Thank you for the multi-issue look at private-public partnerships and Vermont's nonprofits. My comments are specific to "Cheap Date?" [June 27] but also influenced by the "Give and Take" series as a whole.
I was alarmed to learn that Vermont Information Technology Leaders has made so little progress toward its goal, over so many years, and has not been decommissioned. In contrast, I was struck by the speed with which Seven Days was able to compile and mine the nonprofit information for this series. I believe VITL's slow progress demonstrates the concern for tax-dollar accountability.
Metrics for measuring outcomes, while needed, raise concern. The value of community-based services, not only in lower program costs but also in being better positioned to adapt services to the unique needs of each community, must be considered. Part of what gives Vermont its special character is the diverse needs and challenges that face individual communities. If statewide metrics aren't able to provide the flexibility needed to allow the community organizations to address the most important needs of their own communities, then the community service agencies may no longer be the better option. Greater accountability is certainly needed, but it's a trade-off.
Kudos to Sen. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) for understanding that hard choices will need to be made to agree on core services and for acknowledging the funding side of the equation. This should be the compass.
[Re "Overcompensating?" June 20]: John Brumsted is the CEO of the University of Vermont Medical Center. His salary is nearly $2.2 million because he provides the technically "nonprofit" hospital with spectacular profits, which are used to pay lavish salaries to top executives and to finance acquisitions and expansions that are putting UVM Medical Center in an increasingly monopolistic position. He accomplishes this feat by understaffing and keeping salaries down, while scrimping on supplies and equipment that would enable staff to work more efficiently and make patients safer.
The nurses are preparing to strike to protest this way of running the hospital [Off Message: "Nurses, Hospital Officials Prepare for Late Night at Bargaining Table," June 29; "Nurses' Union to Serve UVM Medical Center With a Strike Notice," June 30]. They say that the level of stress among the staff is unsustainable for them and that understaffing is endangering patients.
As a consumer, I value having a full complement of nurses on duty, rested and unstressed by money worries. Our hospital should focus on health rather than profit and domination over the market. I am grateful to the nurses for their courage in daring to confront the imposing power of the medical center on our behalf as well as their own. They deserve our support.
Remembering the Maverick
[Re "True Believer," June 27]: I heard a slightly different version of the "maverick" story years ago. And knowing of Robin Lloyd's endless fight against all injustice, I had no idea of the Maverick-Lloyd connection.
As I recollect the story, around 1880 or so a bunch of ranchers held a meeting to brand their cattle as more and more cattle were getting mixed up in everyone's herd. After all the ranchers except Sam Maverick had agreed to brand, he was asked, "Sam, have you thought of your brand yet?" Sam replied, "Well, since all you boys are gonna brand your herd, I ain't gonna brand mine. That way, any stray cattle you see without a brand, well, that will be mine — a Maverick."
Needless to say, the ranchers were a little pissed. They were gonna have to spend a lot of time and money to hire cowboys to round up and brand their cattle while Sam didn't even have to lift a finger.
Somehow the word "maverick" entered politics. Any political figure who was a "wild-card" independent and not a "team player," such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in our own time, is considered a "maverick" — one who refuses to "go along with the herd."
[Re Seriously Seven Days, June 24]: I couldn't agree more with the author of "Seriously: You Serious?" Gov. Phil Scott is a drama queen.
He pulled the same veto nonsense last year on the marijuana legalization bill. There should have been an override. His claims about "doing it right" and "I'm not philosophically opposed," etc., were all just gum-flapping nonsense that maintained him as the center of attention for as long as possible. He claimed he couldn't sign until there was a "saliva test" to tell if a person was stoned. There wasn't; there still isn't; and yet he signed the bill into law in 2018. How heroic.
What was that about? The same thing his budget veto is about: Phil Scott. He claims it's to keep "nonresidential taxes" from increasing. Why? To help nonresidents? To help businesses that just got a whopping tax cut from federal Republicans? Or maybe it's just the controversy and simple fact that all publicity is good publicity. There is nobody to run against Scott with as much name recognition as our governor — and he keeps getting it by being a stubborn block in the road.
Cut the Daysies
You label as would-be bums those of us who would choose not to vote in the Seven Daysies election [cover teaser, June 13]. It's weird that while your paper does an excellent job of news transparency, you still choose to mix a good hard-news menu with an emphasis on the importance of your readers voting for Seven Daysies.
On so many fronts, your paper is so sophisticated and drenched with total top-shelf class. On the other hand, your paper is laughable, like with this Seven Daysies competition.
The Seven Daysies part of the paper sadly shows that profit is still the boss, interfering with the course of true, old-fashioned journalism.
Editor's note: The "Don't be a bum!" prompt to vote for the Seven Daysies was a sly reference to that week's cover story on onetime hobo John McClaughry. If you don't like our annual Daysies competition, which showcases the best of Vermont as picked by a record-breaking 21,861 of our readers this year, by all means don't participate. You can still continue to enjoy the journalism the contest supports.