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Letters to the Editor


Pure Right-Wing

Shay Totten asks an important question regarding the true meaning of Brian Dubie’s “Pure Vermont” campaign theme [“Fair Game,” September 22]. Is Dubie’s slogan a shout out to Vermont’s “Take Back Vermont” movement? My bet is, yes. Or perhaps Dubie is going further back in time with a reference to the state’s shameful history of eugenics? After all, Dubie believes that all Asians are “from Taiwan.” Either way, there is nothing “pure” or “Vermont” about Dubie’s right-wing agenda.

Like his hero, George W. Bush, Dubie describes himself as a uniter when, in fact, he is a hater. Dubie owes his political career to legislative gay bashing, joining the antigay “Take Back Vermont” movement in 2000 and testifying at a public hearing against Vermont’s civil-union compromise.

In another similarity to Bush, Dubie supports discriminatory amendments to both the state and federal constitutions. It gets worse. Dubie failed to speak out when Douglas the Discriminator vetoed civil-rights legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity. (Douglas later signed a watered-down version of the bill.) Given this record, Dubie sounds like Ruth Dwyer in a flight suit.

Sadly, Dubie’s right-wing agenda, like George W. Bush’s, does not end with oppressing gay, lesbian and transgender Vermonters. He also opposes full equality for women in Vermont, as evidenced by his opposition to reproductive rights. Apparently, Dubie believes women in the state don’t have the intelligence to make decisions about their bodies.

My hope is that Vermonters won’t be duped by Brian Dubie’s creepy “Pure Vermont” slogan. As governor, his right-wing, antigay and misogynistic agenda will hurt Vermont and Vermonters.

Paul Olsen


Ugly Depiction of O’Neil

My experience of Mary O’Neil and the rest of the staff at Planning and Zoning is that they are professional and easy to work with [“The Preservation Police,” September 22]. It is a really hard job, and they handle it with dignity and grace amid a wide range of behaviors.

What I take exception to in the article is the caricature drawing. No offense intended to the artist, but it is as flattering as vinyl siding.

Ivan Goldstein


Update Your Aesthetic

It is mind boggling to me that one woman representing her own overly precious aesthetic can wreak so much havoc on the housing scene in this city [“Preservation Police,” September 22]. We need to build for this century, not the last two. We need to build green and energy efficient. If we want to honor our ancestors, let’s honor their common sense. They sited their houses to catch the sun and used trees to block the wind and took other steps to be in tune with their environment.

The city is worried about the twee sensibilities of a moneyed few. Their mandates make little sense in this time and cost homeowners a fortune to do renovations. Perhaps this benefits the tourist industry — but why should homeowners have to pay for that?

While the new Chase Street house isn’t totally stunning, I found myself overjoyed by its use of contemporary materials. At least it is not clapboard. Who says history ended in 1930something? We need to use things like cement board that are environmentally friendly and fire resistant.

Mrs. O’Neil with her seven children (unless they are adopted) is clearly not worried about preserving the planet. Where do she and her group get off imposing their aesthetic on homeowners and imposing unfunded government mandates? That a group of people with no ecological sense and a lot of privileged and anachronistic ideas of beauty should rule what can be built here is a tyranny that should not be allowed to stand. Off with their zoning!

Peggy Luhrs


Cheap Shot

Would it be fair and accurate to call your cover story on Mary O’Neil a cheap shot [“Preservation Police,” September 22]? I think so. A tempest in a teapot? Uh-huh. A muckraking attempt that doesn’t really deliver the dirt? Ditto. A few pissed-off homeowners have directed their angst at Mary, a city employee, who — as several others note — does a good job of doing her job. And what a thankless job it is! I’m just grateful that she takes the heat for the rest of us. One homeowner is quoted as saying, “I’m a fan of old houses, but…” This reminds me of “I’m not a sex/race/ageist, but…” that so often introduces a sex/race/ageist comment. Some people just can’t resist caricaturing historic preservationists as power-hungry lunatics.

Mary O’Neil didn’t make this up; neither did the Design Advisory Board or even the state Division for Historic Preservation, for that matter. Historic preservation codes all derive from the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards — federal regulations dating back decades that start from the premise of “Do no harm.” Save historic fabric as much as possible. When it can’t be saved, replace in kind. Individual decisions may seem unjust, but destruction of historic neighborhoods takes place one decision at a time. Just try to imagine Burlington without its amazing stock of 19th-century housing. Now try to imagine wanting to live there.

Jane Williamson


Sign of the Times

A major reason why signs are still used so frequently is because they allow a candidate to reach people who might not usually, or willingly, look up a name [“WTF,” September 29]. The rise of the Internet allows us to get a lot of information quickly, but generally only what we specifically want. Everything else is filtered out and forgotten. People tend to interact with people of similar interests and tastes on the Internet.

Andrew Liptak



[Re: Bliss and the Dalai Lama,” September 22]: The Dalai Lama has a great sense of humor, especially about himself. He couldn’t wait to tell one interviewer this joke he’d just heard: What did the Dalai Lama say to the hot-dog vendor? “Make me one with everything.”

John Taylor



Last week’s Q&A with Bucket Hingley of the Toasters [“Wave Runner,” September 29] contained a typo: Hingley’s post-Moon Ska record label was referred to as Megalift. It’s Megalith Records. And it rocks. We apologize for the error.