'Positives of Patriotism'
A heartfelt big thank-you for publishing over Memorial Day weekend the heroic stories of World War II Vermont veterans ["Alive to Tell the Tale," May 26]! Can't resist honorable mentions to my father, Dominic, in the U.S. Army, who served in the brutal Aleutian Islands, and my mother, Audrey, then single as a Navy WAVE in a much more favorable climate in Pensacola, Fla.! Plug for my brother Mike for his service as a young pup in Vietnam and then, years later, as a middle-aged father in the Gulf War.
At a time when those in the military and law enforcement stand up every day in harm's way, they deserve positive recognition!
If I may, I'll add Eugene Ashley of Burlington for his service in World War II, who, at 98, I regret to say, appears younger than I am!
Every year the gap and disconnect widens between fewer and fewer who serve and have served and those who have no clue. Thanks for saluting these great veterans who keep the honor of duty and service embedded in our roots. I hope a chapter on the positives of patriotism and unity can still be taught as many of us debate subjecting our children to critical race theory in our classrooms.
Also: a quick shout-out for your retiring columnist Dave Gram [Fair Game, May 26]. We would likely more often agree to disagree, but I still wish you all the best!
What Goes Up...
[Re "Gilded Age," May 5]: If all property values go up in any town and the budget and other tax factors don't change, then the tax rate will usually drop. One challenge is when certain types of property change in opposite directions, like commercial properties depreciating and residential homes appreciating. There is an appearance of inequity/gentrification even though these things are market consequences.
If Burlington's common level of appraisal was 74.77 percent prior to the reappraisal, the reappraisal was likely ordered by the state because the CLA fell below 85 percent. The idea that some Burlington properties were undervalued for a period of time before the reappraisal is probably true. Most Realtors will not use town appraisals/tax bills to estimate property value because historical assessed values can lag and may not fully represent true market value. However, some Vermont towns' property values are probably close to market value. There are too many factors affecting why town property values might lag behind the market or differ from town to town. Each town is different, but one thing is true: Listers/assessors are considered evil and get paid peanuts to do important work.
Interstates 89 and 91 act as evacuation routes from populated parts of the East Coast to the mountain garden paradise we call home. There was similar interest in Vermont after September 11. Vermont has a stable real estate market. Values likely won't change. Factors like dismantling Act 250 could change things even more. Vermont is in demand, and the landscape is getting more fragmented. Let's hope it gets more diverse and gets more kids in the meantime.
Black and White?
[Re Off Message: "Driver Who Allegedly Rammed a Porch While Shouting Racial Slurs Charged," May 5]: "The style guide of the American Psychological Association declares, as it has for a generation: 'Racial and ethnic groups are designated by proper nouns and are capitalized. Therefore, use 'Black' and 'White' instead of 'black' and 'white.'" So wrote Kwame Anthony Appiah in a June 18, 2020, article in the Atlantic entitled "The Case for Capitalizing the B in Black."
Of course, this only matters if one is interested in the concepts of equity and a level playing field, as opposed to flaunting one's "wokeness" and furthering polarization.
'You Missed a Mural'
[Re Staytripper: "Rutland Calling," May 26]: Wonderful article! But you missed a mural! A newer one that holds a lot of meaning. Artist Lopi LaRoe, aka LMNOPI, recently painted a mural at CrossFit RisingStar in Rutland, which shares an alleyway with West Ridge Center, an addiction recovery clinic. It was a part of CrossFit RisingStar's new partnership with the Phoenix — a nonprofit that provides free fitness opportunities to those in recovery from substance-use disorder. On May 1, CrossFit RisingStar held its first sober fitness class as an affiliate of the Phoenix.
It's an incredible program, and it's so important that people in the area know that it exists. The mural was created to inspire people to never give up.
Thank you for what you do!
CityPlace Is the 'Pits'
[Re "Battle of the Builders," May 19]: Well, my gorge is back in place, but it certainly rose quickly when I read Don Sinex quoted as saying "the cardinal sin of a developer contesting another developer's right to build." As we learned so well in George Orwell's Animal Farm: "All pigs are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others." Sinex seems to think he is in a class of people who, no matter how egregious and pernicious their development plan may be, should never be challenged by another developer. Shame on him and the people who abet him.
CityPlace Burlington is the La Brea Tar Pits of the East. It is a place where commerce, community and comity, along with political and developers' reputations, go to die.
WTF, No PFD?
I was shocked to see a full-page ad in the May 12 issue for the Boat Club at Basin Harbor featuring young children on a boat not wearing a personal flotation device. So much for promoting safe boating! I'm wondering who approved this ad.
Compulsory PFD (personal flotation device) requirements for Vermont are as follows: "All children under 12 years and persons under 16 years must wear a USCG-approved type I, II, or III PFD. The life jacket should be worn at all times when on a sailboard."
Thanks for Seven Days
I really enjoy your publication and have since the old days. I enjoy the food and restaurant pages and the comics — wow, please keep "This Modern World" forever. I am waiting for theaters to open up more so that would make the movie section even more interesting to read. Of course, major news in the area makes those pages so important.
'What An Inspiration'
[Re "Alive to Tell the Tale," May 26]: Your feature by Steve Goldstein of interviews with World War II vets was touching, especially because it included one with Dick Boera, a friend and valued member of the Caledonia County communities in all ways, including economic development and stimulation. A sharp mind, and the last I knew he still plays golf at the West Bolton Golf Club. What an inspiration!
Ban Cigarette Ads
First, let me say that I'm a huge fan of Seven Days and pay monthly as a Super Reader. I admire your investigative stories that have played a large role in making things better for people in this state.
That is why I find it so distressing to come across cigarette advertising in your newspaper. I'd like to echo George Longenecker's letter [Feedback: "Merchants of Cancer," March 17] that cigarettes do indeed kill people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that "Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year" in the U.S., on par with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In my own experience, my mother died of cancer from cigarette smoking, and it was especially painful to watch as it metastasized to her brain, depriving her of the ability to speak long before she died.
I should say I'm all for decriminalizing and even legalizing drugs. At the same time, I'm for public health measures that protect people, especially younger people. I've heard it said that banning cigarette ads is a "slippery slope," leading to bans of all sorts of things that aren't healthy. I believe cigarettes are in a different category than things like sugared drinks or alcohol. Cigarettes, smoked exactly as intended, will kill a large number of people who use them.
In addition, I doubt banning cigarette ads will adversely affect overall advertising. I remember the same argument way back when it was banned on television, and yet there are more ads now than ever before.
I hope you consider halting cigarette ads.
Well-intentioned doctors, policy makers and parents continue to lament the impending legal cannabis market ["A Troubling Trend," April 14]. Their passion and concern are obvious. However, their ignorance of cannabis culture and, in particular, how cannabis gets bought and sold on the black market is also blatantly obvious.
Let's be very clear: THC caps will make it easier for teenagers to get super high-potency cannabis products. But why? There is currently a thriving cannabis black market in Vermont. A THC cap ensures not only the continuation of this market but potency wars in that market. And who buys from the black market in a newly legal state with distributors who are eager to show their steadfast compliance with state regulations, especially ID checks? Teenagers. But without a THC cap (or any other forms of limiting access), the black market would start to evaporate, and eventually cannabis would get bought and sold by teenagers the same way alcohol is bought and sold by teenagers: from an older friend or cousin who swings by a legal distributor, but never from someone who doesn't get fined if their product isn't what they say it is.
Our deference to the illusion of morality over the pragmatism of reality is on full display here. And, oh yeah, THC does not indicate potency, but obviously everyone legislating or worrying about cannabis has already done their homework in that domain, so I don't need to reference, for example, the recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association titled "Marijuana concentrates spike THC levels but don't boost impairment."