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Listen Up

In Sean Hood’s March 7 review of the new First Crush release Halfway Home, he argues that the album is formulaic and disappointing. He compares First Crush to contemporary bands — some of which he likes, and some of which he doesn’t — and he describes getting bored after the first four songs. His opinions are fair enough, but in the end the only thing truly formulaic and disappointing is his review. Hood forgets to listen with the fullness of his soul.

Halfway Home is, as Hood says, evocative of “young love and the disappointment that inevitably follows.” To listen to the album and hear only that is to miss the rich emotional fabric from which this music is made. Years of reflection on that initial tidal wave of feeling; the slow ebb and flow of love evolving over time; those overwhelming, complex moments when a conversation, eye contact across the room, the brush of an arm, a kiss can evoke that first sinking, swooning sensation in your heart again. Both relentlessly melancholic and richly buoyant, this is warm summer music for our tired, wintry lives.

Colin Gunn

Montpelier

Profile Has Two Sides

In most communities, those who don’t fit the profile of the local population are generally stopped by police — and with good reason [“Report Shows Racial Disparities in Burlington-Area Policing: Now What?” April 18]. In South Central Los Angeles, if you don’t fit the local profile, you may be dragged from your car and brutally murdered by the local residents of the ’hood. Let’s get real.

Joe Uptegrove

Colchester

From Prussia, With Health Care

Two points on Walter Carpenter’s letter [Feedback, April 11], which said that “the first publicly funded health care system was established in 19th-century Germany by the Prussian autocrat and dictator Otto von Bismarck.” Those familiar with the history of my first homeland know that while he might have been a “strongman,” Bismarck was neither autocrat nor dictator. Dictators don’t get fired by their bosses, as he was by the emperor in 1890.

He launched his programs in the late 19th century because he was dealing with an annoying, democratically elected parliament that might beat him in the race to acquire the goodwill of the new industrial working class. More importantly, Bismarck’s social program continued a long history of government aggressively reforming society in order to create a state capable of dealing with internal or external threats, starting with Prussia’s need to survive and defeat Napoleon almost 80 years before.

While this was good in so far as it went, most German historians agree it had a serious unintended side effect: Germans became passively accustomed to a paternalistic government that “knew what it was doing” for the “greater national good,” even if it meant sublimating the individual to the state. This proved disastrous when Nazism came to power. “Strongmen,” even when benevolent, can set precedents that seem harmless but end up deadly.

Joseph Konrad

Belvidere Center

EB-5 Program Is a Job Saver

I was disappointed by the negative and skeptical tone of your article on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program that appeared in the April 4 edition [“Seeing Green”].

This program has been responsible for the creation of many, many hundreds of jobs in Vermont at Jay Peak and Sugarbush and with Country Home Products and Seldon Technologies. Without this program, none of these projects would have gotten funding through conventional financing, and none of the resulting jobs would have been created.  

I found the comments about the Jay Peak project particularly uninformed. On any given day you can go to Jay Peak and see hundreds of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, concrete contractors, and a host of other trades and professions hard at work on jobs that would not have existed had it not been for CEO Bill Stenger and his use of this federally approved program. The pickup trucks that line the parking lot carry the names of a multitude of Vermont companies on their doors, companies that would not have work were it not for the EB-5 program.

It would have been very instructive if the writer had spoken with even one of these tradespeople to get their perspective. Had he done so, we would have heard of the hundreds of families in the Northeast Kingdom who literally have food on their tables because of the Jay Peak project.  

And it doesn’t stop with the contractors; most all of the products and furnishings that have gone into the rooms and public areas of the resort were made in Vermont. The positive impact of the EB-5 program on Vermont’s economy is astonishing. The visionary CEOs who have utilized this federal program to create jobs in Vermont should be roundly applauded by all Vermonters.

Kevin Dorn

Essex Junction

Dorn served for eight years as secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, which is charged with administering the EB-5 program in Vermont.

Hello Joe’s

I am so excited about the possibility of a Trader Joe’s in our area [Side Dishes, “Trading Up,” April 17]! I love that store and go whenever I’m in Washington, DC, or anywhere there is one nearby. I hope so much that this can happen. They have very good variety and value for the money, I think.

Daphne Allen

Jeffersonville

Trading Places?

I love Trader Joe’s but also enjoy shopping at Healthy Living once in a while [Side Dishes, “Trading Up,” April 17]. Why would they pick South Burlington? Sounds stupid to have both health food markets so close to one another. What about somewhere in Burlington, but not near City Market? Or Essex or Williston?

Ellen Ludwig

Essex

Vote Already

Why weren’t all the judiciary committee members present when such an important bill as the “physician-assisted death” was being voted on [Fair Game, “Dysfunction Junction,” April 18]? Do the committees not have schedules to tell them when the votes will be taken? And why was the vote taken when one of the committee members was not in attendance?

If time was running out, the vote should have taken place earlier. It is time for us citizens to decide by voting if this bill should become a law, because the lawmakers in the Statehouse are, in my opinion, not hearing the voice of the people.

Alan Hugh Chandler

Burlington

Crafting a Solution

Hearing about a local craft school restarting is a breath of fresh air [“In Shelburne, a Classic Craft School Is Reborn,” April 4]. It is vital to have a diverse array of community members who are skilled in various craft arts because it stimulates the local economy as well as promotes a certain identity to our area. It says we appreciate the creativity of our residents. I don’t want to buy cheap, factory-made goods; I want a local business that creates the pottery. Here we have the Shelburne Art Center taking the crafts education a step further.

A residence program that not only offers students the opportunity to learn and improve on their craft skills, but to also hone their entrepreneurial wherewithal? What an idea! Coming from an average town in central Massachusetts, there was little opportunity available for these skills to be cultivated and promoted. Here in Vermont, people are having these chances made available to them, and we, as fellow community members will also benefit as locally trained artists begin to integrate their unique skills into our community’s economy and character. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but think that not only will locally crafted art offer me its aesthetic value, but it will also give me a certain satisfaction knowing that I have supported and contributed to another member of my community, as well as show artists that their creativity is, and will be, appreciated here.

Zachary Berger

Burlington

Hog Hell

It is with great concern that I write this letter regarding the use of pig gestation crates [Blurt, “Vermont Senate to Vote on Bill Banning ‘Torture Pens’ for Pigs,” March 12]. The level of despair and abuse some farm animals endure is extremely disconcerting. The fact that this practice is currently legal in our state is disappointing to say the least.

In particular, pig gestation crates cause a severe form of physical and emotional distress, which is forced on a social animal whose intelligence can be compared with that of a 3-year-old child.

The crates render a pregnant sow unable to move and force her into isolation for months on end, only to give birth, often repeatedly, and then eventually be slaughtered.

The symptoms exhibited by the sows during their confinement are suggestive of unremitting emotional and physical trauma similar to those of human trauma victims. If you cannot imagine a child subjected to such treatment, please try to picture your own cat or dog in such circumstances.

Animals, like children and other vulnerable populations, are deserving of our protection, humane treatment and compassion.

Brenna Galdenzi

Stowe

Galdenzi is the volunteer intern coordinator for Green Mountain Animal Defenders.

Shumlin’s Law?

Paul Heintz offers good blow-by-blow reportage of last week’s press conference [Blurt, “At Press Conference, Shumlin Clarifies Position on Utility Merger — Kind Of,” April 18]. I attended that press conference, and it seemed odd to me, too, that Gov. Shumlin justified the Senate vote forbidding the PSB to rule on Vermont Yankee’s Certificate of Public Good with “the law made me do it.” The Senate could have simply voted, “It is good public policy to let the Public Service Board handle this.” That is what the Vermont Energy Partnership and other groups were publicly urging the Senate to do. The law requiring an affirmative vote would have been satisfied, and the PSB could have had its say. What could have been simpler? Yet then-Senate Pro Tem Shumlin and the majority chose instead to forestall the PSB process for the sole purpose of stopping Vermont Yankee.

At the same press conference, Gov. Shumlin argued that the merger will reduce overhead costs, which will reduce consumer power rates, which will create jobs. I believe the actual quote was “competitive power rates mean job creation in Vermont.” And he’s right, at least in principle. So why, then, is Montpelier so eager to pass renewable-power legislation that will require utilities to pay literally 10 times the market rate of power (30 cents kWh for solar, compared to three cents on today’s open market)? Because if low rates are a jobs creator, then high rates must be a jobs killer, right?

Guy Page

Cambridge

Page is communications director for Montpelier-based Vermont Energy Partnership.

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