Help for Hummingbird
I'm a lifelong backyard birder, and my question was not so much "WTF: How Do You Help a Rescued Hummingbird in Winter?" [February 17] and more "WTF is a rufous hummingbird doing in Vermont?"
The rufous hummingbird is a western bird, which summers in the Pacific Northwest and migrates to Mexico for the winter. My Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America does list the rufous hummingbird as "very rare" east of the Mississippi, with "recent increases in small wintering populations at southeastern feeders" along the Gulf Coast. But even its northernmost extent of this eastern range comes nowhere near Vermont.
This one is what birders call an "accidental," meaning a bird found somewhere far outside its range, either because it hitchhiked on some form of transportation or was blown off course in a storm. No wonder this individual was confused when December weather rolled in. I sincerely hope this little one makes it through the winter and that, when warmer weather comes, it can make its way to a more hospitable climate and find others of its kind.
The L-Word: Left Out
I see Seven Days never bothered to note my candidacy for Burlington City Council in the Central District. Others have taken down my signs because we have a large group of authoritarians who cannot stand free speech or any speech that does not bow to their religious belief in a magical ability to change sex. Anyone who will not say men can be women if they say so is anathema to this self-righteous crew, which thinks that anything it does to a heretic is OK, including threats and robbery and violence.
As I was putting up a sign, a hipster stopped his car to say, "Take your hate somewhere else." I have lived here for over 50 years and was the first person to start a lesbian group here and an initiator of pride marches. But "lesbian" is a word you will rarely see now, except from men who claim to be one.
I have expressed no hate for trans folks. They have expressed a lot toward me. It should be known that when these trans activists say "hate," they are referring to anyone who does not agree with their recently minted and backed-by-billionaires ideology. They don't believe in dialogue, or respect for women's rights to boundaries or privacy, or women's sports. I supported trans inclusion into our LGBT nondiscrimination law. But trans activists want laws to force people to validate their chosen identity. This is not a human right, and no one has the right to compel another's speech.
Editor's note: Burlington reporter Courtney Lamdin wrote about the Central District race — then a contest between Tiki Archambeau and Perri Freeman — on January 13. Nine days later, Peggy Luhrs filed as an independent candidate.
Graffiti Is 'Opening Act'
[Re "Tag Team," February 17]: Spray-painting brick walls may have artistic intent and even skill, but the term "graffiti artist" dignifies what property owners accurately call "vandalism." As Burlington's police force suffers draconian reduction, the city will host a renaissance of criminal arts. Expect nightly performances from "stick-up stylists" and "breaking-and-entering balladeers." We will have a thriving arts colony.
The political right is justly condemned for ignoring reality — for example, denying the climate crisis. In Burlington, we must not let the political left commit similar dishonesty. The city council, and the city voters, can begin by recognizing that slashing the police force is an invitation to crime of every sort. Burlington will be less safe, less prosperous and less able to pursue its laudable goals of social justice. The sudden flourishing of graffiti downtown is merely the opening act.
The Trouble With Small Schools
[Re "Cliff Notes on Rural Education," February 17]: As a retired principal who has worked as interim principal in five small rural schools across northern Vermont, I have surmised three reasons it is so hard to close small schools in Vermont: 1. Schools now serve more and more as community centers in small towns; 2. schools provide employment for locals where there is little opportunity for work that pays well and offers good benefits; and 3. small schools mirror the pride that Vermont has as a small state with its "Brave Little State" identity.
I have witnessed quality education in all of these schools, where there are great teachers, very good teachers and some OK teachers. However, I saw the same level of teacher quality at a 400-plus-student school where I was also a principal. The areas where quality and educational opportunity drop off is in "specials" or "the arts." Collaboration between these school professionals is very difficult due to part-time schedules along with frequent turnover, as many of these teachers are looking for full-time teaching jobs.
I would like to ask proponents of maintaining small schools: If per-pupil costs are high, and they are, which in turn affect your property taxes, how are you going to attract young families to stay or move to Vermont if they can't afford the housing costs?
[Re "Star Struck," February 17]: Since the topic is studiously avoided by media and politicians alike, I'm not surprised that your article on Elon Musk's Starlink satellite system failed to mention anything about the risks inherent in exposing every living being on the planet to radio frequency radiation 24-7. You might have at least mentioned the hazard to Dennis Roland, pictured standing next to the Starlink dish he installed on his porch. These dishes emit powerful and concentrated RFR in order to reach satellites orbiting 340 miles above the Earth's surface. Like a cellphone held to one's head, there are likely to be long-term health consequences for those nearby. Perhaps the $580 Starlink package failed to tell Roland that installing the dish on his porch was a bad idea, because it might let him know that this technology, like wireless in general, comes with serious health risks.
Editor's note: According to the Federal Communications Commission, the data on negative health effects from RFR is inconclusive.