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Letters to the Editor 

The Houle Story

Are there any Vermonters left in Vermont? In response to Ken Picard’s article about embattled select board member and town S.O.B. Mary Houle [“Is Mary Houle Rescuing Richmond or Tearing It Apart?” October 28], I’d like to pose that question: Are there?

Since when is one person — a hardworking person, a native of the town and moreover a two-term elected official of the town — not able to raise an objection or cry foul when she sees cause to? As Vermonters we’ve never held our tongues. We call a spade a spade, and cry bullshit when we smell it.

The Mary Houle I know is the kind of person I am proud to know; she is extremely knowledgeable and Mary knows people. Since when has small-town Vermont not thrived on outspoken individuals who are not afraid to wade through the bullshit, ask a tough question and look you in the eye for an answer? Why be “afraid” of or “intimidated” by a person who pointed out improprieties and acted upon them as elected to do? As far as “having a bit of a temper,” I believe it is called passion.

Ken, be ashamed for writing such a slanted piece of propaganda. You go get ’em, Mary.

Karen Palmer

Buckland, Mass.

Palmer was born and raised in Richmond.

Exercised about Ober

[Forza instructor] Stephanie [Shohet] is a friend of mine, and she told me that Seven Days was writing an article on her business [“Sword Play,” November 4]. So I was excited to see it … at Hannaford’s and picked up a copy. The article is great regarding Stephanie and her new business. However, I am deeply disappointed about the sentence that reads, “But the fact that Forza is about swords somehow overrode my disdain for the likes of Jazzercise, Zumba, Tai-Bo and whatever the workout du jour is now.”

First of all, why would you ever write an article about a newly founded business and knock another business that has been well established for 40 years? I’m talking about Jazzercise. I have taken Jazzercise classes for over 10 years and became a certified instructor last July and now own my own Jazzercise franchise. Jazzercise is an international franchise that just celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. It has over 7500 instructors, teaching over 32,000 classes a week in 32 countries.

Do you know what disdain means? It means: contempt, despise, unworthy of notice! Next time you write an article, you may want to choose your words more wisely. The article would have been great without that one demeaning sentence. I’m sure every Jazzercise/Zumba owner, instructor and student will all agree with me when I say: This was uncalled for.

Cheryl Austin

Burlington

Austin owns Jazzercise of Franklin County.

(Writer Lauren Ober responds: Because I was writing a first-person account of my experience with a new workout class in the area, I had to let the readers know that I generally don’t like workout classes. It was never my intention to offend practitioners of any particular group fitness system.)

Bag It

I wanted to throw my two cents in about this plastic bag business [“Seven Days Bags a Story the Free Press Wouldn’t Touch,” October 28].

FACT: Plastic bags are bad for the environment.

FACT: Many people still use them.

FACT: Most people know that they’re bad for the environment.

FACT: Most people have canvas bags to use instead of said plastic bags.

FACT: Most people (myself included) forget their canvas bags when buying groceries and guiltily have to choose either paper or plastic when asked at the register.

OK, the facts are set. We can bitch and moan about how people shouldn’t use plastic bags, but that’s not getting to the root of the problem. So, how can we get to the root?

What if we did do away with plastic bags? What if people started sharing canvas bags? I know I have way more than I can use and most of them sit hanging in my pantry. I propose that everyone brings their extra bags to stores and the stores can keep a stockpile of them. That way when someone goes through the line and thinks, Shit, I forgot my canvas bag again. I try to be so earth friendly and then my over-busy mind/life got in the way and I forgot.

Fret no more! No more remembering bags! (Unless you’re really attached to yours and never forget them.) Let’s be a community when we grocery shop and share bags.

Katie Kearney

Burlington

New Format Fan

For all the whining over the new format, I must say that I am impressed with Seven Days for taking a more cost-effective — and therefore enviro-friendly — format. This new format is actually easier to read than the old one. I’m not sure why people think it’s more difficult. It’s also much easier to take apart and use in our woodstove when starting fires. So bravo, Seven Days, for making a paper more valuable in many ways!

Nathaniel Fredericks

Montpelier

Buzz Kill

Someone has to respond to John T. Finn’s grossly irresponsible letter of last week.

I drink. Been doing it — not heavily or excessively, but regularly — for four decades plus.

I like it. One of the few things better than a martini before dinner is two martinis before dinner. And if you want to pour some wine into my glass during the meal, that’s nice, too.

No surprise, then, that I can, as Finn put it, hold my liquor, as well as anyone I know and better than most. Considering that I spent 40 years in the newspaper business, “anyone I know” includes some folks who really belted it down.

But I would never, ever get behind the wheel of an automobile after four drinks.

Or three, for that matter. Or two, unless at least an hour, a full meal and some coffee had followed the second. Tossing around unscientific and imprecise terms, Finn says “an average-sized man” (I qualify) “is not even buzzed … much less drunk” after his four pops.

I can’t really refute that because I don’t know what it means. Neither does Finn. What I know is that anyone who drives an automobile after four drinks is a fool, endangering himself and others. As is anyone who dismisses, in such arrogant, know-it-all language, the dangers therein.

As are perhaps — devoted though I am to freewheeling debate — the editors who published that letter, at least without an accompanying note pointing out how foolish it was.

Jon Margolis

Barton

DCF Cares

As a former DCF/SRS employee, it always bothers me when someone creates a situation suggesting that DCF “failed” children somehow. In his article “Is Vermont’s Department for Children and Families Doing Enough to Address Abuse and Neglect?” [November 4], Ken Picard suggests that DCF failed to investigate the Shaun Bryer case. DCF has very clear guidelines that it must follow prior to investigating allegations of abuse or neglect. And what Mr. Picard fails to appreciate is that the department also has to follow Vermont law.

I don’t know the circumstances surrounding the report that was made to DCF, but I would suggest that it would be important to know what the decision was based on prior to alleging failure on the part of the department. One would be hard pressed to find any group of individuals who care more about protecting children than the social workers who work for DCF, and to suggest that they somehow failed children is really irresponsible without all the facts.

Gerald Jeffords

Milton

CORRECTIONS:

Last week, we stated in a “Local Matters” article that Winooski school board member Doug Isham had been arrested for attempted assault in 1999. He was not arrested, though he was cited for simple assault, and arraigned in court on the charge. The charge was later dismissed. We apologize for the confusion.

In last week’s cover story, “Minority Rule,” we spelled Jeanine Bunzigiye’s name incorrectly.

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