Letters to the Editor (2/9/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (2/9/22) 

Published February 9, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated March 1, 2022 at 3:07 p.m.


'Magnificent Reporting'

Just wanted to say thank you for ["Capitol Offense," February 2]. What magnificent reporting, on such a short timeline. Your article would have been impressive even if you'd had half a year to do the research. Please keep up the good work.

Kevin Wrenner


You Fell for It

Did anyone at Seven Days consider why Nicholas Languerand contacted the newspaper ["Capitol Offense"; From the Publisher: "Inside the Scoop," February 2]?

It appears Seven Days gave him all the notoriety he was seeking with the splashy front-page coverage.

I believe you can do better and save the front page for worthy stories and individuals.

Elliot Douglas


Before January 6...

Derek Brouwer and Colin Flanders have put together a fascinating, excellent piece about a Vermonter who joined the coup attempt on January 6 last year ["Capitol Offense," February 2].

However, I take issue with their reference to that event as "the nation's worst case of insurrectionist violence since the Civil War." Even if we strictly hold to the "insurrectionist" definition and set aside our country's history of race riots and lynchings, the Wilmington, N.C., coup of November 10, 1898, was certainly the worst violent overthrow of an elected government in this country since the Civil War. In that event, hundreds were killed by a white supremacist mob directed toward an unlawful, political end. Also distinguishing it from January 6 is the fact that it was largely successful, contributing to the extinguishing of Reconstruction and, at least partially, putting us on the path to the inequality and acrimony we are still living with.

Recognizing the history of Wilmington, and of our country, is important — not to diminish the severity of the January 6 attack, but to recognize that the same sort of violence has happened before. Our collective memory seems painfully short in this way. We may think ourselves immune to events like Wilmington or January 6 if we fail to remember them or fail to register their significance. Our history teaches us to be vigilant for the sorts of forces that the authors of this article otherwise valuably describe.

Bill Morris


Much to Digest

Just finished reading the wide-ranging cover story on food insecurity in Vermont ["Hunger Gains," January 26]. You touched on all the points and programs necessary, giving the average reader excellent info. I've been working in the social services realm for years. Retired from Capstone Community Action several years ago. Learned so much here about the new programs. Thank you.

Marian Labonte


The Queen Deserves Better

[Re Ask the Rev, January 26]: I think your "Urethra Franklin" nom de plume for a leaky masturbator is super disrespectful to the Queen of Soul! Leave her out of this ridiculousness. It's disrespectful to a Black woman of her stature.

Aretha Franklin was a magnificent woman known as one of the most influential singers in recent history and a civil rights activist who used music as a tool for truth, justice, social change, education and entertainment. Your pun at her expense is not funny or clever. At its worst, your coinage is an utterly unnecessary racist microaggression, since your bully pulpit goes statewide on paper with a circulation of 35,000. Your lack of respect reaches worldwide online.

Please consider publishing an apology and editing the column's online content to remedy this situation. My advice is to use better judgment in the future.

Rick Agran


No More Repetitive Radio

[Re WTF: "Why Do Local Radio Stations Play the Same Songs Over and Over?" February 2]: The solution to repetitive radio fare is WGDR/WGDH Central Vermont Community Radio (wgdr.org). The mostly local volunteer programmers are all passionate about finding and playing music you will not hear anywhere else. They are teachers, farmers, shop owners and employees of local businesses. You have likely met some of them. They play music from their own collections, which are eclectic, extensive and always growing. The station carries a few syndicated shows, too, which are also fantastic.

WGDR is as rare in the world of radio as Seven Days is in the world of journalism. Throw a dart at its schedule and listen to whatever show it hits. Explore its archives. You will have found your new favorite station.

Mike Lamp

West Barnet

Cheap Trick?

With no shortage of problems requiring the attention of Burlington voters, such as housing, homelessness, policing, etc., one can only wonder how and why sex trafficking merits the current attention it is receiving ["Bawdy Brouhaha," February 2].

"Burlington police haven't used the charter to make sex work-related arrests in recent memory, and while state law is more reliable, prostitution cases are still exceedingly rare," the story reads. "Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George hasn't charged anyone with prostitution for at least three years, she said."

John Dupee

South Burlington

'Sex' in the Country

No one can debate that sex work will happen regardless of laws and regulations ["Bawdy Brouhaha," February 2]. To create legal space to protect sex workers and incorporate the trade for tax purposes would be in the state's best interest. Sex work does not necessarily involve sex. The power of human touch and a sense of companionship and validation are invaluable. Our state lacks the ability to provide the support that many sex workers are providing to people in need. In some cases, people are sometimes paying to have someone to listen and just hold their hand. I know because I have been paid to do it — and, yes, I included that "private job" when filing taxes.

The fear around trafficking could be better monitored if there were laws that allowed sex workers to register and utilize state health care for work-related purposes. It would allow for there to be fluid communication that could protect clients and workers. It would promote communication between workers and law enforcement. The more we strip the stigma of sex work, which will happen with or without laws, the safer our state will be.

Kelsey Crelin

West Glover

Track Parkinson's, Too

I read ["Deciphering a Disease: An ALS Registry Could Help Find Environmental Risk Factors," January 19] with interest. In May of 2016, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's — another neurodegenerative disease with no known cure.

According to "The Rise of Parkinson's Disease," an article in the bimonthly magazine American Scientist, research reveals that the rise of Parkinson's in rural areas is likely elevated by the presence of the following: paraquat, rotenone and trichloroethylene. The first two are used in agricultural applications, while the latter is used in "washing away grease, cleaning silicon wafers, removing spots in dry cleaning."

To the best of my knowledge, there is no coordinated effort to gather data to establish rates and clusters of Parkinson's diagnoses in Vermont. While this research may not lead directly to a cure, the establishment of patterns can lead to evidence supporting the ban of harmful chemicals. For example, "In Canada, investigators have found an almost perfect correlation between areas with the highest pesticide use and the highest rates of disease," according to the book Ending Parkinson's Disease: A Prescription for Action.

Furthermore, the "Netherlands is one of the few countries in the world where the rates of Parkinson's disease are actually waning." Research indicates a correlation of the wane with the Netherlands' ban on paraquat.

Please know that while my concerns are specific to Parkinson's, my efforts are also focused on the overall health of Vermont — its environment and its people.

John Zaber

Craftsbury Common

No to Murad

I agree with the councilors ["Burlington Councilors Poised to Block Murad's Appointment as Police Chief," January 27, online]. Acting Police Chief Jon Murad doesn't have what it takes to be the chief of police, and Mayor Miro Weinberger doesn't want to bother to spend the money to look for a good one. It seems like the crime here is getting worse, and Murad doesn't know how to handle it or what to do about it.

I'm all for the council to reopen the search for a different chief and hire the company to find a different one!

Ken Atwood


Incomplete Sentence

I agree in general with Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George that humans should not be "thrown away" ["Sentence Served? Prosecutor Sarah George Offers Chance at Parole to Man Who Murdered His Wife in 1993," January 26].

However, she continues to demonstrate a lack of sympathy for victims and their families. The handling of the resentencing appears to have been questionable and sloppy. Why not let the legal system decide whether the sentence was just? Amy Fitzgerald did not have any say in the matter when she was "thrown away." If I may use a phrase popular with George, there is no "counterevidence" to that fact.

Steve Hall


Insulting Portrayal

I am grateful that Seven Days promotes Vermonters' altruism, inclusivity and ingenuity. Your articles leave me joyful or astounded at the various miscreants they expose — sometimes both! Unfortunately, Mark Saltveit's "How to Winterize Your Flatlander" [November 10, 2021] infuriated me.

A former Manhattan corporate marketer, I came to Vermont as a second-home owner four decades ago. Since then, I have served on several nonprofit boards, worked as an assistant professor and fundraiser, and immersed myself in promoting statewide diversity and inclusion initiatives. In 2020, I relocated my consulting practice to Rutland, working with nonprofits along the East Coast.

For you to assert in [Feedback: Editor's note, December 1] that Saltveit's piece was "humorous" confirms that many Vermonters found it not humorous at all but, rather, filled with animosity. Featuring such drivel in a progressive forum like Seven Days is incongruous with your inclusive brand and an insult to the intellectual firepower of your other writers. Plus, Saltveit's infantile diatribe leaned heavily on scatology: How is it acceptable — ever — to make denigrating jokes about women's breasts, let alone associate them with a bird whose name most children stop giggling about in kindergarten?

Perpetuating the myth that Vermonters are ignorant and hostile to newcomers is an affront to every effort under way for promoting Vermont's economic growth. Wouldn't it be a better use of your valuable pages — and your donors' dollars — to focus more on the contributions of those whose families, careers, friendships and overall health have thrived after moving here, rather than denigrating us with schoolyard insults?

Liz DiMarco Weinmann


Experience Isn't Everything

I'm excited for Vermont to finally end its ignoble status as the only state never to send a woman to Washington, D.C., but I'm disappointed by the sexism the candidates for U.S. Congress have already experienced.

I was particularly surprised that one of the most sexist attacks so far against Lt. Gov. Molly Gray came from another woman in Mary Alice Proffitt's recent letter [Feedback: "Anyone but Gray," January 19]. Like most examples of sexism or racism, it is filled with hypocrisy and glaring contradictions. Proffitt somehow paints Gray as both a Washington insider with powerful political connections and someone with no experience whatsoever. She also accuses Gray of being controlled and manipulated by powerful men.

In reality, Gray has worked in the Washington office of Rep. Peter Welch — the very seat for which she is currently running. While male politicians often run on their record of military service abroad, Gray has served in many of these same global hot spots, from Haiti and the Congo to Nigeria and Iraq, leading humanitarian and human rights missions. Surely, time spent protecting the rights of local people in challenging international settings is also valuable experience for the next member of Vermont's federal delegation? 

When the only people with "experience," as Proffitt narrowly defines it, are those already in positions of power, it creates insurmountable barriers to entry for women and people of color to be elected to office. Can we please stop questioning the motivations of women running for office and holding them to unattainable and contradictory standards?

Tom Rogers


A Full-Time Job

[Re "Vermont Sen. Becca Balint Announces Run for U.S. House," December 13, 2021, online]: I'm voting for Becca Balint, Vermont Senate president pro tempore, in her 2022 campaign for U.S. Congress. Honestly, last spring I didn't know who she was when I started following her on Instagram. 

The Vermont citizen legislature is a part-time job, usually from January through May. Sen. Balint led the 2021 session, passing bills for housing, climate justice, voting by mail, broadband and COVID-19 relief!

But Sen. Balint appears to consider her job full time! On her Instagram posts, she documented her very busy 2021 summer and fall, giving speeches and traveling extensively across the state to meet with Vermonters and community leaders in business, government, the arts and education. She was listening, learning and setting priorities from the grassroots for the upcoming 2022 legislative session.

I support her extensive experience in working across the aisle, getting things done, working hard and enthusiastically going beyond what's required. 

Steph Holdridge


'Slings and Arrows'

click to enlarge TIM NEWCOMB
  • Tim Newcomb

[Re From the Publisher: "Buckle Up," January 26; Newcomb, January 19]: Thank you, deputy publisher Cathy Resmer, for your spot-on assessment of Tim Newcomb's political cartoon of Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Sens. Kesha Ram Hinsdale and Becca Balint riding in the car of my favorite Dem of all time, former governor Madeleine Kunin.

I'm sure Kunin was amused by its humor, considering some of the slings and arrows she had to dodge (i.e., Peter Freyne's "Straddlin' Madeleine," for example) from political commentators and Jeff Danziger in particular. This seemed tame compared to that. And I believe that's the point of the cartoon. Democratic rep from New York Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is probably holding her sides laughing at this "mysoginistic, [sic] racist and ageist" illustration. What she's seen so far? Sheesh.

I agree with Resmer that Gray and Ram Hinsdale need to get tough. Vermont politics may seem like a big deal, but it's Pee-wee's Playhouse compared to Washington, D.C. I wait to see what Balint has to say on the subject, but I suspect she's had her chuckle and moved on. She's got a race to run, after all.

Christopher Maloney


Laugh It Off

I really liked Tim Newcomb's cartoon [Newcomb, January 19]. It was funny, well drawn and true. When we are unable to laugh at ourselves, and at our public figures, we are in trouble.

Barbara Zucker


Ram Hinsdale Deserves Respect

In "Buckle Up" [From the Publisher, January 26], Cathy Resmer pushes back on the negative response to Tim Newcomb's political cartoon depicting Gov. Madeleine Kunin in a car with Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale and Sen. President Pro Tempore Becca Balint — all of whom are running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Peter Welch.

This cartoon suggests that none of the women is qualified to succeed him. It's worth noting that Sen. Patrick Leahy was 34, a year younger than Ram Hinsdale, when he went to Washington, D.C.

Most insidiously, it suggests that all Ram Hinsdale has going for her is a healthy ego, the correct gender and attitude. In fact, she served in the Vermont House from 2009 to 2016, currently serves as a state senator and earned a master's of public administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

This is hardly a case of running on gender, ego and attitude.

Resmer notes that "Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) had to put on a gas mask and flee from an angry mob in his last term in the U.S. House" and asks: If these three women are troubled by a cartoon, "how will they hold up in D.C.?"

Welch had to put on a gas mask because of lies, misinformation and disrespect for the laws of the land. We've seen that disrespect extend most vociferously toward progressive young women of color.

Ram Hinsdale is going to face far worse than Newcomb's tart pen. She deserves respect, not active misrepresentation.

Kathryn Blume


Good Call

Cathy Resmer's From the Publisher note "Buckle Up" [January 26] made the very best of a difficult situation. She shared the straightforward and purely news-based reasons behind the political cartoonist's choices and the fact that unflattering caricatures are just part of the package. It was clear that these fit far better with the content of the cartoon than any of the misogyny, racism and ageism that Tim Newcomb was accused of playing into.

The title of the editorial and the comments about the environment in Washington, D.C., were also well chosen.

Carl Wermer

Essex Junction

Cartoonist's Job

I applaud and support your inclusion of Tim Newcomb's recent cartoon referencing the candidates vying for election as a member of Congress [Newcomb, January 19].

Political cartoons have always poked, prodded and oftentimes insulted most everyone running for a political office. This is part of the political process, along with open town meeting-style gatherings and rallies. Anyone who knows Newcomb would say this is just in keeping with his profession, as he is not a chauvinist, racist or bully but rather ... a cartoonist.

I suggest we lighten up on the accusations and judgment of every little thing we might not agree with. We've got bigger issues to solve.

Dan Cox


Mulvaney-Stanak Responds

click to enlarge Llu Mulvaney-Stanak's cartoon response to Newcomb - COURTESY LLU MULVANEY-STANAK
  • Courtesy Llu Mulvaney-Stanak
  • Llu Mulvaney-Stanak's cartoon response to Newcomb

Whoa, y'all added another layer to this Tim Newcomb cartoon debate [From the Publisher: "Buckle Up," January 26]. The women running for U.S. Congress are tough. You don't make it this far in Vermont politics without tough skin. They can handle a joke, and they aren't too sensitive (eek, another sexist overtone).

My cartoon to the editor [Feedback, January 26] needed the blatant caption because the joke shouldn't be the candidates' social identities. It should be about their records and their roles (or lack of them) leading on Vermont issues.

Rib Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale and President Pro Tem Becca Balint on their records or unfulfilled promises.

Rib Lt. Gov. Molly Gray on her experience and voting record.

The online version of your publisher note dusted off Newcomb cartoons that infantilized officials equally. They all referenced the officials' experience issues, not ages.

click to enlarge A Tim Newcomb from 2007 - TIM NEWCOMB
  • Tim Newcomb
  • A Tim Newcomb from 2007

In 2022, I'd hope an award-winning political cartoonist, and his editors, could do better than infantilizing female state leaders by putting them in car seats and using their first names, and by calling Sen. Ram Hinsdale's qualification "attitude" — a dismissive characteristic often assigned to women of color. This is really important to do better on. What went to print shows readers that the literal characterization of women, BIPOC folks and young people as stereotypes is OK — it is not.

Newcomb is relying on tired tropes. Update your snark, and we'll all get the badly needed laugh we need during this campaign season.

I am so excited about this race for Congress. Let's get into it on the content of the race and what's at stake for Vermont.

Llu Mulvaney-Stanak


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