[Re "'This Touched My Heart,'" October 24; "Opiates, Love and Loss," October 24; Off Message: "'I Cried as I Read This': An Obit for an Addicted Vermonter Goes Viral," October 18; Obituary: Madelyn Linsenmeir, 1988-2018, October 14]: Thank you for publishing stories about people like Madelyn Linsenmeir with substance-use disorder. It's the only way we will stop the shame and stigma associated with this disease. I lost my sister Jenny last year to prescription opioids.
Many thanks for the letter submitted by Kiran Kuntz and Chris Stutzman titled "Fly Right" [Feedback, November 14], in which they noted that the American flag was displayed upside down by protesters in a recent protest held on Church Street. Though I'm strongly adverse to virtually all the policies promoted by our current president, displays such as these only serve the emotional needs of the protesters and do nothing to foster a constructive dialogue between sides that are so very polarized already. Sadly, this display brings to mind anti-war protests of the 1960s when our flag was treated similarly, and which had the same effect on the country's citizens: further polarization.
On the Wild Side
Thank you for ["The Whole Tooth? Vermont's Head Warden Targeted for Covering His Tracks in Bear Case," November 7]. As usual, Vermont's commissioner of the Fish & Wildlife Department defends his lack of leadership by accusing his critics of being anti-hunting, -fishing and -trapping. I would bet I spent as much time fishing last summer as Louis Porter has in his entire life. I am neither anti-hunting nor anti-fishing. But as far as I am concerned, Porter has been little more than a flak for guys whose idea of fun is laying out leghold and body-gripping traps for any creature that happens by. As the human race multiplies and human development expands, wilderness and wildlife become increasingly precious for everybody, and I think I speak for a lot of hunters and fishermen when I say that Vermont deserves a commissioner of Fish & Wildlife who understands that. Ethical shortcomings notwithstanding, Porter doesn't get it.
F&W Needs Reform
Thank you for your recent article investigating a Vermont game warden ["The Whole Tooth? Vermont's Head Warden Targeted for Covering His Tracks in Bear Case," November 7]. The Fish & Wildlife Department conducts itself more along the lines of a private hunting club than anything else. The people of Vermont need to see how the department is often unethical, harmful and cruel to our state's wildlife. Major changes need to be made within the F&W and that can only happen if more people speak out against its actions to raise awareness.
Bissonnette Should Step Aside
[Re Off Message: "He Couldn't Lose: Bissonnette to Represent Winooski in Vermont House," November 7]: The recent Chittenden 6-7 election illustrates how undemocratic our electoral system can be. Rep. Clem Bissonnette announced he bought a house in the Northeast Kingdom and would not seek reelection. Bissonnette even recruited Mike O'Brien as a possible write-in candidate. In a nonbinding poll held by Progressives and Democrats, four candidates vied for support, with City Councilor Hal Colston emerging as a clear winner. O'Brien declined to run after Colston won the poll.
On Election Day, Colston lost to Bissonnette's name on the ballot by 245 votes. The next day, Bissonnette reneged on his promise to step aside and announced he would serve. He even declared in Seven Days that he would rent a room in Winooski if necessary.
Something doesn't smell right here. While Bissonnette does not violate any laws by reneging on his promise, he fails to provide ethical representation for his constituents. Winooski deserves a representative who lives full time in the district and acts with integrity.
Moreover, unconscious racial bias and privilege undoubtedly played a factor here. Bissonnette is white. Colston is black. I emphasize the word "unconscious" because I do not believe Bissonnette consciously reneged on his decision because Colston is black. However, the impact of his decision disempowers Colston and prevents him from being considered as a qualified candidate in gubernatorial appointment process.
Winooski residents deserve so much better. I call on Bissonnette to do the right thing by stepping aside to allow the governor to appoint a replacement.
Park Redesign 'Not a Done Deal'
[Re "Uprooted: Burlington Farmers Market Seeks a New Home," October 31]: On Election Day, Keep the Park Green collected almost 2,000 signatures to put on the March ballot a motion to scrap the plan for City Hall Park. I myself collected 125 signatures in three hours at the Ward 4 polling site. For many people who signed the petition, it was not just about saving trees. They questioned the $4 million price tag, the need for a "splash pad" instead of a central fountain, increasing the paved surface area in the park and wiring it for more performances. They wanted peace and quiet and a green place with shade trees and gardens in the midst of an all-too-rapidly developing downtown. Parents commented that there was no place to take kids when they were downtown; they wanted a little playground on sawdust with a swing set and slide — and a bathroom, not a Porta-Potty cubicle. Senior signatories wanted benches with backs, not stone blocks to sit on.
I was collecting signatures right next to where Burlington City Councilor Kurt Wright was greeting voters. He saw the line at my table and overheard discussions. I asked him, "Kurt, what will the council do when voters say no?" He said he'd certainly look at another plan.
So take heed, farmers market vendors and Burlington voters. This unpopular plan is not a done deal. We'll be voting on it in March. And it will go down.
The $4 Million Question
[Re "Uprooted: Burlington Farmers Market Seeks a New Home," October 31]: Just a quick question for Burlington residents: Why are we going to spend $4 million to deconstruct City Hall Park, making it more like an extension of Church Street than a park? Would that be like installing new granite countertops in the kitchen while the roof leaks, septic discharges into the backyard and children are in need?