Best of Bennett
[Re "Wizard of Awe," September 28]: Yep, "magic" is right! And I had the honor of having gotten a bit of it when Russ Bennett handed me the keys to my beautiful house in Sugarbush.
Pompano Beach, FL
[Re Fair Game: "Top Whoppers," October 5]: I find it concerning that attorney general candidate T.J. Donovan is following in the footsteps of his mentor, Bill Sorrell, when it comes to the money train and the appearance of potential influence on the political process. Worse yet is the potential impact in the judgment and independence of the Office of the Attorney General.
I was quite disappointed that ["Seeing Red? Once-Dem Franklin County Is a Political Battlefield," October 5] made no mention that I am also running for state representative as a Democrat in Swanton and Sheldon, against incumbents Marianna Gamache and Brian Savage.
I am a huge fan of the Seven Days Fair Game column: It is the first section I read every week as soon as I pick up a copy of the newspaper. But Terri Hallenbeck's lead piece "The Odd Couple" [September 21] seemed a bit unfair, and I felt compelled to write a response in support of David Zuckerman for lieutenant governor.
Hallenbeck's coverage of the candidates relied on a well-worn political trope of painting Zuckerman as nothing more than a banner-waver for the liberals and progressives. Not so! He is in touch with the needs of all of those in our state: working to pass legislation such as GMO labeling, same-sex marriage, raising the minimum wage and fixing a broken property tax system. All Vermonters have benefited from his tireless work ethic, and he particularly stands out as a champion of the working class and the dwindling middle class. Zuckerman is a real Vermonter — who works at a real job (organic farming) in addition to diligently serving his community in state politics for two decades.
As to his ability to "govern responsibly" should the need arise? He has the experience, the passion and the support of the people. And finally, Zuckerman should be proud to talk openly and often about the endorsement he has received from Sen. Bernie Sanders — another champion for the "rest of us."
What T.J. Stands For
Nice glowing article on State's Attorney T.J. Donovan ["'TV T.J.' Donovan," September 21], but after seeing the trigger-happy cops walk from shootings of Wayne Brunette (fewer than four minutes after arrival), Ken Stephens (a single-shot muzzleloader?), Phil Grenon (two kitchen knives holed up in his shower) and now Jesse Beshaw (a 29-year-old with a "suspicion of burglary" warrant), I think the "T.J." stands for "Totally Justified." The one shooting he does prosecute? Where a mental patient hits a cop in the head! Speaking of cops, where exactly are the 10 to 12 guns missing from the Colchester Police Department's evidence room that were stolen (along with who knows how much "contraband"?) by Tyler Kinney?
It keeps getting darker outside, and it's not just winter coming.
[Re "Leaf Keepers," October 5]: Warren Spinner is a great guy, mentor and leader. I had the pleasure of working for him and the tree department for five summers throughout my college years (I was the seasonal worker they couldn't get rid of). All together, it was a real eye-opening experience: I had the opportunity to learn how to climb trees, run a wood chipper, engage with residents, and inventory and plant trees throughout all of the neighborhoods in Burlington. I feel connected to Burlington in a way that most people cannot understand, having pruned trees on almost every street in the city. I imagine Spinner and other city employees feel that connection, too. They are the workings of the city and the people who make the parks what they are today.
[Re Off Message: "Burlington Mayor Wants Building Height Issue on November Ballot," September 28]: The Coalition for a Livable City, feeling the Bern and armed with a positive message of a Better Town Center, faces a true David-and-Diana-versus-Goliath battle to defeat the two November ballot items: the Don Sinex zoning amendment and $22 million project taxpayer TIF funds. Gratified that its actions nudged Mayor Miro Weinberger to bring the project zoning amendment before Burlington voters, the coalition now undertakes an uphill battle outmatched by the money of multimillionaire developer Sinex and some business beneficiaries, as well as Weinberger's political operation. Private interests hired a high-powered Montpelier lobbying firm helping to push the radical zoning changes. One expects continued closed-door campaigning for the Sinex ballot items.
Contrast this with the thousands of hours already contributed by ordinary Burlington residents who attended countless meetings, studied quietly and worked together for a Better Town Center. A Better Town Center means five to 10 stories — with bonuses over five stories awarded to, for example, increased affordable family and senior housing, lower parking provision, green space, and energy efficiencies.
The Coalition for a Livable City has followed the footsteps of its most famous mayor and started a GoFundMe fundraiser to raise small contributions. And yes, there may well be a bake sale or two! All to help us to realize what we all share: the desire for a human-scale, mixed-use mall redevelopment consistent with our consensus PlanBTV vision — an ageless development like Church Street itself that we can all be proud of!
Budbill Was Beloved
What a nice tribute to David Budbill ["Tribute Words," October 5]. His was truly a vibrant voice. I didn't know him well but had the privilege in 2012 to join him and a small group for pizza and beer in Montpelier following the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont's annual A Day Without, which features readings by literary Vermonters from books that have been banned over the years. He read from John Steinbeck's 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath. Budbill was my hero.
Virginia Lindauer Simmon