"A Man of Letters" [December 15] was an impressive piece of journalism in so many ways! Tim Brookes' work calling attention to endangered alphabets was fascinating and inspiring. Author Ken Picard can turn a phrase as skillfully as Brookes himself can. And reading a thoroughly researched and well-written, long-form profile was a treat in itself.
I remember Tim Brookes' writing from the 1980s, when I lived in northern Vermont and devoured every issue of the Vanguard Press. It was a special treat to happen upon this article while visiting White River Junction. Thanks for keeping great journalism alive.
Emily Harrison Weir
[Re Feedback: "Ode to the F-35: The Grinch That Stole Vermont," December 22]:
The Grinch that stole Christmas
Is not the damn plane,
But St. Patrick, that snagged it
For political gain.
Best not to expect
Those we ask for protection
To be the same people
That bring the infection.
The December 29 "Backstories, Sidebars and Follow-Ups" article series is always an enjoyable flashback on the work behind your reporting. The same cannot be said regarding the feedback given to your reporter Kevin McCallum in "Backstory: Nastiest Blowback." The sampling provided, describing the disdain given to him for his experience in an indoor shooting range, is both callous and inflammatory.
Assault rifles like the AR-15 should be banned. It shouldn't even be a matter of discussion that this weapon is called an "assault rifle." The only reason this gun exists is to mow down people, just as slaughterhouses exist so that cows and other farm animals can be butchered for human consumption. Its only "permissible" use should be in warfare by the military, not by the general public.
People using intimidation against a reporter for political aims fall under the definition of "terrorists." As such, these terrorists should be treated, prosecuted and jailed for making insidious threats against the freedom of the press and free speech. They are a threat and will not hesitate to use guns to quell dissent.
Plan v. Action
Having recently finished your year-in-review issue, I noted that you wrote: "The UVM Medical Center released an action plan documenting how it expected to reduce wait times" ["Backstories, Sidebars and Follow-Ups: Best Crowdsourcing Effort," December 29]. After a diagnostic scan in mid-December, my primary care physician felt it wise to refer me to a specialist at the UVM Medical Center, alerting me that it might be a couple of months. The "couple of months" turned out to be six — until June 30 at 8:40 a.m., to be exact.
Hmmm, clearly there is a distinct difference between a plan and action.
I had to choke back a tear as I read the "Mail Fail?" letter to the editor [Feedback, December 22]. Understaffed, of course — just like everyone has been in the COVID-19 pandemic — but then the not-so-subtle jab: "Complaints seem to fall on deaf ears, but with the way the federal government is being run right now, I guess it's not really surprising."
"Run right now"? Seriously?
One thing came to mind: Louis DeJoy, appointed by ... what was his name? The guy who did nothing and continues to lie about COVID-19, who then appointed the new post office czar. It's Christmas, and I will be singing "No joy" and thank you ... to that other guy.
In Shelburne, we had some delivery problems for a bit but rallied around our hardworking posties.
[Re "Mad at Meetings," December 22]: I believe that abuse, insults and combative language hurled at our Burlington city councilors or at fellow citizens are destructive to our social fabric and make our city less livable; furthermore, such behavior does not contribute to progress on issues about which citizens and councilors care deeply. Respectful disagreement is part of civil discourse; rudeness and abuse are hurtful to all and do not have a positive role in democracy or civil society. Feelings of anger or pain can be expressed without insult or abuse to others.
That said, I do understand the frustration that comes from presenting one's concerns or questions at a meeting and not receiving a response — ever. So I make the following suggestions:
1. Start meetings with a meditation or several moments of silence.
2. Institute a limited time period of up to an hour before or during the meeting when citizens can bring a concern to the council and a council member can provide a brief answer or designate a councilor to follow up with that person or organization.
3. Allow councilors the space to call out abusive, disrespectful language and ask the citizen to rephrase their comments in a civil manner.
4. Employ experts in conflict resolution to intervene in disruptive events, to restore civility.
Let's start the New Year with respect and civility at our city council meetings.
[Re Off Message: "School Administrators Failed to Stop Racial Harassment of Black Student, Complaint Says," December 21]: The principal of Twin Valley Middle High School, Anna Roth, said the Nazi salute was "just something the kids did here"! She told that to the mother of the only Black child in the school, who was being bullied and given the Nazi salute in the hall. Superintendent Barbara Anne Komons-Montroll supported her.
Educators, I implore you: Take a deep breath. Feel your own heart. How it longs for kindness, compassion and love. You must. You are in charge of the next generation. Talk to them. They need kindness, compassion and love, too. They want to be heard. You must teach tolerance. Please rise to the occasion or else step down. I can't afford to pay taxes for educators who make remarks that perpetuate hate. You are as guilty as those bullies if you do nothing.
How would you react if you were the mother of that Black child, if you walked in that child's shoes for a week in your school? You are the mothers of all children in your schools. Young minds are at stake. Close that door of hate. I am afraid for minorities.
I am a former teacher, school psychologist, mediator and interfaith minister. I see the light in the eyes of all peoples. And I can see it in your eyes. The ball has been pitched to you. Now it is time to swing.