I just read "Offensive Lines?," your introductory note to the June 30 issue, and was appalled to learn that cartoonist Tim Newcomb had been so severely taken to task for daring to depict — in totally innocuous fashion — three women, one a person of color, in one of his political drawings.
As a mezzo-Italiano — my mother's name is Marchitti — I'm wondering why there isn't a comparable uproar over depictions such as the one below, which I came across on the internet this morning.
Maybe it's because we Italians still have a sense of humor.
- The Argyle Sweater ©2011 Scott Hillburn. Dist. by Andrews McMeel Syndication. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
[Re From the Publisher: "Offensive Lines?" June 30]: OMG! Everyone is getting so damn sensitive. I'm offended that you think I'm offended at your thinking I'm offended.
How about continuing to offend everyone and letting them either suck it up or unsubscribe if they don't like it. It's getting so no one can express a thought or opinion without someone else taking offense, as I'm certain someone will to this comment.
'It's a Cartoon'
[Re From the Publisher: "Offensive Lines?" June 30]: People need to get a life. It's a cartoon. I can't imagine having to stare at some of these politicians and find a sliver of humor.
Los Angeles, CA
[Re "Vax to Work," June 30]: This plague is a long, difficult disruption that is being continued by unvaccinated people. Why? Are they ignorant, or superstitious, or just uncaring? Pockets of such people will continue to cause resurgence of disease, prompting even more fear and lockdown requirements.
Seven Days found only one significant employer requiring all staff to vaccinate.
One major employer who talks a good game but will not mandate vaccination is the State of Vermont. It is stupid neglect not to require that all staff dealing with the public be vaccinated.
All of us who attended public school, or who were drafted, or who joined the military had to be vaccinated for different diseases. There were very few problems, and several dread diseases are now rare or extinct.
[Re "The Shape of Jazz to Come," June 2]: Far be it from me to offer anything but high praise to all the organizers and musicians who participated in this year's relaunch of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. But I must confess to some dismay at the absence of blues on the various bills over the course of its 10 days in June.
Conspicuously absent were the likes of Davy Knowles, who's visited Vermont frequently in recent years, and Matt Schofield, who not only appeared at Flynn Space as part of BDJF 10 years ago, but also returned to Nectar's five years later.
And, notwithstanding Paul Asbell's appearances, that's not to mention some prominent local practitioners of the genre: Dave Keller has long been a stalwart of the blues, as both a solo artist and a bandleader, while Seth Yacovone's blues trio can often head off into parts unknown at a moment's notice — in the true spirit of the spontaneity at the heart of jazz!
I can only hope that next year — and beyond — this particular niche of the greatest of all the arts is much better represented.
[Re Off Message: "Faith Group Calls for Quicker Cultural Change at Women's Prison," June 2]: "Untold sums" to fix Vermont's prisons are unnecessary. There is money already being wasted by poor decisions, inaccurate accounting and impractical management strategies to put Band-Aids on issues rather than address what causes them. New facilities are what this conversation usually boils down to.
What about current plumbing? What about dirty and disorganized storage areas and kitchens, with property repeatedly damaged and lost? What about a commissary company that isn't riddled with errors and inconsistencies? How about getting rid of the idea of incentivizing everything and instead making access to programs easy? What about activities that don't require an inmate to commit to anything and instead allow for easy attendance? There are so many things shut down because of "safety" or by power plays when there is no provable or easily mitigated risk.
The Department of Corrections' culture of punishment is: We don't want them to enjoy prison and They have to learn to deal. Someone can only be said to have full choice after they are guaranteed basic needs easily and actual transparency in the process.
There's plenty that can be improved on within the budget already, except those decisions have to get past convoluted power dynamics where what makes sense, saves money, immediately improves daily life and poses no safety risk is ignored — regardless of evidence consistently and meticulously presented to the opposite.
Yonan-Renold is a former correctional officer.
Name of the Nongame
[Re "Turtle Savior," June 16]: Thanks for recognizing the great work of Steve Parren in regard to protection of nongame species. The work of wildlife biologists is too often invisible. I'm convinced the Fish & Wildlife Department should be doing a lot more for nongame.
According to Fish & Wildlife's latest (2015) Wildlife Action Plan, there are about 21,000 species in Vermont. Roughly 70 of them are "game." Thus, game consists of about 0.003 percent of all species. Yet the department's budget devotes almost half of its resources to game-centered activities, according to Commissioner Louis Porter. There is no exact figure, because Fish & Wildlife says the budget is "not organized" to yield that information. Apparently, that discrepancy in resource allocation escaped department planners over the years.
Also, the 2015 Action Plan identifies almost 1,000 "species of greatest conservation need," including those endangered and threatened. Almost no species in need are game. Department data and indicators referenced daily in the media point to major declines in more and more nongame species. But Fish & Wildlife leadership is directing a hugely disproportionate amount of its resources to managing game. I wonder why.
Vermont and North America's wildlife faces immediate peril from habitat loss, pollution, climate change, etc. We need to be paying attention, and Fish & Wildlife staff such as Parren need more resources to do their jobs. The 2015 action plan states that the stressors on wildlife require an "urgent" response. Where is that urgent response?
I think Seven Days is overdue to take a hard look at state wildlife management. But if you do, please put your teeth back in first.
Seven Days' "Kicked to the Curb" [June 16] makes the urgency of creating more housing very clear. And I want to thank Paula Routly for reminding us that housing is health care [From the Publisher: "Homing Instinct," June 16]. Just because one pandemic seems to be ending, we cannot afford to send homeless people back to the curbs.
Could Vermont build more basic condo/motel-style buildings with simple apartments that have a bathroom with a toilet, shower and sink and an open space of another 120 square feet for a sleeping area and kitchen sink counter, with electrical outlets in which the owner could plug a refrigerator, microwave and lighting?
To end homelessness in Vermont, we need to recognize the need of home ownership for every adult in Vermont. When people have a greater sense of security, they are more likely to be able to contribute to society instead of become a burden.
Many people who own these tiny spaces will choose to rent elsewhere when jobs change, but at least they will have the security of a home to go to if they lose their job and can't pay their rent. Until they can afford to buy a larger home, they can keep their basic home. This home will provide them with a reliable address to receive mail and register to vote.
Article 25 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being ... including food, clothing, housing and medical care..."
Could Vermont be the first state to abide by this declaration, even if the U.S. has yet to sign it?