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Letters to the Editor 

Published December 22, 2009 at 4:19 p.m.

Conflicted Christmas?

Tom Salmon reimbursing $28 indicates he admits a mistake was made [“Fair Game,” December 16]. A few years back the head of Burlington Electric reluctantly reimbursed the city a measly $30 after being pressured because the Department of Public Works plowed her driveway. Will our leaders ever get it?

Grumble, grumble. Happy holidays to all.

Dale Tillotson


Real Community

Hello, Seven Days and Burlington audience. I am the mother of Kristin Albee, previously Kristin Combs, who is pictured with her goldsmith husband Jake in [“Burlington Goldsmith Builds a Gem of a Studio,” December 2].

We are proud for obvious reasons of Kristin and Jacob, who are living in a wonderful and receptive city, doing what they love to do. That is a rare story today! As out-of-staters who enjoy Burlington and its people, we appreciate the good folks who have supported our daughter throughout her years at the University of Vermont and now the both of them, as citizens. The article mentions Harry Atkinson and Timothy Grannis. They and their families, along with the Penny Cluse “family” and many other friends, have kept Kristin and Jake rooted in your community. Thank you all for the positive support. From one person who played “jewelry store” (and other businesses) for many years with her daughter.

Vicki Combs

Reading, Pa.

Got Zat Wrong

In her “Magnificent 7” column in the December 16 issue of Seven Days, Carolyn Fox claims that the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert in Rutland will “include originals such as ‘Is Zat You, Santa Claus?’” implying that the band wrote the song. She seems unaware that tune was written by J. Fox and performed originally by Louis Armstrong! “Is Zat You, Santa Claus?” was also covered by David Johansen as Buster Poindexter, but it was ol’ Satchmo who sang the song first and best. Happy holidays, and get your facts straight next time!

Michael Camp


Free Ride to Winooski?

[Re: “Waiting for Winooski,” November 25]: I’ve been fortunate during my 30 years in Vermont to have lived and worked in or near Winooski, including a decade in a warehouse on Malletts Bay [Avenue], and then an office in the Champlain Mill, and finally another warehouse up near the Colchester line. The Black Rose Café, which morphed into Burlington’s Daily Planet, was a favorite back then, as was Vermont Pasta, Betsy’s Deli and, later on, Papa Frank’s, Sneakers, Peking Duck, and today’s Tiny Thai and Asian Bistro.

The falls and paths are an attraction for the lunchtime and weekend crowds. Unfortunately, being just over the hill is a transportation barrier for many of us living in downtown Burlington. The mostly empty Champlain College shuttle bus runs past my front door every 20 minutes on weekends. It certainly would be convenient to grab a ride for a bite to eat, a couple of beers and a stroll along the river, but this bus is currently reserved only for the college’s students. Why not forge some sort of cooperative venture between the city and the college and invite all to use the bus? I doubt the increase in energy consumption would be significant, and it might provide an additional stimulus for the slow economic climate in Winooski.

Steve Levy


Keep Finding “Missed” Stories

Your list of the top 10 stories that were ignored or underreported by the mainstream media [“Censored!” December 2] was a sad reminder of how the United States continues to be deeply implicated in the military affairs of Israel. As a U.S. citizen, I am ashamed of having any part in the firing of white phosphorous shells onto the citizens of Gaza. It is time for all of us to demand that the Obama administration put an end to military aid to Israel, not only because of the white phosphorous shelling, but also because of the many other violations of international law that have been committed by the Israelis during their occupation of Gaza.

Some of your readers may remember the sad case reported in Seven Days of the Middlebury College student from Gaza, Amer Shurrab, who lost his two brothers in a horrendous attack by the Israeli army last January [“No War Crimes Committed in Gaza? VT Lawyer Challenges Israel’s Finding,” May 6]. One of the young brothers was shot outright, and the other was left to bleed to death after lying on the ground for 13 hours under the threat of Israeli gunfire. I was a host parent to Amer for four years. Amer’s friends and family still mourn these senseless deaths, along with all the other deaths that have taken place in Gaza this year. Please keep reporting on these “missed” stories that are so important for all of us to remember and to act on if we can.

Fran Putnam


What’s Wrong with Well Lit?

[Re: Eyewitness: “‘Action’ Steps,” December 2]: While I have some real misgivings about the concept and execution of “The Art of Action,” I applaud Lyman Orton for his effort and his generous support of Vermont art and artists. Unlike most of us, he puts his money where his mouth is.

I know a number of the artists involved in this project and enjoyed seeing their work in Montpelier. I like the idea of displaying artwork in accessible, unexpected venues around the state, making the work as available as possible, and would like to see more of it.

However, Alex Aldrich, the director of the Vermont Arts Council, should really consider what he says more carefully. As reported in Seven Days, his remark, “We’re not going to traditional, hoity-toity galleries where everything is perfectly lit and nicely set off,” is really insulting and wrong headed.

Insulting because most of the Vermont galleries I know of are far from hoity-toity and can only wish they were well lit. Rather, they are more often struggling, cramped, welcoming enterprises — hungry for viewers.

Wrong headed because exhibit spaces should — out of respect for the artists’ work — be as well lit as possible and nicely set off. Where exactly does Mr. Aldrich think Vermont artists get to show and sell their work? A “well lit, nicely set off” environment is the great exception. Most art in this state, if shown at all, is already shown in “nontraditional” venues: restaurants, lobbies, hallways, offices and the like. They’re all commendable spaces, but none conducive to really looking at, understanding and appreciating artwork for its own sake. Galleries try to offer that opportunity.

Many people are already intimidated by the idea of going into an art gallery, and it is foolish for the director of one of Vermont’s leading arts organizations to perpetuate this tired old stereotype.

I think Alex Aldrich owes most Vermont gallery owners — and artists — an honest apology, and the Vermont Arts Council owes the galleries some real support.

Thanks for your arts coverage; I look forward to Kevin Kelley’s review of the show.

Mason Singer


Don’t Stereotype Norwich

Even though a 1969 Norwich graduate, I am not inclined to reflexively defend my alma mater. However, your article “Corps Confessions” [December 2] did raise my ire. Frankly, even before I got to the survey results, I detected the hint of what some might call stereotyping and others would depict as profiling. Therefore, I appreciate your corrections to the survey.

I would encourage Seven Days to look beneath the surface and examine the long history of Norwich University. In many ways, it mirrors the complex interrelationship between America and its military. Also, Norwich has had a much more progressive bent in post-secondary education than you might imagine. Take a look.

Finally, I developed my opposition to the Vietnam War while a Norwich cadet, and one of my best guides on that journey was a commissioned Army officer who fought there. Since those days, I have concluded that our many marches of folly into warfare have not been led by the military but by civilians who, while surrounding themselves with soldiers as props, have neither worn the uniform nor experienced the horror of combat. More than a few names — Republican and Democrat, past and present — come to mind.

Again, thanks for your corrections and for your invitation to add my perspective.

Bruce Post


Dairy Debts

Maybe I didn’t mention this to Kirk Kardashian when we spoke about [“Passing on the Pasture,” December 16], but an equally huge challenge as the younger generation purchase a share of the farm is how their parents can exit with any equity to use for retirement. Lots of folks lost retirement funds when the stock market dropped. But Vermont’s dairy farmers have had to borrow against their equity ... the same funds they planned to have for some retirement security. They have replaced that equity with debt and have seen the value of remaining equity in cows, land and equipment drop. Cows are worth less than half of what they were worth a year ago. Many [farmers] will never be able to pay back the additional debt without working more years or selling out, both of which would likely forbid a younger family member taking over. The younger generation do not have the cash to buy their way into the farm operation, and the parents can’t sell whatever equity they have to the younger generation because the farm likely can’t cash flow any more debt.

Bob Parsons


Parsons is an agricultural economist in the UVM Ag Extension Program.

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