Funny to the End
Where is "Curses, Foiled Again," the listing of possible Darwin Award applicants? [News Quirks] is usually right after the comics. Did I just miss it?
Editor's note: If only it were a simple production error. Sadly, longtime author Roland Sweet died two weeks ago. His nationally syndicated News Quirks column has appeared in every issue of Seven Days since it started 20 years ago. He will be greatly missed.
We are a group of Colchester residents who are surprised to hear that that our selectboard is more concerned with the rights of recreational boaters to navigable waterways than with the rights of taxpaying residents along the shore ["Who Decides? New Buoys in Lake Champlain Roil Colchester Board," July 22]. Most of the boaters are not even Colchester residents, with many coming from out of state or even from Canada. And it is not as if they are spending any money in town while enjoying the outer bay.
Bruce Barry, who got permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to place 22 buoys just off his beach, pays truly exorbitant town taxes based on his lakeshore frontage. Remember that he purchased this former Camp Holy Cross land after voters turned down a chance to buy it for public use?
It seems that the selectboard wants to have its cake and eat it, too, by boasting of 27 miles of public lakefront and assessing high taxes for the "luxury" of a safe area in front of his property. After the camp closed, and before Mr. Barry installed the buoys, boaters were not only anchoring on his beach overnight and waterskiing close to shore, but building bonfires and setting off fireworks, leaving garbage and dog and human poop, and generally using his beach in ways that would not even be tolerated on a public one. The buoys seem like a friendly way to remind boaters to tone down the speed and the water, land, air and noise pollution.
Betsy, Charles and Carrie Collins; Jeanette, Catherine and Alden Cushman; Polly and Meredith Smith; Joanna Weinstock
Safety buoys are indeed causing a stir in lakes this summer ["Who Decides? New Buoys in Lake Champlain Roil Colchester Board," July 22]. Safety buoys in Lake Iroquois have caused some anger and annoyance. The idea that safety buoys create a "sense of exclusivity" or "clog" the waterway is not credible. These buoys are effective in making lakes safer for all and are welcomed by many.
It's a maritime rule and state law that powerboats are at the bottom of the right-of-way hierarchy. Powerboaters frequently violate the Vermont "no wake" law, which requires "no wake" speed, not to exceed 5 mph, within 200 feet of a swimmer, paddler, sailor, dock, the shore or an island. It's also difficult to judge 200 feet while out on the water. A safety buoy doesn't prohibit or obstruct a boater from coming right up to the shore, and that is the boater's right.
Sometimes might tries to make right, however, and no swimmer or kayaker is going to challenge a powerboat in a confrontation. Powerboaters are upset because safety buoys make them obey the law or be more obvious when they don't.
Our public waters can be congested. It's us — the people who boat, paddle, sail and swim — who clog the waters, not buoys. If all of us who enjoy swimming and messing around in boats concentrated more on respecting the legitimate recreational rights of others, obeying the law and dealing civilly with the congestion we cause, maybe the rhetoric about safety buoys can be abated.
[Re Off Message: "'Rebels' Moniker Debated in South Burlington," August 3; The Last Seven Days, August 5]: Is there no end to the politically correct police now finding fault with the South Burlington High School teams using the name "Rebels"? If the old mascot remained, and if the stars and bars were prominent, I would most certainly agree and voice concern, but "Rebels" in and of itself in this case is much to do about nothing. Rice Memorial High School already caved to the PC crowd with the "totally offensive" Little Indians, and we are all the better for it? Really? I think it's pathetic!
Now efforts to wipe clean from Stone Mountain Park in Georgia the carved images of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson as a form of PC historical cleansing?!Next we "must" remove slave owner Thomas Jefferson from Mount Rushmore, and Theodore Roosevelt, the evil big-game hunter and arguably the best Republican president of the 20th century!
If out of hate and discrimination, then yes, let's talk! If no basis other than PC police duty, then let the good rebel within us all remain for another day!
No Rate Increase for BCBS
[Re Off Message: "Blue Cross Blue Shield Seeks 7.2 Percent Premium Increase," July 29]: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont has requested another rate increase. They should not receive it. BCBS received a 7.7 percent increase last year and are requesting a rate increase for this year of 7.2 percent; BC/BS pays its CEO almost $600,000 per year. Categorizing BCBS as a nonprofit enabled it to gain a $15 million tax exemption for 2014. Why would they need a rate increase?
Poverty is on the rise in Vermont; the number of children growing up in poverty is increasing. The amount of money BCBS pays its CEO would support more than 10 working families in Vermont. The health insurance industry acts as a parasite on the body of medical services in Vermont. Vermonters are expected to pay premiums to insurance companies in order to receive health care services. Yet these insurance companies do not deliver or perform health care. Health insurance companies are dead weight to which we have to pay extortion.
Who is going to, at long last, take these companies out of the picture completely and allow the State of Vermont to set up a sane and humane system of health care delivery that does not add more stress and despair to the lives of those who are sick or injured? The health insurance companies have to go. There is no place for them in a system that must be primarily concerned with the medical needs of the people above the needs of corporations to remain solvent and pay exorbitant salaries to their officers.