Letters to the Editor (2/1/23) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published February 1, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated February 1, 2023 at 10:10 a.m.

A Way to Pay

I was reading through the "Who Cares?" article [January 11], about Vermont's dysfunctional childcare system, when the amount families spend per month on childcare jumped out at me: $1,350 to $1,500. Why, that's about the cost of fuel to fly one F-35 jet bomber for 15 minutes!

If just one of the 24 bombers that assault our neighborhoods every day were grounded, imagine the number of childcare slots that might open up!

The National Defense Authorization Act, which was recently passed by the U.S. Senate, includes additional funding for the F-35, despite the news that another fighter-bomber has crash-landed in Georgia.

Retiring senator Patrick Leahy, godfather of the deal that brought the 35 to Vermont, voted for it. Sen. Bernie Sanders was among 11 who were against it.

One wonders which path our new Sen. Peter Welch will follow?

Robin Lloyd


People's Police

The Progs have offered a counterproposal to the mayor's safety proposal, and it is certainly an appropriate time to do so ["Burlington Progressives Release Public Safety Plan," January 17, online]. The mayor's plan was a typically mainstream approach of too little, too late. It also failed to address a number of issues that the people of Burlington wish to see addressed. The simple fact is that the mayor has vetoed the civilian police oversight board issue, and it is now on the ballot this March for the people to confirm what their councilors have voted for.

There is a need for the voice of the people to be heard. The mayor blocks any move he can by the people's voted representatives, without any recourse for the citizens. The police chief is bound by the terms of the contract negotiated with the police union that provide a maximum penalty of two weeks' suspension for assaults that might reasonably be greeted with prison time in a court of law. A civilian review board could make a reasoned and legitimate judgment on the correct punishment for flagrant behavior by police officers. We all saw the videos you published ["Violence Caught on Camera Leads to Brutality Claims Against Burlington Cops," May 3, 2019]. No one thinks that a two-week suspension was an adequate penalty for the behavior we saw.

Will this compromise Burlington's ability to recruit new officers? Well-trained officers should not worry that they will run afoul of the new committee. If they do their jobs right, without bias or violence, they have nothing to fear.

Barbie Alsop


Tackling Toxins

[Re "Lawmakers Approve New Pesticide Rules for Vermont," January 19, online]: The Vermont PFAS/Military Poisons Coalition urges Vermont legislators and state agencies to take the environmental threat posed by PFAS, pesticides and other toxins more seriously. As evidenced by the newly passed Vermont Agency of Agriculture Revised Rules on Pesticides, our agencies are not collaborating to protect Vermonters or listening to what we have to say. Coalition members want our legislature and agencies to take the following measures to ensure public health and environmental safety:

  • Reinstate statutory language mandating pesticide reduction. Vermont is no longer working toward reducing its pesticide use at a time when it is clear that we must change our practices.
  • Require that any pesticides used be lab-certified as PFAS-free. Ban pesticides known to contain PFAS from use.
  • Require the Vermont Department of Health to work closely with all state agencies revising rules that have public health or environmental impacts. The fact that the health department was not consulted on the pesticide rules until December 19 is disgraceful, demonstrating the lack of important collaboration between agencies.
  • Pass a law requiring all state agencies and legislators to use the precautionary principle before enacting rules and legislation. We need a paradigm shift where our government cares more about people and planet and less about profit.
  • Issue a directive banning state agencies from purchasing products containing PFAS and other toxins; leverage our tax dollars and the state's buying power to stop companies from using these toxic chemicals.

What we do to our Earth we do to ourselves and future generations.

Marguerite Adelman


Adelman is the volunteer coordinator of the Vermont PFAS/Military Poisons Coalition.

HBOT Works

[Re "Applying Pressure: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Breathes New Life Into Treating Long COVID and Other Ailments," January 18]: Three years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. My treatment consisted of 48 radiation appointments and a year of hormone therapy. One of my side effects was blood coming from my bladder. Eighteen months ago, it got so bad that I was hospitalized for five days.

The doctors at the University of Vermont Medical Center told me that this was an extremely frustrating side effect of radiation treatment for the patient and the doctors, because no one could tell me how long it might last and, if it stopped, whether it would start again. They suggested that I investigate hyperbaric oxygen therapy. I ended up getting my treatment at the Absolute Wellness Healing Spa on Williston Road in South Burlington. Owner Colleen Hartford has a modern German hyperbaric chamber that is very user-friendly. I started going five times a week, for an hour and a half.

In the middle of my Vermont sessions, I went to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to interview Dr. Nicole Harlan, one of the doctors at their treatment center. She told me that they get their most durable results with radiation damage, diabetic sores and crushing injuries. The protocol there is 2.4 atmospheres for an hour and a half a day for eight weeks, a total of 40 treatments.

When I told her that my treatments were at 2.0 atmospheres, she told me that they should be for two hours instead of an hour and a half. I made that adjustment and, in the middle of my treatment, the bleeding in my bladder stopped and has not returned. My feeling is that it's a very safe procedure with little or no negative side effects and a possibility of much better health as a result of bathing your body with extra oxygen.

Robert Fuller


Do Your Research

We were disappointed to read another article ["Applying Pressure: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Breathes New Life Into Treating Long COVID and Other Ailments," January 18] in Seven Days that puts business interests (couched within patients' lived experience) before science. Current research does not support acupuncture, herbal medicine or hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of long COVID; however, your recent articles interviewed professionals promoting their own anecdotes regarding potential long-COVID treatments to your readers.

Local business stories are not a substitute for evidence from rigorously designed research published in peer-reviewed journals. These articles ["COVID Long-Haulers Struggle With Debilitating Symptoms, Few Treatment Options," November 30, 2022] read as free marketing for those businesses, rather than fact-based reporting on a current health/science matter or a human interest story on the experience of patients in our community.

Promoting unproven treatments for long COVID is irresponsible journalistic practice and risks exploiting the desperation of patients expending scarce physical, mental and financial resources in search of relief. Long-COVID patients most need access to evidence-based health information, providers who will listen and believe them, fair access to social services, and investments in research to develop treatments.

Krista Coombs, MTCM


Mel Symeonides, PhD


Anne N. Sosin, MPH


Dying for More

I read your "Death Issue" [October 26] with great interest but must let you know you left out a very important part of how we die today in the United States.

Vermont's progressive laws allowing medical aid to the dying leave out several other ways a person can self-determine their method and time of death. It also keeps the process squarely in the realm of health care, when what people really need is "death care."

As an end-of-life doula, I have been trained to be that nonmedical helpmeet in support of the dying and their family/support system at the end of life — sometimes the most important chapter they will ever experience.

To experience a "good death" is the final wish of so many. I hope your reporting will cover this newer layer of support out there.

Pauline Meridien


Meridien is an eldercare doula.

Policing the Police

[Re "Crime Pays: Burlington Police Officers Land a Lucrative Side Gig," January 24]: There seems to be a straightforward solution to the River Watch condo's private security question, if one applies the basic rules of the use of publicly funded property, such as police cruisers, uniforms, guns, etc. River Watch can hire off-duty cops as private security guards for whatever price the two parties settle on. River Watch and/or the private security guards provide their own equipment to get the job done. Taxpayer-funded public property, such as cruisers and uniforms, can't fairly be used for private purposes, such as profit for the security guards.

Of course, it's a sad state of affairs that private citizens need to pay to protect themselves. I just hope that everyone remembers which individual politicians and which political party in Burlington was shouting loudest to defund the police — and holds them responsible.

Let's learn from our mistakes and let our city government and police chief create a well-paid and properly funded force that is held strictly accountable to upholding our values of community service, inclusivity, humanity, empathy and public safety. If the cops can utilize their expertise to provide a service and make some extra cash on the side without using our taxpayer-funded property, good on 'em.

Jonny Adler


Headlines are meant to entice clicks. And different things appeal to different readerships. For ["Crime Pays: Burlington Police Officers Land a Lucrative Side Gig," January 24], the same story appearing in a different publication might have had success with the headline: "Double Standard: City Councilor Who Voted to Defund Lives in Private Community That Pays Thousands Each Week for Extra Policing."

Michael S. Maher


There are several misleading statements in ["Crime Pays: Burlington Police Officers Land a Lucrative Side Gig," January 24]. We residents of River Watch are not receiving "enhanced police services because its residents can pay for it." Residents here have chosen to live in an association where we share the cost of maintaining common property. We also must all share the cost to repair the damage done by these criminals, whether we can afford it or not. We are spending money we can ill afford in an attempt to protect our residents and property from the horrible increase in crime since Burlington Police Department funding was slashed.

It took over two years to get the "problem tenant" cited to finally be evicted. The criminal activity did not stop with his eviction. Portraying the off-duty officers who agreed to work extra hours as doing something wrong is inexcusable.

Councilor Zoraya Hightower would know these facts if she asked her neighbors or read the board minutes of this association, of which she is a member. Instead of criticizing people for trying to protect themselves, you should put the blame where it belongs — on the city councilors who undercut the BPD budget and are attempting to micromanage police services. You should blame the media who reported that there are only two officers policing the entire city during the graveyard shifts. This was an open invitation to anyone who wants to come to Burlington and commit crimes. Elect people who will adequately fund BPD.

Theresa Lefebvre


Lefebvre is a resident of River Watch.

[Re "Crime Pays: Burlington Police Officers Land a Lucrative Side Gig," January 24]: Councilor Zoraya Hightower was instrumental in shrinking the police force. Now she lives in a condo complex where the association had to hire private security because of an increase in crimes, caused by her idea of cutting the police force. The situation got better after the landlords were able to evict the troublemaker. Although, just a short time before that, Hightower tried to create a new "just cause" eviction law, which would make it close to impossible to evict such tenants. Now she complains about police officers taking side gigs for double the money in desperate but well-off neighborhoods.

Keep complaining, and soon only acting Police Chief Jon Murad will be patrolling the streets by himself. I do not know where his limit of patience is, but I think we should send his sainthood application to the Vatican.

To actually make this town safe, I propose moving the Progressives to a new-age retreat close to the Canadian border; giving them some firewood, pots and utensils; and letting them terrorize the naïve wildlife. Meanwhile, here in Burlington, you would hear the huge sigh of relief from every brick, every cinder block, every broken window. Even the lake would splash happily. Applications for police jobs would pile up on Murad's desk.

But before that happens, would anybody know the contact for "Saturday Night Live" agents? I would like to talk to them, because there is enough material here for another 100 years. This city is full of talented clowns.

Evzen Holas


[Re "Crime Pays: Burlington Police Officers Land a Lucrative Side Gig," January 24]: My opinion is that the Burlington City Council and mayor's office should be focused on solving the ongoing crime situation in Burlington rather than focusing on people who are forced to do something about the situation on their own.

What is wrong with this picture? We need to vote in all new city council members who have some common sense.

Carol Brown


Brown owns and rents out a condo in River Watch.