Come In, We're Open
In regard to the letter by Thomas Bisson [Feedback: "Not Rolling With It," June 3], we have been open! Sorry if you have missed our large window sign at 100 Main Street in Burlington. It says "OPEN FOR BUSINESS!" Initially we did curbside, but on the first day retail was permitted to open, we did.
We are not a new shop; we have been in business since 1985. Back in those days, I was one of the few females who started a bike shop. Today, I am proud to say that my son JP and husband, Jay, help run the shop, along with our dedicated employees.
Mr. Bisson, we invite you to visit our local shop. We would be happy to try and help you.
Miller owns North Star Sports in Burlington.
[Re Feedback: "Not Rolling With It," June 3]: Thomas Bisson and all other bike lovers: We understand your confusion around the current operations at Old Spokes Home as retailers begin to open up across the state
Basically, it boils down to doing what we feel is safest for our staff and customers. One thing that differentiates us from other retail shops is that we have higher numbers of staff on-site — because we don't just sell bikes, we also fix 'em. We have a team working hard on bike repairs in addition to our curbside test-ride team. Add customers to that mix, and the building gets pretty crowded pretty quickly. If you have ever been to our shop on a warm Saturday in June, you know exactly what we are talking about.
As the situation plays out, we may change things — because we miss seeing customers in the shop and, honestly, this is no fun for us, either — but for now we feel like curbside by appointment is the safest way to go. Thanks for asking!
Duggan is marketing manager of Burlington's Old Spokes Home.
[Re WTF: "Why Is Federal Stimulus Money Being Sent to Dead Vermonters?" May 13]: Not only is it shocking — and disturbing — that federal stimulus dollars are being misdirected to deceased individuals, but I know of at least one situation in which the dollars were definitely not needed and ought to have been used for someone who was really hurting financially.
My cousins are happily retired out of state. While their income is within the parameters for stimulus eligibility, they definitely did not need the money. But they received $1,200 each while they were on an extended vacation out of the country. Is this fair?
How do we get Congress to recognize that its income eligibility ceiling is too high and that the money is not going where it is needed? Perhaps they should lower the eligibility criteria and increase the stimulus amount. There are people who are hurting badly, and $1,200 is not going to be of much assistance to them! If someone with a louder voice than mine would say something, it might get heard.
No More Flyovers
How can we keep celebrating F-35 flyovers? How about using that money for purchasing much-needed supplies for essential workers? How does flying over help them, except to see how much noise and pollution they are creating? Why is there not an outrage about this? So wasteful, and Seven Days keeps glorifying it when you comment on how great it is [Last 7, May 20].
Editor's note: Seven Days reported that the flyovers happened, without editorial comment. In April, the news team inquired and later verified that the number of F-35 test flights had increased.
Splash Pad Is a Bad Idea
Our minds and hearts are justifiably full with recent reminders of rampant racism. But the COVID-19 cluster [Off Message: "Winooski Coronavirus Outbreak Widens With 34 New Cases," June 4] is also a reminder of the ongoing coronavirus threat. As a part-time University of Vermont public health instructor, I'm concerned about the City Hall Park splash pad construction, which has restarted.
In 2019, I shared evidence about potential health risks with the Board of Health. Using my training as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State epidemiologist, I reviewed disease outbreaks associated with spray parks, including one in New York State with more than a thousand parasitic infections. If there are fecal accidents, there may be insufficient contact time with disinfection or filtration before water is sprayed into the air again, with a risk of viral, bacterial or parasitic infections.
Coronavirus is shed in the feces and has been found in sewage. The CDC says: "Do not use playgrounds, including water playgrounds, located within local, state or national parks." Masks cannot be worn because they obstruct breathing when wet, and it will be impossible to keep children socially distant in this type of play area.
The splash pad could be turned off initially, but it is unlikely coronavirus will disappear. I'm in favor of splash pads under regulations like in New York State, with sufficient restrooms, physical space and access control. City Hall Park is too small and designed for multiple uses. I recommend that the renovation plans eliminate the splash pad feature to reduce costs and enhance public health.
Long, Hard Road
I enjoyed Colin Flanders' article [Off Message: "Scott Condemns Police Brutality, Sympathizes With Demonstrators," June 1]. Of particular import, to me, was how Gov. Phil Scott will be convening a Racial Equity Task Force. The group will have to do more than the typical study, delving into matters of the soul. Evil is an entity that, as a Howard Frank Mosher character puts it, is a part of us that we must guard against every minute of our lives. I would urge each member of the task force to read not only A Stranger in the Kingdom, about racism in Irasburg, but more importantly Disappearances, which is Mosher's take on Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. The whale and Captain Ahab are one and the same, good and evil, as are we all.
There are many who will argue that America's problems are a product of 265 years of slavery. Actually, we are rather young to it. Egypt, Rome and the Songhai Empire had it at the core of their civilizations. England colonized nearly half the world in its quest for empire. Of course, we know about how the German regime, at one time, felt about the Jewish people. And we know about how China killed millions of its people for the simple "crime" of not accepting the precepts of Communism.
What is it about us that has to dominate, to feel that we are better than other people? That is something the task force will have to investigate thoroughly if it is to arrive at solutions.
James Robert Saunders
Help Young People
I always read Seven Days obituaries, not just to see if any of the people I know have passed away, but also to find out about other people's lives and how their Earth journey ended. Sometimes those who died, whether known or unknown, inspire me to dedicate a poem to them. The recent obituary of Soren Wysockey-Johnson [Lifelines, May 12] has deeply moved me. He seemed to be extraordinarily talented, yet he took his life before he turned 16.
Why is it that so many young people decide to take their own lives? Young people are vulnerable to all sorts of negativity that is going on in the world, especially since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The present is so hard to bear, and the future is uncertain. There's nothing to hold on to; everything is so ephemeral. It must be very difficult for the students now that the schools are closed down. Putting classes online is not a solution — it breeds loneliness and alienation.
We cannot stay forever in virtual reality; we need to get back to reality. Young people need organized community centers where they can gather, share their experiences with one another, and talk to counselors and psychologists on the premises. We need to truly educate our young people and give them moral and spiritual support and hope for the future.
[Re Off Message: "Activists Demand Burlington Defund Its Police Department," June 4]: Shouldn't it be pointed out that Mayor Miro Weinberger is arguing, in the current "intense period" in which violent crimes have risen, that defunding the police would be detrimental to policing efforts and stopping crime? Yet the rise in active shooters and homicides was preceded by an increase in the police budget and, arguably, the aggressiveness of police tactics. More money and more police have not resulted in a decrease in violent crime. In fact, we've seen the opposite. It's a simplistic rationale, as was Mayor Miro's reasoning against defunding police. But, using simple logic, his argument doesn't hold up. It's bullshit like this that impedes real change.
As far as defunding the police, I don't believe anyone actually wants policing efforts and crime prevention to be completely eradicated. But we've reached a point in this country when a large portion of the population has lost all trust in police to follow basic procedure and uphold the rights of all citizens. At this point, they would literally prefer to fend for themselves.
Doctors Earn Too Much
Dr. Stephen Leffler sounds like a wonderful person and a great leader ["Doc Star," May 27]. It's truly heartening to know that he is in charge of Vermont's major hospital. That doesn't make his $600,000 salary any less obscene. So he took a 10 percent pay cut during the pandemic. Big deal! How about a 90 percent pay cut? He could easily live for a while on what would still be more than half again as much as I make (and I consider that I live quite comfortably).
It's been refreshing that health care workers are the new heroes of society — they deserve it. But nobody who makes more than $100,000 a year needs that money. I'll never forget when a friend of mine in family medicine told me that there aren't enough family doctors because their average salary is only $200,000 a year. Why does America pay doctors so much? We should pay doctors and surgeons less and nurses and techs more. Better yet, we should pay grocery workers, mail carriers, bus drivers and janitors more, too.
It's not just health care. This same dynamic plays out at the other giant nonprofit in Burlington, where the president makes the same as Dr. Leffler. Yet the University of Vermont is trying to save money by cutting the salaries of its lecturers, the people who make the least money on the faculty. Why, why, why?!