Letters to the Editor (2/23/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (2/23/22) 

Published February 23, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated March 1, 2022 at 2:59 p.m.


Two Quibbles

In the February 16 issue, there's a typo in [From the Publisher: "Learning on the Job"]. The text reads, "People who never cared a wit about local schools," etc. The word is "whit."

The review of the musical I Do! I Do!, while excellent, could have been improved by a brief discussion of the show's origins: It was adapted from the stage play The Fourposter by Jan de Hartog, a Dutch writer who immigrated to the U.S. and later became a Quaker. De Hartog saved a number of Jewish babies and children from the Nazis during the war. His play was also adapted into a film starring Rex Harrison. The play and the musical version have been a staple of small companies for many years.

De Hartog also wrote novels and nonfiction. He deserves to be better remembered.

Thanks, as ever, for a fine paper.

Gina Logan


Wait, Wait, Do Tell Me

[Re Last 7: "It's Official: Vermont Patients Wait Too Long," February 16]: We now have all the metrics — years, months, days — that Vermonters wait for appointments with specialists. But, once again, the content remains downstream rather than going upstream to identify the source.

Downstream, patients are sitting on the dock, dangling their lines and waiting for a bite, hoping to snag that coveted date with a doctor. Meander up the river and into the clinics at the University of Vermont Medical Center. There you'll find doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses who hit the floor running each day and pull off an incredible juggling act of responsibilities. Doctors there hold academic positions, and their duties include teaching students and residents, managing clinical trials of new drugs, submitting clinical and research findings for publication, periodically being on call 24-7 to manage emergencies, tangling with insurance companies to provide coverage for patients, answering MyChart questions from patients, and seeing a full slate of patients. No one is sitting back to nibble bonbons while desperate patients pound at the door.

I'm waiting for an enterprising reporter to shadow a doctor or nurse at the hospital and report back. Tell us how they spend their days. Report back and tell us how many more specialists could begin to satisfy the demand. Tell us why patients overlook the possibility of more timely appointments with doctors in private practice rather than wait for UVM to come through. Tell us whether bloated salaries at the top of the administrative food chain siphon off monies that could be used to provide fuller staffing. Tell us why patients can usually schedule appointments sooner at Dartmouth-Hitchcock than here. Is it simply a greater number of specialists?

Don't just churn out numbers and anecdotal complaints from patients. Tell us why this is happening.

Adina Panitch


Editor's note: We would love to be able to explain that. Seven Days reporters are eager to shadow doctors and nurses at the hospital. But hospitals generally do not allow that; citing patient confidentiality laws, they severely limit press access to their inner workings. Instead, reporters rely on hospital communications departments for data, and that information is not always forthcoming.

In our original investigation about wait times, "The Doctor Won't See You Now" (September 1, 2021), Colin Flanders and Chelsea Edgar detailed the difficulties of getting answers and arranging interviews with the leaders of UVM Medical Center. From the story: "Seven Days asked ... for the average number of days new patients wait to be seen in each of its 85 specialties. The hospital refused to provide data for all but two areas: urology, which is now scheduling two months out; and ear, nose and throat, where the current delay ranges from 20 days to see a pediatric specialist to 175 days for an ear specialist. In public filings to state regulators, the medical center reported wait times using a different metric — the percentage of new patients seen within two weeks of scheduling an appointment — which fails to capture the most egregious scenarios or offer any sense of the typical, nonurgent patient experience. Nor does it account for the weeks and months some people ... must wait before they can even schedule an appointment.

"Dartmouth-Hitchcock wouldn't provide data on average wait times to see its specialists. In a statement, the hospital's chief quality and value officer, Carol L. Barsky, said she 'can't speak to the specific challenges our colleagues at UVM Medical Center are facing' but that 'wait times are not an issue specific to any one institution.'"

This lack of transparency, coupled with the horror stories we collected from patients, prompted the independent state study that confirmed our findings and on which Flanders reported last week. Doctors and nurses who are willing to host or talk to a reporter should feel free to reach out to Flanders at [email protected].

A Case for Mixed-Use Zoning

[Re "Bove Brothers Plan to Evict Low-Income Refugee Families in Winooski — and Raise Rents," February 16]: Anger directed at the Boves for expecting market rates for their investments is misdirected. The blame lies on all of us.

Zoning laws in Vermont towns largely prevent mixed-use zoning. NIMBYism is likely for anyone lucky enough to have bought a home when it was affordable ("I liked it when I bought it, so now it can never change").

We need more mixed-use buildings so that people can live near where they work and forgo cars in favor of bikes and walking.

When there is a plentiful supply of housing near where people need and want to be, the cost of housing comes down.

Visit your town's zoning board meeting and say you want more mixed-use zoning!

Todd Cooke


Message to White Parents

As a white mom of white kids, I'd like to ask a question of those white parents, such as those featured in ["Local Commotion," February 16], who are trying to keep their kids from knowing that race has meaning and vastly impacts people in our culture, and who want to shield their kids from the reality of racism by clinging to a "race-blind" notion that "human is human."

How would you explain this stance to the parents of Trayvon Martin or Ahmaud Arbery or Elijah McClain? Were these humans afforded the luxury of "just being human" when they were murdered for nothing other than moving about in the world with brown skin?

As a primer to learning about how some humans do not have access to the opportunity in our society to "just be humans" because the color of their skin makes them targets for violence and hatred, I would suggest starting with Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, in which you might learn about how many parents have to prepare their children for just how much inhumanity they will experience at the hands of other humans in our society so that those kids might survive to adulthood, simply because of the color of their skin.

Rachel Daley


Green Was Disloyal to Mayor

["Tyeastia Green, Burlington's Racial Equity Director, to Resign," February 15, online] was too one-sided. We only heard from Green supporters. I'm no Mayor Miro Weinberger fan, in part because of how he has treated the white community since her hiring. He seems to think that we are immoral people who need to be clubbed into submission while he forces us to accept his authoritarian equity justice crusade.

One of the mayor's greatest failures was reneging on appointing the most competent person to manage the policing contracts. Under intense and belligerent pressure from Green's supporters, he was forced to appoint her to manage the contract deliverables. Her skills proved lacking. The failure of the Talitha Consults report was on her.

Seven Days regurgitates that story in a way that accuses the mayor. He had good reason to raise the issue of Green's lack of neutrality. In David Goodman's March 31 "Vermont Conversation" podcast, Green brought up Adolf Hitler and David Duke when discussing the Burlington police.

What other department head wouldn't have been fired for arrogantly humiliating her boss on the WCAX evening news? VTDigger.org reported that "her tenure with the city was ... marked by public disagreements with Weinberger."

We may never know the truth behind her leaving, but for something closer to the truth, see her white-hating interview on CCTV from December 15, 2020, and the David Goodman interview she did just a couple of days after her jaw-dropping performance on WCAX.

Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale asked: How did Green stay this long? I wonder why she wasn't fired long ago.

Marianne Ward


Fun With Masks

I enjoyed Bryan Pfeiffer's photo essay and musings on mask litter ["Fallout: What Stories Do Stray Masks Tell?" February 16]. I have been documenting mask litter since August 2020 with 150-plus photos on my Instagram highlights (@o.m.ghee). We use similar camera angles to capture the gritty ruggedness of a forgotten mask, often with a picturesque background.

On Halloween, I took it to a whole new level with a larger-than-life mask costume, including a brief stint lying on Church Street in cold rain, which resulted in an EMT call. I was fine and chatting with passersby, but someone mistook me for an "unresponsive person" and called 911. After the EMTs left, a person who appeared homeless asked whether I had 75 cents. To which I replied, "Pssh, no. I'm a mask!"

Stayed tuned, as the mask is getting pressured into the Sugarbush Pond Skim...

Emily Heymann


One for the Books

Thanks for the informative article about the potential funding for capital projects at libraries ["Leaky Roofs, Moldy Windows: State Library Department Seeks $15.9 Million for Repairs," February 14, online]. It gave the trustees of our local library all the necessary information to begin talking about next steps in an area that we hadn't dreamed to consider until now. They all read through and digested it before our most recent meeting. That speaks to your coverage.

Thanks, and fingers crossed that our local libraries receive help with all the deferred maintenance and accessibility issues that need to be addressed!

Kate Hunter


'Hypocrisy on Top of Hypocrisy'

Let me get this straight: A letter writer who farms dairy cattle and sheep calls out the hypocrisy of homeowners who made their money in oil and gas for suing farmers for causing algae blooms in Lake Champlain [Feedback, "Hypocrisy, Anyone?" February 2].

Meanwhile, the algae blooms and CO2 rises as hypocrisy piles on top of hypocrisy on top of hypocrisy, from cattle/sheep farmer to oil and gas investors to large agricultural farms — and, yes, to this letter writer, too, who drives a car, uses technology and has not been able to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

The word for this condition is "futility," meaning none of us is exempt. Even if you live under a rock and have an ant as your best friend, the negative ecological effects due to humans as a species will continue.

Martin White

Crown Point, N.Y.

'Perfect Fit'

I feel the need to respond to the letter writer of "Wrong Spot for Lingerie Ad" [Feedback, January 26] with a shout-out for L'ivresse Lingerie. L'ivresse is a woman-owned local business, every bit as much as Girlington Garage.

Look, I'm not a lingerie person, either. But I walked into L'ivresse one day on a whim, simply because I needed a new bra. The attentive, professional, personalized service I received was simply through the roof. I walked out with a new bra that has been nothing short of life-changing in its perfect fit. It gives me such pleasure every morning when I put it on and every night when I take it off. The rest of the day, it just fades into the background, as perfect comfort should.

I guess the lesson is: Grant that you may not criticize your local woman-owned business neighbor until you have walked a mile in their merchandise!

Christine Staffa


A Dem for Benning

There are so many Republicans and Republican "values" that are incredibly damaging and dangerous that it is rather surreal to write in support of one ["Benning Launches LG Bid by Promising to Be a 'Cheerleader' for Vermont," January 17, online]. But I have observed Sen. Joe Benning at work, read his work and appreciated him right off the bat.

I think that the future of politics in the U.S. is a shift away from strictly voting along party lines regardless of impact or effect. I also think that there is a big difference between the specifics of compromise versus consensus, so I welcome someone who is up front, realistic and specific about their position; who will not be politically correct just for the sake of it; and who is always ready to check their privilege.

I think that the future of U.S. politics will be more about how values are being applied and the impact of that application rather than about blind partisanship. For instance, keep taxes low, yes, except for corporations and the super rich who own majority shares in them. Personal responsibility and liberties, always! Except when it is actually a question of outdated and inaccessible civic infrastructure, outright criminality, or denial of reality or science (the pandemic revealed plenty of that).

Smaller, efficient and well-supported government infrastructure is the idea, and, despite knowledge to the contrary, I fully agree with Benning that Vermont has a large number of people with integrity and civility.

Joy Yonan-Renold


'Care' About Languerand

Great to see a real effort to preserve and follow the old-fashioned approach to the news — fact-based journalism free of political preaching ["Capitol Offense," February 2]!

Nicholas Languerand's story is relevant on many fronts. One of these involves the underclasses in Vermont and throughout the United Sates. A "culture of poverty" was identified in the '60s by anthropologist-sociologist Oscar Lewis. U.S. senator Bobby Kennedy made it one of his major reforms and, had he lived, would have helped to remedy some of the problems that people in this group faced. The problems that exist within Vermont's poor and the intergenerational character of these problems have been ignored. It is time to include these groups among the new categories now being given such full attention and support.

Regardless of race, and of old and new gender categories and realities, it's time for the experts — the new and the old bureaucratic structures, the state employees and the nonprofit organizations, the academic and the literary elites — to give these people their due.

An old Vermonter, whose family has been here for a very long time, explained why so many supported Trump: "They just feel that nobody cares about them."

Let's care about all who suffer the consequences of poverty in this proud state!

W. McCarthy


Wily Coyotes

[Re "Coyote Loophole?" February 16]: Coyotes self-regulate their population, a well-known fact that hunters and their laws supporting wanton killing of them ignore. Kill more of the animals, and they'll reproduce to fill the void. Leave them be, and they'll control pack size to fit the availability of game that generally doesn't include the animals that hunters think coyotes prey on.

Get these intelligent critters back on to S.281 and S.201 and amend the legislation to prohibit hunting during pup-raising season, when pup survival barely reaches 50 percent without hunter invasion.

Chris Scott


South Burlington City Councilor Responds...

In response to Chelsea Edgar's February 9 "Zoned Out," South Burlington's new land rules will not "significantly curtail development in ... the southeast quadrant." We did not remove any development potential from that part of our city. By far, most of these acres were already protected by state and federal statute because there are wetlands and forests on them.

Please have a look at the February 10 article in the Other Paper, which quotes South Burlington's planning director in full. He explains that the land was not buildable to begin with and that the old and new rules allow the same number of homes. Development patterns had established two to three homes per acre; we will now see at least four homes per acre in the southeast quadrant — homes with smaller footprints and solar-ready roofs. Edgar's article claims that the new density is now one home per acre, which is patently false. Because of the new regulations, there is a better chance that more affordable homes will be developed.

I had explained this to Edgar when she interviewed me. However, she chose not to include my input. Therefore, I again encourage Edgar to contact Paul Conner, who could help her understand what the new regulations do. Perhaps she should have asked more questions to begin with. Journalistic standards include fact-checking and the use of multiple sources.

Because the article contains numerous inaccuracies, I believe that Seven Days should publish a correction or retraction.

Meaghan Emery

South Burlington

Emery is vice chair of the South Burlington City Council.

Editor's note: According to South Burlington planning and zoning director Paul Conner, whom Edgar did interview for the story, the new regulations will allow for 350 fewer homes in the affected southeast quadrant zoning area, a net reduction in development potential. In addition, Conner clarified, the new zoning regulations would allow for more development on large parcels of land. But on single-acre parcels, as the story stated, the regulations permit 1.2 units of housing — in effect, a single-family home.

SoBu Land Grab

My family, longtime residents and public servants of South Burlington, experienced the same hurdles as others mentioned in "Zoned Out" [February 9] when trying to develop the remaining 60 acres of very valuable Spear Street farmland. The city determined many years ago that it wanted to own the land as a park, and, ultimately, we ended up selling to it versus facing the mounting legal bills to fight the city and neighbors. Some may feel that we still received substantial money from the sale, but it was minimal compared to what it was worth as developable land for future residents. It is OK for Rosanne Greco and other neighbors fighting development to live in homes that were once my grandfather's working farmland, but no one else should have that choice?

Many long-standing South Burlington families like the Nowlands and the Longs rely on their land for retirement. I wonder how the city council and other residents supporting this would feel if the general public had a voice in how they spent their retirement funds?

Patricia Underwood Weaver


Getting Real Estate

I am confused. There are residents in South Burlington's southeast quadrant who want the city to prohibit anyone from building a house near theirs ["Zoned Out," February 9]. They say it is for environmental reasons. But what about the impact their homes are having on that land? It seems that if they were concerned about preservation, they would move away from that natural area, remove the buildings and not allow any future owners to build there. Instead, they want the city to prohibit the landowners around them from developing the land, thus raising the scarcity of rural homes in the city and making their properties much more valuable. Do I have it right?

Tom Bisson


Stop Top Cop

[Re "Sentence Served? Prosecutor Sarah George Offers Chance at Parole to Man Who Murdered His Wife in 1993," January 26]: As Chittenden County state's attorney, Sarah George is supposed to be our top cop. But how can we sleep at night knowing that our chief justice enforcer puts the rights of criminals above those of victims and their families?

When defending her decision to reverse Gregory Fitzgerald's life sentence, George states that life sentences without the possibility of parole equate to lives "literally thrown away," and she doesn't believe in "throwing humans away."

What exactly does George think Fitzgerald did to his wife, Amy, when he murdered her? Was her life not callously thrown away?

George has made it clear that she's out to make a name for herself. Unfortunately, it comes at our expense.

George ran unopposed in 2018. I can only hope she has an opponent this year and that voters' memories are stronger than her commitment to upholding the law.

Heather Frechette-Crowley

Essex Junction

Cartoon Response

click to enlarge COURTESY
  • Courtesy

[Re From the Publisher: "Buckle Up," January 26]: I don't think that most people mean to be nasty when they don't understand what a stereotype is and why perpetuating stereotypes harms us all. Everyone gradually absorbs stereotypes unconsciously, often from the media. That's one reason those in the media — cartoonists and publishers included — need to have superhuman perceptions to present Truth, not just "the truth."

Tree Rowse Spaulding


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