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Letters to the Editor (5/25/22)


Published May 25, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

Toon Tweak?

While you're making changes to the Fun Stuff section, please consider switching the positions of "This Modern World," which would benefit from being slightly larger, and "Bliss," which wouldn't be hurt by slight reduction.

Whinewhile, will "Futon Life" ever get good enough to deserve a place in your publication?

L.J. Kopf


'Slice of Heaven'

I enjoyed very much Carolyn Shapiro's survey of local pie makers ["Easy as Pie," April 6]. The article did a great job surveying the remarkable pie-related culinary talent we benefit from here in Burlington and the surrounding areas.

However, I would like to point out the omission of a very talented pie professional. Jonathan Davis is working miracles at Pie Society. His pie kitchen is in the same building as Davis Studio at 916 Shelburne Road in South Burlington.

Every week, Pie Society changes its menu to offer two savory pies and one sweet. This week, for example, he is offering bratwurst, kale and ale gravy pie; butternut-sage pot pie; and rhubarb crumb pie. The savory pies typically cost less than $30, and the sweet pies less than $20.

Jonathan is a craftsman of crust and a philosopher of filling. Every one of the Pie Society pies I have ordered, savory or sweet, has been a slice of heaven. I hope that we support such a talented young food creator in his quest for the ultimate pie.

Danny Crytser


Editor's note: Seven Days reported on Jonathan Davis and Pie Society in a December 15, 2020, piece: "Fresh From the Oven: Four New Vermont Bakeries Offer Their Wares Direct to Consumers." Two months later, on February 25, 2021, he was the subject of a "Stuck in Vermont" video.

Tougher Registry Needed

[Re "Under Pressure From Scott, Lawmakers Scrap Rental Registry," May 11, online]. As I sit in the backyard of my apartment in Burlington's Old North End and read about S.210, I am appalled. Requiring inspections of rental units would improve quality of life for many Vermonters, but I fear that due to buildings with fewer than four units being exempt, many would miss out. I look at my own building and those of all my neighbors; nearly all would be exempt. The same is true of my hometown of Springfield and my college town of Johnson.

I appreciate the effort by the legislature and hope that Gov. Phil Scott does not veto such a transformative bill, but I fear that many Vermonters will miss out on its benefits. The proposed $35 fee is minuscule.

Patrick Parillo


Cause for 'No Cause'

[Re "House Fails to Override Veto of Burlington's 'Just Cause' Eviction Bill," May 10, online]: I am a landlord in both Vermont and Washington, D.C., and I have already written in Seven Days how unfair and unnecessary it is that landlords are allowed to ask for first and last months' rent and a security deposit from incoming tenants here in Vermont, a practice illegal in D.C. [Feedback: "Protect Tenants," November 24, 2021]. I get to know most of my tenants well, and I see the hardships.

However, "no cause" evictions, which are illegal in D.C., afford tenants no real protection against higher rents and, I think, create a greater likelihood of adverse relationships between tenants and landlords. It is practically impossible to terminate a tenancy in D.C., but landlords with four or fewer rentals are allowed to raise rents pretty much as they please; with five or more units, landlords can still raise rents up to 10 percent every year, with just a 30-day notice.

Here in Vermont, if a tenant takes simple action in response to a "no cause" eviction, it can take months — and now probably years, with the slowdown in the courts — before that tenant must vacate, and then the courts might find in their favor if the landlord is acting in retaliation to valid tenant complaints. I have had to use this option once, and it was to remove tenants from a multifamily building because those tenants were constantly harassing and disturbing the other tenants. Harassment as a "cause" is notoriously difficult to prove, and the option of a "no cause" eviction was important and much appreciated by the other tenants.

Johanna Polsenberg


Great Guns

[Re Feedback: "Watch Your Gun Language," April 13]: Vermont has gotten along fine for generations without the recently passed and proposed gun control laws. Gun laws do not deter criminals; they only infringe on the rights of the law-abiding. The United States Postal Service, Vermont hospitals and doctors' offices, and the Vermont Department of Buildings and Services already have rules prohibiting carrying firearms. In the case of the governmental entities, those rules are in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution.

What is needed is the enforcement of existing laws and the handing out of the maximum punishments. The "relief from abuse orders" and "no-contact orders" and conditions of release are a waste; the abusers and drug users pay no attention to them. The "elite" — the lawyers, the doctors, many of the legislators and the National Education Association — have decided for the rest of us what is bad. Not all of us are taken in by the warped ideas of the gun-hating crowd.

Kendel Stafford


Potent Pot

[Re WTF: "What Are Cannabis THC Caps, and Why Does Vermont Have Them?" April 20]: Lawmakers in the Vermont House are following the science and support the 60 percent THC cap and are working to keep it in H.548. This was how Act 164 was sold to Vermonters in 2020: that the commercial sale of cannabis is "for the purpose of public health and safety."

What is new is the Cannabis Control Board's push for these dangerous products before the market in Vermont is even off the ground. These are not products used by the casual cannabis consumer. In the 1990s, the average THC content in marijuana flower was less than 4 percent. It is now about 15 percent — and we're talking about products with a potency of up to 80 or 90 percent THC.

What do we know about these products? The science is settled that they are dangerous. The chair of the Vermont CCB testified, "I recognize that these concentrates are dangerous ... They are dangerous ... They are dangerous, you know ... There are long-term negative health consequences of consuming high-THC concentrates."

Colorado now warns purchasers of marijuana concentrates of "psychotic symptoms ... mental health problems ... uncontrolled and repetitive vomiting ... and ... physical and psychological dependence." Some users report dependency. aka addiction, after just one try.

So why is the CCB pushing for these products now? As with tobacco and opioids, the industry aims to create and market a highly addictive product. Physicians, nurses and mental health providers will be left taking care of the consequences.

I only hope that by the time you read this letter, THC caps will still be in place.

Catherine Antley


Editor's note: They are indeed, as we reported online in "Vermont Lawmakers Pass Cannabis Bill That Keeps THC Limits in Place" on May 11.

View From the Gazebo

The article "Parkless in Montpelier" [May 11], well written and researched by Chelsea Edgar, accurately captures the homeless conundrum facing Montpelier.

As a lifelong resident of Montpelier, I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand over many years the abject failure of our city government to address how best to support the homeless population that frequents our city. I have made an effort to walk by the shelter at least twice every day since it was moved from the bike path to the new location to see how some of the homeless survive.

During some of the coldest days in January and February, many were still there. Bitter cold and relentless winds swept right up the Winooski River to the shelter, but they were still there. On two occasions, I saw them starting a fire in a small pit in front of the shelter. By the time I walked by the fire station, just 500 feet away, the fire truck was already out of the station, determined to put that fire out. A "concerned" citizen obviously was watching them and felt the need to report.

The Montpelier city government, in an attempt to placate the vocal homeless advocates, did what government always does best. When confronted with an uncomfortable, sensitive issue, they convened a Homelessness Task Force. That was 2019. So, what are the results of that commission to date? The approval of 12 homeless lockers, and the task force hasn't even met to discuss the serious crisis of no bathrooms and shower facilities. There is almost no place in Montpelier for the homeless to have access to toilet facilities.

Our local elected and city officials, and even a lot of citizens, always want to be first when it comes to innovative solutions providing equity and fairness for the marginalized and for environmental activism. I honestly believe they are more concerned with making sure the city is carbon-neutral by 2030 than helping the homeless. What a shame.

Dave Spaulding


Empty Plan for Homeless

[Re "Burlington Takes Aim at Ending Homelessness With 'Shelter Pod' Community," March 23]: I have been following homelessness since 1982 in the Santa Monica, Calif., region. I have read plan after plan to end it — a 10-point plan, five-point plan and so on. These "plans" are merely a way to look the part, like you are doing something, while doing absolutely nothing significant.

And what about all the barriers that the folks who are trying to end homelessness face? What are these barriers? Who are the individuals who are putting up the barriers — where do they live, grocery shop and so on? What public schools do their kids attend?

No one can answer this. So what are we really dealing with at the root of the homelessness predicament? In the words of Shakespeare's Macbeth: "a tale told by an idiot ... signifying nothing."

Think long and hard about that and write yet another letter to the editor.

Kathryn Tate