Whose Billboard Law?
[Re WTF: "Do Mobile Advertisements Violate Vermont's Ban on Billboards?" August 18]: My mother-in-law, Frances Bailey Pelkey, was the legislator who proposed Vermont's billboard law. She was returning from a trip from Plattsburgh, N.Y., to Highgate and was overwhelmed by the sights along the highway and byways, thinking how advertisements were obscuring the beauty that is New England.
The advertising on vans is the same ilk as the big, gaudy signs that overwhelmed my mother-in-law. Please keep Vermont pristine by keeping all advertising off the roadways.
Editor’s note: A number of former legislators have tried to take credit for Vermont’s billboard law, Point taken about the mobile advertisements, but the glory for introducing Vermont's billboard law goes to the late representative Theodore M. Riehle Jr., according to state archivist Tanya Marshall. He introduced the bill, H.450, in 1968, and it eventually passed. The law is an Act to Provide Services for Tourists to Regulate Outdoor Advertising. Seven Days profiled Riehle in 1997, in "The Life of Riehle"; noted his 2008 death with a blog post, "Billboard-Free"; and, most recently, acknowledged his lasting contribution to the Vermont landscape in a January 27, 2021, story related to our Good Citizen Challenge.
[Re Off Message: "Assessment of Burlington Police Finds Serious Deficiencies, Supports Smaller Force," September 15]: Seven Days' coverage of the assessment of police operations in Burlington has fallen short of its usual standard of impartiality and accuracy. In its September 15 story, we are told in the lead paragraph that the draft report (leaked to the reporter) "found that the department needs between 76 and 83 sworn officers — suggesting that the city council's controversial decision to cut the force to 74 cops last summer wasn't far off target."
This conclusion is based on erroneously comparing apples and oranges, thereby compounding the confusion that has plagued this discussion. The council number of 74 is the "maximum" number of officers. The final CNA report recommended 81 to 88 "Total officers with Burlington International Airport," which adjusts for the need to have a higher total head count to cover staffing shortfalls created by officer attrition and is meaningfully higher than the council-imposed cap of 74.
The October 1 story titled "Consultant Changes Burlington Police Assessment After Requests From Mayor, Chief" seems designed to foster distrust of the process and the final report. The story is simply wrong in its assertion that consultants made changes to their staffing recommendation. If we subtract from the 81 to 88 recommended total, the five officer positions needed to cover shortfalls due to attrition, we get a range of 76 to 83 — exactly the same numbers in the draft report.
In future coverage, I hope that Seven Days will take more care in covering this important issue.
Knodell is a former Burlington city councilor.
I am sorry to hear about the racist meme that was sent to the student at Bellows Free Academy-St. Albans [Off Message: "St. Albans Family Frustrated After School Investigation Into Racist Meme Sputters," October 4]. I am glad that she spoke up, and I hope her family receives some answers.
I am not sure if this is a reassurance to the child's parents or not, but the ineffectiveness of BFA's handling of this situation is not because of the girl's race. Based on my family's experience, bullying of all kinds is not handled well at that school. I am very concerned that most schools are heading in that same direction.
Schools are getting larger, social media has taken a strong hold of our children, and violence is more prevalent. Despite our nation's efforts to divide us by pointing out our flaws and differences, we need to make sure we don't neglect the things that can keep our kids safer in school and moving forward in unity.
We need more counselors and mental health advisers in every school (who are actually available when needed). We need a student resource officer in every school for protection. We need classes about the hidden dangers within social media. Perhaps we need a specialist in the schools who monitors student behavior, looks into social media of students (when necessary) and watches for signals of students who need some crisis intervention.
As a pipeline owner in northern Minnesota, I am surprised that Beverly Little Thunder of the Lakota of North Dakota came to Vermont to show our activists what to protest [Off Message: "Marchers in Burlington Protest Pipeline Expansion in Midwest," September 24].
Pipeline company Enbridge abides by the "road less taken" to safely lay a pipeline that avoids environmental and cultural paths. Lakes, wild rice and sacred sites are abundant in Minnesota and are given due respect. The land and water remain usable for recreation and agriculture. Deer and other wildlife love our pipeline field.
Pipelines are marked and constantly monitored. Property owners are informed of all options and changes. The old line will be capped or removed. No major watershed or aquifer is being threatened by the replacement line. Pipelines prevent incinerations, which have been caused by rail or truck fuel transport.
The Ojibwe people can make "an affordable living" all the way to the casinos ... as the Treaty of 1855 ensures.
Fair Game Plan
You asked how to find someone to do the nearly impossible job of writing the Fair Game column [From the Publisher: "The Write Stuff," September 29]. My advice: Don't.
I think you should cede that weekly analysis to VTDigger.org, which has a much deeper bench to draw upon. Instead, create a weekly column on a range of issues, with rotating authors from across Vermont. This would give you a great opportunity to lift up a wider range of diverse voices.
Pass With Care
I am pleased to see a research-based article on e-bikes [WTF: "Do E-Bikes Pose More Risks Than Conventional Bikes?" October 13]. I've noticed a greater number on the bike path this summer. And, having cycled recreationally for more than 50 years, I happily endorse e-bikes, as they extend our ability to exercise and recreate.
What's more critical for all users is that the wheeled — cyclists, skaters, e-bikers — give notice when passing pedestrians. Walkers, strollers and dog handlers need to know when we are being passed. "On your left," "On your right," "Behind you," "Passing you." The bike path is a crowded, multiuse trail that calls for safety measures, lest anyone be surprised or hurt. I'm promoting a culture of civic courtesy and safety signaling, which is not widespread at the moment.