A big thumbs down on Merrill's Roxy Cinema for exhibiting Dinesh D'Souza's odious right-wing pseudo-documentary, America: Imagine a World Without Her. This alleged "film" is nothing more than a dog whistle for dim-witted Teabaggers and other low-information reactionaries. A poorly made, intellectually dishonest infomercial for oligarchic capitalism, America has earned one of the lowest ratings — 9 percent — ever recorded at the film-review website Rotten Tomatoes. Consider the source: D'Souza is a neo-Reaganite Republican propagandist and all-around lap dog for the 1 percent. (He is also a convicted felon; having pled guilty to election fraud in May, he will be sentenced later this year.) The world is awash in great, new independent documentaries. Don't insult our intelligence with this sort of swill.
I live and work in the vicinity of Planned Parenthood and must walk by there at least six times a day [Off Message, "Burlington Will Investigate Alternatives to Buffer Zone," July 14]. So it is fair to say that I have seen my fair share of scenarios related to the protesters. Now that protesters are able to stand in what was formally a protected area, I have observed an alarming increase in coercive tactics on the part of some of the protesters. One woman in particular I have observed chasing people, trying to give them literature that the people had refused to take. She even tried to give literature to the volunteers ushering at the door of the clinic. More alarming, this same protester was taking pictures of people leaving the building with her cellphone. I don't know what the solution to this issue is, but I am afraid that things are heating up. As far as I can see, it is stemming from the protesters who lack respect for the consumers who are trying to conduct themselves appropriately.
The real story is different [Off Message, "Burlington College's Financial Troubles Detailed in Letter From Accreditor," July 22; Last 7: "Accounting 101," July 23]. When Jane Sanders and the BC board negotiated the purchase of the Diocese property on North Avenue, there was no intention to sell off a significant part of this remarkable, unique and essentially public landscape to ordinary speculative development; their expectations were that the loans would be repaid by a large increase in enrollment.
Under the present administration, the college's enrollment has remained static and has generated nowhere near the numbers required for financial stability. There has been no capital campaign to cover the loans or the cost of renovating the older, original part of the building — a building of great historic significance; the board of trustees seems to be paralyzed. Board chair Yves Bradley has a critical conflict of interest as vice president of commercial brokerage at Pomerleau Real Estate, to which the college owes $500,000. It is astonishing that the board would not have requested his resignation or at least that he recuse himself completely from all matters relating to the North Avenue property.
BC is not a "young" institution, as President Christine Plunkett characterizes it. The college has a long history of alternative — some would say "radical" — educational service in the Burlington community. At the present time, and during Plunkett's tenure, the college has lost its way: Its mission is in shambles; its community of staff and faculty has been decimated; the inadequate housing it provides for its students is being sold off to manage its debt. It's time for friends of the college and its historic mission to come together and save it from itself.
Louis Mannie Lionni
Lionni is a former member of the Burlington College Board of Trustees.
Thanks to Mark Davis for an excellent piece on the problem with sex-offender registries ["Vermont Sex-Offender Registry's Problems Persist," July 23]. Without ever saying so directly, he makes clear that the real problem is not that the "wrong" people are targeted for vigilante action but that the registry itself invites that kind of response. Whether someone is on it "legitimately" or not, he can be subjected to threatening phone calls, have a beer bottle broken over his head, or be denied a job and housing. Does it really matter whether you're on the registry rightly or wrongly? Are we actually saying all this is OK if you're supposed to be on the registry?
A 2011 report for the National Institute of Justice makes clear that recidivism for sex offenders is significantly less than for those who have committed other crimes; registries that have no discernible impact on recidivism; and that registries make reintegration much more difficult. Difficulty finding a job or housing increases the likelihood of committing another crime in all categories of offenses.
If registries don't make our communities safer, and in fact may do the opposite, maybe it's time to get rid of them. Maybe it's time, instead, to focus on preventing childhood trauma and ensuring the basic dignity of every Vermonter.
[Re Stuck in Vermont: "Co-op Gardening With Bonnie," July 23]: I love Bonnie Acker and I love Eva! This is such a great episode, thank you. We need the good news about what's going on in the world — and Burlington — more than ever these days.