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Letters to the Editor 

November 26, 2008

NO HOPE

Thank you for your coverage of the foreclosure-prevention assistance that the NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Centers of Vermont can provide to defaulting homeowners [“Barring the Door,” November 19].

In the sidebar of the article you mention a HUD program called “Hope for Homeowners.” A November 17, 2008, article in the Florida Sentinel revealed that Hope for Homeowners “has failed to live up to its billing so far. And there are serious doubts it ever will.” The article found that the program has “received fewer than 115 applications since the program took effect Oct. 1 . . . while more than 3 million homeowners are currently in some form of foreclosure . . .”

The Hope for Homeowners program requires lenders to write down some of the principal on their mortgages to create an affordable payment for the defaulting homeowner, but there was no way to force lenders to do this unless the investors funding the mortgages gave the green light.

There was also a catch for the homeowners: When they sell their home, they would have to share half of any profits with the government.

New foreclosure-prevention programs are being designed weekly by federal agencies. The best thing to do if a homeowner has defaulted on a mortgage is to call a local Home Ownership Center to learn about options. All five centers can be found via www.vthomeownership.org.

Liz Curry

BURLINGTON

Curry is resource developer for the NeighborWorks Alliance of Vermont.

IMPRACTICAL PROGS

Kevin Kelley’s article on the Dem-Prog political situation would benefit from a few facts [Local Matters, November 12].

Dave Zuckerman is still bitter about Kesha Ram’s huge success in his district, which cost an incumbent Prog a legislative seat. Throughout the campaign, Dave questioned why Kesha was running, and he seemed to think Kesha had no right to run at all. Historically, the district has been Democratic, and the nature of democracy encourages active political competition.

Kesha ran a high-energy, positive campaign and deserved her victory. But for Zuckerman to say that Progs don’t run candidates against liberal Democrats is not true. There are many instances of Progs running against liberal Democrats in recent years, especially in the Old North End of Burlington. All you have to do is check the election results. Progs don’t run candidates against liberal Democrats in races where the Progs know the Progressive label is a huge drawback, as in Mark Larson’s New North End district.

Indeed, Dave actively worked for a Republican-turned-independent candidate in the Ward 6 City Council race last March against Barbara Perry, a liberal Democrat. The reluctance of Progressives like Anthony Pollina and Tim Ashe to run as Progressives and use the independent or Democratic label is a practical political decision based on the knowledge that the Progressive label is poison at the state polls.

It may be time for Progressives to rethink their future and seriously consider getting under the big tent of the Democratic Party.

Maurice Mahoney

BURLINGTON

Seven Days is sponsoring an upcoming panel discussion entitled, “Why Can’t Vermont Democrats and Progressives Get Along?” on Thursday, December 4 ,at 7 p.m. in the Burlington Waterfront’s Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center. Admission is free.

MENTAL STATE

We greatly appreciated your coverage of the difficulties in this region of accessing timely psychiatric services [Local Matters, November 5].

As mental-health providers in the field we experience a similar daily challenge of referring our clients for timely psychiatric care. We have seen, over time, a diminished availability of psychiatrists who are willing and/or able to accept new clients. The wait for appointments is often inadequate for the very real and pressing needs of clients seeking such care.

The situation is particularly dire concerning the psychiatric treatment of children. We believe the area is in substantial need of increased psychiatric services and hope psychiatrists newly entering the field in the Burlington area consider staying.

Again, thank you for your coverage of a very important community issue.

Marc D. Richter

BURLINGTON

Richter is a licensed clinical social worker with Networks Inc. Psychotherapy Services.

BURTON’S BUCKS

The decision by Burton Snowboards to produce boards with these obviously inappropriate and reprehensible graphics is admitting they no longer make a superior product [Local Matters, October 22].

They went for making money by pandering to what is the worst in people. Freedom of speech gives us the right of political dissent without fear of arrest. It does not give us the right to say anything anywhere without consequences. Burton has the legal right to produce these boards. I have an obligation to protest.

Images are powerful. Nazis controlled art for a reason. We associate Coke with babies and puppies, neither of which drink the stuff. A study from Dartmouth proved that children were more likely to smoke proportional to the amount of smoking they saw in movies. Advertisers spend enormous amounts of money associating products with images because it works.

The image that’s in my mind is of boot-clad young men standing on the bodies of naked women. And you don’t think seeing that is going to influence attitudes towards women? What if the Klan had taken up snowboarding? What if to capture this growing market, Burton decided to print pictures of lynchings on their boards so young men could plant their feet on these images and ride them down the slope? Who would tolerate it? How is this different?

Burton has chosen to tap into misogyny to make a buck. Shame on you.

Jean Szilva

WINOOSKI

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a November 19 Local Matters story said mailings critical of state Rep. Joyce Errecart’s were financed by the campaign of her opponent, Kate Webb. The mailings were actually paid for by political-action committees, not by Webb’s campaign. The same story misidentified Webb’s husband, Marshall, as the “Shelburne Farms heir.” Although he is part of the family that originally developed the property, Webb is now an employee of the trust that owns Shelburne Farms.

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