Letters to the Editor (1/11/23) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (1/11/23) 

Published January 11, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated January 11, 2023 at 10:16 a.m.

Sevens Up

Mathematically, this promises to be an interesting year: 2023 = 7 x 17 x 17.

Not a bad poker hand: three sevens and a pair of aces — a full house. Lucky New Year, everyone!

Jim Rader


Remembering Sasha

I want to express my gratitude to Seven Days for publishing the weekly Lifelines section and ["Life Stories 2022," December 28] so that I had the chance to learn of Sasha Torrens-Sperry's death and more about her life. My broken heart is now even more open.

I had the opportunity to be one of Sasha's high school math teachers. I remember her joining in when we danced to "funky functions" — my name for linear, parabolic, square root and absolute value functions. Sasha came to me on the morning of Japan's earthquake and tsunami. She asked that we watch the unfolding of this disaster. So, as a classroom community, we shared with the world. I also remember Sasha playing her sitar for our class. Sasha chose to learn how to play this instrument for her Graduation Challenge project.

As a high school teacher, I realized that we, as a classroom community, had the chance to touch each other's lives. One of my messages for all of my students was, "And I still love you."

In my daily prayers, I say, "Every breath is a prayer — open mind, open heart."

Thank you, Sasha, for touching my life. My heart goes out to Sasha's family, students, friends and loved ones.

Patricia Heather-Lea


Delightful 'Backstories'

I really enjoyed all the backstory articles ["Backstories, Sidebars and Follow-Ups 2022," December 28]. Having read most of the articles they referenced made them all the more interesting. I must admit their brevity was also part of their appeal. Sometimes the length of an article makes it daunting for me to commit to reading it!  

When taken as a whole, the degree of skill and professionalism in this regional paper is quite remarkable. I'm proud to be a monthly, albeit small-time, donor.

Thanks for keeping on keeping on!

Wren Grace


Church Rules

[Re "Burlington to Consider Demolition Permit for Historic Church," December 16, online]: I appreciate your story on the diocese's attempt to demolish the former Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, but there's more going on. The diocese acknowledges that the property is under contract, but it's not saying to whom or for what. Don Sinex? Luxury condos? Could be.

This matters because the Burlington zoning ordinance only allows buildings eligible for listing on a historic register — like the former cathedral — to be demolished if the replacement would provide "a substantial community-wide benefit that outweighs the historical or architectural significance of the building proposed for demolition." Without knowing what's next, how can one decide?

The city rejected the diocese's application to demolish the former cathedral last year on just this ground. This year, though, it did an about-face. The permitting department now says normal zoning rules don't apply to the property because it's a church. But can a building that's been vacant for four years, fenced off, decommissioned under canon law and put under contract still be called a church?

Here's hoping Seven Days decides to dig deeper!

Norman Williams

Essex, N.Y.

Best Exhibit

[Re "Counting on Art: Remembering Exhibits We Loved in 2022," December 28]: I cannot figure out how you could omit Clark Russell's exhibition titled "Riddleville" at the lovely Amy E. Tarrant Gallery, which is still on display next to the Flynn in Burlington. 

Looking in the windows, you can see some of these incredible mixed-media pieces. They are essentially three-dimensional collages. Russell has brilliantly assembled thousands of objects, and they all look great ["Towering Artist," October 12; Art Review: "Consumer City," October 19]. I could take 1,000 photos in there. Hope I have the time.  

Access to the gallery is a puzzle. Shouldn't there be a sign on the door so we know when it's open? I passed by yesterday, and Clark happened to be inside with a visitor. He let me in. I was happy to finally get some photos — this whole show is a knockout, and I thank the Flynn for bringing it to the public!  

However, why didn't it make it into the top 10 art exhibits of 2022? I would have made it No. 1, but it didn't even get an honorable mention!

If any art lovers pass by the Flynn's adjoining gallery, please glance in, and you, too, will be astonished at the skill, juxtaposition, taste and splendor of this exhibit. You will see exactly what I mean. And if you ever find out what you have missed, you'll regret it. It's that good.

Russell should win the Citizens' Award for Best Vermont Art Exhibition of 2022. 

Charlie Messing


Editor's note: The exhibition dates for "Riddleville" have been extended, to January 24. The Amy E. Tarrant Gallery will be open to the public on Saturday, January 21, from noon to 4 p.m.

How Much Hotter?

[Re Last 7, December 14]: Two questions popped into my mind when I saw the statement that 7.1 degrees is how much Burlington winter temperatures have increased since 1970. The first was: Why did they pick 1970? The second was: How much did Plattsburgh, N.Y., increase in the same time period? It stands to reason that Plattsburgh, just across the lake, must be a close second.

However, it isn't, as it has only increased 3 degrees in the same period. So I decided to crunch some numbers and try to answer the first question.

The answer came easy, thanks to Weather Underground's historical temperature database, which is searchable by year. The 1970s were exceptionally cold. So I took us back a decade and looked at the 1960s. From 1960 through 1969, the average coldest day was minus 12.6 degrees (yes, that is 12.6 below zero). So I averaged 2010 through 2019 for a comparison, and the average was minus 8.9 degrees. So for those two decades side by side, we are 3.7 degrees warmer than the 1960s. A change of 0.63 degrees would be a 5 percent change and therefore statistically significant. But a 3.7-degree change is more in line with the city across the lake and rests my case that 1970 was picked to make a more impressive statement about global warming.

Brad Cornelius


No More 'Pork-and-Gravy Train'

[Re "Retiring Rainmaker: Leahy's Departure From His Powerful Perch in the U.S. Senate Could Stanch the Flow of Federal Cash to Vermont," December 21]: Reading about the loss of massive cash piles from senator Patrick Leahy's largesse forces some of us to face the fact that much of, or even most of, all this money has gone for naught — excepting the grant writers and recipients, of course!

Example: I once asked about the $10,000 wasted for the "replacement" of the bandstand on Troy's common and where the money went. Answer? "Oh, that was just for the study; we'd need more to replace it!" Typical. Newport city's "Renaissance Commission" once paid a Montréal consultant $50,000 for a slogan proclaiming "Newport — Genuine by Nature," every penny well spent!

Just look at all the piles of money incinerated to "clean up Lake Champlain." What good did any of it do? Wasted even more money installing "secure liquid manure pits" on farms that have now blinked out of existence. And yet the algae blooms come earlier every year, closing beaches, and still the liquid crap flows freely, just like the Leahy money from Washington, D.C.

Maybe now these grant suckers will be forced to find real work in the real world, many returning from whence they came, which may alleviate Vermont's housing crisis. Someday soon, we're going to have to pay the piper to stop unsustainable federal debt, as rising interest rates mean the cost of "servicing" it overtakes the debt itself, and we may have to start with cutting these Soviet-style make-work grants and do-nothing agencies and nonprofits benefiting from one senior senator's pork-and-gravy train's annual arrival.

Steve Merrill

North Troy

So Long, Leahy

Farewell, our Senator,

retired, we, thank you for your love

of the Grateful Dead. For following them

with your camera.

To Highgate, in northern Vermont.

Where a hundred thousand filled a field

and parking lot. So happy to see you

in the wings of the stage. Jerry and Phil

looking over to you. Your compatriots. 

Raising a wavering song, for the cows, too, 

swaying in their stanchions. 

The deer huddled

in their herd beds. And always

for fall's leaves. Every painted one of them.  

Now you'll have time to photograph.

To remind us of each vote you cast.

For 48 years. To stop a war. 

To spend our taxes for the neediest.

And any time there was a man made, 

natural disaster. 

Laws to make things right

for First Dawn people. Abenaki

Vermonters. Who told the Grateful Dead

where their ancestors' bones were buried, 

and not to set the stage there. 

To honor and respect all the work 

a life gives. 

As we do you, Senator Leahy. Our Pat

and your wife, Marcelle. And

your family. Who let our nation

borrow you. Now gathered.

Like a crowd in line

at the Flynn. Or even better,

waiting at a chair lift.

Your camera sitting on its tripod

across from you. The timer set.

To hold the Capitol behind you.

And then, our friend, for you 

to step away. Toward 

the Washington Monument. 

Toward democracy's own Lincoln 


And home. To our snow-capped,

leafy mountain Champlain called

"Le Lion Couchant," the resting lion. 

Gary Margolis

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