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Letters to the Editor (4/19/17)


Published April 19, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated May 16, 2017 at 10:15 p.m.

Clean Up Church Street

The City of Burlington, Church Street Marketplace and Chittenden County State's Attorney's Office must take immediate, affirmative steps to deter crime on Church Street [Off Message: "Transient Held After Man Fatally Stabbed on Church Street," March 29]. The recent murders and stabbings on Church Street, rampant petty larceny epidemic, and culture of complacency must change.

I have spoken with beat cops downtown frustrated with higher-up politicians who have either tied their hands or imposed lax enforcement policies that dilute their presence. Last year I wrote the city a letter and recommended a police "substation" at the old bus terminal kiosk less than 50 feet from where Louis Fortier allegedly murdered Richard Medina last month. A substation on Church Street would likely have deterred this crime.

Crime on Church Street threatens families, public safety and economic stability. Status quo politics and policies must give way to heightened levels of enforcement, education and prosecution.

Ben Luna


Luna is a former deputy state's attorney.

Have a Heart for Heroin Addicts

[Re Feedback: "No Sympathy for Heroin Addicts," March 29]: Although I'm equally glad that law enforcement took a significant supply of heroin off the streets, I am not sympathetic to the author's mean-spirited and snarky invitation for addicts to sign do-not-resuscitate orders. This lack of empathy for the addict is appalling. In addition, the ignorance of the fact that addiction is a disease is regressive, and, frankly, I find it hard to believe that anyone these days doesn't grasp this concept.

What we need is continued law enforcement in concert with compassionate treatment for those who are unfortunately battling addiction. We need love and compassion for all our brothers and sisters, and, in particular, we need to harness empathy for anyone less fortunate than we are.

Donna Constantineau


Taxing Carbon Can Help

Recently Rep. Diana Gonzalez (P/D-Winooski) introduced a short form bill calling for a carbon fee and dividend [Re Off Message: "Vermont Lawmakers Float Carbon-Combating Proposals," April 10]. Under this plan, Vermont fuel suppliers would pay a modest fee on the fossil fuels they sell. The money collected would be returned equally to Vermont households. For many families, and especially low-income families who already pay the highest percentage of their income for fuel to drive cars and heat their homes, the dividend would be a net financial benefit despite modest cost increases on gas and oil.

This is a sound plan that Vermonters of all political persuasions should support. Rep. Gonzalez's plan is practically identical to the plan introduced by Reagan-era Republican leaders including James Baker and George Shultz. Even the Niskanen Center, a Libertarian think tank, supports putting a price on carbon. In the U.S. House of Representatives, 18 Republicans recently joined the Climate Solutions Caucus to find bipartisan solutions to the climate crisis.

The writing is on the wall. Climate change is real, and it is already increasing economic risks and imposing huge costs on society. Many conservatives recognize this and realize that we can turn a crisis into an economic opportunity by using the free market to price fossil fuels in a way that reflects their true cost to society. 

I am disappointed that the Vermont GOP released a statement on the same day as Rep. Gonzalez's announcement saying that they would not even consider such a proposal. I respectfully ask them to reconsider.

Sandra O'Flaherty

South Hero

History Is Littered With Rebels

[Re Off Message: "South Burlington School Budget Voted Down for Second Time," April 6]: When Billy Idol penned his hit "Rebel Yell" back in 1983, I don't think he was channeling one of Robert E. Lee's soldiers at Vicksburg. The anti-rebel group should stop obsessing over the bad Confederate rebels and embrace the good historical rebels in order to find comfort with the name. I mean, there's Marx, Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh — just to name a few. These guys are rebel gods!

So I suggest the next time you hear the Rebels of South Burlington High School, don't run to your progressive safe room, but rather imagine the strong jawline of Lenin, the cherubic face of Mao or that cute little stash of Father Ho — you know, the good rebels.

John Marhefka


Money Makes the World Go Round

[Re "American Muslims Grapple With Interest-Based Borrowing," April 5]: I have occasionally wondered how Muslims handled the debt money system in the West. The article by Kymelya Sari explains it.

Please allow me to add a note about the war against debt-free money. Debt-free money is the monetary system of the Muslim world and the reason that Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Libya were destroyed. The European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Wall Street cannot tolerate countries that operate outside the debt money system.  

You may have heard the expression "All wars are bankers' wars." Since the formation of the Bank of England in 1694, this has been the case. Western armies are the constabulary of the central banks. 

I recommend the writings of Frederick Soddy, Ellen Brown, Smedley Butler and John Perkins to confirm my point. 

Jim Hogue


Hogue is the Vermont representative of the Public Banking Institute.

Keep America Out of Syria

[Re Off Message: "Vermont Delegation Says Trump Must Seek Approval for Future Syrian Strikes," April 7]: President Donald Trump has a well-documented history of deceiving the American people. Given his entanglement in Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. election process, it is very difficult to believe that his actions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria are anything more than a smoke screen, a way to distract the media, the American people and the U.S. Congress away from his own incriminations. 

His first reaction to the gas attacks on innocent Syrian civilians, after all, was to blame Barack Obama. Only afterward did he demonstrate any compassion for the victims of the bombings. Trump doesn't understand the complexity of Middle Eastern politics. I can only hope that he'll listen to his national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, and keep us from an all-out war in the region.

Steve Justis

East Montpelier

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