Letters to the Editor (7/25/18) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (7/25/18)


Published July 25, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated August 14, 2018 at 4:32 p.m.

Some Series

I just want to thank you for the terrific and important series ["Give and Take: Examining Vermont's Nonprofit Economy," June 20-July 18]. This is a real piece of researched journalism — the likes of which we very seldom get to read in our clubby little state. Please give us more.

Mason Singer


Charlotte News Is a Labor of Love

[Re "Nonprofit News," July 11]: While it's always fun to see one's name in print, it would have been even better if Paul Heintz's reference to "tony Charlotte" and its ability to sustain our beloved newspaper, the Charlotte News, had included more of the truth: that the paper, founded 60 years ago by a group of teenagers in a local church basement, continues to exist largely because so many of our contributors do so without expecting to be compensated.

The writers and photographers whose work fills the pages of this paper contribute because sustaining a community newspaper matters to them. And, too, we have a skeleton staff of three part-timers who pull the paper together every other week using elbow grease, shoestring, ingenuity and love.

The Charlotte News faces the very same challenges every other newspaper faces today: In a journalism terrain where advertising dollars are disappearing with alarming speed, we, too, are constantly seeking creative ways to keep the ship afloat. We are not, as many would like to think because of our zip code, awash with cash.

The Charlotte News' greatest asset isn't that it's in "tony Charlotte." The Charlotte News is alive and well largely because it is a shining example of what can be accomplished when people in a community work together to keep an important piece of the fabric of that community alive. 

Melissa O'Brien


O'Brien is news editor of the Charlotte News.

Too Negative on Nonprofits

CNBC recently recognized Vermont as the best place to live in the United States, due in large part to the vital work of Vermont's nonprofits. Affordable housing, great schools, quality health care and a clean environment are largely driven by our state's social sector. Representing 20 percent of Vermont's economy, our nonprofits merit a closer look. 

But Seven Days' "Give and Take" series [June 20-July 18] seems more concerned with what we "take" than how we meaningfully contribute to the well-being of our state. The series' preoccupation with the pay of top executives, "shadow government" and improprieties tells a shadow of the story. 

Vermont's nonprofits are remarkably productive given that 85 percent of more than 6,000 nonprofits operate with budgets of less than $500,000. These organizations, large and small, are responsible for addressing our most pressing social issues — from child and elder care to community safety and equal opportunity. Nonprofit workers (45,000 plus) are effective managers and community leaders able to weave together rural and urban Vermont with limited resources and unlimited resourcefulness. 

If you'd like to know more about nonprofit organizations than simply the salaries of the top executives, take a look at Common Good Vermont's analysis of Internal Revenue Service data here: blog.commongoodvt.org/2015/02/fast-facts-the-economic-power-of-vermonts-nonprofit-sector

And if you'd like to understand more about how our nonprofits are working to daily ensure a top-rated quality of life for Vermonters, visit commongoodvt.org

We serve more than 4,000 nonprofit staff, board members and allies who, working together, yield results for our state.

Lauren-Glenn Davitian


Davitian is the founder of Common Good Vermont.

A Closer Look at Kavanaugh

In this newspaper, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) issued a full-throated blast at Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, telling your reporter Taylor Dobbs that Kavanaugh, in a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article, wrote that "the president should be above the law when they're president" [Off Message: "Leahy: Trump's Supreme Court Pick 'More Than Frightening,'" July 10].

Dobbs, in an example of good journalism, then accurately quoted the Law Review article as arguing "that sitting presidents should not be subject to indictments, civil lawsuits or criminal investigations."

I have actually read the article in question. In it, Kavanaugh writes: "The first [counterargument to that proposal would be] that no one is above the law in our system of government. I strongly agree with that principle. But it is not ultimately a persuasive criticism of these suggestions. The point is not to put the President above the law or to eliminate checks on the President, but simply to defer litigation and investigations until the President is out of office."

Kavanaugh based that conclusion on the tribulations of Bill Clinton's presidency: "Looking back to the late 1990s, for example, the nation certainly would have been better off if President Clinton could have focused on Osama bin Laden without being distracted by the Paula Jones sexual harassment case and its criminal-investigation offshoots."

That does not add up to Leahy's inflammatory charge that the judge believes "the president should be above the law when they're president."

Leahy's party — the party of Clinton — is terrified that a majority of the Supreme Court might actually come to operate on the principle that judges aren't free to write their own Constitutions but must confine themselves to interpreting the Constitution the people approved. 

You will hear a lot of wild charges about Kavanaugh over the next two months. Don't take Leahy's word on any of them.

John McClaughry


Primary Prep

Thank you for your great article detailing how Vermont's House members voted on the various changes to Vermont's gun laws [Off Message: "Analysis: How Gun Votes Divided the Vermont House," March 28]. I am looking for candidates to support, and you made it very easy for me to enter the House member's name and immediately see how they voted. A great service and a wonderful way to hold them all accountable for their votes.

Mary Evslin


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