[Re Seven Days cover, October 27: "Rescue Lines: Public health expert Tracy Dolan readies Vermont for Afghan arrivals" and "Scenes From Sears Lane: Burlington shuts down a South End homeless encampment"]: Anyone see the irony? Homes for Afghan refugees — many of them never vetted — coming from a 12th-century "culture" and homeless Americans living in a tent city.
Up in the Airport
[Re Off Message: "Burlington City Council Fires Airport Director Gene Richards," September 10; "Fired Burlington Airport Director Gene Richards Sues to Get His Job Back," October 20]: I recently flew from Washington, D.C., to Burlington International Airport on American Airlines. What was a short, 60-minute flight turned into an extra hour and a half at the arrival gate.
Apparently, the Jetway wouldn't work. What ensued was a back-and-forth by the BTV workers, who were trying to fix it and/or decide how to deplane the passengers. Passengers mumbled about what would happen if there were an emergency and we couldn't get off the aircraft.
The pilots were professional and concerned for us, as well as for people trying to make their connections.
I just don't believe this fiasco would have occurred and been mishandled in such an incompetent way if Gene Richards were still the director of the Burlington airport. It would have been quickly resolved.
Angela Dolan Martin
A recent From the Publisher note ["Remember September," October 6] caught my attention and prompted questions. Referring to the feature article ["Best-Selling Bunk" September 22], the publisher cites as evidence of "important journalism" the fact that "a few days after publication, YouTube banned [Joseph] Mercola and other anti-vaccine activists from its platform."
I value the journalism of Seven Days and have particularly appreciated articles on issues at the women's prison, the opioid crisis and health care. I also value hearing a wide range of views as I make my choices. Sorting through perspectives and information is a dynamic process as I come across things I haven't considered before. When certain sources are banned or shut down, I feel deprived of being able to make my own assessment.
So, out of curiosity, I bought and read the book by Mercola and Ronnie Cummins. I was especially interested because I knew of Cummins as the director and founder of the Organic Consumers Association. I agreed with some of their perspectives and disagreed with others.
I think we're in a tricky time. We're faced with hateful divisiveness and so many questions about what facts are reliable. We all, including journalists, have our biases. At the same time, banning a particular viewpoint that might be worth considering, at least in part, feels like a loss. I wonder how the publisher proposes to navigate these tricky waters?
As ["The Great Resignation" October 27] aptly showed, we are in the midst of a cultural tide that signals a demand in American society for better balance in school, work and life. As people evaluate how best to move forward, they often look to academic coursework to help them progress.
If more people are asking, in unprecedented numbers, for options that align with a new mindset that prioritizes flexibility in time and geography, institutions that prepare our workforce — from trade schools to community colleges and universities — should take notice. Schools could offer more asynchronous online degree pathways that could be pursued at any time, from anywhere, while ensuring holistic support for each student.
One proven solution is a competency-based model, which measures skills and demonstrated subject knowledge rather than time spent in a classroom — an innovation pioneered by Western Governors University, where I earned my master's of science in management and leadership and am currently employed. I encourage people to explore options like this that will enable the life balance they're looking for.
Why So High?
The COVID-19 transmission in the state is astounding ["Preexisting Conditions," October 27]. The numbers remain incredibly high, even on a weekend, when counts are usually lower.
Friday, October 15, was Homecoming Weekend at South Burlington High School. Even outside, which so many have purported to be "safe," fans were standing close together and cheering and shouting and spreading those aerosols.
Our district also has to abandon surveillance testing in favor of "Test to Stay," though the rollout of that testing program looks decidedly unpromising, as well, because of staffing issues ["Testing Their Mettle," October 13].
And how dare Education Secretary Dan French indicate that school staff is going to need to "chip in" to implement any testing program? ("They're going to need to redeploy some of the other staff in the district to ramp up testing," French said. "Whether it be paraeducators, and so forth, everyone's gonna need to chip in.") He's clearly tone-deaf at such a time. Our schools are experiencing a personnel crisis, and school staff has been "chipping in" for a long time ["Vermont Schools Struggle to Provide Services Amid Staffing Shortages," October 27].
I'm so upset by and angry about the mismanagement and Curly-Larry-and-Moe administration response to this latest surge. Meanwhile, my sister, who's an educator of 35 years in central New York, is seeing numbers in her region steadily go down and reading the Vermont shenanigans during this latest surge with dismay. She worries for her 10-year-old niece and us, her parents.
Just wanted to let you know how much I loved Melissa Pasanen's piece on Laini Fondiller ["Busy Lady," October 5]. She's one of the few cheesemakers in the state whom I know only by reputation, so it was wonderful to learn about her life. Thanks for producing such a thoughtful portrait while she's still making cheese. Cheese is unique in the way it connects you to another person, place and season. I've always enjoyed the Lazy Lady cheeses, and now they're even more vivid. Thanks for that!