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Letters to the Editor (10/29/14)

Published October 29, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.

Eco Irony

Recently advertised in Seven Days [page 10, October 15] and elsewhere was the Wild & Scenic Film Festival hosted by Patagonia to benefit the Vermont Natural Resources Council. The graphic art in the ad depicts several wind turbines sitting atop a mountain ridge. Really?

Does anyone, including the sponsor and beneficiary, not see the irony here? Once a mountain ridge (say, Lowell Mountain) has suffered the injustice of an industrial wind farm installation, it is certainly no longer wild or scenic. Adding further to the substantial irony here, this film festival was said to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. My preference would have been for VNRC to demonstrate its concern about places wild and scenic by having opposed ridgeline wind power projects in Vermont. Unfortunately, that horse has left the barn, with VNRC riding along the trail of false environmentalism.

Greg LeRoy


Film Fight

How Rick Kisonak can see Fury [Movies, October 22] as something other than a fairly conventional entry in the combat film genre, let alone a "first," a story with "no plot" and an "entirely unprecedented cinematic experience" is a little bewildering. More troubling, though, is his review's endorsement of the film's hyperbolic reworking of the old guts-and-glory dulce et decorum est pro patria mori in the guise of something mistaken as naturalism. "War is hell" is a standard ingredient in the recipe for combat films before and after World War II, and its measure was notably increased in the revival of the genre in the aftermath of Vietnam, from which we arrive at Saving Private Ryan. But representations of the hellishness of war in the context of entertainment are a dubious quantity. There are movies that take on the subject of war in all its true horror, and others that genuinely qualify as nonnarrative. But you won't find them at your local multiplex.

Barry Snyder


Independent Thinker

It is repugnant to me that anyone would ask a candidate to step aside in order to bolster the chance of either the Republican or Democrat candidate [Fair Game, "Chip Flip," October 22]. It all seems so contradictory to what the "American" freedom to vote ideal is. So when I read in Seven Days that Joe Benning has asked Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dan Feliciano to do so, I was disappointed. I have the utmost respect for Joe. I clerked in his office and under his supervision for four years while reading the law. Perhaps it is his job as Senate minority leader to take such an action, analogous to a defense attorney's responsibility to zealously advocate for his client. But to Dan Feliciano, I say, more power to you! I implore you not to drop out of this race — if for no other reason than to gain enough percentage points that more parties are included in debates, and to give us more than two options.

I believe that during one of his campaigns, Benning said he leaned toward the Libertarian side of his party. But when I asked him if he was going to write in Dan Feliciano in the Republican primary, he told me, "It doesn't work that way."

To Dan, I say, stay in the race; you have my vote. To Bernie Sanders, I say, the only way I'll vote for you is if you run as an independent. To Jim Jeffords, I say, thank you for daring to follow your conscience and buck the two-party system by leaving the Republican Party and becoming an independent. To the voters, I implore: Go vote for a third-party candidate this November, and in years to come!

Jill Mathers


COTS Project a Waste

[Re "Neighbors Clash Over Plan for Apartments, Day Station for Homeless," October 22]: Alicia Freese's coverage of the recent neighborhood meeting about the COTS proposal for 95 North Avenue was excellent, but glossed over one of the major points raised at the meeting: the price tag. Spending $6 million for 14 bedrooms and a 3,800-square-foot day station makes the suppliers of $2,000 toilet seats and $500 hammers to the military look downright thrifty.

To be generous, transforming 3,800 feet of space in their existing building to host the day station ought to cost less than a million dollars. Which means the remaining $5 million is being spent to create 12 studios (bedroom, bath, hot plate) of less than 500 square feet each and two one-bedroom apartments averaging 600 square feet, which share a small common living room. That's over $350,000 per bedroom, or $700 per square foot!

It's one thing if COTS likes to waste its donors' money, but the project is 80 percent funded with public (i.e., taxpayer) money. On top of that, COTS is planning to rent each bedroom for $600, higher than average room rentals in most nearby houses. The Lakeview Terrace neighborhood is not antidevelopment, opposed to affordable housing or COTS, but if you can't get 50 bedrooms of housing for $5 million at $100,000 each, you're not even trying. The COTS proposal is bad design, in the wrong place, and a waste of public and donors' money to create housing that is no more affordable than what already exists — and doesn't even come with any of those nifty $2,000 toilet seats.

Alan Bjerke



Last week's news story about a proposed expansion at Burlington's Committee on Temporary Shelter, "Neighbors Clash Over Plan for Apartments, Day Station for Homeless," contained two errors: Alex Colodny, who ran a grocery store for decades at 95 North Avenue, was Ed Colony's uncle — not his father, who owned his own market in Burlington's South End. The story also reported incorrectly that Burlington's office of Community and Economic Development was contributing $350,000 to the project; in fact CEDO is helping with $300,000 in the form of federal and local grants.

Also last week, there were two mistakes in the feature entitled "People Power," about the programmers, academics and organizers behind Vermont's growing tech sector. For one, it misstated the number of women in the University of Vermont's computer science program. Women made up 10 percent of the program in 2010; last year, females accounted for 17 percent of the student body. Also, Dave Brown, president and CEO of the Woodstock software company MISys, was quoted as saying, "So I put up with what the lazy telcos have given us in the short term." His actual words were, "So I put up with what the legacy telcos have given us in the short term." The reporter misheard him during a telephone interview. Bad connection?

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