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Letters to the Editor (7/3/24)

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Published July 3, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.


More Data, Please

Since 2000, Vermont has experienced official drought conditions 13 times. Eleven of these were in the last half of that period, not the previous. During this time, we've experienced severe drought five times, four of which were between 2017 and 2023.

Precipitation totals for Burlington between 2000 and 2023 range from a high of 50.92 inches in 2011 to 23.27 inches in 2001, with an average of 40.27 inches. The variations above and below this average reveal no pattern whatsoever and are remarkably consistent when plotted on a line graph.

In ["Growing Pains: How Warmer, Wetter, Wilder Weather Is Compelling Vermont Farmers to Adapt," May 15], Seven Days wrote that there are "2.4 more days of heavy precipitation" to make the case for the "wetter" headline. What is the time frame of those 2.4 days, and why are you conflating heavier-precipitation events with wetter weather? They are not the same. Vermont as a whole has actually experienced more frequent periods of unusual aridity in the past decade than in the decade before.

You might reference the data in your reporting, rather than simply relaying the oft-cited predictions. Repeating climate predictions as if they are a mantra rather than revising them based on facts as they emerge over time undermines an accurate understanding of how our climate is shifting.

Ben Falk

Moretown

'Not Real Farmers'

Bravo on your climate change article ["Growing Pains: How Warmer, Wetter, Wilder Weather Is Compelling Vermont Farmers to Adapt," May 15]. We're noticing many of these trends in our own sizable home garden, and usually once a week the past few summers, one of us will turn to the other and say, "Aren't you glad we're not real farmers?" It is all scary and depressing, considering how hardworking and idealistic these folks are.

Rick Winston

Adamant

Time to Pull the Plug?

[Re "Burlington Mayor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak's First Term Starts With Major Staffing and Spending Decisions," April 17]: Burlington Mayor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak's most difficult staffing decision may be that of Burlington Electric Department general manager Darren Springer. The positions of these two leaders on the McNeil Generating Station are polar opposites. Springer wants to operate McNeil for another 20 years, as shown by his support of the district energy project. The mayor wants to phase out McNeil; in her campaign climate platform, she writes, "Develop a responsible transition to close McNeil."

Forceful leadership is required in these climatic times. For the mayor to stand firm on her climate policy, the reappointment of Springer must include the abandonment of the district energy project. This would be a seismic shift for Burlington Electric, but the lights would not go out.

Of course, Dr. Stephen Leffler could upend this scenario. As chief operating officer of the University of Vermont Medical Center, he can decide that the hospital, which is the sole customer of district energy, will not go forth and will not sign the contract.

It is time to pull the plug on this "nine lives" project. The climate crisis is real. The carbon dioxide emissions from McNeil are real. Who will pull the plug?

Peter MacAusland

Burlington

Jews Can Be Antisemitic

I am not writing to argue about the Hamas-Israel war. Neither am I writing about whether U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is antisemitic. My issue is with former Burlington mayor Peter Clavelle saying, "Nobody is going to accuse Bernie of antisemitism. As a Jewish senator whose father's family was wiped out by the Holocaust, I think Bernie is ... inoculated from that" ["Fighting Words: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders Has Become a Leading Critic of Israel's War in Gaza," May 29].

I guess Clavelle is limited by his experience, but no Jew is inoculated from that. The reason he gives does not hold water. I have met Jewish people who have had family murdered in the Holocaust, and some of these people have nothing but vile things to say about Jews and have very little connection to being Jewish. Clavelle's use of the Holocaust in that statement to prove his opinion undermines and appropriates the Holocaust and shows that he lacks an understanding of human nature. Maybe if Clavelle were Sanders' psychiatrist, there might be some credence to his statement.

There have been many Jews who have been antisemitic. Karl Marx is probably the most famous. Gertrude Stein kept company with the Nazis.

Milton Batalion

Essex Junction

Quiz Question

I have a lot of fun taking the Vermont News Quiz each Friday. I think it would be super cool, and very informative, if you could publish the number of quiz respondents. I love comparing myself with the stats/data provided. However, without knowing how many people are taking the quiz, it significantly alters the landscape of data. (Seventy percent of 100 respondents is still a much smaller pool than, say, 20 percent of 2,000 respondents).

I've seen these stats in the New York Times quiz, so it's possible. Is Seven Days willing to follow suit?

Thanks very much for considering!

Chris Celotto

Burlington

Editor's note: Seven Days' news quiz tool, made by News Games, doesn't allow us to show players how many respondents have taken the quiz at any given moment. We can see the numbers on the back end, though: An average of 1,341 people have taken the quiz each week over the past 12 weeks.

'Home Lake' Solution

[Re "Making Waves: For Wake Boat Opponents, New Rules Mean New Battles," May 22]: The Department of Environmental Conservation's new wake boat regulations became effective April 15. The "home lake" provision requiring certified decontamination of ballast tanks will help reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species. Unfortunately, without a DEC "home lake" decal program this summer, this provision cannot be implemented due to manpower issues.

Consequently, Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes recommended to the DEC the following:

During 2024, lake resident-owned and -operated wake boats are allowed to operate in wake sports mode only on their home lake. Similarly, nonresident wake boats may declare their home lake for such activities. No wake boats may be moved between lakes for water sports. Resident and nonresident wake boat owners will notify their local lake association or other DEC-authorized entity of their home lake. These entities will provide the DEC with their list of registered wake boats. Because state law (10 V.S.A. § 1454) prohibits lake-to-lake transport of aquatic invasive species in ballast water, before launching, wake boat owners must attest their boat has not previously been in another lake. Once the DEC's "home lake" decal program is established, this provision will sunset.

Implementation of this provision will be easy, inexpensive, effective and managed locally with significantly less effort required on the part of the DEC. There is no need for wake boat decontamination or certification of decontamination stations.

Adoption of this recommendation provides the DEC a year to develop an effective "home lake" decal program.

Jack Widness

Wilmington

Widness is organizing leader of Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes.

'Tragedy of American Health Care'

So the University of Vermont Medical Center is hitting up the Green Mountain Care Board for a multimillion-dollar Certificate of Need to construct a new surgical facility ["Pre-Op Exam: UVM Medical Center Asks State Regulators to Approve a $130 Million Surgical Facility," May 29]. This is an old song that we've heard so often before, not just with UVM Medical Center, but in so many other aspects of American business. If you build some shiny new multimillion-dollar facility or whatever, it will shore up underperforming divisions and turn the ship around.

The real motive for this proposal is in the last paragraph of the article: "The center would begin paying for itself almost immediately and, by 2030, could generate an annual net profit of at least $10 million, even after accounting for the 75 new hires that would be needed to staff the facility, hospital officials said."

That $10 million undoubtedly would be more by 2030. With Green Mountain Care Board approval, UVM Medical Center could charge higher fees and rates for this new facility, compelling insurance companies to pass on these charges to the public so that many of us would not be able to afford to have surgeries at this new surgery center we paid for.

It is about the positive cash flow coming from patients who are pumped through as consumers to meet revenue forecasts and hospital margins. If you go bigger — create a larger monopoly — then you can get the highest prices the market will bear.

This is the tragedy of American health care.

Walter Carpenter

Montpelier

Where Will Patients Go?

[Re "UVM Medical Center Nurses to Hold Strike Authorization Vote Amid Contract Negotiations," June 14; "UVM Medical Center Nurses Authorize Strike as Negotiations Continue," June 25]: What happens to people who need urgent, critical or ongoing medical care if nurses walk off the job on July 9?

Examples: Pregnant women who are due to deliver on or after July 9; patients on kidney dialysis, chemotherapy or other regimens to manage serious disease; farmers or other workers who sustain injuries that threaten loss of a limb (the second cut for haying season in Vermont typically takes place at the end of June or July); victims of motor vehicle accidents or drowning incidents; people suffering a stroke or heart attack.

Will regional hospitals be equipped to suddenly absorb new, critically ill patients on short notice? UVM Medical Center patients and their families will want to know what to expect and plan accordingly, if possible.

Sharon Faelten

Underhill

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