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Letters to the Editor 

Published October 31, 2012 at 4:11 a.m.

Boy Blunder

[Re “Left Hook,” October 17]: Just asking whether [Vermont Republican Party Chair] Jack Lindley’s comment about “their boy Barack Obama” is offensive. The word “boy” in our troubled civil rights history carries lots of, well, history. I know they use the term without regard to race on sports talk TV and radio. But with regard to the president? Just wondering.

Kevin Ellis


Good Weird

Great fanboy interview of Weird Al by Dan Bolles [“Dare to be Stupid,” October 17]. In my opinion, Weird Al is a pure genius who should be acknowledged, and hopefully the two-page spread got people who were on the fence to go to the show. A-plus production at the Flynn.

Weird Al has taught pop-culture artists and fans to loosen up and laugh at what’s right in front of all of our faces. That interview was a great snapshot of his genuine approach to his art. Fan or not, appreciation for Weird Al should be in everyone’s lesson plan. For those who would think to argue with this, three words: Twinkie wiener sandwich? Exactly. Deal with it.

Matt Hagen


Cass Consciousness

Thanks so much to Kathryn Flagg for her story about lieutenant governor candidate Cassandra Gekas [“Cass Gekas Is Young, Broke — and Running for Lieutenant Governor,” October 17]. While Cassandra, or Cass, is young, she is already a battle-hardened veteran of the legislature and how it works. As Flagg wrote, “Gekas spent years as a behind-the-scenes player in Montpelier.” In addition to her work before health care, which Flagg duly documents, Cass played a major role in all of the health-reform bills that have passed in recent years.  

Cass worked extremely hard, for example, on a bill to require health insurance companies to cover midwives in Vermont. Although this passed the legislature, the insurers still found a loophole. It will be taken up again. Another health-reform bill that Cass was instrumental in shepherding through the grinder of the legislative process was a bill to require health insurance companies to report the claims that they deny and why they denied them to the Green Mountain Care Board.

As a fellow health care reform advocate who has worked with Cassandra, I know how difficult and exhausting this process can be. It takes commitment, dedication, savvy and the ability to keep pushing yourself ahead no matter what the odds against you are. Cassandra possess all of these qualities, plus the understanding of how to keep fighting for what she believes in. She will make an excellent lieutenant governor.

Walter Carpenter


Wet Spot

[Re “Why is an Important Vermont Art Collection in Boxes and Not on Display?” October 17]: Kevin Kelley noted that last December, the T.W. Wood Gallery left the Vermont College of Fine Arts and “relocated down the hill to a former Catholic school on Barre Street, where much of its collection is now stored in boxes.” That Barre Street location — in the former Catholic school — flooded last year. Not a great spot for a gallery.

Kevin Wilkinson


Big on Broughton

[Re “Who is Lenore Broughton?” October 17]: I do not think it is healthy for democracy in Vermont that one party dominates. It puts one party in a position to pass legislation without collaboration, and it diminishes the benefit for all of the indispensable opposition. It’s too bad that Broughton has to do it alone when there are plenty of Republicans in this state who could do their share. They have given up on the political debate in Vermont. Broughton hasn’t. I applaud her determination and her personal commitment. Some people spend their money on bling and designer clothes. She splurges on democracy, and I admire her for it.  

Lea Terhune


Who Really Invented the Snowboard?

I’m writing to comment on the Keenan Walsh article [“Snow Show,” October 10]. While doing an excellent job of highlighting winter-sports history and the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum, the writer appears to perpetuate the myth that “Jake Burton Carpenter is widely credited with inventing the sport as we know it.” While Mr. Carpenter may have sought to improve on the “snurfer” in the ’70s, he wasn’t the only one and wasn’t the first to do so. Tom Sims, a pioneer in the snowboarding world, built a “ski board” in 1963, which currently resides at the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum in Vail. Furthermore, anyone who rode in the mid-’80s knew Mr. Sims was the first to design boards with metal edges. He was also the first to design boards for women. At that time, many saw Sims as the industry leader. While we all know times have changed and Burton has taken the lead, let’s give credit where it is deserved and be grateful for all who contributed to this awesome sport.

John Rinelli

South Burlington

Wilton’s Worst Enemy

It is regrettable for Vermont that someone as unprofessional as Wendy Wilton feels the need to attack the impeccable Treasurer Beth Pearce [Fair Game, “Bond Girls,” October 24]. In doing so, Wilton spreads in Vermont what’s foul in U.S. political campaigns. Does she not realize how she is her own worst detractor in doing so?

Annegret Pollard


Choice vs. Life

[Re “An Anti-Abortion Attorney Challenges Burlington’s No-Protest Zone,” September 26]: Claire Crisman’s letter [Feedback, October 17] voiced support for Planned Parenthood through the buffer ordinance. Her reason went back to a negative experience with protesters who used a violent and aggressive approach when she was a teen volunteer for Planned Parenthood in the Bible Belt.

Claire, I’m sorry for the behavior you encountered from those acting in total contrast to the heart of true Christianity. There is no place for violence in such a protest; however, questioning the integrity of Care Net only promotes a broader rift between Choice vs Life. Are we so fearful of losing our personal freedoms that we are blinded to the good in supporting a woman who chooses to offer her baby life? You were shaken by the outwardly violent and aggressive approach used by protestors many years ago; yet, there exists a pitiful irony in that today the unborn are often the victims of actual physical violence and total loss of their personal, God-given right to life. Who will stand for them?

Planned Parenthood may offer a variety of medical services, but none that cannot be obtained at other local clinics. Perhaps, the need for many of their health-care services — sex education, contraceptives, STD screenings and abortions — would diminish if we, as a culture, were making wiser and more prudent choices for our lives.

No, Claire. I do not stand with Planned Parenthood, but with life as ordained by a loving and just God.

Judith A. Claveau


Blowing Smoke?

Judith Levine’s essay on Kingdom Community Wind [Poli Psy, “Gone with the Wind,” October 10] contains several important inaccuracies. I understand that people have different emotional reactions to wind and can draw different conclusions when looking at the pros and cons of ridgeline development. However, while feelings are important, so are the facts. Levine misrepresents who benefits from $44 million in federal production tax credits. In fact, it is the customers of Green Mountain Power and members of Vermont Electric Coop who will receive these dollars in the form of lower electric costs.

She’s also mistaken about how GMP will make property tax payments to the town of Lowell. No detective work on the part of the town is required, since the annual payment is a fixed amount of money that has already been agreed to by GMP and by the town. Levine should recognize the informed decision made at the Lowell Town Meeting, where 75 percent of the voters cast their ballot in favor of building the wind turbines. During the nine-month period before the vote, Lowell residents attended dozens of meetings where proponents and opponents spoke; made visits to Lempster, New Hampshire to see an operating wind farm; and received bushels of written material.

Before they voted, they did their homework.

It is important to note that on the same day that Lowell decided to support the project, the neighboring town of Albany voted at its town meeting not to oppose the project. And in spite of all the publicity about the project, in nearby Craftsbury, no one was concerned enough to get the few dozen signatures required to get the issue on the town meeting agenda. Levine describes the project as being rash and impulsive, yet three full years passed between initial conversations with North East Kingdom residents about the project and the first day of construction.

During the 12 months of Public Service Board review process, opponents to wind power, their organizations, their attorneys and their experts were deeply engaged. With input from biologists, more than 2700 acres of important wildlife habitat has been conserved to mitigate the 135 acres impacted by turbines and the road that links them. The project has state-of-the-art storm water management, and Green Mountain Power has applied to use new technology that will keep lighting turned off unless an airplane is near. If approved by the FAA, this will be the first wind project in the nation to use this technology.

Facts do matter. Kingdom Community Wind went through a rigorous regulatory and public participation process and will provide the lowest cost new renewable electricity source available in Vermont. It will generate enough electricity to power 24,000 Vermont homes. There is room in Vermont for vigorous debate and differences of opinion, but it is important that the information is presented accurately, even in an opinion piece.  

Robert Dostis

Waterbury Center

Dostis is the director of government and customer relations at Green Mountain Power.

Nothing Goofy-Ass About It

[Re “Welch Celebrates National Coming Out Day With Goofy-Ass Photo,” Off Message, October 11]: Paul Heintz’s use of the phrase “goofy-ass photo” to describe the picture of Congressman Peter Welch’s participation in the NOH8 Campaign, celebrating National Coming Out Day, was off base and offensive. When I went to the site, I was moved that these members of Congress took time from their hectic schedules to show my community their support in such a public way. I liked that each made a statement in their choice of poses. Where Heintz saw Rep. Jan Schakowsky as “goofy,” I saw Rosie the Riveter, and where Heintz saw Welch’s pose as “goofy-ass,” I saw my congressman emphasizing “no hate.”

As the executive director of the RU12? Community Center, serving LGBTQ Vermonters, I encounter community members on a daily basis who continue to face discrimination and bias. I meet with people who are still terrified to come out to their families, and I talk with LGBTQ survivors of violence who have been re-victimized by the systems designed to help them. I am relieved when leaders are willing to put themselves out there for my community.  

I like that Heintz brought NoH8 to the attention of his readers but am not certain why he chose to be so critical. These are political leaders doing something admirable. All Heintz’s article does is try to detract from their support. Perhaps he missed the point of the campaign because he was too busy finding a way to sound light and goofy while he was doing harm.

Kim Fountain


Pro Pearce

I can speak with some authority to the conclusions of [Fair Game, “Bond Girls,” October 24], in that Treasurer Beth Pearce can stand all day long on her integrity and not flinch a single bit. I have worked with her as a union president, a retirement board and investment committee member, and in the world of politics. When she makes a statement, I take it to the bank. When she offers an opinion, I know it is fairly offered and deeply researched. When she makes a promise or cuts a deal, I know it will be fair, balanced and reliable. Pearce displays something far too often absent in politics today: a personal ethic that you can rely upon. We should feel honored that she is on the job for us.   

Ask me about Wilton? A campaign based on the questionable statement that she was of some great consequence in changing the situation in Rutland, as if to ignore the remainder of city government and their efforts. A campaign that fills itself with innuendo and false charges. A candidate that wants to be in the starting lineup, with questionable minor league experience. A candidate who conveniently forgets or ignores the truth, even when presented with documentation.

Who do we want on Wall Street or before the legislature making the case for the citizens of the State of Vermont? I think integrity speaks for itself.

I urge you to cast a decisive vote for people with demonstrated experience in these important constitutional officer races. Our state has always established a leadership role with issues of consequence. Don’t shy away from a challenge now.

Robert Hooper


Give Bernie A Break

Perhaps Paul Heintz intends to amuse when he aims his wry wit at Senator Sanders, but the tone of his blog and Fair Game column strikes me more as snarky and cynical. As a volunteer on Sanders’ campaign, I am taken aback not so much by Heintz’s treatment of Sanders as I am offended by his condescending dismissal of the senator’s many supporters.

Heintz’s coverage of the Labor Day Rally [Fair Game, September 5] suggests labor leaders came out to “kiss the senator’s ring” (and get free food), and he dismisses the various speakers as sycophantic “warm-up acts” who just call Sanders a champion of workers’ rights because that is what they have been told to say.

More recently, Heintz poked fun at the “famous spaghetti dinners,” echoing his theme of food-motivated Sanders supporters [Fair Game, October 17].

First of all, it hasn’t been spaghetti in a long time; these days it’s usually burgers. Heintz should have joined us for one of these old-fashioned political meetings — we’ve held more than 40 — and then perhaps he would understand why working folks hail Bernie sincerely as their voice and champion. (He would also know that it’s not the food we come for.)

He should have joined us as we knocked on 15,000-plus doors, hearing Vermonters’ concerns and opinions, their hopes and fears for our nation. We Bernie supporters are many and varied — third-generation Vermonters and flatlanders, rich and poor, day laborers and professors, college students and retired veterans. But Bernie speaks for all of us, and we are proud he is our senator.

Angie “Jae” Lee


Party of One?

The Newcomb cartoon in your October 24 issue suggests that Vermont Republicans should be grateful to Lenore Broughton and her “Vermonters First” super PAC for keeping the GOP afloat. They shouldn’t be.

To be sure, the numerous Vermonters First mailings have urged Vermonters to restore “balance” to state government by voting for Republican candidates. But what kind of balance is it when two individuals determine the agenda of a major political party? The kind of political balance that I want to see is the result of grassroots organizing, financial support from many small donors and lively citizen participation in political dialogue — in short, active citizen political engagement.

Vermont voters should reject this perversion of American democracy and vote for candidates who earn their support the old-fashioned way — by presenting convincing arguments that the policies they support are good for Vermont citizens.

Spence Putnam


Homeless Art

Vermont College of Fine Arts should have found a way to keep the fine art [“Why is an Important Vermont Art Collection in Boxes and Not on Display?” October 17]. It was a perfect place. What are they going to do with that unique space?

Connie Godin



Last week’s Fair Game incorrectly referenced the Fact Checker blog post that ran in Seven Days on September 19. In it, Wendy Wilton’s claim — that she restored Rutland’s fiscal health — earned a “debatable” judgment; Paul Heintz mistakenly reported that it was scored “mostly false.” The online version of the story has been corrected.

An open-house date was wrong in last week’s work column, “Digital Dialogue.” It should have read: Jackie Joy Weyrauch and other Vermont digital economy leaders will host an open house on November 13 at noon at Local 64 in Montpelier. You don’t have to wait until January.

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