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Letters to the Editor (4/20/22)


Published April 20, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

'I Can Still Hear Her Voice'

Loved the article on Ginny McGehee ["Morning Star," April 13], who is a true northern Vermont treasure. Since I moved to Washington State, I miss her music and banter five mornings a week. Fortunately, I was taking a video of bluebirds at my feeder in the winter of 2019 with WJOY blaring in the background, so I can still hear her cheery voice whenever I am missing my friends and family in Vermont. The photos and descriptions of this talented DJ captured the essence of an amazing woman.

Joan Cook

Edmonds, WA

Building Our Destruction

Despite the headline, the information in ["Obstruction Zone," April 6] showed the opposite. Act 250 has not put much obstruction in the way of developers. That certainly is the case in South Burlington. Neither Act 250 nor city zoning prevented rampant suburban sprawl over what once were magnificent rural lands.

One can't read the news without being bombarded about the "need" for more housing. We are being told, mostly by those who would profit financially from more construction, that we should build everywhere. Some even imply that those who try to save the environment are racists, throwing around incendiary words like "equity" as if our natural resource lands don't provide salvific benefits for all human beings regardless of color.

Proponents of more housing never mention that building more structures makes the climate crisis worse. That's the true emergency. We must stop building, and start preserving and regreening. Nature-based solutions can help us mitigate climate change impacts, yet we continue to destroy the means of our survival in the name of more housing. As Brian Shupe said, protecting our natural resources should be treated with the same sense of urgency with which the administration is addressing housing.

Human beings are often shortsighted and driven by greed. We continue to build, oblivious that we live in a finite world with finite resources. Climate scientists say we need to take immediate and dramatic action. Strengthening Act 250 so that it really protects the natural world would be one such action.

Rosanne Greco

South Burlington

Know Your Guns

[Re Feedback: "Watch Your Gun Language, April 13]: Unfortunately, Rep. Robin Scheu's take on the journalistic use of "gun control" represents the very bugaboo she writes about: how language leads to messaging when discussing firearms. In fact, laws that impose restrictions on gun usage are "control." I get it: She's interested in promoting a vision of how society should view and interact with firearms. I would just point out that substituting "gun safety" is a complete misnomer. In my brief experience joining Everytown for Gun Safety, no one I interacted with had the faintest idea of how to be safe with a firearm. This is a fact.

When I wanted my son to learn gun safety, we signed up for a Vermont Hunter Safety Course. They taught him the essentials of how to safely handle firearms. Everytown, et al., cannot do this, because they lack content knowledge of the subject. They don't own or use firearms. Instead, they resort to rote advice, like keeping guns locked up and separate from ammunition (also locked). That's fine and good, until one decides to actually load and use a firearm. Then, some content knowledge comes in mighty handy. I liken it to water safety: We tell our kids to always wear a life preserver, but we also teach them how to swim.

This is the fatal flaw in the gun control movement's safety messaging: They don't teach people to use guns safely. They don't, because they don't know how themselves.

Bill Agnew


One Actor's View

I cannot help but feel that Alex Brown should not critique renditions of theater classics ["Adult Dependents: A Streetcar Named Desire, BarnArts," April 6]. She is often caught up in categorical imperatives — that is, how a character/production ought to be played — as opposed to the decision to play it differently. This was evident in 2020, as well, in her review of BarnArts' production of The Seagull. She seems more interested in educating and patronizing us "amateurs" than in considering our creative decisions — or, as she puts it, "shortcomings in craft."

To say that the performance lost impact due to fast timing is perfectly valid and something for the cast to meditate on, but perhaps she should focus more on what we are — not what we are not. Her assertion that we did not showcase the show's "raw impulse" enough for fear of justifying sexual violence belies the fact that, during Sunday's after-performance talkback, an audience member was vehement that this show should not be put on, as it validates Stella's decision to stay with Stanley. But all critique is subjective, and Brown is clearly out of touch with the audience she seeks to educate.

Aaron Hodge


Hodge played Stanley in the production of A Streetcar Named Desire that Alex Brown reviewed.

City Hall Park Can't Be Empty

Seven Days' recent story about the Burlington Farmers Market does not accurately report the history of the City of Burlington working with the farmers market to come back to City Hall Park ["Burlington Plans New Outdoor Market in City Hall Park," April 5, online]. The city helped fund the farmers market's relocation costs and has been working with it to return to City Hall Park since before construction started in 2019. 

We invited the farmers market to return to City Hall Park in 2021 and for 2022, and it has made the decision to stay on Pine Street. It has always been our intention to accommodate all farmers market vendors when the market returns to City Hall Park, and we offered to close down multiple streets to accommodate the size. In addition, we offered to waive rental fees entirely for four years.

It is especially important that the park be fully programmed on Saturdays now, at a time when the city is actively working to restore the health of the downtown after two very challenging and uncertain pandemic years. 

The BTV MKT is designed to support small businesses and vendors — especially BIPOC businesses, who are not farmers and growers — expanding upon Burlington City Arts' existing Saturday Artist Market in City Hall Park. An empty City Hall Park on Saturdays is not an option for the downtown, and this market is designed to help boost regional businesses, not compete with them.

We look forward to cross-promoting our two markets and directing shoppers down Pine Street to the Burlington Farmers Market. 

Kara Alnasrawi


Alnasrawi is the City of Burlington's director of economic recovery.

Gender Bender

[Re "Turf Wars," March 9, and Feedback: March 16, 23 and 30, and April 13] As a man supporting rights for all, I find the assertion "Trans women are women" a regrettably simplistic platitude. There is something insidious in the claim that trans women are women, a failure to appreciate the unique attributes of womanhood.

The work of men coming to terms with feminine values is a momentous opportunity but is misbegotten when assuming men can simply become women. This cuts short an opportunity for men, themselves evolving to a new era in which war and deprivation may be succeeded by benevolence.

Moreover, is it possible that by claiming to be women, men unwittingly continue a colonialist agenda that has resulted in the annihilation of entire cultures when stealing something they see of value? Perhaps the phenomenon of men assuming a feminine persona is a broad societal reckoning when the tragedy of resource misappropriation and murder in the name of war, attributable to men and now understood to be an existential threat, must be corrected. Men coming to terms with the epic carnage attributable to their gender must be encouraged.

Can we hope to survive, except with the application of love? Doing so, we can appreciate and nurture the sensitivity and courage of trans women while making way for them, as the third genders of India and Native American and other cultures are revered, thus preserving the sanctity of women and a hopeful prospect for men to take responsibility for the personal work necessary for the survival of the planet.

Nick McDougal


Health Care Is Broken

John McClaughry would confuse us [Feedback: "Who Pays for Health Care?" April 6]. Hospitals have a cost for a service provided, and also a charge. The two are not the same. Considering the true cost, hospitals charge highly inflated sums for their services — often 10 times greater than costs. Neither original Medicare, Medicaid nor commercial insurers pay the hospital's full charge. Original Medicare and Medicaid pay the hospital a sum closer to the actual cost of the service. Commercial insurers negotiate and pay a sum considerably higher than the other two. They pass this on to the patients in the form of higher premiums, deductibles, etc. One might say that commercial insurers are in bed with hospitals, as they know that they can recoup the money paid to hospitals from the insured patients. The cost of care to the patient thereby escalates.

The "chronic and deliberate government underpayment" to hospitals is an important factor in keeping patient costs down. Original Medicare is not underpaying hospitals, and if their payments are lower, this means lower taxes. (Medicaid may be underpaying because states are involved in the payment system.)

The federal government is doing one terrible thing with your tax dollars. It is subsidizing commercially run insurance companies such as United Healthcare and Aetna. These Medicare Advantage plans are making obscene profits even after their huge administrative overhead is paid. Our taxes go to overpaid executives, lobbyists, shareholders and commercial advertising. Their profits come from us.

The only way out of this mess is a universal single-payer system.

G. Richard Dundas


Dangerous Downtown?

In the April 6 story "Pizza and Pokémon," about the University Mall in South Burlington, Ben Zabski advised, "They just have to decide a direction and not just kind of try to patch the bullet holes." Burlington in general and Church Street and the city council in particular should sit up and take notice, for this is the canary in the coal mine.

Allowing the Urban Commando League to freely roam the streets, openly selling drugs and spraying bullets willy-nilly at all hours of the day and night, does not have a positive impact on tourism or commerce.

If the city is to remain vibrant, let alone viable, it must increase its law enforcement presence.

Loss of life is too high a price to pay when shopping.

Robert Wood


False Equivalents

[Re "As a New Holocaust Exhibit Opens in Burlington, the War in Ukraine Looms Large," March 25]: It's alarming to see three prominent Vermont politicians engage in Holocaust revisionism regarding the war in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin's imperialist war is nothing short of an atrocity, but it's inappropriate to equate a war of conquest, no matter how unjust, to the attempted wholesale annihilation of an ethno-religious group. This is especially frustrating because Palestinians and their advocates have been chastised for decades for this sort of comparison. While such comparisons are often inappropriately exaggerated or ahistorical in that context, as well, it is far more apt to compare Israeli policies of racial domination, ethnic expulsion, legal/systemic discrimination and mob violence to Nazi policies and practices that precipitated the Holocaust, such as the Nuremberg Laws and Kristallnacht, than it is to make any such comparison, let alone an equivalence, in the Ukrainian context.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger is an opponent of nonviolent resistance to Israeli apartheid, and state Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D-Chittenden), who traveled to Israel in 2012, is personally complicit in Israel's apartheid regime. If we take their rhetoric on Ukraine seriously, it implies a sort of exceptionalism in which either Russia is uniquely prone to repeating the horrors of Nazism or Israel is uniquely immune from doing so.

The hypocritical, cynical geopolitical favoritism displayed by these speakers serves to denigrate the international framework of universal human rights agreed upon in the aftermath of the horrors of the Second World War. Selectively invoking the memory of the Holocaust against "enemy" nations is a move straight out of Putin's playbook, and it's wrong here, too.

Amorai Coleman

Essex Junction

Article 22 Is Too Vague

[Re "Reproductive Rights Amendment Will Be Put to a Vote in November," February 8, online]: Our state legislators voted to introduce Article 22 to our state Constitution, to allow for "personal reproductive autonomy," which would be decided by popular vote in the November election. Vermont already permits unrestricted abortion, and any potential overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court would not change Vermont's abortion laws. Therefore, it is not clear why Article 22 is needed. Furthermore, Article 22 is quite vague and raises many questions that cannot be easily answered. For example: What comprises "personal reproductive autonomy," other than abortion? Will the Vermont taxpayer be responsible for paying for whatever is considered "personal reproductive autonomy"? Does the age of a person — potentially, a child — come into play?

I wonder what might be next. Will there be new articles to allow for "personal autonomy" for the current topic of the day? Our communities, state, country and world have many challenges. Why do we need a vague article to be enshrined in our state Constitution that will be open to confusion, litigation, and potential exploitation and misapplication?

Article 22 is concerning to me and should be of concern to all Vermonters.

Alice Benson


Cows Eat Grass!

"Land of Milk v. Honey" [April 13] sure has me scratching my head. Do people who raise cows in Vermont know that cows don't eat corn? Cow stomachs have four compartments: the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum and the abomasum, none of which is designed for maize. Corn upsets a cow's digestive system and causes a variety of issues for the cow, like excess gas, acidosis, diarrhea, ulcers, bloat, fatty liver disease and a general weakening of the immune system. Can't imagine what pesticide-laden GMO corn is doing to them.

Cows eat grass/hay, so I'm really wondering who would want to defend a system in which cows are being fed an unnatural diet that's wrong for them, so they can feel crappy and their milk can have pesticide residue that's passed on to humans who drink it, while species vital to ecosystems suffer and the soils are poisoned for generations — instead of growing hay? Not seeing the argument here. Who wants to drink milk produced like that? Ban the GMOs and pesticides.

Samantha Nickerson


'We Can't Life Without Bees'

[Re "Land of Milk v. Honey," April 13]: Reading about the dilemma of neonicotinoid pesticides — let bees keep dying, or make life much harder for dairy farmers? — I thought of a movie I saw recently in which actress Aïssa Maïga's character says to her daughter, "You think I'd let you starve to death? When I cut off my own arm to feed you, then you'll know you are my child." In a choice between losing an arm and losing a child, any parent would choose to lose the arm. It would be an easy decision to reach but a terrible one to have to make.

Neonicotinoids — despite the attempts of lobbyists to make it seem as if there's still plenty of room for doubt — are killing our bees, both domestic and wild. The European Union banned them years ago for this reason. This isn't just about frustrated beekeepers; our food supply, not to mention our entire ecosystem, depends on pollinators. It will be a terrible challenge and hardship for dairy farmers when they can no longer grow feed from seeds treated with these pesticides, and it will be our state's and our country's responsibility to help them however we can. But this should be an easy decision to reach. We can't live without bees.

Sonia DeYoung