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Letters to the Editor 

The Pits

I’d like to correct a mischaracterization of our neighborhood in Seven Days. In the October 14 article about the Fenn gravel mine application [“Opponents Say They Were Sandbagged by a Proposed Gravel Pit Hearing in Middlebury”], Fred Dunnington, our town planner, calls this “a neighborhood of gravel pits.”

I’m shocked that our town planner would undercut the citizens of his town and his own planning documents that way. We expect misleading comments from the applicant’s attorney, but not from a town official whose job demands at least the appearance of impartiality.

I refer our town planner to page 67 Item L of the Town Plan. It clearly defines where we live as the “Butternut Ridge/Lindale Neighborhood,” which is in a clearly mapped Medium Density Residential District. Dunnington, who has been the town planner for some 20 years and is also the zoning administrator, should know that there are no gravel pits in our neighborhood or in our residential district.

In fact, there’s no industry of any kind within those boundaries. The Fenn gravel mine would be the first. And as far as we’ve been able to determine, it would also have the distinction of being the first open-pit gravel mine permitted in a residentially zoned district anywhere in the United States for at least the past decade — which was as far back as our research went. ??

Barbara Shapiro?

Middlebury

Econ Job

I believe Saleem Ali would be enlightened by reading E.F. Schumacher’s book Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered [“Room to Consume,” October 7].

Jeff Ramsey

South Burlington

Scythe Matters

Thanks for your article on the benefits of scything [“The Cutting Edge,” October 7]. In addition to reducing pollution — CO2, exhaust and noise — saving money and providing good exercise, another benefit is that scything works best when it’s damp or wet out (the foliage cuts better). So instead of wasting a sunny day mowing, you can save that chore for damp days. A scythe is an incredibly versatile tool.

Steve Bower

Richmond

Naked Truth

I cannot believe that a state college condones what amounts to students stripping for money [“Live Nude Students,” October 7]. Is this how UVM wants people to find out about its campus?

Joanne Davis

Cambridge

Guv Deserves His $142,500

In his October 7 “Fair Game” column, Shay Totten wrote, “You’d expect more from one of the highest paid governors in the U.S. Douglas gets a free driver and $14,000 in meal allowances on top of his $142,500 annual salary.” More? What exactly should I be expecting, please be specific? Even though Gov. Douglas seems well paid, this is only by gubernatorial standards. We are speaking here about a position with responsibilities that affect all Vermonters, as well as shaping the future of Vermont itself.

Being governor is a seemingly thankless, 24/7 job. The governor answers directly to every voter in the state. Besides this, there is certainly no shortage of “know it all” pundits to offer unsolicited criticism about the job the governor is doing. It’s also important to remember that the governor’s salary is set by the legislature. On top of this, Gov. Douglas voluntarily reduced his own salary and that of his staff by 5 percent and froze their salaries.

But if we are going to measure leadership, let’s compare apples with apples. What other jobs in Vermont pay over $150,000? UVM’s payroll, a public record, shows that a professorship, directorship or associate vice president position pays more than the governor makes, and one certainly cannot equate the levels of responsibility. In the private sector, what is a fair salary for a chief executive officer? How much does the top officer of the Vermont Foodbank, or a similar nonprofit, make? I believe the answer is somewhere in the neighborhood of the governor’s salary, and again, one cannot equate the levels of responsibility and accountability between the head of the Vermont Foodbank and a state governor. Can we? Being governor of the State of Vermont is more equivalent to being the CEO of a corporation with thousands of employees, a position that would pay tenfold the current earnings of our governor.

So, can we conclude then that the governor already serves the people of Vermont at a fraction of his real worth? Is this not leading by example? If not, please, feel free to tell us what exactly in your opinion is “leading by example.”

Theodore A. Hoppe

Montpelier

Paintball Whitewashes War

In [“A Vermont Paintball Company Helps U.S. Soldiers Prepare for Battle,” September 30], the owner of Engler Custom Paintball Guns of Jeffersonville says, “From what I’m told, their paintball training helped them a lot. If we can do anything to save a life, I think it’s a great goal.”

That is a great goal, but in reality the Marines are being trained to kill more people before they themselves are blown away, and the bit about clearing a building of insurgents without harming the civilians inside is more whitewash than paintball.

A greater goal would be to bring our occupation troops home now, which is a goal of Veterans for Peace.

Edward A. Everts, Lt. Col, USAF, Retired

Charlotte

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