I was disappointed that the "Emoji That" [January 8] about the "spilled" cows didn't state the number that were fine, injured, euthanized or anything about their condition. They are a major contributor to Vermont's economy. Unfeeling!
Whither Fair Game?
It's great to see John Walters has a new gig analyzing Vermont politics and the goings-on at the Statehouse [Media Note: "Former Seven Days Columnist Joins VTDigger.org," January 2].
I miss the political commentary Seven Days brought forward in the Fair Game column and wish you would reestablish that column.
In Defense of Touchette
[Re "Guarded Secrets," December 4; Off Message: "Touchette Resigns as Corrections Commissioner Amid Vermont Prison Abuse Scandal," December 18; and subsequent coverage]: I am writing as a professor and criminologist, but my views are my own and do not represent those of my employer, the University of Vermont. I have conducted research with and about the Vermont Department of Corrections for many years. I have also volunteered in the women's prison and teach college courses inside. There is likely no one in Vermont as critical of mass incarceration as I am, and I am critical of many of the DOC's policies.
In my experience, though, the former commissioner, Mike Touchette, was a forward-thinking, genuine person who wanted to create positive change in Vermont prisons. Months before the Seven Days story appeared, Touchette reached out to me to work on a project together, in order to have greater scrutiny of and transparency within the Vermont DOC. He wanted to create a pilot for a new kind of prison that would be more humane and that would ensure those incarcerated, as well as the staff, would be treated with dignity and respect. Mike also wanted the project to be evaluated by external researchers, in order to ensure objectivity. He truly wanted cultural change and was actively pursuing it. He engaged openly about problems in prisons and included many voices, stakeholders and critics in the process, as he felt it was important to be open in order to evolve. He visited other innovative prisons to learn what worked elsewhere and was committed to leading Vermont forward in evidence-based practice.
The $500,000 Question
[Off Message: "CityPlace Burlington Developers Countersue Project Opponents," January 10]: Brookfield Asset Management's countersuit is foremost an attempt to renege on the $500,000 charitable donation central to the settlement mediated by former Burlington mayor Peter Clavelle. It's no surprise that Brookfield would dodge their half-million-dollar commitment. They have reneged even on promised community meetings, as project liaison Jeff Glassberg attests.
The settlement agreement was reached quickly and allowed the project to proceed. Only the developer has violated that agreement, benefited from it and filed a frivolous lawsuit related to it.
The CityPlace project, as first proposed and permitted, was oversize and grandiose but still promoted without restraint by city personnel and boards.
Thus, not surprisingly, many citizens objected to the city advocating for the developer's interest instead of the public interest, to tailoring the zoning regulations to fit, and to twisting planBTV to declare it consistent with twin 14 story "towers."
Nevertheless, the settlement agreement left the developer's 14-story skyline intact in exchange simply for more adequate parking and a charitable donation toward preserving the character of Burlington's downtown.
The developer enjoyed all the benefits of the settlement agreement by moving forward with demolition but denied the public any of the promised benefits by failing to provide the $500,000 charitable donation and by quietly amending project plans in violation of the parking provisions in the agreement.
As City Hole, in all its glory, collects runoff through another winter, we are promised action in August. Spring would make more sense to me.
Financing? Any news? We can only wait and see.
It is well past the time for Seven Days to enforce the same policy that neighboring news agencies have taken. That would be to either require that commenters use their legal name when commenting on articles or to do away with commenting altogether. Your comment section has become a sideshow for people who use the extra time they have on their hands to defame and complain. That they do so, without using their real name, speaks to their character — or lack of it.
Please consider this request to step up and do the right thing.
Don't Deify Police
Thank you, Mayor Miro Weinberger, for taking this bully out of power [Off Message: "Weinberger Taps Former Colchester Chief to Lead Burlington Police Through Upheaval," December 20]. I am shocked and amazed that this was actually done. My heart goes out to the identifier who saw chief Brandon del Pozo for who he is and was targeted for it.
I'll never forget the heartless narcissism I have encountered from police whom I placed my full faith and trust in, only to become unpleasantly proved wrong and disillusioned by these people.
We keep handing over power without fully checking into whether someone is worthy of it. As a society, we keep on believing in these people in uniform when they do not deserve the praise. These people are not more than us, are not smarter than us and aren't closer to God: It's an illusion.
As much as they insult and abuse disabled and mentally ill people in their jobs, when a cop does something hurtful to others, the first excuse is disease or mental illness; a drunk is a drunk until he is a cop, at which point he or she garners sympathy from others. Mental illness is vilified and abominable until it's a cop who is depressed, and then we all want to visit him at the hospital and knit him blue beanies.
I bought in to this BS, too, and now I'm done with it.