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Letters to the Editor 

Fire Away

A much needed article [Fair Game, “Guns ’n’ Poses,” December 19]. Hope the rest of Vermont’s media also faces the issues set forth here.

Nicholas Clifford


Wrong Target

Referring to your statement in [Fair Game, “Guns ’n’ Poses,” December 19] that 16-year-olds can purchase and carry concealed handguns: Federal law requires the purchaser of a handgun to be 21 years of age; 18 for long guns.

Kerry Burke


Let Them Drive

I am writing in response to the Facing Facts regarding driver’s licenses for undocumented Vermonters [December 19]. Though it was a short sentence with a small icon — a frowning face — it carries weight with public opinion and has done an injustice to the true issues involved. The committee’s endorsement of expanding access to Vermont driver’s licenses deserves nothing less than a big smiley face.  

Migrant farmworkers work long hours supporting our dairy farms, isolated geographically and socially. Without a driver’s license, they must rely on their employers to get to a grocery store, a health clinic, an emergency room, a bank, their place of worship and everywhere else, including the opportunity to leave abusive situations.

Many common misconceptions and fears about expanding access to driver’s licenses are not accurate. Undocumented residents cannot just get a foreign license and use it here. Vermont is not creating something new. This has been done successfully in the state of Washington, which was also the first state to be certified as REAL ID compliant.

It is unacceptable that some of our Vermont neighbors — who do the very work that preserves our state’s cultural identity — suffer such a violation of fundamental human rights. Expanding access to driver’s licenses enhances the quality of life for us all and diminishes the rights of no one.

Corey Mallon, RN


Editor’s note: Due to a production error, this Facing Fact item was illustrated by the incorrect emoticon. The writer intended for it to have a neutral face. 

A Vermont Author — in Dublin

[Re “Meet the Authors,” December 19]: Your feature about writers who aren’t thought of as having a Vermont connection brings to mind my daughter, Tana French, whose mysteries — In the Woods to Broken Harbor — have all been New York Times best sellers. She lives in Dublin and is often considered an Irish author, but she was born in Burlington and spent her first years in Craftsbury and Johnson. Surely that makes her as much of a Vermonter as a lot of the flatlanders who now claim the distinction?  

David French


Soup’s On

How can you guys do a “soup survey” and not hit Asiana Noodle House [“Soup du Jour,” December 19]? They will out-soup anyone for miles around!

Bridget O’Connor

Essex Junction

Out of Scale

After reading the Seven Days follow-up concerning the Hartland project on Burlington’s Lakeview Terrace, I have to ask Mayor Miro Weinberger: Does he really think that monstrosity fits in with the neighborhood?

Of course he doesn’t. I know that I certainly cringe every time I drive by it!

A Google Maps view of Lakeview shows approximately 50 houses on that street, yet the mayor (and the Burlington Review Board, unfortunately) feel that 25 units smushed into a space that normally would have contained perhaps three single-family homes is a good use of the land. I feel sorry for the residents of that street. The parking overflow, noise and congestion are going to change that entire neighborhood forever — and to their detriment, may I add.

The belief that simply building an ever-increasing amount of housing in this city is going to solve anything is beyond ridiculous. At some point, quality-of-life issues are going to have to take center stage in these discussions.

The only people I ever hear say “we need more housing here” are developers — the ones who believe that taking every single-home, empty lot and building multiple units on it is a great idea. Oh, it’s a great idea all right, for lining the pockets of the project owners.

I have lived here all my life, and I have never seen such a clusterfuck of traffic and congestion in this city as there is now. And “the Development Mayor” is apparently bound and determined to make it even worse.

Dave Parker


Party Favors

The December 26 Fair Game stated that I managed to win the race for state auditor “despite receiving little help from [my] party.” This is inaccurate. In fact, there is no question in my mind that I could not have won without the support of the Democratic Party’s paid staff, as well as the hard work of all the volunteers around the state. Indeed, I met many of the folks who made the phone calls, did the canvassing, placed the signs and performed all the tasks that comprise the ground game, which is so essential in a statewide race.

In addition, party leaders helped with fundraising, both directly from the congressional delegation and the governor, as well as from several county committees. Moreover, the party was very accommodating by including me in the coordinated campaign for a reduced fee. Furthermore, the Democratic Party provided assistance for a last-minute, direct-mail appeal to over 10,000 registered voters who had been identified as possible supporters.

Does this sound like I received “little help” from the party?

And for the record, while the other party (Progressive) could not match the resources of the Democrats, they, too, provided important support, including many contributions from party members, letters to the editor and signage. And finally, Sen. Sanders was extremely generous both with money and exposure on the campaign trail.

I hope this puts to rest the notion that the party was not helpful. Indeed, their assistance was decisive.

Doug Hoffer


Sweet on Sugarman

Thank you for the wonderful piece on UVM professor Richard Sugarman [“The Wondering Jew,” December 12]. Professor Sugarman was one of my first college teachers, way back in 1983. He taught religion as part of Living and Learning’s Integrated Humanities Program, and he remains to this day one of the more memorable and impactful teachers I’ve had. He was, even by my oftentimes sarcastic and cynical classmates, universally respected and appreciated. His casual mastery of the subject matter and personal, compassionate demeanor engendered in us an earnest curiosity and love for learning that has stood the test of time. He deserves the recognition not only for this, but for the fact that, in the 30 years since I sat in his class, he seems to not have aged a year.

Matt Rushford


Miro’s Mistakes

Here we go again with Mayor Miro Weinberger wanting to impose his “vision” on Burlington’s future with an attempt to circumvent the public’s will by seeking exception from Act 250 [“Weinberger Wants Year-Round Waterfront Action, but Some Neighbors Are Wary,” December 19]. This would allow only paying customers access to our common property and change this place of peace to a capital venture. The purported lack of objection is in fact a lack of a mechanism for public input.

I address this topic with an already disgruntled attitude toward the mayor because, prior to his election, he was a principal of the Hartland Group and was able to overcome environmental issues, as well as neighborhood objections, to construct a “cruise ship” condo complex completely out of character in a historic district of Burlington. Most offensively, he has tended to dismiss dissent as a NIMBY reflex rather than actually listening to valid concerns. A handpicked group should not be allowed to determine the use of our remarkable and unique waterfront.

Ann Geer


People Are the Problem

[Re Fair Game, “Guns ’n’ Poses,” December 19]: I am an outdoorsman who enjoys hunting and fishing. I am for restrictions on assault rifles for the sport of just “playing army or fighting-type games.” The rules will have to be well thought out and implemented in a fair manner. Police departments and other organizations should reserve the right of use. My issue with the whole gun-control discussion is the lack of focus on the mental conditions of the individuals committing the shootings. When an individual has a mental condition such as paranoid schizophrenia or another disease, they may be susceptible to committing a violent crime. The Brady Act basically states that if a person is a threat to themselves or others, they can be institutionalized by someone else. I have a friend who committed his son. It is not an easy act to implement.

Bob Belisle


Take Aim at the NRA

[Re Fair Game, “Guns ’n’ Poses,” December 19]: If only our governor and congressional delegation would display a fraction of the courage shown by the Newtown teachers! It’s appalling that in a week when we saw women sacrifice their lives to protect school children, our elected officials were only concerned with protecting their political careers. When will they develop a backbone and stand up to the NRA?

Sarah Albert


Go, Gary

I just read the article featuring my friend and colleague Gary De Carolis [“Magical History Tour,” December 12]. It’s a great article and, knowing his talents and great personality, Gary is the perfect fit to lead such a tour! Good luck, Gary, and best wishes on your new path.

Ethleen Iron Cloud-Two Dogs

Porcupine, S.D.

Stacks Against Us?

I believe you’re jeopardizing the safety and health of the folks who want to use the library for what it is meant to be [“As Burlington’s Library Becomes a Haven for the Homeless, Librarians Adapt to a Changing Job,” December 12]. How many of these people are mentally ill? Will they become harmful to the patrons of the library? You might experience a catastrophe there someday: stabbings, shootings and even pedophiles. Come on, hasn’t political correctness gone too far when a minority of people is making the public fearful of public places? The majority loses.

Burlington is so progressive it doesn’t know right from wrong anymore.

Oh yeah, can you count the bedbugs in the library? I will never set foot in the library again unless someone grows a spine and says no to these people. Where are the churches?

Debra Bessette

Hanover, P.A.

Bessette is a native Burlingtonian.

Justice for Whom?

[Re Feedback, “Help for Crime Victims,” December 26]: I hope I’m not a victim of crime, but if I am, I hope the police apprehend the criminal and bring them to justice. I wouldn’t want to be contacted by Burlington’s Parallel Justice program because it would feel like I had been victimized twice.

Matt Galloway


Beaver Fever

Beaver defenders got busy after Kathryn Flagg’s December 19 story about efforts to eradicate the animals from University of Vermont property: “UVM Sets Kill Traps for Dam-Building Beavers in Centennial Woods.” Their protests convinced UVM to pull the beaver traps — at least for the time being. The university plans to reconsider the issue after classes reconvene on January 14. 

It was both disheartening and disappointing to learn of the University of Vermont’s decision to trap and kill the beavers at Centennial Woods in painful, body-gripping, conibear traps versus seeking out more humane methods. Like most traps, conibears are indiscriminate, so dogs and other nontarget animals, including endangered wildlife, can also fall victim. 

The dichotomy between adjunct professor O’Connor’s respect for nature and the university’s heartless decision is unfortunate, and I believe that most people share O’Connor’s viewpoint, based on the community’s rumblings. As evidenced by O’Connor’s students, viewing wildlife in action is an awe-inspiring event for most people. 

There are certainly more humane methods available such as the beaver deceiver (or beaver baffler), which is a nonlethal device developed by a native Vermonter. These devices are used quite effectively by government agencies and private citizens around the country to mitigate any flooding caused by beaver dams, including at the Indian Brook Reservoir in Essex.

I hope the university rethinks its decision and does the right thing for the community, its students and the animals.

Brenna Galdenzi


Galdenzi is a volunteer intern coordinator at Green Mountain Animal Defenders.

The news of UVM’s use of conibear traps to kill local beavers is upsetting for many reasons: It is cruel, likely to prove ineffective and undervalues the benefits beavers provide to the local landscape.

UVM has chosen to use the conibear trap, which often kills beavers slowly and painfully. It also kills without discretion. There are countless stories of family dogs suffering gruesome deaths in the metal jaws of these traps. While dogs may not be a primary concern in Centennial Woods, UVM’s traps are sure to kill additional wildlife in the same horrific manner.

Moreover, the traps are likely to fail in their objective as it is probable that even if the current beavers are killed, more will move into the same area.

The indiscriminate killing also undermines the benefit of beaver activities and beaver ponds, which create and sustain wetlands, protect ecosystems and support biodiversity.

If we cannot coexist with the beavers, we must at least explore more humane methods for dealing with this issue. There are multiple ways in which we can prevent possible harm without applying lethal techniques, including bafflers or levelers, which control the water level without disturbing the beavers.

The solution UVM has produced is no solution at all — it is merely further destruction of the delicate ecosystem the university purports to care about. It is my hope that those responsible for this decision will use empathy, facts and humane alternatives to reconsider their “solution” to this issue.

Meg York


It’s surprising that UVM groundskeepers at a putative research university with an active environmental program should find it necessary to kill one, possibly several, beavers when minimal research and foresight could have provided several opportunities to allow the animals to live.

Field naturalist Teage O’Connor, whose classes benefited from close observation of these beavers, points out that there are alternatives — beaver bafflers or beaver deceivers — that might have preserved beaver lives had grounds personnel even considered the possibility of a future problem and a humane solution. In any case, as he further notes, it is unlikely that the beavers would have stayed or returned after this winter because of the limited resources surrounding their pond.

I have already been in touch with the Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife group here in upstate New York for some ideas and resources that UVM caretakers might want to consider. The biologist at BWW, Sharon Brown, also provided the name of a professional baffler installer in Vermont (among several); I will forward this information to Rick Paradis, director of the UVM Natural Areas Center, to further forward to the appropriate person as, in the article, he disclaims responsibility for that particular area of the campus grounds.

Recommended reading for those who value the environment and the animals that contribute to it is Beaversprite: My Years Building an Animal Sanctuary by Dorothy Richards, as is the BWW newsletter. These might also be of interest to beaver “eradicators.”

Greg Wuesthoff

Plattsburgh, N.Y.

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