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Letters to the Editor 

Published February 23, 2011 at 5:18 a.m.

Not Right About Reagan

Just wanted to point out a couple of inaccuracies in [“Poli Psy,” February 16]:

1. Reagan left the Oval Office in early 1989 — not 1990.

2. While people have speculated on Ron Reagan Jr.’s sexuality, he has denied it and has been married to his wife, Doria, since 1980, so referring to him as gay seems irresponsible.

Sam Buckley


Editor’s note: Buckley is correct. Seven Days regrets the errors.

Lousy Lockheed Treatment

The cover and inside art on [“Up in Arms,” February 9] show the Lockheed plane dropping money and flowers. In fact, Lockheed jets drop dangerous levels of noise and toxic emissions while they consume 2000 to 4000 gallons of fuel per hour. And their raison d’être: dropping bombs. I am a huge fan of political editorial illustration, but I’m not sure if you were intending to skew the viewer to believing that Lockheed’s mission is benign, or if your visual editors were not paying attention when they approved such a message. But the effect is the same: Seven Days says: “Lockheed brings the good.”

The text seems to be a mashup of talking points from the press releases of Mayor Kiss, Lockheed and the group No Lockheed, of which I am a proud member. The idea that there is a journalistic view from nowhere — that showing the surface of “both” sides equals objectivity and truth — is just sloppy journalism. I saw no evidence that the author did any investigating of his own. I don’t expect anything from the Burlington Free Press, but I expect better from Seven Days.

I believe that Mayor Kiss is trying to make a pact with the Devil. He thinks there’s a chance in Hell that Lockheed will beat their swords into plowshares? Based on what evidence? Lockheed’s mission is profit from endless war. If they can make more money by spending less on oil, there is more profit for them. And for us, that’s Hell to pay.

Liza Cowan


Hypocrisy Rules?

Just a thought: In the same issue that you criticize business deals with companies that supported racism in South Africa [“Up in Arms,” February 9], you quote a poem by Rudyard Kipling [“Backyard Birding With Rudyard Kipling,” February 9], an openly outspoken supporter in his day of the same practices in South Africa! Now, while I agree with much of what your article about the Lockheed Martin deal had to say, maybe you should apply similar standards to yourself. Don’t you think?

Steven Phillips


Editor’s note: Truthfully, we never made the connection. Plus, the poem is not by Kipling — it only imitates his style and references him in the headline — and was Montpelier poet Roberta Harold’s response to our “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” column about the Burlington crow population.


We can’t know for sure about Burlington’s crow population, mostly because nobody is out there counting Burlington’s crows with any reliability [Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: “What’s With All the Crows in Burlington?” February 9]. But if people suspect they’re seeing more crows in Burlington, it is probably because we’re indeed seeing more crows in Burlington. It has little or nothing to do with clueless flatlanders or besotted Twitterers.

The best data we have come from Christmas bird counts — birdwatchers spending a single winter day counting every bird they see or hear. I analyzed 40 years of data for the Burlington Christmas Count. Although these data are fraught with variables and far from scientific, they shows crow numbers on an upward trend since 1970, rising at a faster rate over the past decade.

Yes, these large crow flocks have been around for as long as crows themselves have been around. But work from the prestigious Cornell Lab of Ornithology reveals that American crows have been moving into urban areas for breeding and for establishing huge winter roosts. They’re finding success in the suburbs and cities: warmth, food and lights that may help them see approaching nocturnal predators. Countering this trend, however, is research from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the Consortium for Conservation Medicine showing crow numbers declining with a rise in reports of West Nile virus. It all goes to show that nature can’t always be explained by the casual observations of wildlife watchers.

By the way, crows don’t produce “guano,” as someone said in the article. And a winter crow roost isn’t an “eruption,” nor is it an irruption, which is the proper term biologists use to describe a sudden population explosion of some organism.

Bryan Pfeiffer


Too Much Sarcasm

One of the letters in your “Feedback” section caught my eye today. The letter, titled “Location, Location,” appeared in the February 9 issue. As a culture we are beginning to talk about the lack of civility in our daily discourse. This letter and your editor’s response illustrate this lack of civility in a very small but meaningful way. The letter starts out with “Oh, how I love the lack of information...” This sarcasm was not a necessary part of the feedback that the address for the Night Life Café was missing from the article. It would have been simpler and perhaps more respectful to simply ask that in the future all reviews contain the address to help people find the reviewed restaurants.

The editor’s response was also sarcastic. Rather than responding to sarcasm with sarcasm (“We thought Malletts Bay Avenue...would suffice, since it’s only a few blocks long”), why not just say, “Good point, thanks for the feedback,” and provide the address?

While this exchange was by no means extreme or inflammatory, it is evidence that we are slowly edging away from polite and respectful communication and replacing it with sarcasm that seems to have become both commonplace and acceptable. What does this sarcasm achieve?

Victor Morrison


Editor’s note: For our part, there was no sarcasm intended.

Leave Ndibalema Alone

[Re: “Why Four Peruvian Workers Couldn’t Wait to Leave Vermont,” February 2]: While I recognize that Fuad Ndibalema made some serious mistakes in his promises and follow-through on his end of the deal, I have to take issue with his being singled out in this article. Yes, it was an expensive and unfortunate experience for the girls who were here, but they weren’t brought here to work in strip clubs, as indicated in the article, by some “employer” who remained anonymous; these girls missed their beach vacations. Sorry, but that’s not breaking my heart, and it won’t create long-term damage in their lives.

Ndibalema should have gotten better services and support from the various agencies he’s been working with to bring workers here; Ndibalema came here as an immigrant himself and has made good on the American dream, learning English, starting a business, buying a home and becoming self-sufficient in less than 10 years. Many, many people who were born here, grew up speaking English and have far more resources from the start haven’t done that well, including, I suspect, the owner of the business that brought girls here to work in a strip club.

Here’s hoping that Seven Days can stop singling out one business owner when it seems pretty clear that this system is broken. And, incidentally, it comes as no surprise that the private J-1 brokers won’t answer the reporter’s questions. Wonder what they’re charging the federal government for their brokering services?

Cecile Johnston


Combo Deal

I would like to advise Megan James that the option of combining both names has worked out perfectly for my husband, Greg, and me [“To Change or Not to Change?” February 2]. Like you, we looked at every option. Like you, I was not keen to give up my name. Greg did not mind changing his at all. So, we combined our names to Epler Wood. There have been a few downsides. Many people cannot find us in their directories.

But the upsides are so many! First, we have a combined family name: Epler Wood. Everyone knows us as the Epler Woods, and that is great! When we married in Iowa, Greg remembers that, in that state, combining names was very common, and in fact many farm families did this — probably to combine their land heritage. For us it was about recognizing our mutual heritage.

Greg is Pennsylvania German with a rich history from that region. I am three-quarters British with an amazingly fascinating background of merchants, actors, ministers, physicians, ship captains, and even land-holding aristocracy from [England].

The genealogy for women is so often lost, as it is easiest to search under male lines. I now know that by keeping my name, descendants will be able to find me without having to look under my husband’s name and family history first. I feel so proud of my name and family history, I am surely glad it is still there, so easy to find for all those who are looking in the future!

Megan Epler Wood, née Lee Wood


Make ’Em Metered

I work at a local hotel, and whenever I order cabs for someone, I always recommend Green Cab VT, and I always tell them to steer clear of Benways. I have no clue why the author [“Burlington Cabbies Up in Arms About Meters,” February 2] chose to interview only Benways, but they are the reason people complain about the rates!

If we had meters like they do in cities like Chicago, we would be able to see what we are getting charged. I don’t understand the automatic start at $8. That would actually make my ride more expensive. Why not just have a regular, metered taxi? A set price per mile might not be a bad idea. Obviously this zone thing isn’t working.

As far as there being “too many cabs,” all I hear about with the cab system from out-of-towners is how you can’t just pick up a cab when you want. You pretty much have to schedule one. Have you ever tried getting a cab downtown at 2 a.m? Ask those people if there are too many cabs.

Desiree Roberts


Support Safe Storage for Guns

[Re: “Aiming Low,” January 26]: This session the legislature has the opportunity to take an important step to protect our children by enacting H.83: An Act Relating to Negligent Storage of a Firearm. H.83 reinforces a common-sense practice — store guns safely to prevent children from gaining unauthorized access. It does not empower any authority to check for gun storage at home in the absence of gun-related incidents; does not in any way prevent ownership or possession of guns; and does not apply if the gun is obtained as a result of an illegal entry or used for a lawful act of self-defense, or if the victim is the gun owner’s family member.

Children in Vermont have easy access to guns, and tragedies happen more often in Vermont than in other Northeast states. From 1987 to 2006, Vermont has lost more than 100 children to guns, and had many more injured by guns.  

People can still defend themselves even when guns are safely stored. There are a variety of safe storage devices to be opened or released in a matter of seconds, even in total darkness.

Across the nation, 28 states have laws similar to H.83, including New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Florida is the first state to implement such a law, and, over an eight-year post-law period, the rate of unintentional firearm deaths in children was reduced by 51 percent.

H.83 is a common-sense law and will save young lives. You can join the proud citizens for safer Vermont children at citizens4saferVTchildren.org.

Ge Wu


Dr. Wu is director of Citizens for Safer Vermont Children.

Buying Burlington?

At the February 7 meeting of the Burlington City Council, it was obvious that many Burlington residents strongly oppose corporate giant Lockheed Martin’s presence [“Up in Arms,” February 9]. The issue at hand is the willingness of some to overlook Lockheed’s record in lieu of a cash donation. Lockheed has not offered to end its participation in murder, torture, assassination and environmental degradation. Can the city of Burlington be bought, and how much will Lockheed give?

I estimate Lockheed’s cut of Vermont taxpayers’ contributions at around $2 million a year. How much of our money is Lockheed going to give back? Will $1 million stop the suffering of the people in Gaza who lost limbs and lives from cluster bombs? Will $2 million make things right again for the people in Fallujah, where birth defects are at record levels due to the depleted uranium used in the siege? Will $3 million wipe away the pain and memory of torture from the thousands of people whose lives were affected? Can Lockheed’s money bring back the Vermonters who died fighting in the illegal wars that they sponsored and promoted?

The power of the people lies in consumerism. If corporations offend our ethical standards, we can boycott their products. Lockheed does not produce sneakers, chocolate or diamonds. They receive our tax money directly from the Pentagon. If the people of Vermont had a say in how our tax money was spent, not one Vermont soldier would have lost his or her life in Iraq or Afghanistan. Wars are fought to secure resources and increase the profits of companies like Lockheed Martin. “Communism” and “terrorism” are just marketing gimmicks.

On Monday night, the people of Burlington were telling their elected officials that Lockheed does not have enough money to be absolved of its sins. They cannot be bought. Burlingtonians can only hope that Mayor Kiss and the city council have the same standards as the people who put them in office.

Peter Garritano


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