Letters to the Editor (2/19/20) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (2/19/20) 

Published February 19, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

'Turn Off the Hyperbole'

It was disappointing to read Paul Heintz's analysis of the primary results in the article "Berning It Up," [February 12]. I generally appreciate Heintz's reporting; however, his comment that the New Hampshire results were "enough to solidify [Bernie Sanders'] standing as the front-runner in a crowded and volatile race" sounds like a Sanders campaign ad.

Sanders and Pete Buttigieg were essentially tied in Iowa with 26 percent of the vote. Sanders' slim margin of victory over Buttigieg in New Hampshire of less than 2 percent, which was known at the time of Seven Days' reporting, hardly "solidifies" a lead. 

The story is: In both Iowa and New Hampshire, 54 and 52 percent of the voters, respectively, voted for moderate candidates Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar or Joe Biden. So far, the majority of Democratic primary voters are indicating they do not want a left-wing candidate. 

Right now, the delegate count stands at 22 for Buttigieg and 21 for Sanders. Where is the "solid" lead? Please, turn off the hyperbole and look at the stats when you are giving us your reporting.

Barbara Felitti


House Leaders to Blame

[Re Off Message: "Democratic Leaders Blame 'Squirrelly' Legislator for Override Fail," February 7]. As a Democrat, I am disappointed in the behavior and public comments of House leadership before and after the vote that sustained the governor's veto of the paid family and medical leave bill. True leaders would take responsibility for their own errors of substance and process, rather than blame individual legislators who had good reasons to oppose H.107.

In our system, if the legislative majority cannot get the governor to agree with legislation, they must get support from two-thirds of the House and Senate. I think that, on the day of the vote, House leadership may have suddenly realized they did not have enough "yes" votes when several representatives who opposed H.107 who had been expected to be absent were actually present. That is when they went on a last-minute push to "flip" votes, as described in the article. 

Were promises of rewards or threats of retribution made in these meetings? Such tactics are standard political hardball, but I find them unseemly and disrespectful.

I believe that the first duty of any representative is to put their judgment and knowledge to work in service to constituents. This dedication is the foundation of our democracy. House leadership should honor it rather than undermine it, even when that service goes against them. 

And Vermonters will soon have access to paid family and medical leave through the governor's voluntary insurance program.

Rep. Cynthia Browning


Thanks for Override Attempt

In regard to the article on the paid family leave bill being knocked down by one vote [Off Message: "Democratic Leaders Blame 'Squirrelly' Legislator for Override Fail," February 7], I personally want to applaud and thank all of the representatives, Democrats and Progressives, who voted for it in the attempt to override the governor's veto. Although the bill hardly justified itself as paid family leave, in the end it was still something. Every other democratic nation on this planet has paid family/sick leave except this godforsaken country. 

To that one "squirrelly" legislator, I want to say that I am tired of being treated as an animal. It is almost like we working people are subhuman. Our lives always seem to be governed by "costs," like it does not matter that we get sick, too, or that our relatives might need our help.

As an employee, I worked a full 40-hour week, outside and in the winter, with pneumonia because the business and the state considered it too costly for me to have paid sick leave.  

We have long memories, and November is coming up soon. 

Walter Carpenter


Medical Manipulators

Great article ["Taking on Titans," February 5], but it contains a statement that is overly optimistic, in my opinion: "The tech company provided its software to medical practitioners for free and sold advertising to reap profits. Sponsored alerts in the software suggested a course of action to doctors, based on information in the patient's file. Such alerts were legal, provided they followed established medical guidelines."

There are two problems. The first is that the pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers have both become very good at manipulating what gets into medical guidelines; that is exactly what Purdue Pharma did with pain guidelines. The second is that practices can become established without being based on accurate information. Three years ago, the Atlantic published an article about the use of stents to treat blocked arteries, headlined "When Evidence Says No, but Doctors Say Yes."

Trusting our current medical system can kill you, even without messed-up medical software losing important information.

Deborah Kahn


Snark Aside...

I read John McClaughry's letter to the editor four or five times [Feedback: "Who Does McCallum Work For?" February 5], but I still can't get it to make sense. He criticizes Kevin McCallum's reporting as being somehow slanted ["The Hot Seat: Critics Are Cool to Gov. Scott's Climate Policies," January 29]. He then quotes McCallum's descriptions of two environmental initiatives, paraphrasing each in a manner that he considers more accurately descriptive.

The problem is, when you take away the sneer and the snark from McClaughry's paraphrases, all that's left is a statement that confirms the accuracy of McCallum's reporting. I guess sneering and snark are the point. If McClaughry sincerely believes it is responsible public policy to keep fossil fuel prices low and not to encourage greener transportation modalities, as his snarkery implies, he should say so straightforwardly. I am sure his grandchildren will thank him when Vermont's climate is like that of today's West Virginia and parts of that state are uninhabitable.

Seth Steinzor

South Burlington

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