While reading the "Piss Poor" article ["Piss Poor: Burlington Mulls Proposals for More Public Bathrooms," May 22], I was reminded of the Greg Kotis play Urinetown: The Musical, where it has become a privilege to pee. Urinetown is a drought-ridden place that has sunk to the level of charging its citizens to use the toilet. Only the privileged have private bathrooms, forcing the unfortunates to use the town's one bathroom facility, for which they are charged a fee.
Composer Mark Hollman wrote: "...Better hope your pennies / add up to the fee / We can't have you peeing / for free / If you do, we'll catch you / We, we never fail! / ... It's the oldest story / Masses are oppressed / Faces, clothes, and bladders all distressed / ... No more bathrooms like in olden days / You come here and pay a fee / for the privilege to pee."
Is this what Burlington has become? A town where only the privileged are given the right to relieve themselves? Where we force the homeless and needy to urinate and defecate outside due to lack of adequate facilities?
Maybe we haven't quite become a Urinetown yet, but I believe this is a piss-poor way to treat our people.
Cool Your Jets
In ["An F-35 Preview Shakes Up Winooski," June 5] Winooski City Councilor Mike Myers suggested the F-35s "pump a lot of money into the economy." How?
For one thing, they haven't gotten here, and they won't be repaired here. The F-16s were fixed up here, so jobs will actually be fewer at the airport. Does he know this?
Also the "average daily noise level" of 65 decibels is misleading. It's like a quiet room — except for a moment when someone throws a cherry bomb in the window. The average for the 24-hour period could be 65 decibels, but for that minute it'd be pretty darn loud. Now imagine that volume lasting several minutes.
If residents find the noise unbearable, they'll leave. Where's the money in that? Admittedly, Councilor Myers may not mind the sky-shaking volume of the new jets. Perhaps his city will be a haven for folks with bad hearing: Rents will go down, and it'll thrive — maybe.
Winooski has a sizable population, a lot of new housing, a college-age music scene and a large immigrant population, all of which "pump money into the economy" already. Will jets drive them out?
Invest in Solutions
I applaud the manifesto calling for an application of the 10th Amendment, the more so as I recognize and appreciate many of its signers [Off Message: "Charlotte Writer's Manifesto Calls for a More Assertive, Ambitious Vermont," June 12].
As a lifelong activist (I'm 80 now and still demonstrating at the Statehouse), I am familiar with the concerns and affirm most of the suggested solutions.
The one idea I vigorously reject is emulating Rhode Island in turning state pensions into 401ks. That kind of evisceration of the guaranteed payout pension system went hand-in-glove with the suppression of unions and is the major cause of increased poverty among retirees — a particular concern for Vermont, with its aging population. We need to correct the imbalance between low income and high cost of living that makes Vermont a less-than-desirable place to move to — not make it worse. To cap the cost-of-living adjustment without capping the cost of living is just mean.
All those initiatives at the state level to improve research and development will also come a cropper if the pay and benefits are not attractive. Certainly the deficit in the pension fund must be addressed, but not on the backs of the pensioners, past and future. Above all, teachers and nurses must be better compensated and not have to work 'til they drop.
Free, quality public education at all levels will pay by far the biggest dividends and improve Vermonters' quality of life. Sign me up to help with that!
I just read the letter from Vincent Hunter about your piece on Vermont enacting the abortion rights law [Feedback: "That's Life," June 5].
Given his concern about "exterminating future Vermonters," perhaps we are now at the point where medical science can implant a womb into a man's body, at least temporarily? I hope so. Then we could enlist folks like him to be the first to sign up. Any male who has ever had sex for any reason — consensual, nonconsensual, coerced, doesn't matter — can be enrolled, too. They can then be forced to carry these "future Vermonters" to term.
If he doesn't have the financial means, stability or ability to raise the child properly after that, he can always give up for adoption the child he has been forced to carry. Or he can raise the child the best he can and make it work for at least the next 18 years.
Perhaps if men were forced to carry unplanned pregnancies to term, society would recognize the value in having control over one's body. Not having any control over your body — that, my friend, is much closer to your slavery analogy.
No to Road
[Re Feedback: "Just Say Yes," June 19; Off Message: "Burlington Citizen Group Sues to Stop Champlain Parkway," June 11]: I live in the South End, and the Champlain Parkway would damage many of the things I've come to love in this city. It would run a four-lane highway within a couple of blocks of Oakledge Park, right through the yard of the Generator maker space, and destroy the world's tallest filing cabinet — which, as reported by Seven Days, is now considered a holy site by some ["Worshipping the World's Tallest Filing Cabinet," April 24].
It is also not clear that the road will fix the problem it's supposed to. Many studies have found that increasing road capacity encourages more people to drive, and traffic ends up almost as bad as it started. If you asked the mayor whether he wanted more CO2 emissions, a less pedestrian-friendly city and more people choosing to drive, I bet he would say no. Why then is he asking us to "Just say yes" to this road?