["Sheriff, Inc.," September 5] unfairly portrayed the work and operations of the sheriffs' offices in Vermont. Here are important facts about our work: The Vermont Constitution established the 14 county-elected positions, and their departments, under a model of joint "public-private" operations. Located in each county, the sheriffs' departments provide law enforcement services to local towns, state government, nonprofit agencies and our business communities. Sheriffs and deputies carry out law enforcement duties on our roads, in our schools, in dispatch services, and in support of the Vermont Judiciary, Department of Corrections, and Department for Children and Families, as well as hospitals, schools, mental health and financial institutions, and many other organizations. We are first responders in emergency situations, ensuring the safety of the public.
By statute, sheriffs receive a salary equivalent to their law enforcement colleagues in the Vermont State Police, Fish & Wildlife Department, and Department of Motor Vehicles who supervise and manage personnel and operations. The statute anticipates the sheriffs will engage in private contracts to defray costs not paid by the state and allows a fee for contract oversight, hiring and supervising staff, and contract compliance. The fee is similar to the indirect cost rate charged to federal and state government by agencies to administer contract or grant programs. The sheriffs also send the state 15 percent of their civil process fees to defray costs of their law enforcement work for Vermont.
When you consider the range of services by sheriffs to towns, state agencies and businesses, sheriffs and deputies are truly valuable, dedicated public servants to Vermont.
Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux
Upon reading "Survival of the Smartest" [August 29], I was disturbed to learn that Saint Michael's College has no Shakespearean scholar. That writer is the cornerstone of the English language. Even those who believe that STEM courses will one day consume our culture have to acknowledge that the great writers and thinkers of world history — such as Shakespeare, Plato and Socrates — mean so much in terms of communication, history, comedy and tragedy, all of which we need in order to understand who we are as human beings. I am reminded that there was a time when we thought that William Faulkner was not worth reading. His books were actually allowed to go out of print.
Science and math are important, yes, but the essence of our humanity is just as important. When I was an undergraduate student majoring in English at the University of Virginia, I was often asked why was I even majoring in that subject. I would never be able to get a job. Well, I was actually offered jobs in a variety of fields — manager-trainee positions, for example, in banking and at telephone companies. I enjoyed reading works by authors such as Theodore Dreiser, Kate Chopin and Ralph Ellison. They helped me understand who I was. Colleges and universities should not panic under the STEM assault. Chopin, Ellison and, indeed, our own Howard Frank Mosher did not.
[Re Off Message: "Leahy at Kavanaugh Hearing: 'What Are We Hiding?'" September 4]: Sen. Patrick Leahy seems to forget how the U.S. Senate held Judge Robert Bork hearings when he says he never saw anything like this. I well remember the democratically controlled Senate's treatment of Judge Bork.
Ralston Starts With R
Paul Ralston's views as expressed in ["Independents Turn Up the Heat in Addison County Senate Race," September 12] deserve closer examination. On the one hand, he supports giving money to farmers to create buffers near waterways to lessen agricultural runoff from their farms. On the other hand, he openly states his support for Republican Gov. Phil Scott.
This is the "no new taxes" governor who, in 2018, refused to support a clean water bill that would have provided funding for the very agricultural buffers that Ralston is suggesting we pay farmers to create. The bill was passed without a funding source due to Scott's resistance. Scott has yet to come up with a way to pay for returning our state's waterways to some semblance of their natural condition.
Where does Ralston think the money will come from to fund his farm runoff mitigation plan, or any other plan to help farmers reduce their agricultural runoff? From thin air?
And if Ralston is such a fan of Scott, does he also support Scott's 2018 veto of the $15 minimum wage bill? His veto of the paid family leave bill? His rejection of a bill to reduce the exposure of children to toxic chemicals? Or how about Scott's refusal to support legislation to reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change? That's just for starters.
Let's hear the answers to these questions from both Ralston and his running mate, Marie Audet. Are these two candidates the kind of "independents" we want in the legislature? To me, they sound very closely tied to the Republican agenda. And that agenda isn't going to get our waterways cleaned up anytime soon.
Correction, September 21, 2019: An earlier version of Fran Putnam's letter contained an editing error. A sentence has been corrected to read, "And if Ralston is such a fan of Scott, does he also support Scott's 2018 veto of the $15 minimum wage bill?"