No Tolerance for DUI
[Re Off Message: "State Sen. Debbie Ingram Arrested for DUI in Williston," October 13]: Since living in Norway a generation ago, I have been sensitive to the gentleness of our penalties for DUI and the implicit acceptance of driving drunk. Sen. Debbie Ingram's parole after her guilty plea prompted me to check on what would have happened to her in Norway. For a blood alcohol level of 0.12 percent or higher (hers was 0.18 percent): a fine of one and a half months' pay, mandatory; at least three weeks in jail, mandatory; license suspension, minimum two years.
More French Teachers
[Re "Keeping the Faith," September 20]: There is a local need — within the competency of Saint Michael's College or another local institution to address — for elementary teachers who can teach in French/English bilingual classrooms. National and international trends are exploiting the lifelong intellectual benefits of bilingual learning starting as early as possible.
Local parents of preschoolers are lobbying the Burlington School District to begin teaching at least one kindergarten classroom in French and adding second through fifth grades in succeeding years, by which time students will be fluent in both French and English. The idea could easily support a new magnet program in one of our elementary schools.
Superintendent Yaw Obeng supports the bilingual education concept but is concerned about access to an adequate pipeline of well-trained Francophone educators. Given the growing popularity of bilingual education in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, Utah, California and elsewhere, he has a valid concern. St. Michael's says students are looking for professions into which they can step upon graduation from college. Our access to Québec's Francophone population and vast cultural resources offer virtually limitless opportunity for student-teaching exchange programs.
It's six years since Burlington's City Council unanimously resolved that all our city's children should learn at least basic French, yet our schools' language-learning resources are dwindling, not growing. The Burlington Department of Public Works has finally installed some bilingual signage helping Francophones find a parking space downtown — wonderful! Now, can we educate and hire a bunch more French teachers? They're needed! It's just good business.
Legalization Is Not Inevitable
["Vermont Legislature Poised to Approve Legal Weed in 2018," November 8] reads like wishful thinking from the pot industry. Some of the facts included in the story seem to contradict the "poised" premise.
Vermonters from virtually every profession dedicated to the welfare of our children oppose personal cultivation and consumption legalization. They know that, in Colorado, child poisoning is seven times higher than in the rest of the country. Thankfully, these opponents aren't going away; they will continue to speak from personal and professional experience about the damage caused by increased youth access to marijuana.
Gov. Phil Scott has set a high bar for legalization: He won't sign a bill that does not satisfactorily protect children and adults from a drug known to cause psychosis even in those with no family history of psychotic disorder or mental illness. He also demands a robust public safety response to drugged driving — but even the leader of Vermont's fledgling Drug Recognition Experts Program says we need at least a year of real-time evaluation. These facts suggest that a 2018 bill is not inevitable to people who care about real-life outcomes — which, presumably, includes our legislature and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson.
And there is one very important news development your story omitted. On Saturday, November 4, physicians gathered in Woodstock for the annual meeting of the Vermont Medical Society — a group representing more than 2,000 doctors. With strong, broad support after three years of evaluation and study, they voted for a resolution condemning the legalization of marijuana.
So, while some lobbyists and legislators are loudly saying legalization is a done deal, our own doctors are telling us it will harm the Vermonters they treat. Legalization isn't inevitable. It shouldn't even be brought up for a vote.
Freese Made a Difference
Alicia Freese did an awesome job of researching and hearing the stories of inmates and former inmates in the article she penned entitled, "Cruel and Unusual?" [November 1], about how drug treatment policies in Vermont prisons are contributing to the opiate addiction crisis. Thank you, Seven Days, for putting the article on the cover.
There is a deeper dive involving inmates and medications when under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, and we will continue to work to effect change. However, in less than a week, your work on "Cruel and Unusual?" and the work of others, including Jolinda LaClair, state director of drug prevention policy, had a huge impact on DOC policy.
Thanks go out to Gov. Phil Scott, DOC Commissioner Lisa Menard and DOC health services director Ben Watts for doing the right thing!
Rep. Dan Connor
Connor is member of the House Corrections and Institutions Committee.
Shame on Seven Days for attempting to slander a citizen who risked his life to save another ["Questions Arise About Heroic Response to DCF Worker Shooting," November 8]. The Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission awarded Scott Williams its heroism award for "attempting to rescue Lara K. Sobel from assault." Seven Days' feeble attempt to discredit this award is shocking and raises questions about your ethics.
Williams ran toward the murder scene while shots were still being fired in an attempt to save Sobel. Whether or not he grabbed the rifle from the assailant is a technicality and irrelevant to what he was trying to do and why he was awarded the medal. Perhaps the official incident reports were not accurate, but Williams certainly did not write them, so why make him the center of your amateur investigative reporting? Williams even admitted a year earlier that he didn't remember taking the gun, so what is the point of your article?
Why do you go through such pains to raise doubt by elevating hearsay to the level of fact and assuming the words of a cold-blooded murderer are honest? Would you have done this is if Williams was not an elected official? Your article has done nothing to serve the public good. The real question here is why Seven Days is going to such effort to be so disrespectful to a local hero. This is clearly an abuse of your freedoms of the press.