Cherish Your Co-op
I need to call out reporter Courtney Lamdin on her cheap shots at our Onion River Co-op in her August 28 article "Union Pushes for $15-an-Hour Wages at City Market" — including dragging up the old misnomer "City Markup." When the Burlington Free Press last did an annual market basket comparison, City Market was second behind Hannaford and before all the other supermarkets.
She implies that what the Onion River Co-op gives to local nonprofits comes mostly from the generous customers. Our co-op gives them even more through the discounts for the member workers who volunteer for those nonprofits and with a 10 percent discount to all member owners who are enrolled in 3 Squares Vermont.
She writes, "City Market raked in $48 million"! There is no "raking in"; there is an enormous amount of hard and thoughtful labor day in and day out by Onion River Co-op employees, both workers and management.
She downplays the complexities of the negotiations. The Onion River Co-op provides a vast array of benefits in addition to salaries. It also has to consider its large number of local stakeholders. We also need to find ways to make housing more affordable in Burlington. Our cooperative alone cannot solve all the problems facing workers.
Overall, this is an informative article, but cheap shots at an important local resource are not helpful. Corporate America would love to see us do in our cooperatives, labor unions and alternative press. These valuable assets need our constructive criticism, but they also need us to cherish and protect them.
Schramm is a former board president of City Market, Onion River Co-op
Hear for the Animals
[Re Off Message: "Citing Email About Afterburners, F-35 Critics Want New Noise Study," August 29]: While the Leahy/Sanders/Welch military industrial complex admits the human toll of increased noise will reach toxic levels for thousands of people in the Winooski region should F-35s begin flying out of the Burlington International Airport, the stressors on animals, dogs and cats are even more extreme. I know of a pet owner whose dog suffered such anxiety from existing airplane noise that they had to find a new home for him.
It will be the worst for birds, which have the most sensitive hearing. There are 14 species of threatened and endangered birds in Vermont. It may be unlawful to subject them to toxic and abusive levels of sound. Has anyone stood up for these creatures against the F-35 invasion of the peace?
Mile Not Driven
[Re "Power Play? Efficiency Vermont's Mission Could Expand — to Fossil Fuels," August 21]: Expanding the mission of Efficiency Vermont to include transportation is the right thing to do. But it does not necessarily lead to more electrification. In electricity, Efficiency Vermont has taken a comprehensive, research-based look at how to invest funds to reduce electric use. And that's how we need to examine transportation. If we really take a comprehensive look at how to reduce the energy used in transportation, it may lead to solutions such as adding a sidewalk or a bike lane or paying people to give up a car.
Whatever the answer, it should not start with the solution in mind. It starts with the research. That is what has been missing from the conversation about transportation. For Efficiency Vermont, the greenest and cheapest unit of electricity is the one not used. In transportation, the cheapest, greenest mile of travel is the one not driven in any vehicle — even if it is electric.
Watts is cofounder of Sustainable Transportation Vermont.
Regarding [Off Message: "Developer: CityPlace Burlington Project Will Be Redesigned," July 19] and other stories about the CityPlace fiasco, I don't fully grasp the complexities of urban redevelopment. However, it seems asinine that members of the city council and the mayor approved an agreement that allowed the destruction of the Burlington Town Center before Don Sinex and his supposed partners could demonstrate committed funding for the entire life of the project.
I am not opposed to urban redevelopment schemes. I am opposed to public servants making decisions based on unfounded promises and their fecklessness holding private developers accountable. My impression is that the city did not perform sufficient due diligence before approving the development agreement.
While this drama drags itself along, Mayor Miro Weinberger and city council members who were boosters for this project should be required to pitch tents and live in the bottom of City Hole until the so-called developers truly begin building something in it. They might be huddled together down there for the next 10 years.
The article ["Power Play? Efficiency Vermont's Mission Could Expand — to Fossil Fuels," August 21] deals with Vermont's plan to develop a broader program to curb or stabilize the amount of greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels. There are many important issues today, but none more important than our existence!
Vermont's current programs are insufficient, and emissions, though once improving, are now increasing again. The programs administered through Efficiency Vermont, while good, are no longer sufficient to make the needed reductions by themselves. The 2019 legislature deemed that Vermont would have to do more limiting of fossil fuels, especially in heating and transportation. Petroleum industries should be encouraged to do all they can to offer their own environmental solutions, but the public will ultimately reduce the use of fossil fuel sources of energy if the industry cannot develop environmentally and economically satisfactory technologies. Life on Earth must be sustainable.
Efficiency Vermont is presently prohibited from addressing the transportation and heating aspects of the gas emissions problem. However, given EV's successful past performance in areas in which it is permitted to contribute, it is likely to be a player in or the leader of new programs. It certainly should be. It is likely that electricity will have to be a greater portion of the energy budget and supplied by renewable means of generation. Renewable means of producing more electric power will have to be expanded.