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Letters to the Editor (9/21/22)

Published September 21, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated October 11, 2022 at 7:29 p.m.

Ad Crossed the Line

I understand that Seven Days does not assess or evaluate the content of the paid political advertising that it publishes. Yet its readers should still understand when a political placement crosses a line, as last week's full-page ad by Tom Licata did.

Licata attempts to "inform" Vermonters by stating: "Among Socialism's 45 goals read into the 1963 Congressional Record were..." and goes on to list four rather startling objectives. The implication is that 1) these are socialism's current and self-stated goals; and 2) the Democrat Party is, in fact, socialist and therefore shares these aims. Thankfully for Democrats, and indeed for all Vermonters, this is a gross misrepresentation at best and an outright lie and an attempt to deceive Vermont voters at worst. These "goals" were fabricated by a discredited, racist, far-right conspiracy theorist in 1958 and published in a book called The Naked Communist by W. Cleon Skousen.

Skousen opposed all federal agencies, wanted all public lands and national parks sold to private individuals, and advocated for removing the separation of church and state. He opposed federal and state income taxes. He was shockingly and blatantly racist, calling African American children a slur considered offensive even in the 1960s and stating that American slave owners were the real victims of the slavery system, while slaves "were usually a cheerful lot."

I hope that any Vermonter does their own research on Licata and his views, regardless of their political party affiliation.

Jeffrey Loiter


Identifying With Naomi

Reading about Naomi Wood's death ["Trust Fail," September 7] flooded me with wild grief and an uncanny sense of relief. Aligned with Naomi's family, I extend my condolences and outrage and want to share the context for the strange relief I feel. 

Eight and a half years ago, I got out of what I now know was a cult. Since then, I've studied coercive control, published a book about it, started a career in cult recovery and launched a movement that gives voice to cult survivors. 

Within weeks of snapping out of my 18-year odyssey with a new-agey therapy group gone cultic, I found myself chatting with a couple of men who sat at a table covered in brochures about addiction and the "wonderful program" that was helping them. Their countenance was familiar, and the hair on the back of my neck rose to attention. 

Between my consulting work, writing classes I facilitate and my volunteer work with igotout.org, I have now heard hundreds of personal stories of cultic abuse. Some of the most devastating come from the "troubled teen" industry. Alison Novak's powerful article offers us the heartrending story of Naomi, who will never get to tell her own story. And I am both relieved and grateful that Novak's skillful reporting shines a steady, necessary light on an entity that deserves further scrutiny.

Gerette Buglion

Hyde Park

Council's Fault

[Re "Dis-Connected: Burlington Dispatchers Blame 'Defunding' for Slow Police Response, Crime Victims Say," September 7]: Of course, this is entirely the fault of the Burlington City Council. They created this mess and have never wanted to accept responsibility for blowing up the Burlington Police Department. This speaks to their lack of character.

Good people left BPD because government officials didn't have their backs. These "officials," aka council members, have zero expertise in police matters, yet they chose to weigh in on the George Floyd killing to conflate that event as if it were related to incidents in Burlington, Vt. What an incredible mistake!

The council members erred in responding to protests by 300 people outside the BPD as if they were the be-all and end-all of political opinion. Fools, wimps, cowards — they should all be removed. All these shootings and deaths are legitimately on their hands. What a disgusting bit of governmental malfeasance.

Steve L'Heureux


Question for Leahy

[Re "Sen. Patrick Leahy's New Memoir Offers a Wealth of Stories From an Eventful Career," August 26]: Was Sen. Patrick Leahy being paid to write so-called books or defend the taxpayers' interests — especially since they're the ones who made him a multimillionaire during his 50 years feeding at the public trough?

Too bad Seven Days joined the Leahy love fest versus asking the real question.

Ted Cohen


Hospitals Shirk Mental Health

Vermont hospitals, especially the University of Vermont Medical Center network, have recently orchestrated an extensive campaign supporting what might be characterized as their desperate need for a double-digit rate increase. Cloaked with popular, if misleading, arguments, the UVM Medical Center points to tight budgets and belt-tightening but reiterates its desire to maintain, if not expand, access to health care.

Rhetoric aside, one primary victim of recent deliberations has been the withdrawal of the UVM Medical Center's commitment to building a new and desperately needed inpatient psychiatric unit in central Vermont. Vermonters, including adolescents, sit in emergency rooms for days, weeks and longer due to lack of available psychiatric beds. This is nothing short of a disgrace.

The UVM Medical Center earned millions more than its regulated revenue target for three or four years — including 2017, when it made an extra $21 million. This led to a proposal from the Green Mountain Care Board to UVM to use these "excess funds" to plan and run a new inpatient facility at its central Vermont campus. After spending $1 million on planning, the UVM Health Network announced in April that it was shelving the project. There is still $20 million set aside for expanded mental health care.

As reported in Seven Days ["UVM Health Network Slams Regulators Over Budget Decision," September 12, online], one possibility is to turn these funds over to the UVM Health Network to help cover shortfalls in the UVM Medical Center's budget. This idea should be dead on arrival. It is not only shortsighted and inappropriate but also a disservice to Vermonters who desperately need access to mental health care.

Ken Libertoff

East Montpelier

Libertoff directed the Vermont Association for Mental Health from 1981 to 2010.


Last week's story about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brenda Siegel, "Underdog's Appeal," misstated the status of an emergency pandemic-era program housing the homeless in hotels and motels. The program, known as the General Assistance Housing Program, reverted to pre-pandemic eligibility in June 2022, when a new transitional housing program took effect.

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