Gender Identity Is Not the Issue
[Re Off Message: "Christine Hallquist, First Transgender Nominee for Governor, to Face Phil Scott," August 14]: I wish every article regarding the candidate Christine Hallquist did not have to focus on her being transgender. That is not the issue. We need to know better about her qualifications, experience and positions for her potential leadership. Whether she is straight, gay, transgender or some other animal makes no difference. Just treat her like any other person. You do not introduce Phil Scott as a straight candidate.
[Re "What Election?" August 8]: The Taylor Dobbs story about the lack of energy in this month's primary campaign included comments from me about U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and his fundraising practices. While I was disappointed in Welch's response to my comments (that I didn't know anything about his practices), the larger point I was trying to make is that most members of Congress, including Welch, spend much of their time calling rich people for money to fund their campaigns. This distracts them from their work and threatens to influence their decision making. I have been a strong supporter of Welch for 20 years. But he and other good people need to do more to change the culture of Congress and make it work, rather than be defensive about the system they are caught up in.
One for Wildlife
I applaud Protect Our Wildlife, Lush cosmetics and Skip Lisle of Beaver Deceivers for humanely eliminating beaver-versus-people conflicts ["Beavers, Bees and Bad Policies," August 15].
My wife and I recently moved to Vermont to enjoy the close interaction with nature that our state offers. I have been saddened to learn since our arrival that some view much of Vermont's fauna as vermin and kill them merely for recreation. I am not alluding to ethical hunters who take game for sustenance. Rather, I refer to the barbaric practices of trapping and hounding. I can't fathom how ensnaring or crushing wild creatures in traps, leaving them to languish for days, or setting hounds loose to chase bears to exhaustion can be viewed as anything other than cruelty to animals. Nor do I see what enjoyment one could derive from such endeavors.
Incredibly, I've come to learn, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department not only condones such activities, it actively supports them! Also, crows and coyotes are killed in great numbers, then tossed on piles to rot. One of the tenets of FWD's mission is to prevent wanton waste of wildlife, yet it defends those who engage in such wasteful practices. FWD discourages non-hunter/trappers from taking seats on its advisory board.
Once again, kudos to those cited in your article, but until FWD adopts 21st-century values, we will need to act on our own. With apologies to the ethical hunters I refer to above, we are posting our land, and I urge all others who truly love nature to do the same.
Haas is a licensed veterinarian.
It's Our Trash
[Re "Last Trash Can Standing: Should Vermont's Huge Landfill Get Bigger?" August 8]: The situation at the Coventry landfill should prompt considerations of ethics, civic responsibility and old-fashioned neighborliness. Almost the whole state sends its trash there, after regional landfills were rejected. All Vermonters have a moral obligation to view the Coventry landfill as our own responsibility.
My trash, which travels from Randolph, is unsightly, unhealthy, even toxic. That it is accepted by a distant small community without many municipal resources, a community that may overlook the hazards of the landfill because it cannot afford to do otherwise, does not excuse my ignorance about its fate. Vermonters' continued dependence on the imperfect model of out-of-sight, out-of-mind trash removal, especially when the public relies on a profit-motivated private company to ensure its health and safety, is suspect.
Casella Waste Systems makes a profit on the waste that it takes in at the landfill, particularly on out-of-state materials, which were 30 percent of last year's total waste, including contaminated soil and wastewater treatment sludge. An expansion of the landfill would invite more such materials; on the other hand, if out-of-state materials were disallowed, more landfill space would be available. The landfill should be for Vermonters alone, a resource that is our responsibility to keep watch over.
If Casella gets all the space it desires, it will have no incentive to diminish the waste stream. Coventry shouldn't become the waste warehouse for Vermont or New England. Instead, Vermonters must unify around environmentally sound goals, such as effective recycling and composting programs, as well as revisit responsible regional waste disposal.
I have to say, the Animal Issue [August 15] has been my most favorite in some time. I learned a great deal about animal advocates, farms and individuals throughout Vermont. Kudos for superb reporting and writing.