What Leahy Has Done
Election-year process stories have their place, but ["Forty-Two Years a Senator," October 12] didn't explain what Sen. Patrick Leahy has done for Vermont with all his experience and clout. The list includes his crucial role in securing Tropical Storm Irene recovery investments; funding for Lake Champlain cleanup and research; championing clean air and water; and action on climate change. His award-winning Vermont Village Revitalization Initiative has preserved and renovated historic buildings in 25 Vermont communities.
Leahy has turned countless Vermont-made ideas into national success stories. He wrote the national organic program that has spurred the phenomenal growth of that $43 billion sector. He championed the Vermont-style farm-to-school model. His Bulletproof Vests Partnership protects first responders. Leahy's National Cancer Registry is part of the drive to conquer cancer. His Vermont hearings on heroin and opioid addiction have illuminated models from which other communities are learning. Creating Vermont's Rural Economic Area Partnership Program (REAP Zone) — Vermont is one of only three states that have them — has contributed $200 million in infrastructure investments to Vermont and the Northeast Kingdom.
So much of his work has been on behalf of the least fortunate everywhere, most of whom will never contribute to his campaign or know how he is making their lives better. The Leahy Law has become the most important tool in the U.S. human rights toolbox. The Leahy War Victims Fund helps innocent victims of war across the globe. The senator was the unwavering catalyst in normalizing relations with Cuba.
Leahy is leading the drive to restore the Voting Rights Act. He steered a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. He methodically builds bipartisan coalitions to get things done — like his bills to protect internet privacy, strengthen the Violence Against Women Act and modernize U.S. patent laws.
Carle is communications director for Sen. Patrick Leahy.
Rokeby Wrong on BLM
I was astonished to read that Jane Williamson, executive director of Ferrisburgh's Rokeby Museum, posted several Black Lives Matter signs in front of the museum [Off Message: "Since May, 10 Black Lives Matter Signs Stolen From Rokeby Museum," October 3]. She may intend to simply raise awareness of clear and compelling grievances, but BLM protests across the country have been disruptive and violent. In Dallas, a gunman with a vendetta against white cops murdered five and injured several other on-duty officers. In Oakland, BLM protesters vandalized a police station, stopped traffic on an interstate and lit a bonfire on the freeway. They shut down a Sen. Bernie Sanders speech and intimidated former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley.
In contrast, the Rokeby property, farmed since 1792 by generations of peace-loving abolitionist Quakers, is a testament to the best of our country's traditions, even providing stops on the Underground Railroad.
This is why it is so difficult for me to understand Williamson's affinity for BLM. BLM protests represent the antithesis of the Quaker-Rokeby tradition.
One hundred years ago, Booker T. Washington may have been addressing what could be BLM's real objective: "There is a class of race problem solvers who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public ... Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances because they do not want to lose their jobs ... They don't want the patient to get well."
I hope the Rokeby Museum reconsiders its support of BLM.
Court is president of the Booker T. Washington Society.
Vote Him Out
I appreciate that Seven Days is bringing to light the unacceptable behavior of Burlington School Board member David Kirk [Off Message: "Parent: Burlington School Board Member's Facebook Page 'Spews Forth Hatred,'" October 18; "School Board Member David Kirk Apologizes for Facebook Posts," October 19; "Obeng Blasts Board Member for 'Sexist, Racist' Facebook Posts," October 21]. It is never OK for a person with that type of authority to degrade and undermine the diversity that makes the Burlington School District great.
The most concerning posts for me — someone who has worked with refugee students in the Burlington public schools — are the ones related to racism. This is not the type of person who has any business weighing in on decisions relating to the well-being of our community's children. Like all children, they deserve to have board members who support learning and growth, not who spew intolerance. I've lived in Burlington for more than 10 years, and David Kirk does not represent this vibrant and intelligent community.
Voting in local elections can keep people like this out of office and allow Vermont to continue to be one of the top states for child well-being.
Donovan Has Vision
[Re Off Message: "Donovan, Bucknam Face Off at First Attorney General Debate," September 8; "TV T.J.," September 21]: I have known Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan for more than a decade. He's the most qualified candidate to be our next attorney general, and I trust him with our tax dollars. He implemented the Rapid Intervention Community Court, an award-winning criminal justice program available to nonviolent offenders whose crimes have been driven by addiction or mental illness. Having been a victim of a crime carried out by a person with a severe addiction to heroin, I got to see firsthand how that program functioned.
The victims advocate from Donovan's office worked closely with me so that my voice was heard; they kept me informed as to what was happening with the prosecution of the person who victimized me; and they asked for my opinion as to whether or not I would agree to having the perpetrator participate in the RICC program. I agreed. I supported his efforts to attend a drug rehabilitation program rather than go to prison — a much better use of our taxpayer dollars.
I know that Donovan will bring that same vision and creativity to the Vermont Attorney General's Office. He has a proven record for it. His opponent does not have anywhere near that experience.