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Letters to the Editor (8/30/17)


Published August 30, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated September 19, 2017 at 4:28 p.m.

Bad Advice

In "Apoc-Eclipse" [Last 7: "802much," August 23], the ending sentence recommends: "Save those glasses!" This is incorrect and possibly dangerous advice, because these kinds of glasses have a safe lifespan of about five years.

Jeffry Wisnia

Winchester, MA

The VA Way

Your article on the salaries paid to directors of Vermont's nonprofit hospitals should be a wake-up call for all who resist efforts to reform the way we pay for health care ["Million-Dollar Question: How Much Should Nonprofit Hospital CEOs Earn?" August 23]. Unfortunately, you neglected to include Vermont's only single-payer health care system: the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' medical center in White River Junction. Nationally, the average salary of VA medical center directors — including bonuses — is less than $150,000. Despite the ongoing assault on this integrated health care system by many politicians and the media, fueled by every isolated incident, the quality of VA care equals or exceeds local "nonprofit" health care in more than 90 percent of the U.S.

Andrew Pomerantz, MD


Pomerantz is a psychiatrist at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction.

Looking Up

My fiancée and I just read your inspiring profiles of women aviators ["Flying Female," August 9]. We are living in New York City and travel to Vermont for a week or two every year to enjoy the peaceful nature of my family's camp cottage on Malletts Bay. We are both at moments of career change and share an interest in flying. We would love the opportunity to speak with or even meet some of the women you wrote of to learn more about flying as a career. It has always seemed unattainable, but your writing has made us feel as though it's something that's not just possible but promising. Thanks for a great article! 

Peter Yuskauskas and Montana Agte-Studier

New York, NY

Inconvenient but Solvable

[Re Movie Clips, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, August 2]: As a member of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, I saw the early showing of Al Gore's second documentary about climate change, An Inconvenient Sequel. The movie was hopeful despite alarming statistics. 

We must find ways to reduce our carbon footprint, despite new roadblocks from our political systems. Our historically progressive state can work its magic in ending dependence on fossil fuels. Let's put a price on carbon pollution through taxes. Money from this tax can be used to lower other taxes or invest in renewable energy systems for all. 

When I see a solar or wind farm, I know we are one, albeit tiny, step closer to a carbon-neutral world. Let's begin to see the sight of wind and solar arrays not as an eyesore but as something we appreciate on the landscape because of what it is harvesting on our behalf.

Can solar panels be placed on the roofs of the big-box stores in Williston? Can we create solar panels on stilts that can reside in parking lots? Can we partner with farmers and place solar panels in sheep pastures, providing shade that the animals appreciate in the heat of summer and electricity for us humans?  

I appreciate and applaud those who are moving effective carbon reduction forward in Vermont. I hope our state will be a model by striving to become 100 percent renewable, like Burlington became the first city in the country to use 100 percent renewable energy for its residents' electricity needs. An Inconvenient Sequel reminded me that this is possible. 

Wendy Bratt


Winners All

[Re Feedback: "Disputing a Daysie," August 16]: It is always great to recognize talent. But as someone who is very familiar with performing, I strongly reject the idea that some "one" is better than some "one" else!

Acting is not a competition. It is an honorable profession where we are accepted as entertainers and celebrators!

Allan Nicholls


Feeding Fido

[Re The Animal Issue, August 16]: Karin Brulliard's August 4 article in the Washington Post details that America's 180 million or so dogs and cats consume about 25 percent of all animal-derived calories consumed in the U.S. Producing that much meat creates as much as 64 million tons of greenhouse gases every year — not to mention the harm to land and water associated with raising other life forms for consumption.

That is an amount that 12 million cars would generate in one year of driving.

The furry creatures may become much-loved members of the family, but their human "masters" need to be cognizant of the environmental impact associated with feeding Fido and Princess.

Gerry Silverstein

South Burlington

Copping an Attitude

[Re "Begging for Change: Burlington Stabbings Prompt Proposed Penalties," August 23]: The sociologist-in-chief in Vermont's largest city has a new seminar he's espousing: consequences of bad behavior as a means of teaching responsibility.


Of course we're talking about Brandon del Pozo, who — besides his day job as a wannabe college professor — purports to be Burlington's police chief.

Del Pozo's latest means of promoting the mayor's soft-on-crime mentality is urging the liberal councilors to adopt a law imposing penalties on so-called lesser crimes — you know, the crimes that street bums peddle in: i.e., assault, robbery. You get the idea.

The sociologist-in-chief's idea is to make bad boys come to appreciate that their behavior has consequences. So our friendly sociologist would criminalize civil "quality-of-life" offenses such as public drunkenness, fighting and public urination. (He doesn't include assault and robbery because practitioners of those big-boy crimes already understand the "consequences.")

Right, chief. Got it.

The best and only way to reduce thuggery in Burlington is for the sociologist-in-chief to become an actual police chief and stop apologizing for cops doing their jobs.

You see, the mayor and liberal council want a police department that is its own personal therapy center — until, of course, some drunken, homeless welfare-expert thug robs or beats them silly. Then, of course, they want a gun-toting cop on their doorstep, ASAP.

Until then, let's just have another seminar in teachable behavior.

Ted Cohen


Rail for All

The article about commuter rail service coming to Vermont was very interesting ["Fast Track?" August 2]. As a person who doesn't drive and relies on public transportation, I'm pleased to see that there may be more options in the future. For this service to work, it must be accessible to everyone.

I challenge David Blittersdorf and Net Zero Vermont to make sure these rail cars meet the standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Communities suffer when anyone is marginalized by lack of access. For us to thrive, we must provide services that are inclusive to all.

Peter Johnke

East Calais

Got Ethics?

In John Walters' August 16 Fair Game column, there was an interesting section headline called "Revolving Door Spins Again." This details how Joint Fiscal Office staff member Sara Teachout took a new job as "head of government, public and media relations for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont."  

While I have no problem with Teachout or anyone taking a new job, BCBS was just granted a 9.2 percent rate increase. They had asked for 12.9 percent. I wonder how much of this raise will be going to the department that Teachout now leads to keep universal care at bay in Vermont. Teachout knows the legislature and will be a formidable force there in keeping us saddled with future rate jumps, high deductibles and premiums, restricted networks, and the nice paychecks earned by BCBS CEOs (and Teachout) that these rate increases pay for. No doubt that's why she was hired.

I agree with Paul Burns of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, who said, "The revolving door policy should probably cover JFO and Legislative Council as well." Like Walters, I question the word "probably." It should be "definitely." I would also change "Vermont's shiny new ethics law bars former lawmakers and executive officers from becoming lobbyists for at least one full year" to "...at least two full years" to mitigate the effects of this revolving door. 

Walter Carpenter


Cuts Hurt Kids

[Re Off Message: "Trump Admin Axes Millions in Funding for Vermont Nonprofit," July 21]: The recent abrupt rescission by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services of $2.25 million in grant funds to develop evidence-based and effective pregnancy prevention programs for youth is alarming. Charlotte-based Youth Catalytics and its grant partners excel in using scientific findings to develop cutting-edge prevention strategies that can be shared nationally to address a huge social problem. 

I work as an advocate for both children and parents involved in family court, and I see firsthand the frequently tragic consequences of children having children. It is critical that those of us who work with youth be adequately trained to support them holistically, with interventions that are meaningful and lasting. 

Through its efforts to gather, analyze and utilize research, Youth Catalytics is a whetstone that keeps our tools critically sharp. Science, not opinion, should drive best practices when tackling complex issues such as teen pregnancy. Loss of this grant will have a ripple effect on vulnerable youth nationally and in Vermont. Not least, the targeted nature of this rescission seems particularly dangerous.

Susan Hong


Hong is a guardian ad litem in Chittenden Superior Court and a family support worker in Chittenden and Addison counties.

Can't Please Everybody

[Re Stuck in Vermont]: I can't comprehend why Seven Days would even consider featuring such a substandard product as Stuck in Vermont. Why should anyone feel "stuck" here? The title makes no sense and is plain stupid. The topics of these features have absolutely nothing to do with being captured here and are inept attempts to show positive aspects about Vermont that would speak for themselves if not debauched by this amateurish presentation.

The tone of Stuck in Vermont is incongruous to the subject matter and is invariably some farcical pseudo-comical overlay that is completely out of place. Topics are made light of despite the serious essence of their content.

The videography is likewise amateurish. The camera is unsteady. Images are choppy, poorly focused, haphazardly composed and make no sense in their juxtapositions. It's hard to follow this staccato of shots that either begin or end with no context or transitions — like billboards passing in a subway window.

The editing is poorly done, too. Blurriness and absurd vantages add to the confusion and foolishness.

Eva Sollberger's obsession with close-up shots of her face making gooney-eyed, goofy grimaces is detrimental to her subject and terribly annoying. It appears she sees her feature as a vehicle or a platform for narcissistic, self-engrossed exhibition. Who really wants to see this egoism? Is anyone impressed?

Norm Vandal


Keep BT Local

[Re Off Message: "Details Trickle Out on Finalists in the Bidding for Burlington Telecom," August 7]: Recently, the Burlington Telecom Advisory Board chair claimed that two BT bids were "debt-free," which has a good ring to it, given BT's history. But "debt-free" is a buzzword, especially in the absence of other financial details.

The BT co-op's bid is not debt-free, but let me explain why this is not a problem. BT currently has more than 7,000 members and is on track to have more than $3 million in cash flow after expenses. Paying back a $10 million loan is very doable. 

More importantly, no other bid will grant ownership of BT to its subscribers, which will benefit our community as we've seen with City Market/Onion River Co-op and the Burlington Electric Department. 

As a member of the City Market co-op, I receive an annual patronage refund that is more than I paid in my membership many years ago. Not a bad deal.

BED's rates have not gone up in more than eight years, and, in 2015, an average BED residential customer paid $371 less per year than the statewide average — an aggregate savings of $6.2 million. That's a lot of money to keep in the local economy. 

Over time, similar savings and refunds would occur with the BT co-op, and that's why choosing a not-for-profit BT co-op — owned by the people — is the best decision for Burlington. 

Jan Schultz


Schultz is a former member of both the Burlington Telecom Advisory Board and the Burlington Electric Commission. He coordinates the citizen volunteers of Burlington District Energy Service, looking at ways to utilize excess heat from the McNeil Generating Station.

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