Roy Has Rights
I think that firing Ryan Roy is wrong [Off Message: "Hood's Off: Burlington White Nationalist Attended Charlottesville Rally," August 15; Last 7, August 16]. Any person is free to think and to talk about what he or she wishes. To punish people for their beliefs or their speech violates their constitutional rights.
While the Constitution protects us from government actions, and this was a private employer, it's a slippery slope.
Those of us old enough to remember the House Un-American Activities Committee see Roy's firing in this light. Sen. Joe McCarthy persecuted people for their beliefs, which led to academics, writers and performers losing jobs and being unable to find work.
Even though his beliefs and expression of them are repugnant to me, I support Roy's right to express them. To allow him to be persecuted for his beliefs and actions threatens my beliefs and speech.
As a progressive, I am deeply disappointed in the writers and editors of Seven Days. It seems like every other week the front cover is some article about women doing everyday things like flying planes or doing standup comedy or adjusting to life in America after having been a refugee ["Flying Female," August 9; "Laughing Matters," July 12]. This constant amazement that women are capable of such things is clear evidence of a culture of misogyny at the Seven Days offices. In the 10 years I've been living in Vermont, I've yet to see any front pages that are so bewildered at the capabilities of males. What's the cover going to be next week? "Women Working in an Office but Aren't Secretaries, Oh My!"
Your sexism is no less egregious than that of the factory owners during World War II when they were making instructional videos on how to handle female workers. "Careful, Joe, they've never worked an industrial job before. All these instructions about how to use the machines must sound like devil's talk to them! You need to be sensitive, or you'll startle them!" Seventy years later, and you guys are still stuck at that point.
"But we're trying to demonstrate that women are as capable of things like that as males are!" Seems kind of redundant in a state where every county voted for Hillary Clinton. While Seven Days is shocked that women are more than life support for a womb, the rest of us were fully prepared for a female president.
Vivent Les Plages!
Winooski as Brooklyn ["Working Winooski," August 2]? With walk-up building heights, francophone roots, a developed riverfront and a giant traffic gyratory, Petite Rive Droite could be an even cheekier nickname. That gyratory, though, is definitely not a "roundabout." True modern roundabouts have essential characteristics that the cumbersome Winooski circulating roadway fails to meet, including no traffic signals and a small central island that is inaccessible to pedestrians.
By comparison, the inexpensive circle near Best Buy in Williston offers a glimpse at how simple a roundabout can be. Both circles demonstrate that gyratory traffic control can get the job done even with less-than-excellent engineering.
In the other Rive Droite, Winooski would find inspiration on how to eliminate cars, restore vibrant pedestrian spaces and replace traffic signals — as well as the circulating roadway — with true modern roundabouts. Bring on the Winooski Beach.
I always look forward to Tim Newcomb's artful and insightful cartoons in Seven Days. The August 2 issue had an exceptional and timely cartoon entitled "Population Trends." It appeared on Earth Overshoot Day and not long after World Population Day.
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity's demand for life-supporting ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. World Population Day seeks to enhance awareness of human population issues, including their relations to the environment and development.
As the world is heating up faster than expected due to increasing human numbers desiring the fossil-fuel-aided Western lifestyle, an increasing number of humans are finally realizing that growth cannot go on forever and eventually has to cease at sustainable numbers and lifestyles or collapse. So, what are sustainable numbers, and how do we stabilize our numbers? Adding 70,000 more residents to our Vermont population, as Gov. Phil Scott proposes, may not be in our state's interest. We urge him and everyone to read the report "What Is an Optimum Sustainable Population for Vermont?" as published in 2014 by Vermonters for a Sustainable Population on their website.
Schneider is secretary of Vermonters for a Sustainable Population.
The Facts of the Bellis Case
Ray Duquette Sr.'s letter to the editor [Feedback: "So Many Tragedies," August 9] omits critical facts and makes up others, leading to his highly inaccurate conclusion about the criminal prosecution of Craig Mosher for his role in the death of Jon Bellis [Off Message: "No Prison Time for Man Whose Loose Bull Caused Fatal Wreck," June 28; "Farmers Riled Over Decision to Charge Bull's Owner in Fatal Crash," June 15, 2016].
State and local police received four specific reports in the weeks before July 31, 2015, of Mosher's bulls being loose on Route 4. At 9:45 p.m. on July 31, a truck driver locked up his brakes to avoid hitting one of Mosher's bulls on Route 4. The driver went to Mosher's house, pounded on the door. No answer. He blew his air horn. Mosher came out, looked around, went back inside and fell asleep. He did not go out to Route 4 to look for the bull.
The driver called the Vermont State Police at 9:58 p.m., as soon as he had cell service. A trooper was on the way when Bellis and his wife came upon the dark figure of the bull. Bellis had no chance to see the bull or stop before the crash. Speed did not cause the crash; Mosher caused the crash.
Rutland County State's Attorney Rose Kennedy prosecuted Mosher because his negligence led directly to Bellis' death. The prosecution saved lives. It sent a message that animal owners who care as little for the safety of their animals and the traveling public as did Mosher will be held accountable.
O'Neill represented the Jon Bellis estate in a claim against Craig Mosher, which was resolved without filing a lawsuit.
[Re Fair Game, July 12]: Vermont's "brown rivers" — yes, this is a huge problem. But the difficulty is not the amount of human waste in the water; that probably doesn't vary much. The problem is that rainwater drains into the same sewers that go into our water treatment systems. The obvious solution is to start redesigning parking lots and sidewalks and streets so that rainwater goes somewhere besides water treatment systems. Such systems already exist and can be added to current infrastructures, starting with the worst problem areas and working down.
Trial and Error
I sympathize with the presumption of innocence and reluctance to jail people before trial. But ["Mann Overboard? Critics Say New Vermont Judge Is Too Lenient," July 12] should also mention the necessary contract between the public and the judicial system. If the public loses faith that the justice system protects them adequately from offenders, the rule of law is undermined. The very existence of civil society requires us to balance the rights of individuals with the right of the public to be secure.
Seeing offenders back on the streets re-offending again and again makes the public feel insecure.
In his July 12 Hackie ["Out of my Orbit"], columnist Jernigan Pontiac refers to himself as "a person who, by nature, craves harmony with everyone who comes into his orbit. I usually find a way to positively connect with my fellow humans..."
Yet, earlier in the column, he refers to his woman passenger as "chunky ... all blond hair, boobs and too much makeup."
Is referring to a woman's breasts as "boobs" finding a way to "positively connect with my fellow humans"? Is referring to a woman as "chunky" craving "harmony" or craven body shaming?
Pontiac seems to have rather odd — or perhaps I should say retrograde — ideas about fostering "harmony" in the greater Burlington community.
And what do the woman's "boobs" have to do with the story he's telling? Absolutely nothing. So why mention it, Jernigan? Looking for cheap, degrading laughs? Sad.
Just finished reading "A Boy and his Dog" [August 16]. Thank you, Dan Bolles, for your heartfelt, tear-jerking, smile-causing story of Buckley. Now, that was a good dog!
Dan's story was a wake-up for me to brush, swim, treat and love my three doggies even more than I already do. And to invest more time and resources into helping all dogs and cats and other beings find the right human and a place to call home.
Why is it so tough when a beloved pet dies? Maybe because they are more than pets — they are our partners on this long unleashed walk we do in life. My condolences to Dan, and I hope he doesn't mind, but when I get a new puppy (it's inevitable), I think I will name him, or her, Buckley.
WVPD Is a Good Deal
The Winooski Valley Park District works hard to be a good investment for the cities and towns that support its annual operating budget ["A Funding Dispute Challenges the Winooski Valley Park District," August 9]. Their dollars provide the financial backbone for WVPD's system of natural areas in the lower Winooski River Valley.
Each year, every dollar is multiplied many times over by support raised from private foundations and government grants for education programs, new footbridges and other onetime projects. With the invaluable support of its roster of partner nonprofits, scores of volunteers enhance WVPD's natural areas. They monitor wildlife movement to and through WVPD lands, maintain 22 miles of footpaths, and provide community gardens for New Americans and others. The list goes on.
WVPD's outreach to schools gets young Vermonters outdoors and connected with their natural heritage. Many programs are held in member communities. In Burlington, Fanny and Ethan Allen's restored house — built 230 years ago — is a perfect venue to give children and tourists alike a perspective of what we still have in common with our pioneering ancestors. As the owner of the Allen homestead, WVPD is ultimately the safekeeper of this priceless Vermont treasure.
Ely was executive director of the Winooski Valley Park District from 1980 to 2010.
When School Boards Fail
Your article "Policy Wonk Nicole Mace Lands in Swirling Political Storm" [August 9] overlooked the considerable damage being done to public education by the Vermont School Boards Association. As zealous cheerleaders for Act 46, VSBA is helping to do away with countless school boards, the single most important way in which our schools engage with our communities. By shifting power and control over school districts to the most populous communities in Vermont, we are ensuring the closure of small schools, particularly elementary schools, in more rural areas — not on the basis of cost or quality, but by virtue of political clout.
The greatest harm will be inflicted on students from our least-advantaged rural families who are best served by small schools. They and other students can look forward to longer bus rides taking them farther from home. And those small, rural towns in places like the Northeast Kingdom can look forward to losing schools that have been the heart of our civic life. The experience of states such as Maine and West Virginia makes it clear we will suffer this harm with no cost savings whatsoever.
The boondoggle over health insurance this last legislative session, VSBA's ambivalence (or hostility) to tuitioning towns, and a failure to recognize the importance of small, independent schools to many rural communities is further evidence of an arrogance that leads to bad public policy.
Sadly, many of those in Montpelier have forgotten that rural is an asset, not a liability.
Don't Blame the DMV
[Re Fair Game: "License to Ill," July 26]: Remember this: The Department of Motor Vehicles is not the agency that patrols the lakes and streams of Vermont. The Vermont State Police have patrol boats for this purpose. The DMV does not, nor should it; it should simply perform the task of registering boats. As far as the info, it will do what it wants with this information.
Michael C. Vinton