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Letters to the Editor (12/22/21)

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Bad Date

Hello! I was excited to read about AO Glass' contribution to Maya Lin's art installation in Philadelphia ["Blown Away: AO Glass Creates Handblown Globes for Renowned Artist Maya Lin," December 8]. However, I thought it odd that the article states the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1993. I had visited when I was a kid in 1991 and decided to check out the date. It was dedicated on November 11, 1982, according to the National Park Service's website.

Emily Wolfe

South Burlington

Mail Fail?

[Re "Delivery Debacles," December 1]: I live in the Eastwoods neighborhood of South Burlington. We haven't had reliable mail delivery for a couple of years now, since our last mailman was transferred, but it's only been getting worse and is now to the point where delivery is nearly nonexistent.

For more than a month, we haven't been getting mail on Fridays or Saturdays. Both of those days would be delivered on Sundays, but from the day before Thanksgiving to December 6, we received mail exactly two days: Sunday, November 28, and Wednesday, December 1. This weekend, we didn't even get a Sunday delivery.

I've had a package "out for delivery" since 6:25 on Thursday morning, and by Monday I still don't have it. What if it contained important medication? This is simply inexcusable.

Last week, I called the Pine Street depot and spoke to a supervisor. I asked in all honesty if we'd been removed from the delivery route. He said he had a truck out that day, like he was doing us a favor, and I ended the conversation more frustrated than ever about the situation.

I understand that they're short-staffed, but for an entire neighborhood to be skipped day after day after day is incomprehensible. I've started to have packages sent to my office, because at least there's reliable delivery there. But I shouldn't have to do that.

Complaints seem to fall on deaf ears, but with the way the federal government is being run right now, I guess it's not really surprising.

Melissa Lapierre

South Burlington

Love Our Mail Driver

[Re "Delivery Debacles," December 1]: I believe that the post office is obviously understaffed; that's a given. But the service to my household is impeccable!

Our mail driver, Tammy, has our mail in the box within 15 minutes of 9 a.m. every day. We have never received anything that wasn't meant to be there; nothing that we know of has been delivered to the wrong house. If I'm outside, she will always wait and have a conversation with me, ask about my family, and talk about the project I am working on. She remembers everything we talk about.

We are very appreciative of the postal service in our area, the friendly people, the great service. They're always there to answer any questions, with smiles on their faces. It's an all-around great experience.

Happy holidays to all!

Cooper Hodgeman

Derby

Snow Going

I'm hoping to offer some context to the misperceptions about Vermont's ski industry presented in a November 24 letter to the editor [Feedback: "Ski Season Not So 'Dismal.'"] Ski Vermont doesn't release revenue or visitation data for individual ski areas, but I had confirmed that we provide aggregated skier visit information for the state, which would have been relevant. Here are the skier-rider visitation numbers for the past three seasons:

2020-21: 3.5 million (16 percent below 2018-19, the last full season of operation; and 14 percent below the 10-year average of 4.1 million).

2019-20 (industry shutdown in mid-March): 3.7 million (12 percent below 2018-19).

2018-19: 4.2 million.

Skier visits alone don't tell the whole story of COVID-19's industry impact, since important lines of business — such as lodging, food and beverage, and ski school — were all severely disrupted. Comparing the first five months of 2020-21 to the same months of 2019-20 (cut short in March), we saw lodging business off by 60 percent and food and beverage off by 70 percent. Paid skier visits also declined by 40 percent.

Because of Vermont's draw as a top ski destination, the majority of our skier visits come from out-of-state guests, so the strict interstate travel requirements and closure of the Canadian border had a big impact on business last season.

The inability of such a large population to visit has to be factored in to compare Vermont's numbers with those of a state that didn't contend with similar travel restrictions (such as New Hampshire and Utah) or receives more visits from within its own state or province (such as New York and Québec).

The national skier visit numbers were strong, as were those for surrounding states such as Massachusetts (up 13 percent) and New York (up 15 percent). These increases were due in large part to skiers' inability to travel to Vermont last season. While we're always excited to see more Vermonters entering and reentering the sport, those in-state attendance numbers alone can't offset the loss of the skiers from neighboring states who are drawn to Vermont each winter.

We are very encouraged by the positive season pass sales and pace of winter reservations for the upcoming season, which both suggest a lot of pent-up demand for Vermont skiing.

Bryan Rivard

Jericho

Rivard is director of communications for Ski Vermont.

'Game' On

The Fair Game column is missed. How about a potluck version contributed by Vermont journalists statewide?

Howard Fairman

Putney

Editor's note: We haven't given up on Fair Game, and we're actively seeking a full-time columnist. Know somebody who is interested? Tell them to get in touch at columnist@sevendaysvt.com.

A Tale of Two Treatments

Thank you for your article "The Doctor Is Out" [December 8]. My family has received care at the Cambridge Family Practice for decades. Two personal experiences (one economic, the other empathic) highlight the differences between hospital practices and private practices.

About 10 years ago, my husband visited what was then the Fletcher Allen Health Care emergency room after he cut his foot on zebra mussels in the lake. He saw a physician's assistant, who put two or three stitches in the wound. The bill for this service was more than $1,500. In contrast, 10 years later, I went to the Cambridge Family Practice with a leg wound. A nurse practitioner closed the wound with 13 stitches. The cost, including a tetanus shot, was $454, less than 30 percent of the hospital charge.

The second experience occurred in early 2020 before COVID-19, when my husband spiked a fever and developed significant pain. Over a week or two and many diagnostic tests, Dr. Donald Miller and his colleagues patiently worked hard to identify the etiology of the pain. After discussing the case with a colleague, Dr. Laura Norris called on a Saturday morning to have my husband come to the clinic so she could investigate another possibility. Aware that the Saturday clinic hours were short, I asked how long she would be there. She gently responded "as long as it takes," which seems to be the guiding principle of her empathic medical practice.

Patricia Sabalis

Underhill

'No Incentive to Improve'

[Re "The Doctor Is Out," December 8]: When Sara Teachout from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont says that pay parity is "not realistic for our health care system. Health care wouldn't be affordable at all," was that somehow fact-checked, or is that just Teachout's opinion? Because she is frighteningly out of touch.

First, health care in Vermont is not at all affordable as it is, and there is nothing coming out of the University of Vermont Medical Center/Blue Cross Blue Shield/Green Mountain Care Board cartel that would remotely begin to deal with the problem.

More importantly, single-provider health care is the cause, not a symptom of skyrocketing costs (as the "small practices are not financially viable" narrative would suggest). When the only real economy of scale that larger groups bring is insurance company negotiation and government lobbying, there is a problem.

The failure of private practices due to under-reimbursements puts more and more patients into the UVM Medical Center system, which not only has been unable to control the cost growth but also is unable to come close to reasonable wait times and chronically underpays staff. Without other options, patients, doctors and nurses are left with no other option, and the hospital has no incentive to improve.

Come on, Vermont! Health care is the progressive, publicly provided value around the world, and ours is some of the most expensive anywhere (without a commensurate position in quality).

Roger Brown

Richmond

Choose Your Poison

Kudos to the teams studying the proliferation of microplastics entering our soils ["Market to Farm," November 24], but aren't all commercial fertilizers loaded with identification "taggants" on the micro level, as legislated after the Oklahoma City bombing?

Regarding PFAS and Sen. Chris Bray's comments about "Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot again" and "Let's not poison ourselves," why would it be OK for GlobalFoundries to discharge PFAS, cadmium, chromium, lead, copper, nickel, silver, zinc and cyanide into the Winooski River, which empties into the lake, where Burlington draws its drinking water? The draft permit is online at enb.vermont.gov and dec.vermont.gov/permits/enb. Will anyone comment or do anything so we don't "shoot ourselves in the foot again"?

It seems the old U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adage — "the solution to pollution is dilution" — still rings true. Good thing we have a new "environmentally friendly" administration in Washington, D.C. But despite all the money Sen. Patrick Leahy got us to throw away to clean up Lake Champlain, it's only gotten worse. "Let's not poison ourselves," indeed.

Steve Merrill

North Troy

Friends of Yemen

On February 4 of this year, President Joe Biden committed to ending support for the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, which he called a "humanitarian and strategic catastrophe." But on November 4, he announced a $650 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia. This proposed sale makes no sense, flies in the face of Biden's stated goal and will surely deepen the tragedy in Yemen.

So three cheers for Vermont U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, who oppose the arms move by Biden. Along with two Republican senators, Sen. Sanders introduced a joint resolution of disapproval of the sale, and Sen. Leahy recently signed on as a cosponsor. There is a resolution in the House to the same effect. Seven Days has covered earlier work by these senators to end U.S. involvement in Yemen [Off Message: "Senate Backs Sanders-Sponsored Resolution to End Military Aid to Saudi Arabia," December 13].

Thankfully, our Vermont senators are positive change agents. They demonstrate Congress' decreasing support for the Saudis due to their relentless bombing of Yemen and continuing human rights violations. I appreciate and applaud our senators' leadership.

MaryDiane Baker

Brattleboro

Miro Needs to Go

[Re Off Message: "Yes and No: Burlington Voters Reject Capital Spending Plan, Approve Energy Bond," December 7]: I voted no on the first issue, because people are sick and tired of having to pay so much for taxes in Burlington, and Mayor Miro Weinberger is always breaking his campaign promises! He says he'll do one thing and always does another.

I agree that the streets and sidewalks need to be repaired, but the taxes should not be raised. Burlington can look for the money from the federal government. And what is being done about the homeless people? He's just sweeping them under the rug and doesn't care about them! And what about the supposed CityPlace Burlington that was going to be built years ago but still hasn't been?!

He's a typical politician and needs to go!

Ken Atwood

Burlington

The 20.4 Percent

There were a lot of numbers in the article covering the bond vote in Burlington [Off Message: "Yes and No: Burlington Voters Reject Capital Spending Plan, Approve Energy Bond," December 7], in which a $40 million bond could not get 67 percent of the vote. In my assessment, the real headline should have been about the number 20.4: That's the percentage of registered voters — 6,910 of 33,883 — who cast ballots.

How is it that, in a state with perhaps the most accessible voting system in the country, only one in five voters makes the effort to cast a ballot on a very consequential issue, either by mail or in person? Access to the vote is being hotly contested in much of the rest of the country, and yet here the right to vote about our community's future seems to be met with a shrug.

Rather than rework another bond vote for 20 percent of the voters to have a say on, perhaps the Burlington City Council and the administration of Mayor Miro Weinberger should start real and sustained work to increase voter participation for the good of the community. While we are a representative democracy and have high expectations of our elected officials to do good with the authority we delegate to them, our charter demands that citizens act as decision makers — not just to elect officials but also to hold them accountable and to address key financial and policy issues.

Unless we have high levels of voter engagement, Burlington will not sustain its progress toward a safe, just, environmental and equitable community.

Glenn McRae

Burlington

Ode to the F-35: The Grinch That Stole Vermont

Like the Grinch that stole Christmas,

this plane steals my dreams

of a pristine Vermont

with its forests and streams.


I dream of clean air

while these planes spit and spout,

fifteen tons of carbon

each hour they're out.


I dream of clean water

while PFAS fills our streams,

from the Guard's fear of fire

from those ghastly machines.


I long for the quiet

to work or relax

but the rumble of jets

breaks my calm like an axe.


My ears hurt and ring,

as my windows do rattle

while my viscera shakes

as the Guard plans for battle.


New Americans in town

are shocked by the blast.

like war in their homelands

they thought was long past.


I dream of a world

where schools are for all

where trains are not creaky

and bridges don't fall.


Speaking of fall...

What if they crash?

Oh, that won't happen?

Five already are ash!


I long for a country

without lead in its pipes,

where hospitals don't bankrupt,

and good care stops our gripes.


I long for a country

that seriously takes

pandemics and climate,

for all of our sakes.


"We can't build back better -

No money!" sounds sour

when 10 jets cost a billion,

then 400,000 an hour.


Some think that these jets

make the nation secure.

But they can't fix most troubles,

and that is for sure.


They can't stop a nuke,

or terrorist attacks

as flying computers

they're subject to hacks.


Sure there are threats,

some things we abhor.

yet all could be bettered

by things other than war.


I dream of world peace,

especially this season.

These planes are the opposite

beyond all I can reason.


Jobs are important,

their loss would be sad.

But with this kind of money,

far more jobs could be had.


I dream we had voice

to have them or not.

We voted them out,

yet they still are our lot.


So Patrick and Bernie

We are shouting out loud.

Take this awful Grinch from us,

And make us all proud.

John Reuwer

South Burlington

Chip v. Ben

Funny how quickly property owners in Vermont's largest city have forgotten the alleged pain of paying taxes.

That's what they were doing, right? Complaining about taxes. (Taxes fund city hall's greatest product: making you happy with new stuff.)

Politicians survive by keeping you happy, not by making tough decisions that would make you mad — even though they'd keep your taxes low.

Taxes are fleeting. We've already forgotten them!

Remember councilors inundated with taxpayers whining about the latest citywide property "revaluation"? How soon we forget!

Here we are today, having decided to let bygones be bygones, assessing something new and exciting: the plans of longtime Burlington politician William "Chip" Mason to give up his council seat [Off Message: "Burlington City Councilor Chip Mason Won't Seek Reelection," December 9].

Don't Americans live for instant gratification? Sure! Yesterday's tax nightmares are today's lost memories! Yippee!

So now we have a new show! Yippee 2.0! We're deciding who should succeed Mason based, apparently, on one quality: personality.

Taxpayers are commenting in public forums on Chip's most prominent quality — arguably, his civility. (Everyone calls him "Chip" because, heck, "Chip" is harder to equate with painful things such as high taxes than "William.")

Chip (a lawyer by trade) has even seemingly already anointed a successor in the name of (yup, lawyer) Ben Traverse in the same breath as his own resignation announcement.

No need for a debate or election, folks. We've already got a guy lined up: "Ben." Kinda like "Chip." Easy on the ears, no matter how out of control city spending might be.

Ted Cohen

Burlington

'Local' Wisdom

Thank you, Brittany Nevins, for shining a light on how people from out of state are treated in Vermont [Feedback: "Flatlander Hypocrisy," December 1]. I am a fifth-generation Vermonter. That and $5 will get you a cup of coffee in Burlington.

For decades, Vermont has made sure that the tourism industry flourishes here; hence, people visiting from out of state spend their money, and some decide to stay. It would be nice if Vermont would work just as hard to have businesses come here, as well, so that people living here could make a livable wage and raise their families.

When people come here from other places, besides their money, they bring diversity, talent, different ways of looking at the same things, etc. What do they get in return? Lots of labels, anger and frustration. I'm not speaking for all Vermonters, but rather from what I've seen personally. Somehow people who grew up here seem cheated that they couldn't buy the big house on the hill or drive the new Land Rover. Really? If we are lucky enough to grow up as healthy adults, wherever that may be, we all have exposure, opportunities and the ability to make our own way in this world.

No, there is no stupid question about winter, and Vermont mountains are insignificant compared to other mountains in this world. I am embarrassed by the way some Vermonters treat people from other places but also sad that some Vermonters seem to think their way of life is threatened.

Again, as adults, aren't we free to make our own life decisions?

Sarah Pesler

Wells

Adé Addition

Thanks for the article about Memorial Auditorium ["Memorial Days," December 1]. I have many fond memories of it, including attending some great classes in the upstairs lobby area, but my favorite is of attending a concert by Afropop giant King Sunny Adé in the late 1980s, shortly after I moved to Vermont. Although the boomy acoustics were not the greatest, Memorial's flat, open gym floor made it the best venue for danceable music. Much as I love the Flynn, trying to dance in the aisles in a hall with sloping floors and bolted-down seats has never been quite the same.

I couldn't help but notice the beautiful curved brick wall in the feature photo, while in the historical photo, it has a regular old right-angle corner. I was sorry not to see any mention of this in the article. I'd be curious to know the story behind that change.

Heidi Champney

Starksboro

Editor's note: Photographer Luke Awtry shot the December 1 cover photo of Memorial Auditorium. It is a five-shot panorama; Awtry stood in one place, rotated 180 degrees and stitched together the photos. This gives the image the curved look that a fish-eye camera lens would produce, although the auditorium itself is not curved.