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Letters to the Editor 

Published November 11, 2009 at 10:39 a.m.

Patent Lie

[Re: “Tech Entrepreneurs Await State’s New Seed-Money Fund,” October 20]: Referring to the original legislative proposal, the article stated, “Facing the deepest fiscal crisis in years, the legislature shot down two of the wishes — a business tax credit for research and development, and tax exemptions for income on certain kinds of patents — because it would have forfeited badly needed state tax revenues.”

That is not the whole story. The legislature’s economist was asked to review the bill and his findings cast doubt on the likely cost-effectiveness of these provisions. Here is what [Tom Kavet] said [in a February 23 memo] about the proposed tax exemption for income derived from patents:

“Although patent activity is sometimes used as a proxy for entrepreneurial ‘energy’ in a region, there is no established link between profits from patent holders and job creation in the state of the patent holder. This measure primarily increases the profits that a patent holder may realize by reducing state taxes on such profits. These profits may have nothing to do with job creation in the state, and there are no studies of which I am aware that link patent profitability to patent creation or indicate that a major problem associated with the generation of patents is excessive state taxation.”

The exemption could have cost up to $25 million with no requirement that any jobs be created in Vermont. Some ideas deserve to be shot down.

Doug Hoffer


Congo Kills

I am not surprised to find the mining of a trace mineral for our electronics somewhere behind this frustrating violence [“Blood Cell Phone,” October 28].

Diane Ballou


Site Seen

I’m so glad that someone in the U.S. has taken up this cause [“Might v. Site,” November 4]. As a former member [of the Exclusive Brethren], I can attest to the fact that peebs.net is important as a contact point with other former members. We have no way of knowing who has left the group, and I have been able to reconnect with many friends and extended family through the site.

Lois John

Brantford, Ontario, Can.

Grain Elevator

Great article [“Going with the Grain,” November 4]! “The waving wheat, it sure smells sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain” … Amy [Rahn]’s art review really drove Seven Days’ stock up in Oklahoma, I’m here to tell ya!

Marc Weinmeister

Edmond, Okla.

Weinmeister is Rahn’s father.

DCF Responds

In his story “Is Vermont’s Department for Children and Families Doing Enough to Address Abuse and Neglect?” [November 4], Ken Picard poses two important questions. Unfortunately, he provides both inaccurate and incomplete answers to both.

Question #1: Is DCF appropriately investigating reports of abuse and neglect? Vermont has never been more diligent in accepting reports of abuse and neglect. Beginning in September 2008, DCF began a system of centralized intake. Since that time, the number of reports accepted for investigation has risen by 40 percent. The system is more responsive and more consistent than ever. Decisions to respond to reports of child abuse and neglect are being made centrally based on law, policy and the facts of the case. Community reaction to the change has been overwhelmingly positive.

Question #2: Are budget cuts affecting the protection of children in Vermont? Positions and programs have been cut across all of government. DCF is a very large department by Vermont standards. It has lost positions and program dollars in various programs. However, the child welfare program within it has been largely protected. No social workers have been cut. In fact, five additional social workers were added within the past 18 months in order to implement centralized intake. We will continue to prioritize services related to child protection.

Contrary to the assertions in Mr. Picard’s article, our commitment to child protection has never wavered and remains stronger than ever.

Stephen R. Dale


Dale is commissioner of the Vermont Department for Children and Families.

Ivory Hightower

[In “Fair Game,” October 28], Jim Hightower says that “the lessons that [progressives] are learning … and relearning … are that we can’t just elect someone and sit back in our Lay-Z-Boys and do 12-ounce elbow bends,” in reference to the progs’ mounting complaints about President Obama’s “apparent willingness to side with corporate interests.”

Excuse me, but that’s a lot of hogwash. The real lesson the progressives need to learn — but stubbornly refuse to do — is accept the fact that Obama literally owes his election to more moderate voters and that, as a voting bloc, progressives will always be outnumbered by moderates.

If he wants to win a second term in 2012, Obama cannot afford to alienate moderate voters, who tend to be independents and who outnumber progressives by better than two to one nationally.

Moderates also outnumber conservatives, but by a smaller margin. And whether progressives like it or not, both moderates and conservatives outnumber them.

This is the real lesson progressives need to learn: They’re a 22 percent minority of the nationwide electorate — barely more than the 20 percent of the electorate who identify as Republicans — and they simply cannot and will not get everything they want from Obama or any other president.

Skeeter Sanders


Font Not

I love the overall layout and design of your new look. However, I urge you to consider getting rid of serif fonts. Serif fonts, such as the Times New Roman that Seven Days uses, have little flourishes as the end of the letter strokes. Sans-serif fonts, such as Ariel and Verdana, do not. I also urge you to use a larger typeface than the 8-point type you are now using.

For those of us with vision problems, and for those of us who are getting older, the smaller type size and the serif fonts are difficult to read. I love Seven Days, but I am less inclined to read it if I have to use a magnifying glass.

Michele Patenaude


(Ed. note: The body copy is actually Mercury Text 9.5; a serif font is traditionally used for body because it improves readability.)

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