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Letters to the Editor (3/24/21)

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You Forgot One

Perhaps columnist Dave Gram needs to relearn how to count Vermont's statewide elective offices. He wrote that there are five in his screed attempting to skewer Molly Gray [Fair Game: "Team Molly," March 17]. He implied that the lieutenant governor's decision to hire a political staffer was a mark of unseemly ambition in a newly elected female office holder.

How interesting that, in the process, he omitted the only other statewide elective office held by a woman: state treasurer, held by Beth Pearce.

So there are actually six statewide elective offices: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, auditor and treasurer.

Goodness, Gram, is that a Freudian slip showing unconscious misogyny?

It's even worse that, with all the female energy and smarts at Seven Days, some editor or proofreader didn't pick up on the error.

Not to mention that Gray's novel move could be interpreted as showing creative thinking and her intention to actually do something with an office that has only two official duties: to step in should the governor be incapacitated and unable to serve; and to preside over the state Senate when in session.

Guess that never occurred to you, eh?

Euan Bear

Bakersfield

'Rachel Was Right'

[Re Fair Game: "Team Molly," March 17]: In reference to Molly Gray hiring a political consultant: Rachel Nevitt was right [Off Message: "Zuckerman's Spouse Slams Gray on Social Media," September 30, 2020].

Ross Laffan

Rochester

Vaccinate Inmates

[Re "'Cesspool of COVID-19,'" March 10]: Gov. Phil Scott apparently does not value the lives of people sent to jails, which produce 10 times the average number of COVID-19 infections. The state assumes responsibility, including health care, for those it incarcerates.

A majority of offenders are nonviolent. They may only have used marijuana. "Corrections" may send them for "rehabilitation" to Mississippi. That is supposed to help with family functioning, I guess? The authority to send inmates out of state must end. If space is lacking, fewer people will be made dangerous and expendable in jail. Some of the saved money can provide supervision, housing and job training in their communities.

More money can be saved with fewer jail guards, bureaucrats and police.

We need sensible bipartisan efforts to limit the need for "corrections." This should be possible in Vermont, if not nationally. For example, provide a decent minimum wage now and education improvement, not just rearrangement of the deck chairs.

Geoffrey Cobden

Weybridge

'You Don't Know What You've Got...'

[Re "Out With the Old," March 17]: It's imperative that the historic New Haven Train Depot be preserved. The train depot at Rouses Point in New York has been saved and renovated by the collective effort of local citizens. It's a real gem and a source of civic pride.

The same must be done with the New Haven depot. We can't lose this chance to save an important piece of our history. As Joni Mitchell sang, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

Jack Daggitt

Burlington

The Problem With King George School

[Re Nest: "Kingdom Jewel," March 17]: Ken Picard's nice article about the King George School being on the market for a decade, despite the price being reduced from $2.5 million to $1 million, fails to discuss that the property (sold for $3.4 million in 2006) abuts the Sheffield wind project, three quarters of a mile away.

The story here is the diminution of property value and salability in the neighborhood of the Sheffield wind project. The Guzman property (two miles east — 337 acres with a huge house and in-ground pool) was listed for $1.8 million and took forever to sell at about a third of the price. The Leverette horse farm (one and a half miles south — 37 acres with many paddocks and an indoor riding arena) was listed for $690,000 and sold for $409,000 after being on the market for several years. The Therrien property (half a mile to the west) took forever to sell at a deeply discounted price. You get the picture.

These are the exported and uncompensated costs of the project (in addition to the noise and visual blight) that are being visited on neighbors. The absentee landowner, Meadowsend Timberlands, which leases the property to the wind developer, was put on notice of these effects before construction of the project and chose to proceed in flagrant disregard of neighbors' concerns. The Public Utility Commission and the Department of Public Service failed to protect neighbors from this and other industrial wind projects in Vermont. Our concerns were ignored; it's as if we weren't even there.

Paul Brouha

Sutton

Admission of Bias

[Re Off Message: "'I Made a Mistake': Weinberger to Allow Racial Equity Director to Oversee Police Study," March 17]: I'm glad to see Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger reversing his decision to replace a Black woman with a white man to oversee Burlington's important police review. But I'm stunned that he still thinks a white man would be seen "as neutral and not bringing preexisting positions to the report."

This logic is not just politically naïve, it reveals the degree to which white supremacy has made whiteness the norm and the lens through which he views the world.

I am a white man who learned this through ignorant acts of my own. When I was a young journalist in the 1960s, the Kerner Commission convinced me that we needed to diversify our newsrooms by recruiting and hiring Black journalists. I did that, but I didn't think Black journalists should cover news about Black people — because they would be biased!

I made the same mistake when I hired the first American Indian journalist in South Dakota. I wouldn't let him cover American Indian news. Rightly so, he quit and started his own newspaper covering Native American news.

Only later, while working at the Southern Poverty Law Center, studying racial history and hidden racial bias, did I realize that I had been practicing white supremacy — the need to control the outcome through my white lens. I also learned that we can never be completely unbiased. The best we can do is to recognize its power and take affirmative action to counter it before it ends in actual discrimination.

I hope the mayor can learn the same lesson.

Jim Carrier

Burlington