[Re Off Message: "Pension Task Force Bill Advances Despite Unions' Objections," April 14]: I hope the committee looks around to the benefits and reductions our neighboring states have done over the years. I know New York used to pay 100 percent of health insurance, but over the years it has been shared! In Massachusetts, the contribution to the pension fund was 5 percent; today it is 11 percent, and they raised the retirement age, too!
Kudos to the Van Tuinen family for their exemplary courage in publicly sharing their personal story of heartache, alongside the (still) novel modality used by Rory and Ryan in their healing journeys ["Psychedelic Solution," April 21].
As a health care professional employed in the field of addiction medicine, I support using plant-based psychedelics, within safe and supportive settings, as an adjuvant to treatment-resistant PTSD, depression, anxiety and addiction.
For those who doubt: Please spend some time on maps.org and carefully review the clinical trials (fully supported by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration) currently in process in the U.S. (and many other countries) focused on using these medicines for the conditions mentioned above.
Finally, a shout-out to (pioneer) Rep. Brian Cina (P/D-Burlington) for sticking his neck out and being willing to endure the ridicule of his colleagues. When this area of medicine (which today seems so voodoo to so many) eventually becomes mainstream, you will receive the honor and gratitude that should be afforded to you now.
Your article on endangered trees ["The Forest and the Trees," April 21] reminded me of a row of 60-foot locusts at the edge of our property. They were destroyed over a year ago.
This was part of a Middlebury sidewalk project near the Pulp Mill Covered Bridge. Two of the three replacement trees are dead.
Also destroyed was the foundation of possibly the oldest house in the area. Weybridge tried to repair it.
The destruction of nature trees is as important to their neighbors as lost forest trees. Regional plans may sound decent, but the destruction phase can inflict long-term damage.
Regarding "What's Happening to Founders Hall at Saint Michael's College?" [WTF, April 28], I pursued this action in hopes of being considered an interested party under Act 250, which allowed a hearing to explore whether this great building might be saved. Founders Hall could have been secured and fundraising to rescue it carried out.
Attorney Matthew Byrne states that, had I succeeded, "everyone could sue" the college and "no building would ever come down." While the distinction may be lost on him, my focus was on this essential building. No self-respecting college would demolish its foundational building. Morally, I don't believe the administration has any right to. The disgraceful argument was made that to save Founders Hall, faculty and students must suffer. Presented in this zero-sum manner, how could any "interested party" arise from within the college?
My legal question, never answered, was: If I am not an interested party, who is? State preservation authorities did not consider it within their powers to forbid demolition.
College president Lorraine Sterritt may call it "our beloved Founders Hall," but she doesn't share any long-standing attachment. Attorney Byrne made light of such sentiments — but without human attachment to historic buildings, what basis is there for including historic preservation in the statute?
In the end, there was no "interested party" to protect Founders Hall. I tried. With those who would have cared most deeply about its history dead and gone, I tried my best.
This will be remembered as a callous act of architectural vandalism.
Dillon is a member of the Saint Michael's College class of 1977.
Dave Gram's Fair Game ["In the Black," April 28] offers the reader the following perspective on the American way of life: "You can't really blame businesses or nonprofits for taking free money when the government is handing it out."
Every dollar of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act and every dollar of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is borrowed money.
In the year 2000, aggregate federal debt was $5.7 trillion. Today it has exploded to $28.2 trillion — a 395 percent increase — and, according to the Congressional Budget Office projections, it will reach at least $39 trillion in 2030, a 584 percent increase over 30 years.
So when the suggestion is made that businesses and nonprofits should not be criticized for taking free government money, the response should clearly be, "Why the hell not?" Taking that money today means society's children will have to pay it back when they become adults.
Seven Days should have a contest: What adjective or phrase best describes adults who leave a $39 trillion debt legacy to society's children — and do so with no shame whatsoever?
All That Glitters
Many thanks to Sasha Goldstein and Courtney Lamdin for their "Gilded Age" article [May 5]. I was scheduled to give a talk to a Realtors' association on fair housing issues during Fair Housing Month. But, quite frankly, I didn't know what to say. So the talk was postponed.
"Gilded Age" helped me put things in perspective. My talk was to be about Charlottesville, Va., and how, as the city exploded into a cultural mecca — university and all — nurses, maids, cooks, teachers, administrative assistants, bank tellers, sales clerks, janitors, small-business people and others could no longer afford to live in the very city that they, with all their grinding effort, helped turn into a mecca.
The Church Street Marketplace in Burlington and Charlottesville's pedestrian mall are crown jewels for their respective cities. A few years ago, a fiftysomething white man, greeting me on the Burlington mall, proudly professed that Burlington's and Charlottesville's respective malls were the only two successful such malls in the country.
I did not know how to take his comment, considering that a relatively poor Black neighborhood had been razed to make way for the Charlottesville mall, which now has limited diversity. "Gilded Age" made me wonder what will be lost as Burlington becomes more and more a "gilded" community. What will become of Vermont in general as the gap between the haves and the have-nots widens astronomically?
James Robert Saunders