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Letters to the Editor


Water Rights

As a small-business owner and native citizen of Vermont, I find this situation inconceivable [“A Barre Renter Is Fighting City Hall for Shutting Off Her Water,” May 26]. Whether this tenant failed to pay her rent on time or not should have no bearing if the landlord has never decided to take further action. I am not a person whose heart bleeds for all those in need of assistance, but this is without a doubt a situation of misconduct. I believe that the landlord and all those involved from the city of Barre need to be held accountable. Had this woman’s condition become worse as a result of this situation, we wouldn’t be having this nonchalant conversation.

I, for one, will be looking forward to hearing how the courts decide on this case. The courts now have to decide whether they want to take the easy route and side with “big brother” or use common sense.

Sam Smith


Hydro-Québec Is Bad News

Seven Days seemed to approve of the Vermont Senate’s vote to grant Hydro-Québec renewable-energy status [“Facing Facts,” May 5]. Most people interested in renewable energy are also interested in the environmental impact of energy generation. Hydro-Québec destroys rivers and their surrounding ecosystems. Hydro-Québec has done far more environmental damage than Vermont Yankee has or could. Even the worst nuclear power disaster, at Chernobyl, created a de facto wildlife preserve that now shelters wolves, bear, moose, lynx, bison and other animals that have been extirpated from most of Europe. Hydro-Québec will leave mercury contamination and silted, dead lakes. I would rather my energy come from a nuclear power station than a destroyed river system.

Peter Du Brul


Show Some Respect

When I entered the “Alter(ed) Ego, Family and Friends” show at the Flynndog gallery, I realized that what was on display was a sharing of some very personal material, like being allowed to view elements of the artist’s diaries. Consequently I felt sad that [Seven Days art reviewer] Marc Awodey didn’t take off his professional critic hat to simply feel what was being shared [“Show and Tell,” May 12]. To rip and criticize the writing (in a pretty nasty way) really missed the point.

Yes, this was a public display in a professional art gallery, and I suppose there might be some expectation of a certain caliber of expression. I would hold an art critic to at least the same standard. You can be critical and still be respectful.

Ivan Goldstein


Indefensible Behavior

Sally West Johnson’s images of Peter Langrock in “Legal Ease” [May 19] almost made me like the guy — until she allowed him to speak. I’m not sure what Langrock means by “fuzzy-headed people” in the Humane Society; I presume he’s speaking of the Humane Society of the United States, and not our local shelters. But saying they are “out to destroy the meat industry” is ludicrous. Langrock’s client, Bushway Packing, Inc./Champlain Valley Meats, Inc. of Grand Isle, a so-called “certified organic processor,” was cited for three different inhumane acts last summer prior to the HSUS video depicting the horrific torture of farm animals at the slaughterhouse. The same processor was also cited for 23 counts of unsafe food violations during a two-week inspection period last August and September…

In a state that prides itself on quality food products, it is Mr. Langrock’s client who is damaging the reputation of the state and putting consumers at risk … not HSUS. Anyone who has taken an animal husbandry course knows that meat is tainted by adrenaline when scared animals go to slaughter. Remember the saying, “You are what you eat?” I don’t think Vermont farmers had this horrendous treatment of their animals in mind when they took their calves to Bushway, nor Vermont restaurants when they purchased meats as Vermont certified organic products. No, it’s not the HSUS out to destroy the meat industry.

You can take animal cruelty a step further: It doesn’t take much research to unearth that animal abuse is often a precursor to domestic violence. Animal cruelty is just not worth defending…

Langrock describes one of the original principals of Bushway Packing, Inc. as “one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet.” Wow, I’ll have to pass on one of your mean martinis, Langrock, and admire your paintings — not your client list.

Cindy Kilgore


History Lesson

I’m looking forward to reading Discovering Black Vermont [“Hinesburg’s Black History, May 19]. I’ve long been baffled by what I call the “Vermont Myth,” this aspect among others. I’m a descendant of a black woman who became the fourth wife of an early Mormon polygamist during the period when the Mormon church was trying to lighten up black people by marrying them so they would have lighter children. (Though this happened after some of my ancestors left New England.)

The story of our heritage was passed down from daughter to daughter as each generation came of age. For some reason, the males were apparently left out of this.

As a point of interest, right now I’m reading The State of Jones by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer, the story of a county in the South that remained staunchly Unionist and interracial during the Confederate war. There are myths everywhere that we need to pay attention to and learn from if we are to understand the truth about our past, and thus our present.

Dayle Ann Stratton


Artists in All Directions

In response to Shay Totten’s article “Slow: Artists at Work” [May 12], I would like to clarify the position of Burlington City Arts on the designation of the South End Arts District. The portion of the resolution that was altered — after the consideration and collaboration of South End Arts and Business Association director Roy Feldman and BCA director Doreen Kraft — was the removal of Arts District way-finding signs until a plan of action is developed, assessing the marketing of the arts throughout the entire city of Burlington, including the South End. We at BCA are very excited to be working with Roy Feldman and SEABA to expand on the ideas set forth by this resolution.

There is no denying that there is a critical mass of artists living and working in the South End, and that the South End has played a historic role in the Burlington art scene. But we need to go further before a true arts district is created. Artists working and living in the city are half of the picture, the second half being venues existing to show and sell art — not just in the South End but in the entire city. Currently, it would be confusing to send the public via signs to an arts district where access to public art spaces with regular hours is extremely limited. We need to work together to put aside politics and personal feelings and create a place where art can be seen more than once a month or one weekend a year in Burlington. We hope to find real solutions to the absence of art venues in this town and face the problem head on, but only with the support of all the players, including the artists and businesses in the South End and all of greater Burlington, the city council, Community and Ecomonic Development Office, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and, especially, the board and staff of SEABA.

Eric Ford?


Ford is the communication director for Burlington City Arts.

Unanimous on Autism Insurance

I’m so glad [Seven Days was] able to interview my cochair of the Vermont Citizen Coalition for Autism Insurance Reform and our coalition member, Claudia Pringles [“Vermont House Considers Bill Mandating Better Insurance Coverage for Autistic Children,” May 5]. Ron [Marcellus] and his wife Mary Kate are not only parents of a child with autism, but they have been outstanding people to work with over the last year. Claudia is a parent of a child with autism, as well, but also a critical member of our team as an attorney. Our bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate — the only one to do so this year! It’s not everything we wanted this year, but it’s a start. I can’t say enough about some of the legislators we worked with — they really worked hard, they cared, and I’m proud of what we achieved together!

Lisa Erwin-Davidson


Erwin-Davidson is a speech language pathologist and cochair of the Vermont Citizen Coalition for Autism Insurance Reform.

Lauzon Is Wrong

Andy Bromage did a good job laying out the basic issues involved in Barre City’s water shut-off policy affecting tenants whose landlords have failed to pay their water bills [“A Barre Renter Is Fighting City Hall for Shutting Off Her Water,” May 26].

One point in the story requires clarification, however. Barre Mayor Tom Lauzon implies that the city has no remedies available to it if landlords refuse to pay their bills (“every landlord in the city could simply decide not to pay … knowing that as long as it’s an occupied unit, we’re not shutting the water off”). In fact, municipalities have multiple options available to them to pursue landlords for delinquent water bills.

First, municipalities have resources: staff and legal counsel that make them better equipped to pursue landlords for delinquent water bills in the first place. Second, municipalities can (and do) place liens on delinquent properties. Finally, municipalities can pursue landlords in court. There is simply no compelling reason to punish tenants by shutting off the water for the landlord’s failure to pay, especially where it creates a public health hazard, and where children or the elderly are put at risk.

Putting the burden of enforcement for nonpayment of water on low-income and vulnerable Vermonters is wrong and unfairly asks those individuals to do the city’s work for it.

Christopher J. Curtis, Esq.


Curtis is the Vermont Legal Aid attorney who is fighting the city of Barre on behalf of Brenda Brown.