Thanks to Kevin McCallum for bringing to light challenges we are having in the tech sector ["Hire Anxiety," November 6]. As a tech entrepreneur, I am worried about the erosion of a once-vibrant base of industry tech "incubators" — small and large tech companies that were established and growing and gave people a start in the industry, benefits and the ability to make a difference through their work. When I started Draker Labs, my team benefited from the events and mentorship given by thriving tech companies.
There definitely are some new shining stars, as noted in the article, but not as many as there used to be, and the corporate base with budget is eroding. Companies in renewable energy, such as Northern Power Systems and Draker Labs, employed hundreds over time in Burlington at good wages and are now completely gone. Gone, too, are the paychecks, taxes, sponsorships, mentors, friends, knowledge base, craft beer consumers and, eventually, key talent.
Not to be all doom and gloom here, just hoping for a broader discussion on how to attract and retain tech in Burlington now that the assumed No. 1 barrier to tech growth, housing, has been lowered.
I propose adopting a data-driven approach to guide the proper approach to stabilizing the tech base. How about some kind of key performance indicator on the BTVStat Dashboard for tech impact? I know the organizations quoted in the article have numbers; it was just confusing how they all add up when planning for Burlington's future.
'Jarvis Made a Choice'
I was disappointed in the decision to screen Vaxxed II at Merrill's Roxy Cinemas [Off Message: "One Night Only — Controversial Anti-Vax Film Screens at the Roxy," November 8]. I was just as disappointed in owner Merrill Jarvis III's unwillingness to stand behind that decision.
Owning a movie theater does not bind one by a code to screen every film sent their way. Yes, "There's always somebody that has something against something" is a technically accurate statement, but it is meaningless.
Art is the pursuit of truth and self-expression. It is vague and messy and human. Propaganda is the bastardization of art, the manipulation of art's emotional impact to con spectators into believing falsehoods. Vaxxed II is propaganda. If propaganda has a home in art-house cinema, I'll pass. Give me superheroes and live-action remakes. They may say nothing, but I'll take that over a theater that endorses trash under the pretense of being fair and balanced.
Jarvis attempts to pass the buck in his statement. It's not his role to judge right from wrong, as if we teach that skill to every child on Earth to prepare him or her for a judgeship. Judging right from wrong is so fundamental that the inability to do so is the only way to be found not legally responsible for your actions.
That's not what happened here. Jarvis made a choice. He decided that it was right to screen a misleading film on a controversial topic in support of a dangerous and factually inaccurate viewpoint. He just doesn't want to have to back that choice up.
Way to Go, Welch
[Re Off Message: "As Impeachment Hearings Wrap, Welch Says Trump 'Betrayed' Oath of Office," November 23]: "When economic power became concentrated in a few hands, then political power flowed to those possessors and away from the citizens, ultimately resulting in an oligarchy or tyranny." The words of John Adams, America's second president, were in my mind as I listened to U.S. Rep. Peter Welch's concise questioning of witnesses in the impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump.
The threat to our democracy echoes earlier attempts by oligarchs and monarchs to derail our self-government. The efforts by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump and numerous billionaires to distribute false and divisive narratives are an echo of what the U.S. has suffered since our Declaration of Independence. Although at times we have fallen woefully short of fulfilling our dreams — of giving all people a say in our destiny — our hope for all people to be equal before the law and to have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" has been a beacon of promise for oppressed people across the globe.
We need to do our part to resist this slide toward feudalistic oligarchy by strengthening voting rights, a free press, and tax policies that help the middle and working classes. Thank goodness for our civil servants. As Rep. Welch pointed out: "They don't seek the limelight but are extraordinarily professional and competent, and they're very brave in a matter-of-fact way." This push to despotic rule is not new — only some of its tricks are.
Not Such a Bad Song...
[Re "No Accounting for Taste," November 27]: I admire the spunk of those who gather annually to celebrate bad pop songs, but I must take exception to the inclusion of Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park." Sloppy and sentimental as it is, it was recorded at a time when I needed a little sloppy sentimentalism to get by. And it was written by Jimmy Webb, one of my favorite composers. So there.
Next Stop: Montréal?
[Re "Runaway Train?" November 13]: Has anyone considered sending this train to Montréal after dropping its passengers in Burlington? This would assist passengers who live on the western side of the state to travel to Montréal without traveling a great distance to board the train. This would complement the expanded service of the Vermonter to Montréal.
[Re "Park or Ride," November 27]: Listing in this article what the reporter obviously thinks are high menu prices at Pizzeria Ida is unfair to the pizza establishment. Courtney Lamdin does not cite prices for any of the menu items at other establishments mentioned in the article. Furthermore, this article is not a food review, and citing the cost of menu items at Pizzeria Ida has absolutely nothing to do with the content or theme of the article.