Letters to the Editor (10/14/20) | Seven Days Vermont

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Letters to the Editor (10/14/20) 

Published October 14, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

Vote Here — Now

There appears to have been a miscommunication between Huck Gutman and our office [Feedback: "Limited Hours for Democracy," October 7], and we want to provide the correct information to Burlington voters. Further, we are concerned that the heated rhetoric in the published letter serves to inaccurately inflame concerns about voting this fall, when in fact our office is working around the clock to ensure a safe and smooth election, even amid the challenges of the pandemic.

Gutman's concerns focus on three aspects of voting early: mailing in a ballot, returning a ballot in person to city hall and returning a ballot via a secure ballot box. We will address each of these in turn.

1. Mailing a ballot: We — along with the secretary of state and other voting experts — do encourage voters to feel confident in using this option, especially with nearly a month before Election Day. You can even check to see that your ballot has been received at mvp.vermont.gov.

2. Returning a ballot at city hall: It is true that the City Clerk/Treasurer's Office is currently open to in-person customers only on Monday mornings and Wednesday afternoons in order to protect our employees. That said, in order to accommodate voters in the approximately one week in between when voters received their ballots and we had ballot boxes installed, voters were able to drop off ballots any time during business hours on the first floor of city hall in a secure lockbox.

3. Ballot boxes: There are three ballot boxes now installed around the city, set up according to protocols approved by the Vermont secretary of state and receiving voters' ballots. Voters can find information about their locations at burlingtonvt.gov/ct/elections.

Katherine Schad and Amy Bovee


Schad is the City of Burlington's chief administrative officer. Bovee is the assistant city clerk in charge of elections.

Meating Place

Thanks to Melissa Pasanen for "Bringing Home the Bacon" [September 23] and the two photos and the interview at the Enosburg Meat Market.

That place, which was formerly known as the Enosburg Lockers, is very dear to me. My mom and stepfather owned it from 1962 to 1976. From my junior high and high school days in Enosburgh through my undergraduate days at the University of Vermont and my first years of teaching right through my graduate school year at UVM, the Lockers was like home to me. We always lived in the village, so I could walk there after school, hang out in the summer and even wrap hamburg if my dad needed me to.

Did the Ryans mention they resurrected the business after a fire brought much smoke damage? Did they explain how much a part of the community that establishment has been? I am so proud of them!

Thanks to Seven Days for bringing the idea of community to the forefront. I'm very happy that Pasanen landed in Enosburgh for this one.

Patty Thomas


'You Should Be Ashamed'

I've never written to a newspaper before, but after reading ["Battery Power," September 23], I must express my profound disappointment. 

Four years ago, I attended a Black Lives Matter march, which afterward congregated in City Hall Park. It was a moving and thoughtful event. After the organizers had spoken — including an earlier iteration of Rajnii Eddins' poem "For Trayvon, Mike Brown and the Countless Unnamed," before so many more names were added to the list of the murdered — they invited anyone up who felt they had something to share. A young girl, white and maybe about 12, took the mic and, through tears, told us how long and hard she'd worked for this cause and how she was so glad the rest of us were catching up. This piece reminds me of that child's ineffably small and self-centered worldview.

When the article began by snidely noting what protesters were wearing and the state of their leg hair, I knew immediately that I wasn't looking at a piece of quality journalism. When it continued like the histrionic hit piece of a bitter blogger, denied the access to which the writer believed herself entitled, I found it deeply problematic. A certain level of self-awareness should be required when covering topics rooted in white privilege.

In publishing this, you've injected needless drama and division into important local activism, and it does this paper grave discredit, as well as potentiating actual harm and regression in our community. You should be ashamed.

Matthew Benevento


Orwellian Response

It is more than alarming that the leaders of Burlington's Battery Park encampment had such a paranoid and antagonistic attitude toward a free press ["Battery Power," September 23]. 

Whether it comes from the right or the left, this disdain for any opinion but your own is not ever helpful in bringing solutions.

To refuse to speak to reporter Chelsea Edgar and then let loose a virulent attack against her because you don't like the story she wrote is reminiscent of Animal Farm in its bigoted authoritarianism and reactionary mindlessness.

To order your followers to round up copies of a newspaper and destroy them is very scary [Off Message: "Protesters Round Up Copies of Seven Days for Evening Demonstration," September 25].

Congratulations to Seven Days and Paula Routly [From the Publisher: "Words' Worth," September 30] for defying this brand of free-speech censorship and printing more copies.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger should be praised, as well, for his restraint and calm through the occupation, which appropriated one of the most beautiful parks in the country.

The occupation also denied free and open use of the park to seniors, low-income neighbors and many immigrant families who are also people of color.

The Battery Park occupation is ending without an opportunity for Burlingtonians and Vermonters to appreciate the goals because the leaders were so close-minded and hateful of Burlington. "Fuck this city," they chanted, according to a VTDigger.org story on September 25.

I guess that sums it up.

Maurice Mahoney

South Burlington

Explainin' to Do

[Re Feedback: "'Toon Deaf," July 22]: Hey! What's goin' on? Why have you guys given Mr. Brunelle the proverbial "pink slip"? Was the social content in his comic strip too thought-provokin'? Have you sent him somewhere to some "re-education camp"?

Will "Tom Tomorrow" be next?

Anyway ... I hear he hangs out at one of his favorite bars, and I intend to see him there and maybe, just maybe, after seven or eight beers, Mr. Brunelle will "explain it all" to me.

Tom Azarian


This Bites

[Re Bite Club: "¡Duino! (Duende) Closing to Make Way for New Restaurant," July 23]: My best friend and I visited ¡Duino! once a month for dinner as the perfect and affordable Burlington spot to find gluten-free and vegan for her, and gluten-free with meat for me! The cauliflower bites were our favorite. We will miss it so and wonder where else we can go for a fun, affordable, tasty meal that meets both our dietary needs?! 

Ginger Vieira

Essex Junction

Editor's note: The owner of ¡Duino! (Duende) has opened a new restaurant in the same location, C'est Ça. Seven Days food writer Jordan Barry reviewed it last week

Container Strategy

I appreciated Jordan Barry's review of C'est Ça and always admire Lee Anderson's willingness to innovate and take risks [Good To-Go: "That's It," October 7]. Here's what bothers me: takeout containers. Sure, it's nice, as Jordan notes, to be able to see the food through the clear plastic covers, but when will we all take seriously the problem of smothering the Earth with our plastic refuse?

"But it's recyclable!" you will object. So they say. However, thanks to recent news articles, we know that recycling of plastics is largely a story invented by the petrochemical industry to make us feel better about their products. You can put it in the blue bin with a clear conscience, but — now that we can't ship it to China anymore — that doesn't mean the plastic won't ultimately wind up in the Coventry landfill or in the ocean.

So what about this? With his flair and good politics, why doesn't Anderson let it be known that you can bring your cleaned containers back to the restaurant and they will refill them with their delicious food? If we can't avoid using plastics (is this true??) and we can't really recycle them, we can at least reuse them. C'est ça, la bonne solution!

Andrew Simon


Editor's note: C'est Ça's takeout boxes are compostable. With rare exceptions for large institutions with specialized equipment, Vermont restaurants are not permitted to reuse food-storage containers, even if a customer provides one. It is a state health code violation.

Low Blow

[Re Off Message: "Zuckerman's Spouse Slams Gray on Social Media," September 30]: Seven Days, when did you become a tabloid? 

I'm a longtime reader, and I've always believed that you reported with respect and integrity. But I'm not sure that reporting on content that is on a private social media account is of good taste or completely ethical, for that matter. 

When Rachel Nevitt called the reporter "heebie-jeebie" for "creeping around on [her] private Facebook," I think she was right on the money.

Jordan Rowell

Essex Junction

Consider the Context

[Re "Battery Power," September 23]: Everyone supports the right to assemble and protest in our free society. 

Before demanding the firing of Burlington police officers, though, protesters need to get their facts straight. How many know or even care to know what happened in 2018 involving officers, charged with upholding the law, and unruly people spilling out of Main Street bars? In one incident, officers broke up a late-night confrontation, during which a Black man was pushed to the pavement.

Although an internal police investigation found that Sgt. Jason Bellavance did "not use excessive or unlawful force," he was suspended for not applying "de-escalation techniques" before physically intervening. Bellavance returned to the force, but to appease protesters, he recently entered into a separation agreement with the city.

In the second incident, Officer Joseph Corrow intervened in a fight after seeing a man punched in the face. Corrow acted decisively, extending his arms and pulling the aggressor to the pavement. In his affidavit, the officer stated that he recognized the man from "previous interactions."

In fact, that individual has a long history of illegal activities, including 10 misdemeanor convictions and five felony charges. Investigations by the police department and the Chittenden County state's attorney cleared Corrow of wrongdoing.

There is no question that we must confront "systemic racism." But in the rush to overcome past injustices, let's not forget that all people — Black, brown and white — need to obey the law, act as responsible members of society and not be ruled by mob mentality.

Jack Scully


Gray's Day

I'm writing to urge Vermonters to vote for Molly Gray for lieutenant governor ["Soapbox Derby," October 7]. I've met and talked with Molly at some length and came away deeply impressed by her maturity, poise and deep knowledge of the issues facing our state, including the climate and health care crises, the barriers to economic opportunity (including the lack of broadband access for all households and the lack of access to technology for some schoolchildren), and the tragedies of racial and criminal injustice. 

Molly was born and raised on a Vermont farm and has deep roots here. Her concern for the most vulnerable people among us led her to spend several years working with the International Committee of the Red Cross and for an organization that makes sure private contractors protect human rights in other countries. Her opponent has criticized her for not voting in several Vermont elections in the past while she was working out of state, but it turns out that her opponent did not vote in several elections, either, and, unlike Molly, he doesn't have the excuse of having been away from home. 

Today Molly is a lawyer at the Vermont Attorney General's Office, where she works on criminal justice issues and continues to fight for Vermonters. It's time for a changing of the old guard in Montpelier; we need different voices leading our state, including younger voices and women's voices. I urge everyone to vote for this passionate and talented young woman for lieutenant governor.

Susan M. Murray


'Opportunistic' Gray

Thank you for your in-depth look into one of the most crucial races: lieutenant governor ["Soapbox Derby," October 7]. This year's race is a clear primer for the next gubernatorial race, something that is clearly the end game for Molly Gray.

It is abundantly obvious to anyone who has listened to Gray since the Democratic primary debate that she is more interested in positioning herself for political ascension in the state than advancing a progressive agenda that benefits Vermonters. 

Nothing could further the point that Gray is in this for herself better than the fact that she failed to fulfill her civic duty in previous elections, even failing to vote in the last presidential election in 2016.

Additionally, Gray's main campaign issues of bringing broadband to rural Vermonters and state-funded childcare are critical issues far better addressed and advocated for by a legislator than by a sitting LG. 

When called out on this during the Democratic primary debate by Senate president pro tem Tim Ashe, who further made the point that another progressive voice in the legislature would help override Gov. Phil Scott's vetoes, Gray evaded the question by stating she was only being asked about this because she was a woman. 

Gray wishes to be anointed lieutenant governor this year en route to an inevitable 2022 run for governor. Her sudden and opportunistic run for office comes after a history of civic disengagement, and her evasiveness in answering key questions throughout the campaign raises further concerns about her motivations for this particular office.

Steven Martano


Fresh Face for Vermont

Reading "Soapbox Derby" [October 7] confirmed my vote for Molly Gray for lieutenant governor. More than anything, Vermont needs to solve our demographic reality of an aging population. 

She epitomizes the Vermonters we need more of: talented individuals who grew up on a farm and went to school here; went away and gained new skills, perspectives and experience; and came back to Vermont to enter public service as deputy attorney general, teach in law school and now run for office to bring her experience to the role of lieutenant governor.

My husband and I saw one of the debates between the candidates, with Scott Milne, who has run statewide three times and lost, and a fresh voice with the priorities we must address to move successfully into the future. Molly Gray was that fresh voice and quite a contrast to Scott Milne's tired rhetoric. He looks like the past, and Molly epitomizes the future.

Molly Gray brings new energy for a renewed Vermont. I support her and hope you will, as well.

Linda Tarr-Whelan


Playing With Fire

[Re Off Message: "Resolution Would Allow Backyard Fires in Burlington This Winter," October 2]: Your recent article on the Burlington City Council resolution to allow bonfires in Vermont's most populous city misses an opportunity to educate the public on an inconvenient truth: Woodsmoke carries environmental and health harms. Most of us love a good bonfire, but what evidence undergirds the wishful thinking that bonfires will ease the mental health crisis we're feeling from this terrible pandemic?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies woodsmoke as a pollutant with health risks to older adults, children and teens, as well as people with heart or lung disease. Asthmatics, in particular, suffer acute respiratory distress from woodsmoke. During a pandemic that attacks our ability to breathe, why would our government push policy that spells fun for some and health threats for many? Vermonters know how to enjoy the outdoors in all seasons and can do so perfectly well without outdoor fires in town.

Lisa Minetti


'The Violence of the White Gaze'

I was severely disappointed by your article covering the Battery Park protests ["Battery Power," September 23]. The troubles began in the first paragraph, which centers the movement on white participants, with no mention of the Black leaders who have spent weeks tirelessly organizing, educating and building a community and movement unlike any Vermont has seen before. 

This is the violence of the white gaze. 

In the article, the author named specific organizers after they had explicitly stated that singling them out could lead to violence against them and that this was a unified movement of concerned Burlington residents. The fact that Seven Days did not listen to their wishes proves that you are neither allies nor accomplices to their cause, which makes you racists.

You have endangered and disrespected the Black femme leaders. The white lens through which the story was told completely warped, defiled and maimed the clear message they have been spreading.

The fact that white residents of Vermont will read this article and think of these words as what the protests are about is dangerous and upsetting. 

Furthermore, after a quick search of the Seven Days website, it seems there are no writers of color. This is a whole issue in and of itself, and I think this article has proved that the paper desperately needs to employ more BIPOC. It's clear that this article should never have been written, but in the future these types of articles obviously need to be written and peer reviewed by BIPOC.

Abbey Jermyn


Grown-Up Time

Thanks to Seven Days and Chelsea Edgar for the illuminating article on the Black Lives Matter demonstrators and their internal power struggles ["Battery Power," September 23]. It is refreshing to discover that BLM monoculture is, in fact, being disrupted by pot-stirring individualists within the movement who refuse to be silenced for having an opinion. We are all better off for that. As to the leadership who sponsored the book burning (of my beloved Seven Days), it is my hope that they go the way of other thought-fascists — and that the grown-ups who take over BLM-BTV appreciate the power of free speech for all.

Scott Anderson


Public Opinion

[Re Off Message: "Protesters Round Up Copies of Seven Days for Evening Demonstration," September 25]: Activists seeking news coverage should know and must accept that they cannot control the news coverage. Burlington Black Lives Matter activists instead confiscated and destroyed this newspaper and intimidated its staff.

Activists seeking public support should know and must accept that the public controls its support and is not afraid to withhold it.

Howard Fairman


Molly Folly

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders should be helping a person who is far closer to him politically than her opponent [Off Message: "Bernie Sanders Endorses Three Dozen People — but Not Molly Gray," October 9]. Help her, Bernie, and you will be rewarded.

Michael Vinton


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