VOTE YOUR HOPES
As Peter Freyne suggested a few weeks ago ["Inside Track," February 27], Bernie Sanders may be right that Ralph Nader's impact on the presidential race will be minimal "unless he's propped up by the Republicans." And that's the crux of the issue, because for Ralph to be in a race without some sort of preferential voting system in place is way off base and would only put egg on his face.
The irony is that Nader would actually be my first choice. But I'm unable to express my preference, since instant-runoff voting (IRV) isn't being used for federal elections. Thus, voting for Nader would only serve to damage the Democrats.
The further irony is that the Vermont House has just passed an IRV bill, one that Gov. Douglas said he would veto. Why won't the governor allow people to vote their hopes rather than their fears in statewide races with at least three candidates? For too long, IRV has been opposed because it would be the best way to gauge support for third parties. In other words, people won't feel compelled to vote their second choice in order to keep their third choice from winning if they are simply allowed to rank their candidates in order of preference. The spoiler factor disappears: case closed.
So please call the governor and tell him that if he continues to scramble the issue and does not allow this sane bill to become law, he will end up with egg on his own face.
GOOD LUCK, JARED
Jared Carter has good reasons to sue the United States government ["Havana Dreams Deferred," March 5]. As president, Bush didn't have the right to change the rules over Cuban-Americans visiting their loved ones in Cuba. A law that tells Americans where they can and can't go shouldn't be a law at all.
Most Americans travel many different places in and out of the country and for many different reasons. It wouldn't be fair to tell us we couldn't go to France, Africa, or even the states around us. We, as Americans, wouldn't allow that to happen. So why should Cuban-Americans let it happen to them? They shouldn't.
I want to write and tell Jared that I wish him all the luck in changing the law, and I hope that the government listens to him and the others that are involved in the suit.
NO EASY SOLUTIONS
In the responses to the article "Is Vermont Disappearing?" [Local Matters, March 5], we find two camps of arguments insisting that the U.S. doesn't have a population problem. A small percentage claims that population growth is necessary to sustain our economy. A larger group argues that we are too blinded by racist rhetoric to see the real problem of [fill-in-the-blank].
The report from Vermonters for a Sustainable Population doesn't suggest that population growth is our only problem or that slowing it will resolve other problems. What VSP does argue, however, is that stabilizing our population will make these other problems easier to address.
Unfortunately, our biggest problem is America's widespread denial of its population problem. I sense a compassionate person behind Liz Curry's letter [Letters, March 19], but her arguments serve to further entrench that denial. Jesse Bragg [Letters, March 19] echoes the current thinking of the Wall Street elite when he writes, "With people come opportunities, jobs and growth." This mindset has shaped U.S. policy for decades, contributing to runaway sprawl, an acceleration of climate change due to increased use of fossil fuels and greater disparity between rich and poor.
It's a complicated issue, folks, and the VSP report is just one small piece. Rather than trade barbs in future letters to the editor, I respectfully challenge those who disagree with the report to a public debate about whether America's unprecedented population growth is sustainable. Perhaps Seven Days could sponsor such an event.
Powell is secretary of Vermonters for a Sustainable Population.
TOO MUCH LOU
I found Loutube on Chelsea Clinton a sophomoric piece of garbage ["Loutube News," March 5]. Little about Chelsea, lots about Lou, who seems afraid to speak to women. It's all Lou, boy reporter, who goes to see Chelsea Clinton but mostly talks to a lot of boys who say a lot of uninformed at best, sexist at worst, things about Hillary.
The fact that he asks Chelsea in the last part of the video about being president does not redeem him. There is far too much about Lou and far too little about his topic. This seems like stupid frat boy stuff. Surely Seven Days can do better than this.
Thank you for such a well-researched and well-written article ["Can I Get a Witness?" March 19]. As a proud member of Essex Alliance Church, it is nice to have a non-member's support of our "non-cult" purpose and meaning.
We love who and what we are. We welcome others to join us, but do not force them to or force ourselves upon others, as some religions are known to do. Again, I appreciate your insightful and nonbiased reporting. Nice job!
GIVE 'EM A BREAK
Make sure readers understand that Burlington police and fire department employees pay close to 11 percent of their gross salaries to the retirement system ["Can Burlington Reform Its Employee Retirement System?" March 19]. Until two years ago, other city employees paid nothing.
Steve Goodkind's finger-pointing at the police and fire department employees leaving early was spiteful and not correct. Police and fire employees meet contract obligations for retirement after completing 25 years of service and are 45 years old. This difference from other city employees is due to the job itself and because, statistically, police and fire employees live 10 years less than the average. It is a high-stress job, what you call a young man's game. We shouldn't be asking 60-year-old people to chase down bad guys or drag a hose into a burning building.
These employees have served their communities and are not milking the system. The city having an above-average retirement system will help recruit new police officers and keep them. There will need to be some kind of change. Just don't point the finger of blame on its employees. It's not fair.
NO BREEZY NONSENSE
Good thing Jon Margolis has it all worked out ["The Pollina Problem," March 26]. I guess voters don't need to bother showing up in November!
Rather than presenting a problem, as Margolis' breezy nonsense would have it, I think Anthony Pollina's candidacy presents an interesting opportunity for Democratic and Progressive voters to choose collaboration rather than conflict.
Life is too short to allow pundits and political party insiders to dictate the framework of an election. If there are grievances against Anthony's positions, they're fair game; let's talk about them. If it's about nothing more than a letter following a name, we're all losers.
Ashe is a Burlington City Councilor (P-Ward 3).
In "Groundwater Rising" [March 12], we misspelled the name of the state's hydrogeologist, Mark Stewart. We also called him a hydrologist, which he isn't. Sorry about that.