highway, and provided further that this ordinance shall not prevent the discharge of firearms on any properly constructed firing range or in the conduct of a contest, shoot, meet, or game when reasonable precautions are taken for the protection of the public safety; nor shall it prevent the use of firearms for the disposal of vermin when permission for such use has been first obtained from the Chief of Police of the City of Montpelier. If you have any questions please contact me…”
• Officer Philbrick, Montpelier Police Dept., Montpelier FPF

“There is no city ordinance that addresses drones per se, but there is one that addresses the use of firearms. Sec. 11-500 of the Montpelier Ordinance Code states: ‘No person shall discharge or fire or cause to be discharged, or fired, any revolver, pistol, rifle, shotgun, air rifle, BB gun, or other similar firearm or weapon within the limits of the city of Montpelier. This prohibition shall not apply to … the use of shotgun, air rifle, or BB gun, by a hunter in the active pursuit of game, except that such shotgun shall not be used with ammunition containing a single slug, pellet or missile in any one cartridge or shell, nor shall either shotgun or air rifle be discharged within a distance of 200 yards from any building and shooting within 100 yards of an accepted street or highway,…nor shall it prevent the use of firearms for the disposal of vermin when permission for such use has been first obtained from the Chief of Police of the City of Montpelier.’ So it appears that since Montpelier is so densely populated, there are very few places that a firearm can be legally discharged, even in the pursuit of game, because of the compact spacing of homes and streets.”
• Ken, Montpelier FPF

“In lieu of a shotgun maybe get out the hose, press your thumb against the nozzle, and wash it away.”
• Ivan, Montpelier FPF

“DO NOT ATTACK DRONES (unless you are at immediate risk of harm from the device). Unmanned Arial Aircraft is the formal designation for what we commonly call ‘drones’ by the FAA. These drones have specific restrictions on their use, such as line-of-sight operation, service ceiling restrictions, and certain limitations on where they can be operated. They are fully allowed to fly in unrestricted airspace, which generally includes all property over the tips of the grass. The owner who is flying line-of-sight cannot trespass however. They are however FAA protected aircraft with some of the same rights as a small Cessna or Bell helicopter flying over your house. They are federally protected, and damaging, destroying, or attempting to cause harm to any aircraft is a FEDERAL CRIME, the same as shooting at an airplane. Do NOT attempt to damage a Drone when in flight. There are numerous examples of folks attacking drones and, at the very least, having to pay out of pocket for possibly very expensive (>$1000) drones. 15 seconds of spraying water, shooting with a BB Gun, tossing rocks etc at a drone could cost you $1000. Your only recourse is call the police or address the operator/owner. Montpelier has ordinances for disturbing the peace and generating disturbances, and the State has laws against voyeurism.”
• Stan, Montpelier FPF



Vermonters appreciate updates from their elected representatives

“I want to express my appreciation to Rep. Robin Chestnut-Tangerman for posting legislative updates on Front Porch Forum, and for his obvious commitment to his work on our behalf. It also seems clear that you (Robin) really enjoy what you are doing and your passion shows. I feel well represented by you, and thank you for keeping us all informed.”
• Paul & Margaret, Tinmouth FPF


Click local! When will “local first” arrive on digital shores?

I couldn’t agree more with former Vermonter, Dan Gillmor’s recent piece…

Journalists: Stop complaining about Facebook, and do something about it

Dan focuses on Facebook’s growing dominance as a news distributor…

How should we respond? From my perspective, two primary schools of thought have emerged. One is to embrace that dominance, albeit with some unease, and fully participate in Facebook’s ecosystem. Another is to persuade Facebook to take seriously its growing responsibility to help get quality journalism in front of as many people as possible.

Both of those approaches assume that Facebook is too big, too powerful to resist—that we have no alternative but to capitulate to its dominance. But if that is true, the consequences will be disastrous. We will be living in the ecosystem of a company that has repeatedly demonstrated its untrustworthiness, an enterprise that would become the primary newsstand for journalism and would be free to pick the winners via special deals with media people and tweaks of its opaque algorithms. If this is the future, we are truly screwed.

I say: no. Let’s not give up so easily. Instead, let’s resist—and find a way out of this trap… (click to read the full article)

And… to add to Dan’s call… let’s go beyond journalism.  Let’s click local for retail, for discussion, for classifieds, for reviews, for sports, for entertainment, for networking and more.  Many communities have local efforts underway, and they struggle to capture people’s attention as so many of us habitually scroll through our Facebook feeds, go to Amazon, Yelp, etc.  Why not try local efforts?  While the internet and mobile devices still hold the promise of decentralization of power, we now know that the digital juggernaut is also acting as a giant concentrator of wealth into a small number of pockets.  Thousands of local taxi companies replaced by Uber and Lyft.  Thousands of local bookstores replaced by Amazon.

To quote Dan one more time…

I say: no. Let’s not give up so easily. Instead, let’s resist—and find a way out of this trap.



Local TV news… fear-mongering or reporting on crime? (Burlington burglaries)

One day and 3,000 miles apart, two local TV newscasts took diametrically opposed approaches covering crime and local online forums.

KGET20160310KGET-17 in Bakersfield, CA asked multiple times in their story (Neighborhood safety apps and websites, are they actually safe?) if services such as Front Porch Forum, NextDoor, EveryBlock and AmericanTowns are safe to use.  While a local police sergeant advised caution about what a user shares — which is good, common sense, advice — his point that the Bakersfield Police Dept. has “only seen the programs used in a positive way” was buried in the closing sentence.

WPTZ20160311Meanwhile, in an unrelated story the next day in Burlington, VT (Police see city-wide spike in burglaries), WPTZ-5 reported that the local police chief had just posted on Front Porch Forum — to which more than 75% of local households subscribe — about a string of burglaries.  The Chief provided details and told his FPF readers that “the department is using plainclothes, unmarked and patrol units to track down those responsible.”

We’re pleased that law enforcement in Vermont finds value in Front Porch Forum, and that local media here mine FPF for story leads.  FPF is part of a healthy local media ecosystem and we’re glad to play our role.





Vermont libraries use FPF to connect with community

“The Friends of the Castleton Free Library are grateful to our members. We are also happy to… support Front Porch Forum. Thank you FPF for giving our community a valuable and worthwhile way to communicate with each other.”
• Liz, Castleton Hubbardton FPF