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Letters to the Editor (4/13/22)

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Published April 13, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated May 24, 2022 at 4:07 p.m.


Not So Fast, Hinesburg

["Obstruction Zone," April 6] is informative but not wholly correct. For example, Hinesburg has not grown in two decades. Your story suggests it's growing fast and unable to keep up with the pressure. Nothing could be further from the truth. Developers sure want to build here, but the numbers don't support their plans. Not to mention that Alex Weinhagen and his staff promote development in the town, so it's in their interest to suggest that Act 250 or our local development regulations are insufficient. He was right about one thing, though: Plans for developing Hinesburg into a box-filled suburb were met with widespread resistance and derision. We certainly have a housing problem, but building on land that can't sustain that population is not smart planning.

Craig Chevrier

Hinesburg

In Defense of Act 250

[Re "Obstruction Zone," April 6]: Your article on land development brings to mind what is written in Ecclesiastes: Namely, "There is nothing new under the sun." Since its settlement by colonists, Vermont has been an incubator for real estate hustlers and their enablers, all the way from the Allen brothers and the Onion River Land Company to today's incarnations.

In the past, we've memorialized them in stone: Ethan Allen on the Statehouse steps and Ira Allen at the heart of the University of Vermont campus green. Today, we elect them to office: Peter Shumlin, Miro Weinberger and, recently, Kesha Ram Hinsdale, who, having married into a prominent property management company, is pushing the legislature to eliminate "unnecessary red tape" in development laws.

Fifty years ago, local artist Jane Clark Brown depicted these hustlers in political cartoons: hard hats protecting their scheming brains, ears deaf to questions about sewer and water problems, fancy brochures in their hands, money stuffed in their pockets, and eyeglasses covered with dollar signs. Their slogans may change — affordable housing, smart growth and jobs, jobs, jobs. Their objectives remain the same: money, money, money. They are the pipers for whom Republican, Democrat and Progressive politicians all-too-comfortably dance.

I knew Vermont had a state bird, the hermit thrush; a state flower, the red clover; and a state vegetable, the Gilfeather turnip. Now, unfortunately, it has a state piñata, Act 250. Yes, indeed, old Ecclesiastes nailed it after all.

Bruce S. Post

Essex

Volatile Markets

[Re "Burlington Plans New Outdoor Market in City Hall Park," April 5, online]: I was the market manager for the Burlington City Arts Artist Market for many years. When we learned that we would all have to vacate the park for several years for the renovation, it became clear that the Burlington Farmers Market was not interested in having the BCA Artist Market move with it to the Pine Street location. 

Despite the fact that the city helped fund its move to Pine Street, the BFM did everything in its power to keep us out of the Pine Street location. During these three years, the BCA Artist Market community struggled to find a workable location and time, and our community splintered. City Hall Park was truly designed with events in mind, including the BFM and BCA Artist Market as principal renters.

The city helped pay for the BFM's move, included it in the design process, offered it four years of free rent, and staggered starting and ending times. The BFM and BCA have had an agreement from the beginning that the BFM would return once the space was ready. BCA has repeatedly asked the BFM back to the table to find a solution that is workable for all of the vendors involved. 

The BCA Artist Market of the past and the new BTV MKT is designed as a small business incubator. BCA juries in microbusinesses and mentors them through streamlining their business offerings and market displays.

This helps all kinds of businesses gain a foothold in the marketplace, including a portion of the program specifically designed to promote BIPOC businesses.

Jeremy Ayers

Waterbury

No Merger

[Re "Lending an Ear," March 30]: I was one of many members confused by the Vermont State Employees Credit Union board's proposal and procedure for a merger with New England Federal Credit Union, a proposal I oppose.

During the recent virtual annual meeting, I was glad to hear that the board plans to disseminate more information and engage the VSECU members transparently in the proposal, then put it to a vote of the entire membership. I am convinced by facts and arguments put forth by former VSECU CEO Steven Post and former board members M. Jerome Diamond and Kimberly B. Cheney, both former Vermont state attorneys general, that this merger is not in the best interests of the membership.

My lingering concern is that a large enough percentage of the membership may not participate and that, like what so often happens in Montpelier city elections, the proposal may pass simply because not enough participate in the vote. If a small quorum is required to call a meeting on an important issue like the merger, how do we ensure that the majority needed to vote on the issue at such a meeting is truly a representative percentage of our entire VSECU membership?

Let us hold VSECU management accountable for keeping us fully informed and ensuring that a majority of the membership participates in the final vote. As Post, Diamond and Cheney have stated, "VSECU was built for Vermont not for NEFCU. Let's keep our credit union and find new leadership. Reject the merger. Renew the vision."

Dot Helling

Adamant

In Defense of 'Chick Lit'

Margot Harrison's review of In Light of Recent Events, by Amy Klinger [April 6], was great until the words "Fear not."

"If Klinger's novel belonged to the genre that used to be called 'chick lit,' this would be the setup for a romance. Fear not." Fear not? With this sentiment, Harrison perpetuates the sexism still inherent in the publishing world — that somehow chick lit, now called "women's fiction," is a bad, "lesser" genre. I like the term "chick lit." It's funny, and as long as we're going to stay all sexist (let's not pretend the category "women's fiction" is any less sexist), let's at least keep up the humor.

Chick lit, like any genre, has its stronger works and weaker ones. It's really about the writing, not the categorization. At its best, a good chick lit novel follows a strong female protagonist navigating the ups and downs of relationships, friendships, family, work and sometimes motherhood. And all with humor, wordplay, intelligence and insight.

Margot Harrison — don't be scared!

Kathryn Drury

Plainfield

'Sunset' Thoughts

Paula Routly's recent reflection on the retirement wave, a national as well as local sunset phenomenon, follows a deficit-based line of reasoning for our shared age bracket [From the Publisher: "Sunset Boulevard," March 30]. Increased early retirements do create a significant problem for all sectors, especially in this period of workforce shortages. What is missed in focusing on the point of retirement is what comes next. Most are not anticipating retirement as our parents did. National trends worth investigating are the increasing number of small businesses being started by "retired" folks and how many are reinventing priorities to take up work, less for remuneration and more for fun or mission focus. Let's reflect on those stories.

There are many personal calculations that inform retirement decisions. What is not focused on is the broken system of work environment and career thinking. What employers are pursuing strategies to create a workplace attractive to age 60-plus, in addition to considering what twentysomethings want? Why are career trajectories focused on higher salaries and more responsibilities until we hit some pinnacle and fall off into retirement?

Maybe if employers and the state started to take a serious look at workforce development policy that prioritizes the 50,000 to 75,000 Vermonters still of working age, just past 60, we would be less crisis-focused, spending state dollars to get a few younger folks to move to the state. We all could benefit from rethinking what that "sunset" means and how to make it linger longer in a way that fills jobs as well as souls.

Glenn McRae

Burlington

Doughnut Job

I loved ["The Last Cruller on Earth," April 6] and could totally relate. I ran out the day I heard about Koffee Kup Bakery shutting down last year and went to Shaw's and gas stations and amassed a large quantity of crullers. I ran into others doing the same thing. Some gas station attendants hadn't heard the news and thought I was some doughnut-hungry desperado. I might have one more in my freezer...

Your article got me thinking — why isn't someone making them?

I raise my coffee cup to you in solidarity.

Liz Scharf

Middlesex

'I Got It Pretty Good'

[Re From the Publisher: "Sunset Boulevard," March 30]: I retired in 2011 — at 60 — after 35 years in police work, plus 20 years in the Vermont National Guard as a helicopter crew chief. I found retirement to be just the next stage in life. My children were finishing school or starting up careers, so I found interest in their efforts. They encouraged me to join them at times, such as working security at concerts.

I found that, in working part-time jobs, I made connections to other opportunities, like driving for the University of Vermont concessions and getting to watch hockey and basketball games for free. Another connection brought me to the state Department of Motor Vehicles office as a temp giving driver exams. That followed with a temp job as a Department for Children and Families worker. That in turn led me to a temp position at Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center, working 40 hours a week for five years, until it closed. 

I've since worked as a civilian contractor to the Guard as the anti-terrorism program coordinator. I later submitted an application to an RV company that I first thought was a raffle form. I got a call from HR, and, after a brief discussion, they created a position for me. That led me to another part-time job supervising a local RV park.

I'm not bragging here — just trying to point out that baby boomers and retirees don't have to just walk recreation paths or visit the local pubs.

Retirement to me is the freedom to seek and explore where no man or woman could afford before ... and that has made all the difference.

Your article gave me something to reflect on. I got it pretty good.

Thomas Fraga

Winooski

Watch Your Gun Language

[Re "Scott Signs First New Gun Control Measure Since 2018," March 25, online]: In the headline and three additional spots in this article, the phrase "gun control" is used. The Republican Party has literally spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the decades doing polling and research to find words and phrases that resonate with their base, often with the intent to instill fear and anger in people. The phrase "gun control" is one of its classics. In addition to the GOP, the National Rifle Association has done an effective job of making people associate the words "gun control" or "even stricter laws" with confiscating guns or banning handguns entirely. When the media uses the phrase "gun control," rather than being objective or factual, you are amplifying their message and unwittingly playing into partisan hands.

So, I'm on a mission to ask journalists — and their editors — to consider changing the language they use. You could use "gun safety" or "gun violence prevention," for example. And "stronger gun laws," rather than "stricter gun laws." No one is talking about banning handguns entirely, and most people support the Second Amendment. Most people also agree that we need to keep our communities safe and secure from violence. Every day, far too many of us are victims of gun violence. Americans strongly support commonsense measures such as background checks and modest gun safety laws.

Please, don't unintentionally augment the message of those who would instill fear. Use language that clarifies what most of us are truly in favor of: gun safety and gun violence prevention.

Thanks for considering.

Robin Scheu

Middlebury

Scheu is a state rep.

'Man's World' After All

[Re "Turf Wars," March 9] and seeing the roar from what amounts to some 0.06 percent of the U.S. population over the anger from a woman who fought for equality for the past 50-plus years, I can sympathize with their problem. I'd also be angry if all this were finally accomplished, only to see men waltz in and chip away at this feminist edifice, proving that it really is a "man's world" after all.

Steve Merrill

North Troy

Surveyor Says

[Re Nest: "Map Quest," April 6]: As a Burlington native, University of Vermont grad, and past president of both the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping and the International Federation of Surveyors, I enjoyed a 65-plus-year career in land surveying and civil engineering. I can attest to the author's enthusiasm for surveying as an ancient, challenging and fascinating occupation whose practitioners are aging out but whose technical and professional applications will be required as long as people relate to land in its use, value, location and history.

Robert W. Foster

Hopkinton, MA