Letters to the Editor (1/19/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (1/19/22) 

Cooler Pastures

My husband and I moved up to Vermont from Dallas back in November of 2019, just a few short months before COVID-19 became a full-blown pandemic. With the wretched mishandling of the pandemic and last winter's "Snowmageddon" by elected officials in Texas, along with devastating, widespread disasters across the country due to tornadoes, wildfires, etc., and just overall backward politics in the southern states imploding, he and I have never looked back.

After reading your "Fave Little State" cover story in the January 12 issue, it's nice to see more citizens responding to the overwhelming climate change crisis before us. As opposed to the "climate migrants" term used in the article, we've always referred to ourselves as "climate refugees" — because, given the urgency of these dark, uncertain times, it seems more fitting and accurate.

The winters in Burlington continue to be an adjustment for me; I lived in Dallas-Fort Worth all my life before moving here. But I would rather deal with the climate challenges Vermont faces with warmer, shorter winters than the escalating temperature increases Texas is up against. We endured broiling, endless summers when we were residents there.

Fred Patchen

Winooski

Slave to History

[Re Off Message; "Database Reveals Vermont Congressman Was a Slave Owner," January 11]: Creating tomorrow requires looking forward, not backward.

Bruce DeBree

Essex Junction

Keep Federal Money Local

[Re Off Message: "Vermont's Revenues Surge Because of Federal Pandemic Aid," January 13]: We have an enormous opportunity with all the federal dollars coming into the state. I encourage our legislators to focus on keeping the money local. If you buy from the big e-commerce websites, the money leaves immediately. If you hire a contractor based out of state, even if they have a few in-state employees, most of the money leaves the state. And please don't spend the money on fuel, either for heating assistance or transportation, as only about 20 percent of that money will stay in the state.

By keeping the money in the state a bit longer, we can have a greater impact on our economy. In 2020, Vermonters spent almost half a billion dollars with one big e-commerce site. That is a lot of money drained out of the Vermont economy.

Vermont spends almost $2 billion on fuel per year. Almost 80 percent of that money leaves the state.

Keeping money in the local economy may cost a bit more, and yet that is what will support our communities, our culture and our social services.

Imagine what we could do if we kept the billions in the state. Keep it local!

William Calfee

Burlington

Anyone but Gray

[Re Off Message: "Leahy's Retirement Announcement Sets Off a Scramble to Succeed Him," November 17, 2021; "Lt. Gov. Molly Gray Announces Run for U.S. House," December 6, 2021; "Vermont Sen. Becca Balint Announces Run for U.S. House," December 13, 2021; "Vermont Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale Joins Race for U.S. House," January 13]: I join with everyone across the state in thanking U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and his wife, Marcelle, for their remarkable service to Vermont, but I think that their behind-the-scenes maneuvering to get Molly Gray in a position to represent our state in Washington, D.C., is based on the same generational fear that is currently holding this state back from reaching its full potential.

Lt. Gov. Gray does a fine job at campaigning and photo ops, but she has zero accomplishments to her name — absolutely nothing to commend her — in terms of being an actual legislator. The position of representative to the U.S. House from Vermont is a legislative position.

Should we really be giving our highest offices away to the friends of people in power without asking them to earn it, just because they were born on an idyllic dairy farm and are a fresh face? I've heard firsthand some disturbing things throughout my year of conversations in and out of the Statehouse, and it's crystal clear to me that Gray has been handed her political opportunities by players who think that they can control her, maintaining their power in doing so.

Sens. Becca Balint and Kesha Ram Hinsdale are both excellent choices for Congress. Vote after vote, they have both shown their legislative nuance, intelligence and grit in the making of our laws. 

If we're going to pick a woman to send to D.C., let's pick an accomplished, independent legislator whose record proves she can stand on her own two feet.

Mary Alice Proffitt

Calais

How to Fix COVID-19

I heartily agree with Jeffrey Teitelbaum [Feedback: "How to Motivate Anti-Vaxxers," December 29, 2021]. The idea of insurance companies not reimbursing unvaccinated clients for medical expenses related to COVID-19 is perfect. Maybe that approach will move the country toward herd immunity.

Roger Crouse

Shelburne

Aging In

People older than age 65 comprise 20 percent of Vermont's population, but they were absent in Gov. Phil Scott's State of the State address [Off Message: "Scott Makes Vermont's Workforce His Priority for 2022," January 5].

We hear about the dearth of "working-age" Vermonters needed to fill many open positions. Current workforce policy initiatives accept the artificial cutoff age of 65 for viable workers, assuming that none of us past that age will still be working or that we might want to transition to new work or start new businesses.

There's a deficit-based narrative around Vermont's "aging population." If we can turn that around and envision policy initiatives to reorganize and reimagine work and working conditions to invite workers aged 65-plus to participate in a meaningful capacity, we will open opportunities for tens of thousands of experienced Vermonters to have encore careers spanning the next five to 20 years.

A concerted campaign in Vermont to retain and attract older Vermonters to workforce needs can benefit the individual and the state. Can we reimagine part-time, flexible work schedules; work incentives; an inclusive education and training infrastructure for older workers; and providing tools and incentives to employers to reengineer the workplace to attract and retain older workers into Vermont's economic future?

We have the resources and skills; now all we need is the imagination and drive. Why not align workforce initiatives — the priority for the governor, the legislature and employers — with pathways that are inclusive of an active and experienced population already here in Vermont? It is a win-win proposition if we have the vision to seize the opportunity.

Glenn McRae

Burlington

Right to Say No

Derek Brouwer's detailed chronicle of identified sources refusing to be interviewed overlooks that no one has to be interviewed by a journalist ["Backstories, Sidebars and Follow-Ups: Most Reluctant Sources," December 29, 2021].

We can even refuse to be interviewed by police officers, which generally cannot then be mentioned in court.

A journalist asserting in the court of public opinion authority that even police officers lack is crossing the line between reporting and intimidation followed by retaliation, as Brouwer has demonstrated.

Howard Fairman

Putney

'Pinocchio' Post?

[Re Off Message: "Database Reveals Vermont Congressman Was a Slave Owner," January 11]: The Washington Post's erroneous listing of Samuel Chandler Crafts (1768-1853) as the owner of enslaved people undermines my confidence in the accuracy of the entire historical survey of slaveholders in the U.S. Congress. Just a quick Google search will reveal that not only was Crafts not a slaveholder, in 1834 he was a vice president of the Vermont Anti-Slavery Society, as reported in William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist newspaper, the Liberator. Multiple Pinocchios to the Post for a factual error that amounts to slander!

Bonnie Clause

Royalton

Editor's note: Clause emailed the same criticism to the Washington Post — specifically, to reporter Julie Zauzmer Weil, who wrote the slavery piece published on January 10. Weil responded, and Clause shared her thoughtful email with Seven Days.

Thank you so much for getting in touch. I take concerns like this one very seriously.

In the case of Crafts: First of all, let me say that I sincerely regret this error and any concerns that it may have caused for any Vermonters.

As I discussed in the story, this is not a science. It would be impossible to go through thousands of handwritten 18th- and 19th-century records and reach conclusions that are clear-cut every time.

I set up this project to be as open to reader feedback as possible, and so far, I've learned of about 30 slaveholders I did not include in the database and just two erroneous non-slaveholders whom I did include in the database. Crafts was one of the two. He had an uncle by the same name who was listed as a slaveholder in a census, which is how the error arose. When I learned from Vermonters that I was wrong, we corrected the database online so that it no longer lists him as a slaveholder.

I'm sad to say that leadership in an anti-slavery society doesn't always mean a person wasn't a slaveholder himself. In fact, several of these congressmen did both.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

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