'A Little Jail Time'
[Re "Persistent Pipeline Protesters Are Pushing the Limits," November 18]: Imposing jail sentences on gas-pipeline protesters has not been, and won't become, a deterrent. What's a little jail time compared to environmental catastrophe? Pipeline explosions are occurring all over the United States; pipeline projects are being protested, prevented and canceled in greater and greater numbers as people become aware that the risks are tremendous and the benefits will be far less than gas companies predict. Even if the pipeline benefits were large enough to counterbalance the risk of loss of life due to explosions — which I think is impossible — the process of obtaining fracked gas is simply too damaging to ecological health both immediately and in the long term. Those of us who take the long view are not going to stop protesting.
I was thrilled to read the article about Burlington's Parent University ["Enrolling Mom and Dad," November 11]. Nothing is better for kids than parents who are supported in their roles. Little is harder for parents than feeling ignorant, stupid and isolated in the face of what their children are learning and experiencing. This, of course, is not limited to New Americans or people working their way out of poverty. Any parent of a teen probably experiences it, but these days, parents of younger children also face it when confronted with some of their children's homework.
In conversation with a young mother recently, a professional who is highly educated, she mentioned dreading the day her daughter brings home assignments that she doesn't understand, especially math. She told me of a friend whose young daughter dismissed her in disgust, "You're not doing it right," because of course that's not how her teacher taught her. And it was true: The mother didn't have a clue what was expected. We mused, Wouldn't it be cool, instead of adding homework sessions to already overburdened teachers, if all schools set up mini-versity sessions — not just curriculum overviews — so any parent could learn the nuts and bolts of what their kids are learning and partner with the schools in educating them?
Take 'Care' in Selecting Governor
[Re Off Message: "Blue Cross Blue Shield to Get 5.9 Percent Rate Hike in Vermont," August 14]: As the current group of gubernatorial candidates search for meaningful campaign strategies and issues that will resonate with Vermont voters, an issue no one has taken on is whether oversight of Vermont's megalith "not-for-profit" hospital network is working. The elephant in the room is the Green Mountain Care Board — the so-called independent regulatory authority charged with protecting the public's interest. This board was created to review hospital activities including revenues and expenditures, grant certificates of need where appropriate and in the public interest, and regulate health-insurance rates. The averred mission of the board is to contain health costs. The board has not served its purpose of being an independent arbiter in these matters. Arguably, the board has served more as a facilitator and rubber stamp for the hospital network. Profitability of the hospital network is a good thing, but not at the expense of taxpayers and other important service providers. The lack of real oversight will result in a monopoly by the hospital in the delivery of health care and related services. The next governor needs to look at the independence of the board and the qualifications of future appointees.
Help for Stutterers
"Talking Points" [November 4] was an excellent article. I agree with Dr. Barry Guitar that teens who stutter may not be likely to seek out help. The article should have mentioned that the most important thing that parents can do is bring their child to a speech therapist right when the stuttering begins. Early intervention is a must. Seventy-five percent of stuttering kids stop stuttering. Early speech therapy helps for sure. On its website, the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation (stutteringhelp.org) offers many free resources for people of all ages who stutter, and for parents of children who stutter.
Thank you for Alicia Freese's excellent article about Planned Parenthood ["Planned Parenthood Faces Hostility in N.H., and Vermont Solidifies Defenses," November 11]. But while New Hampshire's and Maine's anti-choice demonstrators are greater in number than Vermont's, the people who protest outside Burlington's St. Paul Street health center are making the walk from the car to the door difficult for many patients. Had Ms. Freese come by last Wednesday morning, she would have seen more protesters and more aggressive interaction with the patients. As a Planned Parenthood greeter, I regularly see the distress this causes many patients who want simply to get into the health center without being subjected to others' opinions as to what they should be doing in this very personal situation. And it's important to know that the protesters oppose not only abortion but also birth control. I am grateful for Planned Parenthood's compassionate and knowledgeable staff and for their courage to offer all reproductive health services in this climate.
Not So Exceptional
Phil Scott and Bruce Lisman seem to think that the billions we spend on our FBI, military, various intelligence agencies and George W. Bush's "homeland security" are suddenly inadequate for Syrian refugees [Off Message: "Matt Dunne Castigates Phil Scott Over Syrian Refugee Comments," November 19]. The Republican-led U.S. House said this, too, by passing a delay in Iraq and Syrian immigration. Or is this just fear? Political pandering? Ethnic bias? The American exceptionalism that Republican politicians are so fond of mentioning? Where is the American compassion for the millions of displaced Syrians? While we are quivering, the French are continuing to accept 30,000 refugees. Now that is true courage! True exceptionalism. It would have been nice to see Scott and Lisman step up, not step aside, joining their national Republicans in failing this compassion-leadership test.
In last week's "Growth Industry," about local beard oil, we incorrectly referred to Bugatti Barbers in Burlington as a "boutique men's salon." According to Bugatti owner Nanci Bevilacqua, the difference between a barbershop and a salon is that the latter cannot offer shaves. "We are not a salon," Bevilacqua told Seven Days after the story ran. "We are an old-school barbershop." Apologies for the nick.