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Letters to the Editor 

May 28, 2008


Hey, what's the big deal? There's umpteen channels on my Comcast system that I pay for every month and couldn't be bothered tuning in [Local Matters, May 7].

For example, I pay for ESPN every month - and never watch it. Never.

If you don't care for a channel, don't watch it. How simple is that?

Joel O'Brien



Did Paula Routly and Seven Days really need to dedicate a front-page story to defense lawyer David Sleigh ["The Defense Never Rests," May 14]?

I'm more interested in how the defense lawyer gets any rest. It is understood that he has a job to do, but I find it disgusting that for the purpose of this article he was given a sort of glorified/celebrity status.

I'm sure it brings no comfort and probably some distress to Michelle Gardner-Quinn's family and friends to see an article portraying the defense attorney in the case of their loved one who was so brutally slain, as a rock-star renegade who likes to enjoy "retail therapy" in order to get "psyched for the spotlight."

What next - a feature on the childhood of Brian Rooney?

Mia Calevro



Few could argue that spending two court-ordered classes with Jay Parini, author of Robert Frost, A Life, wasn't a positive outcome for the students who trashed the Homer Noble Farm where Frost spent many summers [Local Matters, May 14].

However, is this fair to their classmates at Middlebury High School who didn't participate in this shameful evening of fun? It seems to me that if Jay Parini is willing to give his time in this manner, perhaps the Frost 28 are not the most worthy recipients.

Also, Mr. Parini resorted to a very common tactic when students get themselves in trouble. If one cannot find a specific reason for the problems, blame it on the school. This is ridiculous. I hope none of the parents accepted this as a reasonable explanation for their child's poor choice.

Jacob McDowell stated that if school had taught him more about the farm and Frost's role, things might not have gone as far as they did. The fact is, these kids had absolutely no business entering the building, using it, and ruining it.

It doesn't work to say these are "good kids." Huge numbers of high school students are good kids, but sometimes they make bad mistakes, and in those moments they are not being "good kids." It bothers me that they are the ones receiving private instruction from Jay Parini. Don't the "good kids" who did not participate in this reckless evening deserve this privilege as well?

Perhaps Mr. Parini could spend two classes with a large number of students at the school. Then the Frost 28 could be required to do further research on their own time.

Pamela Dever



Now that Gaye Symington has officially entered the governor's race, I guess the old cliché about the Democrats' penchant for "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" still holds sway ["Fair Game," May 14].

It seems their desire to get back at Anthony Pollina and the Progressives for saying critical things about them a few years ago trumps their desire to remove the current Republican governor, who is so likeable and whose policies are so awful. And they have the nerve to turn around and accuse Anthony of being a spoiler! Perhaps they are counting on a three-way race throwing the election to the legislature when nobody wins over 50 percent, but in any case I am deeply disappointed with their plan.

The best option for anyone who wants real change in Montpelier, and who is excited by the great ideas for health care, education and revitalizing our rural economy that Anthony has to offer, is to write his name in for governor in the Democratic primary. A substantial showing might be embarrassing enough to get the party leaders to focus on actually winning back the governor's office, rather than getting back at their critics. Maybe they would even listen to some of their critics and begin to realize that working together to move Vermont forward is the best strategy.

Grace Gershuny



UVM's claim that stabbing pigs in the heart and other vital organs "absolutely helps to save human lives" is entirely unfounded [Local Matters, May 21]. There is actually no objective evidence available to show that the surgical outcomes of those who have taken the Advanced Trauma Operative Management (ATOM) course are superior to those who have not.

Most trauma surgeons have successfully honed their skills - without harming animals - by participating in physician-observation programs where they gained hands-on experience in the operating room practicing in real time on accurate anatomy and learning the vital cooperation skills necessary to effectively master the trauma-treatment setting.

In a 2006 editorial in the British Medical Journal, members of the Royal College of Surgeons of England stated that animal laboratories cannot "substitute for supervised experience in high-volume trauma centers such as those in North America . . . " A trauma-training course at UVM's Fletcher Allen Trauma Center - which treats up to 1400 trauma cases a year - could provide this kind of humane, coveted experience for surgeons training in Vermont.

There is also a widely endorsed surgical training method that has been developed which can provide a perfect simulation of live-trauma surgery using donated human cadavers and a mechanical pump.

In the interest of upholding their duty to practice ethical medicine, surgeons at UVM should be abandoning these animal-based exercises in favor of pursuing effective, economical, human-relevant, humane alternatives.

Justin Goodman


Goodman is a research associate supervisor with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.


A cartoon by Tim Newcomb in the May 14 Seven Days depicted Vermont's congressional delegation valiantly attempting to defend against the $4-per-gallon gasoline "barrel" steamrolling down on them.

Unfortunately, the only action available to Congress is a tax on the excessive profits of the oil companies, which is only a fraction of the take of billionaire speculators. The horse has been out of the barn for a long time on futures trading in oil, with speculators playing their "invisible" hand and consumers paying the market price.

Welcome, free-market solution.

That same market is being proposed as the vehicle for solving the problem of climate change. Unfortunately, all of Vermont's Congressional delegation appears to support the Cap-and-Trade (C&T) system for reducing carbon emissions in this country. Another free-market horse at the barn door.

The Congressional Budget Office and many economists recognize that a carbon tax is the best solution, the most efficient, quickest and cheapest means available to meet carbon-change goals. Why does Vermont's Congressional delegation trust the free-market solution (think sub-prime mortgage crisis), rather than a publicly controlled means that will produce revenues for proposed solutions? When it comes to solving the problems of climate change, everyone wants us to do all we can, as quickly as we can, and as cheaply as we can. Why support anything else?

Does Vermont have the political will to change the debate before this horse is out of the barn as well? There's only trillions of dollars at stake.

Joe Bongiovanni


Bongiovanni is the former general manager of the Washington Electric Co-op and a member of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association board.


Ken Picard fails to mention that a major problem with the development of wind energy in Vermont is the diversion of financial resources to small-scale backyard installations, many of them at sites with insufficient wind ["Blowing It?" May 21].

For instance, the windmills that have recently sprouted up in the Champlain Valley typically operate in average winds of about 8 mph, which means they operate at only 5 or 6 percent of their nominal capacity. The installation of most of these windmills is not based on rational ecological and economical considerations, but on an irrational craving for lawn ornaments.

Instead of investing, say, $45,000 in a 10-kilowatt windmill, it is much more profitable to invest it in, say, 30-year treasury bonds and use the interest to buy "greener" energy from Green Mountain Power with a surcharge of 3 cents per kilowatt hour (this surcharge supports large-scale installations of renewable sources).

A simple calculation, taking into account income tax paid on the interest, shows that this permits the purchase of about 9000 kilowatt hours of "greener" energy per year, equal to about twice the energy produced by a typical windmill. Thus, purchase of "greener" energy produces twice the ecological benefit of the windmill, and more than twice the economical benefit, because at the end of 30 years your windmill will be scrap, whereas the U.S. treasury will refund your principal to you.

The installation of backyard windmills in the Champlain Valley is a fool's game.

Hans Ohanian



While we are generally happy to see any positive coverage of Bill Dixon, particularly in Vermont, where he has lived and worked for over 30 years, Jarrett Berman's review has several components that need correction and/or reply [reviewthis, May 7].

The October Revolution in Jazz, while arguably one of the most significant developments in the music during the past 40 years, did not include Coltrane or Coleman. In fact Ornette, while invited to participate, attacked Bill in print in the pages of Down Beat at the time. Your error may be partially explained by inaccurate source material in an early release by Steve Joerg and AUM Fidelity. Due diligence would argue for a bit more fact checking.

As far as the music, hmmm . . . Where does one start when a critic crosses the line from critical commentary into subjective opinion? While it is good to see Berman admitting the relatively brief amount of time he has spent following the music, it does not provide license for his excess of personal opinion.

By the way, in the interest of transparency, I work and record with Bill.

Stephen Haynes


Haynes is a composer and trumpeter.

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