I am heartbroken and furious to learn that my taxpayer dollars are being spent to incarcerate a first-time drug offender in an out-of-state, for-profit prison ["A First-Time Drug Offender Gets 10 Years. Is it Racism?" November 4]. Drugs are no reason to lock people up. I wish the State of Vermont would refuse to imprison nonviolent offenders. People who harm others or threaten public safety — domestic abusers, sex offenders and stalkers — should absolutely be incarcerated if found guilty. But the vast majority of inmates are in prison for nonviolent offenses related to drugs and poverty. Think of how much better it would be if we directed our resources toward rehabilitation and treatment instead of incarceration. The United States imprisons more of its citizens than any country in the world. Why doesn't Vermont lead the way out of this criminal injustice system?
[Re "Becoming Christine," November 4]: In a society so full of bigotry, hate, violence and fear of anything that breaks a norm, Christine Hallquist's story is a beautiful reminder that we are always evolving in our ability to see people for who they are. Her courage is remarkable and everyone at the Vermont Electric Co-op is setting a wonderful example for generations to come: We humans come in all varieties and are each worthy of kindness, respect and compassion.
Tax Would Save Us
[Re Off Message: "GOP Wants to Stop Carbon Tax, Which Isn't Moving," October 30]: We can no longer afford to let corporations pollute our environment. Vermonters spend billions on pollution-causing fossil fuels, and nearly all of that goes out of state. And the price of gas currently does not reflect its environmental cost. Our dependence on fossil fuels is simply unsustainable. Even though a tax would make gas more expensive at the pump, it would save Vermonters in the long run, helping make homes more energy efficient and switching to clean energy! A carbon-pollution tax would be a more realistic representation of the effects of fossil fuels on the environment, and would help us switch to practical, clean-energy solutions available today.
[Re "Once a Tech Town," October 21]: With regard to your article about Springfield and its lost machine-tool industry, I would like to say that you did a good job in reporting many of the facts, especially in the founding of those family-owned businesses. I worked for the Fellows Corporation from 1974 to 1998. I was not there when the doors closed, but I saw enough to make me go back to college and find a different path of employment rather than wait until the corporate entities that took over three of the largest machine shops in that town slowly and methodically liquidated them and went on their merry way back to Boston.
Fix Parkway Problems
I am one of those people still weighing the pros and cons of the proposed Champlain Parkway ["South End Artists Hope to Stall the Champlain Parkway," September 23]. Back when this project was called the Southern Connector, it was because it would literally connect Interstate 89 and Shelburne Road to Battery Street in downtown: two four-lane roads linking to downtown's only four-lane road. Sweet. Only it turns out that the Barge Canal was an insurmountable obstacle.
The original goals were not only easier access to downtown and increased economic benefit for the whole city, but also to remove much of the traffic that now flows through residential neighborhoods in the South End — not evil objectives, in my mind. The Champlain Parkway would still accomplish that for the folks who live south of Lakeside Avenue, and I think they usually get overlooked in the current discussions. But it is true that Pine Street, particularly between Lakeside Avenue and Main Street, is already overly congested with traffic and no doubt would get even more. We've been told that the Parkway plan includes improvements to the intersections and this will no longer be a problem.
So if solutions for the Pine Street jam-ups are available, why not implement them now? That would go a long way toward demonstrating that the benefits of the Parkway will outweigh the costs and, even if it never gets built, at least we'll have fixed that chronic congestion problem.
[Re "Activists Want Measures to Keep Pets Safe From Traps," October 21]: Requiring that trappers report accidental trappings of pets and endangered species, and that they post public lands where traps are set, does not infringe on their rights. These measures would respect the rights of both the trappers and the citizens who enjoy public lands, and help to ensure the preservation of endangered species.
As head of our Fish & Wildlife Department, Commissioner Louis Porter has a responsibility to represent both groups accurately and fairly. I have to wonder how traps can so selectively discriminate, as Porter states, between a dog and a coyote, a bobcat and a lynx, or a marten and a weasel. Perhaps reporting all accidental trapping of pets and endangered species will enlighten all of us on the matter. And many hikers would very much appreciate knowing when traps are actively set on public lands.
The implication that Vermonters born out of state have a lesser point of view in the debate on how we all enjoy our public lands and wildlife is absurd. Native-born Vermonters are not in agreement on these things, so there's no particular point of view that a Vermonter born out of state can or should respect as "tradition."