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Letters to the Editor 

TAB? GAG!

I never understood how anyone could drink TaB [“So Long, Aspartame,” January 14]. I once got a small amount of gasoline in my mouth, and it tasted just like TaB!

Michael Marion

BALTIMORE, MD

GOOD SPORT

Your sidebar on Freeps writers you love [“High Noon for the Burlington Free Press,” January 28], and its omission of stalwart sportswriter Mike Donoghue, leads me to wonder whether you — and we — fully realize what a giant we have in this guy. He brings a news-sider’s background to the sports desk, refusing to check his commitment to investigative journalism at the “toy department” door. He heads up not only the Vermont Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, but the national lodge as well. And with his work in the St. Mike’s journalism department, he’s helping to bring along the next generation of journos, any of whom could do a lot worse than aspire to their teacher’s level of devotion to the craft. In a depleted sports department, he’s carrying more and more of the load. There’s a sports cliché in here somewhere, but Donoghue would never stoop to use it, so I won’t either.

Alexander Wolff

CORNWALL

Wolff is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated and owner of the Vermont Frost Heaves.

TOUGH TALK ABOUT ‘TEXAS’

My husband and I usually eat out about twice a week. I can tell you that coupons emailed to me or advertised early-bird meals have been enticing. I can also tell restaurant owners in the area not to be worried about Texas Roadhouse [“Spare Our Fare,” January 21]. It is busy because all new chains get busy when they are the new kid in town. The service, wait time and food are not good. (OK, maybe the rolls are good, but they brag about “homemade from scratch”; that food is not from scratch by any stretch.)

We have gone twice (or tried) and complained twice via their corporate website. Both times I was told I would hear from the managing partner, and I have not heard a word. The worst part about that place is the call ahead: They don’t answer the phone when they are really busy; you get there and they tell you they are no longer taking names for the list; or, even better, if your party is larger than six people, they won’t take your name at all. . .

When we commented on how the phone was being answered, [the manager] said, “How do you think the girl feels that has to answer the phones?” I could not believe he said that to customers. Word of mouth is a great friend but a greater enemy. Needless to say, that place has a lot to work on.

Becky Watarz

COLCHESTER

KUDOS, KIRK

Whenever I read Kirk Kardashian’s articles, I’m struck by how vivid they are [“Astronomy and Art Mingle at Montshire,” January 28]. He’s very visual in his descriptions. Better yet, he digs down to get the story beyond the surface. Kudos.

Jennifer Pierce

LEBANON, NEW HAMPSHIRE

ONE OF A KIND

I wish to thank Sarah Judd for including me in her ONE Woman Photography Project [“Candid Cameras,” January 28]. Her conception of this artistic endeavor allowed me to see my neighborhood through a wider lens. It gave me another reason to converse with my neighbors.

The Old North End is a cornucopia of collaboration and individuality. Here we sit on our stoops in anticipation of the neighbors walking their dog. We know the children who play in the parks and join together as we later applaud them at the school play . . . From the sunrise over the park to the afternoon meditation at the nearby chapel and, later, the injection I take each day with the evening news, that week I captured my life. I am grateful for everything in between and for always having those memories on film.

Carol Ann Wooster

BURLINGTON

RETAIN RETN

I question Comcast’s motives with regard to RETN’s contract [Fair Game, January 28]. They cite RETN’s expenditures and reporting practices simply to provide justification for their request for greater financial oversight. They aspire to spotlight the need for assurances that the public is being properly served and increased accountability by RETN, in order to bury their actual motive of cost cutting for their gigantic company.

Cable companies should continue to fund PEG (Public, Educational and Government Access). Teachers and students should continue to have access to the technology, training and growth opportunities that exist therein, as well as the educational and public access programming provided. Local programming is crucial as media conglomerates continue their feeding frenzy on commercial networks. The role of the board of directors for each station should remain intact and in control of the financial expenditures. Increased government oversight cannot validly be defined as community access.

RETN provides fabulous educational opportunities. This has made a tremendous difference for my son. He has experienced some significant health and developmental challenges in his life. As an RETN intern, he has gained confidence and increased his production-skill levels and independent-filmmaking ability. RETN has offered him an opportunity to flourish and move toward employment opportunities we would not have anticipated. I’m sure his story is not the only one of opportunity and success surrounding the practices, personnel and philosophy of RETN. I beseech the Public Service Board and ask that they not cripple RETN and the services that it offers to the community.

Martha D. Douglass

WATERBURY

OFF COURSE?

I’m writing in response to Ken Picard’s article “Fletcher Allen’s Technicians Launch Union Drive” [Local Matters, January 21]. As a technician in support of the union and currently employed at Fletcher Allen for over three years, I should be pleased with publicity. The article does provide a history of the nurses’ union, and a description of events currently taking place regarding our unionization. However, it takes a severe swerve when Picard provides irrelevant information from an outside source, who in so many words states, “The quality of patient care is determined by the age and experience of the average nurse.”

I suppose that as a younger individual with questionable years of experience, I should bow out now and move to a less deserving community where I can gain experience, and only then, after an undetermined amount of time, return in my golden years to my coveted position in Vermont . . .

Lastly, Mr. Picard, I am confused by your decision to steer grossly off course in your article. Usually I find the contents of Seven Days to be intriguing and accurate, but in this article I don’t. Perhaps Seven Days could benefit from a publishing consultant, who can provide more experience and the ability to accurately convey a piece of news.

Jeffrey Abell

SOUTH BURLINGTON

BRAD’S BRAIN

Congratulations on a rather thoughtful article about the Burlington Free Press and its publisher, Brad Robertson [“High Noon for the Burlington Free Press,” January 28].

I was happy to see that Cathy [Resmer] — mostly — avoided panning the efforts of the “Freeps” and portrayed Brad in a flattering light.

Brad Robertson is one of the most engaging, talented and energetic people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Since moving to the greater Burlington area, it has been a delight getting to know him and pick his brain from time to time.

Ted Adler is absolutely right: the Burlington Free Press is lucky to have Brad (although I do not believe the paper is in any danger of the “demise” you mention as a possibility).

Joe Mescher

COLCHESTER

Mescher is the Internet Marketing Specialist at the Burlington Free Press.

WE, THE RATEPAYERS

I am hurt and disappointed that Commissioner Davey O’Brien of the Department of Public Service didn’t invite me to his Christmas party [Fair Game, January 21]. He is always so saccharin to me at public meetings. I have never been anything but courteous and respectful in our exchanges.

The charge of the DPS (off its website) is to represent the public interest in matters regarding energy and other issues. This gets my goat. Entergy’s Jay Thayer is the former site VP. He now works as a PR man to secure the license renewal of the reactor that has not operated for over a month at 100 percent power since last May. He got invited. Why wasn’t I?

The DPS is supposed to represent the ratepayer. Remember those meetings held with the fancy electronic remote voting games courtesy of Raab Associates from a control of between 500 and 550 respondents?

Seventy percent wanted renewable resources, not nuclear. Seventy-two percent strongly supported seeing a wind farm viewable from home. It is a good thing only 9 percent were not willing to pay any more for electricity. The rest of us know our costs will increase after 2012. Sixty-three percent wanted many small, decentralized facilities in the state. Ninety-three percent want to see Vermont use an increase in renewable energy. As far as the order of voters’ preference, 24 percent rated nuclear at the bottom of the barrel. The people have spoken.

It is too bad the supposed representative of public interest is more intrigued with entertaining the corporate agenda.

Gary Sachs

BRATTLEBORO

TREASURE THIS

Plaudits to Sen. Bernie Sanders who joined only three Democrats in voting against the confirmation of tax evader Timothy Geithner. He will be head of the Treasury Department, hence the IRS. Once he learned he was being nominated, Geithner rushed to repair his delinquency.

John Cunevalis

SOUTH BURLINGTON

‘NEWS WE CAN USE’

As editor and publisher of Vermont Commons: Voices of Independence, I read “High Noon for the Burlington Free Press” [January 28] with great interest.

Please permit me to make a few suggestions:

One, the Burlington Free Press does not need saving. In fact, the sooner the BFP leaves Vermont, the better, as its primary interest seems to be extracting money from Vermonters and serving as a giant out-of-state recycler of “news” (and I use the term loosely) at the profit-seeking behest of its Virginia-based corporate Gannett master. Vermonters can help speed the BFP’s exit by engaging in a collective boycott of the newspaper (read them online for free — trust me, it only takes a few minutes a day), and finding other more local publishing venues (like Seven Days, Vermont Commons, Catamount Tavern News, WDEV, community cable access, local radio) to engage for real news, information, and services written and produced by citizens who actually live, work, play, and care about the future here.

What a concept.

Second, maybe it’s time we seriously rethink the role of newspapers for the new millennium. Why not create newspapers that are powered by ads from local businesses and subscribers exclusively, or, as Vermont Commons does, run news journals as nonprofits? And while we’re at it, why not have our newspapers stop pretending to be “professional,” “disinterested” and “objective,” and instead, create newspapers that champion a fierce loyalty to local writers, genuine ideas, specific place-oriented solutions, and reasoned and reflective debate, discourse and conversation on a wide variety of topics?

“News we can use,” in other words.

The fact that the BFP axed so many worthy Vermont journalists ought to serve as a wake-up call for all of us who care about the future of newspapers (and news itself) here in Vermont. On behalf of Vermont Commons’ editorial board, I extend an invitation to all of them — Candace, Lauren, Adam, Matt, Molly, Sam, Nancy, Terri and Sally — to come and write with us. And to all Vermonters who care about the quality of journalism in our communities, I say be sure to invest your time, energy and money our local news outlets. We need your help!

Rob Williams

WAITSFIELD

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