In Memory of Mikey
I'd like to thank Pamela Polston for writing such a positive and sensitive article about Mikey Welsh [Blurt, "Mikey Welsh, Painter and Musician, Found Dead," October 10; Eyewitness, "Welsh's Juice," December 22, 2004]. I knew Mikey from other circles, but always admired his artwork and never got a chance for a studio visit.
I just wish that others struggling with overdosing, suicide, depression and mental illness would have someone publish an article about the good that they've done with their lives. Mikey was funny, kind, and loved his kids and wife. He was a great musician and visual artist. We were lucky to have him.
[Re Fair Game, October 26, November 2; "Power in Play," November 9]: When I first read Kurt Wright's privatization plans for Burlington Electric, I would have thought, had I not known better, that Mr. Wright was an economist for the World Bank or the IMF prescribing one of the 10 commandments of neo-liberalism's so-called Washington Consensus: namely, the sale of state assets to the private sector. The Washington Consensus is a form of market voodoo to woo lesser-developed nations so that they, too, can be just like us successful, wealthy gringos - if only they play by our rules. Somehow, it doesn't always work out well, but hey, the privateers get the gain and the public gets the pain.
Furthermore, I was not surprised by Mary Powell's coy reluctance to show an interest in purchasing the Burlington Electric franchise - at least for now. What with the pending Public Service Board decision on the GMP/CVPS merger, the last thing Green Mountain Power's CEO would want to do is provide further evidence that the Gaz Metro/GMP octopus is anxious to wrap one of its tentacles around another Vermont asset.
As we are seeing in Europe right now, CEOs, banksters and their minions in many European governments seem to hate something about public property and unpredictable, democratic elections. Fortunately, Burlingtonians still have some enviable public assets and the power to vote to preserve them.
Bruce S. Post
Your cartoon ["Newcomb," November 9] also misses the point that most smart-meter sellers miss: Smart grid will make it easier for hackers to disrupt our electric grid. If hackers can get into highly protected Pentagon secrets, why make it easier for them to get into our power grid and maybe even shut it down?
At a recent engineering conference, smart-meter engineers were asked about grid integrity with the addition of smart grid. They blithely blew off the question. Their software people are better than Pentagon software people. The grid computers are bomb proof. Want to bet?
I want to thank Seven Days for running the article on my exhibition "Approaching a Threshold" [Eyewitness, November 2]. Because of the well-written article and the popularity of the paper, the opening was crowded, and every day following I have had an average of 50 visitors.
It is clear to me that Seven Days brought superb visibility to not only the art but the issues of global warming. Again, deepest gratitude for the excellence of your creation, Seven Days.
Tim's No Dem
Don't let Progressive Party member Tim Ashe steal our primary away ["In the Running," November 9.] I am not voting for Tim Ashe. I would not vote for him if he were the only one on the ballot.
He was on the Finance Committee during the negligent activity involving Burlington Telecom. How can we trust him?
Tim backed [Burlington CAO Jonathan] Leopold and not the taxpayers, endorsed Bob Kiss over Andy Montroll, and also supports sprawl. The list goes on. Ashe is out for Ashe; I found out the hard way.
We need to wake up before it is too late. If Ashe wins, we will be stuck with Kurt Wright. We need to all get behind Miro Weinberger, a real Democrat, and take this city back. This is our only chance of beating Kurt.
We've had enough! Let's vote for someone who is honest and transparent, and an administration that is not disrespectful to the voters. We need a candidate who does not lack vision or leadership, someone who wants to make major changes.
Ask yourself a question: Do you want another three years of the Kiss administration? If you answer "yes," then vote for Tim Ashe. Let's send Tim a message that we want real change, and we are not going to sell out the Democrats.
[On Sunday, November 13] I attended my first ever Democratic Caucus [Fair Game, November 16]. As I looked around the room, I couldn't help but smile from cheek to cheek. The energy was high, and democracy was in action. Being a strong Tim Ashe supporter, I also couldn't help but notice who was supporting whom. From what I could tell, Tim's support was diverse. From the front row of senior citizens to city employees, veterans and Old North End citizens like myself, the people of Burlington turned out for Tim. Being a part of such a diverse group of people made me proud; it reconfirmed my belief that Tim is the mayoral candidate for the people of Burlington.
I first met Tim while attending a city council meeting with a group of fourth and fifth graders from Lawrence Barnes elementary school in 2005. After the meeting, Tim mentored the group of students to help them turn their ideas into action. Since then, he's continued to be a supporter and advocate for our youth and schools. He listens to the people, and engages them in making changes they believe to be important.
I believe that a good leader engages the community and inspires citizens to be great. Tim is such a leader. He's well aware of the issues that face our community and is already working with the people within the city to address some of them. Vote Tim Ashe in the final round of voting, and vote for your community!
[Re "Health Care Providers Take a Shot at Increasing Childhood Immunizations," November 2]: As a young mother of two sons, I dutifully had them receive the full roster of shots. Both thrived, one with a sturdier immune system than the other. Six years later, I followed an intuitive impulse to not vaccinate my daughter. She is now 16. Her health is good, though she leans towards frequent colds and flus like her oldest brother. Ten years ago, one of my sons brought whooping cough home from school. All three of my children came down with the disease. It wasn't pretty: many sleepless nights of incessant coughing, trips to numerous doctors and alternative health care practitioners. The child with the sturdy immune system shook the illness off the quickest. With the other two, it lingered for almost two months. But they survived and have no visible scars. The question then is: Why do we vaccinate? Is it to relieve the parents from the hassle of nursing their children for days and weeks? A sensible German aunt gave me a guide to caring for sick children at home that includes chapters on measles, mumps, whooping cough and rubella - all diseases that kids are now vaccinated against. The MD who wrote the book notes that kindergarten teachers have observed a marked change in their students' development after an absence for measles. Their ability to concentrate in class and absorb information appeared increased. Do childhood diseases have a place in our kids' development? I am grateful that the state of Vermont upholds my right to refuse vaccinating my children for philosophical reasons. I would not want the government to make such fundamental decisions for me.
Health Care Coincidence?
You published an interesting mix of articles recently, involving children and current health care issues and practices ["Health Care Providers Take a Shot at Increasing Childhood Immunizations" and "Reading, Writing and Rx," November 2] On the one hand, your childhood immunization article promotes the promise of better health for highly vaccinated populations. And on the other hand, your Vermont school nurses article states that, on average, children are much less healthy today than they were in the 1950s.
According to that piece, the rates of life-threatening allergies, diabetes, seizure disorders, etc. have skyrocketed in the last 50 years. Curious then, that the number of vaccinations children routinely receive has also skyrocketed. All this does point to the need for further exploration into what is truly going on here. Concurrently, the Occupy Wall Street movement has brought forth the understanding that corporations, including major pharmaceuticals, are not necessarily in business for the good of the general public, but rather for shareholder profit. Corporations often engage in media campaigns to distort facts, discredit independent research and promote their own products. Just saying: We're going to need to look a lot deeper here.
Burlington waterfront residents do not oppose a city skatepark ["Burlington's Proposed Skatepark Hits a Big Bump - a Legal Appeal," November 2]. Rather, residents are irritated that the Community and Economic Development Office does not listen to their comments, invite them to meetings or present data to support CEDO decisions. This disregard and lack of transparency underlie the residents' complaints - not the existence of a skatepark.
At a poorly advertised development board meeting on September 19, the size of the proposed skatepark was increased by 80 percent, to more than 19,000 square feet, prompting the residents' appeal, which contests aspects of Waterfront North development but not the presence of a skatepark. Waterfront residents are also incensed that the current skatepark, as well as other parks citywide, remain in disrepair while $150,000 of the Pennys for Parks funds is earmarked to pay for the new facility.
This expanded skatepark is not a community resource. As currently approved, it is fundamentally a revenue source for the city, attracting tourists and competitive skating events. That's not the vision of a community resource accessible to local youth. Further, the enlarged skatepark excludes users served by the original proposal, namely in-line skaters, who also rightfully seek a centralized recreational facility in the city. If CEDO continues to make back-door changes and does not actively solicit residents' input, the Waterfront North project will fail to be a true resource for all Burlington residents.
Skatepark is Doomed
I don't have much hope for the park ["Burlington's Proposed Skatepark Hits a Big Bump - a Legal Appeal," November 2]. I've never seen as many NIMBYs as I have in Vermont. Something has to be done to stop the train of objections that comes with any progress that might be made. Let's have a date after which no new complaints could be filed.
John Selmer Sr.
The article on Alan Newman's "Magic Touch" [November 2] contained a small but significant inaccuracy. Alan described his book as "self-published," but it was, in fact, published in partnership with the Public Press, an organization that was created to make it easier for authors like Alan to bring their stories to the highly fraction-ated book market. Don't expect to find High on Business at Wal-Mart, but it is readily available through independent booksellers via Amazon and is downloadable as a Kindle book. (Knowing Alan, he probably has a case of books in the trunk of his car, too!)
Book publishing has traditionally been a business governed by the economies of scale ... large scale, that is. New technologies and distribution options have made small-scale publishing not only possible, but viable. Good job, Andy Bromage and Seven Days!
Morris is publisher of the Public Press.
Occupy the Lowell Mountains
The Occupy Wall Street movement is all about money and government power squashing the people, and we have our own version here in Vermont ["Green Mountain Powell," October 12]. If Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service merge, the new company will control the distribution of more than 70 percent of Vermont's power. Do we want our power concentrated in the hands of one company, and that company to be foreign owned? It's not in the spirit of independence and self-sufficiency that Vermonters believe in. In the years to come, Vermont will lose control of its power sources and it will lose its mountaintops in the name of money.
Take the Lowell Mountains and the wind project. This version of "squashing the people" involves Green Mountain Power's grab for millions in production tax credits with its wind project in Lowell. It's a project that will cost ratepayers tens of millions more than other renewable-energy-generation options. Why is this happening? Because Vermont's SPEED [Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development] legislation benefits developers, not ratepayers. Vermont ratepayers everywhere should be up in arms about this.
If you want to be part of the Occupy movement, please consider following the lead of the campers who are going up on the Lowell Mountains every single day to call attention to the wrongs that are being committed in the name of "public good." Occupy the Lowell Mountains! And, maybe while we are at it, instead of Wall Street or City Hall Park or Montpelier, maybe we should occupy the offices of Green Mountain Power.
Affordable Ed v. iPads
I am disturbed by the fact that the Vermont K-12 budget can allow the purchase of iPads for their students ["iPads for All: Public Schools in Northwestern Vermont Make Education Interactive," October 26]. At a time when Vermont Student Assistance Corporation and the Vermont State College system are suffering due to underfunding, the school systems are being overzealous with resources. I have heard, from attending college in Vermont as an out-of-state student, that the state would like to see more Vermonters stay in the state after graduation. Giving affordable college experiences instead of providing iPads may actually, in fact, do this!
After attending a state college, I was in an urgency and almost freak-out mode when I was faced with the decision to give up one form of financial assistance for work-study. Not being able to afford a computer myself on financial assistance for college, I must ask myself: Does an 11-year-old really need an iPad? Are there other areas in the budget where this money could be used? There is a difference between providing students access to computers to increase their skills for college and high school and being overly zealous with the budget.
State Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden), a candidate in the Burlington mayoral race, is the domestic partner of Seven Days publisher and coeditor Paula Routly. Routly is not assigning or editing stories or columns about Burlington politics for the duration of the campaign. Seven Days staffer Andy Bromage now has that role.