30 Seconds Over Burlington | Freyne Land
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Saturday, August 19, 2006

30 Seconds Over Burlington

Posted By on Sat, Aug 19, 2006 at 5:05 PM

A Saturday Afternoon Musing:

Who would have thought back in 1981 that electing a screaming socialist the mayor of Burlington, Vermont would lead to a crackdown on noise?

But it did.

The administration of Independent Mayor Bernie Sanders (1981-1989)  will be remembered for many things - for those who lived here at the time, the new noise ordinance will be one of them. The Sanderistas' crackdown on noise (out-of-control college partying, mostly), was one of the hallmarks of what the U.S. Conference of Mayors said in 1988 was America’s “most livable city."

So it was no surprise that more than a few people were taken aback by the "noise" from the Thunderbirds and other military aircraft that have been practicing and performing along the Burlington Waterfront over the last few days. A lot of people we ran into downtown told us they had no idea it was happening.

About 1:30 p.m. at the crowded Farmers Market in City Hall Park, we met one farmer who appeared pleased to see a reporter he could talk to.

State Rep. David Zuckerman is a Burlington Progressive who farms in the Intervale. He's a five-term lawmaker under the Golden Dome, but he only just turned 35 last Wednesday. Last winter he had an "exploratory committee" looking at a possible statewide bid for theU.S. House seat Bernie Sanders is finally vacating to move up to Senate. He eventually decided not to run and clear the track for Democrat Peter Welch, the guy with the dog. Zuckerman’s also the current chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. (A lot of delectable-looking musk melons were left over today.)

What’s been the public's reaction in Farmers Market Land to the aerial spectacular?

“There’s been a few people coming though who were excited and going down there to watch it,” said Dave the Prog. “Most folks who live in town have been dismayed at the noise. My own baby was crying a couple hours yesterday because of the noise and the vibrations from these planes.”

So, what’s the personal reaction of the farmer/politician?

“My reaction is that in a time of war like we have today, it’s appalling! To people in the war zones around the world, these sounds could mean instant death,” said Zuckerman, “and for us to take pleasure in looking at them is unfortunate. We really need to think about what these things mean.”

“Technologically, they’re fascinating," said Farmer Dave, as two more roared overhead. “But in a time in the world we’re in today, it is inappropriate to get excited watching war machines.”

But are you not proud of the Vermont Air Guard? It’s their 60th Anniversary!

“I support the individual work of the troops,” replied Rep. Zuckerman. "They do incredible things in our community. It’s just very unfortunate they have to be overseas right now.”

Ol’ Davey was in the zone.

“Unfortunately," he continued, "our Air and Army Guard have been misused by our federal government, and because of that, they now symbolize what’s going on overseas. To use these planes to get people involved in what is a misuse of our troops,” said the farmer/politician, “that I think is inappropriate.”

Agree with him or not, it’s always a pleasure to hear a politician take a clear stand, isn’t it?

The Vermont Air Guard Air Show may well have performed a service to the community the Vermont Air Guard was not anticipating. It's made a whole lot of folks, including this writer, stop and ponder the roaring jet noise. Inescapable. It's drowning out the TV set (PGA Golf Tournament from Medinah - Illinois, not Saudi Arabia). Just imagine what hearing this every day and every night would be like?

Especially if they were armed and from another country? And blowing up the Lake Champlain Ferry boats and the Water Treatment Plant and the Burlington Square Mall and the parts of town their intelligence forces had been told are hiding nationalist rebels?

Thank God it's our boys flying them, eh?

P.S. Burlington, Vermont is officially  an antiwar city.


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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

More by Peter Freyne


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