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Letters to the Editor (11/4/20)


Published November 4, 2020 at 10:15 a.m.
Updated December 15, 2020 at 3:23 p.m.

Not So Patient

In "Resident Racist" [October 21], reporter Paul Heintz does well to gain the trust of sources working within Elderwood. These sources, identified as nurses of color, provide numerous examples of racist verbal and physical assaults by an elderly white resident of this nursing home. The management reportedly has done little to stop these assaults, evidenced by the fact that this patient is still living there, spewing his racial taunts and threats — including death threats, according to this article. This raises the question: Why? Would it have anything to do with the fact that they are being paid a huge monthly fee for him to live there?

Shawn Murphy

Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Apology to Workers

I was so disheartened to read "Resident Racist" [October 21]. At a time when we are especially dependent on the people who provide our health care, why would we not protect those same health care workers from abuse of any kind? 

I work with seniors; I've even become one. Like the general population, some struggle with mental health issues, some with memory loss, and a select few are just plain mean. Regardless of which category the abusive and racist residents at Elderwood fall into, that behavior is never appropriate and certainly should not be tolerated. 

Why would anyone leave their home in Mississippi to come up here and stay in long-term housing to be harassed daily in their job when all they're trying to do is help others? As a Vermonter, I would like to apologize for Elderwood's lack of respect for all staff members who have faced racism. It's disgusting and horrifying.

Health care workers are more essential than ever. We desperately need them as COVID-19 is an even greater concern in long-term nursing centers, and it's already difficult enough to meet staffing needs. These workers should be cherished and protected, not insulted and abused.

We love to think that racism doesn't exist here in Vermont. Sadly, it is alive and well. Each of us has a personal responsibility to change that. Let's all make that change happen now for a better, more equal future for everyone.

Megan J. Humphrey


Rain Check

  • Courtesy of John McClaughry

Your October 21 cover story ["Trickle to Torrent"] cites a University of Vermont professor who avers that: "When it comes to precipitation, Vermont's trend lines are moving steadily to the extremes."

The attached chart I made shows annual precipitation since 1970 at the National Weather Service station in Burlington. The 2019 figure of 43.47 inches is, as the professor says, nearly seven inches above the 50-year average of 37.00. But we have not been "moving steadily to the extremes." She could as easily have stated that "precipitation has decreased by nearly seven inches in the last nine years."

Actual precipitation has ranged from 23.37 in 2001 to 50.92 in 2011. In six of those years — the earliest being 1973 — precipitation was greater than last year's.

Scientists need to explain real-world data and resist the temptation to issue attention-getting pronouncements that don't bear up under examination.

John McClaughry


Editor's note: Annual fluctuations in precipitation can obscure long-term trends, but 10-year averages at the Burlington weather station reveal an increase. In the 1970s, Burlington averaged about 36 inches of rain a year. By the decade ending in 2019, that amount had increased to 39.7 inches. Further, extreme rainfall — events that damage roads and cause sewage overflows — increased. In the 1970s, the Burlington weather station recorded 50 days with more than one inch of precipitation. Between 2010 and 2019, that number increased to 78 days.


Neighborhood Isn't Ready

[Re Off Message: "Board Approves Burton's Plan to Bring Higher Ground to Burlington," September 1]: Burlington's Development Review Board turned a blind eye to the safety of bikers and walkers when it unanimously approved Burton Snowboards' conditional-use permit without requiring necessary traffic infrastructure or alternative transportation, such as off-site busing.

Burton plans to build a 1,500-person, 500-vehicle concert venue, initially estimating 125 concerts per year. Burton once said its "hub" will be "the likes of Ben & Jerry's in Waterbury." The problem is, this proposed site abuts two quiet streets — and the neighborhood includes a one-lane bridge — that lack what is needed for safe passage of neighbors and patrons.

Burlington chose profits over people. Neither the DRB's deliberations nor the conditions considered building sidewalks, crosswalks or bike lanes, because they knew they lacked funding. Rather than wait until safety measures were in place, they approved Burton's permit without stipulations. This is a slap in the face to planBTV Walk Bike, those choosing human-powered modes of transportation, and 500 households who travel these two streets to and from home.

This enormous concert venue should not open until Burlington builds adequate infrastructure for safe travel beyond new pavement and requires busing from major arteries. These requirements would alleviate congestion, deter pre- and post-concert neighborhood loitering to reduce police presence and resident disruption, and encourage bicycling and walking, something Burlington is supposed to be committed to.

We do not want a train wreck here. Construction of infrastructure in accordance with the city's goals and principles is the right thing to do.

Wendy Bratt

South Burlington

Bratt is a member of Citizens for Responsible Zoning.