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Letters to the Editor (02/18/15)

Published February 18, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

Carpe Diem

[Re Off Message: Montpeculiar: "Senate Panel OKs Latin, not Latin American, Motto," February 12]: As an erstwhile student of Latin, I say to both Angela Kubicke and Sen. Joe Benning: "Bene, bene, optimum quidem!"

Pete Gummere

St. Johnsbury

Cautionary Tale

Mark Davis claimed my attention with his telling of the recently deceased 71-year-old Northeast Kingdom resident, Patricia Little, who died for lack of cellphone service ["A Final Act of Devotion Ends in Tragedy," February 4]. Of course, that wasn't the gist of the story. It was that her "final act of devotion" was simultaneously futile. She and most of us in the NEK live without access to 911 in any weather. Little's critically ill husband needed 911 services during the height of a recent snowstorm. Electricity in this region was down; our phones were mute.

So Mrs. Little died in the fatal act of walking a half mile for help, and was within 100 yards of her nearest neighbor when she succumbed. Her body was found days later, frozen to death, embalmed in snow. Here in the land of 21st-century wind turbine installations, Patricia Little and most all of us have been reduced to a single choice, which is obviously no choice. We've got the smartest phones around — except when they're useless.

Mrs. Little's courage deserves more than a stunned moment of disbelief. I'm grateful to Davis for telling this story. It is truly a cautionary tale. Who among us wouldn't have done what she did for our loved one? Again, I'm sure you get the point. But who else is listening? Can you hear us now?

Peggy Sapphire


Wrong Mayor

I enjoyed reading Dan Bolles' excellent cover story ["Urban Legend," January 28]. Bolles captured the unique role of a municipally supported teen-run music club. Jane Sanders and Kathy Lawrence had the vision and commitment to empower youth in a way that transformed hundreds of lives and laid the foundation for Burlington's thriving music scene.

There is one factual error about the Mayor's Youth Office and 242 Main's history that deserves correction: On page 34, Bolles wrote, "the Mayor's Youth Office was dissolved by Bernie Sanders' successor, Mayor Peter Clavelle, and the vitality of the teen center subsequently waned." As a city councilor, in 1993 I fought alongside other Progressives and independents to save the Mayor's Youth Office from the budget cleaver of newly elected Mayor Peter Brownell. The record will show that Mayor Brownell eliminated funding for the youth office with the support of every Democrat and Republican on the council at the time. This cut was approved despite the fact that the office had nominal city general fund support and leveraged grants from several sources. With this move, Burlington lost an office that gave youth a voice in municipal affairs and sent a disheartening message to the future of our community.

Brian Pine


A Little Help

I read with great sadness the article "A Final Act of Devotion Ends in Tragedy," [February 4]. It shows how very quickly our lives can change. And it reminded me of how vulnerable my older friends and neighbors might be, and how I could easily check on them when the weather is bad.

As silly as it sounds, one thing that might have saved Patricia Little is an old-fashioned Princess phone. Remember when you had a "corded" phone? It only plugged in to the phone jack, no electricity needed. Although the Littles' electricity was out, leaving their cordless landline useless, their phone line might still have been working. Even good cell coverage would not have saved her if her cellphone had gone uncharged. One old telephone would have allowed Mrs. Little to call for help to save her husband — and herself. I am a bit of a Luddite, and I do keep a Princess phone in the drawer with the candles in case of emergency. There are times when the old ways are actually better and more reliable than the new.

God bless Patricia Little. She sounds like she was a really wonderful person. In her honor, buy yourself and your elderly neighbor or parent an ugly old Princess phone. Go really retro and make it a rotary. It could save a life.

Susan McMillan


Building a Medical Empire

As presented by "Single Provider?" [January 21], the strategy of the newly rebranded University of Vermont Medical Center is clearly to develop political clout by consolidation, overgrowth and overemphasis on technology. According to CEO Brumsted, UVMMC is "gaining scale" to better position the hospital to respond to the ever-changing health care landscape. What has happened to the primary value that the needs of patients come first? Patients' basic health care needs include universal access to care, time to talk with a doctor/provider and ability to follow a prescribed plan.

This pursuit of scale includes additional collateral damage such as bloated administrative costs, as exemplified by 19 vice presidents. The University of Vermont will demolish three dormitories to accommodate the seven-story, 128-bed tower, leaving the city of Burlington to absorb the housing needs for hundreds of displaced students in an already-stressed housing market. I am reminded of the expression, "When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail." When building a medical empire and monopoly like that of UVMMC, every headache becomes a brain tumor and every chest pain becomes a heart attack, leading to more unnecessary interventions and procedures to pad the bill. We don't need more bricks and mortar; we need a universal system of care.

Anna Carey


Carey is a family physician based in Cambridge.

Burlington Needs to Grow

Burlington is a city without enough housing, and it needs to grow ["Way to Grow," February 11; Off Message: "Burlington College Sells Off Much of Its Land," February 3]. Green space is good, but it is not the only thing. Burlington should be a place that is open and welcoming to all, unafraid of change or new ideas. In the Old North End, recent development has brought new experiences and opportunities.

Instead of being welcoming, interesting and dynamic, the Burlington College property, and the diocese land before it, has been a static, barren, boring wasteland. With the right mix of housing, business and open space, development can turn it into real urban space that brings opportunities, new people and new experiences.

The lack of housing is a crisis that has been avoided for far too long. It drives up taxes for homeowners and makes it impossible for people to move here unless they have money. It drives low-income people out of the city as new residents with more money take over what used to be affordable neighborhoods. With the lake and parks to the north and south, Burlington does not need more open space. If you cross North Avenue from the Burlington College property and look east, you will see a vast open space called the Intervale. It offers trees, grass, farms and open vistas, yet it is part of Burlington.

Burlington College needs an opportunity to grow and thrive as well. Its plan will add to the urban environment and create a new, interesting and livable space for all of us. I hope it happens.

Tom Garrett


Poor Excuse

Mayor Miro Weinberger's suggestion in "Way to Grow" [February 11] that his administration is paying attention to other Burlingtonians besides its poorest sounds rather arrogant, to say the least. His subsequent belief that increasing the overpriced housing market will somehow become less expensive if his developer friends build more dwellings for the young professionals he wants to attract defies history. Unless there are rent controls, it doesn't matter how many apartments and condos are built — the cost will always be high. The free market does not create affordable rentals. However, it does provide profits for those who end up with the rent.

Ron Jacobs


Bad Ad

Vermont's Independent Voice? Why do you allow an American Apparel ad on the back page that is child pornography? Not cool, "Independent Voice."

Margaret Clerkin


I know this isn't the first time Seven Days has received feedback regarding American Apparel ads. Last week's ad in particular features a girl who barely looks 12, lying seductively in her underwear and training bra. I realize the model is 18 years old, hopefully, but we all know that she was chosen because she looks much younger. Really, Seven Days? Really? How socially responsible is it to perpetuate the sexualization of young girls? Do you need the advertising money that badly to sell out like this? As a woman, and mother of a young girl, I am furious that you find this acceptable.

AnneMarie Lavalette


I often look forward to reading your progressive publication, but I was surprised and disappointed to see last week's full-page ad of what looked to me to be a child in her underwear in a position that was sexually suggestive. I am all for the freedom of the press and expression; however, this ad really pushes for the continued sexualization of girls.

I'm the father of a preteen girl and boy, and a social worker who works with many young women and men struggling to develop positive healthy relationships with their bodies. That includes boys formulating the way they think about girls and women. Publishing this type of ad undermines healthy images and ideas. Is it really worth the money to continue the sexual objectification of not only women, but to actually move the focus onto girls?

I look forward to hearing your response and, most importantly, to seeing you act responsibly and remove this ad.

John Grimm


Regarding your back page on February 11: Good riddance Dov Charney, ousted CEO of American Apparel!

Robyn Skiff


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