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Letters to the Editor

December 12, 2007


Published December 12, 2007 at 5:00 a.m.


As someone who knew Jay Craven in his Vietnam-era incarnation, I was very disappointed to see this one-time student radical and "People's Peace Treaty" campaigner providing a radio testimonial to FairPoint ["FairPoint Accused of 'Hail Mary' Advertising," November 28]. The testimonial is now being used in its current public relations campaign to promote an anti-worker, anti-consumer deal with Verizon.

In Kevin Kelley's article . . . Craven claimed that his praise for the company's Internet service was "not meant as any judgment on other issues involved, about which I knew nothing and am not in a position to judge."

Thanks to Kelley's reporting, we now know that Craven has been a past recipient of a Verizon grant for one of his films. One wonders whether this corporate largesse - as deserving as the funding may have been - has affected Jay's "judgment" on a key public policy dispute in Vermont?

In any event, he could easily have become better informed about the important labor and consumer "issues involved" by reading Seven Days' excellent reporting on the contested Verizon sale to FairPoint - part of widespread regional media coverage which began in the summer of 2006. For the sake of his reputation as a Vermont progressive and leading cultural figure, Craven needs to do more than just refrain from appearing in further plugs for FairPoint.

Hopefully he will issue a much stronger public statement retracting his support for a tax-rip-off-ridden deal that only benefits a greedy corporate giant, Verizon, and its would-be buyer, a union-busting firm from North Carolina. In the ongoing tri-state regulatory proceedings on the proposed sale, FairPoint has clearly been shown to lack the financial capacity to provide enhanced service to rural phone customers throughout the region. Jay's own personally rewarding experience with both FairPoint and the Verizon Foundation should not be the prism through which this transaction is viewed.

Steve Early


Early is a Boston-based freelance journalist who spent 27 years working for the Communications Workers of America. As a CWA staffer, he was involved in many union disputes with Verizon, including the ongoing "Stop-the-Sale" campaign in northern New England.


What? Vermont needs flatlanders to brew ["Buzz Kill?" November 28]? I thought Magic Hat invented beer. I buy local. Isn't that supposed to protect me from them outsiders? Come on, I want my double persimmon rye crust black-eyed pea boiler NOW!

Guy Henderson



Forget waterboarding! Even the presidential candidates don't want to talk about it ["Inside Track," November 7]. Let's switch to burning at the stake, a far more effective community event we can bring the kiddies to.

Burning at the stake has a rich history in Western civilization. It attracts gala crowds who will dash to Wal-Mart to buy the latest game, "Burning Billy and Betty at the Stake," which has already outpaced sales of "Waterboard the Bastard." Fox News will have tons of footage for those who can't attend due to work, incarceration or chronic illness. Shops, cafés, souvenir kiosks and hotdog stands will vie for business.

Churches will see hordes of new believers. A new industry will thrive on bets of who burns next. New websites devoted to appropriate burning attire, non-skid burning booties and cameras that don't melt will blossom.

Best of all, burning will satisfy the curiosity of all those presidential candidates who don't exactly know if it's appropriate to comment on or define torture.

Merry Gangemi



I've been to Canada many times in my 55 years of life. I've been interviewed and strip-searched, had vehicles searched with fine-tooth combs and drug dogs ["Crossing the Line," December 5].

But on October 28, 2001, something odd happened. My son, his girlfriend, my girlfriend and I had all gone to Montreal to hear the band Spiritualized play at the Spectrum. Our plan was to drive back to Vermont after the show. I had already warned my son that the border crossing might be a little tedious. We were ready with our papers and approached the border, which was quiet during those wee hours of the morning. In fact, there wasn't another vehicle in sight, and we hadn't followed or met one for several miles before we got to the crossing.

My son drove up to the booth. Imagine our surprise to find no one inside. We waited, thinking that someone would come out in short order. Perhaps the officer had been called away for some reason. We waited some more. Still, no one came out. The building did have a few lights on inside, but we couldn't see anyone moving around. After several minutes, my son asked what I thought we should do. I said that maybe we should drive ahead a bit. That would probably get someone's attention. He drove through perhaps four or five car lengths and stopped. Again we waited. There was nobody there. "Well...?" my son asked. I told him to just go. We would probably get a mile or so down the road and be pulled over. We were not. In fact, we drove all the way back to South Burlington without getting pulled over, and neither he nor I have ever heard anything from anyone about the night we crossed the Highgate border without showing any identification or answering any questions.

Considering the times we live in, I still find this extremely strange.

William Gay



It is near impossible to explain Antioch to those who have not attended the school ["As Progressive Education Fades, Vermonters Mobilize," November 28]. Elizabeth Skarie's musings on Antioch as forming a "part of my identity I'll never shed" echo my own feelings on the institution, which I went to straight out of high school in 2003 and left a year later.

Antioch is a special place, much in the vein of San Francisco in the late 1960s. Antioch brings with it a sense of community like no other, a spirit of freedom, individuality and exploration.

Antioch is far from perfect, to be sure. While attending, one becomes accustomed to student hostilities over identity politics or the repercussions of the school's financial strains. Yet, whether most people recognize it or not, the potential closing of this institution would be beyond a shame; it would mark the end of a school that has built a legacy of successfully granting degrees and transforming individuals.

"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." That is the Antioch school motto, which I believe aptly describes the sentiment alums and dropouts alike feel for this school: that Antioch is itself a victory for humanity worth fighting for.

Sarah Grillo



Your newspaper recently published a full-page advertisement that contained a statement that is absolutely false [November 14]. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

The Vermont Yankee ad stated the Vermont Yankee energy is "produced with no greenhouse gas emissions." This is simply not true. Whether you are for or against Vermont Yankee, you must admit that nuclear power does in fact produce significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. This occurs during the mining and enrichment of the uranium fuel, as well as during the construction of the plant and the disposal of the spent fuel. The emissions are significantly less than coal or gas but significantly more than wind or solar. They're certainly not zero. If you doubt this, read Insurmountable Risks - The Danger of Using Nuclear Power to Combat the Global Warming Crisis, by Brice Smith, or check one of these web sites: www.nirs.org or www.beyondnuclear.org

More importantly, it is now clear that the climate crisis requires us to act quickly. Nuclear plants take a long time to build and cost a lot of money. We simply do not have the time or money to waste. Considering this and the other risks and problems associated with nuclear power, it is very clear that nuclear is not the answer. Energy conservation and renewable energy sources are much more viable solutions to the climate crisis.

Peter Blose



According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. health care system costs more per person than any other nation, yet it only ranks 37th for overall effectiveness. Peter Freyne aptly describes the mantra of our privatized health insurance system - "the middle man comes first" ["Inside Track," November 21].

It is exciting to live in a state where people are starting to view health care as a basic human right. I applaud Rep. McFaun of Barre for sponsoring H304, along with Reps. Obuchowski and Ojibway. H304, the Vermont Hospital Security Bill, initiates systemic change by guaranteeing inpatient and outpatient hospital care for all Vermonters. H304 is similar to a bill that Saskatchewan adopted in 1947 that led to universal health care for the province, and then all of Canada. Once again, Vermont has a chance to lead the way.

H304 would reduce statewide hospital administrative fees by the millions. It would reduce the daily fear felt by the 65,000 Vermonters not lucky enough to have insurance. It would reduce the monthly premiums that insured Vermonters pay by 40 percent. It reduces the struggle of small business owners to provide health-care benefits to their employees.

It is great that 400 folks came out to see the UVM screening of Michael Moore's film, Sicko. Now we all need to urge our legislators to support H304 for universal hospital care. It is time to recognize that health care is a basic human right.

Liza Earle