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Letters to the Editor (2/3/21)

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Major Misunderstandings

Faculty union leaders would have you believe that the humanities are going away at the University of Vermont ["Major Fallout," January 27]. That's not the case. The reality is that even after the College of Arts and Sciences' plan is implemented, thousands of students will still be able to take classes in classical civilization, Latin and religion, among other disciplines.

All that is happening is that some majors, minors and master's programs that attract very few students, and require significant resource commitments, will be phased out. Students currently in these programs will be able to complete their chosen degree. Even once the majors are retired, there are courses within each major that will continue to be taught. The enrollment in each one of the majors proposed for termination amounts to less than half of one percent of the college's total student enrollment of approximately 4,650 students. UVM will still offer a comprehensive liberal arts education. Nearly a third of the remaining 44 majors and more than a third of the remaining 52 minors will be in the arts and humanities.

Maintaining programs that serve a very small number of students is not sustainable and limits our ability to invest in liberal arts programs with high enrollments. This is the best way to ensure that we are positioned to strengthen the robust liberal arts education we offer. A more strategic deployment of resources to meet student interest and needs is part of our responsibility.

Enrique Corredera

Charlotte

Corredera is spokesperson for the University of Vermont.

All Is Not Well

In last week's Fair Game, Dave Gram asks "Why Rob Roper Won't Stop Talking About Voter Fraud in Vermont."

Well, because the Vermont director of elections testified that if one was willing to fill out someone else's ballot and sign that person's name to the envelope, "...it's likely that that ballot will get processed." He also explained that it is impossible to remove the fraudulent vote from the final count and that "We had instances of that this year."

Several clerks concurred that there are no virtually no safeguards in place to detect, trace or prosecute someone who fills out and remits someone else's ballot.

Several clerks alleged that the Secretary of State's Office does not provide them with training to detect or investigate fraud, and, when they do catch people trying to cheat, neither the secretary of state nor the attorney general actually follows up on such reports. 

So, if there's no way to detect absentee ballot fraud when it occurs, or means to stop it if it is tried, and the people in charge of elections aren't trained in how to do so, and the ultimate enforcers ignore transgressions, how can anyone possibly make an informed, accurate conclusion about how often fraud does or doesn't occur? Fact: You can't. This is a problem. 

Yet Dave the Crack Reporter finds the story not in this rather dramatic testimony, but in the unfounded and unverifiable assertions of politicians that "all is well."

Sadly, on a word count here. For real reporting on and full discussion of this issue, go to ethanallen.org

Rob Roper

Stowe

Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Roper's Reasons

I thank Dave Gram for his column "Why Rob Roper Won't Stop Talking About Voter Fraud in Vermont" [Fair Game, January 27]. I'm also happy that Fair Game has restarted. I've been following it since the Peter Freyne days and have definitely missed it. I wish Gram well in his new digs with Seven Days

I am also glad that Gram took on Roper, the Ethan Allen Institute and the right-wing blogosphere in Vermont, like True North Reports. It's important to know who these people are, the real purpose behind their messaging about so-called voter fraud and who pays for them to do it.

The right fears mail-in voting because it will do the opposite of what their campaigns against voter turnout — strict voter ID laws, gerrymandering, voter purges, closing down polls and so on — have been trying to do, especially among groups that tend to vote Democratic. The New York Times quoted a conservative leader about this in an editorial on November 1, 2020, titled "Why Are Republicans So Afraid of Voters?" This individual, the late Paul Weyrich, "told a gathering of religious leaders in 1980" that "'I don't want everybody to vote ... As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.'"  

We should never forget this, even here in Vermont, and I thank Gram for putting it out into the open.

Walter Carpenter 

Montpelier

Inappropriate 'I Spy'

The "I Spy" you published about a night-shift nurse including her name and workplace was completely inappropriate. Nurses get so much harassment from patients and are already at risk, like all people who work with the public, of being followed and assaulted. Posting this and encouraging someone to seek out a nurse or working person is dangerous! Please delete the listing from your website and print an apology, with no more identifying details!

Lucy Weber

Burlington

Editor's note: The intent of the Seven Days "I Spys" is to facilitate communication between two people who have had a public encounter, don't know each other's names and have no other way of connecting. Identifiers such as physical descriptions and first names are permitted. In this case, the person who sent the message complimented the nurse on her competent care and respectfully gauged her interest. She is under no obligation to respond. If she objected to or felt threatened by the post and communicated that to Seven Days, we would take it down.

'Political Capitol'

The photos published in ["Nothing to Siege Here," January 20] suggest that those representatives are "WANTED" for voting against the flawed, misleading and divisive Capitol riot resolution — that the other party's politicians and many of your readers would have them tarred and feathered — or worse!

Despite talk of unity and cooperation in Washington, D.C., Democrats want total victory, down to the ashes.

Still a fraction of an idealist, I thought at least our esteemed U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, following the examples of past senators Ralph Flanders and George Aiken, could have led the way to speak up against all violence and hate speech, including in his own party — to speak against the manipulated summer violence by extremists who hijacked a legitimate cause for social justice, along with the unjustified and senseless assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Seven Days deserves many accolades, but for a moment those photos, as published, gave the impression that readers should extract some 'political Capitol' in their own right and sow more discord.

Robert Devost

Jericho

Drug Deal

[Re Off Message: "Burlington Will Put Retail Cannabis Question on March Ballot," January 20; WTF: "Why Are Medical Cannabis Patients Charged a Fee on Every Purchase?" January 20]: In virtually every culture on Earth that has ever attempted to criminalize a substance, three things happen: 1. The overall purity of that substance goes down; 2. the rate of problematic abuse of that substance goes up; and 3. the governing body uses the laws to persecute certain demographics more than others.

I encourage everyone to do their homework in this domain. And yet we still have grown adults, many of them ostensible members of the cannabis community, talking about opt-in with a straight face. I have been studying drugs and drug culture for more than 20 years. I have been through addictions, relapses and legal snafus. I have lost multiple friends to the drug war. And I currently work in the field of addiction recovery. Make no mistake: Vermont's most recent "legalization" attempt represents a slight amendment to the drug war, not a sincere desire to end it.

Al Teodosio

North Ferrisburgh

Embrace Act 250

[Re "The Governor's Gambit," January 27; Off Message: "Senate Committee Votes to Reject Scott's Act 250 Executive Order," January 29]: The latest hubbub over Act 250 makes me want to go on a yearlong silent retreat or, alternatively, have access to one of those sensory deprivation chambers in which you are totally in the dark and hear nothing except the beating of your own heart. Act 250 is so regularly — and unjustifiably — used as a scapegoat for Vermont's problems, I'm surprised it hasn't been blamed for the unfunded liabilities in the state employees' pension plan. That, I suppose, is coming.

Fact is — and yes, there are facts here — Act 250 was crippled in its toddlerhood by the failure to enact the contemplated statewide land-use plan. Gov. Deane Davis, father of Act 250, wrote in his autobiography "of the indispensability of a Land Use Plan to the successful and efficient enforcement of Act 250." Well, the plan went down, leaving the law hobbling like a three-legged stallion. Try as you might, you aren't going to win the Kentucky Derby with one or, as history has proven, create a truly great land-use law.

The irony of Gov. Phil Scott's proposed executive order is that it makes legislators with spongelike spines appear resolute and sclerotic environmental organizations look as if they have recaptured their youth as edgy, aggressive defenders of Vermont's environment. Pshaw!

With Richard III, who exclaimed, "My kingdom for a horse," I'd gladly give up my kingdom for a legislature that would actually strengthen Act 250 and not merely "modernize" it ... whatever the heck that means.

Bruce S. Post

Essex

Good for Gram

Have been meaning to write in and just thank you for restarting Fair Game and recruiting Dave Gram to head it up. A brilliant choice, and I look forward to his analysis and thoughts each week. In the past, the column has been important and interesting but sometimes drifted off into sniping and less-than-civil discourse. Dave will provoke discussion but do it in a way that meets the challenge of what faces us.

Glenn McRae

Burlington