What About Men?
[Re "Trafficked: How the Opioid Epidemic Drives Sexual Exploitation in Vermont," April 10]: While Seven Days published an excellent report on the state of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation as a part of the opioid crisis, not a word was written about the men who are paying for sex.
The women are not just victims of pimps and drugs; they are victims of a culture that still gives a pass to the men who are raping these women. I sincerely hope that this series will take a deep and rigorous look at what motivates men to pay money to rape a woman, and a society that allows this sort of thing to persist.
Rabbi Jan Salzman
The "Trey Can Pay" piece [Off Message: "Trey Pecor Made Millions on Burlington Telecom. Now He's Giving Back," April 8] opens up a can of worms.
Burlington Telecom was financed through bridge loans with payouts to the financiers upon sale of BT. Terry Dorman, who advised the BT advisory board and consulted with city council members on all bids, was due a nice payout — about $5 million, according to documents I saw. This leaves my mouth wide open.
Mayor Miro Weinberger's spin is that his administration has helped to take the financial benefits from the sale to Schurz Communications to invest in snowplows or encourage nice donations to city projects. The fact is, BT was owned by the residents in part, but we won't be seeing any of the payout.
As chief adviser to the city council, Dorman did have a piece of the deal, giving him reason not to favor a Keep BT Local bid, the most prominent effort to keep BT in the hands of local residents. Nearly all his observations were negative, according to most sources and my own observations. He opposed the local ownership bid and sought to characterize it as debt-laden. This was proven to be inaccurate, but the damage was done.
What a shame, as donations from wealthy beneficiaries of the Schurz deal cannot repair the residents' loss of control and equity in the future of BT. They have their payouts, and we are now powerless to guide the future of our local telecom.
Megan Epler Wood
Bernie Needs Black Voters
[Re "Bernin' Rubber," April 17]: By going after working-class white voters in the Rust Belt during the presidential primary race, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) runs a serious risk of making the same mistake he made in 2016: alienating the Democrats' most important primary voting constituency — people of color, particularly African Americans.
Time and again in 2016, the crowds at Sanders' campaign rallies were as overwhelmingly white as Donald Trump's. And, so far, the crowds at his rallies this year are just as overwhelmingly white.
Sanders brags about his 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton in the Michigan primary but omits the fact that Clinton trounced Sanders in predominantly black Detroit. When the campaign moved south, the "Bernie Express" ran smack into Clinton's "black firewall," especially in South Carolina, where African Americans are a 65 percent majority of Democratic voters.
A 2016 Sanders campaign rally in Seattle was disrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters. While the senator said nothing, his annoyance was visible. Indeed, Bernie has yet to address racial-justice issues in Vermont, remaining the only statewide elected official who has said nothing about the racist harassment of former state rep Kiah Morris.
As an African American Vermonter, I've lost confidence in Sanders and will not vote for him in the Vermont primary next March. Bernie can chase after Trump voters all he wants, but it won't do him a damn bit of good if he can't draw support from people of color in the primaries.
Fight for Prop 5
In John Walters' column [Fair Game: "Means to Amend," April 3], Sen. Becca Balint noted the lack of noisy opposition from Vermonters to Proposition 5, the constitutional amendment being considered by the legislature. I still largely believe that Vermonters generally try to keep the discourse and dialogue civil, particularly on issues where we have even the Republican Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning voicing his support.
As Prop 5 moves forward, the country will be watching and waiting to mobilize. Our work begins now to safeguard what we all recognize as basic principles of fundamental human autonomy. National organizations with deep pockets and a seemingly endless supply of people who would rather force a child into the world than allow a person to exercise basic, fundamental human dignity and autonomy are organizing to commandeer the narrative on Prop 5 and throw Vermont into the national spotlight.
The process for amending the Vermont Constitution, explained well by Walters, is arduous and will take nearly four years to complete. It won't happen without our engagement. Show up for hearings. Call and thank supportive senators. Start calling your representatives in the House and ask them to support this crucial step toward protecting an individual's access to safe, legal reproductive care in Vermont. Things may be quiet now, but opponents are watching, waiting and mobilizing all across the country as we take this critical next step to protect and permanently enshrine the right of self-determination in reproductive decisions.
Kudos to Seven Days' powerful exposé cover story ["Trafficked: How the Opioid Epidemic Drives Sexual Exploitation in Vermont," April 10] and to Ralph Young from Castleton for his fair pen-prick letter to author Bill McKibben [Feedback, April 10]!
McKibben needs to pick up a copy of the first "The Sky Is Falling" cover story edition in Newsweek in the 1980s, when expert scientists were certain the climate was doomed and we were on the verge of another ice age!
Both the in-depth cover story and the poke-at-McKibben letter would have never been published in what remains of what I now call the Burlington Three Press (little page content and coverage of its former self)!