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Letters to the Editor (10/25/17)

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Tech Troubles

Forgive me for being skeptical of Seven Days' cheerleading of the tech industry [Tech Issue, October 18]. I just moved here from the San Francisco Bay Area, and I saw firsthand the economic devastation it has wrought there. The Bay Area has become unaffordable for countless people — and the tech industry, with its flood of quick money and its army of fawning politicians, is a big part of the reason.

When tech employees move into a neighborhood, rents go up to accommodate what they can afford. Tech companies negotiate tax breaks with local governments to build in lower-income neighborhoods, and property values and rents go up. San Francisco and Oakland are becoming much whiter and less diverse, as the interconnectedness of class and race inequality means that the people leaving are much darker skinned than the people moving in. And that's not even getting into the often-toxic internal culture of the tech industry.

Yes, there is much good that computers can do for our lives, but we have to control the tech industry and not allow it to control us. We have to demand that these companies commit to workers' rights including unions, living wages, full benefits and greater diversity. And we need to tax the tech industry in order to fund more rent control and affordable housing. Otherwise, we will pay the same price for letting the tech industry run wild that the Bay Area has paid — a lot of us won't be able to afford to live here anymore.

David Wilcox

Burlington

Not So EV?

I read "Electrical Surge" [October 18] with interest but found no mention of two issues that have been on my mind for a while. First, as the number of EVs increases, we will use more electricity. Right now we seem to have enough, but if more is needed (with the necessary transmission lines), where will we get it?

Second, EVs don't use gasoline. Gasoline taxes are the major funding source for highway infrastructure maintenance. Fewer gas-powered vehicles mean less revenue. Should there be a tax on electricity used to power EVs to offset this? If so, how will it be collected? Public charging stations are easy; software can calculate the tax. But home charging is harder. An ID chip in the car? A chip in the charger? Maybe an annual assessment at inspection time based on mileage? It's great not to burn fossil fuels on the road, but EV users still use the roads and need to pay their share of the maintenance.

Michael Fullerton

Calais

Rooted in Tradition

Thank you for writing "Land Practice" [October 4], but some local collaborators and aligned groups were inaccurately described or not mentioned. For seven years — three under the title "Teva Girls" — Roots and Trails has offered workshops, camps, retreats, wilderness trips, ritual support and Shabbatons to multi-age and -gender faith groups, empowering people to reconnect with Earth, each other and divinity. While grounded in Earth-based Judaism and with humbling acknowledgment of operating on stolen First Nation land, Roots and Trails weaves nature awareness with Jewish mystical practices. Founder Kohenet Yepeth Perla facilitates programs through spacious time in nature, meditation, creative prayer, Divine Feminine honoring and oral-written Torah investigation. Roots and Trails empowers participants to reconnect with their wholeness as planetary members in service to the world.

Another aligned Vermont organization is Burning Bush Adventures, founded and facilitated by former Outward Bound instructor Rabbi Howard Cohen. Burning Bush Adventures has guided canoe, cross-country skiing, camping and dogsled trips offering close encounters with God and Judaism, involving Torah and liturgical study, prayer, song, meditation and Shabbat celebration since 1990.

It is worth noting that as Earth endures the Sixth Great Extinction, Judaism has evolved beyond synagogue walls to its foundation as an Earth-tending tradition. While synagogues continue to serve as an axle, in understanding our tradition through the lens of being nested within concentric circles, future generations inherit a relevant tradition.

Jessica Rubin

Essex Junction

Rubin is a cofounder of Living Tree Alliance.

Done With Weinberger

[Re "Down to the Wire: Accusations Fly in Burlington Telecom Negotiations," September 26]: I volunteered on Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger's initial campaign and was seduced by the promise of a "Fresh Start" in Burlington and a commitment to transparent, democratic, community-oriented government. 

Instead, we've gotten a lack of community involvement with Burlington Telecom — and, frankly, most of the projects under Weinberger — an unwillingness to bring transparency and civilian oversight to our police department, and big-city money in our small political town. To invest $10,000 for a city council race, and $120,000 for a mayoral race, is out of the reach of the vast majority of Burlington residents.

Not long ago, the mayor called others and myself, a preschool teacher in the Old North End, reactionary for opposing what we saw as significant flaws in the mall project proposal, including a separate entrance for low-income residents! 

Let me ask you: What is more reactionary than a cloistered group of wealthy men and business interests working together to ensure that the city fits their interests first and benefits them first, as opposed to working families and children in poverty? Both the Burlington Business Association and the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce just happen to support the mayor's telecom choices.

Knowing this, is it a coincidence the mayor won't support a higher minimum wage and paid family and medical leave, a strengthening of the livable wage ordinance?

It turns out a "Fresh Start" meant "The Same Old Story."

It's time for Miro to go. 

Charles Winkleman


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