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Letters to the Editor (8/4/21)

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Concerned About Discrimination

The Seven Days article ["Bias Badges?" June 23], regarding the findings of the Vermont Human Rights Commission about the Clemmons Farm, is a black eye on the state's good reputation. On behalf of a group of 14 concerned citizens in Shelburne, I am appalled at the racially biased harassment of the Clemmons family and the destruction of some of their property. The lack of police protection is the most concerning aspect of this race-related crime.

We feel it is important to make a public statement of our deep sadness that this happened with police cooperation. We wish to express our support to the Clemmons family and hope that something can be done to ensure this does not happen again.

Carol Castle

Shelburne

Trash Talk

[Re "Dumpster Divining: Should Burlington Take Over Waste Collection? Councilors Talk Trash Options," July 28]: Waste management is a municipal responsibility. The question is how to pay for it. Does the community incur debt like getting a mortgage to buy a house, or avoid debt and make residents pay whatever fees private waste haulers charge? Which option is most financially responsible? 

With franchising, the city is divided into service areas, each of which is bid on separately. Different neighborhoods end up paying different rates for the same service by different private haulers. Private franchise contracts must be long enough, like seven years, so small haulers can buy new trucks and recoup their costs through the prices they charge. Franchise contracts lock in escalating annual rates so the projected $38 monthly cost today will automatically increase every year.

Also, an "opt-out" limit will be set on how many residents can self-haul their own trash to a CSWD Drop Off Center. Nearly 25 percent of Burlington households are self-hauling. With a cost of $6 per 35-gallon can, it makes no sense for folks with too little trash to pay $30 to $50 a month for pickup. If more than the contract's max "opt-out" limit want to self-haul, Burlington public works director Chapin Spencer said a lottery can be implemented to determine who gets to do it. This is crazy.

With a municipal operation, residents' payments invest in city-owned assets rather than financing private franchise haulers' assets. The city maintains control over service options and costs for residents. It is the most democratic, cost-effective and sensible system.

Solveig Overby

Burlington

Correction: August 16, 2021: An earlier version of this letter quoted incorrect prices for do-it-yourself waste disposal in Burlington. To bring a 35-gallon container of garbage to a Chittenden Solid Waste District drop-off site costs $6. A 55-gallon container runs $8.

Candidate Deserves Access

"Persecutive" and "disturbing" are two adjectives to describe the banning of the Burlington Ward 3 City Council Republican candidate from the Old North End's Facebook group.

Christopher-Aaron Felker has been denied access to some 1,500 Ward 3 potential voters while the other two candidates have full access. Felker's transgression, according to the Old North End's Facebook moderator Holly Beckett, is that Felker is a known "transphobic" whose "hate speech" "doesn't sit right with me."

Felker's campaign says his "view is shaped by his religious faith and in line with the Catholic Church."

This kind of censorship in Vermont politics should not be tolerated.

Believing that men are born men and that women are born women are the beliefs of all the major world religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. Apart from religion, Natural Law, the moral basis of our nation, shares these views.

What's going on is a kind of purge of reason, for ideology. It's a kind of postmodern or social constructionist worldview.

The citizens of Burlington, its media and its political class should publicly condemn the banning of candidate Christopher-Aaron Felker from the Old North End's Facebook group.

Tom Licata

Burlington

You Missed Some Things

I enjoyed your take on the Lake Willoughby area [StayTripper, "Mind the Gap," July 28] but was surprised you didn't mention either Sentinel Rock State Park or the extremely "Vermonty" organic, self-service golf course nearby. Sometimes it's difficult to find one's ball among fallen apples and large mushroom caps, and mature dandelions growing in the putting greens present a special challenge, but the views and affordability make up for any deficiencies.

David McGown

Fairfax

Nongame Changer

Jim White's support for increased nongame funding in Vermont is laudable [Feedback: "Name of the Nongame," July 7], though his suggestion that game funds be used for nongame disregarded the illegality of that action. 

Since 1937, state wildlife programs have been funded primarily by a federal excise tax on guns, ammunition, archery equipment, etc. The funds: 1) are apportioned to the states annually based on their land area and hunting licenses sold; 2) must be matched by a 25 percent state share (most often from hunting licenses and associated fees) and spent on birds and mammals over which the state wildlife agency has authority. No reptiles or amphibians can be studied with these funds.

Few suggest that excess funding for game exists or that game management should be defunded. Conversely, biologists agree that additional funding is vital to adequately manage and protect all the other wildlife species and habitats. Despite a 1990s national effort to point out the inadequate funding for nongame species, the U.S. Congress failed to approve a permanent funding source.

In 2000, Congress passed a discretionary State Wildlife Grants program (funded only through annual deliberations). Vermont's funds are apportioned based on the state's population and total geographical area. Vermont received $550,000 most recently. It is these funds, along with the matching Vermont Conservation License Plate and Nongame Wildlife Tax Checkoff monies, that biologist Steve Parren and his partners are so frugally managing, to accomplish as many conservation actions as possible with the resources provided them.

Tim Hess

South Burlington

Hess is a retired fish and wildlife biologist and administrator. He served as director of fisheries for Vermont Fish and Wildlife from 1995 to 2001 and also worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rooftop Resto

The 1911 Vermont House/Hotel Vermont at Main and St. Paul Streets had famed rooftop dining. The property's website recalls, "The hotel's chief attraction was the Roof Garden, a glass-enclosed solarium in the center of the roof. There, guests could lounge on swing seats and easy chairs amid lush plants; a restaurant offered grill and à la carte service. Outside the solarium, they could stroll along the fourteen-foot tiled walkway that circled it, and gaze out at Lake Champlain and the mountains. A 1913 brochure noted: "The sunsets from this point are beyond description and the roof garden affords the guests a quiet and restful retreat."

I recall it still in business during the 1950s. A "solarium," was it open to guests during colder weather?

Howard Fairman

Putney

College for All

I have worked in the fields of higher education, college counseling and post-secondary advising for over 40 years, and nothing gives me greater satisfaction than assisting first-generation college-bound students. The recent feature [Paid Post: "The Curtis Fund: Helping Vermont Students Pay for Postsecondary Education Since 1910," July 21] inspires me in my role as I help students navigate their journey on life's road. I applaud the efforts of those who are rallying together to make the Curtis Fund a reality for students who want to move forward and create a meaningful and rewarding lifestyle — one that brings forth fulfilling employment opportunities and includes challenge and the opportunity to give back to others.

The costs of college and career training are daunting; knowing that funding like this is available makes a dream, that to many seems overwhelming, a possibility. 

Sarah Soule

Shelburne

Editor's note: This feature was commissioned and paid for by Pomerleau Real Estate.

Sarah is the post-secondary planning counselor at Middlebury Union High School in Middlebury.

F-35 Flyover

The very air is roar,

a massive, unseen

beast enraged,

a body blow; cringe,

shudder, waves shatter

the mind-wall. Rehearsal

for someone's somewhere

someday terror,

somebody's blood rain,

a street, a village, a city

block obliterated

first by turbine thunder,

then exploding metal.


Never just one, but

one-two-three

in measured order

ripping the blue,

an unholy trinity

to make sure

all understand

below thought

the all-powerful

rule of spilled blood.

Even cemeteries

may shake with it,

cracks in the stones

of the already dead.


Who flies, who buys,

who voted for takeoff,

who practices killing,

who is far enough away,

or deaf to all caring?

Dave Cavanagh

Burlington

Delay Waste Vote

[Re "Dumpster Divining: Should Burlington Take Over Waste Collection? Councilors Talk Trash Options," July 28]: I support municipal waste collection because it is the most cost-effective for customers, most beneficial in fighting climate change and most democratic. Your article points out the danger of monopolization by giant collectors such as Casella and Texas-based Waste Management that could result from franchising to a private hauler. This is another reason to support a municipal system, since private for-profit monopolies raise costs and are bad for customers over time.

But the article understated another danger: It did not report that the cost of administration and enforcement is not included in the cost studies of the private franchised or hybrid systems. This is unfortunate because the Department of Public Works memo to the city council acknowledges that these costs "would add an estimated $0.66 to $4.24/month to the franchise model per residential dwelling unit depending on the assumed costs to be recouped. Factoring in these costs, the financial differential between the [municipal and private franchised] models narrows."

The democratic control we'd have over a municipal system also makes it the best system to encourage waste reduction and materials reuse. I know the borrowing needed for a municipal system is a real issue, but rejecting a public system out of hand for this reason is shortsighted, given all the advantages.

The council should delay a final vote on August 9, especially since Wards 1 and 3 will not have their councilors present, to take time to explore a municipal system, including the availability of federal stimulus or other funding.

Gene Bergman

Burlington

Dear Jack Hanson

I, too, was sexually assaulted by Jack Hanson, I think. It happened about 20 years ago, probably on Tuesday, because on Tuesdays I feel like a woman usually. Or on Wednesday, when I usually feel like a man. On other days I feel like nothing, so I couldn't have been assaulted on those days. I have never met Jack Hanson in person, but I dreamt about it, so it must be true. He assaulted me and I went along with it, but under the context, who could blame me? I hope Burlington City Councilor Max Tracy takes this accusation seriously, and I also hope that you send a reporter to interview me and that you will spend some valuable space in your paper on reporting it. And please, my pronoun is Her/His Highness.

P.S. If you, by chance, think I am nuts, please read the article I am referring to in Seven Days [Off Message: "Burlington City Councilor Is Accused of Sexual Assault," July 13].

Evzen Holas

Burlington

Editor’s note: This letter does not describe an actual assault claim — as the writer noted, he has never met Jack Hanson, a Burlington city councilor. It's intended to satirize the nature of the sexual assault complaint previously made by an anonymous individual and reported by Seven Days and other local media outlets.