The League of Women Voters urges everyone to participate in the 2020 Census, now under way.
The U.S. Constitution requires the federal government to count everyone living in the country every 10 years. Every household should complete a census form — either online, by mail or by phone — by October 31, 2020. Participating in the census is our right and responsibility.
Census data shape the future of our community. Census data determine our political power, representation in Congress, and funding for education, transportation, health care and so much more. Key federal programs rely on data and allocations derived from the census, including Medicaid, Medicare Part B, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, highway planning and construction, Section 8, Title I grants, special education grants, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and Head Start. Census data are also used for apportionment of congressional and legislative seats, determining who represents you.
Your privacy is protected. Under the law, census data can only be used for statistical purposes. Personal information cannot be disclosed for 72 years; U.S. Census Bureau staffers who have access to personal information are subject to a $250,000 fine and/or up to five years in federal prison for wrongful disclosure of information.
Recent reports show that Vermont has one of the lowest U.S. Census response rates in the country [Last 7: "Vermont Lags in Census Response," April 22]. You can go online and fill out your census form in a matter of minutes. An accurate count is essential for allocating government resources, making good decisions about state and local projects, and allocating legislative seats. Visit 2020census.gov to fill out the census today.
Rader is a board member of the League of Women Voters of Vermont.
To the Rescue
[Re "Story Time," April 22]: As president and cofounder of the Vermont Holocaust Memorial, I would like to bring your readers' attentions to our Vermont student essay contest entitled "Rescuers in the Time of COVID-19." To acknowledge the heroism and sacrifice of Vermont's medical, service and other personnel in the fight against COVID-19, the museum has launched a competition that will challenge Vermont students to reflect on the stories of neighbors and relatives on the front lines against this historic threat and how their values reflect those rescuers of the World War II Holocaust. For contest information and guidelines, interested students, teachers and families should visit holocaustmemorial-vt.org/2020essaycontest.
[Re Off Message: "Data Show Vermont Air Guard F-35 Flights Spiked in April," April 24]: In the Trump era, we have gotten dangerously blasé about lies from official figures. The old bumper sticker "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention" should certainly apply when Col. Dave Shevchik of the Vermont Air National Guard states, "I am committed to transparency," after having misled Seven Days, various city councils and all of us about the frequency of F-35 flights.
Hiding behind "operational security" does not make the Air National Guard's lies any less outrageous. When the planes fly over a family sheltered in place in Winooski, shaking the bricks of their house, it is not a military secret; it's a waking nightmare. The F-35 flights must be shut down for the duration of the pandemic.
The $116 Million Question
[Re Off Message: "Data Show Vermont Air Guard F-35 Flights Spiked in April," April 24]: According to an October 30, 2019, Popular Mechanics article, the F-35 is estimated to cost $44,000 per hour to fly. In a recent letter to the city councils of Winooski, Burlington and South Burlington, the Vermont Air National Guard stated that they usually fly four to eight aircraft twice a day for four days a week, plus one weekend per month — conservatively, 12 one-hour flights per day for four days and 52 weeks, plus 12 flights once per month, for an estimated annual cost of $116,160,000.
What could Vermont do with $116 million per year? Maybe support higher education or provide property tax relief. A more realistic schedule of two hours and 16 flights per day would result in an estimated annual cost of more than $300,000,000.
In the Environmental Impact Statement, the United States Air Force stated that the F-35 would be four times louder than the F-16. However, there is absolutely no way to determine this: There was no scientific measurement of the F-16 or F-35 noise.
Many airports around the country and the world have real-time noise monitoring, which not only measures the noise levels at various points along the flight path but also allows observers to track those levels via the web. Burlington International Airport could apply for a Federal Aviation Administration grant for such a system, but it has not done so. Clearly, the airport authorities and the politicians do not want the public to have real-time, scientific measurements of the noise created by the planes.
George C. Cross
[Re Off Message: "Scott Takes Further Steps to Open Vermont Economy," May 1]: We don't allow smoking in stores because secondhand smoke causes cancer. Why in the world should we allow people to transmit a deadly virus in stores when they can easily wear a mask? Secondhand smoke takes years of multiple exposures to cause cancer, while one exposure to the novel coronavirus can kill.
I am becoming increasingly concerned about the number of out-of-state visitors I see in the stores without cloth masks. In southern Vermont we have a high number of vacation homes. The owners of those homes are coming up from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York — all hotbeds for the virus. They are staying for the weekend and going home. They don't self-quarantine and, most importantly, many don't wear cloth masks in public.
Don't get me wrong; I want out-of-state visitors to come to Vermont. But after working so hard to get the COVID-19 numbers down, we can't afford to let them go up. There is no herd immunity in Vermont. Cloth masks and handwashing are our only protection. I am not fooling when I say this is a life-or-death situation.
We need a rule from the governor that must be followed: No cloth face covering, no service! If he fails to act, I ask my fellow citizens to boycott stores that don't require a face mask or a cloth face covering.