Letters to the Editor (12/29/21) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (12/29/21) 

Published December 29, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.

Rush to Publish?

I enjoyed Chris Farnsworth's article on Memorial Auditorium ["Memorial Days," December 1] and was excited to see in the notable events box that one of my favorite bands, Rush, had played there in 1975. When looking for more details on the show in the book Rush: Wandering the Face of the Earth, the Official Touring History, I found that they had played Burlington Memorial Auditorium in Burlington, Iowa, on April 17, 1975. It looks like there's more than one Memorial Auditorium in a city of Burlington. Rush's website says the same thing. I hope Rush did pass through Vermont at some point. I was lucky to see them a number of times around New England and in Canada before the passing of the great Neil Peart.

Casey Carmolli

Essex Junction

Gray's Day

[Re Off Message: "Lt. Gov. Molly Gray Announces Run for U.S. House," December 6]: It is time that Vermonters realize that electing an amazing young woman like Molly Gray to work for Vermonters in Washington, D.C., is a great, refreshing change from the many "status quo" candidates who become lifelong politicians merely because they feel they are entitled to work in public service. Gray has earned the right to represent Vermonters in Washington, even with only a year of political experience under her belt. Her roots growing up on a farm in Vermont, and her knowledge of the difference between what Vermonters actually need at home and where to reach for solutions, are essential keys to her successes.

We need a young, vibrant, strong, educated woman like Gray in Washington who knows what it's like to be resilient, working hard not only to support her own family farm but also to reach out to the community to help neighbors. This is the way Gray was raised. Her education and experiences in life will continue to guide her during her initial years as a politician in Washington.

We need a true Vermonter in Washington who wants to work hard for you and me and continue to support all Vermonters with strong work ethics and results.

Lt. Gov. Molly Gray is just the person, and she will have my vote.

Christopher Conant


Questions for Molly Gray

[Re Off Message: "Lt. Gov. Molly Gray Announces Run for U.S. House," December 6]: Hello, Molly:

I have been an enthusiastic supporter since you began your campaign for lieutenant governor. And I was happy when you won.

But in not even a year in office, you have yet to show me any accomplishments or achievements. I see and hear you talking but not doing — which, along with your lack of experience in the nitty-gritty grind of legislative lawmaking, makes me wonder why you think you are qualified to represent Vermont in Congress and why you feel you deserve my vote and my contribution to your campaign.

Show me your voting record. Show me how you've garnered support for bills that Vermont needs to feed our hungry, care for our sick and injured, warm our living spaces, teach our children, renew our roads and bridges, and protect our environment. Let me see your initiative to reduce exploitation of low-wage workers. Remind us of your work on getting Vermonters vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

For that matter, release any available information on how you have worked with Republican Gov. Phil Scott over the last year. What issues and policy questions have you discussed with him?

You clearly are good at talking, and running a campaign and raising money for it. Those activities benefit you, not the people of Vermont. There must be more on the table than the historic opportunism of being elected as Vermont's first female representative in Congress.

After the hoopla over "first" dies down, what would you do? How would you run your reelection campaign? What accomplishments and/or votes would you showcase as part of your vision for our country that would strengthen democracy?

I await your honest reply before donating a dime or a dollar for your campaign.

Euan Bear


Balint Brings It

The thought of Becca Balint representing us in Congress fills me with hope [Off Message: "Vermont Sen. Becca Balint Announces Run for U.S. House," December 13]. I honestly can't imagine anyone more prepared to show up and fight for us all, whether it's taking care of the needs of working families or protecting democracy itself.

No matter how frenzied the political process, Becca can be counted on to rise above the fray, reflect deeply on issues that matter, reaffirm the humanity she sees in everyone and have the courage to be vulnerable herself.

Honestly, to have that kind of presence amid such fast-paced wrangling, you're either the Dalai Lama or you've found the calling you were always meant for.

Becca shows us how powerful it can be when a leader is brave enough to approach their job with both their mind and heart fully engaged.

And she's proven — year after year — that she knows how to get things done.

We need her in Washington, D.C.

She'll be a lawmaker who digs deep into the issues that matter; who has deep respect for all her constituents — even those who disagree with her; who has the courage to say the hard things; who recognizes that, no matter what divides exist on the surface, the reality is that we are all inherently bound together.

She will be the congressperson doing the work to bring people together — and who has the brilliant, strategic mind needed to enact change.

Political leaders like Becca are rare, and I am thrilled to vote for her for Congress.

Ann Braden


Climate Follow-Up?

Thanks to Kevin McCallum for exploring how the Vermont Climate Council's climate action plan will equitably protect minority, disadvantaged and vulnerable lower-income citizens ["Retooling Refueling: The New Climate Action Plan Talks a Good Game About Not Burdening Vermonters. Can It Deliver?" December 8].

Both the ESSEX carbon tax plan (2015) and the Transportation and Climate Initiative (2020) recognized that those carbon tax schemes needed to protect minority, disadvantaged and lower-income citizens. The answer was assigning some of the carbon tax revenues to pay for a menu of unspecified benefits and subsidies to compensate these groups for enduring the higher cost of carbon-based fuel, required to suppress carbon dioxide emissions to levels set in the Global Warming Solutions Act.

The follow-up story to McCallum's should be: "So how many tax dollars a year will the climate action plan need to produce to equitably buy off our minority, disadvantaged and vulnerable lower-income citizens — and just who will be required to equitably foot the bill for those benefits and subsidies?

John McClaughry


Think Big on Climate

It's wonderful to see the conversation about climate action finally start to shift from "We need to reduce emissions" to "We need to improve people's lives in a way that also reduces emissions" ["Retooling Refueling: The New Climate Action Plan Talks a Good Game About Not Burdening Vermonters. Can It Deliver?" December 8].

Effective climate policy can't be a matter of carbon taxes and shuffling around renewable energy credits. Action to address the climate crisis will be effective only with widespread community buy-in, and that means (a) consulting with people — especially young people, families, and low-income and BIPOC folks — about their actual needs; and (b) providing solutions that improve people's everyday lives now, as well as prevent ecosystem collapse and a future that's just one giant extreme weather event.

Fortunately, there are so many ways we can do that! In addition to reducing emissions, investing in weatherization and heat pumps keeps people warmer, reduces their bills and leads to less money leaving the state overall. Building solar arrays for schools to power electric buses saves money that schools could use to buy more local food for school lunches, supporting local farmers (a solution for the Horizon situation, anyone?) and making kids healthier.

Vermonters are justifiably proud of our frugality, our ability to be creative with limited resources. Unfortunately, this mindset often comes hand in hand with a mentality of scarcity, the idea that there's just not enough for everyone. I call BS. We have so many resources in our state, including money, if we're only willing to share the burdens and benefits equitably.

Marisa Keller


Witness to Racism

At last, folks are beginning to take the issue of racism in kids' sports seriously ["Winooski Athletes Say Enosburg Players Used Racial Slurs During Soccer Game," September 27; "Winooski Incident Prompts Calls for Stronger Enforcement Against Racist Acts in School Sports," October 6; "Burlington-SoBu Volleyball Game Called Off After Racial Harassment From Stands," October 8; "Winooski Soccer Player Could Face Criminal Charge From Enosburg Game," October 20; "Spectators, Media Banned From Winooski-Enosburg Soccer Game," November 1].

Since 2009, I have witnessed racism on the soccer field and basketball court — at school, club and state levels. I have witnessed the biased decision making by the referees against our BIPOC kids, as well as reports of racist remarks made under the breath of opponents.

I remember a semifinal state basketball game at the University of Vermont's Patrick Gymnasium, when Burr and Burton Academy spectators started shouting "USA" at the top of their lungs in support of their team — who were playing Burlington High School — while a kid with an American flag ran up and down the sideline. No one stopped them.

I remember hearing the Rice Memorial High School supporters shouting "Welfare" at the BHS kids while they played basketball.

Games have been lost due to the racism our kids have experienced through biased decision making. It takes an emotional toll. I commend our children for staying strong through the persistent abuse that they experienced and am appalled by the lack of protection that schools, clubs and state officials have given them, despite complaints made at all levels of the game. It's just not good enough.

The training given to referees needs to be overhauled, and schools and clubs need to step up and talk with their supporters about how they behave on the sidelines, in order to expose and challenge all aspects of discrimination and unfair practices and conduct at every level of kids' sports.

Alison Segar


'White Savior' Won't Fix It

[Re "Winooski Incident Prompts Calls for Stronger Enforcement Against Racist Acts in School Sports," October 6]: Of all the photos taken at the September 28 Winooski soccer game, two separate news organizations chose to headline their respective articles about racism with photos of Champlain Valley Union High School students supporting the Winooski soccer team. Is that what VTDigger.org and Seven Days see as the real story? "Students from an affluent, predominantly white school community offer support and add validation when racism rears its head in Winooski."

Much to my dismay, the editorial choice of the headline photos in both articles inserted and perpetuated a white-dominated narrative of "the white savior." "The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice," Teju Cole wrote. "It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege."

The CVU students did not ask to be the headline photo for either of these articles. Standing with others in solidarity matters. Yet, if we are serious about dismantling racism, there must be a more honest discussion about how racism is being perpetuated and how white people can move beyond just standing with and move toward being curious together about the generational racist ideas and stories that have been passed down in our minds, bodies and cells.

In order to compel our institutions, organizations and systems to begin and sustain the work of becoming anti-racist, the impact of generational mindsets and narratives about race and privilege must be exposed and interrupted. "The goodness of white people abounds" is not the story that will move us toward a more equitable and just world.

Tori Cleiland


Cleiland is president of the Winooski School Board.

Editor's note: The artwork that accompanied the story referenced above showed CVU students publicly supporting the Winooski soccer team by holding "We Stand With You" signs on the edge of the playing field. This display of support, at a public sporting event, accurately illustrates the story.

View From Québec

I am a visitor to your beautiful state from Québec. I have grandchildren here, so I am horrified to learn of the environmental toxins caused by the Vermont Air National Guard base in this area [Re Off Message: "Volunteer Group Finds PFAS in Water Samples From Winooski River," November 30].

I read the article by Kevin McCallum discussing the cost of the climate action plan ["Retooling Refueling: The New Climate Action Plan Talks a Good Game About Not Burdening Vermonters. Can It Deliver?" December 8]. It is true that the poverty and hardship are noticeably worse here than when I last visited. But how many Vermonters are aware of the cost of the F-35s that fly overhead every day? Each plane cost close to $100 million, and each flight hour it uses almost 1,500 gallons of fossil fuel. The plan is to have 20 of these in Vermont alone.

I am sure all of Burlington and its dogs are aware of the ear-shattering sound emitted every day. The waterways are now polluted with PFAS. So this once pristine and lovely area is now poisoned in air, land and water.

Shouldn't we ask why? What could just the $2 billion do for struggling Vermonters? (The U.S. spends at least $800 billion per year on the military, more than any country in the world.)

What is the pollution going to cost in children's health?

The guard doesn't specify the threat or how it plans to defend against it. If asked, it would probably answer, "That is classified." Very convenient!

What about the very real threat to the health of my grandchildren?

Ingrid Style

Mont Saint-Hilaire, Québec

School Proof

The Burlington School Board would like to respond to the recent letter [Feedback: "More on BHS?" December 8] and provide some clarifications.

In 2017, the school district looked at either building a new high school or renovating the current campus; these meetings were conducted by a community-led group known as the ReEnvisioning Committee charged with surveying the community and delivering a recommendation on a path forward for Burlington High School. That committee recommended a plan to renovate the campus, including demolition of some buildings, renovation of others and some new construction. This plan was less expensive than building an entire new BHS and Burlington Technical Center. The ReEnvisioning Committee brought this recommendation to the board, which approved the plan. Voters then overwhelmingly approved a renovation bond in November 2018. It was during testing required for the renovation project that PCBs were found, which ultimately led to the decision this year to abandon the old campus and build a new high school.

As we move forward, the community can be assured that a new school building cannot be built without taxpayer input. A new high school will require a bond, and the current plan is to seek taxpayer approval for such a bond in November 2022. 

PCBs are a major issue in Vermont right now, and the state recently passed a law requiring all schools built or renovated before 1980 to undergo PCB air testing.

Please learn about the serious nature of this situation at www.bsdvt.org/building-construction-oversight-committee-bcoc.

Clare Wool


Wool is chair of the Burlington School Board.

Doctors Disappearing

The rapid disappearance of independent doctors in Vermont ["The Doctor Is Out," December 8], especially from rural areas, should worry us all.

To me, there is a simple solution to the problem of rural health care's financial woes and the loss of independent physician practices: a publicly funded universal health care program — single payer — that compensates independent doctors at the same rate as employed doctors and makes no distinction between "Medicare patients," "Medicaid patients," "commercial insurance patients" and "uninsured patients." It would also relieve both employed and independent doctors of the immense administrative burden of dealing with insurance issues: getting approvals, billing, following up on billing issues, etc. And it would rid us of the convoluted and incomprehensible "all-payer model" experiment and the "accountable care organization" running it.

Would young doctors be more willing to practice in Vermont, especially in rural Vermont, if they knew they could practice under those conditions rather than the mishmash of nonmedical concerns that currently occupy them? I think so.

The legislature has an opportunity to resume an active role in solving the problem. A bill in the House Health Care Committee, H.276, would begin the process of moving from our current madness to a sane, publicly funded system, starting with primary care. Is the legislature ready to step up?

Lee Russ


Pollution Solution

[Re Off Message: "Volunteer Group Finds PFAS in Water Samples From Winooski River," November 30]: As reported by Seven Days, the Vermont PFAS/Military Poisons Coalition has been conducting citizen science testing of PFAS. Since its inception more than a year ago, the coalition has worked to educate the public about PFAS and to mobilize grassroots advocacy to demand action on PFAS chemicals.

While it was encouraging that Vermont passed S.20 last year, so much more needs to be done. The poisoning of our air, water and soil must not be allowed to continue, because time is of the essence. Remediation of these chemicals from the environment is expensive and difficult, if not impossible. The cheaper and more effective alternative is to prevent their release in the first place.

Like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Gov. Phil Scott should issue and sign an executive directive limiting state purchases of products containing PFAS. Scott can easily take this action on behalf of our environment without having to go through the legislature.

We need our government officials and offices to act more quickly than our slow legislative process. Through such a directive, Gov. Scott can require Vermont to procure PFAS-free products whenever possible, a critical step toward using the state's purchasing power to pressure businesses to stop using PFAS. Vermont needs to lead with science and work to keep families safe and protect people from toxins.

Marguerite Adelman


Adelman is a member of the Vermont PFAS/Military Poisons Coalition.

How to Motivate Anti-Vaxxers

[Re "Collateral Damage," December 15]: Isn't it time for our giant health insurance industry to add its formidable weight to the effort to get everyone vaccinated by announcing to its customers that it will no longer pay claims for unvaccinated subscribers who are hospitalized with COVID-19? While unmotivated by science, Americans are usually motivated by threats to their wallets. Why should the rest of us have important medical procedures postponed and see our insurance premiums increased because so many refuse to make responsible decisions?

Jeffrey Teitelbaum


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