Letters to the Editor (9/6/17) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (9/6/17) 

Published September 6, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated September 7, 2017 at 3:26 p.m.

'Other' Wise

[Re "Newcomers by the Numbers," August 23]: Understanding the complexities of resettlement, both structurally and personally, is an important part of the overall narrative. Regretfully, the national narrative is often built on fear and little appreciation of what resettlement means in communities — both challenges and opportunities. The work of professor Pablo Bose is critically important, along with the good work of so many refugee resettlement service providers, churches and teachers in Burlington and beyond. May Vermont remain a shining light in our embracing of those some call "other" and keep in mind that God hath made of one blood all peoples of the Earth. Excellent article.

Bill Laramee


Defending Haters

In response to the firing of Ryan Roy [Off Message: "Hood's Off: Burlington White Nationalist Attended Charlottesville Rally," August 15], I remembered years back when the American Civil Liberties Union defended the Ku Klux Klan's right to speak before a public forum.

Before the controversial speech, the Grand Wizard seemed perplexed and asked the civil liberties guy: "Why are you people trying to defend our right to speak?"

The civil liberty guy said, "We know that if the Klan comes to power in America, we are going to be the first people rounded up! But this is what tolerance and free speech are all about." Otherwise, all flag waving for free speech is meaningless, hypocritical and hollow.

Professor Noam Chomsky explained to college kids that freedom of speech means defending the right of people you thoroughly hate. A mighty hard pill to swallow, but folks need to know what all these groups stand for. Information leads toward education.

For example, a Holocaust denier may speak. To counter him, films of death camps would be shown: Russians liberating Auschwitz, Americans liberating Dachau. During World War I, my then-15-year-old father survived the genocide in Armenia committed by Turkey, and my aunt was captured. Unlike World War II, few films exist of these atrocities.

Putting it all in a nutshell: free speech for people you hate, free speech for people to confront hate. We are the first and only country to have a Bill of Rights. Protect it!

Tom Azarian


Neighbor Watches Development

A gentleman from the neighborhood and I were not mentioned in ["Cambrian Rising: A Massive Project Advances Quietly in the Queen City," July 19]. We would not have been apprised of the meeting if not for the Cambrian Watch update in Front Porch Forum. 

For 25 years I've been a neighbor of this land. I've lived in my home first as a tenant and now as the homeowner. 

Years ago, I was told by a city representative, "The neighborhood needs people like you." Yet it is also people like me who have the least amount of power. Developer, government agent, activist — I am not. I am an everyday, working-class resident. To those who hold power and position, I am entrusting the sustainable future of Burlington and, most importantly, our natural world, without which we have nothing. 

Regardless of one's means and status, we all need to consider when enough is enough. I've appreciated Eric Farrell's engagement with the community. However, his quip about Dannemora was in poor taste. And the "quiet" addition of a 42-room hotel and swimming pool?

Ann Sicurello


Yes, in My Backyard!

[Re "Cambrian Rising: A Massive Project Advances Quietly in the Queen City" July 19]: The new development on North Avenue that is making its way through the zoning process is a good project. Cambrian Rise checks a lot of boxes, such as affordable and senior housing, mixed-income housing, on the bus line, near downtown services, near jobs, beautiful green conserved space, connection to two bike paths, and, most importantly, more housing for Chittenden County.

Housing is the No. 1 barrier to economic development in Chittenden County and Vermont. Simply put, we don't have enough. This shortage impacts our low-income community, our seniors and our employers who struggle to find employees due to a lack of housing. Cambrian Rise would provide Burlington with an affordable, senior and mixed-income housing neighborhood that is a sustainable model for the future.

Instead of saying no, let's say yes to these projects. Vermont's answer to NIMBYism and hypocrisy is a great group called YIMBY Vermont. It is an organized pro-housing movement, advocating for infill development in every neighborhood in Burlington, every town in Chittenden County, resulting in more residents for the state of Vermont on the whole and more tax dollars to help pay for all of the things we need. For more info, check out vtyimby.org.

Eli Lesser-Goldsmith


'Rescue' Effort

As a volunteer at All Breed Rescue in Williston, I was very excited to see the cover of the recent Animal Issue [August 16]. But I have to admit I was disappointed when I saw no mention of our efforts. We bring dogs from high-kill shelters in the south, mostly North and South Carolina, get them into good health and match them with a family who can give them a good home. In 2016 we saved 276 dogs. So far this year we have matched more than 500 dogs with happy owners.

We have a small paid staff but largely rely on volunteers who put in many hours a week to accomplish this. Adoption fees cover 40 percent of our costs; the rest comes from donations and fundraising. I am not asking for cheers, but some coverage in the Animal Issue could have made so many more potential adopters, volunteers and those who might donate aware of our efforts. In the end, it could have helped us save so many more great dogs, and that means the world to us.

I know that you are looking for interesting stories for your readers. I promise we have a lot of those here. Our mission is to take dogs from a life of pain and loneliness and put them with people who will love them and provide them with a life worth living. 

Chad Eccleston


Editor’s Note: The organization’s efforts made this week’s paper — see Sasha Goldstein’s 802Much column.

Childhood Poverty Is Unacceptable

After reading the Seven Days edition dedicated to personal dog stories [Animal Issue, August 16], I was relieved and a bit surprised to read this article about child poverty in the state of Vermont ["State of Need," August 30]. What issue really takes precedence over children living in poverty in Vermont? Apparently personal dog stories are more pressing. How many pages were dedicated to that subject, and how many to child poverty? 

This subject really cuts to who we are as Vermonters. That the issue would be "Vermont tries to cut childhood poverty in half by a certain date" speaks volumes about where our priorities are as a state and a people. How can we tolerate one child living in this condition? Is there an acceptable number of children living in poverty here? Implicit in this article is the answer: yes. 

Does anyone really feel OK in his or her daily economic pursuits when this situation exists? I think it speaks to a bankrupt philosophy and the bankrupt political ideologies of the two main parties. If there was ever an issue on which to throw out the Republicans and Democrats and start voting strictly for Progressives... Children living in poverty! Shame on all of us, especially those with money and privilege. Vermont is not an exceptional place.

Joseph LaFleur


Tale of Tails

I thoroughly enjoyed ["Tails of Wow!" August 16], featuring Happy Tails Pet Resort and Spa. My rescue golden is a client, and I am delighted with the treatment she receives from Heather, Donna and all of the staff. My girl came to me with some issues: shyness, fear of men and separation. Each time she's been in daycare at Happy Tails, she's become more comfortable because of the trained and gentle way she's handled. 

On August 26, I'd booked her in for a full day at Happy Tails. We were taking a family outing to the Eastern Townships of Québec and planned on returning in time to pick up our girl before 6 p.m. As luck would have it, there was a major accident on Interstate 89 south, which held up traffic in the southbound lanes for more than 30 minutes.

I began calling Heather and Donna at 5:30 p.m. to let them know we were stalled and could be late. Their response was a cheerful, "No worries. She's had a great day. We'll be here." We arrived at 6:20, were greeted, were not charged a late fee and collected our girl! We'll be back soon!

Cheryl Hooper-Feeney

South Burlington

Why Not Wind?

[Re Fair Game, August 9]: The Public Utility Commission's mission "is to ensure the provision of high-quality public utility services in Vermont at minimum reasonable costs, consistent with the long-term public good of the state." 

Climate change is a slowly unfolding, staggering human health disaster. Spend some time scanning reputable news, NGO and government reports, and that message is painfully loud and clear. Even the Pentagon's threat analysis of climate change holds blockbuster health messages — imagine the ripple effects when incredibly large numbers of people globally are forced from their homes. Or when farming and food distribution are seriously disrupted all over the planet, as is already happening in parts of Africa and other places today. 

Isn't it obvious that prudent wind and solar development here in Vermont is in the long-term public good? For Gov. Phil Scott and Anthony Roisman to throttle back development now is both incredibly sad and highly irrational. Besides the moral arguments and the fact that these investments create local jobs, Vermont communities will not be immune from the massive direct and indirect costs of climate change.

Down the road, I suspect our children and grandchildren will look at local wind and solar installations and think they are quite beautiful — because they show that Vermonters had the collective wisdom to act decisively in the long-term public good.

Dan Quinlan


Missed It on Milton

I am extremely disappointed with the article "Milton Students Return to Racial Turmoil" [August 30] — from the headline, which is more suited for the National Enquirer, to the incorrect facts and the lack of information covered.

Though I am not denying that racism happens in the school district, it needs to be dealt with in a more progressive way than it has been in the past. A big part of the turmoil is between the community and its lack of trust in the school board. The latter has not been transparent, and it's been unable to hear and work with the community to improve the situation. Since June, the community has requested a forum to discuss racism happening in schools; instead they got a forum on the policies in place and only 15 minutes for community comments.

The ethnicity of Katrina Battle, one of the founding members of Milton Inclusion & Diversity Initiative, was incorrect in the story. Katrina is biracial, and one can only assume that the color of her skin was used to determine the incorrect "African American" identity she was assigned. The article left out the hard work her organization has been doing, with support of the town, the Milton Education and Support Association, Milton Community Youth Coalition, and Milton Family Community Center. 

There were more than six school board meetings over the summer, but the article only addressed two. From what was written, it is clear that no research was done to find out what happened during them.

Milton, its students and its community deserve better than this.

Joanne Davidman


Davidman is president of the Milton Education and Support Association.

Australia Is Rougher on Refugees

A copy of Seven Days was left in our Airbnb accommodation, and I was interested to read about the refugee families taking taxis to the Canadian border, where they were farewelled by supportive Vermonters and welcomed by Canadian officials [Last 7, "Bienvenue?" August 9]

The story in my country is very different. Asylum seekers who attempt to arrive by boat are intercepted and forced back to their last country of departure — usually Indonesia. If that isn't possible, they are detained indefinitely in camps in the Pacific on Nauru or Papua New Guinea. Many languish there for years with no hope of reaching Australia and little chance of resettlement elsewhere. Their mental health outcomes are dire, with self-harm and despair rampant.

You may hear about Australia's tough border security policies, but don't forget that they come at a terrible human cost. The only crimes most of these people have committed is to have fled persecution and sought a better life for their families elsewhere. Like in your country, not everyone supports the government's approach.

Mark Parnell

Adelaide, South Australia

Parnell is a parliamentary leader in the Green Party of South Australia.

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