Letters to the Editor (3/31/21) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (3/31/21)


Published March 31, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated April 6, 2021 at 6:14 p.m.

Power Dynamic

Thanks to Kevin McCallum for the "Grid Block" article [March 17]. I've been wondering for years why we have been unable to add significant amounts of renewable power here in northwest Vermont, hearing vague explanations that the "grid" can't handle any more. This article makes it plain that we need a revamped agency, or at least a new direction, to manage our transmission grid if we are to transform our state with electric-powered vehicles and other approaches to reduce our carbon footprint. Especially concerning was the statement: "VELCO's role is not to overbuild the grid to handle prospective future generation projects by for-profit energy developers."

As I see it, we are not "overbuilding"; we need to build a sufficiently up-to-date and flexible system to handle our inevitably increasing electric needs.

Harry Goldhagen


Look at Hydro-Québec

[Re "Grid Block," March 17]: One obvious solution to the limited capacity of the electrical transmission lines in the Northeast Kingdom might be to reduce the amount of power we purchase from Hydro-Québec. I do not believe a system capable of delivering 100kW to my home is not also able to accommodate 100kW if I were to set up an array of solar panels. A truly distributed power generation system wouldn't require upgraded transmission lines.

Energy, and renewable energy credits, purchased from Hydro-Québec bear the moral stain of the destruction of Indigenous fishing and hunting grounds; they are the "tar sands" developers of northeastern Canada. Electric power from Hydro-Québec wouldn't be as cost-effective if they were expected to clean up the mess they left behind.

Liston Tatum


Pension Tension

I am a Vermonter and a state health department worker. In addition to my normal job, I am also a COVID-19 contact tracer and have worked overtime every week for over a year. I am shocked and disheartened that the legislature is choosing now to gut state pensions [Off Message: "Pension Reform Plan Would Cost State Workers More," March 24].

I believe in public service, helping my neighbors and supporting my community. I work for pay lower than my industry's standard with the understanding that, though I will make less now, I will be able to retire with dignity. The proposed cuts would be devastating. I would make even less, work a decade longer than expected and receive less than I have financially planned for at retirement. Where is the dignity in this plan?

These cuts would also be devastating to Vermont. The pension supports recruitment and maintenance of professionals to the state. The cuts would also mean more retirees would need state assistance programs or relocation, costing Vermont even more. 

There are other options! Wealthy Vermonters have received massive income growth and federal tax cuts. It would be appropriate to have them pay a fairer share in taxes.

The legislature should slow down this process, do a thoughtful impact study, allocate available federal funds while securing dedicated revenue, and guarantee a dignified retirement to thousands of current and future state workers and teachers.

I am asking you, my neighbors, to contact your state representatives and voice your support for your state workers and teachers.

Jennifer Zoller


Weinberger Failed Dodson

Despite the extravagant salary for his temporary position and the apparently plagiarized portions of his final report, Kyle Dodson should not be the focus of criticism [Off Message: "Dodson Plagiarized Portions of Report on Burlington Police Transformation," March 26]. It seems clear from his remarks to Seven Days that Dodson felt abandoned by Mayor Miro Weinberger and that he just wanted to be done with it. I think it's another example — like the mayor's treatment of Tyeastia Green — of Weinberger appointing a person of color and failing to support them.

Andrew Simon


Slow Trains

Thanks for the coverage of the New Haven station ["Out With the Old," March 17]. As millions have been allocated to upgrade the tracks, why not rebuild the existing siding tracks, just north of the current main track, for use by the through trains?

Has this possibility been explored? As to visibility, by all means slow down not only the trains but also car traffic at this busy stretch of Route 7. Webcams could help, as well, both in New Haven and at the Vergennes road crossing.

Robert Anderson


Hobson's Choice

[Re From the Publisher: "Alone Together," March 24]: Excellent essay. As one of the "Helping Hands" phone buddies for Burlington's vulnerable shut-ins, I can personally attest to the Hobson's choice of isolation to survive. Several of my calls from last June questioned the point of being "saved."

This winter was quite educational as a weary tolerance set in. My ladies and couples are quite good at patience, but until the vaccine rollout, they were without hope. They were existing, without interaction (beyond my weekly phone calls and occasional treat drop-offs) and without purpose. And now — since they're shut-ins — they are still waiting (not so patiently) for their vaccinations.

Because they don't use computers, they aren't visible to the state. The Visiting Nurse Association promises that mobile vaccines will come, but, three months in, no appointments have materialized. I can't seem to advocate effectively for them — nor can their docs, who've also been left out of the process.

So there they sit in their homes or apartments, waiting, always waiting, alone.

It breaks my heart.

Valerie Hird


Preserve History

Thank you for ["Keeping the Past Present," March 17]! I found it interesting, pertinent and important! Let's hope the historic preservation program at the University of Vermont is not cut, as it provides a much-needed asset to the state.

Wendy Parrish


Wood Works

Your March 17 issue had a letter about wood-burning pollution [Feedback: "Wood Wiser"]. My $1,500 baffled airtight woodstove burns the solid material, then also burns the gases before they go up the chimney. If you go outside and look at the chimney exhaust, you can't even tell it is burning. No smoke. It's not Grandpa's woodstove. We get our wood mostly from naturally downed trees on a family member's farm. This reduces the need to fell standing trees. Obviously, not all folks are in the situation I am, but Robert Young's letter inferred that all wood burning is environmentally unfriendly. Not so.

Wayne Ross


'Oops' Isn't Enough

Mayor Miro Weinberger admitted a mistake but did not adequately apologize [Off Message: "'I Made a Mistake': Weinberger to Allow Racial Equity Director to Oversee Police Study," March 17]. When one wants to repair damage, they must say more than "oops." This is a first step; however, a true apology must also recognize the impact on the people harmed. Weinberger names what he did wrong but never the impact it likely had on Tyeastia Green and others.

Yes, I hold Weinberger to a high standard. We owe it to our democracy to do so because he has political power.

In addition to not apologizing beyond "oops," Weinberger never acknowledged racism — only bias. Bias is a personal preference. I have a bias against small dogs. Racism is different. It includes history, patterns, culture, institutions and power.

He could have said: "This mistake exposes my unconscious racist beliefs that people of color, specifically Black women, are less capable than white men of doing their job. I have internalized these ideas, and they hurt people of color in real, material ways. I pledge to unlearn these ideas for the rest of my life. This may not heal the wound I have perpetuated, but it is the least I can do."

This is closer to doing enough but is surely lacking from my own internalized white supremacy and blind spots.

Here is a fitting quote from Ijeoma Oluo: "If your anti-racism work prioritizes the 'growth' and 'enlightenment' of white America over the safety, dignity and humanity of people of color — it's not anti-racism work. It's white supremacy."

Rachel Siegel


Siegel is a former city councilor and executive director of the Peace & Justice Center.

'It Is Time for the Mayor to Resign'

[Re Off Message: "Weinberger Removes Racial Equity Director From Oversight of Policing Study," March 16; "'I Made a Mistake': Weinberger to Allow Racial Equity Director to Oversee Police Study," March 17]: I completely agree with the growing number of elected and appointed local leaders, especially those who are local BIPOC women, who have spoken of Mayor Miro Weinberger's continued failures of leadership. They have identified many instances of bad decision making on issues of racial justice, his inauthentic apologies, and his continued lack of accountability for his actions.

The mayor has a long history of believing he knows best. This has been the case his entire tenure on a number of contentious issues, but it has been most alarming during the increased calls for racial justice in the city.

Rarely, and clearly only under increased public pressure, is he willing to take feedback and change course, from his fellow city leaders on the council, from commissioners or from citizens. He is quick to be defensive and criticize other local leaders, especially the few BIPOC city leaders, like Councilor Zoraya Hightower and Police Commissioner Melo Grant, instead of doing any genuine self-reflection.

Enough is enough. It is time for the mayor to resign.

I'll be frank: I don't believe the mayor understands systemic racism and how his white fragility is leading to his poor decision making. In interviews, he has said something along the lines of "...I do believe that somehow I have bias that led to this mistake." Somehow?!

Many BIPOC and white folks have tried to educate him, yet he is still unable to even say the word "racism" or "I'm sorry" in his reversal statement.

Miro, do the right thing and step down as mayor.

Llu Mulvaney-Stanak


Dodson Didn't Stand a Chance

[Re Off Message: "Dodson Plagiarized Portions of Report on Burlington Police Transformation," March 26]: Mayor Miro Weinberger's tears fall like a crocodile's upon the great gray-green, greasy Limpopo River that is Burlington politics. He chose a well-regarded local Black man with no experience in policing to do what? Suggest how Burlington police can become more professional in their occupation? In six months, the mayor expected a major reimagining of Queen City policing — and, by the way, can you help everyone get along and unite so they can all move forward together?

Eight pages for $75,000; that's $9,375 per page. That the concepts and many of the words therein belong to others is certainly disappointing at that price point. But if the report were referenced, foot-noted and plumped up to 25 pages, would that make Kyle Dodson, with a background in education and administration, any better qualified to inform the police on how to do their job better?

Personally, I found his candor worth the admission price. Sacrificing the messenger is a time-honored strategy, and the mayor is a well-traveled political operative. My advice to Weinberger would be to thank Dodson for his seemingly sincere efforts and let him get back to his real job. The adults in the room need to roll up their sleeves and come up with a strategy, or agree to disagree. Stop pretending they — or any other civilian lacking direct experience — know anything about policing, draft some guiding political principles, and promulgate public policy accordingly.

The media could help this process by 1) not allowing themselves to be used by elected officials as mouthpieces or for sound bites; and 2) keeping their eye on the ball instead of seeking to sensationalize something that's ultimately tangential to the end goal.

Bill Agnew