BTV throws a technology pickle party

Throughout its history, information technology has been a man’s world. You’d think the most modern of industries would have relatively enlightened attitudes, but not so.

Disappointing. Maddening. But you’d think that the (allegedly) most enlightened of high-tech wannabes, Burlington, would actively promote the role of women in high tech. It is, after all, the Queen City, yo.



Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger is trying to revitalize BTV Ignite, the two-year-old initiative to turn the city’s high-speed Internet infrastructure into an economic engine. He’s appointed a new Executive Director; more on that in a moment. There’s also a new Board of Directors, and guess what?

The BTV Ignite Board of Directors (not exactly as illustrated)

The BTV Ignite Board of Directors (not exactly as illustrated)

They’re all men.

Stephen, Dan, Neale, Charles, Peter, Jonathan, and Tom.

Well hey, at least they’ll be able to tell dirty jokes and hold board meetings in the sauna.

Jesus Christ, Miro. Did you even think about this? Couldn’t you have found a token woman, at the very least?

Or maybe ask Neale Lunderville to wear heels?

Speaking of Neale, it’s so nice to see Miro continuing to promote his favorite Republican. The rest of the BoD consists mainly of Usual Suspects: Tom Torti of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Burlington Telecom interim GM Stephen Barraclough, CEDO director Peter Owens, UVM Health Network VP Charles Miceli, and Dan Harvey of the UVM Vice President for Research’s office. There’s also Jonathan Rajewski, Associte Professor of IT at Champlain College. At least he, we can assume, was selected for his expertise more than his institutional connections.

Looking at this from outside, it looks like the primary qualification for the Ignite BoD is not IT knowledge or connections or experience — it’s being part of The Club.

The Boys’ Club.

Speaking of which, let’s circle back to BTV Ignite’s new Executive Director, the just-retired police chief Michael Schirling.

Wait. The city’s top cop is suddenly an info-tech guru?

Seven Days has the evidence, and it’s pretty damn weak:

Schirling, who started with the Burlington Police Department in 1992, has always been known as something of a tech geek. He was heavily involved in the inception of that state’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and designed a records management system for the department after becoming frustrated with the available options.

The reference to “always been known as something of a tech geek” refers to an earlier Seven Days article about Schirling’s retirement as police chief. That article says Schirling is “a self-described computer geek.” Hm. To me, that has something of a dog-chasing-its-tail vibe.

I dunno, maybe being a “self-described computer geek” is sufficient qualification to lead the charge for Burlington’s technology economy. But it seems more like the city’s Mutual Backscratching Society at work. A mere three months after his retirement, Schirling gets parachuted into a new job with a higher salary?

(The new job pays $120,000 a year. A quick Google search didn’t reveal Schirling’s final salary as police chief, but his successor is starting at $114,000 a year. Safe to assume Schirling wasn’t making more than that; probably less.)

Again, I’m an outsider. Maybe I’m missing a huge set of qualifications that make these *men* the best choices for their positions. But it smells of small-town insider politics.

And institutional sexism.

12 thoughts on “BTV throws a technology pickle party

  1. Cynthia Browning

    Interesting to see that salary level for a relatively new organization that will be a non-profit, with apparently a small amount of money left for actual programs. (Seven Days says $25,000 each from six big Burlington nonprofits, so that will be $150,000, unless there is other funding not mentioned.)
    Rep. Cynthia Browning, Arlington

  2. Brett Gaskill

    So…..if he is making that amount,
    What is his total take at the tax-payer trough, when you Combine that with his tax-payer funded pension and other benefits? What is the total amount being paid out for this brain-trust on an annual basis? Maybe the author should be a little more concerned about REAL impacts to the people of the city, rather than than their genitalia. Sounds like the writer has some insecurities of his own “short-comings” and is exhibiting a bit of “pickle-envy” from the gherkin club.

      1. Fred Woogmaster

        Although I agree with the spirit of your original comments, the comment about Mr.Lunderville, who I do not know, was, in my opinion, in very poor taste. “One does not stand taller by standing on the head of another”.

      2. Fred Woogmaster

        I thought I was giving you useful information. What I have considered to be “mean spiritedness” in the guise of political commentary has always bothered me.

        I can only suppose that you felt insulted by my comment. That certainly was not my intent. That you chose to respond with an insult, certainly will stifle any future responses. That you stand by your poke at Lunderville – will stifle my reading.

  3. newzjunqie

    Can’t help but notice most of the condescending critiques this author has and continues to receive are from those who misunderstand snark or are unable to understand nuance primarily as a tool. Snark is stock and trade in the blogosphere to discard that would be to lose ones cybersoul, nuance is a communications essential.

    High level of cerebral energy but lacking proportionate level of consciousness results in unablity to discard the clutter yielded by narrow belief systems which mere rote understanding of liberal thought and political correctness are unable to provide. A narrow understanding and a myopic view seem to be the culprits here.

    Hyperbole another powerful tool is also greatly misunderstood. Many who are now participating in blogosphere discussions were not involved in its inception nor was I, thinking early-mid 90s. I have only been at it since ’99 or so. However following blogs, contributing and interacting while listening and understanding is helpful.

    Sites such as Vtdigger & VPR are online news publications so not exactly ‘blogs’. Communication is tame and discussion rational which works fine for its format. Many heavily censored and strict politically centered become echochambers and die. Individual blogs make their own rules so watch out.


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