Letters to the Editor (6/9/21) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published June 9, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated June 9, 2021 at 4:55 p.m.

Art-icle Errors

Thank you for the article about the "Cranbrook Connections" show on view at Studio Place Arts in Barre, prepared by Amy Lilly ["Motor City Mecca," June 2]. I'm writing to correct a couple of details.

First, Amy and I talked a bit about the annual rollout of innovative car designs in a fashion show event. While some in my extended family benefited from receiving late model cars annually, I did not. I have proudly driven my old jalopies well beyond their fashion expiration dates and didn't own one until I was 24.

Also, the Cranbrook Academy of Art did not share its mailing list with me, as it would be against its and most institutions' privacy policies. I was pleased that its alumni department was willing to share our call for proposals via an email broadcast in its routine alumni communications.

Finally, Jenny Swanson is the director of the ceramics studio at Dartmouth College, not at the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College.

Sue Higby


Higby is executive director of Studio Place Arts.

Suggested Reading on PCBs

[Re "Chemical Reaction," May 12]: In "The ABCs of PCBs: A Toxic Threat to America's Schools," a report written in October 2016 by Sen. Ed Markey, we learn that decades after the PCB ban in 1979, up to 14 million schoolchildren were still being exposed to PCBs from such sources as caulk, oil-based paints, floor finishes, leaking fluorescent light ballast and old electrical equipment — all from schools constructed between 1950 and 1979 — and that between 12,960 and 25,920 schools have PCB-containing caulk.

Another source of information is the link mentioned by Sarah Vose, Vermont state toxicologist, which summarizes three studies from 2009 that connect exposure to PCBs and neurological development. It's entitled "How PCBs May Hurt the Brain: New Studies Shed Light on Exposure to Environmental Toxin and Development of Brain Cells."

In the first study, Isaac N. Pessah, a professor of molecular biosciences, writes: "We've never really understood the mechanism by which PCBs produce neurobehavioral problems in children. With these studies we have now shown how PCBs alter the development and excitability of brain cells. And that could explain why PCBs are associated with higher rates of neurodevelopmental and behavioral disorders."

In another of the studies, Pamela Lein, a University of California, Davis associate professor of molecular biosciences, reports that PCBs are altering dendritic growth and plasticity, which have been implicated in many neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, schizophrenia and mental retardation.

These studies help to explain why it is important to maintain Vermont's higher standards for PCB exposure. The federal standards predated these more recent studies.

Deborah Messing


Never Forget

Thank you for "Alive to Tell the Tale" [May 26], recalling the role of young Vermonters in the greatest conflagration in world history. Thanks, too, for Paula Routly's "Remember This" [From the Publisher, May 26], a touching reminiscence of her mother and immigrant family's contribution to the war effort.

In recounting the war stories of six veterans, ages 95 to 107, you remind us of the sacrifices made by millions of young Americans so we might live full and free lives. Although less than 1 percent of these heroes are among the living, 70 million of their children are alive and will never forget their legacy — whether shared or silently endured in the years after World War II. 

This summer, Antrim House Books will publish Mianus Village, my poetic recollections of a group of us baby boomers coming of age in a VA housing project in the years after the war. In a small way, it too pays tribute to members of the Greatest Generation, who just happened to be our parents. 

Kudos to Seven Days for giving these six veterans a chance to speak to us. May their stories be widely circulated to our children and grandchildren and never be forgotten.

Jack T. Scully


What's Working

[Re "Help Really Wanted," May 12]: Anne Wallace Allen's article included a quote from Mickey Wiles, founder of Working Fields, saying he thinks the government's enhanced unemployment benefit is keeping people out of the workforce. "As much as we would like to believe that people don't do that, there is a certain amount of the population that is," he said.

What does he mean, "like to believe that people don't do that"? Wiles would like people to work 40 hours a week to take home less money than they could get from unemployment?

Working Fields helps people with addiction issues and criminal records find work, but it takes a portion of their paychecks for doing so. I dare Wiles, or anyone else who thinks the enhanced unemployment benefit is keeping people out of the workforce, to try and live on it. The minimum benefit plus $300 often comes out to around $400 a week after taxes.

Maybe Wiles has forgotten what it was like to struggle as he's made money from the work of people who still are.

Andrew Place


Place is a former Working Fields associate.

Vicious Cycle?

Your article about an evil "out-of-state" corporation wiping out local bike rentals misses the point entirely ["Cycle Killer?" May 19]. This is not a zero-sum game, and the protectionist arguments you cite are a bit alarming, especially given the post-pandemic boom in the outdoor space. If consumers prefer not to rent from the Skiracks of the world, then local shops need understand why that is and do better. That's like eliminating Lyft and Uber because they eat into Green Cab's business. I prefer local, but when not a single local cab can pick me up for a 7 a.m. flight, I'm grateful to have other options.

Lastly, this is really about ditching the 20-miles-per-gallon Subaru for trips around town. Vermont is rural, and this network of 200 e-bikes won't reduce our reliance on large pieces of polluting metal anytime soon. However, micromobility is fundamental to sustainable urban design and should be embraced. I'll report back after my next pedal to the airport for a 7 a.m. flight.

Dmitri Repnikov


EV Reality

The green nature of electric vehicles is certainly alluring. As ["Charged Debate," May 19] rightly points out, convenient charging of EVs is essential to widespread acceptance. However, the practical realities of charging were almost entirely left out of the article; this is often the case when discussing EVs.

Consider these (non-Tesla) charging realities: 1) Level 2 recharge of two to four hours or more. Fast chargers can be used occasionally, but regular use degrades the life of the battery. A Level 1 charge can take 12-plus hours. 2) Public chargers require planning and the ability to walk or bike to your ultimate destination, weather and purpose permitting. 3) Battery conditioning (plug-in) is recommended below 32 and above 90 degrees to preserve battery life, significantly increasing your electric bill. 4) Range reduction, up to 50 percent, in low temperatures, with a sweet spot of 50 to 80 degrees, reduced further with winter tires.

I like having an EV, but as a primary vehicle it is limited. Investing in more charging stations may look like the solution, but there are many other factors that continue to limit the mass-market appeal. Maintenance costs will drop, but purchase price is high. Swapping gasoline for electric may only be net-neutral or worse when you consider the fossil fuels and pollution still created to generate that "green" electricity.

Perhaps our energy policy would be better served in producing smaller cars, increasing fuel efficiency of all ICE vehicles, and modifying driving behaviors to drive less often and more efficiently.

Monique Hayden


'You Got Me Again'

Well, Seven Days, you got me again. I just viewed the [June 3] Stuck in Vermont video of the demolition of Founders Hall at Saint Michael's College, and I have to say it was probably one of the most heartfelt tributes to an ultimate demise of a treasured icon that I've ever seen. The history, the memories and the dedication of the college to make sure that Founders Hall never really dies were just spectacular! The gentleman recycling the brickwork of a now long-gone local brickyard really capped it. His excitement that these aged and storied bricks will now live on in another place and possibly into another time really placed this demolition in a whole other light completely. I didn't even go to this school, and the video made me tear up. Literally.

Congratulations, Seven Days, you've raised the bar on yourself. I'm sure you'll clear it.

The origin of St. Mike's will live on!

Christopher Maloney


F-35s Poisoning Vermonters

[Re "Flash Point," May 5]: If Congress has its way, according to this article, as of October only PFAS-free foams will be used to fight fires at civilian airports everywhere in the U.S.

But PFAS will continue to be used at Burlington International Airport because of the F-35 training flights.

PFAS will continue poisoning our Winooski River, lake and water supply. Yet another reason the governor should use the power the Constitution expressly reserves to the states over National Guard training to order a halt to F-35 training flights amid Vermont's most densely populated cities.

Will the governor continue sacrificing the health and safety of Vermonters to service the military-industrial complex? Should Vermonters forever suffer from forever chemicals to collaborate in forever wars?

James Marc Leas

South Burlington