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Letters to the Editor (12/20/17)


Published December 20, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated December 20, 2017 at 10:11 a.m.

No Place for Kids

After reading Melissa Pasanen's article ["Women With Knives," December 13], I was disturbed by the injection of the writer's opinion that it was a "hopeful sign" that a 4-year-old child was sitting on a blanket watching his mother slaughter animals. Pasanen's reasons were that the child would see that his mother is pursuing a career she "cares deeply about" and that the child will grow up understanding the principles of "humane slaughter."  

While I personally don't agree with animal slaughter and believe that the word "humane" implies compassion and benevolence — two concepts antithetical to slaughter — I understand that there are those who don't find the practice objectionable. However, it's one thing for a child to grow up watching the entire process of an animal's birth, life and death; it's another matter entirely to plop a child down on a killing-room floor. As has been shown with media violence, eventually a child in this situation will become numb to such tremendous brutality. This desensitization to one form of violence may have alarming repercussions on a child's compassion and empathy regarding other forms of societal and cultural violence.

The mother brought her son to work with her because she couldn't afford daycare for him. Perhaps there should be an article written on the unaffordability of daycare, one horrific consequence of which is that a 4-year-old child is forced to watch his mother slaughter animals all day simply because she can't afford outside care.

Shana Ronayne Hickman

West Fairlee

In With the Old

I was surprised to see Harry Thompson on the front cover of Seven Days ["Picturing Vermont," December 6]. Harry was a close friend and neighbor of ours; in fact, in both Ethan Hubbard's and Richard W. Brown's excellent photo books are farmers and country people we knew.

I first met Harry in 1963 when I needed to breed my cow from his bull. Harry was milkin' eight to 10 cows in those days when this state had medium and small family farms.

Harry and his brother were related to the famous Hatfields and McCoys of Appalachia. Harry's kitchen was always full of people; he was always offering coffee to anyone.

His older brother was usually drunk, sitting in an old car so the sun warmed him and his arthritic fingers. He also somehow shot pigeons off the roof when he was half in the bag!

Theron Boyd, also pictured in the story, was a celebrated and lone embattled farmer trying to save his farm from developers. He became a symbol to the farmers in this state. He would not budge an inch despite all the pressure to sell his ancestral farm, which dated back to the early 1700s. 

Someone hired a plane to fly over his barn during milkin' time to disturb his cattle, but nobody could prove who was the culprit.

Theron also enjoyed a song in his honor written by a friend of mine, pertaining to his Yankee independence. 

Country people and farmers are on an endangered species list, in my humble opinion — and, with them, our landscape as well.

Here are some words of wisdom from that generation: Use it up! Wear it out, make it do or go without.

Tom Azarian


Stone Age

I enjoyed the article covering Galway Kinnell ["The Presence of Words," December 6]. My only caveat concerns the opening paragraph that referred to the "talented and prolific generation of American poets ... leaving us." I looked in vain for Vermont's own Ruth Stone, who was awarded the National Book Award for Poetry, the Wallace Stevens Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Writing, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award and the Walter Cerf Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. Ruth was with us until 2011.

Burgess Needle


Bum Deal

Great. So the University of Vermont is going to get $3 million to allow 44 acres of meadow and forest to be covered with buildings and asphalt [Off Message: "UVM Inks Deal to Sell Land in South Burlington for $3 Million," December 6]. Whatever is not covered will be subjugated to a biodiversity desert — that is, lawn. Why? So that more people can be inserted into South Burlington; so that they can bring in more buildings, more asphalt and more lawn.

Some of the better-informed readers of Seven Days may know that the sixth mass extinction is going on right now. Thanks to selectmen and city planners, this extinction is happening right under our noses. Look at the photo of those 44 acres on page 20. Say goodbye to flowers, insects, birds, small mammals and CO2 consumption. Say hello to fossil burning, water table consumption, CO2 production and more humans to further fuel the process.

I recently read that there are 500 dead zones in the oceans. Dead zones are growing and coalescing right now in Chittenden County. Great. What a happy day it would be if UVM could have a longer view. But no, can't do: business, job creation, more money in, yada yada yada. Growth über alles.

While you vaguely remember the story of the lemmings, dear humans, may you enjoy your asphalt world.

Brenda Waters


Money in Politics

[Re Fair Game, November 29]: I recall, almost 50 years ago, when senator George Aiken boasted that he only spent $17.09 in his final reelection campaign. Bear in mind, senator Aiken had been the fourth-generation member of his family to serve in the Vermont House (two years) and as speaker of the House (two years), lieutenant governor (two years), governor (four years) and U.S. senator (28 years). In 1968, he was the nominee of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

When I heard the senator's boast, I remarked, "I wonder what got into senator Aiken to make him spend all that money needlessly."

John McClaughry


Not Sure About Schurz

[Re "How the Burlington Telecom 'Debacle' Divided a City Council"]: I am appreciative of Seven Days' December 6 article on the Burlington Telecom debacle, especially for sharing the video clip of Councilor Dave Hartnett's bullying of Councilor Joan Shannon (who remained coolheaded throughout his harangues). He has subsequently apologized.

I still remain concerned, however, that in his haste to push through a last-minute, backroom deal with Schurz Communications as the lead buyer of Burlington Telecom, he did not respect the concerns of many about Schurz's unclear commitment to net neutrality, especially in light of the Trumpian Federal Communications Commission's decision to repeal all net neutrality regulations.

I've since discovered that Schurz has shared a lobbyist with Fox and Rupert Murdoch's ultra-conservative News Corp. Todd Schurz donated to Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, whose voting record mirrors Trump initiatives 98 percent of the time and whose environmental policies once prompted the Los Angeles Times to call him "one of the biggest threats to planet Earth on planet Earth."

In short, Schurz is not a good fit for a "blue" city like Burlington, and to have it imposed on the city at the last minute is a disgrace. Burlingtonians were snookered. The purchase and sale agreement must not go through.

Charlotte Dennett


Public Say on BT

[Re "How the Burlington Telecom 'Debacle' Divided a City Council," December 6]: As a former resident of Burlington who voted in 1997 to approve the creation of what is now Burlington Telecom, I am dumbfounded by the fact that, in all the hue and cry about the sale of the city-owned cable TV and internet company, no one has brought up the fact that its sale cannot be completed without the approval of Burlington residents in a public vote. 

BT was created as a result of the 1997 approval by city voters of the creation of the fiber-optic network in the first place. City voters subsequently approved, in 2000, a change in the city charter to allow the issuance of $6.1 million in bonds to finance the network's construction.

That the sale of BT requires voter approval is further underscored by the fact that the city, under the administration of former mayor Bob Kiss, used $17 million in taxpayer funds to keep the company afloat.

Regardless of the fact that the sale of the company was made necessary by the 2014 settlement between the city and BT's biggest creditor, Citibank, both the city charter and Vermont state law mandate that Burlington voters have the final say on its sale, since Burlington voters approved BT's creation in the first place.

Skeeter Sanders


Editor's note: Burlingtonians did vote in 1997 to amend the city charter to allow a municipal fiber-optic company, but the city council — not the voters — has the authority to direct its sale, according to Burlington City Attorney Eileen Blackwood.

No 'Neutrality' Here

[Re Off Message: "Fake Leahy Comment to FCC Decries Net Neutrality," December 11]: If we are truly concerned about net neutrality with equal and fair access to the internet, why are we failing to address the common practice of local internet service providers, such as Burlington Telecom and Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom: throttling internet speed according to a tiered rate schedule, which slows internet speed to those less able to pay more for unthrottled internet speed?

Nick McDougal


Kneeling Isn't Disrespectful

Commenting on ["Vermont Schools Prepare for More Kneeling Athletes," November 29], about Saint Michael's College basketball players taking a knee last month during the national anthem before their game with the University of Vermont: I believe that the people troubled by this display of free speech need a high school civics refresher. So here are a couple of points:

1. The First Amendment guarantee of free speech protects the right of all citizens to demonstrate with a peaceful and respectful gesture of protest. I watched the video of the event and saw no disrespect or hostile gestures from the players. The hecklers in the crowd, on the other hand, showed plenty of disrespect to those players, the kind that in other circumstances could have easily morphed into violence.

2. The playing of our national anthem is not a "thank you for your service" sort of gesture toward our veterans. It is a tribute to our country's traditions and all of its citizens of whatever color, creed or origin, whether veterans or not.

As a retired 22-year Army officer and Vietnam veteran, I can say to those veterans who are somehow insulted by the kneeling of athletes for the national anthem: Perhaps you do not have a grasp on one of the very basic tenets underlying your service to our country — that is, defending the Constitution.

Let's all be thoughtful and show peacefulness and respect to others with whom we may disagree.

Gary S. Chicoine


Bernie's Right-Hand Man

[Re "Bernt Out: Veteran Sanders Aide Calls It a Career," December 13]: Congratulations to Phil Fiermonte on his next step and for all the years of service to Vermonters and Bernie Sanders! Having known him for only 15 or so years, I've always been amazed at his mental juggling and coordination of events (tents, tables, food, sound systems, etc., etc., etc.) with locals and volunteers like me for pig roasts, dinners, speeches, etc.

Only twice did I see him slightly rattled. Once was when a fervent pro-lifer tried barging in on Bernie's Northeast Kingdom tour in 2006. I saw that same look when a couple of activists grabbed the stage and mic in Seattle 10 years later; there were no Secret Service agents then. Phil never lost his cool.

He has always excelled at listening — to everyone, everywhere, from loggers to doctors and everyone in between. He returned every phone call, helped every veteran, and prodded the federal employees into getting records and doing their jobs for constituents. It may have said "Bernie" on the letterhead, yet it's been Phil who directed the office staff on Bernie's behalf. Thanks, and good luck, Phil. Your/our "candidate" is changing America. Job well done!

Steve Merrill

North Troy

Nice Work

Just a note of appreciation for Cathy Resmer's article about the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County ["The Clean Room," December 13]. She captured so perfectly the life-supporting and -changing environment that we have worked hard to create for people in recovery from alcohol and/or drug addiction. We see that with understanding; a dynamic offering of workshops, activities and 12-step meetings; and unconditional care, lives are saved, new lives are created, and recovery is deepened and sustained. Thank you, Cathy!

Gary De Carolis


De Carolis is the executive director of the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County

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