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Letters to Editor (11/2/16) 

Wrong Reason

Thank you for correcting the intentionally false and dishonest advertisement from Sue Minter's super PAC [Off Message: "Planned Parenthood Super PAC Hits Scott Over Abortion Rights," October 19; "Planned Parenthood Super PAC Serves as Front for Democrats," October 27; "Scott Fights Abortion Attack, but Is He Playing Into Democrats' Hands?" October 28]. Phil Scott is clearly on the record supporting a woman's right to choose.

Minter, on the other hand, is engaged in divisive politics and attempting to leverage her gender for political gain. Evidence is her recent Facebook post stating that she is running for governor because she is a woman and "it's our time" to promote "more women's issues."

I believe it's time to disengage from divisive politics and remove divisions of demographics. Today, it is illegal for employers to hire based on gender, age, race, sexual orientation and other demographics, yet Minter is asking us to ignore these standards of equity that as a society we fought long and hard to create and to hire her exactly because of her gender.

I can no longer be confident that as governor she will make demographic-neutral hiring decisions or promote policy that is in the best interest of all Vermonters. I have known Minter professionally and personally for more than 20 years, but I can't vote for her in good conscience now that she has revealed a divisive political agenda based on how you were born instead of trying to unite us for a common good. I am a Democrat voting for Scott this year, and I encourage my friends to do the same.

Michael Crane

Burlington

Love Trump

Republicans fell in love, not in line, when they chose their presidential nominee this election season. Although I'm an independent, I was proud to join them last year by supporting Donald Trump. Finally, I'll be voting for someone rather than against someone else, although my down-ballot choices will be against Republicans who repudiated him.

It was distressing to read Paul Heintz's October 12 Fair Game column ["Ditching Donald"] and observe how many cowardly Republicans are running for the hills because, in their eyes, their campaigns have been tarnished by a depraved nominee.

But when we discuss depravity, let's talk about those in the media who are happy to ruin a man's life with a vicious smear campaign, simply because it benefits their chosen candidate. Let's talk about the bipartisan rabble with their pitchforks in hand, intent on mob rule that targets Trump. Let's discuss the professional politicians who encourage them, since mass hysteria will destroy a vulnerable candidate like Trump while it enhances their own political careers. This manufactured outrage from holier-than-thou hypocrites on the right as well as the left is truly the most vile, disgusting form of moral turpitude I've seen yet.

In the midst of this collective insanity that is reminiscent of the Salem witch trials, I don't mind standing alone. I never fall in line, but I did fall in love. Long after November 8, I'll still be wearing the modern equivalent of a scarlet letter, my Trump campaign button. And I'll be proud.

Victoria Carter

Burlington

Bad Company

It doesn't matter how much the Republicans spend [Fair Game: "Ditching Donald," October 12]. I can't bring myself to vote for any of them. Donald Trump is bad enough, but the governor of Kentucky is calling for bloodshed. Skinheads, neo-Nazis and the new Ku Klux Klan love the Republicans, and it doesn't matter if Phil Scott disavows them. He chooses to be part of the group that welcomes them in and takes their donations. Sorry, but it's the company you keep, Phil.

Tammi Poulin

Island Pond

Enough Already

I would like to congratulate Seven Days for ["Forty-Two Years a Senator," October 12]. In my mind, though it may seem utopian, our state and our country desperately need term limits in all elected local, state and national positions — perhaps even in the Supreme Court.

Sen. Bernie Sanders wants a new revolution with young people entering politics, yet how can someone new — with a freshness of mind, inspiration and goodwill — cut in and win an election? In a community such as Colchester, where I live, there are people who have held the same office for more than 36 years! How stale can a community become?

Without term limits, no sooner does someone get elected do they start campaigning, fundraising and making deals so that they can get reelected. Their mind is not totally on voting with mindfulness for the highest good of all but, unfortunately, with the lobbyist and special interest groups that offer monies and favors.

In my opinion, there should be no "career" politicians. Politics is a service, not a career choice. Let's have a country in which people serve for a term — that could perhaps be lengthened — and then go back to the work they did before, offering their acquired wisdom as a guide, if requested, to the fresh person in office.

We as a people evolve. Things change, yet what remains the same always and forever is the creative force that flows within each of us. Let's not mentally block that flow with stagnation. Consider term limits for the health of all.

Pamela Laurence

Colchester

Why Didn't You Ask?

It's patently absurd that reporter Paul Heintz's second major reflection on Sen. Patrick Leahy's career in three years does not once mention the extremely controversial F-35 debate in Vermont ["Forty-Two Years a Senator," October 12].

The F-35 issue has been one of the most divisive of Leahy's campaign and has tarnished his image for thousands of Vermont residents. Heintz's piece doesn't ask any hard questions about Leahy's decision to trade off the projected damage to the homes, health and safety of thousands of Vermonters for his untenable desire for the basing of the dysfunctional and dangerous F-35s in our residential neighborhoods. 

Who is to blame for this glaring omission of concern to many Vermonters? Was it Leahy's arrogance in refusing to talk about the F-35s or a lack of reporting skills on Heintz's part?

Eileen Andreoli

Winooski

Taxing Time

Sue Minter said in her Tunbridge interview that we should take a fresh look at the 2011 Blue Ribbon Tax Structure Commission report that recommended expanding the sales tax to services and reducing the rate from 6 percent to 4.5 percent. Paul Heintz describes this report as a "bipartisan tome," but in fact the lone Republican member, Bill Sayre, argued strongly against that recommendation [Fair Game: "Top Whoppers," October 5].

The recommendation supposed a revenue-neutral restructuring, whereby raising the tax on services from zero to 4.5 percent would allow reducing the tax on goods from 6 percent to 4.5 percent.

Minter's rapid walk-back said she would favor a tax only on services used by "wealthier Vermonters," namely private jets, limousines and lobbying. But for revenue neutrality to be maintained as the commission postulated, that might only reduce the sales tax rate from 6 percent down to something like 5.96 percent. 

My conclusion is that Minter has no interest in maintaining revenue neutrality, as recommended by the commission. She urgently wants to expand the sales tax to generate new revenue. Later on, more categories can be added, especially from service providers lacking influential lobbyists. 

John McClaughry

Kirby

Lose Leahy

[Re "Forty-Two Years a Senator," October 12]: Worn-out Sen. Pat Leahy is approaching the finish line for another six-year term in the U.S. Senate. He won in 1974, 1980, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004 and 2010. He has clung to that job for seven terms. Leahy has proven to be as bitterly partisan as they come, which only contributes to the federal gridlock. Pat lives in a Washington, D.C., suburb most of the year — except for election season when he tries to still appear as a Vermonter.

I advocate for good government, so I'm not interested in just casting my vote for any entrenched incumbent that "everyone expects to win." I make up my own mind, and I vote for the candidate who will do the most good in office. I'm not impressed that Leahy has offered to stay in office for an eighth six-year term. And I'm certainly not pleased by his oversize $6 million political war chest — nearly all from out-of-state special interests.

I never champion term limits. But don't we all know that 48 years is just much too long to be a U.S. senator? Let's freely choose to vote for Scott Milne. We have a great option in Milne, the bright and reasonable candidate who is in touch with Vermont. We aren't required to vote for leaky Leahy again simply because he put his name on the ballot and smiles in his TV commercials. U.S. Senator Milne will be a big improvement over yet more of the same old "politics as usual."

Tom Hughes

Middlebury

R.I.Y.L. T.J.

[Re "'TV T.J.' Donovan," September 21]: It's always fun to discover a great neighborhood restaurant. Or a favorite band that none of your friends have heard of yet. That's how I've felt about Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan.

Most people I talked to, even one county over, had never heard of him. But now that he is running for attorney general, it appears the secret isout. I heard about a new Vermont Public Radio poll showing that he has a 42 percent lead over his opponent.

Now everyone seems to have figured out that T.J. is a down-to-earth, warm and friendly guy who is smart, tough and compassionate. He's full of energy and has been crisscrossing the state talking about protecting the vulnerable andholding even the powerful accountable.

Those of us who have admired his work as our top criminal prosecutor in Chittenden County for years always knew he was just too good not to sharewith the rest of the state someday. I'm happy to see his success.

Tom Dalton

Essex Junction

The Trouble With T.J.

I find it concerning that attorney general candidate T.J. Donovan is following in the footsteps of his mentor, Bill Sorrell, when it comes to the money train and the appearance of potential influence on the political process [Fair Game: "Top Whoppers," October 5]. Worse yet is the potential impact in the judgment and independence of the Office of the Vermont Attorney General.

Pete Gummere

St. Johnsbury

Phil Scott Is Pro-Choice

I have been Planned Parenthood's Volunteer of the Year. I have served on Planned Parenthood's board of directors. I was a volunteer and also served on the board of directors of the campaign for an Equal Rights Amendment. I have worked my entire life to protect women's rights.

I've known Phil Scott since before he was in the Senate or was Vermont's lieutenant governor. I have always known him to be pro-choice.

Please disregard the lies and grotesque distortions of a desperate campaign [Off Message: "Planned Parenthood Super PAC Hits Scott Over Abortion Rights," October 19; "Planned Parenthood Super PAC Serves as Front for Democrats," October 27; "Scott Fights Abortion Attack, but Is He Playing Into Democrats' Hands?" October 28]. Scott is pro-choice.

Candy Moot

Morgan

The 'Dead' Difference

Good analogy between the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia and Sen. Patrick Leahy ["Forty-Two Years A Senator," October 12]. I first saw the Dead in 1973 or '74, the same year Leahy went to D.C., and many times thereafter up until 1992 when it was painfully obvious something was "wrong" with Jerry, as they were using teleprompters for their own song lyrics. The Dead would always give a good show and sometimes a great one, but we knew what was up, and it's the same with Leahy. The difference being: Jerry wasn't deliberating with complex laws that affect the U.S. No matter that Leahy has some 60 "staffers," he's slipping. It's detrimental to us, and it's not pretty to see. Thanks to Paul Heintz and Seven Days for being the only media daring to tell the truth, no matter how much "government cheese" our superannuated senator hauls back home.

Steve Merrill

North Troy

Cold on Wind

[Re Fair Game: "Buy Local," October 26; Off Message: "Vermont Candidates for Governor Press Each Other on Issues," October 18]: I am a decidedly left-leaning, "green"-promoting, aging artist-photographer and '70s back-to-the-lander residing in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom — to my mind, the most beautiful and, as yet, not-totally-commercialized area of the state. However, I will not be voting for Sue Minter, because of her total commitment to industrial scale wind. The NEK has done more than its share to go "green" with two large wind farms, Lowell and Sheffield, less than 25 miles apart as the crow flies.

David Blittersdorf would put a third large project up in Irasburg between those other two! WTF? When the town overwhelmingly rejected his project 274 to 9, he called them a bunch of Luddites! How about putting them in Charlotte, your backyard?! I'll bet that would go over like a lead balloon!

The power these turbines produce is expensive; they only have a 20- to 25-year lifespan, and they require a fair bit of maintenance. Plus, they can be seen as far as the horizon. Solar is passive, low-maintenance, quick to erect and can't be seen until you're on top of it. Please don't let the Public Service Board ruin any more of our ridgelines — vote for Phil Scott for governor.

James Hudson

Glover

Vote ‘No’ on No. 3 and 4

[Re “‘Unity Campaign’ of Burlington Councilors Backs Ballot Items,” October 11]: The zoning changes considered on the ballot in Question 3 are changes of enormous magnitude made only because a developer required them in a predevelopment agreement.  

The attempt to slip these zoning changes through is a disturbing and extreme example of kowtowing to a favored developer and circumventing the democratic process.

All of the benefits touted in the promotion of the Don Sinex project can be realized in a scaled-back project under current zoning. The Sinex project does not honestly advance a walkable, bikeable, affordable, sustainable or vibrant city. It is just being wrapped cynically in these values by its ad men.

The TIF request in Question 4 adds insult to injury.

A recent article about TIF in Chicago called it “a shady scheme run by the mayor that sets aside a portion of revenue from property taxes for development projects.”

The additional $22 million in tax dollars would be a dream come true for Sinex but a bad deal for Burlington taxpayers, who would wait 20 years for their tax burden to be lightened by the so-called tax increment. In the meantime, our tax burden would be increased by any additional city services or school expenses resulting from the new development.

There is no free lunch. Millions of tax dollars that would otherwise fund city services and schools would be diverted for decades to pay off the TIF debt. Kids in kindergarten today will be out of college and raising families before those tax dollars are benefiting the city as a whole.

Don’t be fooled by the sales pitch or frightened by the all-or-nothing claim. TIF is public debt for private profit. And the zoning changes are a backroom deal, the city pulling a fast one.

Vote “no” on Questions 3 and 4 for responsible, appropriate development — for fiscal integrity and a livable city for us all.

Michael Long

Burlington


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