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Letters to the Editor (11/29/23) 

Published November 29, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

Love 'Letters'

You entertained me with the father-daughter team creating crossword puzzles ["Double Crossed: A Shelburne Father-Daughter Duo Creates Crossword Puzzles Worthy of the New York Times," November 15]. It was like a breath mint for the mind.

Reading the letters never disappoints, and last week's [Feedback] was no exception. Reader letters to the editor draw me to stories I missed and lead me to examine my own biases.

Occasionally some stories fall short. The pull quote in ["Moving the Needle: Former Chef Ashley Farland Launches Home Furnishings Company DandyLion in Hinesburg," November 22] teased a change in consumer attitudes. While the company's efforts are to be lauded, we must also work to stop toss-and-replace and return to a use-it-up model of bygone days. I suspect even these wonderful pillows made with would-be trash will become trash not when they are used up but as soon as we tire of them.

Thank you, readers, editors, writers, all. Exchanging ideas in this forum helps us find common ground as humans.

Monique Hayden

Williamstown

Political Heat?

Thank you for covering the Burlington City Council vote on the district energy proposal and the carbon fee ordinance ["Burlington Council Backs District Energy Plan, Carbon Fee," November 21, online; "Pipe Dream?" September 27]. During the public comment time, a total of 42 doctors, lawyers, scientists and many other citizens urged the city council to vote no on the district energy pipeline and suggested that the ordinance include a fee for fossil fuels and biofuels. Only seven people spoke in favor, and they all seemed to be directly or indirectly employed by the Burlington Electric Department.

This issue has been discussed for months, and scientific evidence has shown over and over that we need to stop burning all fuels. I don't understand why we can't work on truly carbon-free alternatives instead of spending millions on another temporary solution.

And I don't understand how the city council can politely listen to its constituents as they give well-researched, heartfelt comments — not just "claims" — and then totally ignore what they said. It seemed like the council was only listening to the BED employees.

Climate change is already causing major health problems, so I would expect a hospital to be in favor of measures that lead to better health outcomes. We know that burning wood emits particulate matter that causes lung and heart disease. I wonder why a health care facility would support something that is bad for people's health. Could it be the promise of $665,000 from BED?

Catherine Bock

Burlington

Bergman Flipped

[Re "Burlington Council Backs District Energy Plan, Carbon Fee," November 21, online]: In early November, Burlington City Councilor Gene Bergman expressed his steadfast opposition to the Burlington Electric Department's district energy system at a special meeting of 350Vermont attended by about 10 people. Bergman was the invited guest speaker. He stated then that only one more vote on the council was needed to nix the project. Two Monday nights ago, that one vote came to be, but, shockingly, Bergman switched his, thereby approving a steam pipeline from the McNeil Generating Station to the University of Vermont Medical Center. His reasoning? He talked with UVM, and it convinced him to switch his vote. This is what powerful institutions do: sway politicians to their thinking, their mindset. Once again, representative democracy fails.

Peter MacAusland

Burlington

Confidentiality Rules

I disagree with your response to Nate Hine's letter [Feedback: "Boy Deserves Anonymity," November 15] about naming the 14-year-old charged in a shooting death. Nate was right to say identifying that child was contrary to the rules of confidentiality regarding children. In your response, you based your decision to publish the name on the fact that other news organizations had done so. Two wrongs do not make a right! Follow the confidentiality rules, not what other newspapers did.

Roger Crouse

Shelburne

Wrong on NATO

Jill Clark-Gollub lauds Bread and Puppet Theater's "understanding" of the Russo-Ukrainian War by describing puppeteer Maria Schumann's claim "that Jens Stoltenburg, the head of NATO, recently admitted that the war in Ukraine was provoked by incessant NATO expansion" [Feedback: "Thought-Provoking Puppets," October 25].

I've looked in vain for such an admission by Stoltenburg. If it's from his September 7 speech to the European Parliament, which Jeffrey Sachs interpreted as such an admission, then we know where Maria got that misinformation. Sachs, who engineered the "shock therapy" policies for post-1990 Russia, is as responsible as anyone for today's Russia. Instead of admitting that, he continually shifts the blame onto others.

What Stoltenburg said was that Vladimir Putin "went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders" but "got the exact opposite." In his speech, Stoltenburg neither blamed NATO (let alone for "incessant expansion") nor reduced Putin's goals to this one. He just repeated what we all know: that Putin failed at reining in NATO, as he has failed with his other goals.

Stoltenburg said NATO's "purpose" in defending Ukraine "is to prevent war" and that it's "not an option" but a "necessity" for preserving "peace for our members" and ensuring "that authoritarian regimes don't achieve what they want by violating international law."

Since Bread and Puppet also wants to prevent war, it is disagreeing with Stoltenburg on strategy. There's room for such disagreement. But to twist words to fit one's narrative, even if it suits one's puppetry, does not make for ethical politics.

Adrian Ivakhiv

Barre

Say What, Mattison?

[Re "C D Mattison Launches Campaign for Burlington Mayor," November 13, online]: I'm interested in hearing what all the mayoral candidates have to say in the coming months, but I'm struggling to understand C D Mattison's objection to Miro Weinberger's "narrative" that Burlington is less safe with fewer cops, especially in light of the events of a recent Sunday night, as well as comments from merchants about why fewer people are choosing to shop in the city.

Roy Towlen

Underhill

Unacceptable Tragedy

As an American, I was deeply saddened and ashamed to read of the unprovoked shooting of Palestinian Americans ["Three Victims in Burlington Shooting Were of Palestinian Descent," November 26]. This tragedy is unacceptable and demonstrates how our "leaders" and media are polarizing us to the point that we are shooting and killing each other just as in the Middle East.

We live in America, not the Middle East. We live in a democracy where you have the right to be "wrong" and the right to express your own opinion. We live in a society where you have the right to express and celebrate your cultural heritage without the fear of persecution. I hope that the authorities find the deranged fanatic who perpetrated this outrageous hate crime. Let's not devolve to Hamas' level. We are better than this! I wish for a speedy recovery of the victims.

Michael Pravica

Henderson, NV

November 'Nudge'

I'd like to thank you for writing the profile of photographer Paul Rogers in your November 22 issue ["The Novemberist: Vermont Photographer Paul Rogers Embraces Transition Time"]. As an amateur photographer, I am always looking for inspiration to get outside with my camera and take pictures. November, suffice it to say, is not a month I look forward to for creative inspiration. Paul's beautiful photography represented in his "Stick Season" online gallery was just the nudge I needed to look at our beautiful home state in a new way and, quite literally, in a new light.

Robert Coleburn

Ferrisburgh

Israel's 'Betrayal'

[Re "Hundreds Rally in Burlington in Response to Israel-Hamas War," October 15]: Think of those who suffered the Holocaust, those who carry the trauma from one generation to the next of being discriminated against and subjected to every kind of indignity. How could the Jewish state of Israel, of all entities, execute the indiscriminate killing and terror that is occurring in Gaza?

How could those with a tradition and a religion rich in the wisdom of Hillel; compassionate in the spirit of tikkun olam (repairing the world); and infused with the moral principles of justice, kindness and the sanctity of life do as they are doing in Gaza and still claim to be Jewish? Impossible. This is a betrayal and a hijacking of the goodness of the tradition I grew up with.

Israel suffered a terrible horror on October 7. "Nazifying" the Palestinian people in response, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing, and weaponizing the holocaust to justify the violence raining down on Gaza is reprehensible.

If you want to grow antisemitism, follow the Israeli government's playbook. Cast millions of innocent Palestinian people (half of whom are children) as human animals, bomb them into dust, dislocate them en masse, deprive them of food and shelter, and then throw up your hands to the world and ask, "Why do they hate us?" and declare, "We have to do this, or they will drive us into the sea."

As Friedrich Nietzsche said, "You yourself will always be the worst enemy you can encounter." The greatest threat to Israel is Israel itself.

Ron Koss

Montpelier

Unfairly Tagged

Maybe the local businesses characterized as blighted by Seven Days ["Blight Sites," November 1] wouldn't suffer that moniker if it weren't for the layers of graffiti, much of which is the derivation and cause of the "blight." Other than the graffiti, some of these buildings look no worse than others in the city, such as the former dilapidated Champlain Transmission shop and its adjoining trashed lot at the corner of Archibald Street and North Winooski Avenue, owned by Golden Junk, LLC, which also owns the neighboring Junktiques Collective.

It's unfair that businesses owned by longtime local job and housing providers the Handys and the Boves — some of their business buildings ruined by graffiti that is not their fault — are constantly targeted for criticism by Seven Days and the city. Yet the city, a part owner of Memorial Auditorium, escapes its own wrath and fines for allowing the auditorium to sit in disrepair as a constant eyesore.

Dan Cohen

Burlington

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