The letter that appeared in last week's Seven Days [Feedback: "Learning New Tricks," April 8] was written collectively by the Addison County Early Childhood Educators. I was merely the messenger.
The headline I suggested was: "To the Addison County Community and Our State Partners: An Open Letter of Gratitude."
Support for Seven Days
This letter is simply to say thanks for the quality and breadth of your coverage these last weeks. As journalism has shrunk, Seven Days has had to transcend its beginnings as an "alternative" and become, in essence, the "paper of record" for our region. And the coverage during the pandemic shows it has earned that title: Day after day, you guys have provided clear, consistent and calm coverage of every aspect of life in Vermont during this odd and scary stretch, without resorting to sensationalism, and with compassion and even good humor when that was appropriate. Vermont seems to be weathering the storm relatively well — for that we can thank our political and health leaders, but also the journalists who serve as their bridge to the rest of us.
It makes it all the more important that we come together to support what is clearly a necessary institution in the state. At least for a while, advertising may not be enough to do the job, so I hope others who can will join in providing financial support to Seven Days. And, at the very least, all of us can join in saying thanks for a job well done.
So, Vermont plans to follow the advice of our fascist president and open the gun stores [Off Message: "Vermont to Allow Firearm Sales During Outbreak," April 3]. Will we also open stores for less essential items such as books and clothing?
Most people who are interested in guns already have some, like I do. Does someone in the Trump family stand to gain from this?
Trillions of dollars are to be spent to try to recover from the coronavirus. How much will go to stockholders and executives of airlines who treat us so well? How about colluding Big Pharma?
This money could help recovery with a substantial guaranteed jobs program, which Trump refuses to do.
The photo that accompanied the "Class Act" article depicted two sisters and their friend presenting signs for a virtual Spirit Day for their high school [802 Much, April 1]. A virtual Spirit Day is certainly a laudable pursuit! Our students are dealing with extraordinary disappointment and stress at this time. However, I find it extremely disconcerting that the photo depicts not just sisters (who live together and thus have no need to practice social distancing), but also a friend, who, I assume, does not live with the sisters. Indeed, she attends an altogether different high school. She definitely should be practicing social distancing from the sisters and not be next to them in a photo.
Shame on Seven Days for publishing such a mixed message to our young people!
Editor's note: As the story describes, Kaitlyn and Jasmine Little and their friend have all been living together during the stay-at-home order because the Littles' mother is a busy essential worker. Members of the same household — whether or not they're related by blood — are allowed to congregate together.
Won't Miss Comments
This is in reference to your decision to stop accepting online reader comments [Feedback: "No Comments," April 8]. I think you got it right when you wrote: "...right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers." Good for you.
I read widely because I want to inform myself about what is going on. In times past, reader comments were a useful part of this: I gained from reading other people's takes and insights. But in recent years, trolls and people with agendas not related to news have turned comments in many publications into sparring matches. It's time to let go.
Free speech has nothing to do with writing whatever pops into one's head, including disrespectful terms and insults.
News publications are themselves the expression of free speech. I like being able to get well-reasoned perspectives from many angles, in a wide range of publications written by talented, trained writers, without wasting my time on contests among amateurish wannabe pundits.
A publication has no obligation to provide space for that. Rather, as in newspapers of the 20th century, it's time to return to curated comments, perhaps, that contribute to an enlarged understanding.
I thought James Minnich's letter [Feedback: "Vaccine Could Be Dangerous," April 1] deserved to be taken seriously until I got to the last line, where he referred to "the public mania for vaccines." He's not just cautioning that a too-quickly-developed vaccine could be dangerous, which is true enough; he's sneering at those of us desperate for a vaccine so we can resume our normal lives.
A mania is "an excessive enthusiasm or desire; an obsession." I don't think there's anything excessive about the public enthusiasm for what we're being told is the only thing that will allow our society to fully reopen 12 to 18 months from now. I'm devastated at the thought of a year or more without seeing my siblings across the country or my elderly parents, but I'm lucky enough to be able to work remotely. For countless others, months of unemployment and hunger are in store, maybe livelihoods permanently lost. For all of us, it could mean loved ones dying. So yes, we're obsessed.
In her memoir An American Childhood, Annie Dillard writes that as a child she heard polio fearfully discussed every day for several years. In 1952 alone, 60,000 American children had polio, many of whom were paralyzed and over 3,000 of whom died. Dillard remembers her mother sobbing with relief when a successful vaccine finally appeared. Eventually polio was thus eradicated in the U.S. Would we need a disease that targets children instead of seniors for anti-vaxxers to remember why people hang their hopes on vaccines?
[Re Off Message: "Burlington City Council to Consider Asking Scott to Suspend F-35 Flights," April 10; "Pandemic Grounds Some Commercial Flights, but F-35s Continue to Prowl Skies," April 3]: I live in Winooski outside of the "affected" noise zone of the F-35s and airport, but our experience suggests otherwise. Multiple times daily, we are bombarded by 75-decibel noise indoors and 105-decibel noise outside from the F-35s. Although the sound is transient, you actually have to plug your ears if you're outside and stop talking and wait if you are inside.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at 110 decibels hearing loss can happen in less than two minutes. There are many well-studied health impacts from noise, such as trauma, PTSD, birth defects, cardiovascular issues, etc. I can't imagine the experience of those — especially babies, animals and children — who can't cover their ears, who are living in lockdown even closer to the airport. I hope there is continued monitoring of the real effects of this new intense daily noise. It's unlivable. I wasn't opposed to the F-35s and appreciate what they and the National Guard do for Vermont and our country, but I am starting to feel traumatized in my own home.
During these challenging times, postal employees are working hard to ensure that residents stay connected with their world through the mail. Whether it's medications, a package, a paycheck, a benefits or pension check, a bill, or a letter from a family member, postal workers understand that every piece of mail is important. While service like this is nothing new to us, the U.S. Postal Service needs our communities' help with social distancing.
For everyone's safety, our employees are following the social-distancing precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials. We are asking people to not approach our carriers to accept delivery. Let the carrier leave the mailbox before collecting the mail. With schools not in session, children should also be encouraged to not approach a postal vehicle or carrier.
If a delivery requires a signature, carriers will knock on the door rather than touch the bell. They will maintain a safe distance, and instead of asking for a signature on their mobile device, they'll ask for the resident's name. The carrier will leave the mail or package in a safe place for retrieval.
We are proud of the role all our employees play in processing, transporting and delivering mail and packages for the American public. The CDC, World Health Organization and U.S. surgeon general indicate there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.
With social distancing, we can keep the mail moving while keeping our employees, and the public, safe.
Bugbee is district manager of the U.S. Postal Service for the Northern New England District.
The "Pass or Fail" Emoji That in the April 8 issue details that 18 school districts have yet to approve a budget and describes the situation as a "lesson in procrastination." In South Burlington, voters rejecting the school budget on Town Meeting Day was an active learning classroom exercise in fiscal responsibility. The school budget presented to voters offered an unpalatable 7.96 percent increase in spending and a whopping 11.22 percent increase in the education tax rate. Compared to the previous year, the proposed FY 2021 budget increased the draw of assets from the state Education Fund by 11.3 percent. If all communities across the state increased their draw by that amount, the fund would have had to increase its assets by $190 million. Got any spare change, Seven Days?
Keep It In Print
[Re Publisher's Note: "This Newspaper Is 'Essential' — and Handled With Care," April 1]: Yes! A tangible, paper-format Seven Days, and other quality print newspapers, are essential. Indeed, I savor Seven Days from cover to cover, over several days. It's easy to do with a paper format. I have limited body-mind tolerance for reading on a screen.
Thanks for a paper copy every week, and thanks for your consistent candor.
Food For All
[Re Off Message: "As Markets Dry Up, Some Vermont Dairies Are Dumping Milk," April 3]: The realities we face today as food consumers and food producers are terrifying. We count on the courageous leadership of Vermont's members of Congress and other farsighted progressives from around the country to plan and implement sustainable, life-affirming ways forward as we face this pandemic crisis together.
I am horrified to see farmers around the country having to dump their milk and plow under their crops for lack of functional distribution methods at a time when impoverished Americans are struggling to feed themselves. This is a catastrophe that will become even more critical after the fall harvest if national policies don't redirect the supply chain now.
We desperately need a national plan to address this terrifying situation, since ignoring the breakdown of this sector could easily result in even more widespread food insecurity, if not actual starvation for many. How can we address the urgent requirements of farmers and those living in food deserts to meet their overlapping and mutual needs? Could a national youth service supplement farm labor that has been drastically threatened both by the unconscionable immigrant labor policies of the current government and the dangers of the coronavirus?
Programs of the Great Depression come to mind — ones that could help reduce the panic that has gripped both the country and the world. Some combination of the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and national nonmilitary service would so help us on the slow road to recovery, but farmers and the hungry can't wait that long.
Blowin' in the Wind
[Re Off Message: "Coronavirus Cases in Vermont Surpass 500 as Two More Die," April 5]: The six-foot rule is useless outdoors with a breeze or wind. If you are six feet downwind from someone, you're going to get his or her virus if they have it. If there is a breeze or wind, you and the person you are talking to should have your shoulders pointing to wind. If you don't know where a light breeze is coming from, just drop a leaf to the ground and watch it. It's just common sense.
[Re "The Checks Are Not in the Mail: Self-Employed Vermonters Must Wait for Federal Unemployment Benefits," April 8]: Why are they having unemployed people call in every week? Seems like a waste of resources!
My wife and I just had takeout from the Lucky Dragon, on Main Street in Bennington ["Good To-Go Vermont"]. Very good!
I am amazed that Seven Days felt the necessity to publish such blatantly incendiary rubbish as Jake Pickering's distorted diatribe in his letter "The Marxist Messiah?" [Feedback, March 18].
People who clearly do not comprehend history need to hit the books and learn that the Republican Party's distorted fearmongering is self-serving and bears no resemblance to reality. The U.S. will only redeem itself on the world stage if real truths are based upon actual fact and not gutter press blather.
Sen. Bernie Sanders' programs are intended to help U.S. citizens benefit from their life services, instead of fill the pockets of the 1 percent. They are modeled after several European governments' true Socialist programming, which ensures that, while there is incentive to profit, those who do are expected to support the general purse so that all may benefit. Social benefits.
The writer is seen for what he is: uninformed and of limited intelligence.
Look in the mirror and describe those robber barons who not only pocket massive dollar sums from the public purse while paying the least in wages, destroying environmental protections, deliberately spoiling the planet and wallowing in their ill-gotten profit. Your children, too, will be facing the effects of your ruinous ventures.
I take issue with the subhead on last week's article "The Checks Are Not in the Mail," which reads: "Self-Employed Vermonters Must Wait for Federal Unemployment Benefits."
After introducing the couple from Georgia, the article starts blaming the feds for Vermonters not receiving their benefits in a timely manner. Later it comes to light that the problem is actually the state's antiquated computer system.
Much like the problem with the 2013 launch of Vermont Health Connect, the State of Vermont is more concerned with its revenue flow due to excessive tourist and meals taxes because of the virus than with the citizens of this state.
The article was well written but kind of misled the reader by blaming the current federal administration, instead of placing blame where it clearly belongs.