Letters to the Editor (3/7/18) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (3/7/18) 

Published March 7, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated March 27, 2018 at 4:21 p.m.

Tasteless Headline

Your penchant for the witty pun headline backfired in the February 21 802Much titled "No Food for Thought." It was a shameful, too-clever-by-half attempt that essentially denigrated a sincere act of self-sacrifice. Unless you provide the backstory that it was John Mejia's joke, you owe him and your readers an apology for your insensitivity.

Tricia Chatary


Shame on del Pozo

[Re "Cop on the Tweet: Chief's Social Media Posts Draw Criticism," July 5, 2017]: It seems that Chief Brandon del Pozo is at it again. On his personal Facebook page, he recently posted the mug shots, names and charges of two men who have been arrested by the Burlington Police Department [Off Message: "Men Accused of Shooting 200 Cars in Burlington Over Two-Year Span," February 15]. His post has been shared more than 200 times, including by City Councilor Joan Shannon (D-South District), and liked 377 times, including by at least four more city councilors: Jane Knodell (P-Central District), Adam Roof (I-Ward 8), Karen Paul (D-Ward 6) and Chip Mason (D-Ward 5). Comments on the post include insults and explicit threats toward both men.

Intentionally or not, our police chief and city councilors are leading Burlington in the public shaming of two young men who will at some point need to rehabilitate themselves and reintegrate into our community. If public shaming is part of punishment, should every mug shot from every arrest be posted on Facebook? If not, who chooses which people are shamed on social media and which people are not? What if people are not convicted?

In an Associated Press article from July 2017, "Should Police Be Allowed to Shame Suspects on Facebook?," South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple asks, "Do we want to use our Facebook page to shame people? Legally there's no problem — all mug shots are public — but the question became, is this what we want to do?"

South Burlington's Police Department has stopped sharing mug shots on social media. It's time Burlington's leaders do the same and develop social media practices and policies that stop this public shaming and instead reflect our community's values of compassion, kindness and respect.

Mike Fife


Bethel Booster

I'm sure you'll be hearing from some of the other historical societies in Vermont wondering why they weren't included, or at least mentioned, in ["Time Keepers," January 10].

So — ahem — that's what I'm doing!

This past fall, the Bethel Historical Society won the Richard O. Hathaway Award for a book written by H. William Johansen, one of our members, entitled Vermont Stones, Italian Bones. It's the story of the Italian immigrants who came to Bethel at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century to work Bethel's granite — the whitest granite in the world — into some of the most famous buildings in America. Probably the best known is Union Station in Washington, D.C. Another is the capitol in Madison, Wis.

The late Johansen, a retired marine biologist who loved research, doesn't just outline the Bethel granite industry, its success and problems; he also gives the reader a very good feeling of what it was like to be an Italian immigrant in the village of Bethel in the early 20th century. Readers come away with a feeling that they've been in the homes of these folks.

We also wrote a book about George H. Guernsey, Vermont's Elusive Architect. He designed the Bethel Town Hall, where our historical society has a small museum. Some years ago, when the town decided to renovate the building, we thought we might write up a small pamphlet about him. Turned out he had designed, and sometimes built, structures all over the state — from churches to business blocks. There are even some Guernsey churches and buildings in New Hampshire.

Anyway, I just wanted to put Bethel on the map.

Janet Hayward Burnham


Burnham is vice president of the Bethel Historical Society.

All Wet on Water Quality

I urge the Vermont legislature to take leadership and enact long-term funding for cleaning up the state's waterways ["Treading Water: Vermont's Pols Are Going Nowhere Fast on Clean Lakes," February 7]. Pass legislation now, based on the ample studies and facts already in hand. Enact the per-parcel fee plan already under consideration, and establish a Clean Water Authority, as proposed in the Senate. These are the most viable proposals on the table.

Water — clean water — is crucial to all life; it is crucial to maple syrup and beer and fresh milk and fresh vegetables and tourism. Once water becomes polluted or contaminated, remediation often is not feasible, and the cost is enormous. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has pressed Vermont for years to address an undeniable decline in water quality, and countless legislative studies and reports have focused on the matter. In the face of overwhelming information and need, Gov. Phil Scott refuses to address the funding issue. The administration's stopgap reliance on capital bonding is not sustainable; it erodes the state's bonding capacity. Likewise, Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore asserts that unknown factors are reason to defer decisions or action. This procrastinating posture ignores the fact that government is forever awash with unknowns.

The time for a long-term funding plan is now, without further studies or reports. Whatever action is taken can be revised if subsequent facts warrant. Here is an immediate need for the legislature to act, regardless of the leadership void in the state's executive branch.

Hugo Liepmann


Optometrists v. Ophthalmologists

As an optometrist in Burlington, I read [WTF: "Why Don't Basic Insurance Plans Cover Vision and Dental?" February 14] with interest. Patients ask me this question frequently, and it is a tough one to navigate. First, it's important to understand the difference between "optometrists" — optometric doctors who, like dentists and podiatrists, go to school for four years post-grad — and ophthalmologists: medical doctors specializing in eyes. Optometrists are trained to treat all visual issues as well as many medical ones, but we cannot do surgery. Ophthalmologists train heavily in all diseases of the eyes, but they do not normally write prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses. For routine care, an optometrist is a great choice.

Eye disease is covered by medical insurance. Optometrists bill medical insurance when they diagnose and treat eye disease. Ophthalmologists do, too. Most important: If you think something's wrong with your eyes, get them checked because an underlying health problem will likely be covered by insurance.

The gray area is routine care — that is, when a patient needs a prescription or a health evaluation but nothing is wrong medically. These comprehensive eye examinations are not usually covered by insurance. Glasses and contact lenses and laser surgery for vision correction aren't covered, either. Vision care plans try to fill the void, but they can leave a lot to be desired.

Dora Sudarsky

South Burlington

Sudarsky is an optometrist and owner of Chroma Optics.

Unfair Advantage

As John Walters explained in [Fair Game, February 14], the State of Vermont is currently simply giving away something the state bought and paid for: electricity to drive electric cars, from state-owned charging stations. 

Not only that, but the state has declined to impose an annual registration fee surcharge (estimated by the Act 12 study of 2014 at $146) to make EVs pay the equivalent of a gasoline-powered car to the transportation fund to maintain the state's highways and bridges.

This is all part of the recent craze to make ordinary people subsidize everything "renewable" and stamp out the horror of fossil fuels. 

The culmination of this craze is the ESSEX carbon-tax plan that would levy a steadily rising per-gallon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, and use the revenues not to maintain the highway and bridges, but to subsidize electricity and distribute rebates to persons made needy by having to pay the carbon tax. 

That new tax — which Gov. Phil Scott opposes — would make it much harder to periodically raise per-gallon motor fuel taxes. But some way — taxes, fees or otherwise — must be found to do that, or our highways and bridges will slide ever further into disrepair.

John McClaughry


We Deserve 'Freedom From Fear'

[Re "In Range," February 28]: We brothers served our nation for nearly 50 years between us. We're not political sorts of people, normally. Things are not normal. With the most recent gun violence, and the endless string of mass shootings now seen as a new normal, it is apparent to us that what we are missing is any sense of domestic tranquility.

The idea that a private citizen could legally acquire an AR-15, or any other high-velocity multiple-shot weapon, is absurd and should be illegal. These types of weapons should not be in the hands of any private citizen for any reason.

It is way too easy to get a powerful weapon whose purpose is to kill as many as possible in the shortest time possible. They are not hunting weapons. Hunters know and understand the need for extreme safety in the use of weapons. They revere the animals they hunt. They are not a problem. Those who seek powerful, high-capacity, rapid-fire weapons for delusional reasons are a problem.

The Second Amendment has merit, but it does not trump the Four Freedoms Americans deserve: the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want and the freedom from fear. Until we regulate arms better than we now do, we will not have that freedom from fear. 

We can and must do this. 

Terry and Tim Ryan

Huntington, VT, and Virginia Beach, VA

The Ryans are both retired from the U.S. Navy.

Not Keen on Christine

Reading the puff piece on Christine Hallquist [Fair Game: "A Transformational Candidate," January 31] made me wonder if this was the same Hallquist I'd interviewed three times since 2009 for my local cable-access TV station. Was this the person who misled me about the Lowell wind-farm siting and, along with other power-company execs, fought all rooftop solar installations on very specious grounds, allows leaky and buzzing transformers so bad one cannot listen to AM radio when driving, and has not built out or replaced aging and extremely power-hungry HPS/MH streetlights with LEDs that would use roughly one-eighth the load, among other things?

"Efficiency-minded"? Hardly! "Constancy of purpose" and "clear vision"? I just don't see it. Vermont Electric Coop has been sitting on its hands with maintenance and efficiency upgrades and is downright duplicitous in its solar-killing excuses that begin at the top, the rank-and-file employees notwithstanding in their duties and hard work. Let's hope Hallquist doesn't break an arm back patting nor get buried beneath the praises she's heaping upon herself.

Steve Merrill

North Troy

Flatlanders' Fault

[Re Off Message: "Universal Background Checks Clear Vermont Senate," March 1]: It is very sad to see my state ruined by flatlanders who are only guests here; they have destroyed their states and come here to do the same. Good thing we don't have billboards in our state; solar fields are much more of an attraction. Richard Snelling was our last governor, when true Vermonters ran the place. We had great jobs and hope. This state ended with Howard Dean and any Democrats from Chittenden County. I feel sorry for flatlanders. It's not your fault you lack common sense. I am amazed that God likes dumb people so much, because he made so many of you. Oh, well, you can't fix stupid. Remember, God is watching.

Thomas Manley

North Clarendon

Editor's note: The legislator who authored Vermont's billboard law, the late Ted Riehle, was born in New York.

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