Don't Lock Them Up
[Re Off Message: "Scott Administration Calls for a 925-Bed Prison Campus," January 15]: In regard to the governor's plan to build a new private prison in Vermont: Wouldn't it make more sense to revise the laws that lead to the incarceration of so many nonviolent offenders and necessitate out-of-state beds or new private prisons? The lifelong consequences and stigma that result from imprisonment are undeniable, regardless of any rehab that may occur during the prison sentence — never mind the expense to house prisoners. I believe it's time to consider a different way to address nonviolent crimes here in Vermont, allowing a reduction in the need for either out-of-state beds or new in-state private prisons.
Keindl is a psychiatric RN.
Cruelty to Coyotes
It was good to see Molly Walsh's article [Off Message: "One Controversial Coyote Hunt Is Canceled, and Another Crops Up," January 11] in Seven Days.
Until you look under the rug, you would not know there is anything wrong or unjustified going on in our own backyards. Coyote "hunters" don't advertise it, and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department turns its head. Coyote hunting is legalized animal cruelty because there are no regulations regarding this practice. Once you start really looking at what is going on, you can't turn back and pretend this is not happening.
In the past few months, I have witnessed what is truly going on. Some people hate coyotes to the point where they take pride in being cruel to them: trapping, beating, sending out packs of radio-collared dogs to chase the animals to exhaustion, stacking them in dead piles — even a photo of a man holding up a dead coyote pup, looking proud of his action.
I am thankful for groups such as Protect Our Wildlife for bringing these topics to the forefront, where they should be, so people can really see what is going on in our woods. Coyote hunters and trappers make it out to be such a wholesome tradition. It's anything but. Coyote contests only enable this behavior. Put regulations on coyote hunting, and say no to killing contests.
Housing at Any Cost?
By a 9-3 margin, the Burlington City Council recently did business with local landlord Rick Bove Jr. [Emoji That: "Closed for Good," December 13]. It seems that the 70 housing code violations that the Boves amassed over the past few years did not factor into the minds of our elected leaders. As our city continues to grow, now is the time to create more protections for our most vulnerable neighbors, to ensure that landlords like Bove are held responsible for their actions.
In the last several years, one of the Boves' 16 properties fell into such disrepair that it was condemned by the city. In 2013, the city even held the Bove's Café liquor license hostage so that the Boves would pay and fix the violations ["Burlington Holds Liquor Licenses Hostage to Get Compliance on Code Violations and Taxes," July 10, 2013].
Rick Bove's response? "You can write whatever you like. It doesn't much matter to me" ["Fix It, Man," August 21, 2013]. Clearly, it also doesn't matter to him what terrible conditions his tenants live in.
Several city councilors have argued that the ends (more housing in the city) justify the means — encouraging slumlords to develop and own more property in Burlington. One would think our elected officials should be doing everything in their power to discourage such behavior and recognize that positive ends rarely justify destructive means.
Why are landlords allowed to have outstanding fines for so long? Why hasn't the city council enacted and funded more vigorous protections and enforcement? And what are they now going to do to start addressing a long-ignored problem?
A Case for Cams
Good one about Wayne Brunette's execution by Cpl. Ethan Thibault and Thibault's subsequent troubles ["After Police Shootings, Vermont Cops Are Slow to Provide Statements," January 10]. The biggest standout for me? The Glock evidence picture showing not just hollow-point bullets, which are outlawed by the Geneva Conventions, but jagged-edged "rip-and-tear" claw types designed to inflict maximum organ damage. Why are these allowed?
The St. Albans shooting seems more justified, as police confronted an armed suspect who'd fired several rounds before the confrontation. The two officers fired one round and stopped shooting when the suspect went down. But if we must give a statement immediately after an incident, so must they, with or without counsel present. Body and dash cams now for all police, all the time, period.
The advice in the second part of [Ask Athena: "Looking for Sex, Looking for Love," January 17] is ill-informed and risks violence to the LGTBQ+ community.
The Pride Center of Vermont is a safe space for the LGTBQ community; it is not a place for people to be "admired" or fetishized, as it appears this letter writer is doing. This advice, given after Seven Days reported on the remarks of former Burlington Free Press editor Denis Finley, as well as on an undercover video targeting transgender folks at the Pride Center, feels especially tone-deaf.
In addition, this is a missed opportunity to educate your column readers about language; transsexual is an adjective, not a noun. There are too many people who only view transgender people as sex objects — nothing more or less. Trans women are women, and women are not sexual objects. However, it's hard to tell if Seven Days understands this concept, because in the same issue was Edie Everette's parody of the #MeToo movement — a disrespectful gesture toward a vulnerable community. I expect more from my media, not just the absence of hate speech in your editor's tweets.
Editor's note: Athena suggested that a person who expressed confusion about their gender identity and seemed to be looking for community consider the Pride Center for its resources and support groups. We regret the column's unintended implication that an "admirer" should seek out the center for any other reason.