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Letters to the Editor

July 23, 2008



As a former VISTA member serving back in 1978 in St. Louis, I was taken with the article about Burlington losing 21 VISTA positions [Local Matters, July 2]. It really is a remarkable program that provides great benefits to the community as well as an amazing education to the VISTA members.

Over the years I have repeatedly written to the White House whenever cuts are announced and it looks like another letter is due. I don't know how much good it does, but VISTA taught me to fight for what you believe and the lesson has stayed with me! And thanks to those who are serving the Burlington community - you really do make a difference.

Chuck Bongiorno



"Burlington's Intervale Up Shit Creek" by Shay Totten leaves me angry and flabbergasted ["Fair Game," July 9].

With regards to Judy Dow, Roger Albee, Douglas administration regulators and others who are causing problems for the Intervale, the first thought that comes to mind is: "What the f**k are they thinking??"

Where do they think the food on their tables comes from? If it is shipped from across the country or across the world, then the cost of that food is going to skyrocket, along with the cost of oil.

Local food is a safety net against all the things that can go wrong with a global, corporate-owned food distribution system. When there was that tainted-spinach situation last year, where did spinach-lovers turn? To locally produced spinach. When tomatoes recently were implicated in salmonella poisoning, where did people go to buy tomatoes? To the local farmers' markets.

I am not saying that farmers should be exempt from all rules and regulations, but it seems that certain people have it out for the Intervale and will stop at nothing to eliminate this insanely valuable asset to our community. People are playing politics with our food. Go argue about the circ highway or school taxes, but leave my food alone.

Cathy Ryan



I was shocked and horrified by the feud over that young woman's grave ["Burlington Couple and Temple Sinai Feud Over Daughter's Grave," July 9]. I cannot believe that a member of Temple Sinai would come and pull freshly planted flowers out of the ground surrounding her tombstone!

This mistake is not the fault of the family. It was a mistake made by the City of Burlington. These grieving parents should not have to exhume their daughter's body, and they should not be harassed by Temple Sinai for failing to comply with their obscure graveyard rules. Let them plant flowers. Give them some peace.

Shame, shame, shame on Temple Sinai for continuing to pursue legal action against these people!

Dani Fuoco



In response to Raymond E. Leary's letter, regarding Shay Totten's comments about Northeast Organic Farming Association: Let me point out that NOFA is by no means a "virtually unknown entity" [Letters, July 9].

I have been well aware of NOFA and the good work it's been doing since I was a student at Rutgers University, back in the early '80s, and I am certainly not alone. Don't presume that just because you have a limited sphere of knowledge and experience that others do as well.

Maybe you should take some time and learn a little more about all the positive work being done by so many so-called "virtually unknown entities," and help get the word out.

Cyndi Snyder



Thank you, thank you, Shay Totten!

It's about time we saw some real coverage about what's going on in the Douglas administration and the misguided and heavy-handed tactics used to vilify Karl Hammer's absolutely necessary contribution to sustainable agriculture in the state ["Fair Game," July 16].

It seems to me for all the rhetoric that Vermont legislators like to toss around about being a "green" state, only certain people in certain places can run environmentally beneficial businesses. The Vermont Compost Company is a true friend of the environment and humans alike. The loophole that this business falls through should be viewed as an embarrassment to these legislators who speak from both sides of their mouths.

Composting is not easy nor is it glamorous, but it is a much needed service and should be treated as such. As our economy grows ever weaker, it seems the legislature is perfectly at ease with taking livable wage jobs away from its citizens. Selfish neighbors with political connections and a NIMBY agenda should not be placated at the cost of Karl Hammer, his employees, organic farmers, "Buy Vermont" consumers and the taxpayers of Vermont.

Jessica Bernier



I was glad to see Seven Days' coverage of a Front Porch Forum discussion about neighborhood drug dealing. However, the title of your article ["Moderator Shuts Down Online Debate on ONE Drug Use," July 16] mischaracterized the situation. We were not squelching community dialogue about this important issue - just the opposite.

Front Porch Forum exists to encourage and facilitate this kind of communication. I took the highly unusual step of suspending a single topic on one of our 130 neighborhood forums for two weeks in an attempt to let tempers cool and to reclaim a civil and inclusive tone. Allowing a neighborhood forum to devolve into an online shouting match among a tiny minority of subscribers drives people away and serves no one's long-term interest.

In fact, we're encouraged by the results in this case. Where previously there was little talk about drug dealing, now there's loads of it, among hundreds of neighbors, city councilors, police and others. Media is reporting on this important issue. Public meetings are in the works. Front Porch Forum was a starting point and a catalyst for this positive activity.

So I respectfully offer an alternative headline: "Neighbors Use Front Porch Forum to Ignite Drug Dealing Discussion."

Michael Wood-Lewis


Wood-Lewis is the co-founder of http://www.FrontPorchForum.com.


It feels very strange to have the Old North End Front Page Forum reported on ["Moderator Shuts Down Online Debate on ONE Drug Use," July 16]. When "the Moderator" decided to cut the discussion I felt like Big Brother stepped in, and this coverage confirms it.

I feel sorry for the people who decided to quit FPF rather than use their scroll bar. There are so many positive things happening on the forum, but of course that wouldn't be news, would it?

No one had to watch the video - it was an attachment. It was very easy to skip it and go on to whose dog was missing or who had a bike stolen. It's also strange that the police are monitoring the forum. What are they hoping to accomplish by "watching" us? I have no problem with a police officer joining as a neighbor, but your report made it sound like he's just watching - creepy!

But I'm not going to be one of the quitters. There have been too many things of interest I would have missed if I wasn't a member, including the drug discussion. There were some valuable comments, and people shared their stories and ultimately there was a joining together. I don't see what the big deal was. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. And, in this format it's so easy to ignore someone if you don't want to get involved.

I wonder if this discussion would have been stopped if it happened anywhere but the ONE? Oh, that's right, only the ONE has problems like these! Oops, my cynical side just popped out. Please just scroll away.

Jack Brewster