'Best' Leader for Burlington
[Re Off Message: "Weinberger Leads Fundraising Pack in Burlington Mayoral Contest," February 5]: As his fundraising makes clear, Mayor Miro Weinberger has plenty of money and the unflagging support of fellow developers. This is great for Weinberger but bad news for the city. As Weinberger himself confirmed in ["Better Burg? Burlington's 'Development Mayor' Makes His Case for a Third Term," April 26, 2017], he entered politics to advance his interest in development. His hype pretends that development always serves the public interest, but a closer look reveals it is development interests that come first for Weinberger.
Appropriate development is appropriately encouraged by city government and leaders, but selling off and leasing city property at bargain rates, handing tax dollars to developers, and offering tax discounts to "investors" while residents and others pay top dollar are practices that abuse the public trust and betray the public interest. Weinberger's administration goes through the motions of public input, but behind the scenes are concerted efforts to silence the public through deregulatory schemes such as form-based code.
It's time for a change in Burlington and for a reaffirmation of the progressive democracy that Sen. Bernie Sanders spearheaded decades ago. Both Carina Driscoll and Infinite Culcleasure demonstrate sincere commitment to Democratic and Progressive values — in stark contrast to the all-for-show public engagement charades that are stock-in-trade for the top-down Weinberger administration.
Driscoll is running to be elected Burlington's mayor, not to be elected Burlington's first woman mayor — but it is about time just the same. Her deep, lifelong roots in the community and her experience in business, city government and elective office make her the best-qualified candidate.
And the Proposals Are...
[Re "Two Against One: Is Weinberger Vulnerable in Burlington's Mayoral Race?" January 31; Off Message: "Culcleasure Vows to Remain in Burlington Mayoral Race," February 9; "Infinite Possibility? Mayoral Candidate Culcleasure Aims to Lead From Behind," February 14]: It amazes me how, three times out of three, your reporting never mentioned any of the unique, concrete proposals that the Infinite for Mayor campaign has put out and endlessly mentioned in every Neighborhood Planning Assembly meeting and candidate forum. Reflecting both Infinite Culcleasure's longtime leadership at his NPA as well as his campaign's principle of community participation, these proposals include:
• City charter amendment to enhance the status of NPA resolutions from advisory to something with actual teeth — legal power that requires the city council to take up for consideration and formally respond to the resolutions.
• Adequate, independent and equitable funding structure for the NPAs to replace the current, underfunded patronage model of funding; to provide childcare, meal, youth activities, transport, interpretation services and even stipends for low-income residents attending NPA meetings or other programs, with the goal of elimination of all barriers to participation.
• Review Weinberger-era changes to the original Livable Wage Ordinance, reversing exclusion of businesses with contract relationship with the city — including municipal-owned land and property on the waterfront, the airport and downtown area — which effectively excludes the very workers, in retail and service, that the LWO was designed to help.
In contrast to our campaign's serious policy proposals, our opponents' differences have been essentially symbolic: for example, passage of the F-35 ballot issue, or whether the mural comes down before or after the election. With those candidates, systemic racism in our city and militarism in our foreign policy will continue.
Please give us reporting that reflects the importance of the upcoming city election.
Thank you so much for your detailed, thorough coverage of everything cannabis-related in Vermont. Seven Days and its Vermont Cannabeat microsite have become not only news sources but also invaluable references for Vermonters to sift through the legal ambiguity of the plant ["The Cannabis Catch-Up: Vermont Lawmakers Know the Value of Taxing Weed," February 16].
However, something needs to be said, and loudly: Before we even get to recreational use, medical cannabis has an enormously long way to go in Vermont. If you visit one of the legal medical dispensaries in the state (after waiting 90 days to be evaluated, that is), you'll pay around $55 for 3.5 grams of a cannabis strain that was cool 20 years ago. On the black market, you'll pay roughly $40 for 3.5 grams of cannabis that is not only stronger but also more professionally grown, harvested and cured.
I just hope lawmakers know that if the market is a game, the legal side of things is down by, like, seven touchdowns in the fourth quarter — even for medical.
A few weeks ago I read about how Sen. Bernie Sanders' office asserted that you only print "political gossip" [Off Message: "Sanders Backs Out of Interview After Failing to Dictate Conditions," January 29].
In last week's Fair Game ["Message Trouble," February 14], John Walters covered Democrats in the Vermont Senate, saying they were struggling to get their message together. "Senate Democrats seem particularly ineffectual," he wrote.
The legislature has been in session for six weeks, and so far the Senate, under Democrats' control, has advanced several important bills, including $15 minimum wage, net neutrality, protection for Equifax customers, marijuana legalization, prescription drug reimportation, fair contract protection for Vermont consumers and workplace protection for victims of sexual harassment.
The only issue Seven Days gave any significant coverage to is marijuana. I would like to see the paper more focused on the important issues being debated, and then maybe Sen. Sanders would finally grant that coveted interview. That is an article I would read.
"There were no suits and ties at Culcleasure's first organizing party at North End Studios — the candidate has no formal campaign headquarters. The event attracted a crowd of people sporting jean jackets, body piercings and scruffy beards."
This statement from ["Two Against One: Is Weinberger Vulnerable in Burlington's Mayoral Race?" January 31] has been eating away at me. You can do better. This is very dismissive of the group of supporters who attended the event, as if the way we look invalidates our concern for our community and support of Infinite Culcleasure's candidacy. There was certainly a more respectful and tasteful way to refer to the attendees. How about the fact that we were racially diverse and represented a variety of age groups, economic backgrounds, and sexual and gender identities, united in agreement that the current leadership in city hall should be doing more to listen to and address the needs of all Burlington citizens?