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Letters to the Editor (10/28/20)


Published October 28, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

Go Gray

[Re Off Message: "Gray, Milne Spar Over Super PAC Support," October 8]: Scott Milne's use of ineffectual attack ads is another example of why he's the wrong person for Vermont. Molly Gray is exactly the right person Vermont needs now to be our next lieutenant governor: intelligent, grounded in the Vermont experience but with a level of international exposure that has prepared her to tackle the job. 

Molly will bring energy to the job that will highlight the things that need to be done to put Vermont's businesses in a great position to succeed. Her experience in the challenging fields of human rights law and humanitarian aid in difficult circumstances for the International Committee of the Red Cross gives her an edge in figuring out how to overcome roadblocks to ensure timely delivery of success. For Vermont, this will translate into a sharp focus on broadband coverage that will enable businesses to succeed, from online ordering of Vermont's famous farm-raised products to managing our businesses and employees remotely while being able to communicate with the world. Reliable broadband will also be essential to the future of education, giving Vermont a leadership role in that field.

There is no doubt that being brought up on a farm, like my own children, gives Molly an advantage in understanding what is required to work hard, be reliable and have a clear vision of success, no matter what life throws at you.

I have already voted for Molly, and I think she will help to move Vermont forward.

John Roberts


'Diversity Is Strength'

[Re "Split Ticket: Winooski Residents Consider Allowing Noncitizens to Vote," October 14]: It's so unfortunate when people consider giving rights to others as a devaluation of their own privilege in having them. The U.S. is an immigrant country. Period. Those here legally who are not yet citizens deserve a say in the communities they are a part of and contribute to. Diversity is strength.

Joy Yonan-Renold


Zuckerman Has a Plan

[Re "Has Phil Scott Made Vermont More Affordable?" October 7]: After four debates with Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, it is clear that Gov. Phil Scott has no new ideas for how to improve Vermont's economy or how to mitigate climate change. After four years, it is clear that his approach to the economy has not worked. Even before COVID-19, young people were leaving Vermont in droves because they couldn't make enough money to raise a family, and our rural areas are suffering those losses. Seventy thousand households and businesses have inadequate or no broadband. Our state colleges are in danger of closing. And housing, health care and childcare are unaffordable for too many Vermonters.

Zuckerman has proposed raising the minimum wage to get money circulating in the economy, a plan to expand broadband in rural areas, building affordable housing, and some ideas about expanding primary health care and childcare.  

Our state is in dire economic straits, and just not raising any taxes is not an answer. After four years, it's clear this approach has not worked. We are likely to see a large wave of foreclosures, evictions and many people facing food insecurity. We need a governor who is willing to work with the legislature to try some new ideas.

We also need a governor who is committed to taking action to mitigate climate change. Farmer Zuckerman is clear that this is a critical need. Please vote for David Zuckerman for governor on your mail-in ballot or at the polls on November 3.

Martha Abbott


What Vermont Needs

[Re "Has Phil Scott Made Vermont More Affordable?" October 7]: A strong and prosperous Vermont has three ingredients. First is healthy residents with a sustainable standard of living. Second is robust business. Third is a healthy environment. 

These three elements — people, commerce and environment — provide a three-legged stool on which the vitality of this state depends. The selection of a governor determines what the Vermont stool will be for the next two years, and beyond.

The people leg of the Scott Stool flip-flops, sometimes supported and sometimes neglected. Witness Phil Scott's 20 vetoes and inconsistent initiatives. The environmental leg of the Scott Stool is ephemeral, with lofty words amid foot-dragging. Scott denies that healthy waters, soil and trees are as important as jobs. Scott's pro-commerce pronouncements foreshadow a strong commerce leg. 

Moreover, Scott's divisive partisanship, in excluding the lieutenant governor from participation in day-to-day deliberations, unnecessarily exposed the state to the risk of significant disruption should the lieutenant governor have had to assume control. Hence, the Scott Stool promises to be lopsided, unbalanced and wobbly.

David Zuckerman, in contrast, has demonstrated that the Zuckerman Stool is balanced and evenhanded. David has demonstrated, in his years in the legislature and as lieutenant governor, plus as a hands-on farmer, that people and commerce and environment warrant equal leadership support. 

Vermont needs Zuckerman's experience and wisdom, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic and global warming persist and the impacts continue to challenge Vermonters.  

Hugo Liepmann


Hail, Helali

I love a good communist story, and "Comrade for Congress" [October 14] really reinforces the "history" we've been spoon-fed since the 1970s. (More on that later.) But the tensions between the old Communist Party USA versus the "new" Party of Communists USA remind me of the Monty Python's Life of Brian segment about the "People's Front of Judea." And why not ignore the massive money and replace Pee Wee Welch? Electing Christopher Helali would surely show the rest of America that Vermonters have quite the sense of humor, no?

But regarding the 1940s and '50s commie "witch hunts": They were proven to be founded in reality with the release and decryption of the Venona Soviet Union cables in the 1990s. Joseph McCarthy was right after all, but anyone who read Whittaker Chambers' book Witness knew that.

We did try communism right here in Plymouth in 1621 with everyone tending communal gardens, which never quite worked out. After parceling out plots to individuals, production increased exponentially with surpluses leading to Thanksgiving feasts and production increases for the next 400 years. Which would one rather see for his or her hard work: a raise for you and yours, or a "workers' production" medal to admire while eating some very thin borscht?

Best one from Helali? "Some academics ... have raised serious questions about the extent and circumstances of persecutions" by Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin. Really? Some "academics" deny the Holocaust, too. I only wish my Ukrainian mother were still alive to school these fools. And yet I'll still vote for Helali. He can't be any worse than Welch and will be fun to watch in D.C.!  

Steve Merrill

North Troy

Veto Machine

[Re "Has Phil Scott Made Vermont More Affordable?" October 7]: Many of us are excited to be doing so well as a state. One great thing that Vermont has done recently is pass the Global Warming Solutions Act, which allows us, the citizens, to hold Vermont accountable for doing the things we need to prevent climate meltdown.

Vermont will enjoy the results of the GWSA in spite of the fact that Gov. Phil Scott vetoed it. Luckily, Vermont representatives of both parties overrode Scott's veto, and now the GWSA is law.

I bring this up because I have heard some well-meaning friends say they plan to vote for Scott. He is benefiting from the fact that the vast majority of Vermonters are reasonable people, so he's seen as a good leader in the time of COVID-19.  

The thing that bugs me is that Scott has simply been a normal leader, acting like so many other normal leaders throughout the world. We're so accustomed to abnormal, sociopathic leaders that a leader acting reasonably now garners a level of respect they don't necessarily deserve. 

Some other things that Scott has vetoed: increasing the minimum wage; requiring a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases; statewide family and medical leave; and holding corporations accountable for the release of toxic substances into our environment.

If you want a governor who has proven experience and whose voting record is more in line with what the people of Vermont actually want, please vote for David Zuckerman. 

Juliet Cuming


Make It Molly

[Re "Soapbox Derby," September 30]: I met Molly Gray through the Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance. Since we connected over the importance of sharing the racial history of the 19th Amendment, I have gotten to know her. I am impressed by her lifelong work in public service and her fresh ideas.

My 25-year-old son thinks many problems today are obvious and wants to hear new ideas about how to solve them. I agree, and I think Molly is not only an authentic and caring person but has new, practical ideas to solve some of our most pressing problems. She knows it will take more than minor tax incentives to bring decent broadband to all of Vermont and wants to make the investments we need to make this happen. Broadband will make it possible for many of our young people to access the new remote working opportunities that will be available after the pandemic and help all our students access high-quality education.

In the past, I served as chair of the Vermont Family Network, an organization serving more than 6,000 families with children with disabilities each year. Molly understands, in part because of supporting her mother with MS, what Vermonters with children or family members with medical issues or disabilities need. She has doable ideas about how to increase family leave and make more affordable childcare available. If you have not voted yet, let's get some fresh ideas. I urge you to vote for Molly Gray for lieutenant governor. 

Pamela Kraynak


'Here's a Solution'

[Re Voters' Guide 2020: "Q&A With the Candidates: Governor," September 29]: It seems to me that the choices listed for governor on your Q&A are pretty meager. We have to choose from a field that includes a subliterate, a borderline psychotic, a wish-washy wannabe Progressive and a Republican.

I am not giving out names. I'll let everyone guess where to pin these tags.

I will go on to say that Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman's plan for getting internet access to all Vermonters could be condensed to read, "One of these days we're all gonna have it." Ditto for Gov. Phil Scott's plan.

If I were running, I would put the screws to internet providers who are taking millions in grant money and doing next to nothing to provide internet to any area that will not reap profits for them. I would twist those screws hard.

I would institute a version of "Medicare for All" at the state level, the way Massachusetts did years ago. I would pay for this by raising income taxes on the rich.

In my town, property taxes are so high that families, some of whom have roots here that go back hundreds of years, are being forced to sell their homes and move, often to another state. If Gov. Scott is so concerned about the population drain here, why hasn't he done anything about the tax burdens that hardworking Vermonters simply cannot bear?

Here's a solution: I would graduate property taxes. I would create a formula where the assessed value of a piece of property is multiplied by a scale that represents income. This scale would begin with fractions at the low end. For a family earning $30,000 a year, for instance, an assessment of $100,000 would be multiplied by one half. For a family earning $3,000,000 a year, an assessment of $10,000,000 multiplied by 10. 

Peter Grudin


Viens' Means

[Re Off Message: "Vermont House Candidate Proposes Segregated Police Forces," October 20]: I wouldn't want to have House candidate Chris Viens and his bizarre views on race and policing representing me, but give him credit where due. As an excavation contractor, he's certainly a guy who knows how to dig himself a hole.

Bill Richardson


The Cost of Addiction

[Re Off Message: "Purdue Pharma to Plead Guilty in Criminal Probe Initiated by Vermont Prosecutors," October 21]: I applaud all those who worked to hold Purdue Pharma accountable for their role in opioid addiction. I am also proud that Vermont participated in this fight. The tenacity and perseverance that was needed to take on such a company is to be admired. Thank you.

Sandy Brown


Proposed Solution

[Re "Battery Power," September 23; Off Message: "Protesters Round Up Copies of Seven Days for Evening Demonstration," September 25]: As someone who has been a part of a lot of protest movements, I'd like to weigh in on the recent protesters versus Seven Days controversy with a suggestion and a comment.

The suggestion: If Seven Days doesn't want protesters for racial justice to hate them, and if those protesters are angry at the media for trivializing, ignoring and misrepresenting them, the simplest thing would be to give the protesters a two-page spread to write a statement. They can't accuse Seven Days of misrepresentation, and Seven Days can't accuse them of hiding. Also, is it true Seven Days has only white reporters?

The comment: Protesters are protesting something. They do so in part to draw media attention to that thing. Instead, the media draws attention to the protesters as people. This, regardless of intent, trivializes and dismisses the issue that caused the protests in the first place and, especially recently, can help fracture and destroy the movement. I have seen it happen time and time again and do not blame the Burlington protesters for their hostility toward the media. 

I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a Black person in Vermont — a state so high on its smug self-assurance as a liberal haven for white middle-class flatlanders that it perpetuates its own gentrification, with all the accompanying poverty, drug abuse, police violence, mental health crises and homeless camps that this entails.

Colin Flood


Fair Portrayal

[Re "Battery Power," September 23]: I found this to be a very well-written and objective account of the Battery Park occupation. However, I would like to venture, at the risk of being labeled racist or worse, that Suzie McCoy's discomfort with shouting profanities in the street may not have been due to her "white fragility" but perhaps to her sense of decency and kindness. Not everything is about race.

Susan Turner


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