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Letters to the Editor


The Doctor Is In…

Your story, “Are Wind Turbines Hazardous to Your Health? Docs Disagree” [May 12], contained numerous misrepresentations.

The study I conducted in Maine examined 49 people — not 15 as your reporter indicated. The significance of the findings was thus grossly misrepresented.

I made clear at the outset that I was discussing sleep deprivation as a result of wind turbine noise, not “wind turbine syndrome,” of which I have never seen a recognized definition.

Calling me a “leading purveyor” of the “theory” is therefore ridiculous, never mind insulting. I am a full-time radiologist who did a public health service by documenting sleep deprivation and increased use of prescription medications among Mars Hill, Me., residents living in proximity to turbines — after the chief medical officer for Maine, a political appointee, did nothing to investigate.

The only “purveying” going on is by the American Wind Energy Association, which is distributing a grossly misleading, paid-for document to planning/zoning boards across the nation, calling it an “independent medical review.” It is anything but. I spent time deconstructing this AWEA document.

The lengths some will go to avoid dealing with inconvenient facts continues to amaze me: The next day, at a press conference at the state capitol, someone made an ill-informed and remarkably heartless comment to me, stating, “I prefer hooking someone up to electrodes” to see their physiological responses, rather than believing them when they say they suffer from turbine noise. I later learned this was State Representative Rachel Weston. The debate can be seen in full here: www.pegtv.com/ipegvideo.php.

If your elected representatives decide to industrialize rural Vermont, that is fine and well — but it should be done with the same care and diligence that governs other sources of industrial noise. Airports no longer operate at night, and major highways that come close to where people live are built with sound barriers. Surely a tax-supported, lucrative business venture such as industrial wind can step up to the plate and ensure that neighbors of their wind installations will not have their health and quality of life jeopardized.

Michael Nissenbaum, MD

Fort Kent, Me

Indiscriminate Appraisals

My home was mentioned in your article about the city’s property tax “stealth appraisals” [“Burlington Landlords Accuse City of Conducting ‘Stealth’ Tax Reappraisals,” May 5]. Yes, they did raise my taxes based on pictures they saw on a realtor’s website. Fortunately for me, after three conversations with the assessor, the increase was reduced to 3 percent from an original 10 percent. Still, I learned quickly that the procedures in place to set property tax rates are such that in times of financial need the city may gather more revenue quickly and easily with this tax. When the city says it needs to “adjust rates when changes are made to a property” is fair enough, but it can also be an open invitation for delving into the taxpayers’ pockets indiscriminately when the city is low on cash. The way the tax law is worded now, the city is in the right, but that does not make it ethically right. “Indiscriminately” is the key word here, and the law needs to be changed to close this loophole where the assessor’s office may enter an unethical and what should be recognized as unlawful practice. Changes to anyone’s property taxes should simply be done with everyone else at the same time during the citywide appraisal to avoid this gray zone. It follows that if my taxes go up based on pictures from the Internet, so should everyone else, at the same time, submit pictures of their properties. My house was singled out indiscriminately.

Larry Altman


What’s Awodey Afraid Of?

Why does Marc Awodey even write about art, if he so obviously fails to understand it [“Life Lines,” May 5]? He states in his latest column that all contemporary art is angst and new media. I think it’s the reviewer who is all angst and old media. Isn’t it time that Marc learned there have been many new art movements since 1950? Sure, some of it is challenging, but, go on, Marc, it’s worth the effort. Everything doesn’t have to be abstract cows on canvas, like your own work. You may even learn to like conceptual art, installations, mixed media, happenings, new media, etc. Go on, take a course in conceptual art. Not everything that is new is bad. Why are you so afraid of contemporary art?

Kered Alexander

South Burlington

Auditor Out

Hey, Auditor Salmon: I’ve got my thumb and forefinger in the shape of an “L” and I’m holding it up to my forehead. Get the picture?

Craig Bailey


Little Airports Save Lives

Almost fair and balanced: This is how I would characterize your article about Vermont’s small airports [“Up in the Air,” April 28]. The imagery of dollars going up in smoke is unfortunate, as was the tendency to lean toward the view that small airports only serve the well-to-do citizens flying into their third homes.

An “angel flight” is where a volunteer pilot — and usually the aircraft’s owner — will voluntarily transport a person in need of urgent medical care from a remote airport to an urban area with appropriate medical facilities.

I can guarantee you that any one individual in a remote hamlet of Vermont (or anywhere else) would consider the value of keeping such an airfield “open for business” well worth the relatively paltry expense if a loved one were to receive such a ride.

It happens all the time. People: Once your airport is gone, a valuable resource is gone forever; it will never be replaced. Consider that closing an airport is fairly easy and happens all too frequently. Opening a new airport almost never happens.

An ambulance or car ride from Island Pond to a critical-care facility will spend many more precious minutes underway versus an airplane ride. The life it saves could be yours or your loved one’s.

Rob Riggen

Essex Junction

Riggen is a certified flight instructor.

Mercy, Mercy

As a human-services-degree holder of the last graduating class of Trinity College in 2001, and a retired State of Vermont employee, I was pleased to see that the wonderful Sisters of Mercy were finally recognized [“Walking the Walk,” May 5]. I personally know that their outstanding warmth and true altruism in the community has helped hundreds of women and families to achieve self-empowerment, spirituality and social justice. These are the traits Sisters Janice, Elizabeth and Lindy nurtured in their teachings and mere presence.

I grew up Catholic in the ’60s with the black habits and closed minds of some nuns, and it was a breath of fresh air to know that I could mix being female with a strong sense of worth and independence and a desire to make a true difference, when encountering such “like-minded” mentors. As a mother of a daughter who attended Trinity and the Sisters of Mercy, her exposure to the social rights of others and the world and our place in it helped to support the gifts I wanted to leave her. In this sometimes-jaded world, it is often hard to maintain a sense that people are still good and kind, and it is encouraging to know that some people still walk the walk.

Deb Chadwick


Sisters Are Doing It

Ken Picard writes so very well! He captured the essence of the Sisters and their indomitable spirit [“Walking the Walk,” May 5]. I have sent your article around the country to my family.

I grew up in Vermont and married into the family of Sisters Helen and Martha, so it is with great pleasure that I can read a summary of the history of their success.

In these days, when 99 percent of the news coming from the Catholic Church is negative, an article like yours is so very important.

Louise O’Brien

Chestertown, Md.

Mad About Mad River

I was shocked when I read the letter from a Chris Robinson of Stowe [“Feedback,” April 14], who was responding to my letter [“Feedback,” March 31] regarding cruising trails at Mad River Glen, which I had written in response to Lauren Ober’s article [“The 20/20 Challenge: Mad River Glen,” March 10] in which she did not know that Mad River had groomed cruising trails.

In my letter I describe myself as a senior woman with bilateral knee replacements. I mention that I have many friends who have been hit and injured by snowboarders and I am thankful they are not allowed at Mad River. Mr. Robinson states that banning riders is intolerant and “bigoted” behavior. Mad River, privately owned, can create its own rules. I don’t believe safety of skiers is “bigoted.” I regard Mr. Robinson’s remarks as arrogant and disrespectful and not good representation of the board-riding community who wish to be tolerated at the areas where they are allowed. Does not sound like a Vermonter to me.

Barbara Hibbitts

South Burlington


A May 12 article [“Are Wind Turbines Hazardous to Your Health? Docs Disagree”] misstated the number of individuals surveyed by Dr. Michael Nissenbaum in his research on the effects of wind turbine noise in Mars Hill, Maine. Nissenbaum interviewed 22 people living close to turbines and 27 people living further away who served as the control group — not 15, as stated in the article.


Due to a production error, our printer, Upper Valley Press, switched two pages from last week’s Seven Days with those from the previous issue. Content that appeared on pages 39 and 48 — stories and ads — had already been published in the May 5 paper. Our deepest apologies to the advertisers, subjects, writers and photographers who were affected — especially Unrestrained, who did an interview with Dan Bolles in advance of the band’s gig last Thursday at 242 Main. We decided to reprint the complete “Finer Weave,” about carpet purveyor Kirsten Edey.