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Letters to the Editor (5/12/20)


Published May 13, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

Good Read

Last week's "Green Mountain Quaranzine" was just delightful. Nice job!

Ralph Culver

South Burlington

The 'Next Right Thing'?

[Re Off Message: "Vermont Pondering How to Move Homeless Out of Motels," April 29]: Moving homeless people into motel rooms during the pandemic was right. Now Rep. Tom Stevens asks: "What's the next right thing?" Here is how to permanently house them and save money. 

Burlington owns 44 acres of vacant land across from the airport where 200 affordable homes once stood, demolished because F-16 jet noise made living in them unsafe. 

A prerequisite for reusing that land for housing is a permanent halt to fighter jet training. 

Vermont has the power: "Reserving to the states ... the authority of training the militia" is how the U.S. Constitution puts it. Thus Gov. Phil Scott, as commander in chief, has unqualified legal authority to stop the F-35 training. 

The governor can then order Vermont National Guard members to build permanent homes for the 400 Burlington homeless on those 44 acres — just as he ordered the Guard to build three coronavirus surge hospitals in March. 

Halting the F-35 flights is mandated by U.S. military law because of injury to civilians. An online report and complaint form, with 393 responses, confirms widespread pain, hearing damage and distress from the unbearably loud training flights. 

Our country's founders brilliantly reserved authority for training the militia to the states. Governor and Guard can be proud to use that authority to solve permanent housing for the homeless, saving the $3 million a month Vermont pays for motel rooms, reclaiming 44 acres of land for housing in Chittenden County and halting deafening F-35 training flights in a city. This is the "next right thing."

James Leas

South Burlington

Mission Critical

[Re Feedback: "Sound Barrier," April 29]: If you truly despise the sound of the F-35s, ponder some simple facts. The only reason Vermont has an active military base is that Sen. Patrick Leahy is the most senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and he fought to keep it here. Thank you, Sen. Leahy!

History. Anyone care to look at what the Green Mountain Boys — and girls! — have done since the founding of this great nation? Or maybe base closures? Didn't work out too well for our neighbors in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Maybe your taxes are just too low, but the fact that the Vermont Air National Guard brings good jobs and a lot of federal tax dollars to the state is a significant local economic engine.

To our proud servicemen and servicewomen who call the Green Mountain State home, thank you for all you do. I appreciate your training, knowing that when called upon, you will have the skills necessary to complete your mission. 

Freedom comes with sacrifices. Suck it up or stop voting for the man responsible. I'd rather hear the planes than your incessant whining.

Michael Spaeder


Reenvision VSC

As we all know, the Vermont State Colleges are inextricably part of the cultural, social and economic Vermont ecosystem, and therefore indispensable [Off Message: "Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Jeb Spaulding Plans to Resign," April 28]. 

What if the VSCs reenvisioned their mission? A decade ago, UVM president Dan Fogel envisioned the University of Vermont as "the green university" and helped position UVM as a center for green technologies and sustainable enterprise that has served it well in many ways. 

Could a revised identity emerge for the VSCs? Does the current VSC mission accurately reflect the global context? Could tweaking the mission point to some ways to find economic viability? 

After revisiting the mission: Can the VSCs create a more robust alumni relations program of capital giving to create an endowment that goes beyond financing scholarships with a goal of permanently sustaining the universities? 

Can educational and political leaders forge more synergistic partnerships with businesses in the Vermont community and elsewhere that might include financial support and permanent endowments? 

Can we count on prosperous, generous, altruistic Vermonters to step up and permanently endow the VSCs that deeply shape Vermont's charm? Numerous individuals' charitable contributions have nurtured so many other aspects of Vermont life that are vital to the Vermont we love. 

Rethinking and restructuring the VSCs will take leaders with very unique skill sets who possess more vision and personal appeal to influence and facilitate contributions and change than others who might not have fully participated in the past. Finally and most importantly, in order to get it right, the leaders must listen to the students.

Glenn Fay


Good Landlords

I read with admiration the article about landlord Jim Diehl's decision to assist his tenants by reducing their rents by 40 percent until July 1 [802Nice: "Rent Relief," April 22].

Here in Burlington, I have been unfortunately swept up in the practice of leasing from June 1 to May 25 — or another date well short of a full year. During this pandemic, I will find myself homeless at the end of May for several nights. Gov. Phil Scott's executive order appears to prohibit hotel reservations for anyone not associated with COVID-19. I am not a student, but an adult with a dog and a child; my own mother lives in assisted living, and I have no other options for shelter. I signed — and understood — the lease, but negotiating the terms seemed risky in this extremely tight rental market.

Until the city council or legislature prohibits such long gaps in leases, or at least allows renters to pay a prorated rent during the last month, landlords will keep taking advantage of renters. Kudos to Diehl and others for not forgetting that being a landlord is not just about getting paid the maximum rent.

Jeanne Bateman


Enough, Already

To the Seven Days cartoonists: Look, we get it, you hate President Donald Trump and show it incessantly, no matter the comic goldmine of the other D.C. hacks, throne-sniffers and rump swabs.

To Gov. Phil Scott: Look, we're glad we've "flattened the curve" and set up the instant hospital at Essex fairgrounds, but we wonder why you allowed the "assisted living" facilities to assist in allowing so much death through their doors?

But we can't walk on eggshells forever, especially when all we've seemed to do is postpone deaths rather than prevent any. Our local hospitals are dying on the vine, along with all the "little" people and their businesses. The "hordes" have just had it with this lockdown. Remember that quarantine is when you lock down sick people; tyranny is when you lock down the healthy.   

Steve Merrill

North Troy

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