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Letters to the Editor (10/11/17)


Published October 11, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated October 12, 2017 at 10:15 a.m.

The Press and Pomerleau

In his September 27 Fair Game column, John Walters highlighted the Burlington Free Press' recent special section honoring Tony Pomerleau. Walters is so desperate for an opportunity to tear down the Free Press that he chooses to cast aspersions on one of our community's most generous citizens.

Yes, Pomerleau is a self-made man and, in the process, may very well leave future generations of his family financially comfortable, but he has also given millions to this community to help people in desperate need. Pomerleau has given to a diverse array of organizations and institutions, from health and human services to arts and culture.

So the crux of Walters' condescension is that the Free Press sold space in their publication so that people in our community could celebrate this altruistic man on his 100th birthday? How is what the Free Press did any different than Seven Days' annual Daysies awards? Before the final votes are cast, Daysies nominees pay for ads trying to sway readers' opinions, and, once the winners are announced, ads from victors in every category pop up all over the pages of that week's edition of Seven Days.

You're really going to disparage a centenarian who ensures that less fortunate children have a holiday party and that fireworks fill Burlington's skies on Independence Day just so you can stick it to the Freeps? I think you're just miffed that you didn't think of it first.

Tamira Martel


Park Versus Plaza

The new plan for Burlington City Hall Park confuses plazas with parks [Off Message: "Burlington Residents React to Latest City Hall Park Redesign," August 14]. A plaza is a paved space for flexible and dense public use such as weekly markets, buskers and theatrical productions. In Burlington, this is Church Street, which we could well expand as a pedestrian grid.

A city park is entirely different. Frederick Law Olmsted tells us that parks should improve the quality of urban life for all classes of people by counteracting the artificiality and stress of the built environment using natural pastoral elements. Jane Jacobs reminds us that small city parks easily reached on foot by seniors and toddlers have a special function. They serve seniors with game tables and conversational benches and toddlers with natural play elements.

Does the current proposal measure up? Sadly, it fails. Absent are the features the elderly need for repose and social engagement. They can't even be assured of restrooms. Spaces for running and climbing by small children are replaced with a granite spout-fountain — hard-edged and slippery. There are no changing rooms. Trees are sacrificed in favor of surveillance across an open vista, a concern better addressed with a permanent groundskeeper and bicycle police.

Finally, with retaining the soil-compacting farmers market and adding a café, restaurant terraces and a performance stage, the design is fundamentally commercial and an outside extension of Burlington City Arts. We arrive at a Disneyland of colored lights, squirting water, amplified music, and privatized eating and drinking spaces. Rip up the plan; start over. 

Charles Simpson


Maybe Moran?

I see that the Moran Plant is on the chopping block once more [Off Message: "No New Moran: Burlington Ends Old Plant Redevelopment Talks," September 1]. I offer an idea that's been on my mind for a very long time. The Benjamin Franklin house in Philadelphia is a very simple concept but with a very great impact. Using the same approach, a steel I-beam frame would outline the Moran Plant. It would have open space at ground level that could be used for events, markets and music. This idea keeps the majesty of this great piece of architecture while creating welcome public space underneath the shadow of the structure.

Sarah van Ryckevorsel


Medicare for All — Now

I am delighted that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has introduced a plan for national universal health care [Fair Game, September 13]. Vermont needs a backup plan just in case Bernie's bill doesn't succeed this year. We could show the nation how the compassionate and rational people of Vermont address the health care crisis.

As I understand it, the biggest impediment to Vermont's recent efforts was finding the tax dollars. Like many affluent Americans, I earn most of my income through capital gains. Unlike the pay received by workers, the tax on my stocks, real estate and other investments is only paid when I sell. In addition, the 20 percent federal tax rate on my earnings is well below the 39.6 percent rate I would have paid if the money were earned in wages.

We could change the Vermont tax code to capture this unfair and unnecessary gap in tax rates. We could collect the money that should have been collected by the feds and use it to transition to universal health care. Fixing the tax code that now disproportionately favors the wealthy could get Vermont much of the money it needs to move forward. 

I agree with Bernie that we are likely to find substantial savings by driving out the middlemen, greed and corruption. We can also save by funding prevention and wellness. Other countries spend half as much on a per capita basis while covering everyone.

Bernie's plan is great. We need a backup version for Vermont.

Judd Allen


Nothing Funny About Rape

Your article in the September 13 issue ["Stage Struck"] highlighting Adrienne Truscott's comedy act about rape describes the accolades she is receiving for presenting a new frontier in the world of comedy. I know that comedy has traditionally been about constantly pushing thresholds, and virtually no topic has been considered sacred. So why did I find her subject matter the epitome of distasteful?  

I can't even begin to imagine how someone who's been raped deals with this kind of show. And I certainly can't understand how anyone who isn't sociopathic, if subjected to witnessing even one rape — of a small child, an elderly person, someone with a disability, or anyone of any age or means — would ever be able to muster up so much as a chuckle, no matter how "funny" the comedian is supposed to be.  

Considering the centuries of suffering caused by rape, overwhelmingly of women, it seems to me that Truscott is selling her own kind down the river. How sad. Perhaps some topics in the world of comedy should remain sacred. 

Stephanie Calanthe Victoria


Critic of Critics

I hardly consider myself a movie buff, but I have come to look forward to the erudite assessments of current film fare written by Rick Kisonak and Margot Harrison (in large measure because I've given up learning anything from the Seven Days music section). So it was disturbing to peruse [September 20th's] two reviews and notice the former's increasing penchant for hyperbole [Movie Review: American Assassin 2] and the latter's uncharacteristic waffling (recalls a "Doonesbury" theme of yore?!) [Movie Review: Mother!]. I know it's a challenge expounding upon your distinct experience, but that's what piques our curiosity.

Doug Collette

South Burlington

Bigger Than Climate Change

[Re "Conquering Climate Change, One Business at a Time," September 20]: The Vermont Council on Rural Development's Climate Economy projects, including the Catalysts of the Climate Economy National Innovation Summit last month in Burlington and the just-launched Climate Economy Initiative in Middlebury, demonstrate such a cursory and shallow understanding of the climate crisis that these moneymaking responses to said crisis would be laughable if they weren't so darn tragic.

Climate change is not the problem so much as it is a symptom of a larger problem: an economy that relies on perpetual growth to sustain itself, fueled by exploitation of people and the planet. Either the passionate leaders at VCRD do not understand this basic science or they are too hamstrung by grant funds to rock the boat with meaningful programs that actually address the frank reality that our growth-driven economy is the cause of the climate crisis. 

I'm disappointed that reporter Terri Hallenbeck didn't challenge the smoke screen. VCRD's "new economy" is just the same old economy with a shiny new product. This hip branding betrays the very real tragedy that people are dying from climate change across South Asia, in Puerto Rico and in Houston, Texas.

VCRD and their peer nonprofit organizations, state legislators and grant funders are hereby welcome to join the struggle and help fix the real problem as soon as they all stop pushing this profiteering dope.

Jason Kaye


Kaye served on the Middlebury Energy Committee for a number of years, including two terms as its chair, from April 2015 to April 2017.

Unsung Hero

Unwittingly left out of the Nest story "Happy Together" about Bristol Village Cohousing [September 17] was the pivotal work of the landscape architect Katie Raycroft-Meyer. She has been involved with the project from the beginning, living across North Street from the infill project. She shepherded the project through the permit process; sited the buildings, pathways and parking lots; dealt with the complex issues of drainage by designing and helping to install several rain gardens; saved several existing trees from the hazards of construction; and designed patios, including one made from the vintage stones from the foundation of the fourplex that was deconstructed.

Many times, the work of the landscape architect is unappreciated, and we would like to thank Katie for all her work that helped make Bristol Village Cohousing a successful new community right in the middle of the village.

Peg Kamens and Jim Mendell


Kamens and Mendell are members of Bristol Village Cohousing.