Shame on Turks
Hmmm. Wonder if so many dignitaries would be celebrating a German cultural center if Germany denied the Jewish Holocaust [Off Message: "All-Star Cast Celebrates Turkish Group's New Headquarters," May 21]. We must never forget that the Ottoman Empire, the predeccessor state to the Turkish government, systematically exterminated more than one million Armenians during WWI. It's outrageous that America allows Turkey to continue to deny this genocide. Any celebration of Turkish culture must be tied to recognition of the atrocities of the past.
No Progress on Homelessness
[Re "Winners and Losers of the 2014 Legislative Session," May 14]: To Paul Heintz's list of legislative losers, I'd like to add the issues of homelessness and housing. After a directive was passed during the 2013 legislative session instructing the Agency of Human Services not to come back for more money, and to spend no more than $1.5 million on emergency shelter motels, the agency did just that. Another $3.22 million was added for emergency housing in the 2014 Budget Adjustment Act — an antiquated and Band-Aid response to homelessness.
Other states across the nation are making progress to reduce homelessness with strategies centered on evidence-based Housing First and supportive housing models, and with statewide support for 100,000 Homes campaigns.
Vermont should be a leader on the issues of homelessness and housing, not a state that lags staggeringly far behind. I sincerely hope that in the 2015 legislative session there will be robust conversations about permanent housing solutions and demands for accountability on the ongoing and enormous investments being made on temporary shelter motels. My hope for the 2015 legislative session is that we won't be hearing the same conversations about the overspending on motels for people that are homeless with no answers of what to do about it.
Mehalick in Chains
What a respectful, enlightening report of the incident at Vermont Gas and the issues at hand [Off Message: "Vermont Gas Pipeline Protester Arrested After Chaining Herself to HQ," May 27]. Hats off to Seven Days reporter Kathryn Flagg — and to Sara Mehalick. To those training in civil disobedience for future actions, may you be guided by your conscience and empowered by your convictions.
Nothing Super About It
The job of school superintendent is comparatively thankless ["Superintendent Shuffle: Why Vermont's Top Jobs in Education Turn Over So Quickly," May 21]. Research shows the most effective change agent in a particular school is the principal. Therefore, the superintendent is one step removed from the gratification of seeing an impact. Administrators who move from the principal's office into superintendencies must feel some sense of loss after they arrive.
In a job comparable to a CEO, superintendents get paid wages that would be laughable to many middle managers in business and industry.
The media don't make it any easier. Caledonia Central Supervisory Union lost a superintendent and a high school principal this year because of media reporting that there might be a fire where there didn't even turn out to be smoke. In the process, they made the Danville School principal's job untenable, and then made it vastly harder for him to find another principal's position. This was unfair treatment of a highly promising educator.
The New York Times has a public editor to serve the public's needs, and, in the process, to evaluate the quality of their own work. Absent such a position, Vermont media, in particular WCAX and the Caledonian-Record, need to be self-reflective. Their public disservice was neither fair nor balanced.
It is no thanks to them that CCSU still found a promising young leader to navigate waters made murkier by inadequate journalism.
Enough American Apparel
I'm sure you're tired of hearing loud complaints about the back-page American Apparel ads in your newspaper. We just had several weeks without any offensive ads, but last week you seemed to push the bar again. Why do you insist? Only because you can? Is the advertising money from American Apparel really that much better than that from Healthy Living? Don't you have a moral obligation, as a newspaper that seems to thrive on reporting on many local, moral issues, to send respectful messages about girls and women — and everyone else?
How can you be a paper that rats out "happy ending" massage parlors, while insisting on sending insulting messages about women? The "not-so-happy ending" of your newspaper is unfitting for a free community paper. Of course, it does give us fodder for conversations about the continued exploitation of girls, but when it's the back page with an ad selling jeans with a mostly naked picture of a girl, you've crossed the line — we're already stuffed with those media messages from everywhere else. And you know those images are damaging.
You could try to be completely hypocritical and write a feature article about the objectification of girls: For example, consider a documentary such as Miss Representation by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and include the critical view of what so many of us have ranted to you about for years. And you could commit yourselves to not being part of the problem but part of the solution. Just stop putting those ads in your paper — simple. (Or do they actually help "sell" this free paper?) Another idea would be to ask how much we, your readers, would be willing to pay for your otherwise great paper to not have to be subjected to this kind of objectification. Would you consider that? You might make out, and the work of instilling ideas of empowerment and subjectivity of our girls in all us might make out, too.
Well done, Eva [Stuck in Vermont: "Vermont Young Playwrights Festival," May 21]. You captured the incredible energy, celebration, learning, engagement and artistry of the festival!