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Letters to the Editor (5/22/24)


Published May 22, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.

'It Is Different Now'

Last week's cover story ["Growing Pains," May 15] captured what we farmers have been going through the past few years, day after day. Wow.

For a brief time, based on a couple of back-to-back sunny growing seasons, I had the delusion that maybe Vermont could slide through the climate catastrophe that the world may be headed for.

No. I've farmed Shelburne Vineyard for 25 years. It is different now. We have to rethink almost everything.

Thank you for this article, and thanks to the wonderful staff that keeps Seven Days so vital.

Ken Albert


Free Ride

Thank you for your article on the unmet needs of Vermonters who no longer drive ["You Can't Get There," May 8]. Residents of Underhill, Jericho and Cambridge who are over 50 years old should be aware that there is a volunteer service to meet many of those needs. Mount Mansfield Villages is a social network providing members the support they need to stay in their homes while getting older. We help members remain active, socially connected and independent for as long as possible by linking volunteers to neighbors who need services, such as running errands, shopping, local transportation, small home repairs, friendly visits, daily phone checks and technical assistance, to name a few. We also provide opportunities for members to connect with their community, fellow members and volunteers through social and educational activities.

Mount Mansfield Villages is part of the Village to Village Network, a network of "villages" across the country. MMV currently has 64 members and 64 volunteers. We are growing, and we welcome new participants. All volunteers have attended an orientation session and passed a background check.

There is a modest annual fee for members, who then have access to all MMV services and social activities. However, no one who needs MMV's services will be turned away. For more information, see mountmansfield.helpfulvillage.com.

Lamoille Neighbors is a similar organization that serves Hyde Park, Johnson and Morrisville. Their web page is lamoilleneighbors.org.

Elaine McCrate


Zuckerman's Challenger?

[Re "Winooski City Councilor to Challenge Zuckerman for Lieutenant Governor," May 16, online]: If Winooski Deputy Mayor Thomas Renner wants to become lieutenant governor, he's going to have to do a lot better than praising the incumbent. In his campaign announcement, Renner said Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman "has done some great work." Other than that, Renner couldn't think of any policy differences he has with Zuckerman.

The obvious question is: Why are you running, sir?

What Renner should have done — at the very least — is pointed out Zuckerman's abysmal record, including:

  • By his own admission, no less, padding his taxpayer-financed expense account when he was in the legislature.
  • Apologizing for criticizing the "do-nothing" work of the Vermont Air National Guard on 9/11.
  • Being forced to admit that he incorrectly criticized the reputation of the governor's nominee for education secretary.

A trained seal could make a campaign out of those three things alone. Renner has some serious learning to do if he expects to move from Winooski to the Statehouse.

When it comes to politics, Zuckerman is no slouch, having successfully adopted Vermont's rural traditions to transform his image from a Massachusetts native — which he is — into an aw-shucks Green Mountain boy.

Although the press downplays the lieutenant governor's position as merely ceremonial, in fact it's an important slot in state government. The incumbent takes over if the governor is incapacitated, and that's happened more than once in Vermont history.

Ted Cohen


Vermont Needs New — Old — Leadership

[Re "Dean's Potential Run for Governor Buoys Dems Eager for a Competitive Race," May 10; "Gov. Phil Scott Announces He'll Run for Reelection," May 11, online]: If Phil Scott is indeed the most popular sitting GOP governor in the U.S., then that bar must be set very low. His middle name is "Veto." At 72, I miss the "old Vermont," too. I'm also a realist who understands that the state needs a dynamic leader spearheading a balanced approach to mitigating the challenges of today's Vermont, as ably reported in your paper. Run, Howard, run!

Larry Lewis

Spencer, MA

Editor's note: On Monday, Howard Dean announced he won't run for governor of Vermont. We covered the announcement here.

Helpful Link

Thanks for your recent article about Chip Piper's journey surviving and living with grief over his stepson's death ["Mourning Run," May 8]. I was interested in the support group Team Sharing that was mentioned for parents who have lost a child to overdose. Including a link or contact info would be helpful to those of us looking for support. Many thanks for your dedication to providing the community continued news and resources.

Rachel Lyons


Editor's note: The online story now includes a link to this resource.

'Weekly Inspiration'

I typically enjoy most of Seven Days' content, this week particularly "The Mourning Run" [May 8]. Ten marathons in 10 days seems like a hefty challenge, much more than I would ever contemplate. Kudos, Chip Piper, for your dedication. I hope you are able to complete all 10 marathons in memory of your stepson, Michael. I made a donation after reading about it.

I also loved the story about the Trash Tramps ["Zen and the Art of Trash Collection: A Group of Montpelier Residents Spruces Up the City, One Cigarette Butt at a Time," May 8]. We need more of this type of community engagement to replace the rancor and discord surging through our society these days. Sometimes I go out in my neighborhood and pick up trash that accumulates, while grumbling about people being too lazy to throw it where it belongs. Your story inspires me to be more Zen about it.

Thanks, Seven Days, for bringing us weekly inspiration!

Louise Goodrich


My Share

In the opening paragraph of [From the Publisher: "Accounting for Seven Days," March 27], Paula Routly writes: "Some people have more than they deserve; others never get their fair share." Who decides that those who have much have more than their fair share? If they have worked for and earned it, it is rightfully theirs. Those who don't have their fair share perhaps haven't toiled to achieve it.

Planting the thought in those not willing to work — that they deserve a share from those who worked — seems to be growing roots and taking hold. I object to this kind of thinking, not because of my standing in life. I am certainly not in the category of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who rails against the rich while he himself has never held a regular job and owns three homes, one of which he refers to as a camp. What I have, I earned, and don't tell me I need to share it with anyone except as I choose to do so. Forced volunteerism is growing, and it stinks.

Joyce Coutu

Essex Junction

Library Should Be Peaceful

[Re "Aggressive Behavior, Increased Drug Use at Burlington's Downtown Library Prompt Calls for Help," May 1]: Burlington's drug addiction and mental health crisis has descended into yet another public place where people should be calm and peaceful: Fletcher Free Library.

To protect the public good, this should not be tolerated, let alone condoned. Under no circumstances, as has been suggested, should the library set aside a room where patrons with problems "could meet with social workers and health care providers."

Yes, the library should be welcoming to all. Until recently, the vast majority of patrons respected the social contract that a library is a friendly, safe and respectful place. Today, however, staff and visitors are often confronted by aggressive, manic and threatening behavior. And even physical abuse.

Fletcher Free Library's predicament is just another hot spot in Vermont's continuing battle with the dire effects of homelessness (200 to 300 unhoused alone in the Burlington area) that won't be fixed until there is a long-term solution to illegal drug use and untreated mental disorders.

As public health experts and some states, such as California, are finally realizing, the problem will only worsen until governments commit to a comprehensive solution. In Vermont, this includes reopening a statewide campus with extended-stay, humane-treatment facilities for uncontrollable addictions and severe mental disabilities.

Jack Scully


Another Look at Ram Hinsdale

The legislature erred in ["Ethics Panel Dismisses Complaint Against Ram Hinsdale," April 11, online]. Last year's Housing Opportunities Made for Everyone Act, sponsored by Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, is a win-win for her. Ram Hinsdale knows that the University of Vermont is increasing enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs. The act aids Hinsdale Properties to financially benefit from increased student rental housing demands above the approximately 5,000 students renting in Burlington. This benefits her family business. Ram Hinsdale made no statement to encourage UVM to build more campus housing. Students may easily fill the additional housing spurred by new zoning.

For over 50 years, my family has experienced the breakup of older homes into student rentals. A neighboring single-family home is a Hinsdale rental. It used to house three students; now four students have separate rooms. It could be a starter home for a couple. Ram Hinsdale's Airbnb nearby would be a good rental for grad students.

Ram Hinsdale held a listening session on Zoom in 2022 about the housing crisis. I spoke about living in an area being taken over by student rentals. She quickly muted me in front of many legislators who did not defend my right to speak.

I called Sen. Phil Baruth later, concerned about her expected appointment as chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs. My concern was the perception of a conflict of interest for the owner of a rental property company chairing a housing committee.

Keith Pillsbury


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