Letters to the Editor (7/26/17) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (7/26/17) 

Published July 26, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.

Rest in Peace

[Re Life Lines: "David J. 'Sully' Sullivan," July 19]: In a beautiful passage early on in her new book, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story, Haitian American author Edwidge Danticat explains, "We write about the dead to make sense of our losses, to become less haunted, to turn ghosts into words, to transform absence into language." Donna Sullivan Macdonald and Alexander William Macdonald were sister and nephew to our beloved David, now passed.

The Rev. Phil Robertson says, "We are all sinners, and we are all going to die," no exceptions. In order to enjoy a satisfactory and meaningful future, we must cherish our past while side-stepping any unnecessary minutiae or flotsam we see along the way — and are tempted to grasp. It's a part of life we are destined to grovel through, regardless of the "blessings" we are fully aware of.

With the actual truth exposed, this terrible blow is a little less burdensome, the deep hurt a bit more manageable. RIP, David, from all three of us!

Geoffrey Macdonald

South Burlington

Right to Bail

[Re "Mann Overboard? Critics Say New Vermont Judge Is Too Lenient," July 12]: Bail is not a "get out of jail free" card. It is the constitutional right of a person accused but not convicted of a crime. The only proper considerations in setting bail are flight risk and danger to the community. Pretrial confinement should never be used to punish. For the indigent who cannot post a money bond, there are other ways of ensuring compliance with the court schedule, as has been used in the article. Those unhappy with this should blame the U.S. Constitution, not the judge applying the law as written.

Kathleen Bachus


Ignore Toensing

I love Seven Days, which makes it even more of a bummer to see your paper engage in the type of political reporting that treats fascism as a perspective we can learn from. ["Sunlight and Scandal: GOP Lawyer Brady Toensing Stirs Up Vermont Politics," July 12] is the kind of reporting that, on the national scale, gave Donald Trump the platform from which he won the presidency. We don't need to give soapboxes to bigots.

Toensing ran the Vermont Trump campaign. He's all over Breitbart. We do not need to take his type seriously or engage in "learning conversations." The minute you sell out our black, Muslim, queer, female, poor, Latino neighbors, you become an enemy to our community. We don't need to be "friendly learners" about self-centered, rich, straight, white men who believe their kind should continue to run the world at everyone else's expense.

While this piece does look at criticisms of Toensing, its overall tone is something like, "Here's a neighbor doing interesting stuff!" It is not OK to elevate voices like Toensing's under the auspices of "objective reporting." That's how Trump won. These selfish schemers do not need free press.

I understand and truly appreciate your paper's commitment to objectivity. But it's 2017. We need to ask which dichotomies we're using and which voices we're elevating. I'd love to see Seven Days move the scales on what it considers to be "general interest" politics. This is a hateful man, and his face does not need to be in our community paper.

Eric Maier


Compost Costs

Thank you for shining a light on the challenges of handling food scrap disposal at Chittenden Solid Waste District drop-off centers ["Despite 'Ick Factor' and New Fees, Drop-Off Composting Catches On," July 5]. We're gratified to see so many people using backyard composters as well as our DOCs to reduce the amount of resources they're sending to the landfill. 

To be clear, the new fee applies only to those who bring food scraps without trash to the DOCs. Trash fees help cover the cost of transporting them to Green Mountain Compost in Williston. If you don't bring trash as well, your food scraps are getting a "free ride," courtesy of those who are paying. As a municipality, not a for-profit business, we are careful about wisely using public money — your fees — to cover costs.

Food scraps are one of the most expensive materials we handle. As we move closer to 2020, when food scraps are banned from landfill disposal in Vermont, it becomes increasingly important to ensure they are managed in an economically and environmentally sound manner. How is this paid for? With user fees, for the most part. CSWD does not levy a local tax to pay for our services. 

We recognize the need to encourage people to keep food scraps out of their trash. We subsidized food scrap collection for several years before instituting this fee — and continue to do so, to some degree. 

We're also listening. We welcome thoughts and ideas for fine-tuning our management of this material.

Sarah Reeves

East Middlebury

Reeves is general manager of the Chittenden Solid Waste District.

Land of Lobbyists

[Re Off Message: "Special Interests Spent $5.4 Million Lobbying Vermont Lawmakers," July 4]: What is the relationship between health care in Vermont and the insurance industry?

At the Statehouse in Montpelier, there are a total of 180 senators and representatives. At last count there were 389 registered lobbyists. 

Our Vermont state senators and representatives are semi-volunteer private citizens who do not have personal paid staff to help them frame and write laws. They do share a small pool of staff and lawyers for all 180 legislators, but not enough to do their work. So, out of necessity, the laws are created and reworked by private experts in lobbying groups who walk the halls and populate the committee rooms in the Statehouse. 

Out of the total 389 lobbyists at the Statehouse, 117 represent the for-profit health insurance industry. About 30 percent of the registered lobbyists are paid to help legislators write laws that advance the interests of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. 

The democratic process in Vermont is a bit muddy for health care. It's a clash of interests. A stated mandate is to have health care become "a human right for all Vermont citizens" — as it is in other developed countries in the world. Yet that idea clashes with the interests of private insurance companies who make immense profits by managing and controlling our health care system. 

A critical reason that we do not have "Medicare for All" in Vermont is because the private health insurance/pharmaceutical lobby is opposed to it. It's as simple as that. 

Robert Howe

North Bennington

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