Letters to the Editor (12/21/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (12/21/22) 

Published December 21, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

Prog Progress

[Re "Progressive Setback: The Party Label Is Losing Its Luster in Montpelier — and Burlington May Be Partly to Blame," November 23]: Kevin McCallum's article singing the demise of the statewide Progressive Party for the umpteenth time rests on classic correlation-not-causation reasoning. McCallum's premise is that BTV Progs ringing the "defund the police" bell caused fewer elected Prog state representatives. Of three recently elected legislators who ran with the P/D label in past races but opted for D this time around, two cited reasons other than the Burlington Progressive political scene. The third was defeated when he ran with the P/D label in the 2019 race — before #defundthepolice led to positive reforms nationwide — and chose the Democratic tent as a safe harbor for victory this year.

McCallum asks Prog Party leaders to corroborate his premise, and sadly two of them take the bait, which only feeds the divide-and-rule strategy that the right has sown since Bacon's Rebellion and before. Meanwhile, liberal Vermonters acclaim the gains made in Brattleboro's and Burlington's police departments with reforms that directly resulted from #defundthepolice activist pressure, and the Vermont League of Cities & Towns now has a web page on how towns can "Support 21st Century Policing." Disappointingly, only white people were quoted by the white guy who wrote the article.

Social change doesn't happen without activists further to the left or right of the two mainstream parties, and Vermont Progs are the longest third party holding office continuously in U.S. history. But the far right is outpacing us all. The media plays a dangerous game when it feeds the beast that's starving us.

Liz Curry


Douglas for Klar?

I have always been a great admirer of former governor Jim Douglas and voted for him consistently. That admiration took a big hit recently with his endorsement of John Klar for Vermont Senate ["Seeing Orange: In Orange County, a Conservative Culture Warrior Vies for Sen. MacDonald's Democratic Seat," October 26]. Then came the former governor's quote: "This is an era where everybody has an extensive personal record, and I'm sure we could find something objectionable that anybody has said or written."

The volume of what Klar has published is significant and far beyond simply "objectionable." Reading any of it shows that he is not the leader that Douglas proved himself to be. His anti-LGBTQ articles and anti-abortion stances put him in a league with the far right. His actions put him even further out of step from where our leaders should be. His communications on social platforms, and with community leaders, stir up more controversy than already exists and supports divisiveness. Our leaders should be community-minded and community builders. Douglas was that. Klar is not.

Allison Belisle


Jews' Views

I would like to reply to the executive director of Hillel at the University of Vermont, Matt Vogel, whose letter appeared in the November 30 edition of Seven Days [Feedback: "What Jews Want"].

Vogel equates Judaism with Zionism, as do too many. These words are not synonymous, although too often those on both sides of the argument perceive them as such.

Unfortunately, too many Jews perceive any criticism of the State of Israel, a political entity, to represent antisemitism. Unfortunately, too many of those opposed to the Zionist State are affected by the false equation that Zionism equals Judaism and descend into antisemitic tropes. Too many Jews believe that, as Jews, they must support the political actions of Israel, no matter how abhorrent. Too many of those who oppose the abhorrent behavior of Israel believe that, to do so, they must attack its religion.

I am Jewish and immensely proud of the thousands-year-old tradition of humanism that has been my heritage. I am also fiercely opposed to Zionism, the last great act of colonialism in which a people were driven from their ancestral homes and then oppressed in an apartheid society. I am no more antisemitic than was Martin Buber, the greatest Jewish theologian of the 20th century and one of the early lions of Zionism. As early as 1925, he saw what his movement had become, publicly broke with Zionism and became a lifelong campaigner for Palestinian rights.

Vogel's apparent belief that any criticism of the State of Israel constitutes antisemitism, and is not to be allowed, is a large part of the problem.

Alan Fish


Enough of That

[Re "No Thanks: A Burlington Chef With Abenaki Heritage Makes His Own Harvest Meal," November 23]: Grilled nose of moose on a kebab of cedar sprig signals a new culinary adventure from bog to bowl. Paired with moose drool ale.

Hats off and napkins up to Seven Days food writers as we say goodbye to Penny Cluse Café and that menu ["A Bounty of Gratitude for Penny Cluse: Notable Devotees Give Thanks for the Soon-to-Close Landmark Burlington Eatery," November 23].

Maybe a retrospective of fine dining venues — Bove's, Dog Team Tavern, Tortilla Flat, Sirloin Saloon, Perry's Seafood — is in order. We are left with taprooms and food trucks. Don't get out much anymore!

Ruth Anne Furman


What Is Land Value Taxation?

Housing is one of the most important human needs, yet it's nearly impossible to find an affordable apartment recently ["This Old Homeowner: Aging Vermonters Who Can't Find New Housing Are Part of the State's Real Estate 'Gridlock,'" November 2]. Vermont rental vacancy rates are now the lowest in the country.

Our proposed solution to this urgent issue is land value taxation. It's an alternative to traditional property tax systems, where instead of taxing any improvements made to a property, the tax is imposed on the underlying value of the land. In doing so, it will deter speculators, who typically buy up cheap land and hold on to it until it is valuable without creating any improvements to the property. By imposing a land value tax, the city can incentivize landowners in high-value areas, like downtown Burlington, to build more housing in order to pay off these higher taxes, while also granting land-efficient — and most often low-income — housing a tax break.

Beyond its compelling theoretical justification, land value taxation has had a long history of success across many Pennsylvanian cities and towns. The number of vacant structures in Harrisburg declined from over 4,200 in 1982 to under 500 by 2001. In Allentown, 70 percent of residential parcels saw a tax decrease. Burlington could join these towns in making both buildings and land less expensive, thereby making housing more affordable while fostering business growth and employment.

We will be presenting this issue to the city's Community Development and Neighborhood Revitalization committee this month.

Jackie McGrath


Acupuncture Assistance

Thank you to Colin Flanders for covering this important subject affecting millions of Americans ["Chronic Condition," November 30]. I wanted to highlight the Vermont Acupuncture Association as a resource for people looking for licensed and professional acupuncturists to help with long COVID symptoms and other conditions. I am the president of this organization, and we have many dedicated, educated and highly skilled practitioners available for people needing relief. All you have to do is go to vtaa.org and search for practitioners in your area.

Deirdre Kelley


Good Points

As an acupuncturist and preventive and complementary medical practitioner, I was happy to read your article on the issues that some people are facing in getting treatment for the long-term lingering effects of the COVID-19 infection ["Chronic Condition," November 30].

Many of us in this community have been successfully treating both the virus as well as its long-term effects for quite some time. Are we 100 percent effective? Of course not. I think we all understand that there are still many mysteries about health and the healing process.

We are happy to have one of our colleagues highlighted in this article, but one might be led to believe that he is the only one offering this assistance. We have an active online forum that shares insights and treatment options that have been successful, so people should not be deterred by hearing that he is not accepting new patients.

Reach out to get the help you need from your local practitioner!

Wendy Goodwin


'Smile More'

[Re True 802: "'Braver Angels' in Vermont Want to Change Political Discourse," November 30]: It should be no wonder that the political environment is now so divided and so extreme, having no moderate path or representatives to take us down that path anymore. It is a logical outcome of being too ineffectual, being too moderate, to make necessary course corrective changes early in a problem's development, before the problem gets worse and more noticeable. When a problem gets worse, it takes an even more exaggerated correction to make it better again. Nationwide issues, such as climate change, income inequity, racial and religious intolerance, and immigration policy, also require wide-scale systematic changes to be effectual for and embraced by all, and not just for our personal tribe.

We used to have meaningful debates in this country when the news from all sources at least agreed upon a common set of facts to discuss. This was the benefit of having major news networks vet the information they gathered before public release.

So, we should not wonder where our divided national state came from. But we need to wonder and agree about how we can meaningfully act to change this state of extreme polarization. We must somehow agree upon some basic facts and start to discuss with others in our local community how to enact change for the betterment of all, and not just our own perceived tribe.

In the meantime, smile more. Don't be afraid to talk to the stranger. Be kind to others whenever possible. Breathe slowly. Listen. Think. Grow.

Michael Kirick


Miracle on Main Street

[Re 7D Brand Studio Video: "Lyric Theatre Presents Into the Woods," October 28]: On November 13, I went on the Essex Parks and Recreation bus to the Flynn to see the Lyric Theatre show Into the Woods. When we got there, I could not find my ticket. I decided to get another from the box office.

As I stood in line, a young lady with two children had some tickets to give away. I put up my hand, and she handed me a ticket for Row D, orchestra, left. I wish to thank her so much for such a nice seat.

It had been a long time since I had been to the Flynn. I enjoyed the play Into the Woods very much. Many thanks to that lovely lady.

Helene Thomas

Essex Junction

Waste Not

Tim Newcomb's cartoon [November 30] depicting the "Daily catalog haul!" struck a chord. Being very environmentally conscious, we at Wake Robin in September initiated the Colossal Wake Robin Waste Reduction Campaign, first focusing on the reduction of paper waste. Many of us have taken steps to greatly reduce our haul of catalogs and unsolicited requests for donations.

Before recycling our junk mail, we save the page with our address. Then we use catalogchoice.org to opt out and/or we find contact information on an organization's website, contact them by email or phone, provide our name and address exactly as it appears on the label (and a code, if there is one near our name), ask to be removed from their mailing list, and ask them not to sell or share our contact information. I can choose whether to opt out of email or not.

It takes time and attention to detail, but it saves trees and the fuel and other resources used in the production and transport of paper. Hooray! I no longer find my mailbox stuffed with unwanted calendars, greeting cards, pleas for money or any catalogs. The web provides more tips — e.g., see consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-stop-junk-mail. We hope you'll join us in conserving resources.

Carol Jean Suitor


'Public' Grievance

[Re Last 7: "Emoji That," June 29] The name for the newly consolidated Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS is an affront to our literary sensibilities. "Vermont Public" says nothing, means nothing, is not the Vermont public and does not represent nor speak for the public citizens of Vermont.

"Vermont Public" what? Who? Why can't the new name describe what the newly consolidated thing is?

American Public Media and Delaware Public Media have the good sense to add a descriptor to inform us of what they are.

Even Vermont Public Classical has added "Classical" to give us a fitting description of what it is.

I wrote to "Vermont Public," objecting to the new name.

Its reply: "We spent a lot of time — two years — thinking deeply and talking long and hard about what these changes mean for everyone who cares so deeply about VPR and Vermont PBS. We believe the new name honors our legacies, while making it clear that we are one organization." 

Hard to believe it took two years to make such a blunder. The new name is ignorant, just plain dumb. It doesn't honor anything. It doesn't tell us anything about what "Vermont Public" actually is. Vermont Public trucking company, or canoe rentals, or public restrooms, or...?

The new name makes me cringe every time I hear it, forcing me to turn off the radio and TV during station breaks.  

Please add something like "Media" to the name so we all know what you are.

Paul Stone


Don't Forget Karen

[Re "Life Stories: Musician Pete Sutherland Was a 'Unifying Force,'" December 14]: I came to Vermont in 1978 and first saw Pete and Karen Sutherland perform at a coffeehouse in Burlington, the Welcome Table. They were incredible together: she, a master on the auto harp — and spoons! — and he, well, we all know what Pete could do. Her lilting soprano was a perfect partner to his resonant bass; they were utterly unique yet timeless.

After that, I saw them whenever I could, eventually winding up in someone's living room, and then theirs, with Karen playing like she was born at the piano and everyone joyously singing songs together. I guess that was a long time ago now, but one thing I know: Any article about Pete is remiss to deny Karen (Rose) her rightful seat at that "table." He would have wanted her there.

Patty Smith


Found My Bliss

Great article on Harry Bliss ["Drawing Conclusions," December 14]!  It takes a good writer to fully engage my interest and read an entire newspaper feature. I have developed a nasty habit of skimming in my older age.

Dan Bolles' profile was engaging and had great color. I subscribe to the New Yorker, and, honestly, I never took note of the cartoonists' names. However, I do recognize Bliss' style, and now I have a name to stick to it! Thanks!

I'd like to add that Seven Days really sets the bar high in keeping the community informed, entertained and current. I'm continually impressed by what this weekly publication produces. You all are just fantastic!

Christopher Maloney 


Keep Our Cathedral

[Re "Burlington to Consider Demolition Permit for Historic Church," December 16, online]: Most of us are justifiably appalled by the demolition of sacred and secular artifacts — for religious and ideological reasons — at the hands of al-Qaeda, Isis and Russia in Ukraine, to name just three examples. Do we really want to tolerate the same kind of destructive behavior for personal profit in Burlington?

The Development Review Board is being asked to approve the demolition of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. That's just for starters. If they approved the demolition of this important religious artifact, would we accept the demolition of St. Paul's when its congregation decides it's time to sell, or of the Unitarian church, when its congregation decides to do the same, and all the churches between South Winooski and South Union? And then, of course, Memorial Auditorium?  

All these buildings are familiar to us. They are unalienable parts of our family, just like our grandparents and parents, our aunts and uncles, our cousins and siblings. They constitute our cultural infrastructures, sacred and secular.

These buildings belong to us. Think of them, think of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, as if it were your own house. Would you approve a request to demolish your house? Or would you, regardless of the law — there are unjust laws — fight to protect it, to preserve it, to save it? If you would, fight for the cathedral. Reject the demolition. Fight for our family.

Louis Mannie Lionni


Share the Towers

I've had a problem with cellphone function at my Shelburne home for many years ["Test Confirms Vermont Cellphone Coverage Remains 'Lacking,'" December 16, online]. Ten years ago, I began an exhaustive discussion with the help desks. One response was that I was too close to the lake and the water interfered with the signal. I naturally asked why, during my daily ferry ride, I had an excellent signal.

I finally spent $500 on a signal extender and had fair cell service at home until a few weeks ago. My extender was outdated and does not support 4 and 5G. I received a new extender; now I have multiple bars. I asked why my neighbors using another carrier had excellent service without an extender. The other carrier has a tower nearby, but no, they don't share resources.

Perhaps regulators and politicians could arrive at the same conclusion I have: that every cell tower should allow universal access. Result: fewer towers, better service for all.

Jeffrey Waite


COVID Conspiracy?

[Re "Chronic Condition: COVID Long-Haulers Struggle With Debilitating Symptoms, Few Treatment Options," November 30]: Once I had finished reading this article, I noticed how the journalist took care not to mention whether people were vaccinated or not. If you're going to write a story, provide all the facts. The question is: What percentage of the long COVID sufferers is vaccinated? The bigger question: Does this condition stem from the vaccine many were coerced into taking with improper human testing?

Answer if you dare, but I doubt any of you have the cojones to do so.

Joshua Elkin


Thank you for a well-researched and -written article on the phenomenon of long COVID ["Chronic Condition," November 30]. Please tell us what percentage of long-haulers are vaccinated and what percentage unvaccinated.

Jack Scully


Colin Flanders' article ["Chronic Condition," November 30] missed an important piece of information regarding COVID-19. He presented detailed information concerning treatment of the disease — and the lack of effective treatment available — but made no mention of the extent to which the individuals had been fully vaccinated, including boosters.

It has been well documented that the U.S. population is far from fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is especially the case concerning the final booster, which is specifically designed for Omicron, the current dominant strain. So, were these individuals with long COVID not fully vaccinated, in which case individuals who have not yet become fully vaccinated might be encouraged to become so? Or were they all fully vaccinated, in which case they would at least know that they had done everything possible to avoid the disease? Surely, this would have been useful information to include in the article.

Andrew Pond


Editor's note: It's not yet clear how much protection the vaccines offer against long COVID. Some studies suggest that the shots reduce the risk; others offer no conclusive results. Researchers say it's among the many questions they're still trying to answer.

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