Letters to the Editor (12/14/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (12/14/22) 

Published December 14, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated December 20, 2022 at 2:37 p.m.

'Incredible' Incompetence

[Re "Lawsuit: UVM Mishandled Rape Allegation Against Basketball Star Anthony Lamb," December 7]: Can someone explain why these crimes or allegations of serious crimes against female students are handled by the incompetent and unqualified staff at the university and not referred to the proper authorities — i.e., the police? Shouldn't this be changed? Incredible.

Alan Quackenbush


Beavers Beat Esports

Thank you for the great article on the demise of the Champlain College basketball team ["Requiem for the Beavers: Twenty Years Ago, Champlain College Basketball Went Away, and So Did a Piece of Burlington," November 16]. It is so interesting to see how a team with many members from different races and places can inspire and unify a college, a city and a large part of the state. The educational and spiritual benefits are incalculable, both to the students and to the population at large.

I am happy that the students now have an opportunity to participate in what the college describes as "robust intramural, fitness and club sports offerings," which took the place of the disbanded varsity athletics in 2002. But I can't imagine that Champlain's new esports program, where students play video games competitively, does much for the intellectual or spiritual advancement of the student body or the citizens of the Burlington area.

Charles Taplin


Districts v. Wards

[Re Primary Voters' Guide: "Redrawing the Map: How Redistricting Will Affect Your Vote in 2022," June 29]: The independent redistricting committee heard loudly and clearly that Burlington residents do not want district council seats, preferring two councilors per ward. That would give us 16 representatives instead of 12.

Nonetheless, to keep the city council small in response to a veto threat from the plurality mayor, councilors agreed to keep the four district seats. Meanwhile, the trend in Chittenden County is toward increased representation. We now have 16 Senate districts instead of 13 and seven senators instead of six. Governing boards of both the hospital and the university have increased their representation and diversity to 20-plus members.

The question of whether residents want district councilors or greater representation with two councilors per ward will be decided by ballot in March. I think residents should vote down the council's redistricting plan. An unreasonable fear of greater representation on the council is denying all of us a strong voice. The independent redistricting committee also heard that:

  • • Campaigns for district seats are more expensive, increasing the influence of money in our council elections, excluding those without financial backing of their own or from a party or special interest group.
  • • When councilors represent larger districts, they are distanced from their constituents and less accountable to the people who elected them.
  • • Two councilors per ward provides broad representation and fosters inclusion and diversity.
  • • City charter assigns many duties to council; a small council can't fulfill all of its responsibilities.

District representation is a fatal flaw in the council's redistricting plan.

Lea Terhune


Program Should Be Color-Blind

I just saw ["Opening Doors: BIPOC Homeownership Rates in Vermont Are Dismal. New Programs Are Meant to Change That," November 30], about the programs to help BIPOC people buy their own homes in Vermont. What?? Why?? Why should someone get special treatment because of the color of their skin? How about helping out longtime Vermonters, not Black or white, but Vermonters? There should be no special treatment because of a statistic. If anyone who lives here, works here and pays their taxes here qualifies for the assistance, it should be afforded to them. It is not right to give special money to someone based on race.

I know you are just reporting it, but why not ask and answer those questions? All any of this does is create more despair and animosity between people. Enough is enough, and you, the people reporting this stuff, should give all angles.

Morgan McGee



[Re "Opening Doors: BIPOC Homeownership Rates in Vermont Are Dismal. New Programs Are Meant to Change That," November 30]: Thank you for the thoroughly reported story on the inequities in access to homeownership for BIPOC households, the depth of that inequity in Vermont, the historical reasons for this disparity, and the efforts under way, including by the Champlain Housing Trust, to create programs that address the ongoing impact of this country's past racist housing, lending and land-use policies. Preventing access to homeownership for nonwhite buyers was intentional and official public policy, and we live with that legacy today.

However, there was one misleading statement, as well as a very important omission in the article: The source of funds for the Champlain Housing Trust's program is not the State of Vermont, though we would welcome such involvement. The program was developed only because of a significant three-year, $3 million gift from the New England Federal Credit Union. In making this commitment, NEFCU acknowledges our harmful past and seeks a more equitable future. 

Julie Curtin


Curtin is director of homeownership for the Champlain Housing Trust.

'I Am Not an Acronym'

[Re "Opening Doors: BIPOC Homeownership Rates in Vermont Are Dismal. New Programs Are Meant to Change That," November 30]: In a New York Times opinion piece, John McWhorter calls the acronym BIPOC "jargon."

Merriam-Webster's dictionary lists the second definition for the word "jargon": "gibberish and meaningless talk or writing."

BIPOC could be the name of an obsolete computer game from the 1980s.

I imagine a meeting of software developers where the acronym BIPOC is assigned to a new digital commerce platform for Better Integrated Protocols of Cryptocurrency.

The point is, the acronym BIPOC is problematic because it does not look or sound like it is describing human beings.

Additionally, these five letters fail in representing the vast number of cultures, customs and traditions that the term is meant to represent, including 517 distinct tribes of First Nation people.

Shrink-fitting all of us into five letters minimizes us — our contributions, our struggles and our achievements that sweep generations and include every arena, from science to music to literature to politics.

The phrase "people of color," or POC, assumes white as the default, the norm, the point where everything about naming color and race begins.

If these are the rules with which we are going to abide, then BIPOC only works if my white friends and relatives are referred to as POLC — people of less color.

Sylvia Obell, host of the podcast "Okay, Now Listen," said, "We are asking for a lot of things, and being called BIPOC is not one of them." She added, "Stop making decisions for us without us."

I agree.

I am not an acronym.

Call me Creole.

Martha M. Kemp


Pay Back FTX

[Re "Balint to Give Away Campaign Donation From Disgraced Crypto Executive," November 15]: How noble and dignified of U.S. representative-elect Becca Balint and senator-elect Peter Welch to "give to charity" their FTX crypto — shyster campaign "donations." Will that include the PACs supporting them that took in millions, too?

Perhaps they might have assuaged their consciences more if they had returned all the nasty cash to FTX, now in bankruptcy, to be returned to all the people and pension funds, etc., that were swindled by this "wunderkind" Democratic donor?

If they had a conscience, that is. So funny, too, that this massive swindle wasn't exposed — and the checks cashed? — until after the election. Yet only a "conspiracy theorist" would surmise any collusion regarding the financial crime of the century! Right, there are no conspiracies, only coincidences. And why, to this very day, are there no extraditions nor indictments in the biggest 21st-century financial crime? As Cyndi Lauper once sang: "Money changes everything."

Steve Merrill

North Troy

Editor’s note: Since we received this letter, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been arrested and charged with fraud and conspiring to violate campaign finance rules.

Leave Leaves

The cover of the Seven Days Death Issue [October 26], showing Harry Bliss' image of the grim reaper raking leaves, might be more subtle than one might at first perceive.

Perhaps he meant to also have us reflect, as I did upon seeing a woolly caterpillar walking across a barren cement sidewalk, that without leaves to overwinter in, many beneficial insects, especially caterpillars (many of which would have become butterflies in spring), will die.

Leaf litter on the ground, especially under trees, is essential habitat to help all sorts of beneficial creatures survive winter — including native bees, butterflies, moths and various beetles. (Most of the caterpillar species fall to the ground when they are fully grown. Then they burrow into leaf litter.)

Beyond the link of caterpillars to butterflies, most birds feed their young primarily caterpillars (thousands per hatchling before fledgling). There are so many animals that live in leaves — spiders, snails, worms, beetles, millipedes, mites and more — that support the chipmunks, turtles, birds and amphibians that rely on these insects for food.

Perhaps not raking but leaving the fallen leaves can be our gentle reminder to protect all species' habitats. As a bonus, we have more time to savor being alive and to enjoy the diversity of life in nature.

Bernie Paquette


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