Bove Family Responds
As a building owner, I recognize the issues raised by ["Roaches and Broken Locks," November 3]. Are we perfect? No. But we are a family with deep roots and an overwhelming commitment to this community. Affordable housing comes with major struggles for everyone, and we must have uncomfortable conversations about them. We have read the criticisms in Seven Days and will make changes to address them.
I urge everyone to understand the broader context. There are always two sides to every story, and to address every single one would only lead to a back-and-forth where nothing productive would happen. Some positive measures we have recently undertaken include:
- hiring translators to help bridge the language barriers with some tenants who need help with general living practices;
- education regarding garbage and food handling, recycling, and composting;
- signage to promote general understanding of safety and health; and
- more safety audits with city inspectors.
We as a family believe that housing is a right for everyone. We believe that affordable housing should be safe and clean. There are some individuals who can certainly make it difficult for a property owner. But we can only try.
To call out the efforts of a family that has lived and worked in this community for nearly a century is troubling to us. We continue to try to work with city officials. We have never given up on our community, nor do we intend to take all of this lying down — I would ask for patience. The changes we will pursue will not happen overnight.
Many in Vermont are aware that our family has always believed in working hard and providing a good-quality product or service for a fair price. Whether it's pasta sauce or providing a safe and reliable place for someone to live, that belief has not wavered. That's exactly what we are going to do. We are committed to conducting our business in a manner that Vermonters are proud of. We will work hard for your trust and approval.
Mark Bove is president of Bove Brothers Milton.
Greed in Deed
What a sad eye-opener of an article ["Roaches and Broken Locks," November 3]. As I read it, greed was all that came to mind. Sadly, Bove's played a part in my Burlington tapestry, but no more. To hang on to the fact that Bove is providing a service by renting to anyone, doesn't mean the "anyone" must live in filth.
No Bove's sauce or meatball will pass these lips again. Will it make a dent in their business? Doubt it; not enough people care. But I'll sleep better having done my own little protest.
I have been working at the University of Vermont Medical Center for a year as a travel nurse ["Health Care Premium," November 3]. I have done this at multiple institutions, and there is one overriding problem I have seen: a bloated executive and management system. The executives make ridiculous amounts of money while the rank-and-file staff make pennies to their dollars.
I have loved the people, and the direct management has been amazing. I would gladly move here and become a permanent member of the staff, except for one problem: the pay. The cost of living here is so much higher than what the permanent staff can afford. The fact that those making six figures say they cannot afford to pay a livable wage to nurses and techs is laughable.
Many travelers say they would stay if the pay were better. Meanwhile, the hospital continues to pay millions for travelers to come here and make a much higher rate of pay than the permanent staff. It is unjust and seems ridiculous to me.
'Capitalism in Action'
[Re "Health Care Premium," November 3]: Jobs like these temporary travel nurses are extremely common throughout industries when there is a skill or labor shortage. I've seen it in aerospace, coding and now semiconductor fab — and, for a long time, in the medical profession.
Note: Many of the weekend emergency room docs are "travelers" — also known as "contractors," more generally.
It is capitalism in action.
Better pay, benefits, etc. will help but are not a 100 percent solution.
Note also that our state government loosened the laws on regulation, oversight, etc. of "contract workers" a couple of years ago. These new laws actually encourage employers to use more contract workers and travelers.
In Praise of Tesla
While I appreciated the encouraging article promoting electric vehicles [Sponsored Post: "'The Future Is Now': Your Next Car — or Truck — Might Plug In," October 15], I want to correct one common misconception. Tesla's Model 3 base price is just under $40,000, not the $120,000 figure near the end of the article. While one could spend north of $100,000, most Teslas sold in 2021 were the Model 3 and the Model Y, at less than half the $120,000 figure. These two cars amount to more than 2.5 to three times the sales of the next EVs on the list in 2021. I got one a year ago and have gone from 40 years of hating driving to actually enjoying travel by car.
Testing the Batteries
I read with interest Kevin McCallum's story on the five "battery innovators" ["Charging Ahead," October 20]. What's missing is some information about what these inventions can actually do when deployed. Encore Renewable Energy's "battery will be able to soak up 2 megawatts' worth of electricity from 29,000 solar panels during the day and discharge the power when it's needed." How long will that released electricity power Middlebury College? I can't supply that answer, but I'll bet it's 24 hours or less. How long will the backup battery system keep the Statehouse running, in place of the old diesel generators?
There's a case to be made for innovative batteries to shave costly August power peaking, but I would like inquisitive reporters to tell us just what we can expect from these new wonders when the grid goes down and how long it will take to amortize the battery's substantial initial costs.
The person who wrote "Pro Pipeline" [Feedback, October 20] might not realize how hurtful and racist their response was. I am even more upset and angered that Seven Days would even post this response. What is the point? It seems like publishing a racist personal opinion just perpetuates, condones and encourages racism, whether intentional or not. Seven Days should do better in not publishing racist comments that will only hurt community members.
Editor's note: There was a typo in the letter referenced — see "Correction" — from a Vermonter who owns Minnesota property traversed by the Enbridge pipeline. Either way, she is entitled to her opinion, and Seven Days is committed to publish it.
Tears for Sears
I am writing regarding a series of recent articles by Courtney Lamdin ["Scenes From Sears Lane," October 27; Off Message: "Judge Delays Ruling on Closure of Burlington Homeless Camp," October 28; Off Message: "Judge: Burlington Can Shut Down Sears Lane Homeless Encampment," November 2].
I am very sorry to have heard about the eviction of the homeless at the Sears Lane encampment. It's simply not fair to shut down the whole campsite because two people broke the law, while the others didn't. I am supporting American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont general counsel Jay Diaz, who said the eviction is cruel and violates the terms of a 2-year-old settlement agreement between the ACLU and Burlington.
Throwing people out without giving them enough notice to find another campsite is unjust, especially when the homeless cannot afford to pay rents, are vulnerable and have various problems. I don't see how homelessness is ever going to be solved if the government doesn't provide them with adequate housing. Maybe an RV park with common bathrooms and kitchens offers a solution? I don't know — I am not a politician; I am a poet.
With another winter at the door and spikes in COVID-19 infections, it's very important to place homeless and other vulnerable citizens in shelters.
After the Eviction
I commend Courtney Lamdin and James Buck for centering the residents of Sears Lane in their coverage of the site's eviction ["Scenes From Sears Lane" and "'We're Nobodies,'" October 27]. They present campers as their worthy, complex, human selves.
But by portraying the City of Burlington too sympathetically, these reporters erase the role that residents and their activist allies have played in defending Sears Lane.
Lamdin writes that Mayor Miro Weinberger "gave residents 12 days to pack up and move out." Really, he gave them five. He extended it by a week because of public opposition and legal battles.
In a later online article [Off Message: "Judge Delays Ruling on Closure of Burlington Homeless Camp," October 28], Lamdin writes, "The city had also looked into finding a partner to manage the camp, though none responded to a request for proposals." This request for proposals was open for just two weeks, hardly publicized and followed by a police raid that turned up a pretext for eviction: somebody allegedly possessing meth.
A week after the eviction date, the cops and bulldozers still have not shown up to arrest trespassers and destroy homes. Many campers are temporarily housed in motels. They're not locked out of Sears Lane.
Sears Lane's inhabitants and supporters won these victories by pressuring authorities to be less violent, less hostile. We showed up in droves at every threat of forcible removal. We packed city council meetings. Campers took the City of Burlington to court.
When the powerful choose compassion, they rarely credit activists. That would admit defeat and embolden the resistance. Don't believe rulers. They care for the vulnerable only when forced to.
Seven Days drives me bananas with speculation of possible congressional vacancies [Off Message: "Will Leahy Run? As He Ponders, Three Potential Congressional Candidates Gear Up," November 1]. Of course there will be vacancies. Every position is vacant at the end of the term. Let's wonder whether Patrick Leahy will run for the Senate seat that will be vacant at the end of his current term.
Positioning political positions as "not vacant" implies a royal right to the seat that does not exist. We need to resist the declaration of invulnerability that has resulted in just two people holding that Senate seat since 1940.
No Sympathy for Schools
Thank you for your article on the staffing crisis in public schools ["Vermont Schools Struggle to Provide Services Amid Staffing Shortages," October 27]. It is rather ironic that public schools are finally feeling the staffing crunch that early childhood programs have felt for decades. Principals and superintendents mowing lawns and cleaning floors? Every early childhood education director I know has this in their job description, but it never makes headlines.
For scores of years, early childhood education programs have served as the training ground for public schools: teachers coming to us out of college to gain valuable experience before moving on to public schools, where pay and benefits are distinctly higher. This siphoning of staff is the major reason we have struggled for so long to keep our doors open and comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulations and the Agency of Education guidelines for Act 166, yet no one bothers to recognize that stress. We cannot compete with the bottomless funding streams fueling the public schools, and, finally, they are feeling the staffing crunches we have lost sleep over since the 1980s.
Sorry if I cannot be sympathetic to this recent public school plight, which we have endured seemingly forever.
Kathi J. Apgar
Apgar is director of Burlington's Stepping Stones Children's Center.
[Re Off Message: "Burlington School Board Votes to Build New High School on Old Campus," November 2]: I'm glad the school board decided to build where the other school is. And it didn't make any sense to build it downtown, either. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger probably wanted to get his own way and try to get rid of Memorial Auditorium, which is a historic site or should be. There wouldn't be enough room for the high school and all the students to go there, and parking would be a real disaster!
I think the other thing is that the mayor wanted to get one of his construction company friends to get the job.
Also: I thought that the people in Burlington were already paying a bond for the new high school a couple of years ago, so where did that money go?