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Letters to the Editor 

Published June 15, 2011 at 4:13 a.m.

Correcting the AA Record

In response to the May 4 article “Bitter Pills,” Valerie HawkSpirit wrote that all Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are open, “so you may bring anyone you want to a meeting” [Feedback, “Try AA, Not Suboxone,” June 1]. This is actually incorrect information. Some AA meetings are open, and others are closed. To find out more about Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, people can go to aa.org.

Joanna Jeffery


Jeffery is a licensed social worker based in Burlington.

More to Investigate at UVM

Seven Days is to be commended for exposing the shenanigans being acted out on the public’s dime at the University of Vermont [Fair Game, “Dangerous Liaisons,” May 25; Fair Game, “Fogel Fallout,” June 1]. Your next story should address the patently outrageous salaries — including bonuses —being paid to so many unnecessary administrators at UVM.

According to the UVM List of Base Pay for 2010, there are currently 98 administrators being paid over $100,000 per year and 14 being paid over $200,000 per year — not including bonuses. A comparison is quite revealing: UVM employs 1185 administrators for a student body of approximately 11,000 students; conversely, the University of New Hampshire, a peer institution, employs only 586 administrators — fewer than half — for a student body of 14,600.

Where is the need for so many administrators, and what is the justification for the inflated salaries that they are paid? UNH seems to do more with a great deal less. A top-to-bottom review of the UVM salary scale for its administrators and the necessity of so many of these positions is in order. Taking unnecessary cost out of this enterprise is the first logical step in braking runaway tuition charges and restoring public confidence in the institution.

Vaughn A. Carney


TMI, Seven Days

I am shocked that Seven Days would delve so deeply into the personal matters of the two couples involved [Fair Game, “Dangerous Liaisons,” May 25], as if the newspaper were a petty gossip magazine. It seems that Seven Days did a full investigation of this, only to report very personal details about the sentimental life and other personal issues of the parties involved. It will be up to UVM to evaluate whether there has been infringement of the policies (hopefully in a discreet and respectful manner). Seven Days should stay away from this sensationalistic, scandalous journalism.

Marta Ceroni


UVM’s Most Recent Disaster

[Re: Fair Game: “Fogel Fallout,” June 1]: Now is the time for UVM’s trustees to completely clean UVM’s house and not to circle the wagons with “investigations” intended to cover up and not “elucidate” yet another Dan Fogel administration embarrassment. With national publications carrying the story of a 112-page doctoral dissertation written by Michael Schultz, the well-paid apparent boyfriend of President Fogel’s wife, the former Burlington City Councilor and even better paid provost Jane Knodell, who has owed her multiple promotions to President Dan Fogel, has decreed that there was nothing amiss.

Add this latest episode to the litany of recent disasters — the multimillion dollar PeopleSoft fiasco, the unwarranted secretive and lucrative administrative bonuses, the Ben Stein on/off invitation, the arrest of more than 50 peacefully protesting students, the interminable six-plus-hour 2010 commencement ceremony — all of which indicate an administration that has long ago exhausted the credit that it continues to claim for the Davis Center and the Honors College.

Garrison Nelson


Nelson has been a professor of political science at UVM since 1968.

Creemee Cred

One very surprising fact you forgot to mention in [“I Dream of Creemee,” May 25]: A chemical research team in Britain (of which a young Margaret Thatcher was a member) actually was the first to invent soft serve, by discovering a method of doubling the amount of air in ice cream, which allowed manufacturers to use less of the actual ingredients, thereby reducing costs.

Lisa Judge


Flood Relief Follower

I heard about your article on the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief from a friend [“For One Flood Victim, Vermont’s 2-1-1 Help Line Calls Southern Baptists,” June 8]. I was pleased that the article was considerably better balanced than I had expected. Although it was an uncomfortable experience for the individual, I appreciate your reporting rather than editorializing.

I just volunteered with the SBC for the first time. They have over 100 homes that have requested help and relatively few volunteers, so assessment teams are critical to help those most needy. Saturday we had a team of eight and were able to remove belongings as well as significant mold growth on basement walls. This particular site was the home of a woman with disabilities and her retired husband. Not their second home, but their only home. The resident of the second house we worked on had asthma, and because of the respiratory issues mold causes, we were concerned about her health.

I hope the woman in your article was an exception, not the rule. But if other people have been disappointed by the little help they’ve received, please let them know that there are some people in even more difficult circumstances, and to please be patient.

Paul Dame

Essex Junction

Creemee Questions Answered

Thank you so much for [“I Dream of Creemee,” May 25]. I arrived at UVM in 1996 a pure southern New England flatlander and landed a summer job with the Green Mountain Club rolling rocks around to make staircases. The crew leader made it our first priority to hit the creemee stand in Huntington every Friday when the crew left the woods. It took me a long time to figure out how “creemee” was spelled, and, until I read your article, I wasn’t completely sure if it was in fact the same thing as soft serve, or if Vermont put some magic in there. Maybe it was the five straight days of hard labor and heavy lifting, but I still think they taste better in Vermont.

Laura “L-Train” Troeger

Cambridge, Massachusetts

What About Us?

Loved [“And the Livin’ Is Easy,” May 25] but am feeling left out. Interplay Jazz has been providing amazing music with its summer workshops and concerts for 15 years. We extend the reach of jazz that is kicked off by the Burlington Jazz Festival, June 25 to July 2. The full schedule of events is at interplayjazz.com.

Sabrina Brown


Brown is the founder of Woodstock Productions and Interplay Jazz.

Fewer Cops, “Baby” and Otherwise

Instead of a pseudo-journalistic piece on yellow-clad quasi police, how about some solid facts [Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: “What’s the deal with Burlington’s yellow-shirted ‘baby cops’?”]? Why do we need more police? Has the crime rate risen so much that it merits such an increase in the number of police? (I mean real crime, not “victim-less crime” — an oxymoron if I ever heard one.) How much is funded by tickets, the new version of highway robbery?

I see too many uniforms and personally do not feel safe that each and every one of them carries a gun and a Taser.

I don’t feel protected; I feel threatened. I do not need or want police protection. I have no fear of my fellow Vermonters — except those who carry guns and Tasers. I refuse to relinquish my rights in the name of fear. 

If I want to drink a beer out of a bottle, smoke a joint or drink raw milk (yeah, Barre!), that is my right as a human being, and I defy anyone to say otherwise.

If the article’s author, Lauren Ober, chooses to accept being treated like a wayward child, that is her right, but I for one will continue to dissent.

Amanda Lovell


Snack Backtrack

Thanks for the article on some of our many great snack bars [“Snack Attack,” May 25]; I’ve now got several new places to try out. But I’m surprised at the omission of Onion Flats, a local institution on Route 12 north of Bethel.

Onion Flats truly is destination dining, with people riding and driving from all over the area to eat there. For many motorcyclists, including myself, it’s a “must do” on a ride — even if it’s just for a creemee break.

Its popularity is shown in the recent addition of a covered outdoor eating area to go with the enclosed, air-conditioned area. They serve up all the favorites, including great fries and rings to go with burgers and seafood plates.

Route 12 is a great drive in the summer, made even better with a stop at Onion Flats.

John Taylor


Misguided Marxists?

I have followed the Vermont Workers’ Center for years now [“Like Health Care Reform? So Does the Vermont Workers’ Center,” May 11]. I’m sure it means well, but to call the center naive is an understatement. Anyone who still believes in Marxism (and its compatriots communism, socialism, Stalinism, Nazism, Maoism, fascism, progressivism, et al.) is just out of touch with reality. I could fill several pages with facts, proofs and examples of that. Let me just address one item in the article: health care as a “human right.” By their understanding, human rights would include food, clothing, housing, college education, transportation etc. If it were all free, what would be the incentive or reason to work? Let’s face it: There are some people who would opt out. Who would be earning a living to pay the exorbitant taxes to pay these bills? Look at the millions of people Stalin murdered in his campaign to change the “human condition” necessary to make Marxism happen. All the while, of course, there were the “leaders” who had far more “equality” than those doing the forced labor. Further, if the “right” is granted by the government, then it can be cancelled by the government; therefore, it is not a “human right,” but a political piece of legislation that would be as awful as the IRS nightmare of regulations and bureaucracy.

Fred Holt

Burlington & Englewood, Florida

Inalienable Pursuit of Human Care

[Re: “Like Health Care Reform? So Does the Vermont Workers’ Center,” May 11; Feedback, “Health Care? Humbug!” May 25]. It is puzzling to me that in a country founded, at least theoretically, on the virtues of freedom, equality and democracy, someone cannot see high-quality health care as a human right. The lack of equal, high-quality health care for all belies the proposition that all are “created equal”; the lack of equal, high-quality health care is detrimental to many in their realization of our inalienable rights: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Since we, as Americans, officially believe “that governments are instituted … to secure those rights,” I believe it is high time that our government fulfills its responsibility of ensuring equal, high-quality health care for all. I am thankful that our Vermont state government is realizing that responsibility.

Brian J. Walsh


Poli Psy Is Sexist

The alleged actions of Dominique Strauss-Kahn are certainly abhorrent. The writing of Judith Levine, however, is representative of a poorly constructed, prejudicial argument that reveals her own misandry all the while leaping to conclusions yet to be established anywhere but the speculative court of media [Poli Psy, “Men Behaving Unsurprisingly,” May 25]. The greater majority of the article is composed of little more than speculation and presumption fueled by prejudice.

Rather than speak to the pitfalls of power for both genders, Levine directs her critique specifically at the male gender. Why? I won’t presume to know, however, sexism could stem from unresolved psychological issues or, at best, a cognitive inability to look beyond a myopic worldview. Numerous examples of “Women Behaving Poorly While Wielding Power” could have been used to create a well-rounded argument. Sarah Palin, anyone?

The temptations and evils associated with holding a powerful position are universal — not gender specific. I would hope this paper could see above such shallow drama and stop playing into the petty, ignorant perspective that somehow men are unique in their faults. 

Yes, men are likely more often the culprits in examples such as this, but this does not mean that they alone carry the blame for a habit that occurs across genders —  and this certainly doesn’t lend credence to the sexist opinions of a writer who fails to leave her biases at the door.

Tristan McNamara


Fine With Fins

[Re: “Problem With Preservation?” Feedback, May 11]: When the owners of the Spot fixed an old gas station and created something funky, imaginative and optimistic on top of it, you would think it would end up in promotional brochures about Vermont. But no, the city is trying to take down the wings of the turbine just because they weren’t in the original design. Well, the bureaucrats forget that not everybody thinks like them at every turn. They would like to control all aspects of our lives at all times. This is not North Korea, I hope. Anyway, whoever put a stamp of approval on the housing authority building on King Street — and it must have been planning and zoning — has probably broken lots of rules. Or they were on cocaine. Now they are trying to take the wings of the city; others call it “the fins.”

I bet that if it were up to them, the whale tails on Interstate 89 wouldn’t be swimming by the highway, either. (I do not consider them beautiful, but they always make me smile and feel homey.)

I am in the construction business, and I know that the existence of the planning and zoning department is important, that historical considerations are important; otherwise developers would destroy cities everywhere. But the office in Burlington is run by morons who put breaks on human creativity and allow real crap to be built. No wonder nobody builds anything interesting in the town; many don’t even fix their houses and don’t bother installing “green” because they would have to deal with these people.

Evzen Holas


Power to the People

[Re: “Energy Bill Would ‘Pay’ Vermonters to Produce Their Own Power,” April 13]: Vermont Yankee is unreliable and worrisome for our state. The byproducts that come out of nuclear energy plants are as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than the emissions of fossil fuels. This is why Vermonters should search for other renewable energy sources such as wind, solar or biomass power.

In his article in Seven Days, Andy Bromage discusses the importance of this, and the program that encourages Vermonters to take part in this search. The program encourages this by providing credit to the people who use a new source in their home, farm or business. The power companies help the families or companies by providing them with electricity when the renewable sources do not provide enough for one reason or another, such as lack of sun or wind during a certain period of time.

While Vermont cannot completely go off the grid, it is important to understand that we have to find an alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear power. This is what this program sets out to do, and it is vital for the safety of Vermont as a whole, and the conservation of our state’s natural beauty.

Brianna St. Amour


Editor’s Note: Gov. Shumlin signed the Vermont Energy Act of 2011 into law on May 25, 2011.

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