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Letters to the Editor (7/23/14)

Published July 23, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.

The Price of Politics

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is quoted in Paul Heintz's Off Message post ["Corren Calls for Expanding Public Election Financing," July 10] as saying that he "would rather solicit money from those who are willing to give to my campaign and believe in what I'm doing, rather than take it from taxpayers who have no choice." This represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of public financing of political activities.

Public campaign financing is not about supporting one candidate over another. It is about supporting the process. It is about allowing candidates to spend their time communicating their policy positions to the public instead of spending their energy and focus on donors. It is about leveling the playing field so that the perspectives of all parties (the major ones, at least) can get equal exposure. It is about removing the corrosive effect of private money from the political process. It is about replacing special interest influence with citizen control of the political process. It is about public support for the most fundamental element of democracy — direct communication between constituents and potential officeholders.

Lt. Gov. Scott is missing an opportunity to give Vermont's forward-looking public campaign financing law a real-world test, while showing the rest of the country the benefits of taking private money out of the electoral process. 

Spencer Putnam


Sidewalks Aren't Safe

In response to Tony Gallucci's comment about cyclists [Feedback, "Sidewalk Works," July 2]:Several studies have shown that bicycling in the sidewalk is more dangerous than in the street. As a bicyclist, I'd rather be on the road where I'm visible. As a driver, I'd rather have bicyclists in the road where I can see them.

Riding in the street places you closer to vehicles. It also places you more directly in their view. Drivers don't expect fast-moving objects on sidewalks. They're spending more of their time looking for other vehicles in the road.In residential areas, sidewalks have reduced visibility, particularly for vehicles turning at intersections or driveways. A bicyclist that would be seen by an alert driver coming up alongside him in the road may seem to "come out of nowhere" when he makes a turn and the bicyclist is heading down the sidewalk at a steady clip.

The best thing you can do as a bicyclist to avoid being injured is to ride in a safe manner, and the best way is to be both visible and predictable. If drivers can see you, and have a good idea about where you're going to be next, they can give you room. Drivers aren't actively trying to hit cyclists. A nice site that details the 10 most common accidents and how to avoid them is bicyclesafe.com. It details some of the hazards of riding on the sidewalk and links to pertinent info.

Joshua Pierce


Abolitionist's Progress?

I read Ken Picard's article about John Brown with great interest ["Madman or Hero?" July 16]. More than once, I've wondered what the abolitionist would think about the conversation-heavy dance that passes for race and/or diversity progress here in the Green Mountain State. How would he feel sitting through seemingly endless forums and meetings, only to see snail-like change when it comes to the plight of students of color in Vermont schools, housing discrimination, etc.? How would he handle the steadfast racism denial many residents of this state espouse? I'm not saying that Brown's approach is the answer to this nation's racial blight, but I understand his anger.

Thanks to Mr. Picard for writing about this brave, courageous man.

Reuben Jackson


Hobby Lobbyist

Judith Levine's piece on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is entirely fallacious and designed, I believe, to incite fear and outrage [Poli Psy, July 16]. Levine would have you believe, without citing a single instance, that the freedom of women is endangered by the ruling, that women are being "compelled" and controlled by corporations that won't "step aside" and let women decide.

All of this is false and turned on its head. The only party, in fact, compelled and coerced was Hobby Lobby, who was, under penalty of law, required to pay for services they objected to. Women remain free to use contraceptives and "control their reproductive lives." What they cannot do is force their employers to pay for it. Only the disingenuous could construe the latter as an infringement upon the rights of women. To speak of a "right" to someone else's labor or property is not to advocate liberty, but rather slavery.

This hullabaloo isn't about women or a (sham) concern for freedom but about money and the belief in entitlement. The real danger to our freedom and equality (before the law) is the authoritarianism on display in the Affordable Care Act and Levine's columns.

Justin Sauerwein


Star Treatment

I appreciate having two strong voices articulating very different perspectives on films every week in Seven Days [film critics Rick Kisonak and Margot Harrison in Movie Reviews]. Precisely because the voices are strong and perspectives very different, it would be helpful, I think, for the reviewer's initials and the dates of full reviews to appear at the end of the thumbnail reviews in the Now Playing columns. A no-stars review by Mr. Kisonak is one thing; a five-star review by Ms. Harrison is another. The date would allow a reader to return to the archives and read the context for those stars. This is something the New Yorker does in the movie section of Goings on About Town.

Missy Holland


Editor's note: The thumbnails in the Now Playing section are actually brief descriptions based on promo materials, not reviews. When neither of Seven Days' critics reviewed the film, the ratings are drawn from aggregate site Metacritic. However, we can provide readers with a reminder of which critic reviewed a given film when, and will try that in upcoming issues.