'Democracy on Your Shoulders'
I commend Seven Days on its story that took a deep dive into the problems causing dangerous delays in health care provided at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington ["The Doctor Won't See You Now," September 1]. This is the type of meaningful, well-sourced journalism that is as near death as the local newspapers that used to provide it.
I spent over 30 years as a newspaper reporter, editor and publisher, and I found it painful to watch advertising migrate so thoroughly to the internet, setting fire to daily print journalism's business model along the way. What's left isn't pretty.
The daily newspaper here is being ridden slowly into oblivion by its ownership, Gannett/GateHouse, which really doesn't have much choice but to produce a shriveled offering similar to the rest of the daily newspapers in the country. The staff cuts are unrelenting, the news hole is disappearing, and the community voice that once could command respect and mediate disputes — not encourage them — is just about silent.
Most of the media that have stepped into the breach, pretty much like too many goats in a barn, just bleat and kick up dust. There is no researched middle ground, no care given to a balanced and reliable report. There's no truth — only sides. And we've all been witnessing the result of that.
If Seven Days, along with VTDigger.org, are what's left of good local journalism, it's indeed a heavy burden — pretty much like carrying democracy around on your shoulders. So good luck with it. Keep plugging.
Off the 'Green' Team
It was only a matter of time before the COVID-19 conspiracy book by Dr. Joseph Mercola and Ronnie Cummins would catch up to Chelsea Green Publishing and bite it in the ass ["Best-Selling Bunk," September 22]. Kudos to Seven Days for not just exposing the problematic book but for shedding a light on publisher Margo Baldwin's insecure, narcissistic and bullying behaviors.
There's a lot I could say about working at CGP, but reporter Chelsea Edgar presented an accurate portrayal of the company's toxic workplace. Baldwin's petulant responses to Seven Days' questions didn't surprise me.
Let me tell you about my last interaction with Baldwin. I emailed her in June to tell her that my grandmother had died three days before my birthday from COVID-19. I expressed my displeasure that CGP would publish works by Naomi Wolf, one of its other COVID-19 conspiracist authors. Baldwin's response was that I was akin to "a good German" and I should go "fuck off." Yeah. Way to be an adult, Margo.
Like Mercola, CGP hoodwinked a lot of us who believed in its mission, and we loved its books. As of now, I think the so-called The Truth About COVID-19 needs a warning label. My preference is: "Reading this book could get you killed, and CGP will indifferently and unapologetically profit from your loss."
Avard is a former Chelsea Green Publishing employee who worked for the company in 2004.
[Re "Best-Selling Bunk"; From the Publisher: "Stopping the Spread," September 22]: Chelsea Green publishing misinformation? I'll observe that Seven Days is advertiser "supported." Hello, world? Can't be any misinformation there, of course.
Perhaps when some vigilantes start burning the book publishers, they can do the same to the newspapers.
You are idiots.
Thank you for the in-depth exposé of the disinformation being sold by Chelsea Green Publishing ["Best-Selling Bunk," September 22]. We at Everyone's Books in Brattleboro will not carry this book and will be very cautious in the future about all its books. As a bookseller who is committed to social justice and truth-telling, we never feel that level of extreme indifference to the fate of our readers that a board member quoted in your story seems to express. To paraphrase, he stated that it is not on him if people die due to bogus "preventions" and "cures" for a terrible disease.
Every day, we can find news stories about people dying from COVID-19 and regretting that they followed a false and lethal path promoted by Dr. Joseph Mercola and his ilk. We also find horrible stories about anti-maskers committing violence when asked to cover their faces with a simple piece of cloth. The false information being pushed by Margo Baldwin, who clearly believes in the anti-science drivel in this book, is dangerous and has already caused deaths.
Many other independent booksellers have strong principles and will never carry this sort of disinformation, which is probably mainly sold on Amazon, a company with no principles and an insatiable desire only for money. Interestingly enough, the only time I heard Baldwin speak publicly, she addressed a Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility gathering and spent most of her time praising Amazon. Birds of a feather...
Braus is co-owner of Everyone's Books in Brattleboro.
Thank you for continuing to be a newspaper unafraid of controversy. Your story on "Best-Selling Bunk" [September 22] gave me a deep curiosity to read the Joseph Mercola and Ronnie Cummins book. I shall be buying a copy.
Why are liberal, creative, highly educated, vaccinated authors so terrified of this book? At this time in history, I am grateful to be able to source information from diverse people. Isn't having different opinions and beliefs what makes a rich, compassionate culture? It's a deep dive into dank, dirty water when we cut off alternative points of view.
Hats off to the publishers of Chelsea Green for publishing a book that stirs emotions and divergent thinking.
[Re Off Message: "At Heated Meeting, Burlington City Council Withdraws BDS Resolution," September 14]: It was clear from the September 13 debate on the "Palestinian solidarity" resolution that several Burlington City Council members hadn't realized the proposal's antisemitic implications or understood that ultimate success of the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions effort it endorsed would entail the demise of the State of Israel. They appeared surprised, uncomfortable and perplexed that what may have seemed a simple "feel-good" expression of support for ill-treated people aroused such a strong and widespread response.
Objection that a topic is not a proper subject of discussion is often a red herring, but in this case the point was well taken. Few of the councilors seemed to have the necessary historical background or even contemporary political awareness for informed debate on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Several seemed blindsided by the barrage of mail they received on the topic and its overwhelming opposition to the resolution. Members of the public and some councilors themselves argued both that the issue is beyond the reasonable scope of city council concern and that members have been neglecting urgent city business.
Though unambiguous defeat would have been preferable and the open door for reintroduction of the proposal is troubling, withdrawal was a reasonable result for now. Hopefully it will be permanent.
As very concerned spectators, we admire and thank the councilors for their honesty, humility and open-mindedness.
Judy and Michael Olinick
BHS Is on the Right Road
[Re Off Message: "Burlington School District to Consider Three Possible Sites for New High School," September 14]: I agree with the school board that the new Burlington High School should remain on Institute Road. It seems to make more sense, and the City of Burlington already owns the land. I don't trust Mayor Miro Weinberger after the last fiasco with CityPlace Burlington, and that place still hasn't been built! I don't want to see another pit for years to come. And it looks like a majority of the people want the high school on Institute Road, too!
Give Flanagan a Chance
Leave it to a University of Vermont economics professor to rain on freshman Burlington School District superintendent Tom Flanagan's embryonic step into the city of Burlington's education troubles ["First Impressions," September 8]. Stephanie Seguino is quoted in your article, saying that judgment on Flanagan needs to be withheld until it's seen how well he injects diversity into the schools. It's apparent from your article that Flanagan is a welcome addition to the Burlington school system. Seguino needs to appreciate what Flanagan obviously offers: a no-nonsense, thoughtful and forward-thinking approach to local education.
Cure for Coronavirus
I would like to recommend to Vermont and the rest of the country how we can cut wait times for care ["The Doctor Won't See You Now," September 1]. When an unvaccinated patient comes in with COVID-19 symptoms, they should be arrested and charged with attempted suicide or conspiracy to infect others, and given a mandatory psychological evaluation. This, I believe, is the only answer to this problem. If nothing is done, I know many health care workers will quit or retire. A big thank-you to all the health care professionals.