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Letters to the Editor 

Published March 23, 2011 at 4:04 a.m.

Fix Your French

Boy, was I embarrassed to see “Merci Beaucoup” misspelled with an “s” on Magic Hat’s Mardi Gras ad on page 20 of the [March 9] paper! I’m glad it’s the slow season, so I don’t think many French Canadians saw the blooper. We are just 30 minutes from the Québec border, so if you’re going to write something in French, please check with someone who knows the beautiful language.

So, Seven Days: Please proofread before you print. You, too, Magic Hat. Geez.

P.S. To the merchants on Church Street: The signs welcoming Québec tourists are very nice, but remember that “Bienvenue Québécois” has an accent mark on each “e,” not just the first. Merci beaucoup.

Michael Sebastién Luna

St. Albans

Editor’s note: We try to proofread ads as well as the editorial content of the paper —which gets edited and copyedited twice — but mistakes sometimes slip through in ads that have been provided by clients. Nonetheless, we should have caught this error. Three of us Seven Days editors speak French. Nous sommes desolées.

Can’t Stand Kochalka

[Re: “Man-Child vs. World,” March 2]: Apparently, I am a rather rare person. I expect things to work. Increasingly, stuff I encounter does not; things do not serve the purposes for which they appear to be designed, or they do not serve these purposes predictably and reliably. A classic example is the cellphone. Another is the Internet.

So it might stand to reason that many comic strips don’t work, either — that is to say, they don’t entertain, which, it is my understanding, is what a comic is for. Consequently, I ignore many of them, including “American Elf.” James Kochalka seems to be a master of the bland and inane. At minimum, I want a comic to bring a smile to my face, and, optimally, I want to be convulsed with waves of laughter — something Kochalka’s work has never done.

Still, I can accept that some like his work; I do not wish to deprive them. So the appearance of “American Elf” in the paper doesn’t bother me. However, when Vermont boasts such long-serving masters of humor as Jeff Danziger, Tim Newcomb, Ed Koren and Harry Bliss, how could anyone deliver the first-ever title of Vermont cartoonist laureate to one whose work — however prolific — is about as funny as a dog turd on the sidewalk? If the people awarding the honor are trying to be funny, be it known that this comics aficionado is not amused.

Steven Farnham


Jacobs Is All Right

I am a longtime resident of Montpelier and have known and worked off and on for Jeff Jacobs for over 30 years [“Capital Capitalist,” March 9]. I painted the interior of the original upstairs bar on Main Street. In your article about Jeff, I see several secondhand accounts of his dealings and treatment of the people who have worked for him — mostly negative. In my personal experiences with Jeff, he has always kept his end of the deal completely. Paid in full and on time. Most of the people I know who have worked for him feel the same way.

There was a lot of “he said, she said, I heard this about him” junk in the article. I guess that is always prevalent in a “great place” like Montpelier. As far as his rents are concerned, it seems to me that the businesses in Montpelier are mostly elitist shops that sell overpriced specialty items to Montpelier’s new, from-out-of-town rich. So maybe stop whining and pay the rent.

Rocque Long


Fare System

I use Benways Taxi and am opposed to putting meters in cabs [“Burlington Cabbies Up in Arms About Proposed Meters,” February 2]. With Benways prearranged pickup system, one can find out what the fare will be when ordering the cab. Fare quotes come from the dispatcher office, not the driver.

Meter fares fluctuate depending on traffic patterns. There’s no way to know beforehand what a meter fare will be. 

In reference to price gouging in hailed cabs, what’s to stop the alleged gougers from driving slower or taking longer routes when meters are installed?

Gwen Shervington


State Your Party

[Re: “Fair Game,” March 9]: It would be nice if your paper would accurately write about the actual inclinations of your political parties. The Republicans in your state are actually Democrats. The Democrats are actually Socialists. And the Progressives in your state are actually Communists. It would relieve the confusions that abound on how your state is governed.

Jose Garcia

Waterford, NY

Rango Review Ruled

Thanks for what is my favorite review of Rango so far [“Movie Review,” March 9]. I was the animation director on the film, and I just want to thank you for so getting it.

Hal Hickel

Tiburon, CA

Bernie History

Nice nostalgic look back at Bernie’s first election to meaningful office in Vermont [“Fair Game,” March 9]. In fact, the term “Sanderistas” was coined by the Dems after the election when Bernie started systematically dismantling the various commissions that ran city government back then. (The full phrase as it appeared in opposition broadsides was “Burn-a-Sunder and the Sanderistas.”)

Nothwithstanding Bernie’s misty-eyed memories of election night, the various party-going groups he mentioned had little to do with the victory. What sealed it was the work of the Vermont Alliance, which had become a very effective force in previously disenfranchised areas such as the Old North End, and Dickie Bove’s insistence on staying in as a spoiler when he knew he had no chance of gaining a vote outside of his restaurant. Both of these were essential to Bernie’s victory, as was Gordie Paquette’s refusal to campaign.

When the dust had settled a few years later, all of the former political “pros” Bernie schooled found themselves being ruled by someone who was a true cutthroat when it came to patronage, political payback and neighborhood organizing. Bernie’s never been disingenuous enough to seriously criticize how the game is played, because he has been the master for a long time.

Chip Mitiguy


Meet the Meat

“Meat TV” [“Side Dishes,” March 2] is a great video series. But we got something even better. My wife, our older son and I spent 18 months apprenticing with Cole Ward, cutting up pigs for him whenever he called to say he had one. You see, we raise pastured pigs au naturel in the mountains of Vermont. Getting our meat processed is our highest expense, eating up about one-third of our gross income. So we’re building our own USDA- and state-inspected on-farm butcher shop, which is why we spent time working with Cole to learn the old-time commercial meat-cutting skills. He’s a great teacher, full of humor and knowledge. This DVD is the chance for a lot more people to share in gaining this knowledge. I’m glad someone finally made video footage of Cole in action to preserve this knowledge for future generations.

Walter Jeffries


Charity Begins at Home

This entire situation is disgraceful [“Can the Catholic Diocese Boot a Group Home From Its North Avenue Property? A Judge Will Decide,” March 9]: that Burlington College, which can afford such a parcel of land in the first place, would even consider evicting the mentally ill, who have no voice of their own. So the bonds have to be taxed, so neighbors are upset — get a grip. It could be someone you know who is facing eviction. Only the most desperate of the mentally ill require a group living situation. Be realistic. Or will they put these unfortunates on the street along with the rest of the untreated mentally ill?

Judith Janone


Sympathy for the Schoolteachers

In between real jobs — at HUD and IBM — I worked as a paraprofessional in our local high school [“Contract Negotiations in a Tough Economy Test Longtime Labor Lawyer Scott Cameron,” February 16]. I saw firsthand the abuse teachers endured. They were paid far more than the average Northeast Kingdom worker, but needed to wear many hats — disciplining, mentoring, parenting, socializing and, when time allowed, educating.

I have a friend, now a successful professional, who was a bit of a punk in school. But his mom said one thing that stuck: “If you are in trouble in school, you are in twice as much trouble at home.” This is no longer the rule. Now, we have empowered kids to bust our chops in every way. Teachers need to carry huge liability insurance through the NEA. Every word expressed in lectures needs to weighed and analyzed. Perhaps I need to add “lawyer” to my list.

When the public layers on so many jobs within a job, it is no wonder teachers demand a small fortune in pay by Vermont standards. No, they are not royalty and do need to look around and see what others get for so-called wages. They do need to see the resentment and the reason for it. But until we take more responsibility for raising our kids and stop palming off the problems onto the school system, teachers will pressure us to put up or shut up.

Charles Gross

Derby Line

The Ed Commissioner Responds

In “Just Say Know: Who’s pushing for open government and who’s leaving us in the dark?” [March 16], you stated that I refused to provide to the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus documents we sent to local districts regarding the budget-reduction targets required by Challenges for Change. The Vermont Department of Education did provide the requested document to the public as soon as the figures contained were finalized by the districts, within 48 hours of the request being made.

I am a true believer in open records and meetings and have always been open to sharing with the media and public on important education issues. You may recall that my department was the only department last year that opened up its Challenges for Change meetings to the public, because I believe so strongly in this concept.

Armando Vilaseca


Vilaseca is Vermont’s commissioner of education.

A Light on Lawson’s

In [“Head for the Hill,” March 9], reference was made to a dimly lit, sparsely stocked Lawson’s Store. I respectfully disagree. I have lived in Websterville since 1954, and, during this time, Lawson’s Store has been an important part of this community. This store was opened and has been in the Lawson family since 1918. If this store was as Kevin J. Kelley would have you believe, it could not have survived so long. Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

David Dickinson


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