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Letters to the Editor (9/26/18)

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Plane Logic

The article ["Thunderhill: Low-Flying Mystery Planes Rattle Small Vermont Town," September 5] has finally answered the "mystery" which occurred this past spring at my home in Bethel. The plane as shown in the article seemed to be flying straight toward me as I sat at my computer.

I recognized the plane as a '50s cargo plane. The sound was overwhelming. I figured this was going to be an interesting way to go. (I was 81!) I was certain it would at least crash into the mountain behind me.

Thanks for the article. Now I have confidence in what I experienced — not a hallucination! A neighbor had heard but not seen the plane.

Thank you for a wonderful paper — and making my day!

Carole Brobst

Randolph

Hopping Happy

[Re "Mad Hopping? A Fill-in-the-Blank Guide to the South End Art Hop," "All That Glitters," September 5]: This month marks the 20th anniversary of my love affair with, and my commitment to, contemporary visual arts. The original "inoculation" took place during the sixth annual South End Art Hop so many years ago. I want to take this opportunity to thank Burlington and its artists, nonprofit organizations, galleries, journalists, museums and cultural events for contributing to the type of nurturing and vital environment that continues to be a supportive and motivational springboard not only for this creative community, but also for those of us, like me, who need a "minimum daily requirement" of exposure to original art.

The South End Art Hop continues to lead the way to demonstrate the potential for creativity within Burlington and the entire region. It also provides an important mechanism for Burlington to showcase its many opportunities and resources. Twenty years after my initial inoculation, I want to recognize and thank the South End Arts and Business Association for its herculean annual undertaking and the consistency it has displayed in its presentation of the South End Art Hop.

Mark Waskow*

Barre

The Deal With Donovan

[Re Soundbites, August 22]: I laughed out loud when I read Jordan Adams' "wildly underrated" description of Donovan Leitch. Pursuing my own passion for music, I've learned there's no underestimating the attraction of, and loyalty to, niche artists. (I still love Matthew Sweet after all these years!)

Still, there's something confounding about the thought of a tribute to a man once nothing more than a Bob Dylan wannabe who then turned to the psychedelic ephemera of his era. There was, unfortunately, no mention of Leitch's most notable collaboration — namely with the Jeff Beck Group on "Barabajagal" (among a few others) — nor reference to his song "There Is a Mountain" as source material for the Allman Brothers' monumental improvisation "Mountain Jam."

But I'm not really complaining: "Season of the Witch" turned truly ghostly in the hands of Al Kooper, Michael Bloomfield and Stephen Stills on Super Session, while the existence of a functioning homage to Donovan has me holding out hope for something similar devoted to Buffalo Springfield or Moby Grape!

Doug Collette

South Burlington

Brother's Keeper

[Re Off Message: "Authorities Say Investigating St. Joseph's Orphanage Abuse Won't Be Easy," September 10; "Bishop Coyne Pledges Cooperation in St. Joseph's Orphanage Probe," September 9; "Burlington Police Will Investigate Claims of Abuse at St. Joseph's Orphanage," September 7]: I am writing this letter to finally scream out loud and to reach as many people as possible. I can't just go away and abandon my siblings by not being brave enough to tell how badly we were treated at St. Joseph's Orphanage in the early '60s and once again in the '90s with a huge slap in the face — when the Catholic Church said we deserved all of the torture, sexual abuse and near killing of our brother Dewey Guidry.

He was a hero, trying again and again to get someone to listen. My sisters and I were made to watch as they beat our brother unmercifully. We were not allowed to make a sound. I believe the Catholic Church needs to meet with me and anyone else to hear us. I have unanswered questions I want answered in person and in an open forum. Thank you for hearing my thoughts.

Coralyn Guidry

South Burlington

Sheriffs Save Lives

[Re "Sheriff, Inc.," September 5]: Rep. Mary Hooper's quote in your article about Vermont sheriffs — "They do very, very important work" — is what prompts me to write.

Essex County depends on our sheriff more than any other county for first-responder crime work. He and his department are our frontline police protection much of the time. This is not a criticism of the Vermont State Police; staffing and budget restrictions can make for long response times for the VSP here. This is truer since the VSP local outposts were eliminated. 

This year so far, Essex County Sheriff Trevor Colby has been the first on-scene police officer at six violent deaths, from vehicle accidents to suicides and homicides — these in addition to the routine rural crime situations.

His father and predecessor, Amos Colby, was portrayed in the article as a rural "sheriff of Mayberry" TV character. Far from it. 

It was sheriff Amos who, 21 years ago this August, backed his own vehicle, under fire, down a wooded road we share with our neighbor to rescue a wounded Border Patrol officer during the infamous Carl Drega shootings. (Drega had shot and killed two New Hampshire troopers, a newspaper editor and a lawyer/part-time judge in Colebrook, N.H., before fleeing to our road). The federal officer thankfully later recovered. 

Our Essex County sheriffs indeed do "very, very important work," especially on those occasions when it's literally a matter of life or death. 

Brendan J. Whittaker

Brunswick

Mural Matters

[Re "Will Burlington Resist Racism or Bargain With It?" advertisement, September 19]: On August 13, 2018, the Burlington City Council received the report of the mural task force on the "Everyone Loves a Parade!" mural, recommending that the council find some way of taking down the mural no later than August 29, 2022. In urging this action, the members of the seven-person task force who agree with the report — how many agree is unclear from the report — are urging the city council and the mayor to violate the First Amendment protection of free speech by creating a state action that censors a viewpoint.

A long line of Supreme Court decisions forbids state censorship of viewpoints. Perhaps the greatest statement of this principle was Justice Robert Jackson's in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, in 1943, which held that schoolchildren cannot be forced to salute or pledge allegiance to the flag. Rarely has so much been put into a single statement, as Justice Jackson's ringing declaration: "No official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein." 

Clearly, the mural represents an opinion, a viewpoint, of the artist, and the task force is recommending that the city council and mayor censor that opinion and viewpoint. 

Norman Arthur Fischer

Burlington

*Correction, October 15, 2018: An earlier version of this story misspelled Mark Waskow's name.