Letters to the Editor (3/16/16) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (3/16/16) 

Published March 16, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated March 17, 2016 at 11:29 a.m.

No Mercy

[Re "The Prosecution Never Rests," March 9]: Finally, a prosecutor — or judge — who is not a social worker in drag. Break the law. Go to jail.

Tim Vincent


Custody Is Complex

"Child's Best Interest?" [March 2] was very alarming on many levels: the nightmare that the mother is apparently living; the unbelievable trauma the child faces; and the vague portrayal of the most important details in the article, which made it a frustrating read. It reminded me of another Ken Picard article, "Winner Takes All" [April 3, 2013, about whether Vermont's family courts should be allowed to order shared custody of kids]. Both of these articles challenge Vermont's "best interest of the child" statute in a way I find ill-considered.

Family court and custody disputes are ugly and horrible across the nation, whether a state subscribes to the conflict-escalating farce that is "50-50" custody or something a bit more subjective such as "best interest of the child." The issue is much more complex than the bias Picard presents. The reality is, there are not enough standards built in relevant to the plethora of vastly different family situations that may lead to a custody dispute.

The entire process is impersonal and adversarial — from lawyers (who should be banned from family court) to the arena of the courtroom. No matter what a state's statute is, the current system will continue to produce stories rife with seeming injustices and inhumane outcomes.

Without personalization, de-escalation, a tight focus on parental coordination, prioritizing mediation and setting regulations with more specific language, no custody law will satisfy a child's best interest across the board, especially while pandering to the big moneymaker: "parental rights" as played out with vitriol in the family colosseum.

Ginseng MacKay-Tisbert


Been There, Dunne That

Last week's Fair Game column reported that gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne returned a perfectly legal $250 contribution from a Vermont law firm because the firm was — gasp! —incorporated [Fair Game, March 9]. Said he: "Vermont has come out strongly against [the] Citizens United [opinion], and I believe it's important that we [candidates] walk the walk. "

He then accepted a $250 contribution from the personal account of the same lawyer.

But more importantly, Dunne has no idea that the much-hated (by the Sanderista left) Citizens United opinion has nothing whatsoever to do with corporations giving money to candidates' campaigns. That has been illegal in federal races since 1907.

  It's not illegal under Vermont law, however; witness the many corporations that appear in the campaign contribution reports of Gov. Peter Shumlin, one of the leading howlers about the supposed evils of Citizens United.

Dunne is welcome to accept or reject contributions he finds unclean. But spare me the ignorant posturing about Citizens United.

John McClaughry


McClaughry is the founder of the Vermont-based Ethan Allen Institute.

Easy Rider

I agree with Jernigan Pontiac that Uber is becoming popular because it is easier [Hackie: "Tyrannosaurus Hackie," March 9]. But I disagree with his analysis that it has to do with the fact that folks — "especially younger ones" — hate to talk to others. 

I rarely have need of a cab, but recently, in Burlington, my wife and I needed a one for a 4 a.m. ride to the airport. I spent about a half hour tracking down a cab company online, making calls, and finally got through to someone who was still in business and arranged the ride. In the end, the cab didn't show up for the pickup, and we had to rouse our host out of bed to get us to our flight on time. Not a great way to start complicated travel plans.

If traditional cab companies want to stay in business, they need to make it easy and reliable, whether through an app or a phone call. Good luck.

Paul Haskell


Sons and Hunters

After raptly reading "Eating Crow" [February 24] by Sadie Williams, I predicted a response along the lines of Nicole Carey's [Feedback, "Pro Crow," March 9]. We live in dichotomous times of pro versus anti, with a perceived obligation to afford opposing viewpoints equal time.

The original story motivated me to revisit the writings of seminal American environmentalist Aldo Leopold. Striking are the similarities between Leopold and the crow-hunting Rodney Elmer featured in Williams' article: hunters and killers of wildlife whose personal paths caused them to rethink (some of, at least) their fatal choices. But enlightenment is a journey, not a mere end, and I suspect that simply choosing not to kill at the outset yields something less than the encompassing knowledge these two lovers of things wild obviously have.

I confess an advantage over Ms. Carey: Elmer was one of my son's hunter-safety instructors. I have a very personal appreciation for his outdoors ethic; my son is fortunate indeed to have learned a thing or two directly from Rodney. "Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf," wrote Leopold. Amen to that.

Bill Agnew


A Word for the Warbler

I was most dismayed to read that the Vermont Public Service Board and Vermont Gas have again been in cahoots to destroy a precious wildlife habitat, this time of the rare and beautiful golden-winged warbler ["Hinesburg Residents Scramble to Keep Gas Out of Park," March 9]. Their reason? To put in a fracked gas pipeline to supposedly provide "alternative energy" to customers.

But we all know by now, or should know, that (1) fracked gas is not a renewable energy source, as it is not natural, and (2) the bottom line here is the dollar, not the customers, as purported. Vermont Gas is owned by Gaz Métro, a Canadian company with no interest in protecting Vermont customers or Vermont natural resources — nor Vermont's wildlife treasures, for that matter.

Any pipeline development is shortsighted and, in this case, criminal, in my eyes. The two sisters who gave the land to Hinesburg for the park no longer have a voice. The rest of us need to use ours to speak for them.

Kathleen Guinness


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