Letter Writer Wrong
[Re Feedback, "Enemy Lines," September 7]: As was stated in the correction to the original article ["Brothers' Keeper," August 31], the drug that killed my two sons, Dennis and Sean Thibault, was pure fentanyl, not a "heroin-fentanyl" mix. Dealing pure fentanyl to anyone is a death sentence, and I hope to clarify that one important fact here.
Not So Fast
As a current Lyndon State College student, I'd like to point out that the students have brought up many concerns to Vermont State Colleges chancellor Jeb Spaulding, especially at a meeting before the one mentioned in ["Shotgun Marriage? Johnson and Lyndon State Colleges Rush to the Altar," September 14]. It's clear based on this article that Spaulding is not interested in what the students think.
Jay Shafer is on point: Spaulding has made up his mind and is barreling through with the proposal, even though there are numerous questions — including financial and financial-aid ones — that have not been answered. He is simply going too fast with this, and it's going to hurt both colleges if he and the board of trustees don't slow down and take a more measured look.
I loved Rachel Elizabeth Jones' article about Grand Point North 2016 ["Moved by the Spirit," September 14]. Am I the only one who enjoyed the pun of Rock Dunder and the great rock and roll by the lake where folks were rocked under by the bands?
Believe What You Want
["UVM Prof: Bias Response Team Threatens Free Speech on Campus," September 14] states: "Under the current procedure at UVM, reports can be made against someone who exhibits bias." Among the proscribed "behaviors" is a demonstrated bias against religion. Does this mean that atheists or agnostics may not be critical of religious beliefs? Would membership in organizations such as Americans United for the Separation of Church and State or the Freedom From Religion Foundation discourage students from expressing their opinions about religion for fear of being reprimanded by the university? Would Richard Dawkins not be allowed to speak at UVM? Perhaps Thomas Jefferson would be called before the Bias Response Team for his "biased opinions" such as "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" or "Question with boldness even the existence of a god." Are these "hostile" or "derogatory" remarks about religious beliefs? Just wondering.
Thanassi is a UVM professor emeritus.
The August 31 WTF ["Why Is a Hollywood Actor Representing Garcia's Tobacco Shop?"] referred to Samuel de Champlain's "discovery" of his eponymous lake. As coauthor of Columbus and the Age of Discovery and witness to the pro- and anti-Eurocentric controversies that attended the quincentennial of the Old World's ongoing encounter with the New, I have long opposed those politically correct apostrophes.
The land masses of the western hemisphere — and Lake Champlain — were indeed discovered, in the sense that the Europeans who first encountered them had had no prior idea of their existence. As the heirs and, like it or not, the beneficiaries of those encounters, we are well entitled to refer to them as apostrophe-free discoveries.
As an illustrative aside: If you come upon a restaurant with which you had not been previously acquainted, no one will take you to task if you say you discovered it. We all know it was there before you came along, and that it already had a clientele.
Listen Up, Mayor
[Re Off Message: "Artwork Mocks Burlington City Officials for 'Drinking the Kool-Aid,'" September 16]: It's interesting that in the city's push for art as an active part of Burlington life, it only wants generic art, not politically engaged art, or provocative climate change art, or... I wonder if this is because art is supposed to be tame and in museums, adding only to the economy rather than creating active civic engagement.
More disturbing is Mayor Miro Weinberger's desire and belief for having a strong democratic debate, but when given a chance, the opposite happens. In two recent public forums (a neighborhood planning assembly and a neighborhood bagel meeting), the mayor asked for community questions, then proceeded to lecture for one and a half hours. Most community-minded leaders, such as some of our city councilors, actually try to listen to their constituents.
While the mayor may be personable and have many supporters in this city, he has a hard time grasping that he is in office to support everyone, whether he likes them or not. He is in the unique position of needing to represent all the interests of the city, and that includes the alternative voices, as well. Not everyone believes Burlington's future lies with building mega-blocks that don't conform to our zoning and PlanBTV. The misrepresentation of projects, their fast-track process and expansion of scope is a function of the city, not the artists.
Indeed, alternative voices always get rowdy when they aren't being heard — this is lesson No. 1 in community building. The talent behind the voices could benefit the city — if anyone listened.
What a sad world we live in when we can't open a local paper during an election year without being exposed to numerous misleading and shallow comments about our dedicated politicians. David Zuckerman is much more than "a gregarious, ponytailed farmer who champions liberal causes" [Fair Game: "The Odd Couple," September 21]. Zuckerman is an experienced legislator of 19 years who has served in both the House and the Senate. As chair of the House Agriculture Committee for four years, he demonstrated his ability to work across party lines and welcome different perspectives to the debate. He is a small-business owner and a working Vermonter who can relate to the challenges facing many Vermont families.
I would argue that Zuckerman has been a leader of issues supported by the majority of Vermonters, not a "cheerleader for leftist causes." They are everyone's causes. The Center for Food Safety reported that "over 90 percent of Americans and Vermonters want to see genetically engineered foods labeled." Supporting a raise in the minimum wage is not a leftist cause. Zuckerman has worked with a variety of local and community groups to help them advance legislation.
We need a leader like Zuckerman who is addressing the climate crisis head-on, requiring a background check for every gun purchase, and has a consistent history of advocating for working Vermonters and families.
Any Vermonter who is paying attention should see that there is only one candidate for lieutenant governor who will represent their needs in Montpelier.
Farm or Frat?
I almost spit out my soup reading the "Textbook to Table" feature [September 21]. I find it highly ironic that Rob Rock of Pitchfork Farm would disavow labor abuse and claim that "working here is a lot like a summer camp," considering I spent two seasons there feeling like I was being hazed in a fraternity. I can name a handful of other farms at the Intervale alone with better management practices, and at least a dozen in and around Chittenden County. We are lucky in Vermont to have a vibrant and relatively diverse community of hardworking farms and farmers. Unfortunately, not all of these small organic farms have strong and supportive leadership. As we are a small state, you probably know someone working in the local food system. Ask your friends and acquaintances; I implore readers and consumers to support the local farms where employees are treated with respect.
In Defense of Labeling
I am responding to Laura Hill's letter [Feedback: "GMO Whoa," August 31], which denounced the money Vermont spent defending its GMO labeling law. Vermont's law raised awareness and challenged the cozy relationship between our federal government and the biotech industry. The federal law will take two years to implement and reveals the presence of GMO ingredients through QR bar codes, which is not a clear way to inform consumers.
Hill defends genetic modification of food with science that indicates no significant human health threats. However, there has been virtually no independent testing of GMO foods. Biotech companies are generating the science. She says that gene transfer among unrelated organisms is a natural process. Adding genes to plants to make them herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) or to contain the BT pesticide is not a natural process, which encompasses the vast majority of GMO plants.
I challenge Hill's statement about uniting different forms of agriculture to feed the world. Coexistence is a fallacy. GMO crops are contaminating non-GMO crops. The assumption that we need GMOs to feed the world is industry propaganda. We have enough food to feed the world. It's the uneven distribution of food and wealth that is the problem.
She laments Lake Champlain's water quality issues, which have been exacerbated by runoff from large dairy farms that are growing GMO crops and using herbicides. Chemical use has increased in Vermont since the advent of GMO crops. The lake would be cleaner if all our dairy farms in Vermont were organic.
Phil Scott's health care program scares me [Off Message: "At Health Care Rollout, Scott Leaves Key Questions Unanswered," September 7].
As a Medicaid beneficiary and taxpayer, I wonder what Scott's opaque comment on Medicaid — "reducing Medicaid's administrative costs" — is concealing under the hood. Does this mean throwing as many Vermonters off of Medicaid as he can get away with to create less of a need for "administrative costs"? Or does he want to privatize Medicaid? This has worked wonders in places like Kansas where its Tea Party governor, Sam Brownback, has privatized Medicaid and the federal government is investigating it for long waits and reduced care. Does Scott want to duplicate this?
Scott's reticence on the subsidy issue or his nonchalant remarks on universal primary care — "I think it sounds expensive" — tells me what he values more than Vermonters' access to health care. Universal primary care would save lives and money by allowing all Vermont residents access to primary care without deductibles and other roadblocks standing in the way. The subsidies are the only way many Vermonters can afford this crazy Unaffordable Care Act. No matter what Scott does with Vermont Health Connect, eliminating these subsidies would send more Vermonters into the uninsured ranks. Is this what Scott really wants to do?
Scott's health care plan is scary as much for what it says as for what it does not say, and I am voting for Sue Minter.
Hop and Stop
SEABA did an excellent job with the South End Art Hop again this year ["What's Hoppening?" September 7]. It's something that I look forward to at the end of every summer! I was very pleased to learn that Pine Street was to be closed this year during the busiest hours on Friday night. The safety of people in that busy corridor has always been a concern of mine, and I was glad to see that major steps had been taken.
However, the transition at 10 p.m. from pedestrians to cars left something to be desired. My partner and I were yelled at by SEABA staff/volunteers for trying to ride our bikes in the northbound lane after 10 p.m. When I tried to explain that by law bikers can use the full lane since there is no bike lane, she told us to get onto the sidewalk, and also, "We got Pine Street closed as a gift to you guys. Don't let them take it away."
A few things wrong with this:1. Closing Pine Street was not a "gift." It was a long-overdue obligation of the city to keep its citizens safe. Thank goodness for proactivity — finally.2. SEABA should not be forced to police the road — this is the job of the city, especially when it makes the call to shut down the road.
This is a really important event each year that draws in so many people. I want to make sure that it continues to be successful!