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Letters to the Editor


Lactation Lobby

Was the frown face regarding the “milk run” a mistake [“Facing Facts,” September 22]? The presence of the word “odd” also threw me off. The fact that Vermont has a higher amount of women breast-feeding their 1-year-olds is a good thing. This is part of the breastfeeding goals set forth by many health organizations, including the World Health Organization. I know that when I heard the numbers were higher for this statistic this year, I breathed a sigh of relief to see the stats going in an upward direction. The Burlington area is very breast-feeding-friendly, especially compared to many other parts of the country. I would be very disappointed to see a progressive publication frowning upon women doing great things for their babies’ — and own — health.

April Richards-Bradt

South Burlington

Routly responds: Yes, it was a mistake. Somewhere in the layout process, my smiley face inadvertently became a frowning one. I couldn’t agree more that Vermont’s breast-feeding accolade is a good thing. I’m glad my mother believed in it, too, back in the bottle-obsessed 1960s.

Planning Is Hard Work

As a construction manager for 25 years, I’ve coordinated the construction or renovation of 400 homes and commercial spaces: half new construction, half renovation of existing or historic buildings. I’ve been on the Design Advisory Board as a member for four years, and as an alternate for six. So I’ve been on both sides of the planning office a lot. There’s nothing much easier than taking potshots at this staff, including Mary O’Neil [“The Preservation Police,” September 22]. Someone, an applicant or the applicant’s neighbor, is unhappy with the outcome of nearly every application.

It’s been my experience that a “home-owner” denied approval to erect a vinyl box addition that dwarfs the original house and will produce thousands a month in rental income will likely invoke the “planning in a vacuum” line. Of course, the relieved neighbors will say how impressed they were that the volunteer board could grasp the application, blueprints, regulations, staff recommendations and applicant presentation to come to “the right decision.” The next week, vice versa — grateful applicant, angry neighbors.

People, this city has lots of existing stock and owners wanting lake views, rental income and more space for cars, kids, boats, whatever. It’s the job of planning and zoning staff and boards to say “yea” or “nay” while representing the interests of everyone in this city. If you still like living here, it’s in no small part due to these people who work at it while others take potshots at them every damn day. Sound easy? Got credentials? Volunteer.

Amy Johnston


Tabloid Treatment

I would have never pegged Seven Days as a supporter of slumlords and profit-driven developers [“The Preservation Police,” September 22]. You take a public servant and paint her as, to quote your paper, “a zealot bent on preserving the past at all costs.”

Instead of focusing on what is truly at fault here — the convoluted zoning ordinances and building codes of the city of Burlington — you craft an inflammatory story belittling the work of a public servant. Tying a single person to the story is an obvious attempt to belie the poor reporting.

I generally don’t read Seven Days, and this article only highlighted why I avoid your paper. The tabloid quality of stories and suspect reporting done at your paper truly shines through in this piece.

Clinton Veselis


O’Neil Misunderstood

Why, of the three associate planners of Burlington, is just one targeted [“The Preservation Police,” September 22]? Especially if she declined an interview, why does she become the target and the face of the article, her witch-like caricature not just on the article page, but on the cover of Seven Days? The job of the associate planner is to reinforce the historical values of Burlington, and Mary O’Neil does just that — not to mention that it’s one of the hardest and, yes, misunderstood jobs in city hall. So why does the writer willfully, ignorantly misconstrue her job?

This article is inflammatory. It has become not a piece of journalism but a spectacle.

Meredith O’Neil


A Poem about “Preservation”

[Re: “The Preservation Police,” September 22]

“Paint It, Black”

I see a red door and I want it painted black

Without zoning permits I’ll have to change it back

I’d like to add some energy-efficient new windows

But all that Zoning gives is an endless list of no’s.

I’ll need a permit if I want to paint it black

I know the papers I file will form a giant stack

The clerks all turn their heads and quickly look away

They will not give permits; it happens every day

I look inside myself and see my heart is black

I see my red door and must have it painted black

Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts

It’s not easy fixing stuff when your zoning world is black

Hmm, hmm, hmm...

(Apologies to the Rolling Stones)

Tim Ahonen


Duck, Duck, Goose?

I am writing in response to the letter “Foie Facts” [“Feedback,” August 25]. I decided to take Pete Millar’s advice and go to YouTube to see the video for myself. Upon doing so, I came across a number of videos showing the production of foie gras. I had a difficult time finding a video that showed ducks that did not live in cramped cages or ducks that “flock to the tube.”

In fact, the vast majority of videos I came across were extremely disturbing and almost unbearable to watch. They showed ducks that were squeezed into crowded cages, had tubes shoved down their throats, and some who appeared to be on the verge of death.

There was an investigation conducted at Hudson Valley Foie Gras (one of the producers Mr. Millar mentioned). The investigation revealed anything but the humane treatment of the ducks. For example, the investigator came across a duck with a maggot-covered neck wound. The wound was so bad that water poured out of it when the duck drank.

After looking into the production of foie gras, I would have to disagree with Mr. Millar’s comment that the only bad thing that could happen is “ducks fighting each other to get the tube down their throats first.”

My conclusion after considerable research is that the treatment of these animals and the production of foie gras are cruel.

Jessie Bonaros


Fat Isn’t Funny

I am horrified at the cartoon image printed along with the [September 15] “Straight Dope” column. Seven Days would never print a cartoon African American image, or a cartoon that slandered a Jew. Heavy people in this culture are such targets for humiliation and shaming, and this image is misogynist, cruel, demeaning and dehumanizing.

Also, although the column is informative, it leaves a lot out. Children of alcoholics and of abusive homes have a much higher incidence of obesity than the general public. Families who live in poverty don’t have the money for or the easy access to carrots and fresh greens. Often compulsive overeaters have had extraordinary emotional losses or stresses, and have learned to turn to food for comfort and/or numbing of pain. The primary intervention for these issues is not simply diet and exercise; it’s social justice and emotional healing.

Anya Raven Hunter, LICSW


Harboring Resentment

Ugly? Offensive? You have no sense of the eclectic [“WTF: What’s Up With the Harbor Hide-A-Way on Route 7?” July 7]. I expect you wouldn’t be happy unless the landscape was totally obliterated with McDonald’s, Starbucks Coffee and Walmart. The Harbor Hide-A-Way and the Dog Team were two of my favorite restaurants in my childhood (the Tower Pizza chain being another, also apparently gone). These are the sorts of things that gave Vermont its charm — not the ordinary, but the unusual.

James E. LaBarre

Pawling, NY

The Other Side

You just might be better off to keep driving to Vermont for your cuisine in the future [“Eating Plattsburgh,” July 28]. I know Plattsburgh would be, as it has a hard enough time just trying to survive without all the criticism of the local restaurants.

Lorry Light

Ellenburg, NY

Truth About Truancy

While I thank Ken Picard for his recent effort “Skipping School? Not Anymore: A New Vermont Law Calls Out Chronic Truancy” [September 15], it seems that it doesn’t go far enough into the real issues of truancy and instead wants to alarm parents about state’s attorneys taking legal action for students’ absenteeism.

Recently VPR’s “Vermont Edition” highlighted the problem of school dropouts — the real issue behind the state’s policy change around school absences. During that program, Andre Messier, principal of Lake Region Union High School, stated that national studies revealed students who drop out of school have attendance issues early on in grade school. Other factors were disciplinary issues, negative attitudes toward school and, usually, failing grades in English and mathematics. Messier started looking at the issue when 20 of his students dropped out in 2009. He also discovered that nearly all had fallen behind in their graduate credits in their freshman years. Most faced financial burdens in their home life.

The state’s Department of Education Truancy & Dropout Prevention overview had similar findings, but it also mentions one other: “School is not meaningful or relevant.” The overview also states that Act 44 includes “several provisions directed toward strengthening support for students who would benefit from flexible pathways to graduation.” You can find additional information at the Department of Education website: www.education.vermont.gov/new/html/pgm_truancy.html.

Theodore A. Hoppe


A Taste of Sutton

Great that you have discovered that good food starts just over the border and not just all the way to Montréal [“Border Bites,” September 22]. Just as accessible as Bedford is Sutton, with an astonishing range of great eateries: Bistro Beaux Lieux for modern bistro food with a twist highlighting fresh, local ingredients; Tartin’Izza for thin-crust pizzas (don’t miss the duck version if it’s on offer); Chocolaterie Belge Muriel for decadent, Belgian-style chocolate made on the premises; and La Rumeur Affamée for local cheeses, cold cuts and bread baked by Pascal (ex-Le Fromentier in Montréal) just around the corner. There is a vineyard, Domaine Bresee, almost in the village, and another, Chapelle Ste. Agnès, just 10 minutes away that’s renowned for its ice wine. These last two are part of La Route des Vins — a signposted trail linking some 15 vineyards, none of which is more than 30 miles over the border.

Lynda Graham

Sutton, QC


Author Ken Picard misrepresented the words on a sign in his story “Home for the Range?” which appeared in last week’s issue. The sign outside the shooting range on Laberge farm in Charlotte reads, “Shooting here is not a right, it’s a privilage” [sic] — not “Shooting here is a right, not a privilage.” Big difference. Apologies.