Time for Tax
I'm writing in response to "That's Budget: Seven Takeaways From Shumlin's New Agenda" last month [January 21], specifically about the carbon-pollution tax. As a 10-year Burlington resident and professional weatherization installer, I always drive around the county for work. Yet, while I pump my gas and continue my commute, I do wonder: How can we — Vermonters — save some money? Even a modest carbon-pollution tax on fossil-fuel distributors in the state would keep millions of dollars in Vermont.
Each year, we spend $2 billion on fossil fuels, while only $2 out of every $10 stays in the state. That is crazy. Keeping more of this money would directly impact the state and our Burlington community in a positive way. Don't you think if fossil-fuel distributors have the second-highest profits in the country — coming out of our pockets — we should keep some of that value here?
I would love to see the state weaned off of fossil fuels altogether. Until then, let's at least get our money's worth out of what's happening. The distributors certainly are.
[Re "Irasburg Couple Charged in 'Elaborate' Poaching Case," February 11]: Domestic cats are one of the principal predators, and thus threats, to native songbirds in the United States, killing between 1.4 and 4 billion annually (Milius 2013). Now let's imagine a situation where someone hunted and killed upwards of 60 domestic cats a year to help protect songbirds. I don't think there are many of us who would not expect the mighty iron hammer of justice to slam down swiftly and resolutely on such an individual. In fact, I think such an action would likely be demanded by Vermonters — funky cat ladies and dog lovers alike.
So when Mr. Wayne Dion "kills between 30 and 60 coyotes every year" in order to, as he says, save "at least 35 deer or more a year," I gotta ask: "Are you shitting me?" This is just one guy, and there are no limits on coyote killing in Vermont? Where is the hammer of justice in any of this?
As stated in Soundbites [February 11], the Death, Rough Francis, Sistas In The Pit triple bill was one of the loudest-rocking shows hosted by the Flynn, but unfortunately the veritable old theater could not loosen up and allow patrons to have a good time. Very limited dancing in the aisles and zero dancing by the stage permitted at this body-shaking, rocking show! I respect the arts and theater scene in Burlington, but the Flynn needs to let go of its elitist, tired old ways and allow for a more diverse calendar of artists and shows while allowing patrons to move and shake it up a bit.
The Flynn could take a cue from the Ridgefield Playhouse, a retrofitted high school auditorium in Connecticut, where they hosted the Go-Gos and allowed patrons to dance and interact with the band. And the Ridgefield has an amazingly diverse schedule of quality acts, including lots of rock and roll. Come on, Flynn, please shake it up!
I'm Running, Mate
About three issues ago, you seemingly forgot to mention that Jane Knodell has opposition in the council race for the Central District city councilor's seat ["Queen City Shake-Up: New Districts, Candidates in Landmark Election," January 7]. This was, of course, a deliberate omission. Is it also a deliberate omission that Jane Knodell, as a trustee of Burlington College, signed the bill of sale for that college's open land to a real estate developer? Jane can do no evil, right?
Ruloff is an independent candidate for Central District city councilor.
Seven Days has had a lot of coverage about the upcoming mayoral election in Burlington ["Way to Grow," February 11; "Burlington Telecom: From a Cloud of Litigation to a Campaign Story," January 28; etc.]. Reading the coverage, one would almost think the candidates have little prior governmental history. Let us look at some of that history.
I do not always agree with Mayor Weinberger's decisions. However, the process is much more open than it was before. Mayor Weinberger also gets things happening, and they are well executed. Contrast that with Steve Goodkind's tenure at public works. As a member of the Ward 6 NPA Steering Committee and the Budget Task Force for several years, I had numerous dealings with Mr. Goodkind. He was the antithesis of open. He even refused to bring his budget to the committee. He also executed badly. During the resurfacing of South Willard and South Union streets, we tried over and over again to get him to eliminate what we called Lake Willard and Lake Union, but he just put us off and, in the end, failed. There are many other examples of how Mr. Goodkind's public works ignored residents and thus failed to satisfy them.
Mr. Goodkind retired — keep him retired. The last thing Burlington needs is a closed, ineffective city government.
Housing for Whom?
I hear that we have a "housing crisis" and must build more housing ["Way to Grow," February 11]. At a planBTV meeting, I heard that Dealer.com and Burton need more housing to attract and retain workers, so the mayor wants to build something called "South End Square."
My grandniece, a recent college graduate with a full-time job, has had to move back in with my sister since she cannot afford to rent a Burlington apartment. She says this isn't unusual among her friends. Will this Dealer/Burton-driven development address her housing crisis? I am told that 15 percent of new housing must be "affordable," but affordable for whom? I hear that supply and demand will solve the problem: Build more, and prices will drop. In 1970, the population of Burlington was 38,600. Today, 45 years later, it's only 42,600. That's a growth of only about 2 percent per decade. Yet take away the growth in the number of students, and Burlington's population likely decreased substantially during that period.
Many landlords are eager to convert the best neighborhood apartments into unsupervised student dorms. Is anyone paying attention? What exactly is the nature of our "housing crisis"? This administration is even willing to sacrifice irreplaceable waterfront land to build more housing. Is anyone noticing that more housing isn't lowering rents?