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Letters to the Editor (4/3/24) 

Published April 3, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.

In Defense of the Young

[Re "Crossing the Aisle: Progressive Burlington Mayor-Elect Mulvaney-Stanak Won by Picking Up Democratic Votes," March 13]: As I understand the reporting on the Democrats' whining about Joan Shannon's defeat, they were taking comfort in the idea that so-called "young people" were responsible and that measures should be taken, such as requiring a long residency to be permitted to vote. Why not, as the racist knuckleheads in the Deep South did, require having a grandfather who voted to be allowed to cast a ballot?

I am used to hearing people say "Young people are our future," but apparently we have people in Burlington who don't like that young people are our present, as well. I suggest that the reasons Shannon lost were not because the voting system is broken or overwhelmed by hordes of young people. They lie instead in the sluggish go-along, get-along inertia that the Democrats are mired in. They are (ahem) dinos, and they have allowed themselves to become the moss-backed Republicans of the past while the Progressive Party has picked up the banners that used to be waved by Democrats.

As William Shakespeare might have said: "The fault, dear Democrats, is not in young people but in yourselves."

John Rouleau


Money Matters

[Re "Online Sports Betting in Vermont Will Start in January," December 12, 2023; "Sweating the Bet," March 27]: $20 million spent on betting on online athletic events in just three weeks. I can think of lots of charities, food shelves and community organizations in Vermont that could benefit from even a small portion of that money. Funny how people can justify spending money on betting but not help neighbors and organizations in need.

Geegee Zaveson


Whither Broadband?

In the informative article ["Getting On," March 6], Kevin Chu of the Vermont Futures Project says he has spent the past two years spreading a pro-growth message for Vermont. He stated the pandemic-era rise in remote work and the investment in rural internet is also allowing more people to consider small-town rural life.

In 2007, then-governor Jim Douglas pledged to connect the state by 2010. That never happened.

In 2011, then-governor Peter Shumlin promised increased broadband and cellular coverage by 2013. That promise failed to deliver, as well.

In 2018, Gov. Phil Scott didn't go as far as promising universal coverage but said he would develop additional policy proposals to expand broadband coverage.

So, where are we today?

According to BroadbandNow's 2024 annual ranking of internet coverage, speed and availability, Vermont currently ranks 31st in the country. This ranking is despite the state spending millions of federal, state, local and private dollars in an attempt to accelerate broadband accessibility and deployment throughout Vermont over the past almost 20 years.

Despite this substantial investment, Vermont still has 30 states ranked above it. How will we get young entrepreneurs, software designers, top-100 corporate employees and thousands of other employees working from home into rural communities in Vermont when the internet access is inadequate?Vermont is always proud of being No. 1 in achieving various groundbreaking social, environmental, economic and political objectives. We have a long way to go on this mission.

Dave Spaulding


Open Your Doors

I read with interest about the aging population of Vermont, the closing of schools, and the need for workers in nursing homes and as drivers and good cooks ["Getting On," March 6]. You are in a wonderful position to invite families with children to come to live in Vermont by engaging with churches and the community to think outside the box.

After the Vietnam War, hundreds of churches adopted families fresh off the jet from Southeast Asia. Our Maryland parish hosted a family, and we collected a modest rent for the family and provided native speakers to help them settle in. Someone offered a small house, and a Vietnamese family prospered there for years.

Vermont could give space to many such families. Of course, they would have to be carefully chosen and be placed near other adoptees in order to have the community they need. All the undocumented and documented people that I work with want to give back to those who held out a helping hand.

The new kids will take to the slopes and become your next generation of Olympic hopefuls. What a blessing that would be for the great state of Vermont.

Judy Walser

Rockville, MD

It's All Connected

[Re "This Old State"]: So pleased that the complex issues of our aging population will be an ongoing focus over the coming year. The introductory cover story on March 6 ["Getting On"] begins to show the interconnectedness of the many issues.

Subsequent stories need to maintain this connection while highlighting the challenges ahead. We must guard against the urge to act impulsively. Every decision today, well intentioned as it might be, will be felt for decades. We must insist that policy makers anticipate and mitigate the weak areas of any plan and know that the benefits, now and in the future, will far outweigh negative consequences. No action is without some downside to someone or something.

The time is also right to examine our attitudes and behaviors with regard to housing, aging and equity. The American dream must begin to change to meet the reality of available space and healthy environments.

Monique Hayden


Could Be Safer

After reading your article about the safe shoot-up site in New York City ["'Safe Haven,'" March 20], I was disappointed that there was no mention of the safer sites in other countries that provide prescription doses to avoid the problems with hustling unsafe street-drug buys. It also makes our streets safer. I also thought that New York tested the street drugs. Your article says it does not. And there is no mention of how difficult it would be to get treatment for the addicts given our lack of universal health care.

With more than 50 million cigarette addicts and a huge number of alcoholics, why are we so concerned with giving a less vicious form of pleasure a safer environment?

John Earl


'Coddling Drug Users'

"'Safe Haven'" [March 20] made no mention of the percentage of users who went on to become useful and employed citizens of this country. That seems to be an important part of the equation. Bill H.72 would only be coddling drug users, saving their lives for ... what? How many are going to go on to lead productive lives? And what cost is H.72 going to be to the hardworking citizens? Taking drugs is a choice they make and, because of that, they have to live with the consequences.

I feel for the surviving families of these victims. I have sympathy for anyone who loses a loved one, no exceptions. Greg Gordon fell on hard times at the beginning of the pandemic. Did he ever think of walking into a church, where he might have found help, instead of resorting to drugs? We are all given free will to make our own choices.

Unfortunately, drugs of every sort are advertised on television constantly, luring people to take them for every ailment. Perhaps banning drug advertisements on networks would be a good place to start. Our bodies are a perfect "machine" made by the No. 1 creator of all time. Drugs are poison we put into them by choice. No matter how it is presented, the taxpayer will be footing the bill for this "safe haven." As far as I know, money doesn't grow on trees.

Joyce Coutu

Essex Junction

Better Wildlife Management

When discussing the lack of balanced representation on the Fish and Wildlife Board, blame needs to be laid squarely on Gov. Phil Scott's desk ["Wild Bill: Long at Odds With Vermont's Fish and Wildlife Board, Activists Would Like to Strip Its Powers," February 28]. There is no requirement for the board to be composed only of those who hunt, trap or fish. The only requirement is one person from each county. The governor could appoint a group representing diverse wildlife management backgrounds. But he chooses not to. Instead, he perpetuates the status quo through a completely nontransparent selection process.

The governor should read the state Constitution if he thinks board appointments are an executive function. Article 67 provides for hunting and fowling in Vermont "under proper regulations, to be made and provided by the General Assembly." The General Assembly, or the legislature, passed regulation to create the Fish and Wildlife Board and delegated authority to the governor to select its members. It is well within the legislature's rights to reclaim its authority to appoint the board. The proposed bill, S.258, would share the responsibility for appointments between the legislature and the commissioner of the Fish & Wildlife Department.

The challenges facing Vermont's wildlife are changing — chronic wasting disease, pesticide poisoning from rodenticides, and habitat changes from development and a changing climate, to name just a few. A more diverse Fish and Wildlife Board would help manage these challenges in the years ahead to achieve a common goal: the health of Vermont's wildlife.

Barbara Felitti


On Closer Reading

[Re "Wild Bill: Long at Odds With Vermont's Fish and Wildlife Board, Activists Would Like to Strip Its Powers," February 28]: It was disappointing to read Kevin McCallum's fairly one-sided and partly inaccurate account of bill S.258, which, in summary, as taken directly from the legislation, reads: "This bill proposes to transfer the authority to adopt rules for the taking of fish, wildlife, and fur-bearing animals from the Fish and Wildlife Board to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The bill would also amend the authority of the Fish and Wildlife Board so that it serves in an advisory capacity to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. In addition, the bill would prohibit the hunting of coyote with dogs."

There is no language in the bill referencing foothold or body-gripping traps, as McCallum stated.

In the hallway outside the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee room, while the committee was hearing public testimony on the matter, I was privy to a very civil conversation between two individuals on opposing sides of the bill. This exemplified precisely what has been lacking in the makeup of the Fish and Wildlife Board: seats at the table and the voices of diverse citizen perspectives.

As provided by Chapter II, § 67 of the Constitution of the State of Vermont, "The fish and wildlife of Vermont are held in trust by the State for the benefit of the citizens of Vermont." This means all citizens. A change to the makeup and power of the Fish and Wildlife Board would be a step in the right direction in order to ensure wider representation of all Vermont citizens.

Susan Rand


Editor's note: Kevin McCallum's February 28 story included points of view both for and against the bill. Further, his reporting was accurate — the bill that was before the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee at the time the article was published included a provision to restrict trapping within 50 feet of any area "where persons may reasonably be expected to recreate," such as walking trails. The provision was removed from later bill drafts and was not included in the version the Senate approved on March 26.

Bad Review

I am writing to respond to the review of "Trichomancy: Color Divination" that ran February 3 through March 16 at the Chandler Center for the Arts ["Fiber Works at Chandler Center for the Arts Tell Colorful Stories," March 13]. Fiber art has been staging a resurgence in the art world. The New York Times ran an article last fall that fiber art has come into its own, and recently the Enterprise in Cape Cod profiled an exhibit of over 50 artists who use fiber as their medium. Currently, felted art is being shown at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

I encouraged art editor Pamela Polston to please go see "Trichomancy," with over 70 artists from New England who were showcasing their diverse, astonishing art. The response was that a reporter had been assigned. After several weeks, I wrote again. I was told that the article was coming out the week the show was ending.

The article was published 2.5 days before the show closed. Clearly writer Gina Tron did not understand what she was seeing or was not interested in fiber art. The article didn't reflect this exceptionally curated contemporary show. It showcased Ms. Tron's apathy about the art, going so far as to refuse to use the word "art" to describe it. At one point, she compared a glorious weaving to the size of a bed and said of Barb Ackemann's wonderful tapestry: "Despite the medium, it mimics a realistic painting."

No acknowledgment of the vastness and talent of these artists. It was a dry, slightly insulting article to get a paycheck, a real disservice to the artists and art lovers of Vermont.

Susi Ryan

Essex Junction

Downsize Buses

In response to the article about Green Mountain Transit having to cut services if it doesn't receive more funds by 2025 ["Green Mountain Transit Says a Budget Crunch Could Lead to Service Cuts," March 25], I say how about replacing older buses with smaller ones? I've never, ever seen a bus that was even close to full. All of these buses congesting our roads with only a handful of passengers doesn't make economic sense.

Pierre Lascoumes

South Burlington

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