Fantastic news [Off Message: "Seven Days Hires Hallenbeck, Remsen," November 26]. Two solid reporters join an organization that practices actual journalism. I'm sad to see the Burlington Free Press circling the drain but glad Seven Days is stepping up to the plate.
Armed and Dangerous
Although I knew that Vermont has received some military equipment from the Pentagon, I was shocked to read "Up in Arms" [November 26]. Some have argued that legalizing drugs is a slippery slope. So is militarizing our police force. If crime and drug use have decreased and we all agree the War on Drugs has failed, why are we hitting the accelerator when it comes to our strategy? If Route 7 is a "major pipeline for narcotics carriers" then so is I-89, I-91, the Canadian border and any route traffickers decide to travel. Are night-vision goggles and spending $80,000 of taxpayer money on a civilianized paint job worth the cost to get Jane Doe off her prescription drug habit? To calm a deranged homeless man?
I understand that in some situations, military weapons may better protect law enforcement. A Humvee may save a life in Vermont's bad weather. But what about the future? Will military surplus left over from the war on ISIS be sent to Vermont? Don't forget we're still in Afghanistan and Iraq. I hope this isn't a knee-jerk reaction to the madness in Ferguson that becomes the norm. There's also the controversial use of Tasers by police. "It's a touchy topic," Vermont State Police Capt. Tim Clouatre said in the article. "But we don't see those incidents in Vermont." (Because nothing bad happens in impervious Vermont.)
There's an old saying: "Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it."
[Re "Up In Arms," November 26]: This "news" article's use of the "Pentagon ... tools of war" headline, the drawing of an armored vehicle, the constant use of "assault rifles" terminology and frequent references to Ferguson, Mo., make it seem that Vermont is facing an uptick in police authoritarianism. But what's really happening is local cops are getting some glorified jeeps (Humvees), some basic semiauto 30.06 rifles designed 60-plus years ago (M-14s), and some common bolt-action hunting rifles with nice scopes ("sniper rifles"). Oh, yeah, and one armored vehicle.
In your zeal to sensationalize these facts, you have created much ado about nothing, misinformed people who have little or no experience of law enforcement or weaponry, and reminded police officers that powerful voices like yours are always looking to make their lives more dangerous.
There was a much less prejudicial way to discuss this subject, but you missed it. And that is why you are perceived as fundamentally biased.
Good Riddance, Gruber
Allow me to add my voice to the chorus of outrage over MIT economist Jonathan Gruber's characterization of the American electorate as "stupid" [Fair Game: "Shumlin 2.0," November 19]. Intemperate language indeed! What kind of a lunatic could make such an assertion?!
This statement is even more outrageous coming so soon after our nation's voters acted decisively to address their growing concerns about income and wealth inequities by overwhelmingly electing Republican candidates. Stupid? I think not. You can rest assured that the 1 percent is quaking in its collective boots at the results of the recent elections.
Americans "stupid"?! The very idea! The next thing you know, he'll be characterizing us as overfed, lazy, shortsighted and easily manipulated!
Gov. Shumlin should send this charlatan Gruber, who is clearly under the influence of some mind-altering substance, packing ASAP, whether his "work" on our behalf is finished or not.
As Goes Gruber...
[Re Fair Game: "Shumlin 2.0," November 19]: Governor Shumlin's refusal to terminate the services of MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, now that the professor's disingenuous nature and outrageous fees are known, is a slap in the face to Vermont taxpayers.
I hope his foolish position on the matter will sway the Vermont General Assembly's upcoming vote on his continued governance and put Scott Milne in office.
Choosing Not 'Optional'
In his Fair Game column ["Shumlin 2.0," November 19], Paul Heintz wrote, "Vermont's constitution allows the legislature to pick any of the three top vote getters if no gubernatorial candidate snags 50 percent." In fact, the Vermont constitution requires the legislature to choose if no candidate obtains 50 percent.
Chapter II, Section 47 reads in part "...and at the opening of the General Assembly, there shall be a committee appointed out of the Senate and House of Representatives, who, after being duly sworn to the faithful discharge of their trust, shall proceed to receive, sort, and count the votes for Governor, and declare the person who has the major part of the votes, to be Governor for the two years ensuing. The Lieutenant-Governor and the Treasurer shall be chosen in the manner above directed."
A subsequent paragraph reads "If, at any time, there shall be no election, of Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, or Treasurer, of the State, the Senate and House of Representatives shall by a joint ballot, elect to fill the office, not filled as aforesaid, one of the three candidates for such office (if there be so many) for whom the greatest number of votes shall have been returned."
"Shall" makes it mandatory. If it was "allow," that would be optional.