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Letters to the Editor 

Bad Smell

Your paper stinks! I don’t mean the contents but the various inks you use in printing the paper. My wife and I have to air it out, section by section, for a few days before we can tolerate its odor. Can anything be done about the awful odor of the paper? Let’s hope so. P.S. This became noticeable a few weeks ago. What went wrong?

Aram and Cecile Boyajian

Burlington

Publisher’s note: Neither Upper Valley Press, which prints Seven Days, nor any of its vendors have made any changes that would have altered the smell of the finished product. Upper Valley is using the same ink vendors, press lines and paper manufacturers that they have been using for quite some time. According to Sandy Hebb, the customer service supervisor there, no other customers have inquired about “odors on papers.” 

Off With Their Heads

Since it seems unlikely that those who support mandatory helmet use and those, like Sen. Benning [Feedback, “Helmets Off,” July 11], who oppose it, will ever agree, I suggest a modest compromise: We can repeal the helmet law, and put in its place legislation that provides that anyone injured in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet cannot receive any insurance compensation for the accident, nor any government-supported health services for treatment or rehabilitation required for the injuries, including ambulance services.

This would also be true of any survivor’s benefits in case of a fatality. Thus, in a simple piece of legislation, we can protect the rights of those who do not wish to wear helmets, while protecting the rest of the populace from bearing the costs of that decision. No doubt there will be some cases in which helmets will be donned after an accident to avoid these consequences, but the fact is that those who would burden their fellow citizens with the greatest expense will, on the whole, be in no shape to reach out and grab that hat.

Connie Brown 

Montpelier

Seeing Is Believing

Your recent article about our downtown surveillance equipment in Winooski [“Eyes in the Sky,” July 11] was nearly the funniest thing I’ve ever read about the Winooski Police Department and our photogenic Chief Steve McQueen. While the chief was posing for his picture in front of the computer monitors (note to criminals: here they are!) and boasting about eliminating skateboarders from our downtown, the DEA was busy busting up a huge drug and gambling operation just up the street.

It fascinates some of us taxpayers how you can flagrantly buy hard drugs at a local bar while your $2.2 million police department — 38 percent of the municipal taxes in Winooski, which are the highest in Chittenden County — manages to not see, hear or care. Thanks for the article so we have some clarity. They are too busy watching videos of skateboarders.

Jodi Harrington

Winooski

Raccoons ’R’ Us

As a wildlife rehabilitator, and someone who has lived with raccoons — and cats — all her life, I was truly disappointed in the article “Rocky’s Revenge” [June 27]. Instead of realizing an acceptable solution for all concerned (including the raccoon), the challenges of dealing with a “nuisance” animal only resulted in a lot of human fear and intolerance, not to mention Rocky’s unnecessary demise.

Engaging, curious, wily and intelligent, raccoons will always be part of the natural urban and rural landscape. Killing them solves nothing, as removing one animal will only create a void, soon to be filled by the next newcomer. Hiring “pest” control agencies is inhumane: When trapped, many of these animals are left to die of heatstroke, dehydration and starvation.

What homeowners need to do is buckle down and do some hard work, repairing their buildings properly, and cutting tree branches at least six feet from structures. Of course, keeping Fluffy safely indoors and locking cat-flap doors at night is paramount. Garbage cans can be locked in garages and sheds, and lids can be wired closed, discouraging access.

Most importantly, we need to understand that raccoons have a lot in common with us. They are not monsters, but merely opportunists trying to survive.

Janette Slack

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

“N” Is for “Neighborhood”

It was clear to neighbors throughout the permitting process that “adaptive re-use” was a euphemism, a pretext for block busting [“Weinberger’s Condo Project Not the Fresh Start Some Neighbors Were Expecting,” July 4]. But somehow in the development process, large developers are dealt with solicitous deference by the planning bureaucrats, while individual homeowners are subjected to minuscule scrutiny and resistance for even the simplest renovation. The Hartland Group knew the law well; it just doesn’t seem to have understood the principle. As for the “N” word — NIMBY: When your neighborhood is under attack by inappropriate development, what you need from other residents of the city is not slurs but solidarity.

Louis Mannie Lionni

Burlington

Southern Exposure

Thanks for including southern Vermont in your coverage of what’s going on in our awesome state [“Taste of Things to Come,” June 13]! Not only is Putney to be the home of the newest community-supported restaurant, it’s also the home of Sandglass Theatre, which is presenting its international puppet festival this September, and is not to be missed! Now, if we could only get you to distribute Seven Days down here...

Kim Sullivan

Putney

Suicide by Taser?

[Re “Thetford Taser Death Highlights Need for More Mobile Mental-Health Crisis Teams,” July 4]: The recent controversy regarding a suicidal young man being killed by a Taser has me wondering if anyone else can see the irony to this? I mean, really, he was suicidal. The police shot him. So is this considered assisted suicide?

Bonnie L. Machia

Burlington

No Love for Puppy Mills

In Vermont, how can we even conceive of not signing these two pieces of legislation to protect the rights of animals [“Statehouse Leaves Animal Welfare Advocates Out in the Cold,” June 27]? Puppy mills should be outlawed altogether, but at the very least need to be monitored closely.

Kay Mitchell

Hinesburg

The Not-So-Free-Press

Great coverage of the current crisis facing the news industry. The fact that Seven Days and VTDigger are locally owned and controlled gives them the resilience to survive and thrive. Gannett and other national businesses that drain our local economy of cash for CEOs and shareholders are going to find it very hard to survive.

Will Patten

Hinesburg

I like the new format. And I like being able to access it online when I am away from home. I thought they did a pretty good job of “trying” to prepare people for “the change.”

Ellen Hagman

Essex Junction

We all should wish the Burlington Free Press well. It has for many years served as the “glue” of our community, providing a common pool of knowledge of local and state news, and an overview of world news. If it was in the Free Press, there’s was a good chance your neighbors and you knew about it. The letters to the editor served as a good sampling of community sentiment. However, I firmly believe that Gannett is in the process of destroying this important community resource.

I am insufficiently knowledgeable to know whether the online version of the BFP will prosper. I hope it does, although I think the online competition will be brutal. However, I do not see how the print version can continue, unless Gannett changes course. The issue is not the new format, which I actually find handy. The paper version of the BFP simply lacks sufficient serious content. Vermonters are not going to pay a rather hefty sum of money for this “news light” magazine.

The BFP wants to push us all online. But it is not a very good sales pitch for the online version that the print version is only marginally worth reading. And of course those who are not internet-savvy, such as many seniors, are simply going to be out of luck.  

I feel great sadness for the loss of the BFP as we knew it — the content, not format — and fear that the result will be a less-educated citizenry, at a time when we particularly need exactly the opposite.

Roger E. Kohn

Hinesburg

Your story on the “Not-So Free Press” hit the mark. I grew up reading the Free Press. When I lived in the Northeast Kingdom for 12 years, I subscribed and got it a day late via mail. I have watched the newspaper get consistently worse over the years and, about six months ago, I finally stopped getting home delivery. I did try subscribing to the digital version but after a week stopped because the interface was so bad. We currently subscribe to the digital version of the Boston Globe, which is easy to use and has great reporting. It is sad to see a local newspaper become irrelevant. I now follow Seven Days, VTDigger and local television news to stay up on what is happening in Vermont.

Judy Ashley

St. Albans

I say hats off to Gannett’s decision to begin charging for online content in its dailies around the country. As a journalism student at Plattsburgh State and an associate editor for our weekly paper, Cardinal Points, I understand — for the most part — the need to make drastic changes in an effort to stay afloat in this struggling industry. However, I am not a big fan of the redesign. It leaves much to be desired. I’ll admit, when I first saw the redesign, I was excited to see that the Free Press was attempting to update its weathered design and spice up its content a bit. However, when I picked up the first copy I was disappointed. It just didn’t feel like I was reading the Free Press. I suppose I will have to just get used to it. It’s still a good paper.

Stanley Blow III

Swanton

If Seven Days published obituaries I would drop my BFP online account in a heartbeat. Seven Days does a far superior job of reporting all the news than the BFP has done in years.

Ted Lylis

Bristol

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