Give Bernie a Break
Since last November, Sen. Bernie Sanders has had a full plate of national issues challenging our democracy to deal with. I hope the Vermont media can cut him some slack on the issue of availability [Fair Game: "The Media Bern," March 22].
My confidence in Bernie and Vermont's entire congressional delegation is nearly 100 percent. If we could clone them to "take over" the rest of the country, the U.S. would be a much better place.
I was not surprised to learn of Sen. Bernie Sanders' antipathy to Vermont media organizations [Fair Game: "The Media Bern," March 22]. The senator does not like people or organizations that hold him accountable for double standards.
Bernie complains about too many fat cats gaming the system, while owning three homes and flying around the country (generating tons of greenhouse gases) promoting his new book, Our Revolution.
In 2014 Bernie declared income of $215,271, an amount that placed him in a 28 percent tax bracket. However, after deductions, his tax bracket was only 13.5 percent. His deductions included $8,946 for "meals" and $14,843 for real estate taxes (add an additional $9,156 to that amount for his new third residence).
The national average for adjusted income in 2014 was $65,000, with a tax bracket of 14.7 percent. So "progressive" Bernie paid a lower tax rate than people with income less than one third of what he earned.
Bernie avoids the Vermont media because they ask tough questions, the answers to which would show a side of the senator that he does not want voters to see.
[Re WTF: "Do Stores in Burlington Town Center Have to Recycle?" March 1]: I was the L.L.Bean shopper who was told by the salesperson that she could not recycle all the paper materials stuffed into all the shoes they sell. We both griped a bit about this situation as we pulled stuffed paper out of the toes of several pairs of boots. She said that she and a couple of coworkers sometimes took home big bags of packing paper so the paper did not end up in the Dumpster.
L.L.Bean's reply to Seven Days was that the shopper — that's me — was "misinformed." In fact, on that particular day at least, L.L.Bean was not fully adhering to the Universal Recycling Law. That salesperson, who seemed competent in every other way, was not planning to recycle the paper waste created on her shift — or her previous shift, or her next shift. I'd guess that there was not an obvious place for her to recycle, or she would have.
I hope that L.L.Bean renews its effort, evaluates to see if all departments actually recycle and/or retrains employees. Or should Chittenden Solid Waste District check out L.L.Bean's shoe department to ensure compliance? Maybe this salesperson was an anomaly. There is no question that L.L.Bean is supposed to recycle/wants to recycle/has policies about recycling. But do they?
Demographics Don't Matter
[Re Soundbites, March 15]: It was unnecessary to say that the artists in Ben & Jerry's Concerts on the Green appeal to an older demographic. If relevant, one could then make the same statement but include a different demographic for the Monkey House, ArtsRiot or Higher Ground's Williston Road location. A music venue will stage events for fans that enjoy the experience and will pay for it. Who that is shouldn't matter as long as the tickets sell.
Looking for a Compromise
[Re Fair Game: "The Calm and the Storm," March 8]: The budget is clearly the central issue of this year's legislative session. While there is still too much partisan bickering, there is good news in that the House Appropriations Committee, largely by adopting suggestions from the governor, has narrowed the budget gap from $72 million to $18 million.
Gov. Phil Scott was elected mainly due to his pledge to create no new taxes and fees, and this should be respected. His proposal for greater funding for preschool and higher education by level-funding K-12 educational costs was roundly rejected and, unless he proposes new options for covering the cost, should no longer be considered this year.
At the same time, Democrats have a majority in the Senate and the House, and voters have given them the right and responsibility to take the lead on what priorities will be funded this year within the framework of no new taxes and fees. It is time they step up to the plate.
Vermont is blessed with talented leaders from both parties. It is time to stop the blame game and get on with crafting a budget that best meets the overall good of our state and is within our financial means. Hard work and compromise from both sides will be needed, but it can be done.
No Sympathy for Heroin Addicts
On behalf of all the sane people in Vermont, I would like to thank the Drug Enforcement Administration and all agencies that successfully shut down the heroin dealer and his distributor, making Vermont safer and cleaner [Off Message: "Walters: Nothing to See Here, Say Senators," March 23]. We all have to work together to win this war on opium. Many of these addicts we have are supported by state programs, which do not solve the problem.
I suggest addicts sign a do-not-resuscitate form and donate their organs to people who want to be participants in this world. This would really help the organ banks across America. If you see heroin or suspicious activity, please help the DEA and local law enforcement to stop this crap.
I wrote this because of the heroin idiot in Berlin who tried to steal the car that three teen girls were in [Last 7, "Po-Po Platter," March 22].
In "Legal Pot Bill Clears Key Committee in Vermont House" [Off Message, March 22], Terri Hallenbeck describes Gov. Phil Scott as wanting to delay progress on marijuana legalization until a roadside test can determine THC impairment.
That might sound great, but scratch the surface and you'll find that Scott is playing games with roadside safety.
His own traffic safety experts have given legislative testimony saying that setting a legal THC limit is a bad idea, and that the way to deal with drugged driving (an existing problem whether or not we legalize marijuana) is to train more police officers as drug recognition experts and experts in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement. They testified that drugged driving is more than just a marijuana thing, and that setting random THC limits won't help them keep the roads safe at all.
Gov. Scott is ignoring his own expert advisers and, in doing so, making our roads less safe.
The purpose — cultural or otherwise — of a two-or-fewer-star review has always perplexed me. If a movie is so bad, why even waste the time, energy and space to publish a review of it? In those cases, it seems to be much more about the reviewer than what's being reviewed. Rick Kisonak's recent review of The Great Wall is a perfect example of this [Movie Review, February 22]. In addition to being borderline racist, the opening paragraph summarizes a claim Kisonak already postulated — he even goes so far as to quote himself! — before explaining how The Great Wall fits perfectly into his own prediction. The review then goes on to bolster this claim, through bits of summary followed by sarcastic commentary, without offering any outside opinions, points of view or perspectives. If you're so sure of what your own opinions are, why do you even have to share them?
One morning on my way to work a few weeks ago, I popped into a coffee shop to grab a copy of Seven Days. I knew what I was looking for. A member of our art group had promised that she would share a comic unlike any that she has shared before — about health care. ["Rachel Lives Here Now," March 8] moved me to tears.
Our bimonthly gatherings function as a support group of sorts. Most recently, we have talked about what deems a person valuable in society. The unfair expectation to become part of the conventional workforce marginalizes a huge chunk of our population: those who have experienced trauma and may struggle with some social environments; anyone with a physical disability; or those for whom the "system" has just plain never worked. Artists are just a fraction of these people.
As artists, we struggle to make ends meet, to feed ourselves. So many of us are dependent on the subsidies that have been stigmatized all our lives. I have talked to artists making less than $10,000 a year who opt out of these programs because they feel they are "undeserving."
I was so proud that my friend took a risk to share our sentiments in such a shocking style. It was like a stop sign alerting us of one of the many pieces of our community we take for granted, one that would not be available without Medicaid. A familiar and funny comic for a moment draws back the curtain to reveal the raw, personal truth about our art community.
Mall for All?
[Re "Size Wise: In Burlington, Upward Growth or 'Vertical Sprawl'?" February 22]: Burlington Town Center developer Don Sinex, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and project architect Jesse Beck claim to be affordable housing advocates and Pine Street corridor champions. But if they truly wanted 55 units of affordable housing, they would build 55 units of affordable housing instead of 215 luxury condos. The same goes for extending Pine Street.
And why does Burlington Planning Director David White fear zoning regulations when it comes to infill development but didn't seem to mind putting ballot measures 3 and 4 before the public in November?
Why is our mayor, a supposed civil servant, an outspoken supporter of a private development project? The mayor should support the will of the people, not work to influence the outcome of a ballot measure.
If Beck thinks "Burlington ... needs to grow up," maybe he should move to New York City, among whose "adult" buildings he might be more comfortable.
The fact of the matter is that this project has been sold to the public as an economic windfall, an environmental win and a social equalizer when it is a profit machine for a few wealthy developers and architects — and maybe a quid pro quo for Weinberger once his mayoring days are over.
Finally, consider the mayor's description of the mall as "a win for the environment." Sure, it may not make the environment worse than status quo, but no steel-reinforced concrete is ever a win for the environment.
This is privatizing our commons, pure and simple. If Weinberger, Sinex, Beck and White would stop lying about how this helps Burlington, maybe a real debate could ensue.