The Gift of Bernie
I was so happy to open the paper and see the beautiful Bernie posters of yore ["The Art of Politics," December 2]. Anyone else who likes these old-school, less-mass-produced items, read on: Burlington's Peace & Justice Center has one of the original Frank Hewitt poster-size prints from Bernie's 1983 mayoral campaign. We are selling raffle tickets to win it. Come into the store to look at the print in all its glory and buy tickets for all your friends. You can also buy tickets online at pjcvt.org. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we cannot sell campaign material for Bernie or any candidate, but we do have his biography, his CD and this original print. If you have to shop, shop fair trade, shop local, shop Bernie!
Siegel is the executive director of the Peace & Justice Center.
Not Bernie's Burlington
[Re "The Art of Politics," December 2]: Frank Hewitt was my best friend. But in retrospect, I'm mystified by the poster "Burlington is not for sale." Burlington graphic artist Mike Patterson is right in describing the big issue in that election as "a real-estate mogul's plan to develop Burlington's waterfront, then pretty much a weedy landscape of abandoned industrial buildings, junked railroad cars and big, rusty petroleum tanks." But Bernie was an enthusiastic advocate for the plan. It was only the aggressive opposition of an unlikely alliance of Greens, Democrats, Republicans and independents that saved the waterfront as the valuable public resource it has become.
To his credit, Bernie recalibrated, acknowledged the value of the opposition's objections and moved aggressively to purchase the bulk of the waterfront land for the public. It would be nice to be able to say that the present mayor is acting as forcefully to prevent the destruction of the irreplaceable landscape of Burlington College, but it seems he has a different constituency altogether.
Louis "Mannie" Lionni
I am appalled and disgusted by the responses of nearly all of the Vermont state legislators quoted in Paul Heintz's "Suspended Animation" Fair Game column [December 9]. That they have had since May of this year to deal with the governmental impacts of the abominations allegedly perpetrated by Sen. Norm McAllister, to little or no effect, evidences an abhorrent lack of leadership, morals and ethics by these state bodies and the individuals that comprise them.
What kind of message do these "leaders" think this sends to the citizens of Vermont in general, and women in particular? I find the remark by Sen. Becca Balint (D-Windham) particularly offensive: McCallister's actions make her feel "uncomfortable," and she wishes she "had more words for it than that, but I assume a certain amount of decorum and professionalism." How about dispensing with decorum in the face of alleged vicious, criminal and misogynistic behavior, get off your lazy behinds, and do something about it?
It is this attitude — and lame excuses such as "We don't want more bureaucracy" — that accounts for Vermont's D- rating in ethics. The behind-closed-doors meetings and general secrecy regarding this and other elements of routine state business are equally abhorrent.
Ethics reform and anti-corruption policies should be a priority of the next legislative session. There are any number of states with such policies that Vermont could replicate. C'mon, legislators: If you are not part of the solution here, you are presumed to be part of the problem. Any legislator who does not support ethics reform should be voted out of office.
Praise for Podhaizer
Kudos to Seven Days for getting food writer Suzanne Podhaizer back in the paper. Much as I mourn the loss of her restaurant, Salt in Montpelier, I am ecstatic she is writing again about food. We are already planning a trip to Montréal as a direct result of her article about food shopping there ["Flavors Without Borders," December 2]. And though we know Jean-Talon Market, she found places we have yet to visit. Can't wait for the next taste of her writing.
In a recent blog post, a Champlain Parkway presentation was described as "unexpectedly civil" [Off Message: "Champlain Parkway Reviewed at 'Unexpectedly Civil' Meeting," December 1]. Perhaps that's because the audience was silenced — we could not ask questions but were given cards on which to write our comments. We were told outright that there would be no questions about the design of the Parkway or whether we wanted the Parkway at all.
Why can we not ask these basic questions?
• Do we really want the major entrance from the highway into the city center barreling through the Pine Street business and art zone — a district that residents and public officials declare they want pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly?
• Do we really want a major road separating the South End from the lake? It's hard enough to get access to the lake; now we'll have to cross a major artery.
Despite some early embellishments, the road, when it passes Howard Street, will be the same old Pine Street with the addition of painted bike lanes and a walking path. The big difference is that it will have taken on many additional cars and trucks from the highway, further congesting an already-jammed road.
Perhaps a written question from the audience explains our dilemma: "Is it true that if we don't build this highway, the City of Burlington will owe the feds $7 million?" The answer is yes. Seven million dollars is a lot of money — but is it a reason to make major infrastructure decisions that will affect the city for decades to come?