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Letters to the Editor 

Under Vermont’s Skin

I am curious as to why Seven Days dubbed Tata Harper Skincare “Vermont’s only luxe cosmetics company” [“Getting the Glow,” March 16]. Lunaroma has been in business in Burlington for 11 years, selling very similar products, and has also been featured in your paper [“Odor Readers,” September 15, 2004]. It seems like a bit of a snub.

Giles Wagoner

Burlington

Editor’s note: We defined “luxe,” or luxury, quantitatively by price point. When comparing similar products, Tata Harper Skincare is substantially more expensive than Lunaroma’s offerings, or any other Vermont-made skin-care product. For example, Lunaroma’s Nourishing Facial Elixir runs $38 for an ounce, while a comparably sized bottle of Tata Harper’s Rejuvenating Serum costs $150. 

Too Much Tata

I just laughed out loud reading the Tata Harper infomercial in Seven Days [“Getting the Glow,” March 16]. This is great stuff. One hundred dollars per 50-milliliter bottle? That equates to $7570 per gallon for a “Rebuilding Moisturizer.” I hope that covers bringing the ingredients in from the Czech Republic, Israel and the Amazon, and keeps the workers and the environment happy.

Is there a cheaper rate if you take your own bottle to be filled?

Perhaps I am conflicted and need some of the “Aromatic Irritability Treatment,” but at $49,205 per gallon, I might just rather wet a flannel with some cool Montpelier tap water, place it on my forehead and relax on the couch for half an hour and get in touch with a different version of reality.

John Dawkins

Montpelier

WWJD?

[Re: “Can the Catholic Diocese Boot a Group Home From Its North Avenue Property? A Judge Will Decide,” March 9]: When parishioners of St. Mark’s Parish go to confession, do they search their souls over another successful NIMBY? What do neighbors and parishioners feel when they hear Jesus’ teaching that we are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers?

Donna Marie Constantineau

Essex Junction

“Planning” a Revolution

[Re: “Heeding Unhappy Homeowners, Burlington Planners Look to Redefine ‘Historic,’” March 9]: As a Burlington homeowner, I am in wonderment of Burlington’s planning and zoning. After locating low-income residents nearly on the waterfront, in the Wharf Lane Apartments, utilizing the former Burlington College building as a shelter for homeless families and plunking a Phoenix House in the center of Burlington, I can scarcely imagine the next wacky exploits of Burlington Planning and Zoning. I am in awe that after two decades, they have decided to give us homeowners a break!

Of course we try to do our fixing on the sly. Who wants to tangle with the crazies at Planning and Zoning!? Having rezoned some formerly residential areas of Burlington as commercial, they generally decline to act on their revised planning unless a lawyer sues them or a VIP wants to open a business. The average Burlingtonian has no say, and don’t think we’re not aware of that. One need only notice the length of time some of the storefronts stay vacant on Church Street or the dilapidated state of the homes just off Church Street to realize that something is wrong.

Someone needs to start a grassroots movement to remove these people from office. Burlington needs revitalization, and the people currently at city hall do not have the good of the city or its citizens at heart.

Susie Green

Burlington

Save the Vermont Film Commission

As an unabashed lover of film who has long wished for a more vibrant film industry in Vermont, I question the wisdom of downsizing our present film commission [“Say Good-Bye to the VT Film Commission, Hello to the Creative Economy,” March 9].

In 2005, Massachusetts empowered its film commission by passing a package of tax credits that made that commonwealth an attractive place for filmmaking. Since then, film production in the Bay State has boomed. Forty major motion pictures have been produced there in the past five years, adding $267 million per year to the economy, while fueling both the growth of jobs and infrastructure.

Joe Bookchin, executive director of the Vermont Film Commission, understands the importance of tax incentives better than anyone, but was unsuccessful in lobbying the legislature to act. This proved unfortunate, because without the incentives necessary to attract both independent and studio-financed projects, our film commission has been crippled in its mission, creating a backwater for film production in a state that, ironically, was ranked by National Geographic Traveler in 2004 as one of the most unspoiled travel destinations on the planet.

The frustration felt in the Vermont filmmaking community is understandable, but Mr. Bookchin is not to blame; that responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the state legislature. A grassroots effort to educate lawmakers about the power of incentives to bring moviemakers to Vermont — not dismantling the film commission — may be the best strategy for a creating a robust film industry in the Green Mountain State.

John Hiser

Charlotte

Labor’s Lessons

Judith Levine’s “Wisconsin Conversations” [“Poli Psy,” March 2] identifies labor’s biggest problem: its disassociation from the American public. With union membership at less than 12 percent, an antiunion mythos that demonizes members as greedy “others” certainly exists. But perhaps, as Levine implies, unions, especially the full-time hierarchy paid through members’ dues, are also to blame for their decline.

As a local leader, I witnessed the success that an informed, empowered and involved union membership — our relatives, friends and neighbors — was able to achieve. But my experience leads me to believe that union hierarchy often finds the status quo preferable to real change. While union members struggle to pay bills, union staffers often receive salaries and benefits much greater than members. Since these bureaucrats now have more in common with management than with members, most do little to alter the system. Union hierarchy usually prefers dealing behind closed doors, perhaps with a few initiated members present, to promoting union democracy and collective strength.

Today, with war against labor raging in Wisconsin, Chittenden County Transit Authority bus drivers are struggling — without the support of their union hierarchy — for a fair, humane, safety-conscious contract, as much for the community as for themselves. Their struggle harkens to the democratic unionism that existed before labor’s bureaucratic takeover. These drivers are modeling the effort needed to preserve workers’ rights in Vermont; thus, their fight is our community’s fight. Please support CCTA bus drivers.

Brian J. Walsh

Jericho

Walsh is a former vice president of the Vermont-NEA.

What’s the Matter With Texas?

I read Judith Levine’s commentary [“Poli Psy,” March 16] with interest at first, and it very quickly turned to outrage. The very idea that anyone would attempt to portray an 11-year-old girl as responsible for being gang-raped, regardless of how she was dressed, is preposterous. For the citizenry and press of a town to do the same is despicable.

Of course, it is a town in Texas, where there have been so many perversions of justice. The judiciary there is possibly the worst in the United States. And we all know that it was in Texas that George “Baby Doc” Bush rose to political power. I guess if they can produce sleazeballs like him and Tom DeLay, nothing about the asinine attitudes present there should surprise me any more.

Rape is rape. There is no equivocation about it, and the attitude so horrifically exemplified in Cleveland, Texas, is beyond comprehension.

Christopher Hill

Burlington

FSBO Omission

I was disappointed to not see any data on homes for sale by owner in [“What Does $250,000 Buy You in Vermont?” March 9], nor any for-sale-by-owner properties in the examples from around the state. After all, something like 20 percent of homes sold are sold by owner.

David Armstrong

Burlington

Totten Keeps It Transparent

Ken Picard and Andy Bromage made a serious omission in listing those who are fighting for a transparent Vermont government [“Just Say Know,” March 16]: Shay Totten and his “Fair Game” column in Seven Days! Totten has admirably filled the shoes of our late, great Peter Freyne, who should be acknowledged during this St. Paddy’s Day season. Perhaps Totten’s omission was a misguided sense of “conflict of interest.” But please, don’t hide your light under a sap bucket! Since it is “mud season,” I want to thank Totten for his “muckraking” in the tradition of Lincoln Steffens!

Al Salzman

Fairfax

Clarification:

Seven Days reported that Attorney General Bill Sorrell fought “unsuccessfully” to withhold records detailing how police use cellphone data to track criminal suspects [“In Sunshine Wars, Some See Attorney General as ‘Dark Lord of Secrecy,’” March 16]. In fact, the ACLU of Vermont secured a list enumerating the records, but not the records themselves. Also, the cellphone data were sought by law enforcement in a single request for a single case, not four separate cases.

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