Barbs in the 'Burbs
[Re "Suburban Spat: Rivalries Flare Around South Burlington Ag Group," July 22]: Rosanne Greco is not talking about "small things"; she is talking about saving our planet through individual initiative and action. Why must South Burlington City Councilor Chris Shaw try to discredit and belittle her rather than engage in a meaningful dialogue? The city council needs to remember that many of us taxpayers in South Burlington are wholeheartedly behind Rosanne's efforts to improve our world, one small step at a time.
Louise Lanny Murphy
Seize the Day
Federal prosecutors should be congratulated on their application of forfeiture law to seize and close drug houses in Rutland. "Seize Them! Testing a New Weapon in Rutland's Drug War" [July 15] misses only one point: The application of forfeiture law and civil law to shut down drug houses is not new. A cursory search on the internet shows that jurisdictions all over the country have also been shutting down drug houses for years through nuisance law.
Vermont's own law on drug houses has apparently gone unused: 18 V.S.A. § 4222 states, "Any store, shop, warehouse, dwelling house, building, vehicle, boat, aircraft or any place whatever, which is resorted to by persons for the purpose of using regulated drugs or which is used for the illegal keeping or selling of the same, shall be deemed a common nuisance. No person shall keep or maintain such a common nuisance." The legal remedy for nuisance is abatement. If applied collaboratively among landlords, citizens, law enforcement and state's attorneys offices, this law could be used to close drug houses all over Vermont. As applied in other jurisdictions, the process involves notice by district attorneys to landlords to take action on evicting tenants. If the landlord refuses, the state can take civil action to abate the drug house — the nuisance.
Drug houses are an epidemic in Vermont, hurting children and families. This little-known law should be called into action.
Luna is a former deputy state's attorney for Lamoille and Caledonia counties.
Ra Ra Randolph!
Intelligent and informed people will disagree over the pros and cons of the proposed development project around Exit 4 in Randolph ["Little Randolph Is Divided Over a Massive Development Proposal," July 15]. However, useful debate requires accurate context, and the depiction of Randolph in Mark Davis' otherwise excellent summary of the controversy suggests the cliché of a dying small town with "too many empty storefronts" in an "economic no-man's-land."
Randolph, in fact, has largely defied the prevailing trend in small-town decline. It still boasts a population of nearly 5,000 and all the indicators of thriving civic life: a strong public high school, hospital, public library and concert hall; excellent restaurants; an award-winning weekly paper; and even the ultimate symbol of an intact Main Street, a one-screen movie theater.
None of this is to say that Randolph would not benefit from an infusion of jobs or capital, just that the proposed development should not be evaluated as a lifeline but rather as a potential enhancer of a very positive status quo.
More Mental Health Beds
I have worked in psychiatric residential programs for 20 years, and Mark Davis' article ["Missing Mohamed," July 1] highlighted significant problems within the mental health system that are worth addressing.
Reluctance to "mandate treatment" comes not only from ideological concerns for rights, but also because there are precious few beds available for those needing hospital treatment, as evidenced by the numerous people in psychiatric crisis being lodged in emergency departments and jails while awaiting inpatient psychiatric beds.
That "great strides" have been made because wait times in hospital emergency departments have been reduced is simply not enough.
In psychiatric residential programs, clients requiring police intervention for disruptive and threatening behavior are denied hospital admission (repeatedly in some cases), put on waiting lists and returned to the community, or, in some cases, placed in motels requiring continued police intervention.
This is largely a result of Act 79 and the state's failure to provide enough intensive care beds for those with severe and chronic mental illness following the closing of the Vermont State Hospital. It's a mental health policy that is as flawed as it is underfunded.
Mohamed died with his rights protected. He deserved an equal concern for his well-being.
On the Waterfront
[Re "Flashback: Did Bernie Sanders Really Save the Burlington Waterfront?" June 17]: Although U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders deserves credit for his pursuit of the public trust doctrine to the Vermont Supreme Court during the later years that he was mayor of Burlington — and the resulting park space we all enjoy today — the pivot point for the waterfront was the 1985 Alden Plan.
Bernie was the primary proponent of the Alden Plan, which included a seven-story hotel 25 feet from the lake's edge just north of College Street, 300 luxury condominiums on the event space where Bernie made his announcement, a 1,200-car parking garage and more than 200,000 square feet of commercial space, all on what eventually became Waterfront Park.
At that time, Bernie was commander in chief of the most powerful political machine Burlington has ever seen. He had all three political parties behind Alden, 12 out of 13 city councilors. A small group of committed environmentalists, and the wisdom of our forefathers to require a two-thirds majority for a bond, saved the majority of Burlington voters (54 percent) from themselves on December 10, 1985, when the Alden Plan was defeated.
Bernie has an easy way out here: Admit he was wrong on Alden, and take credit for what happened afterward. Everyone makes mistakes. Hillary voted for the war in Iraq. Although Alden was a big mistake for Burlington, it is nowhere near the consequence of going to war in Iraq. What do you say, Bernie? Can you admit a mistake?