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Letters to the Editor


Sap Suckers

[Re: “Tap, Baby, Tap,” April 14]: Math, baby, math. Your numbers are way off!

1. You must have misquoted Don Bourdon — it’s a third of a gallon of syrup, not sap, that an average tree produces.

2. If Vermont currently produces roughly 1 million gallons of syrup, then that means roughly 3 million trees are being tapped. If all 4.5 billion of our sugar maples are to be tapped (talk about sugar high) then we would produce 1.5 billion gallons of syrup (1500 times the current level). At $40/gallon = $6 billion.

3. Let’s say that currently there are 10,000 people who sugar in Vermont (a guess on my part). Then we would need 15 million (10,000 x 1500) new workers to tap all of our trees. Enough said.

John Monks


Editor’s note: Monks is correct. Seven Days regrets the error.

Picture This

How about painting a picture of Governor Jim Douglas in a moving van on his way back to his birthplace of Springfield, Mass. [“State of the Arts,” April 21]? That would be the most appropriate picture of the worst governor Vermont has been subjected to in my memory, which reaches back to Phil Hoff. Dick Snelling was a pretty arrogant guy, but at least he didn’t try to hide it behind a veneer of banality and disingenuous lies and hubris. And furthermore, Snelling had at least run a business in Vermont, creating jobs — something Douglas promised but never seemed to get around to because he was too busy cutting them.

Christopher Hill


Secret Senate?

[Re: “WTF,” April 14]: While in law school, I worked as a stringer for some regional news outlets in my home state, covering the Supreme Court, among other places. There is no more staid, tradition-bound place in government. Yet, even the Supreme Court had a special section for journalists with direct views of the justices on the bench and the attorneys presenting arguments. We could enter and leave at will and had our own newsroom, similar in function … to that in the White House. The invention of the laptop was still more than a decade away, but I suspect that today’s reporters can use those devices when sitting in the journalists’ section.

As a consumer of the journalist’s work product, I believe members of the Vermont Senate should accommodate the needs of print journalists to use laptops when they are reporting on the Senate. With a little effort, a sensible solution could be found that preserves the dignity of that body while facilitating the accurate gathering of the news.

Mike Palmer


The Same Lance Richbourg?

Was Professor [Lance] Richbourg truly a “painting purist” [“Blonde Ambition,” April 21]? I recall someone who was more open-minded about alternative modes. Like gunpowder on plywood. He touched one off on the sidewalk in front of a café in Winooski. The piece was of two dogs copulating. Flaming public art. I think the police got involved. Are we talking about the same person? The one the Freeps called “Mad Dog?”

Don Arnold


Editor’s note: Same guy, and point taken, but the reviewer had in mind the style of Richbourg’s baseball paintings.

Rape Reporting Questioned

I read the story “What Rape?” [“What Rape?” March 31] and was shocked at the unfortunately dismal level of reporting that it showed.

Let’s start with the title: “What Rape? Vermont’s Higher-ed institutions are underreporting student sexual assaults.” Nowhere in the article does Ken Picard offer any supportable evidence that this headline is in any way true.

The first column and a half are devoted to a story of a woman who unfortunately was a rape victim. But this incident could have happened anywhere at any time and clearly does not relate to Vermont except that “Nicole” now lives here, or Ken would have told us. Alexander Solzhenitsyn lived in Vermont in his later life, but the Soviet gulag of which he so eloquently told the world about is not in Vermont, nor does it have anything to do with Vermont.

He then goes into a dubious statistical exercise, which purports to show that Vermont higher-ed institutions are underreporting sexual assaults. Mr. Picard comes to this conclusion by pointing out that Vermont’s statistics are lower than national statistics. How does that make sense? If that were true, then we have a lot of dead bodies scattered around Vermont that no one knows are there.

According to the FBI’s national crime statistics, there were 14,179 murders in the U.S. during 2008. If you compare that number to the total population of the country in 2008, it works out to approximately 4.71 murders per 100,000. According to Ken’s logic, Vermont should have had 29 murders in 2008, but it only reported 17 to the FBI, so there must be 12 bodies somewhere in the Green Mountains that no one has reported.

He then gives us numbers of students at various colleges to somehow show the reported numbers are off, but he lumps the Community College of Vermont’s 10,000 students in with Middlebury and Norwich. Anyone who knows the makeup of the student population of the CCV understands this makes no sense, since no CCV student lives on campus and the vast majority of them take several part-time classes and are more likely to be assaulted in a shopping center parking lot by a stranger than on the CCV campus or at a CCV activity. The 10,000-student number was clearly just thrown into the mix to make the number larger.

[Picard] then goes on to report, “Between 2004 and 2009, only 12 sexual assaults were reported to the UVM police; another 86 were reported anonymously.” What does that mean? Were these 86 anonymous reports to the police? Were they to the Women’s Center? Did he mean to say, they were reported but the victim declined to press charges? The very nature of the word anonymously means unknown-undiscovered. I would hope there are no police departments in Vermont who would report anonymous crime reports as official crime reports.

I am myself the father of a daughter attending college in another state and I understand the apprehension surrounding safety on campus. This issue would be better served by a better-researched, -supported and -written article.

Jim Boylan


Offense or Defense?

It’s too bad Bobbi Perez was so upset over Red Square’s ad depicting Christ [“Feedback,” April 14]. I hope she realizes that most people who make iconoclastic use of his image are not attacking Christ the man at all, but rather the millions of misguided followers his visage represents. I don’t know many people who have a problem with Jesus and his life, works and philosophy. However, I do know plenty of people who have a very big problem with the Catholic Church for, among other things: contributing to global overpopulation by forbidding all forms of contraception; hastening the spread of HIV by condemning the use of condoms; opposing gay rights and demonizing gay people; and, last but certainly not least, protecting and enabling generations of predatory pedophiles — thousands of them, threatening the child victims with excommunication if they ever told.

Christ’s image is not desecrated by satirical depictions; it is desecrated when used to represent the people who’ve spent the last 2000 years building themselves a hypocritical, violent, rapacious, malignant empire in his name.

Molly Hodgdon

South Burlington

Good Take

This is an excellent article [“Is Mac Parker the Hero or the Villain in his Film-Financing Drama?” April 7]. It captures the issues and concerns as well as the investors’ take quite accurately! Well done!

Margie Lemay


Flag Flap

“What’s Wrong With the State Flag?” was the headline of Lauren Ober’s April 14 story about an amateur vexillologist who believes it’s time to redesign the Vermont state flag. Not so fast, say some readers. Others are all for it, as long as it’s not one of the designs offered by Greg Stone.

The article did everything but make me want to change the Vermont state flag! What a backward approach. I’m for keeping an open mind. What I’m not for is having one small minion of a small group of people whose sole purpose is “picking” on people’s flags. Really? If someone is going to change our flag, it must be something soothing and smooth. And it better be changed by a Vermonter!

Call me stubborn, but I am a Vermonter!

Tyler Boemig


As an artist, I like good design. I like our Vermont flag, and I think there is nothing wrong with its design! I have lived here since 1966 and found the Vermont flag to be unique and special, like the state itself. The Vermont flag reminds me that, whatever my line of work, to live with freedom is to be in unity with nature, with the mountains and native white pine trees, the deer and the other wild animals who live here, our farms, cows and bountiful fields. Our flag is a legacy from the past, which links us to a vision of the future and our state of Vermont. Do we need a better design than this?

Jeanne Plo


While I feel that Mr. Stone’s move to redesign the state flag is a good one, I have to say that I’m not very impressed with his designs so far. It’s not my intention to insult him or his work in any way, and I’m very glad that he is passionate about this issue. I just don’t feel like the designs are “there” yet. I do like his suggestions pertaining to keeping things simple and using green and gold. I hope he is able to move things forward; it’s long past time that Vermont’s flag got a facelift!

Logan Pike


Since when does a native Vermonter care what anybody else thinks of our flag? To me there is absolutely nothing wrong with the current flag. The examples shown in the green and yellow colors suck big time. If you are going to change the flag, then I think we should use the flag of the Vermont Republic, which was used from the 1760s to 1804. There are a lot more important things to worry about than the state flag. Give me a break!

Darry K. Ruiter

Windsor Locks, Conn.

Ruiter was born and raised in Richford, Vt.