I was reading "Building a Workforce" [October 12] when I noted the images on the cover of your magazine. What stood out for me was that the one and only clearly female image has on a hard hat and tool belt, but she appears to be poised more for a fashion runway than a construction jobsite.
What a missed opportunity to have portrayed a young woman standing strong and tall in the male-dominated world of construction.
Thanks for all that you do!
Look at 'Housing Allocation'
[Re "Building a Workforce," October 12]: Naomi Klein wrote This Changes Everything, and by "this," she meant climate change. I don't expect the entire article about our depleted blue-collar labor force to be about climate change, but not to mention it is kind of odd.
In my opinion, the No. 1 obstacle to carbon emission reduction is a lack of a climate change workforce. The new green revolution will require a lot of specialized tradespeople who are currently in short supply: solar installers who are licensed electricians, as well as building weatherization and HVAC experts.
Most of those people are employed in jobs that increase the amount of carbon emissions by building large second homes for wealthy people. They are the ones who can afford it. Even a net-zero home that is built for one family has a huge carbon footprint that will take years to offset in energy savings — years we don't have at this point.
I wonder what Vermont's housing stock per capita is? Or average occupancy or size of homes? What is the average life span of a residential home? The New York Times points out that the size of houses has almost doubled and the number of people living in a house has decreased by half in the past 70 years.
Respectfully, I know it is complicated, but maybe we have a housing allocation problem more than a shortage.
'Passed Over' for a Reason?
As a former military officer, I took the time to read "Right Flank" [October 12] on Gerald Malloy, out of curiosity. Having heard his interviews and listened to debates, I knew that he was not anyone I would ever support. His far-right agenda and support for Donald Trump, who advocates for the overthrow of our democratic country, are appalling. It is antithetical to the core beliefs of a democratic society. His actions are unbecoming of an officer.
But what I found most striking is that, after 22 years, he retired as a major. In today's Army, a qualified officer, especially a graduate of West Point, should be promoted to lieutenant colonel after 15 to 16 years — then colonel by 20 years. The graduates of West Point are supposed to be our best officers, our generals and leaders. His superior officers must have felt he was not qualified to be a leader in the Army and denied him the rank of lieutenant colonel.
"Passed over" is the military term. Malloy is as unfit to be a U.S. senator as he seems to have been a leader in the Army. Unfortunately, he is representative of the Republican Party, which doesn't have the same standards as the Army, so it is filled with unqualified misfits.
Besides the existence of aliens being beyond belief unless you're on crack, it's also beyond belief that Seven Days devoted a cover story to writing at great length and detail about Vermont being known for its sightings of unidentified flying objects ["UFOMG: From Flying Saucers to Starlink, Vermont Has a Long History of Strange Things in the Sky," October 5]. It's even more hideous to hear the alien beliefs of U.S. Rep. Peter Welch and the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium's Mark Breen, among others — including a Vermont state trooper and a medical examiner.
While it's fun to fantasize about what UFOs could represent and it's fun to get scared over blinking lights in the dark, there has never been a shred of evidence linking reality to there being aliens among us. Seven Days should have just called the story its Halloween issue — "issue" meaning not a newspaper but an issue, as in "problem," that people who believe in aliens from other planets have.
Furthermore, it's foolish that in her column [From the Publisher: "Cluse Encounters," October 12], Seven Days publisher and editor in chief Paula Routly cites the UFO story as "pretty compelling," as if there's any truth to the existence of aliens.
High School Math
[Re "The $165,000,000 Question," September 21]: Residents in Burlington deciding how to vote on new school construction might consider a few points.
First, it is not clear that the quoted $165 million cost includes the 3.5 percent interest on the 20-year bond.
In South Burlington, the $210 million figure for proposed new construction did not include a whopping $135 million estimate for interest on bonds for construction, to be paid with citizen tax dollars.
Second, the $165 million figure is most likely an estimate. In an era of hyperinflation, the final cost will very likely be more than $165 million — excluding interest.
Third, education tax policy in Vermont is fiendishly complex. For example, for a homestead where household income is less than $90,000 and the home is valued at $450,000, only the first $400,000 of homestead value is income-sensitized. The $50,000 above the $400,000 "break point" receives no benefit. If the household income is above $90,000 but less than the upper limit for eligibility (about $140,000), only the first $225,000 of homestead value is eligible for income-sensitivity benefit.
Fourth, the new per-pupil weighting scheme adopted by the legislature was not meant to fund new construction but to acknowledge the greater financial cost of educating students with unique needs, such as those whose native language is not English.
For "wealthier" communities whose tax rates will increase to fund the new pupil allocation scheme, they may justifiably ask why are they paying for a new school in Burlington while at the same time paying for maintenance costs in their own districts.
The word "equity" appears to have "diverse" meanings in Vermont.
'The School They Deserve'
My hope is that Burlington will enthusiastically support the new high school we desperately need ["The $165,000 Question," September 21]. Frankly, we've needed a new high school for quite some time.
Let's give our school board, our superintendent and our teachers the credit they deserve — and our kids the school they deserve — after contending with what was really a disaster: a toxic school.
As if the pandemic wasn't trouble enough, in a flash our school was simply gone.
That's a strong argument for a new high school, and so it should be an easy call, but Burlington City Hall has a long history of taking care of itself first, as evident in pushing the recent bond votes when everyone knew a new high school would need funding soon.
The notorious reappraisal is another wrench in the works. Not only did it shift the tax burden to already unaffordable residential property, but also the reappraisal itself and the appeals that followed were bungled through and through.
These increased expenses that we've voted to approve or been subjected to against our will are substantial and real. And anger over a reappraisal that lacked integrity is justified. But it's not right to take it out on a new high school or the kids it will serve well into the future.
In fact, Burlington will only be hurting itself and aggravating other challenges we face if we don't stand up and face this challenge with a resounding approval of the high school bond. We can't afford to do otherwise.
In Defense of Chamberlin
[Re "Richmond Learns a Town Official Lowered the Fluoride Level in Its Water for Years," September 28, online; "Richmond Vows to Return to 'Full Fluoride' Levels," October 3, online; "Richmond Seeks to Restore Public Confidence After Employee Slashed Fluoride Levels," October 5]: The story of the Richmond water plant operator who reduced the fluoride level in town water is a classic case of missing the elephant in the room.
Kendall Chamberlin, the water superintendent in Richmond, actually did a good thing in reducing water customers' exposure to fluoride. When put in the water, fluoride is a drug that is then consumed in uncontrolled doses. The water customers have not given their informed consent. Science shows that ingested fluoride may possibly reduce tooth decay a bit but is a hazard to fetuses and infants and a health risk to some adults who get too much of it.
Chamberlain, acting out of laudable concern for his water customers, did a poor job of communicating his actions to superiors and the public and got in trouble. But his instincts were good.
Way too many health professionals, local officials and ordinary water drinkers still accept the false promise of fluoridation as a "safe and effective" answer to tooth decay. Some of these folks responded in high dudgeon to Chamberlin's actions, claiming that he denied fluoride's benefits to the town.
Sure, Richmond, give Chamberlin a wrist slap for stepping out of line. Then thank him for raising the issue. Take a fresh look at the current science and the commonsense practices of most of the world. You will learn that the public health establishment and dental profession have been mesmerized by fluoridation's false promise for 70 years. You'll be ready to escort the fluoridation elephant out of town.
Editor's note: Chamberlin resigned on October 19. Seven Days covered it in an online story titled "Richmond Water Superintendent Resigns Over Fluoride Levels."
Pro-Choice, Anti-Prop 5
[Re "Lasting Changes: Revisions to Vermont's Constitution — Dealing With Slavery and Abortion — Are on the Ballot This Fall," 2022 Election Guide, September 28]: The pro-abortion lobby would have us think that we cannot be pro-choice yet oppose Proposal 5/Article 22. Either you believe in abortion up to the time of birth or you are not pro-choice in their eyes.
Vermont already passed Act 47, which allows abortion without restriction, and Vermont's Supreme Court decided in 1972 to allow abortion well before Roe v. Wade. Knowing this, I have concluded that this amendment is unnecessary to ensure abortion access.
The amendment is a "word salad": "That an individual's right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one's own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means."
The amendment does not mention women, abortion, legal age or age of consent. It is not restricted to women. Would a man's right be infringed if his partner wanted an abortion and he did not, or vice versa? Unfortunately, these questions will be settled in court, thus punting the final decisions from the legislature to a judge. It is irresponsible lawmaking.
I asked Sen. Ginny Lyons and Rep. Ann Pugh, who supported Prop 5, to participate in a forum about the language and what it means, but neither would participate. Why would that be?
I am left to think that they are betting Vermont voters will believe the propaganda that this language is harmless and is essential for the preservation of Roe v. Wade, when neither is true.
'Campaign of Deception'
[Re 2022 Election Guide: "Lasting Changes: Revisions to Vermont's Constitution — Dealing With Slavery and Abortion — Are on the Ballot This Fall," September 28; Feedback: "Choice Words," October 12]: Nineteenth-century showman and entrepreneur P.T. Barnum reportedly observed, "There's a sucker born every minute," and it can't be more obvious that the organized opposition of Article 22 is counting on that.
Since polls show that Vermonters overwhelmingly support women's bodily autonomy, opponents have resorted to a campaign of deception to sow confusion among pro-choice voters.
The strategy is two-pronged: 1) Attack the article's language as vague or ambiguous, and invent future scenarios, the more outlandish the better, of what might go "wrong"; and 2) deny that women's health care rights could ever be threatened in Vermont.
Article 22 would make all reproductive care a Vermont constitutional right. It would change nothing about how abortion care is delivered and would not make late-term abortions easier to get. Since Article 22 would become part of our state constitution, passing this amendment would simply make it more difficult to legislate against women's reproductive rights.
The amendment was carefully vetted by constitutional lawyers and passed the Vermont legislature twice (in 2019 and 2022) to provide the highest level of protection to withstand possibilities as yet unimagined.
Bills have been introduced to restrict reproductive rights during the most recent legislative session, including one explicitly stating as its purpose "to narrow the right to reproductive choice" in Vermont. History shows that times change, and gains once thought permanent can be erased. We cannot allow women's rights to be eroded.
Please protect women's rights and vote yes. Our daughters should not have fewer rights than their mothers had.
Brian J. Walsh
Women 'Can't Go Backward'
[Re 2022 Election Guide: "Lasting Changes: Revisions to Vermont's Constitution — Dealing With Slavery and Abortion — Are on the Ballot This Fall," September 28; Feedback: "Choice Words," October 12]: The misinformation being spread about Proposal 5, aka the Reproductive Liberty Amendment, on the November ballot shows the desperation of the opposition. Learn the facts and then vote yes to enshrine reproductive rights in Vermont's constitution to protect all of us — now and in the future.
Proposal 5 would not remove all restrictions on abortion care. Vermont has in place numerous restrictions. Those restrictions are based on sound medical professional standards — not on the whims of politicians. Those restrictions would be left to hospitals, professional medical organizations and the Vermont Board of Medical Practice to set standards of reproductive health care for Vermont medical providers. No health providers would be required to do anything that is against their own personal beliefs.
What Proposal 5 would do is keep out political interference in our reproductive health care decisions. Research for yourself what our state requirements are and then vote yes on Proposal 5. As someone from the '60s, I will do all I can to make sure current and future generations have the right to make their own reproductive health care decisions. We can't go backward. Don't let the lies fool you.