EQUAL ACCESS FOR ALL
To ask that a school embrace children of all abilities is not selfish at all [“Old School, February 18]! If every member within the community had a child with a disability, they would see the importance of being able to enter through the front door. Talk about something that is taken for granted by most! If people would just take a moment and put themselves in someone else’s shoes, we would not have the issues we do.
As the parent of a blind child, I can relate to the requests, and I can remember the waiting and waiting and waiting we endured before getting any response! The squeaky wheel gets the grease, parents — you keep on asking and asking until your children get what they deserve: equality! I get the budget issues, I do, but these are children who deserve the very same as every other child! . . .
The answer is not to separate them from their friends, alienate them more than they already are and say it is about money! There is no price on a child’s psychological well-being; it is time we think about the whole person! In 2009, in the wealthiest country in the world, we continue to have the equality conversations. Maybe we are doing something wrong here.
THE PRICE IS NOT RIGHT
Between $10 million and $15 million to retrofit Edmunds to make it handicap accessible [“Old School, February 18]?! Am I the only one who finds the trumpeting of such a figure by the school district to be shameless at best? That figure, without a doubt, is a pile-on wish list of upgrades for Edmunds, most of which have no direct relationship to making the school accessible, however justified or overdue these wish-list upgrades might be in their own right.
Let’s not use the worthy and overdue cause of accessibility to tack on every other wish-list project. Case in point is the suggestion that the school’s entire electrical system will need to be upgraded to handle the elevator. Any electrician knows that one could simply run a separate panel and isolate the elevator from the rest of the building. But, heck, if we can get an upgraded electrical system out of it, let’s inflate the price tag, even if it is at the expense of physically disabled children.
Vermont and Vermonters have long been lauded for their ingenuity, industriousness and independence — not on waiting for the federal government to write a check, not on bureaucratic red tape and feasibility studies, and not on the mentality that breeds defeat. If we were only to put the strength of these disabled children to the task, the job would already be done. Let’s roll, Edmunds!
THE PROBLEM WITH PROGRESSIVES
In “Fair Game” [February 18], Councilor Tim Ashe said, “The city council is on the verge of becoming a very cautious, conservative and, in some ways, regressive council.” Ashe is a nice guy, but I do not agree with his assessment of the city council.
The real problem lies with the Progressive Party and Mayor Kiss’ administration. Over the years, the Progressive Party has been regressive and lost touch with the people. Here are some examples:
Westlake Hotel built condos that people here cannot afford, then backed out of the affordable housing on that site.
The Progs voted for Republican Kurt Wright for chair. That is after they blamed the Dems in ’06 for voting for a Republican.
The Moran Plant — again, there is nothing down there for the poor, disabled or seniors. I call it a tourist trap.
The Progs can get nasty, too. CAO Jonathan Leopold attacks Councilor Montroll’s integrity with two weeks left in the mayor’s race. During the Moran Plant campaign, Councilor Davis gave misinformation at a council meeting stating that the cost of taking the Moran Plant down will cost $6 million when it was $2-3 million.
SERIOUS ABOUT SURVIVAL
I am a biology PhD student at UVM, and in your article “Spare Our Fare” [January 28] you make an erroneous comment regarding the theory of evolution. At the end of the article you remark, “Charles Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ really means survival of the most adaptable.” Actually, Mr. Darwin had it right. Evolution is adaptation across generations within a population, and it is populations of organisms that “evolve” and “adapt” — not individuals. Therefore to stick with your metaphor, evolution in the Burlington restaurant population would be that a subset of restaurants survive this economic downturn and then go on to “reproduce” restaurants that use similar cost-cutting techniques, but Darwin did not mean “survival of the most adaptable.” You may find this distinction pedantic, but as a scientist I believe that the public should have a clear understanding of what evolution is and that the misunderstanding of such an important theory should not be propagated.
Just want to respond vehemently in the affirmative to your article about Ben, Raechel and On the Rise bakery [“Loaves and Wishes,” February 4]. Richmond is very fortunate to have many wonderful eateries and businesses, but live music? Craft night? Giving space to a Planned Parenthood talk on talking to your kids about sex? After-school art? Ben, Rae and Judy are all about not only building community but being community. And while it’s true that they started by filling a gap left when the Daily Bread vacated town, they have taken this notion so much further and made it so much their own.
Soon, the bridge over the Winooski will close for repairs (though this should not in any way affect traffic from the interstate or points west and north), and we all need to make sure to frequent Richmond businesses to keep them afloat.
OTR, we love you!! What did we do without you??!!
EIGHT IS ENOUGH
So Governor Jim Douglas thinks that it’s “perverse” for people to be paying so much attention to the 2010 gubernatorial race now [“Fair Game,” February 18]? And just why is that? Has Douglas forgotten that by the time the voters cast their ballots in the next statewide election, Douglas will have been in office for eight years — the equivalent of two four-year terms?
Douglas should learn from his predecessor, Howard Dean, and not seek a fifth term. Staying in office beyond eight years would not sit well with many Vermonters; when Dean ran for a fifth term in 2002, he carried only 52 percent of the vote — a far cry from his previous 60 percent-and-greater landslides.
Dean was no dummy; he knew that had he run for a sixth term in 2004, he would have lost. Governor Douglas would be wise after four terms to step down and let someone else run the show. Eight years in office is enough.
ON THE MONEY
Thanks for getting the word out about Your Money or Your Life [“Getting By,” February 4] and the program’s potentially life-changing formula for financial independence. Several years ago I facilitated a discussion course after learning of the book through the Vermont Earth Institute. The course was eye-opening for all of us, to say the least. It can be shocking, even embarrassing, to see on paper where your money goes or has gone.
While I haven’t kept up with the program since completing it (by tracking and charting all spending) and haven’t achieved financial independence, I have retained that little voice inside my head when it comes to spending. I do still have the original goal in mind, and haven’t given up on making that lifestyle a reality for my own household. (One question still lingers for me: What do those who live this way do for health insurance?)
As with exercise programs, it helps to use the buddy system for this type of regimentation. I would encourage anyone interested in refocusing his or her financial priorities to look into starting or joining a discussion group (see “programs” at www.vtearthinstitute.org). There are also excellent websites related to the program (www.yourmoneyoryourlife.org; www.simpleliving.net; www.financialintegrity.org). We all have different priorities when it comes to spending. Some choose to spend $20 per week on their specialty coffee; others might rather spend that on a CD. There’s no right or wrong, but the idea is to make a conscious choice and be sure your spending aligns with your life’s values and your priorities.
CORRECTION: In last week’s Local Matters story, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About IRV — But Didn’t Know How to Ask,” we wrote: “When the votes are tallied on election night, if one candidate doesn’t get more than 50 percent, the two frontrunners collect second-choice votes from candidates who’ve been knocked out of the race.”
Not exactly. In true instant runoff voting, the second-choice votes of the candidate who comes in last place are redistributed to the other candidates. Sometimes, multiple candidates are bumped off in a single round if it’s mathematically impossible for them to win. Although that was the case in the 2006 mayoral race, more than two candidates can survive the first round of counting. For what it’s worth after the election, we apologize for the confusion.