Fed Up With Foodies
Egad! Just when I had sworn that if I saw another photo of a burger I would stop reading Seven Days forevermore, the food issue rolls out [April 23]. Listen, I am all for both local and organic food — and all the socioeconomic and environmental benefits connected — as well as the artistry of good food. I am, however, utterly nauseated by "foodie" culture and increasingly discouraged by an ever-more expensive city whose chief form of entertainment for well-heeled liberal white people seems to be eating. You know what is a great pairing tonight? A roof over your head and a nourishing meal to eat. Healthy, well-made food ought well to be a part of the cultural fabric and not an Instagram photo for folks with a disposable income. I am all for culinary prowess, sustainable agriculture and local economy. But for the time being, I think I will keep taking the bus to Price Chopper with the rest of the poor people.
Galen Cassidy Peria
Too Cozy for Comfort
I have had plenty of experience with lobbyists — I even married one. I also occasionally lobbied. It, therefore, is hard to condense my reaction to Paul Heintz's excellent story ["Under the Influence," April 30]. Here is one tale worth telling: When my boss Governor Snelling died, I telephoned Howard Dean to tell him he was governor. When he met with a grieving Snelling staff, Howard was comforting and reassuring. I appreciated his words. Yet he said something I found troubling — and still do. The new governor told us that, when he held news conferences, he would not sit down as Snelling often did. Dean said Bob Sherman, one of the founders of what is now KSE, advised him to stand. The gist was: Snelling could pull it off because he loomed large; the more diminutive Dean could not.
Dean's reaching out to a prominent lobbyist to help him in the important transition exemplifies the incestuous marriage between office holders and lobbyists. It would be incorrect to assume things have not changed; actually, as Heintz wrote, they have gotten worse. I hope Paul Heintz soon will examine another festering sore: the cozy relationship of Green Mountain Power to politicians. Vermont historically has been dominated by large, private utilities. In the past, Republicans were their handmaidens. Today, GMP resembles a lucrative "assisted living center" for aging Democratic politicos. What coal companies are to West Virginia, GMP is to Vermont. I opted out of GMP's smart meters; I wish Vermont could opt out of its politics.
Post is the former director of policy research for the late governor Richard Snelling.
Don't Ignore Peyton
Are you going to cover Emily Peyton's candidacy for governor this election season? Your article about Shumlin's ease at fundraising [Fair Game: "Traveling Salesman," March 19] makes it seem like the race is over before it has begun, but really the race is in your hands, isn't it, Seven Days? I for one would like to see the Vermont press level the playing field. Here is a candidate who does not suck up to corporations, who is arguably more loyal to Vermont than our current governor, but will you cover her as if she is in the race this season? Or will you continue to treat her as a nonentity, a candidate-but-not, all because she isn't schmoozing like a pro up to big money for campaign donations? I know Emily, and she is into money — as in, more money for Vermonters. It's time you take her seriously.
Dan's the Man
Music writer Dan Bolles: Please stop writing such in-depth provocative pieces, such as "King of the Hill" [April 2], or someone from a higher-paying rag will surely headhunt that canny head of yours.
Honestly, I enjoy Dan's writing all the time, whether it be a snippet or a comprehensive piece, but his research and detailing of Will Ackerman's life moved me right back to the 1980s, when I had every single one of Windham Hill's recordings and saw George Winston play on grand pianos along the West Coast. You 100 percent New-Aged, er, rocked the story, and I am proud to live in a city that hosts such great talent.
I've read the article written about the "alleged" heroin dealer, Dierdre Hey, twice, yet I still don't see the point of this story ["Alleged Winooski Heroin Dealer Says Cops Exaggerated Her Role," April 30]. Has the author allowed a platform for a confessed drug dealer to explain how her level of dealing is somehow less intrusive to our community than that of a "big-time dealer"? Hey has no idea where the drugs she sells ultimately end up. She also has no idea where the money she takes in for her product comes from. This is evidenced by the fact that her son and acquaintance were arrested for armed robbery of a convenience store less than 12 hours after participating in an interview for this story.
Hey and her colleagues who traffic heroin are the root cause of rising crime and health issues in our state. And with her admission that she paid an out-of-state drug dealer with an AR-15 assault rifle, I question why Hey hasn't been charged with interstate trafficking of assault weapons. Not only is she promoting the heroin crisis affecting our communities, she is exporting our issues to other states.
The week this story came out, Fletcher Allen Health Care saw a dramatic one-day rise in overdoses from heroin use. Did some other junkie share the bad batch, as Hey does to support her addiction, causing these overdoses?
Perhaps it's the ignorance of a drug-addicted mind, but make no mistake: Hey's drug-dealing activities and connections to out-of-state drug networks, as well as fencing stolen goods, is in no way an exaggeration of illegal activity.
[Re "Mission: Economical," April 9]: I enjoyed your article on thrift shops, but I was disappointed to see that it did not include Replays. This shop is located in the Blue Mall on Dorset Street and sells household, clothing and many sundries. It is operated by the Fletcher Allen Health Care Auxiliary, and all proceeds benefit the hospital.
Francis is an Auxiliary board member.
Editor's note: Replays was listed in our "Thrift-Store Roundup" sidebar as part of the "Mission: Economical" story.
In Defense of BT
There is a myth being perpetuated by otherwise credible sources about Burlington Telecom. Seven Days' Alicia Freese summed it up in ["Making Connections," March 19]: "The Bob Kiss administration improperly diverted nearly $17 million of taxpayer money to keep it afloat." The same untruth later showed up in a letter to the editor by Michael McGarghan, reportedly a former member of the Burlington Telecom Community Advisory Council [Feedback: "Bridge Loan to Nowhere?" April 2].
Here is a direct quote from BT's 2005 certificate of public good: "BT may participate in the City's pooled cash management system..."In other words, the Vermont Public Service Board — the entity that makes the rules — said such borrowing was fine. The violation occurred by not paying back said money within two months.
Another violation centered on a mandate that BT's service reach "every residence, building, and institution" within three years. I'm unsure Comcast, a giant whose wealth is consumed with reducing competition, can boast such an achievement.
Illegal? Two prosecutors declined to press charges. Transparent? Arguable. A civil court trial that cost Burlington taxpayers an untold sum of money is in progress now.
Nobody disputes that BT's situation could have been handled better by all parties involved. But let's dispel the rhetoric. BT is an investment. It's an asset for any bandwidth-intensive business seeking growth. Let's hope it stays locally owned.
Bad Place to Live?
S.D. Ireland's concrete plant on Grove Street is within the area that the U.S. Air Force's environmental study described as not suitable for residential use if F-35s are based in Burlington ["Building Momentum," April 16]. This is a significant fact, inevitably affecting the value of any residential property built there. The buyer of real estate is entitled to a full disclosure, and the seller has an obligation to provide one. I wonder how S.D. Ireland Brothers Corp. will manage this problem. How do you tell a potential buyer that the apartment is in an area so noisy that responsible Air Force analysts say it would be bad for your health to live there?
I am concerned that S.D. Ireland managed to get the development review board to give preliminary approval to a residential development in such a place. If the DRB finally approves this plan, they should insist, as a condition of approval, that S.D. Ireland Brothers fully disclose the conclusions of the Air Force environmental study when they offer apartments for sale.
I'm getting nervous thinking about all that Pine Street waterfront property where there is a toxic waste site. We managed to keep developers from putting a highway through there back when Bernie was mayor. Now, after the "regime change," I wonder if we will be fighting that battle again, this time against a toxic site being used for waterfront housing instead of a highway.
In the GMO Know
[Re Fair Game, "Label to Table," April 16]: As an educator, I always encourage curiosity and a search for truth in my students. It helps that I'm a math teacher and can show my students the path to the concrete answer of an equation. Everything isn't that simple — take GMO foods, for example. If I need an answer to the question "Is this produced with genetic engineering?" I'm currently unable to find out.
Whether GMO food proves harmful to human health or not — in lieu of concrete evidence of safety, I should have all the information I need to choose whether I want to consume these foods or not. Just like I tell my students, don't stop until you find the answer to your question.
The manufacturers and inventors of GMO foods will claim that they are harmless — but that's what the tobacco industry used to claim about cigarettes. It seems straightforward enough; a few simple words added to all the other nutritional information on food packaging could give Vermonters the freedom they're looking for. So why don't we have them?
Because the biotechnology and agribusiness industry resists GMO labeling, pouring millions of dollars into derailing labeling efforts across the country — even though more than 60 other nations worldwide require labeling, or even go so far as to ban GMOs. If GMO purveyors already label their product in Europe, I say give us the same information and let us choose from there.
I'm proud to live in a state where legislators listen to their constituents over the threats of out-of-state industry.