Letters to the Editor (1/23/19) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (1/23/19) 

Published January 23, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.

Thorsen Inspired

Thank you for the cover article about Matthew Thorsen ["Thorever and Ever," January 9]. He is a masterful example of how each one of us makes a difference in the world. Even though I never had the privilege to meet him in person, his creativity, individualism, sense of humor, determination, compassion and talent made ripples in my life, ones that affect and influence me to this day. Matt reminds me that who we are and what we do matters. He inspires me to reach further. My condolences to those who love him. The depth of this loss is only matched by the tremendous gifts he leaves us all. 

Carole Vasta Folley

Essex Junction

Not My Dick

[Re "Thorever and Ever," January 9]: Though I did make female bodies and costumes for Yolanda, etc., I did not make the giant penis. Check your facts.

Onnie Palmer

Chilmark, MA

Editor's note: It was not possible for us to fact-check the crowdsourced personal recollections of Matthew Thorsen that accompanied Pamela Polston's story. Our apologies that one of them contained this error. 

True Pew

John Walters' December 19 Fair Game column, "Pension Tension," mischaracterized how the Pew Charitable Trusts works with states such as Vermont to assess the sustainability of their public employee retirement systems.

Pew does not advocate a one-size-fits-all solution to the unique challenges that states face in solving their pension funding problems. Rather, we offer policy makers and key stakeholders accurate data, rigorous analysis and tools to better understand future risks and the range of options available to address their state's challenges.

Stress testing, the increasingly popular financial reporting practice referenced in the column, is among the most important tools available to policy makers seeking to ensure the long-term fiscal health of their pension systems. By assessing how pension funds perform under various adverse economic scenarios, stress testing enables lawmakers, pension plan fiduciaries and taxpayers to have a clear-eyed understanding of how vulnerable their plans are to a recession. When asked, Pew provides an array of services at no cost to states and cities interested in adopting stress testing, but it's up to policy makers to decide how to implement the analysis and respond to the data. 

Greg Mennis

Washington, D.C.

Mennis is director of Public Sector Retirement Systems at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Letting the Racists Win

[Re Off Message: "White Nationalist Crashes Press Conference on Racial Harassment of Kiah Morris," January 14]: In his press conference, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced that no criminal laws were broken during the lengthy harassment of Kiah Morris and James Lawton. It's one thing to engage in an intellectual analysis of judicial decisions, parsing the concept of a "true threat" and placing it within the shell of "free speech." It's quite another thing to look much more closely at the long string of events that led to Morris' resignation from the legislature.

Max Misch, the harasser, is a self-proclaimed white supremacist. This country has a history of white supremacists wreaking physical violence on nonwhite Americans. At one point, a Vermont judge saw enough of a threat to issue a no-stalking order. There was a physical break-in to the Morris-Lawton home, with Lawton's ties strewn around the cemetery across from their home. In that same cemetery, people had loitered, watching their home for no good reason. Teenagers began banging on the door and windows of their home. All of this occurred with a young child living in the home.

Misch's online statements and insults were all based on race.

That doesn't amount to a "true threat"? These statements and actions serve the purpose of "free speech"?

If so, we either have a problem with law enforcement or inadequate laws. Misch was probably right in his statement earlier this month: "I thought I won. I did it."

This is a very sad moment for Bennington, for America and for decency everywhere. 

Lee Russ


Everyone's Problem

On Monday, January 14, we attended the press conference in Bennington at which Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced that no charges would be filed against anyone for the racial harassment that led to the resignation of state representative Kiah Morris [Off Message: "White Nationalist Crashes Press Conference on Racial Harassment of Kiah Morris," January 14]. We drove two hours to Bennington to support Morris, who was Vermont's only black female legislator before racist threats online and in her community drove her from office.

What happened to Morris, in the events leading up to her resignation and at the press conference we witnessed, is emblematic of how white supremacy is upheld by law enforcement. Why wasn't this racist troll escorted from the building by some of the dozens of police officers who were present?

White Vermonters, we beg you to take this personally. If you are a liberal, progressive person, you may agree with us that racism is a problem in society, yet you may not consider it your problem. It is our problem. We must center and uplift the voices of our neighbors of color who face discrimination every day in our communities. Everyone deserves to be safe. Everyone deserves to be free from threats, harassment and violence.

Please contact your legislators and ask what they are doing to ensure that Vermonters of color, be they public officials or private citizens, have the same rights to safety and the pursuit of happiness that white Vermonters enjoy.

Joanna Colwell


Amy Mason


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