[Re "Rolling With It," May 19]: As an almost daily rider of a recumbent trike on the Burlington bike path, I am concerned for my safety as a result of the recent proliferation of e-bikes. Officially welcomed on Burlington's recreation path, these vehicles are much heavier than an average bicycle and usually moving much faster. A collision with one of these machines could be debilitating. Ideally, a momentum limit could be enacted, resulting in slower speeds for heavier vehicles, but this is currently impossible to monitor and enforce. Personally, this situation has encouraged me to purchase an electric motorcycle, which I expect will be safer at traffic speeds than on the rec path.
[Re "Chemical Reaction," May 12]: As a construction professional, to me it matters little whether Burlington spends $200 million on a new high school or $70 million renovating the existing one. But PCB levels should not be the issue. The fact that these schools are 60-plus years old should be the issue. Vermont taxpayers need to suck it up and invest in the future of this state. Let's build new schools that are designed for the 21st century! You will never convince me that with $4 trillion to $6 trillion in COVID-19 relief, our politicians can't prioritize some of those billions for the youth of our nation. Start now! Forget any PCB debate! It's worthless and a complete waste of time!
Thank you, Alison Novak, for the excellent reporting in ["Chemical Reaction," May 12], which, to me, clearly pointed out the real root causes of Burlington's PCB problem: the State of Vermont's screening level of 15 nanograms per cubic meter, the ongoing misuse by the school administration of the term "an unsafe building," and the years of underfunding maintenance and cost-avoidance projects resulting in the $70 million renovation project in the first place. To even consider tearing down Burlington High School when it's only lived half its life expectancy and filling a landfill with it is insanity— even more so when the State of Vermont has made it illegal to throw a banana peel in the landfill.
Unfortunately, we can't go back in time and reverse the decisions that created this train wreck, starting with just saying "no": no to the initial closing of the school, no to moving forward with the renovation until the state completes its airborne PCB testing, no to spending millions of dollars renovating Macy's. And yes to taking the state to court if it tried forcing the city to close the school.
One can only hope that a "Save BHS" movement will come forward, because if there were ever a justifiable reason for the citizens of Burlington to take someone to court to slow down this train wreck, this would be the case!
Lorraine graduated from Burlington High School in 1975.
[Re "Chemical Reaction," May 12]: I think that waiting until many years have passed and millions of people have been poisoned is the wrong approach to preventing chemical damage.
How about the precautionary principal? Your chemical crap permitted by a sloppy and corrupt regulatory system is not welcome in Vermont in the first place.
It took over 50 years to get lead out of paint and gasoline, after it poisoned millions of children. Triclosan, a pesticide, was added to hand soap. Turned out it's one of many chemicals that screw up the human microbiome. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration finally decided it was bad, but it will take years to get it out of products. Pesticides are destroying honeybees, which will result in massive starvation. The process of getting rid of these pesticides is dragging along. After all, can't hurt profits...
Thousands of super-nasty chemicals are being spread around the world, with more being added every year. It is now considered "normal" for children to be chronically ill.
As this excellent article points out, it is incredibly expensive to deal with the resulting mess down the line. Trusting the manufacturers and the federal government to protect us has rarely worked in the past and is even less likely to work in the future, given regulatory capture and the growing power of international corporations.
To be realistic, Vermont isn't big enough to make a difference, but it is definitely time to stop trusting authorities to protect us from harm.
[Re "Chemical Reaction," May 12]: Has anyone considered the Burton facility for the Burlington High School? Burton isn't using the whole plant and might welcome selling it. There is plenty of parking.
No Life Preservers?
I always enjoy paging through Seven Days. Classy paper. But not the May 12 issue. There, in an advertisement for Basin Harbor, is a beautiful color photo with three young children in a boat on the water. Look closely and be nervous. Only one of the three little ones is wearing a life preserver. I wonder where the parents were. And I'm sorry Seven Days let that photo get by.
The article about Vermont's $285 million support of the dairy industry left out a few key pieces of information [Off Message: "Hoffer: Vermont's Dairy Industry Netted $285 Million in State Support Over a Decade," May 10].
Admittedly, dairy farms have contributed to the phosphorus buildup in Lake Champlain. However, in the 1950s and '60s, adding phosphorus to fields was a "best management practice" recommended by the Vermont Department of Agriculture and the University of Vermont's cooperative extension service. The federal government provided bags of phosphorus fertilizer to Vermont's farmers for free.
Kevin McCallum's article also neglected to mention that the price farmers receive for their milk is set by the federal government, often at or below the cost of production. When federal and state governments require expensive environmental upgrades — sometimes in direct conflict with programs already in place or changing the rules enacted only a few years previously — the cost for farmers is unattainable without grants and tax breaks. Administering and overseeing these dairy farm grants employs a large number of Vermont state employees who receive the generous salaries, paid vacations and state-funded pensions that farmers do not.
Vermont dairy farms are challenged on many fronts: weather, misinformation from media and animal rights extremists, low milk prices, high feed and labor costs, etc.
Vermont dairy farmers would prefer to be paid a fair price for their product and not need to rely on grants and tax breaks. Let's not put all the blame on the dairy farmers for this unbalanced economic situation.
'Racism Exists Here'
[Re Off Message: "Vermont Senate Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency," May 20]: Amid the flurry of concluding business last week, the Vermont Senate passed three resolutions that are small but important steps to acknowledge and address racism in the state.
The first, J.R.H.6, a joint resolution of the House and Senate, declares that racism is a public health emergency.
The second, S.R.10, designates May 2021 as Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Vermont. The resolution also condemns anti-Asian and anti-Pacific Islander hate in the United States.
S.R.11 was the third resolution, passed by the Senate with a unanimous vote. The measure honors the memory of George Floyd, the Black man murdered by a Minneapolis police office a year ago this week. S.R.11 designates May 25, 2021, as a day of remembrance and action.
The three legislative enactments are important. The General Assembly — our elected representatives — stepped up. Of most importance, they call upon us, the citizens of Vermont, to act. Racism exists here. All of us must work to recognize how blatant and insidious this is and take action to end it. We have the power and responsibility to ensure the ideals of Vermont and the country become reality for all.
[Re Off Message: "Vermont Senate Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency," May 20]: Who wants a star-spangled, absolute definition of hypocrisy? Look no further than the Vermont Senate, pretending to be bastions in the fight against racism, reserving a day to honor George Floyd and declaring an all-out war on Asian hate — all the while remaining staunchly mute on the Vermont Human Rights Commission's report and subsequent settlement that branded Bennington leadership as abjectly racist in the way they protect, or rather opt not to protect, their citizens of color. Well done, Vermont Senate. Now anytime anyone wants to know all about hypocrisy, they need travel no further than your chamber.
Here's a novel idea, Vermont Senate, House and all state leadership: Get your own house in racial order before you crusade against systemic racism elsewhere in America — because right now, you just look downright foolish.
[Re Off Message: "Renters Can Apply for New $100 Million Assistance Program," May 12]: I think that the vast majority of people would agree that housing is essential and everyone having a home is good for a society. However, asking one slice of society to be responsible for providing a social good is unjust.
It is easy to say that actors are paid too much, as are musicians, lawyers and politicians. How about farmers, doctors, plumbers and nurses? It is easy to say that everybody but you is overpaid. All the aforementioned would disagree about being overpaid.
Allowing the majority to set rents, or control prices, has been tried. The short-run benefits redound to the many (especially the politicians who propose the legislation). History is littered with well-intentioned legislation yielding undesirable but foreseeable consequences.
There is a housing shortage that is adversely impacting our society. Society should be responsible for the solution.