Letters to the Editor (10/5/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (10/5/22) 

Published October 5, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

What, No Rutland?

You had three writers on ["Vermonters Celebrate the First Day of Legal Cannabis Sales," October 1, online], and still no one could make it to Rutland? Pity.

Rutland is often, if not always, shortchanged.

Sharon Nimtz


Editor's note: We didn't deploy any reporters to Rutland for Saturday's opening day story because culture coeditor Dan Bolles wrote a full-length feature on a Rutland store in last week's issue, titled "Inside Rutland's Mountain Girl Cannabis, One of Vermont's First Adult-Use Dispensaries."

Mystery on Wheels

I was horrified to read about the death of Suleiman Kangangi in a recent gravel bike race ["Tragedy at the Overland," September 21]. I raced bicycles in the '70s and recently took up gravel biking, so I'm very aware of the risks inherent in the sport. I was once in a crash similar to Kangangi's when I was descending rapidly on a smooth straightaway with no other cyclists around and a dog ran out suddenly and got in front of my bike. In that crash, I suffered nothing more serious than a broken clavicle, so Kangangi's death seems very surprising.

Over the last year or so, I have been reading other news reports of unexpected and sudden deaths of young, fit athletes, so it occurred to me that perhaps Kangangi had a medical emergency that led to his accident. My hope is that the medical establishment will look more closely into the causes of these deaths so that we can prevent future tragedies of this kind.

Mark Alexander


Prog Party Pooper

Seven Days described the Progressives as a major political party in Vermont [2022 Election Guide, September 28], but are they really? Vermont printed approximately 330,000 ballots for the Progressive Party for the primary election held on August 9, 2022. Voters who identified as Democrats cast well over 100,000 ballots; Republicans, 30,000-plus; and the Progs, just 610. The Prog primary ballot I received listed just seven candidates.

Interestingly, none of those candidates appears on my general election ballot, and none of the candidates sporting Prog endorsements on my general election ballot was on the Prog primary ballot — they all appeared on the Democratic ballot. The Prog endorsements you see on the general election ballot were not selected by voters identifying as Progs and who selected their candidates in that primary election, but by a small elite cadre of Prog kingmakers — their "Politburo," or party executive committee.

It appears that the Progs have adopted the adage, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." As such, it's more accurate to identify the Progs as a caucus of the Democratic Party, like the Women's Caucus or the Black Caucus. Caucuses are important sources of power within a political party, but they are not their own major political party. Maybe the thousands of dollars spent on printing, distributing and counting the Prog primary ballots could have been better spent extending benefits to those who need real financial assistance — instead of blowing the money to stroke the egos of Vermont's Prog Politburo.

Alan Bjerke


Thanks From the Border

[Re "A Library Director Helps Elderly Francophones Cross the Canadian Border," May 2, online]: Anne Wallace Allen's article highlighting our library, thrust into the role of de facto ArriveCAN expert assisting hundreds of locals and stranded visitors, started a groundswell! 

Anne's work showing how we live, trade and transit in the most rural, sparse, remote and elderly (per capita) part of Vermont on the Québec border kicked up some celebrity for us. The news went on to La Presse, CBC Television and Radio, CTV, CJAD 800 radio, "The Elias Makos Show," "Rosemary Barton Live," local newspapers, and more. It was an exciting time. When the lifting of restrictions was announced, there was celebration.

Readers, listeners and travelers continent-wide called and wrote to us with gratitude. Local residents humbled us with their meaningful thanks: a jar of green tomato relish, handmade sewn cozies, cookies, one milkshake and two books of postage stamps from a retired postal worker from Fall River, Mass. We were very touched by a personal letter of gratitude from the national president of the Canadian Customs and Immigration Union, as well as one from Gov. Phil Scott.

This library is ready to pivot to the next trend at our door, which we will do in the "aggressively welcoming" way of all Vermont public libraries. There is no doubt this press and advocacy were a catalyst for the policy change that allows us to resume critical cross-border personal business and commerce with equity and ease.

Sharon Ellingwood White


White is the director of the Alice M. Ward Memorial Library in Canaan.

Investigate Teen Challenge

The article on Naomi Wood and Teen Challenge ["Trust Fail," September 7] was great, and I feel it is about time. 

I am the Johnson resident the article mentions who came upon a young man kicked out of Teen Challenge on a 30-degree November day, wearing shorts and a T-shirt. He was abandoned and at risk of injury and maybe death from exposure.

Numerous attempts by me and my neighbors to effect some level of regulation to protect the program participants as well as our community have fallen on deaf ears, at the Vermont Attorney General's Office, Department of Public Safety, Department for Children and Families, legislature, and local sheriff's office. All seem to be sympathetic, but there's been no traction or action taken to assert regulation on the facility, which the public believes is a Christian rehab facility for drug, alcohol and behavior issues. 

Meanwhile, its speeding vans threaten people walking on our back roads. Plus, Teen Challenge makes money on those participants who do work in the community, for which the program gets paid. That income is nontaxable.

In my opinion, it's a center for exploitation, abuse, neglect and abandonment and a violator of public safety — unless Teen Challenge can prove otherwise, and with regulatory proof.

Paul Langevin


Garimella Fights Back

Part of the situation described in ["UVM President Denies Allegation of Antisemitism on Campus," September 16, online] is all too typical: An irresponsible watchdog tries to stamp out alleged discrimination but, in fact, creates victims and tramples on the First Amendment. But part is not typical: The victim, the University of Vermont's courageous president, Suresh Garimella, fought back.

Of course, the secret of what occurred can only be understood against the syndrome where enemies of free speech have come to think that even the most ridiculous claims of discrimination will always trump even the strongest cases for free speech, particularly if the free speech is apparently that of critics of Israel.

The facts speak for themselves. The overheated imagination of people in the civil rights section of the federal Department of Education, based on complaints from Jewish on Campus and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, led them to launch an investigation into the alleged discrimination at UVM. But president Garimella has shown the extent to which the accusers have egg on their face.

First, the accusers said some stones were thrown at a window at Hillel. But Garimella discovered that the stones were thrown by friends trying to reach a sick person at Hillel. Second, the accusers said a teaching assistant had made comments on social media. Garimella's apparent refusal to punish that shows his understanding of the First Amendment, as does his refusal to punish for the third accusation: that two unofficial student groups barred Zionists from membership.

Norman Arthur Fischer


Hire Local Architect — for Starters

[Re "The $165,000,000 Question," September 21]: I read with interest the article concerning the proposed new Burlington High School, as I am a graduate of BHS and the local college community. Obviously, there is a great need for an institute of higher learning here in the state of Vermont, as everyone who has graduated from the old facility is inept and uneducated. I can think of no other reason that we had to hire an out-of-state architect and an out-of-state contractor, who will undoubtedly hire out-of-state subcontractors, who will order their materials from out-of-state suppliers. I am saddened that the taxpayers of Burlington are being asked to support the population of Massachusetts with their tax dollars. Perhaps the voters should consider where their tax dollars are being spent when at the polls.

Byron Gokey

South Hero

'Utopian Dreams'

Thank you for the well-written article ["The $165,000,000 Question," September 21]. A few concerns: It appears there has been significant fiscal stewardship mismanagement by the Burlington School District. With a school budget of $95 million, in a district that has passed 90 percent of its budgets over the last 20 years, how do you not address simple items like window seals, dripping pipes and broken ceiling tiles? How quickly will this fiscal irresponsibility be applied to the new $190 million building?

If approved, how will voters react if there are cost overruns on the project, either in the PCB cleanup or in general construction delays due to supply chain issues? What are the estimated operating costs of the new building? Heating costs will be lower, but what about the costs of maintaining new technology and the building?

The State of Vermont should not assist in the financing of the school. Burlington has the largest and most diverse tax base in the state. As noted, there may be more than a handful of other schools in a similar situation that certainly don't have the means to fund a new school. If the state has to assist, let it be for our poorer neighbors, who will most likely develop a more frugal building design.

The richest should not be looking to their poorer neighbors to finance their utopian dreams.

Dan Carver


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