Letters to the Editor (12/1/21) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (12/1/21)


Published December 1, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated December 21, 2021 at 3:50 p.m.

Buck Stops Here

James Buck is a badass with a huge heart [802Much: "Friendly Skies," November 24; From the Publisher: "View Finder," October 27]. The world could use more people like him!

Ginger Vieira

Essex Junction

Puritanical Plates

[Re WTF: "How Does the DMV Decide If a Vanity Plate Is Too Rude for the Road?" November 24]: Back at the turn of the century, I applied for the vanity plate KWICHI and explained on the form that is was the "phonetic spelling of Quechee." A couple of days later, the phone rang and the caller ID said "Montpelier DMV." I picked up.

"I'm sorry, I can't give you the vanity plate you applied for," the voice said. "What, it's taken?" I asked, crestfallen. "No, I can't allow you to have 'quickie,'" she said. "Oh, that's not it," I replied, "It's Queeee-chi, you know, as in 'Quechee has a special kind of chi.'" There was a silent pause on the other end. "Oh, yes, I see that in the explanation box now. OK then!"

The KWICHI plates arrived ... quickly.

F.X. Flinn


Flatlander Hypocrisy

I found it funny that what the indie rom-com Soulmate(s) got "wrong," according to the writer of ["Sweet and Sour," November 10], was the exaggeration of "the characters' prickliness and abhorrence of 'flatlanders.'" Well, I encourage the publication to consider the message that is sent when another article in the same issue is literally titled "How to Winterize Your Flatlander," as if they aren't real, intelligent people.

The article had some decent tips, but no new Vermonter would ever get that far in an article that makes fun of other articles for giving sincere, welcoming advice, no matter how obvious it may be. I grew up in Vermont (something that actually means nothing and is given so much weight) and moved back home from Texas last year, and I am starting to get angry at this hypocrisy we have in our state. Another example of "We're welcoming" but will continue to reinforce negative, unwelcoming stereotypes.

No question about winter is a dumb question. Winter isn't so obvious, actually. And I hate to break it to you, but our mountains aren't that high. So, let's just stop and let people transition into this state without shame. We might just learn a thing or two from them.

Brittany Nevins


Editor's note: Mark Saltveit's December 10 piece, "How to Winterize Your Flatlander: Cold-Season Tips for Vermont Noobs," was clearly marked as a humorous essay.

Unhealthy System

What ["Health Care Premium," November 3] did not mention about the nursing shortages at the University of Vermont Medical Center is a problem far greater than the pandemic: Our profit-motivated health care system provides incentive for hospital administrations to increase their income by short-staffing their workforce, thus creating unsafe, unsustainable working conditions for doctors and nurses.

After being subjected to this environment, many of the local health care workers choose to become locum tenens, aka traveling or temporary, in order to avoid burnout. Others leave the hospital setting altogether. As an internal medicine traveling hospitalist based in Burlington, I saw that the pandemic contributed to the exodus because it increased the workload of an already overburdened workforce.

To give a recent example: I just turned down a hospitalist job offered at Springfield Hospital because it required the hospitalist physician to work 24 hours straight, seven days in a row, which is dangerous for the patients as well as the physician. I have turned down several other hospitalist opportunities in Maine and Vermont for the same reason, even though they would have allowed me to work closer to home. Many doctors go along with such arrangements because of their high educational debts, despite the poor-quality patient care that they know will result.

Until hospitals are forced to provide reasonable and safe workloads for their workers, the problem of nursing and physician shortages will not go away.

Jay Stearns


'Dangerous Nonsense'

Good for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren [Off Message: "Vermont Publisher Chelsea Green Sues Sen. Warren for 'Suppressing' Book," November 8]. The tenacity of attractively cohesive conspiracy theories that weave together a bit of fact with a whole lot of dangerous nonsense is nothing more than marketing to, and profiting off of, ignorance, fear and mental illness.

Dr. Joseph Mercola is a parasite. Perhaps Chelsea Green publisher Margo Baldwin doesn't know or doesn't care to know that many modern medicines were an evolutionary development from herbal medicine and intelligent observation to begin with.

The continual attraction of "alternative" views to health is that medical research is incredibly specific and has to be, and there is also plenty of factual accuracy that lifestyle habits can influence disease outcomes, mental or physical. That is everywhere in medical research, yet people continually either want something more mysterious and spiritualized or need an enemy in their inability to know how to go about deciding something. They want someone to explain everything to them neatly, once and for all. There's also the fact that government is just an organization made up of people and not some nebulous "it."

The question is: At what point does harm become substantial enough for government intervention? How many people have to die believing dangerous nonsense? How is that quantified? Apparently, Baldwin can't be bothered to ask that question. Chelsea Green is profiting off of fear that can enable death, and the only thing restorative or healthy about Mercola's conspiracies and muddied bullshit is that he is intelligent enough to make sure there are just enough facts mixed in.

Joy Yonan-Renold


Climate Change-Makers

I applaud the researchers at the University of Vermont who contributed to the most recent Vermont Climate Assessment and thank Seven Days for covering the most comprehensive climate report focused on Vermont to date ["Shorter Winters, Hotter Summers," November 10]. As the Vermont Climate Council is working hard to put together an action plan by December 1 to reduce carbon emissions in the state, data from the most recent assessment will be essential to crafting the most factual and equitable plan for the future.

According to the assessment, "Climate change will not impact all communities equally; the needs and capacity of vulnerable populations should be considered with all community planning efforts." Just as Vermont will face disparate consequences due to climate change, individual Vermonters and Vermont communities will face disparate consequences if we do not respond to climate change in a just and equitable manner.

As Vermont moves away from its dependence on fossil fuels to a system that is based on sustainable and renewable energy, a "just transition" that does not cost community members their health, environment, jobs or economic assets will ensure that we all benefit from that shift. Our efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change should not leave marginalized communities behind but rather include in the decision-making process those who bear the greatest environmental burdens.

It's not too late to provide input on the Climate Action Plan, and you can do that by contacting a member of the climate council or by submitting a public comment.

Alison Spasyk


Gap in Logic

[Re Off Message: "Federal Funding Approved for Bridge to Carry Cyclists, Pedestrians Across I-89," November 19]: Sen. Patrick Leahy's ability to land another federally funded plum, the $9.8 million for a bridge over Interstate 89 to serve bicyclists and pedestrians, is laudable. Laughable, however, is his statement that the project will help to "limit the worst impacts of climate change." Both modes of locomotion are pollution-free now and cannot be made more so. This is an expensive solution in search of a (very minor) problem.

Any chance the money could go toward separation of storm drains and sewage systems, mitigating a real problem? Perhaps 50 units of affordable housing?

Charles Siegchrist


Mask Up on Hospital Grounds

[Re Off Message: "Weinberger Proposes Mask Mandate for Burlington, With Exceptions," November 23]: Regarding mask mandates and common sense, I have made several complaints to the University of Vermont Medical Center, as it has a landscaping contractor who does not mask up. These are hospital grounds, and I have seen these people working close to entrances and exits of critical care facilities unmasked, with no way to know whether they were vaccinated. I have noticed United Parcel Service, Green Mountain Messenger and FedEx staff all mask up before going on the hospital grounds. I have reported this situation to UVM Medical Center many times. If any place needs a mask mandate, it is a hospital in a state with the largest percentile increase in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. right now.

Joshua Cohen


Equity in Education

[Re "As Legislators Try to Make School Funding Fairer, Some Districts Are Crying Foul," November 17]: It's clear that the pupil weighting system put in place with Act 60 needs adjustment. I know from past experience that there are substantial differences in towns' abilities to pay for education. That's what helped create Act 60. The court determined that the state — not the local community or school district — is responsible for paying for each student's education. While the system devised may not have been perfect, it has helped many districts to better meet the needs of individual students and many taxpayers to stay in their homes.

The recent University of Vermont-Rutgers University study, commissioned by the legislature, suggests revisions of the pupil weights. It was much more scientific than the Act 60 considerations years ago; it would be crazy to ignore the study. Do we simply ignore science because it doesn't fit current political opinion? Sounds more like Washington, D.C., than Montpelier.

A movement toward eliminating the pupil weights would be detrimental to Burlington, Rutland, Winooski and many other communities. It might meet the legislature's needs, but will it provide equal educational opportunity for all of Vermont's students, or will it return us to the days of haves and have-nots?

George Cross