Peter Freyne, who wrote the "Inside Track" column for the Burlington, Vt., alt-weekly from 1995 until March 2008, died early this morning after battling cancer, seizures and a strep infection that spread to his brain, according to Seven Days. He was 59 years old. "Vermont has lost its own version of the legendary Mike Royko," says U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy. "He knew the difference between healthy skepticism and hollow cynicism, and his reporting helped make Vermont better."

Continue ReadingLongtime Seven Days Political Columnist Dies

Peter Koht, a former reporter and editor for Metro Santa Cruz who has been working in PR for the past year, began work Monday as Santa Cruz's temporary economic development coordinator. "While Santa Cruz leaders tout Koht's PR credentials as crucial to forming strong relationships between businesses and the city," the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports, "union leaders and others have raised eyebrows at the city's hiring practices and wonder if now is the right time to appoint someone with little business experience to a business job that pays $35 per hour."

Continue ReadingCity Takes Heat for Tapping Ex-Altie for Economic Development Post

Peter Byrne is on leave from the North Bay Bohemian to write The Devil's Pitchfork: Multiple Universes, Mutually Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family, a book he tells AAN News is about "quantum mechanics and multiple universes." Byrne recently learned that the project received a $35,000 grant from The Foundational Questions Institute, a group with a mission to "catalyze, support, and disseminate research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Reporter Gets $35,000 Grant for Book Project

Miami New Times' Isaiah Thompson was awarded a IRE certificate in the local circulation weeklies category for his stories on how residency restrictions forced sex offenders to live under a Miami bridge. In the same category, the AAN-commissioned "Who Killed Brad Will?" was a finalist, along with Peter Byrne's series on Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the North Bay Bohemian and Wayne Barrett's reporting on Rudy Giuliani in the Village Voice. The Texas Observer's reporting on sexual abuse at a state-run youth prison and the cover-up that followed it was also a finalist, in the Magazine/specialty publication category. The Chauncey Bailey Project, which the San Francisco Bay Guardian took part in, was awarded this year's Tom Renner Award, which honors "outstanding reporting covering organized crime or other criminal acts."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Projects Win IRE Awards

Peter Freyne, who started writing for the Burlington alt-weekly two months after it launched in 1995, announced in this week's "Inside Track" column that it would be his last, the Times Argus reports. After beating cancer last year, Freyne says he realized that writing about state politics had begun to bore and depress him. "That's why the column and the blog stopped two weeks ago. We finally acknowledged the unhappiness generated by writing them," he writes. "And you know what? We haven't felt this good in years!" While he's ending his column, he will remain affiliated with Seven Days as a contributing editor and blogger. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy says that Freyne's retirement is a "big loss" for Vermont. "I went to his blog every day," Leahy tells the Times Argus. "He is the type of writer who clearly knows hypocrisy. But he also knows the difference between healthy skepticism and cynicism."

Continue ReadingLongtime Seven Days Columnist Hangs it Up

Attorney Bob Joyce has started a campaign to rid Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood of the paper, according to the West Roxbury Transcript. Joyce claims that the Phoenix's adult ads don't jibe with the "values of the West Roxbury community." But Phoenix Media executive editor Peter Kadzis says Joyce's motivations are purely political. "Attorney Joyce is active in the anti-choice, anti-gay marriage movements," Kadzis tells the Transcript. "He is trying to halt the Phoenix from circulating for political reasons. His recent crusade against the paper's Adult section is merely an extension of those efforts." Joyce claims he has gotten the paper yanked from six neighborhood businesses, but one merchant who talked to the West Roxbury Bulletin says he doesn't plan to stop carrying the Phoenix. "As far as I know, West Roxbury is still part of the United States of America and the Constitution still covers us over here," says Gary Park of Gary's Liquors. "He is not going to tell me how to run my business."

Continue ReadingOne Man Hopes to Rid an Entire Neighborhood of the Boston Phoenix

In January, Metro Silicon Valley and North Bay Bohemian reported that Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband Richard C. Blum was a major beneficiary of contracts from the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee (MILCON) that she chaired. Last month, Feinstein quietly left the subcommittee after six years of service. "Perhaps she resigned from MILCON because she could not take the heat generated by Metro's expose of her ethics," reporter Peter Byrne speculates. "Or was her work on the subcommittee finished because Blum divested ownership of his military construction and advanced weapons manufacturing firms in late 2005?" Whatever the explanation, Feinstein's resignation caused a stir amongst a number of right-wing pundits, who claim liberal media bias is keeping the story out of the mainstream media. UPDATE: Peter Byrne informs AAN that it's not just the right that's up in arms about Feinstein's conflicts: Members of Code Pink and the Raging Grannies protested outside her San Francisco home this weekend. "It is an investigative journalist's dream to watch a story mobilize people across the political spectrum -- from Rush Limbaugh's Dittoheads to the Raging Grannies and Code Pink," Byrne tells AAN News. "And having reactionary demogogues pump up a story whose research was funded in part by The Nation Institute has a delicious irony."

Continue ReadingSen. Feinstein Resigns from Subcommittee After Alt-Weekly Expose

Seven Days' Peter Freyne was recently diagnosed with lymphoma and immediately began chemotherapy treatments. He blogged about this turn of events prior to being admitted to the hospital, and his post has attracted dozens of comments, making it a virtual get-well-soon card. Most of the comments are from readers and fans, but several state politicians and even the deputy police chief of Vermont's largest city have weighed in to wish him well, says Seven Days' online editor, Cathy Resmer. Freyne has been writing about Vermont politics since the state's new, socialist senator Bernie Sanders won his first term as mayor of Burlington in 1981. He brought his popular column to Seven Days shortly after the paper was founded in 1995.

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Political Columnist Blogs About Cancer Diagnosis