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Letters to the Editor (01/07/15) 

Single-Payer Long Dead

As a long-time opponent of single-payer, I was pleased to see that the governor awoke to the stark economic reality [Off Message, "Analysis: Caving on Single-Payer, Shumlin Forfeits Remaining Credibility," December 18].

As a taxpayer, I am outraged that the state spent so much money on high-priced, out-of-state consultants who told us little that differs from what perfectly credible in-state economists and business analysts were saying.

As a voter, the timing of this announcement between Election Day and the beginning of the new legislative session simply disgusts me. Knowing that some six months ago leading Democratic legislators were privately acknowledging that single-payer was dead, I suggest that the governor has mortally wounded his rapidly waning career.

It is time for legislators to listen to the majority of Vermonters who voted for an "un-Shumlin" option.

Pete Gummere

St. Johnsbury

Missing Musicians?

Re ["Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero?" December 17]: I completely understand the "rock" music theme of Seven Days; I have relied heavily on Seven Days as long as this awesome paper has been on the market. But this article completely overlooks so many musical genres that I am surprised. I want to give a shout-out to Dawn Willis, founder and director of Bella Voce Women's Chorus and Solaris Vocal Ensemble and choir director at First Baptist Church in Burlington. Her biography is too long to list here, but she is one of your many, many missing influential artists we are fortunate to have among us. Also, Vermont Symphony Orchestra?

Nancy Danforth


Hospice for All

The Visiting Nurse Associations in Vermont appreciate the recent article on hospice services in the state ["No. 48? Why Vermont Has Been Slow to Adopt Hospice Care," December 3]. What should be clear to everyone is that all Vermonters, regardless of their income or the location of their homes, have access to high-quality hospice and palliative care services. Vermont is one of just a handful of states where total access is assured, an achievement for which Vermonters should be duly proud. This didn't just happen; it took 35 years of hard work by the VNAs.

Peter Cobb

Barre Town

Cobb is executive director of the VNAs of Vermont, the trade association that represents the Visiting Nurse Associations and nonprofit hospices.

Bad-Ass Bernie?

Can anyone really picture Bernie Sanders as commander in chief [Last 7, December 24]? Does anyone really think Bernie could pull the trigger on the bin Laden types who have sworn to kill us?

Terry Pitts

Essex Junction

A Matter of Priorities

Alicia Freese's "A Plan for the People? Burlington Progs Put Mall Man Through the Paces" [December 17] indicates the city is considering using tax-increment funding to pay for a park four stories above Church Street in a redeveloped Burlington Town Center, considering it "public infrastructure." A half mile away, 32 acres of pristine and undeveloped lakefront land sits on the chopping block, most to be tossed over the side of a fiscally sinking Burlington College. Most observers know it won't save the college but will destroy the North End's last opportunity for open space. The city should and can lead an effort to preserve 26 of those acres from intense development by forging a coalition with land trusts and philanthropists to preserve this as a public park; a park where a revitalized Burlington College can carry out a signature mission involving urban agriculture, fresh water ecology, archeology and botany. I urge elected officials to focus on this opportunity existing on the ground rather than on the dream of greenery in the sky.

Charles Simpson


Simpson is a member of the Friends of Burlington College.

Not Wild About Review

Rick Kisonak's Wild review is a smug dismissal of Cheryl Strayed's personal healing tale [Movies, December 17]. The movie's merits aside, I enjoyed this funny, compelling book. Perhaps, as a woman, I more easily admired the plucky drive of this female protagonist on the kind of solo adventure more commonly attributed to men.

"Wild is kind of silly," Kisonak pronounces. He then claims that when Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, "she wasn't a writer, a philosopher or even a hiker." She was, in fact, working on a manuscript and journaling on the trail, and had a dual major in English and women's studies. Kisonak can't see the connection between Strayed's motivation for this hike and her previous self-destructive behavior. Really? Undertaking a rigorous solo hike to snap oneself out of a downward spiral makes perfect sense to me.

Into the Wild and 127 Hours are referenced as adventures with merit, whose male protagonists apparently have more admirable "mind-sets" than Strayed. Hmmm. Christopher McCandless disappears into the Alaskan wilderness with a 10-pound bag of rice and inappropriate footwear. Danny Boyle, after failing to inform anyone of his hiking plans, has us watch for two hours to see if he will saw off his arm. Regarding the discounted baggage metaphor of Strayed's overfull backpack: At least she brought adequate gear. In the reverse metaphor, McCandless tries to outrun his baggage —eschewing money, possessions and family. Strayed has the balls to carry her baggage with her.

Lastly, Kisonak keeps saying Strayed "walked" the PCT. She most definitely hiked it.

Kyle Cushman


Utter Fan

I was fortunate enough to find out about Mark Utter's emergence into the world of communication early on and have been a fan of his ever since [" Live Culture: Colchester's Mark Utter Brings Nonverbal Autism to Blog and TV," December 20]. His film had an impact that rates with the best events of my 72 years. Take the time to get to know him and it'll be one of the best things you do for yourself in 2015.

K.K. Wilder


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