On a Role
Kudos to Chelsea Edgar on a well-written article regarding Vermont's mutual aid efforts ["How Can We Help You?" June 10]. I'm writing to underscore that government and grassroots entities are not mutually exclusive. Their efforts can be amplified through collaboration, and many residents can and do simultaneously hold positions in both. Although Peacham activated an emergency response team as per our town plan, our team's main role was to serve as a clearinghouse for the many grassroots and governmental resources, services and information available to our community, including initiatives we spearheaded.
Edgar mentioned that I agreed to serve as chief operations officer, not knowing what my role would entail. It would be more accurate to write that I didn't know what the pandemic would bring. As a 20-year professional in the industry of wilderness/disaster/rural medicine, while I couldn't predict specifics, I most definitely understood what my role entailed. Role definition is one of the main efficiencies of the Federal Emergency Management Agency incident command system.
I'd also like to clarify the statement that I created an "exhaustive database" of residents — a truly alarming concept! Like all towns represented at Vermont's regional and statewide community organizer meetings, Peacham worked hard to ensure that all our community members knew how to volunteer and/or ask for help. To that end, almost 100 Peacham residents checked on their neighbors, confirmed contact information for a town-wide alert system and/or communicated concerns as their neighbors requested. Hence our "database." It doesn't get much more grassroots than that!
Thank you again for Edgar's excellent writing. Power to the people!
Kane is a member of the Peacham Emergency Response Team.
'Blessed' at Birchwood
I would like to commend the authors of "It's in the Building" [June 3] for their superb journalism. I have a mother in Birchwood who has survived COVID-19, and I will tell you firsthand what amazing people the staff at Birchwood are and how blessed I feel that she is in their care. Their courage and dedication cannot be overstated, and writers Colin Flanders and Derek Brouwer conveyed every sense of the surreal emotions experienced during this pandemic outbreak.
It is such a well-written and moving piece that honestly is worthy of professional recognition, and I would recommend a nomination.
Voting Is Easy Enough
I'm not sure how Gov. Phil Scott plays a part in preventing absentee voting in the state of Vermont, since it's quite easy. Apparently, Andrew Crosier does not think so [Feedback: "Every Voter Counts," June 3]. The secretary of state's website provides details on how easy it is to vote absentee in the state of Vermont: sos.vermont.gov/elections/voters/early-absentee-voting. According to this website, you can request a ballot online or on paper, or you can visit the town clerk's office. In the event of a disability, you can have a ballot delivered to your home by one of your town's justices of the peace.
Who 'Founded' Vermont?
[Re Feedback: "Everyone Loves to Disagree," May 27]: I think Robert Devost raises a valid question in his letter to the editor. What should we think about the founders of the state of Vermont? Particularly Samuel de Champlain. This question reminds me of the Julio Argentino Roca statue in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that is the frequent object of vandalism and a flashpoint for Argentine politics. Roca exterminated the indigenous population in the founding of modern Argentina. To many in Argentina, he is a Hitler figure.
I agree with the Argentine people who feel this way. For me and many others, we know that we live on stolen land, built by a slave-based national economy. Our whiteness and wealth are predicated on the blood and murder of generations of oppressed people.
Here in Vermont, we have an enormous, unchanging, boiling history of exclusion of people not of European descent. It is a shame we wake up with and go to bed with every day. We are lesser people for this reality and live lesser lives, lives built on the backs of others.
Art is powerful — about this Devost is correct. It holds real weight, and its symbolism carries great significance.
In Québec, the motto is Je Me Souviens. Translation: "I remember." For indigenous people and many others, this statement of French pride is one that cuts to the bone. As someone of French Canadian descent myself, I do not particularity care for the motto. I remember burning dwellings, diseased blankets, metal tearing through bodies and the greed of white men.
Sign Me Up for Cheap Gas
A convenient trip to Colchester prompted me to swing by Costco and fill up at its newly opened gas pumps. I took 13 gallons at $1.99 (my car requires premium) — a savings of just over $11 when compared to Skip Vallee's normal price of $2.85 a gallon. It was well worth the extra couple of miles.
What's the catch? You have to be a Costco member to buy, but it won't take too many trips during the year to cover the membership fee.
Maplefields has seen the last of me.
Cops Have Too Much Power
Defunding the police and using the money for community services is the right idea [Off Message: "Progressive Lawmakers Want to Divert 20 Percent of State Police Budget," June 11]. The blatant murder of George Floyd before cameras — one of 1,000 unarmed Americans murdered each year by killer cops — demonstrated a failed and brutal system.
Cops know that, unless there are worldwide protests, they continue to have immunity and impunity on multiple levels: immunity from losing their job, immunity from arrest, immunity from independent and impartial investigation and prosecution, and immunity from conviction and incarceration.
The present system of impunity for cops is part of a race and class war directed against those who lack money and power. Racism, impunity for cops, and disproportionate violence against black and brown people are central to the divide-and-rule strategy that maintains the power of the 1 percent.
The modest demands of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance — including the firing of three brutal Burlington cops, a 30 percent cut in uniformed officers, and reinvesting the money in communities of color — are long overdue.
But even such modest demands are too much for established power in the legislature. They instead attempt to divide and divert as they work hard to retain the multiple levels of impunity that protect the cops and perpetuate police misconduct.
That is why we need to be persistent and unrelenting in building the campaign for equal justice, defunding the police and abolishing all the levels of impunity for cops.
[Re "Bleak House," May 2]: There seems to have been a memo circulated in the trust fund community that if you come to Vermont, you can run for a seat in the state legislature and fool enough people to actually get elected. History bears this out with Madeleine Kunin, Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders, David Zuckerman and maybe a newcomer from Connecticut. It appears that Katherine Sims is now going to try another run for a seat in the state legislature.
She ran twice in the past and now has relocated to Craftsbury from Lowell. That could be a good move for her. She will have an easier time fooling those folks. She states that she is running as a Democrat, but I believe she is really a Bernie bro with a progressive agenda. She has dabbled in the farm-to-school program and, recently, the program to bring internet access to rural towns, most of which have it if they choose to pay for it.
The main thing these people bring to Vermont is their personal growth agenda. All it takes is for a clear-thinking taxpayer to look at the fact that this legislature has never seen anything it doesn't want to tax. It has made a mess of the state employees' retirement plan, which is mismanaged and has a shortcoming of millions to fund the state employee pension plan. These progressive folks just supply the legislature with more bobble-headed members to support the Democrat-progressives' lobbyist-run foolishness.
'Learn to Listen'
A questioner near the end of Gov. Phil Scott's press conference last Wednesday, June 10, wanted to know whether the governor supported white people's right to speak who were reportedly not allowed to speak at a protest over the weekend in Montpelier. The event was one of many held in Vermont to protest racism and police violence against black people.
Why was the question asked? Might not people rallying to raise awareness about domestic violence turn away a speaker who supported domestic assault? Would the governor be asked to take a stand on that? Might not people rallying for "right to life" decline to have a speaker who supports a woman's right to choose? Would the governor be asked to take a stand on that? Might not Second Amendment advocates turn away a speaker who wanted to abolish the amendment? Would the governor be asked to take a stand on that?
Was the question an insinuation that white folks are being discriminated against when they are asked to listen to black people who have been on the receiving end of discrimination? Was the question raising doubt that black people can speak for themselves?
The question smacked of someone trying to make a case that white lives, as opposed to black lives, matter. The question smacked of white privilege.
White folks need to learn to listen.
Connelly was the former editor and copublisher of the Hardwick Gazette.
Don't Forget About Climate Change
When climate change is discussed, it is often with a degree of "climate panic," which can be detrimental to action ["Degrees of Panic," January 22]. During this pandemic, we don't need more reasons to panic. We have an opportunity right now to leverage the lessons we are learning from COVID-19 and apply them to climate change.
We have observed frontline workers in Vermont adjusting their lives and expectations in order to serve their communities. We Vermonters know what it means to support our communities and each other, and we are seeing it happen right now.
Vermonters are resilient, adaptable and innovative. And we have the obligation now to act upon what we know is happening to support the sustainability of our environment and our communities. The Vermont legislature is proposing two big climate change bills: 1. the Global Warming Solutions Act (H.688), which resets Vermont's greenhouse gas emissions targets; and 2. the Climate Change Response Plan (S.185), which regards climate change as a public health threat.
So as we are still working from home, "being smart and staying safe," we can still begin to take action on this larger issue by calling our senators, House representatives and governor to voice our support for these bills.
As Barack Obama said in his 2020 high school commencement speech: "Build a community. No one does big things by themselves." Making change begins with small actions. We're "Vermont Strong," and we can leverage this moment to ensure the well-being of our state, country and planet for years to come.
I'm writing to support Molly Gray for lieutenant governor [Off Message: "Molly Gray Kicks Off Campaign for Lieutenant Governor," February 27]. I have known Molly's family a very long time, from Hartland. I saw her show her grit in her competitive, successful Nordic skiing career.
Molly radiates bold, inspiring female leadership our state and country desperately need. She is the product of Vermont education through the University of Vermont and the Vermont Law School. She worked at the International Committee of the Red Cross in humanitarian service to communities in crises. Now her work in the Attorney General's Office emphasizes those vulnerable people who need support and protection.
I came to Vermont in the 1970s, when there were great opportunities to build a family, enjoy the outdoors and have meaningful work. Molly wants to rebuild Vermont to be that place again. She is the only candidate who truly emphasizes the need to make Vermont the best place for young people to stay and bring new people in. Her commitment to supporting our farms and protecting vulnerable people puts her in front.
We need strong leadership in the Statehouse now, more than ever. Molly has what it takes to get us through a crisis like this, and she has the empathy for Vermonters first. She has energy, she's smart, and her values are in the right place.
Please join me in voting for Molly Gray for lieutenant governor in the primary election on August 11. For information on voting by mail, go to the "Vote" page on mollyforvermont.com, check the Secretary of State's website or call your town clerk.