Lay Off the Freep
While it's fun to read about the Freep gossip [Fair Game, October 15; Off Message: "Free Press Reporter Laid Off After Refusing to Reapply for Job," October 27; Off Message: "Updated: Higher Ed Reporter Responds to Free Press Layoff," October 30] it's weird that your paper spends so much time and ink writing about the competition's woes — which is a cardinal sin in the media biz. Are we to read Paul Heintz's crap and assume that all is honey and roses at your paper? I gather that the internecine battles and internal problems at Seven Days are just as vile and venomous as at the Freep or WCAX or any other company. If you shit too often on your neighbor's lawn, the smell may eventually draft through your windows and smother you.
Daniel G. Cohen
Your usually astute politics reporter Paul Heintz appears to have been more than a little naïve when it came to comments by former administration secretary Jeb Spaulding regarding the need for secrecy on the financing plan for Vermont's single-payer health care system.
In the article, "The Emperor's New Bros" [October 15], Spaulding justifies keeping legislators in the dark on the grounds that they will spill the beans, citing a conversation in which Spaulding supposedly shared details of the financing plan with me and I immediately broadcasted them on the Senate floor.
As Heintz has himself written, I often took an independent stance on the issues. I think it is fair to say that if the Shumlin administration chose to share its thinking on health care financing with a senator, it would not have been with me. And, while I discussed the issue with Spaulding in March, he did not give away any secrets.
More than a month later, I was given the substance of the administration's plan by a well-placed source who believed, as I do, that Vermonters are entitled to know where the governor is headed in what will be the biggest financial undertaking in the history of our state. The governor's plan, with its mandatory premiums and gross receipts tax, entails a transfer of health care costs from Vermont's wealthiest corporations to small businesses and individuals. That deserves debate, and I make no apology for trying to provoke the same.
Galbraith is a Democratic senator from Windham County who is not running for reelection.
Smoke and Mirrors?
I am a nonsmoker with lung disease ["Public-Housing Agencies Crack Down on Lighting Up," October 29]. All of my life I have been exposed to secondhand smoke. I have lived in two previous "smoke-free" properties and now am in my third public-housing project that toots its horn about being "smoke-free." I would have assumed that smoke-free would have meant free from smoking. Alas, this is not the case.
Landlords quickly adopt addendums to the lease that change this policy. First they assign a designated smoking area, which always seems to be located outside or near a point of entry to the housing — or a play area for children. Once it's gone from smoke-free to "you can smoke in these areas," smokers begin smoking outside of these assigned areas and, before you know it, the smoke-free housing has now become a smokers' haven.
You would think that smoke-free would be a no-exception rule. It has been proven time and again to be a public-health hazard and known cancer-causing agent. It also is a fire hazard, as smokers tend to toss their lit butts all over the place.
As a nonsmoker living in "non-smoking" public housing, it is frustrating to have the rules and terms of the leases changed to support the smokers. Smoke-free should be just that: smoke-free. No exceptions!
Bonnie L. Barrows
The Other Side of Lakeview
Although Alan Bjerke often claims to speak for the Lakeview Terrace neighborhood [Feedback, "COTS Project a Waste," October 29], thankfully there are many of us who live on the street who can speak for ourselves, and who support COTS ["Neighbors Clash Over Plan for Apartments, Day Station for Homeless," October 22]. The mean spirit Bjerke exhibits in his letter is exactly why I feel he is the real threat. His record is evidence enough not to trust him or his numbers.
Patricia J. Ferreira
Gun and Done
I would like to provide some statistics to counter Bob Williamson's politically charged letter [Feedback: "Guns Without Borders," October 15]. According to a 2013 report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 29 of the 1571 firearms recovered from crime scenes in Massachusetts came from Vermont. The majority — 431 — came from Massachusetts, 121 from N.H. and 91 from Maine. Of a total number of 8,500 recovered firearms in New York, 61 originated in Vermont. That's .07 percent of the total originating in Vermont.
Williamson's comment that other states get their illegal guns from "states with weaker guns laws, like Vermont" appears to be based on emotion, not fact. Massachusetts has very strict firearms laws, and the majority of the firearms from its crime scenes originated from there. It's such a shame that Gun Sense Vermont and the rest of Bloomberg's liberal minions continue to search for a problem that they can pin their gun-control agenda to. Vermont has a long history of firearms freedom. Please don't try to force your big-city agenda on us. We've gotten along just fine without it for over 200 years.