Letters to the Editor (7/6/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published July 6, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

Sounds Like Fizzies

[Re "On the Plink! New Burlington-Based Company Makes a Splash in the Beverage World," June 29]: Max Luthy may have dreamed up the idea for Plink!, but it's been done before. When I was a kid in the 1960s, there was a product called Fizzies. It was also a flavored seltzer tablet. It came in the popular soda pop flavors of the day. I remember cola, grape and root beer.

Anyway, I wish them well with Plink! I look forward to trying it.

Chuck Killian

St. Johnsbury

Explaining Crime Stats

["Crime Seen: Long-Term Data From Burlington Police Show Overall Decline," June 25] cited Burlington police data showing that crime in the city is not increasing and, in many cases, is decreasing. And yet: "The county's top prosecutor, Sarah George, is facing a primary challenge in August from an opponent who says she's too soft on crime."

There are several reasons her opponent's position is nonsense — the crime data speak for themselves. I can attest it can be difficult to determine what contributes to crime going up or going down. Crime seems to be on the rise, in part due to shootings around the state. Some might point to the recent spate of shootings as evidence that progressive prosecution doesn't work. But even a cursory look shows that shootings are on the rise in Windsor, Bennington and Rutland counties, too — which have relatively "tough on crime" prosecutors.

Whatever is causing the increase in shootings is not unique to Chittenden County nor attributable to the decisions of prosecutors. George has consistently kept her focus on doing what is known by research to work, avoiding the trap of engaging in practices that don't work and cost us a tremendous amount of money yet somehow placate the public's demand for "justice."

The majority of the scientific research on what works in reducing crime demonstrates clearly that draconian measures do not work. Diverting people to get the resources and assistance they need to address the root causes of crime works better to get people on a path to success and to be better neighbors and a better community. 

Kathy Fox

South Burlington

Good Reporting on Gray

Canadian journalist Naomi Klein recently observed that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' threat to become president finally convinced the corporate behemoths who underwrite the anti-woman, anti-voter, anti-gay lawmakers of Texas, Georgia and Florida to quit pretending and run the nation directly — hence the massive corporate money from the likes of AT&T, State Farm and the Koch empire to national right-wing politicians.

Most helpful for me in seeing this in Vermont's politics was Sasha Goldstein's in-depth report for Seven Days about the money and history behind the Democratic candidates for U.S. Rep. Peter Welch's open seat ["In Vermont's U.S. House Race, D.C. Insiders, Lobbyists Sign Up for Team Molly Gray," May 18].  

Regarding Vermont's establishment candidate, Goldstein shared with us a rare honest email from a lobbyist for giant multinational corporations. Goldstein quoted him: "[Molly Gray] just called me out of the blue one day ... I was impressed with her." The lobbyist handed over $2,900.

Other helpful context for me on Gray was Seven Days' 2020 piece by Colin Flanders revealing how Gray not only didn't vote between 2008 and 2018 but also falsely claimed in a public debate that she voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 ["In LG Race, Gray and Milne Clash Over Their Voting Records," September 25, 2020].

Journalist Klein long ago observed that "impunity breeds a kind of delusional decadence." Thanks to Seven Days for being part of what I call "voters' informed consent."

Robert Spottswood

South Burlington

Experience Matters

In response to the great Seven Days Primary Voters' Guide [June 29], I realized — and wanted to emphasize for other voters — that there was a stark difference between many of the candidates: experience.

I grew up in the Northeast Kingdom, where strong women shaped me into the grateful Vermonter I am today. We're long overdue in sending more of them to Montpelier and Washington, D.C. Too many important issues — abortion rights, LGBTQ+ rights, education funding, climate change and combating inflation — are on the ballot for everyday Vermonters, and we have to send the right people to office to solve them.

We are lucky to have women who have served, fought for and delivered for Vermonters for a long time — women like Becca Balint for Congress, Kitty Toll for lieutenant governor and Charity Clark for attorney general. These are women who have been in public service and have actual experience doing the hard work. Take a look at their records. Other candidates simply haven't done the work. Becca and Kitty are both former public school teachers — like my parents — and Charity has been a tireless fighter for protecting consumer rights at a time when it feels like so many of us are subject to corporate exploitation.

As a recruiter of nonprofit leaders across the nation, I know leadership when I see it. I'm voting for Becca, Kitty and Charity because they have it. We need it.

Connor Daley


'Patronizing' Portrayal

In a recent portrayal of the candidates running for lieutenant governor ["Open-Seat Season," June 22], the profile of Patricia Preston was shocking. It was a patronizing, paternalistic and disrespectful attack on the candidate.

Was it necessary to repeat the whisper campaign undermining the legitimacy of Preston's candidacy that suggests she is nothing more than "Molly 2.0"? At what point did being young women with proud histories in Vermont's dairy industry make them clones and subject to derision?

Preston identifies her work as a convener of groups to discuss ways of solving complex issues as uniquely qualifying her for the position. However, the writer offers no follow-up to the assertion. He smugly notes that this is her first run for public office, symbolically patting her on the head and telling her to sit at the kiddie table.

The writer comments that Preston hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the issues facing Vermont — only then to note that she has not detailed specifics as to how she'd address the climate crisis. Did the author ask her to articulate her ideas? If he were being honest, I believe the answer would be no.

Let's be blunt. Preston's candidacy upsets the status quo. The pezzonovanti want another candidate. Instead of embracing a candidate who speaks for a new generation of Vermonters and for those who desire fresh ideas, the shot-callers prefer to rewash and reuse. Vermont needs a new voice and new ideas.

Seven Days owes its readers better reporting and the voters of Vermont an apology.

Tom Torti

Essex Junction

New Regs Are 'Blatant Socialism'

[Re "Burlington Council Approves Short-Term Rental Rules," June 28, online; Last 7: "BTV Reins in Airbnb," June 29]: This attacks the small guy who is making money for the city hand over fist in the form of myriad taxes and fees paid and tourism dollars. Single-property owners should not be treated like multi-property empires.

I spent a great deal of money recently to upgrade my place and make it nice. Traditional rental income will not come close to covering the property taxes, insurance, mortgage, bills and improvement loan. I either will have to sell what I have built up over 25 years or move in and collect welfare that I will be eligible for, instead of paying more into the system.

The people who have booked reservations for special occasions far in advance will have them canceled without notice and told what the city has done. Small businesses and restaurants will be hurt as tourists will be replaced with even more Section 8 rentals. Tax revenue from these rentals and the tourism tax dollars will be cut significantly, which means those paying taxes will see yet another big increase.

I find it egregious, un-American and irresponsible that, with no notice, honest, hardworking taxpayers can have their livelihoods ripped from them in the middle of the night to satisfy the savior complex of the local politician. It's another example of an attack on middle-class citizens to give free stuff to others who did not work for it. This is blatant socialism.

Bart Keinath


Fix a Longtime Problem

[Re "Burlington Council Approves Short-Term Rental Rules," June 28, online; Last 7: "BTV Reins in Airbnb," June 29]: When I moved to Vermont nearly four decades ago, there was no internet, cellphones or personal computers. There was no Airbnb. Bernie Sanders was mayor of Burlington and deeply involved in backroom deals that would win the waterfront and bike path for all. The vacancy rate in Burlington was half of 1 percent! Bernie tried to force the University of Vermont to greatly increase student housing, but the powerful landlords' associations fought against him.

It is time for Burlington to demand good governance from its elected leaders. It is time to tackle the root causes of the housing crisis and homelessness. It is time to stop chasing after symptoms.

Tom Barber

South Burlington

Illogical Veto

[Re "Siegel, Drug Law Reform Advocates Blast a Veto by Scott," May 20]: Did Gov. Phil Scott say exactly how he thinks bill H.505 "fails to recognize the role that law enforcement plays"? If not, that statement is nothing but a usual line with the usual hook — an unnecessarily tired and withered opinion.

Stable, dependable leadership doesn't mean you have to repeat former nonsense over and over. Opinions and approach have to evolve with research, or people get left behind and lost when they didn't have to be. Doesn't reducing the probability of the effects of generational trauma reduce crime in the long run, while clarifying who is really a victim and who is a real criminal? That recognizes the role of law enforcement and directs attention where it matters, which is precisely the point of law enforcement! How would these bills fail to recognize that role, exactly? That logic doesn't follow.

Rightfully acknowledging the undeniably harmful health effects of certain drugs is legitimate but also has to include the consideration that someone can't be forced into healthy choices. It is possible to both support and create social structures and communities with resources that make health and healthy choices more likely and have enforcement structures to limit those who will refuse to. Both are possible.

For someone whose politics involve so much of "standing up for the little guy" and "science and expertise," it is actually a wonder that this is his stance on this.

Joy Yonan-Renold


Credits Help Kids

[Re "Burlington Council Approves Another Electric Rate Increase," June 6, online]: Surprise: Already-crippling utilities prices are only getting pricier. Let's all pray for a mild winter. Better yet, let's hope our lawmakers do something to help everyday Vermonters already struggling to pay their bills and care for their children.

I was so proud to see that the Vermont House passed its own version of the Child Tax Credit this year. This is estimated to impact approximately 33,000 Vermont children at a time when inflation is crippling average Vermonters, and we know for a fact that these credits help.

In 2021, the expanded federal CTC was a financial lifeline for children living in poverty. Child poverty dropped by 40 percent after one month of payments, and research shows that recipients spent that money on utilities, rent, food and children's clothes.

But some lawmakers stopped an extension of the CTC payments. As a result, child poverty jumped 41 percent after the payments stopped.

I was so grateful to see U.S. Rep. Peter Welch's support of Vermont's CTC. As prices rise on rent, utilities, gas and food, I would like to see U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders show equal support for children living in poverty by doing their utmost to extend the national CTC with permanent, full refundability and resume the monthly payments immediately. With inflation making it harder for families to make ends meet, what more do lawmakers need to do the right thing?

Felicia Bonanno

Essex Junction

A Case for Life

[Re "Leaked SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Is Likely to Buoy Prop 5 Support in Vermont," May 3, online; "Supreme Court's Roe Decision Prompts Protests, Condemnation in Vermont," June 24, online; "Democratic AG Candidates Want Abortion 'Safe Harbor' Laws," June 27, online; From the Publisher: "Woe Is Roe," June 29]: Tumbling back in time may be necessary, especially when it reveals the thought that has constructed our present reality. Malthusian fear about overpopulation has proved unfounded. We still eat despite a double population. The thoughts and practices of eugenicists a century ago — out of which came Nazi Germany's genocide and Planned Parenthood's Margaret Sanger — established the abortion industry. These philosophical thoughts disregard the wonder and goodness of human life and choose to control human populations through the sterilization of mothers and killing of preborn infants. They come from the same stream, a poisonous stream leading to death. I do not wish to bring this kind of thinking into the future of my children and grandchildren.

In Vermont, we've already tried to make amends for our eugenics sterilization practices, when we sterilized 250 "feeble-minded," French Canadian and Abenaki women early in the 20th century. Somehow we have failed to recognize that the 1,277 abortions we Vermonters perform each year are equally heinous. Instead, let us look back, see truth for what it is, recognize our wrongs and repent! Then we can clearly, with hope, choose to change our future.

I hope that, in a century, our great-grandchildren will look back at this moment in time with hearts full of the love and hope we had for them — that our generation chose to let them live.

Katie Coons


What's Next — Birth Control?

[Re "Supreme Court's Roe Decision Prompts Protests, Condemnation in Vermont," June 24, online]: The U.S. Supreme Court's decision overturning abortion rights will go down in history for being as malignant as the Dred Scott decision upholding the Fugitive Slave Act. With some states trying to criminalize women crossing state lines to seek an abortion, we have a modern Fugitive Slave Act: the Fugitive Uterus Act. This is all part of the ruling class patriarchy's War on Women, where it's OK to put a serial rapist in the White House but where women are reduced to chattel.

All the opposition to abortion is based not on any scientific evidence but on religious dogma. What gives a minority of the population the right to impose its religious views on the rest of us? The right to control one's body is not just the right to privacy but also the Constitutional right to separation of church and state.

The Catholic church and the Southern Baptist Convention can proselytize, but they can't impose their will. What's next? Making birth control illegal?

Ken Eardley


'Red From Embarrassment'

["Open-Seat Season," June 22] is correct in reminding Vermonters that Greg Thayer, a candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, attended Donald Trump's January 6, 2021, Stop the Steal insurrection and opposes critical race theory and, according to his campaign website, the "left's Marxist agenda."

However, that's just the start of Thayer's disturbing views. On social media, Thayer described Burlington as "communist," called U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders a "self-absorbed, lying fraud" and "corrupt POS," dubbed President Joe Biden a "racist pig" and "criminal," said Lt. Gov. Molly Gray is a "classic fraud," described transgender Vermonters as weak and confused, and, shortly after Biden selected Kamala Harris as his 2020 running mate, asked what kind of knee pads she used to get the job.

Thayer also opposes Article 22, which, when passed, will codify reproductive liberty in Vermont's constitution. As if that's not enough, Thayer also doesn't believe that Vermont's financial disclosure laws for candidates apply to him, as he submitted a redacted Form 1040 to the Vermont Secretary of State's Office in May.

While Thayer says his goal is to "turn Vermont red," he should be red from embarrassment.

Paul Olsen


'Thayer Should Be Arrested'

Your article "Open-Seat Season" in the June 22 edition described Greg Thayer as a "proud Donald Trump supporter who participated in the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol protest."

It was not a protest. It was a carefully planned attempted coup. It was a violent, illegal insurrection that resulted in the deaths of several people. It was an attempt to undermine our Constitution.

Thayer should be arrested and charged with armed insurrection, not allowed to run for public office.

Maria Barrett


More About Molly

[Re "Democratic Congressional Candidates Debate," June 9, online; Primary Voters' Guide, June 29]: Now that we are in another season of Molly Gray's agile jumping from one nonanswer to another, I am reminded of Gertrude Stein's aphorism: "There is no there there."

John Rouleau


Garden Goes a Long Way

I'm writing today in response to "Growing Concern" [True 802, June 29]. I want to applaud Lillian Ecklund Gustavson on her efforts and not giving up when encountering challenges in raising her community garden space. I personally am homeless at this time and staying in the general assistance motel program. The garden resonated with me, and the fact that it is named in memory of individuals no longer on this Earth is an honor to them.

An avid gardener myself, I spearheaded a garden program working with disabled persons last season. The connection between people and their source of food is huge. When a plant is started from seed and nurtured accordingly, awesome things happen. Pride can be taken in the efforts given to help the plants flourish and produce. To me, the food even tastes better when it is grown out of labor and love.

It can seem like there are not enough resources for everyone, which breeds negative consequences. Too often, homeless people are looked at as burdens on society for a position in their life that is not necessarily their doing. Homeless people are a marginalized, misunderstood group, as I am living in this population myself and have made several adjustments in my way of looking at life in general.

As a concerned community, we must look at individuals and their strengths in helping to create a shared space. People, no matter what their lot in life, want to belong. Through this community space, we can all share growth and understanding.

Colby Lynch