Thank you for your article on Memorial Auditorium ["Memorial Days," December 1] and for including a photo of the late Frank Zappa. Unfortunately, the photo is captioned as 1989. Zappa's final tour was in 1988; he played Memorial Auditorium on March 12 that year.
The piece on Memorial Auditorium ["Memorial Days," December 1] was well written and brought back my own memories of this decaying landmark. That stroll through the past did lead me to question one factoid in the story: Chris Farnsworth reported that mayor Gordon Paquette banned rock and roll at the city arena following a Styx concert in 1977. Unless he banned it twice, I think the ban happened later, in 1978 or 1979.
At the time, I was a reporter and, later, news editor at the Vanguard Press, an alternative news and arts weekly that began publishing in January 1978. We covered shows at Memorial, and a writer named Frank Kaufman wrote a piece about Paquette and then-city treasurer Lee Austin coming to the auditorium in response to a raucous crowd at (I think) a Guess Who concert. Kaufman reported that Paquette and Austin — who arrived on scene after an evening at the Elks Club — appeared intoxicated when they showed up at Memorial.
Paquette and Austin sued the paper for libel, naming publisher Steve Brown, Kaufman and me as defendants. But their claim dissolved after we found and got a sworn statement from the cop who drove the mayor home that night. He testified that his honor was indeed hammered.
We attended many fabulous performances at Memorial Auditorium in the '70s. But the most memorable is not mentioned in your featured piece ["Memorial Days," December 11]. Does anyone remember the Blues Festival circa 1973?
Led by a very young Bonnie Raitt, there were amazing performances by Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Son House, "Big Boy" Arthur Crudup and many others. The show lasted for hours.
At the conclusion, all the musicians were playing together onstage, and the entire audience stood screaming on the wooden chairs. Truly unforgettable!
Help for Tenants
Thank you very much for bringing attention to the impact that substandard conditions and a flagrant disregard for tenants' rights have on vulnerable renters and our community. ["Roaches and Broken Locks," November 3] exposed a reality that we hear about every day in our work at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity. Many landlords follow the same pattern of neglect, ignore basic housing health and safety codes, and violate fair housing law. People are forced to live in unsafe or unhealthy conditions out of fear of retaliation or losing their housing.
Yes, there are many responsive and responsible landlords out there, but the critical housing shortage and desperation that so many people are facing cannot be ignored. One of the ways to address this is to make sure that people know their rights and responsibilities, as well as what to do if or when those rights are violated.
CVOEO provides a free statewide hotline for renters; information about tenant and fair housing rights in multiple languages; and workshops, consultations and coaching for people experiencing housing discrimination or harassment. We also offer fair housing trainings for housing providers and municipal officials. Partner agencies such as Vermont Legal Aid and the Human Rights Commission provide consultations, information and legal support, as well as process fair housing complaints.
I would kindly ask that future articles highlighting the unfair treatment of renters also include information about these free and available resources so that readers can know and advocate for their rights.
[Re "Roaches and Broken Locks," November 3; Off Message: "Essex Denies Development Proposal by Rick Bove, Citing History of Violations," November 19]: How sad that the Bove brothers continue to buy up property to rent out so that they can continue their slumlord reputation. They claim to be doing low- and no-income folks a favor by providing roach-infested sub-housing for the unfortunate. What they are doing is getting rich off the poor and doing no one any favors. Except, maybe, encouraging a roach population explosion. Have they no shame?
I didn't care for their marinara sauce, anyway. Paul Newman's marinara sauce is excellent, by the way.
[Re "The Firing of Skiing Legend John Egan Leaves Many Die-Hard Downhillers Soured on Sugarbush," November 10]: Waah. I've fallen off the gravy train, and I can't get up. Please, this is old news. I believe it's called "at-will employment."
'To Be a Nurse'
What ["Health Care Premium," November 3] neglects to fully address is the incredibly high burnout among nurses, which only adds to the nursing crisis. When will any article address the bloat of the managerial sect and their compensation? Or disclose what the hospitals are billing us out to the insurance companies? 99.9 percent of the population has limited knowledge of what is required to be a nurse and the constant stressors to do their jobs faster, more efficiently following joint commission standards and with limited resources every year — and to then be told we're making too much money!
If you want to see another exodus of nurses, pass any legislation restricting a free-market economy and stifling any incentive to continue as a nurse. There are many, many jobs with a fraction of the stress and equivalent pay, but this is our calling. When management comes to the table and says, "You're right. I am making too much money, and you nurses deserve better because you keep this hospital running," then we can have an honest discussion.
I'll Drink to That
Thank you for your article about the Vermont liquor business ["Lifting Spirits," November 17]. You missed one aspect that has plagued Vermont management of its liquor stores, which is supply. Products that Vermont claims to carry are often unavailable. As of last week, the closest store that carries Dolin sweet vermouth (Rouge), my preferred, is in Ludlow. One local store said it was unable to get Jack Daniel's for more than a month. The best London-style dry gin I've had is also almost the cheapest — from Costco in Massachusetts. Same with white tequila.
But, of course, Costco can't sell liquor in Vermont, as it does in other states. As your article suggests, it should be possible to tax the sale of liquor to maintain the income to the state without having the state manage sale and distribution. Expecting legislators, with little skill and expertise, to manage a liquor business is almost as ill-advised as having legislators try to run health care. If Vermont gets out of the liquor business, the supply and pricing problems will take care of themselves, as they mainly do for beer and wine.
[Re Off Message: "Leahy Won't Seek Reelection Next Year," November 15; "Leahy's Retirement Announcement Sets Off a Scramble to Succeed Him," November 17]: While U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy has served Vermont well, I wish that he could have broken from the Democratic Party line more to reach across the aisle.
In this remaining year as senator, Leahy has the political capital to spare to speak up for more true unity, decency and compromise — and, when need be, to speak against fellow Dems who only encourage more division, discord and hate speech, and who continue to use the race card, as used often by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, and others.
As a former prosecutor, he could speak up more firmly to encourage all to respect decisions made by a jury of one's peers and condemn violent protests. Will Leahy speak up for those still incarcerated after the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot who have not yet been charged with a crime?
There's still time to add to his legacy. Wishing Patrick and Marcelle Leahy all the best in the years ahead.
More on BHS?
Regarding ["Level Best?" November 24] and the debacle caused by faulty information about contaminants within Burlington High School, my first question is: Why aren't we hearing about this in other schools in Vermont and the U.S.? There must have been thousands of schools built during that same time period, using the same materials and construction methods to meet government regulations and codes.
I recall attending, a few years before the discovery of contaminants at BHS, a couple of informational meetings led by the mayor. The theory was that BHS required so much repair that the only viable action was to take it down and build a completely new school. It was not well received, for reasons that included lack of a solid plan for the handling of interrupted education, classroom facilities, projected costs and time frames.
Next, it seemed that the issue of contamination came up, and the mayor and school board pushed through their original idea for an entirely new school to be built without the veto power of the taxpaying population. This was all based on the false premise of a dangerous environment — so dangerous that the student population had to be moved into a temporary location immediately.
I'm wondering: Was this an underhanded plan to build that new high school without having to go through a public forum and vote? Was this a play to get federal funding and state funding based on contamination? Why weren't any checks done with surrounding communities or states?
There must be more to this story, and some people should be held accountable. I would appreciate anything you can do to bring this to light.
[Re "Market to Farm," November 24]: Why not require all food sold in Vermont to be packaged in biodegradable packaging? Give the industry, say, five to 10 years to adopt this policy.
Plastic In, Plastic Out
[Re "Market to Farm," November 24]: Thirty-eight percent of organic landfill waste was discarded in packaging, according to a 2018 study estimate. I agree with the manager of the state's solid waste program: We need to deal with food waste in packaging.
Depackaging machines cannot screen out all plastics.
All organizations that feed into the waste stream need to be held to the same standards as individual homeowners in separating food waste from their containers before any machine separation efforts. The further we move plastic through the waste system, the costlier it will be to our health and for future remediation.
Meanwhile, we can push to deal with the problem closer to the original source. Consumers, restaurants, hospitals, hotels, grocery stores and other groups can contact food processors and manufacturers and pressure them to package food in nonplastic containers. Let's tell these companies to curtail, if not end, plastic food packaging. If eggs can be shipped and delivered in biodegradable and reusable nonplastic containers, why can't many other foods? Also, grocery stores can provide more bulk food offerings.
[Re Off Message: "Spectators, Media Banned From Winooski-Enosburg Soccer Game," November 1]: On behalf of the Vermont chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, I'm writing to express our disappointment with the Vermont Principals' Association for failing to address and investigate the racial abuse incident that was reported by the Winooski soccer team and Winooski school superintendent Sean McMannon.
It is disheartening to learn that the VPA has not been proactive in addressing the racial abuse behaviors in school athletics. Despite multiple witnesses and statements from Winooski team players, VPA ignores taking action against these racially abusive behaviors. Putting out well-written statements and implementing trainings only address racism on the surface. These athletes are our future. We, the adults, have a responsibility to teach these students and young adults how to respect others.
The VPA refused to conduct an independent investigation and didn't take any action to address the athletes' behaviors. At the least, the VPA could have hosted a restorative circle for all the athletes that were involved. Both schools have social workers embedded in the staff; the VPA could have utilized school social workers to take anti-racist actions. But the VPA didn't do anything.
Social workers have a very strong ethical code regarding advocating for racial and social justice. We have no tolerance for any racial abuse. The Enosburg and Winooski incident is not an isolated incident. It is happening all over Vermont. Vermont has work to do regarding racial abuse accountability, especially for our young adult Vermonters who are our leaders of the future.
We urge the Vermont Principals' Association to take action to set a positive example to other organizations in dismantling racism.
Li is president of the Vermont chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and chair of its Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
No Need for Bridge
The article in your newspaper [Off Message: "Federal Funding Approved for Bridge to Carry Cyclists, Pedestrians Across I-89," November 19] seems to editorialize a need for this bridge by suggesting that pedestrians and bicyclists "must" negotiate busy traffic and several crosswalks.
The fact is that the current bridge on Williston Road over Interstate 89 has fine, manageable sidewalks with excellent, well-marked pedestrian stop signs and crosswalks at the junctions with I-89 on- and off-ramps. Hence, this newly approved bridge is not needed and is a sad waste of tax dollars.
Even though almost $9 million of the almost $15 million bridge cost will be federal money, someone along the way has to pay the piper. There is clearly no reason to build this bridge.