Not Like Levine
It is rather assumptive to state that the electorate has voted against its own interests in the recent elections simply due to a sway in party alignment [“Poli Psy: The Next Big Thing,” November 10]. Perhaps author Judith Levine should recognize that her interests do not necessarily align with those of all Americans. Let us remember that “universal health care,” while it sounds appealing and all-inclusive, will not necessarily benefit, or even impact, all Americans — keeping in mind that not everyone is uninsured, has pre-existing conditions or qualifies for their parents’ coverage.
Likewise, not everyone is inflicted with “taxophobia.” I, for one, enjoy giving the government one-fourth of my annual income, especially when my money supports government programs that I vehemently oppose, like bottomless defense spending and funding for two wars, among others. I think there is one thing we can agree on, however: death, taxes, and expectantly biased and partisan pieces from Vermont’s “Independent Voice.”
I’ve been trying to understand the fear, frustration and anger of the American people and the impatient and, in my opinion, self-destructive vote in the November elections. Judith Levine’s [“Poli Psy: The Next Big Thing,” November 10] is the best analysis and explanation of the actions of the American electorate that I have read. Thanks.
Although I agree that we need to upgrade the streets and the traffic patterns [“How We Roll,” November 10], as a professional driver I am just as frustrated with the cyclists as I am with the pedestrians and other motorists. At any given time of the day or night, I am confronted with cyclists who can’t or won’t follow the basic traffic laws: operate on the wrong side of the road; go the wrong way on a one-way street; have few or no reflectors or lights. I have seen about one in 20 using hand signals. This is not the city’s fault but the fault of the person on the bike.
If it were an automobile and the driver did some of the things that cyclists do all day, they would lose the privilege to drive and pay a large sum of money. What makes them any different than the rest of the people who share the road? I have seen cyclists at night, dressed in black, no lights or reflectors, screaming at drivers who did not see them. I have had more than one person on a bike come up on my right at a stop sign and blow through it just as I was going to turn to the right. I followed one young man down Pine Street as he blew through one stop sign after another without even slowing down. I think the best upgrade that could be done is to educate and enforce [the laws] before someone gets hurt.
[Re: “Vermont’s Homeless Problem Takes a Disturbing Turn: Squatting,” November 10]: The facts you presented both shocked me as well as hit home. Not only have I encountered many homeless people panhandling on the streets or on the sidewalks downtown, my family and I have a friend who’s currently homeless, and he’s crashing with us until he can get on his feet again. After all, we wouldn’t turn our backs on a friend and would hope that if ever we were in the same predicament, such an offer would be extended to us. The statistic showing the two-year jump of homeless children, in particular, was like a knife to my heart, as I have a 2-year-old of my own. I truly feel for the families with children who have no home to call their own.
We feel the sting the following statement from your article demonstrates: “Rita Markley, executive director of COTS, blames the trend on a lack of affordable housing and the impact of the recession. For the past decade, she says, wages have remained flat, even as the price of health care, rent, utilities and gasoline continued to climb.” We’re currently on a waiting list for an apartment for low-income families, and I had to drop my insurance because I can no longer afford it. This is an issue that’s slowly gaining the attention it needs. I just hope that Governor-elect Peter Shumlin will take the steps necessary to provide help to the growing number of families in need.
Some Bikers Are Jerks
City hall can and should do more to make streets better for bicycling [“How We Roll,” November 10]. Bicyclists ourselves can help the cause by practicing safe, legal and courteous riding.
I’m an old-school road cyclist who survived the days before helmets by obeying traffic laws. Lately I observe a frightening disdain for traffic rules and common-sense riding in Burlington.
In my neighborhood, dudes weave around, pedal against traffic, switch between sidewalk and street as convenient, and generally ignore lanes, stop signs and traffic lights. It’s not cool to swerve left across traffic while flipping off a vague hand signal that looks like the bird. If they’re not in accidents, they will cause them. It’s just a matter of time before someone blowing through an intersection is broadsided. Elderly drivers in particular tell me they fear bikes because they are unpredictable, which undermines good will and public support.
Biking is healthful and righteous, but not a license to be a jerk. You can be green, stupid and rude all at once. Local Motion, the nonprofit advocacy group that runs the bike ferry and the Safe Streets Collaborative, puts it well: “To get respect, give respect.” If we don’t clean it up, the cops will do it to us.
Let Mom Make Marijuana Case
[Re: “Charged With Felony for Growing Pot, Mother Can’t Tell Jury It Was ‘Medical,’” November 17]: Due to the fact that the registry was not an option for Sue to have her son on, how can a judge say that it was the only thing wrong with her defense? As a wife of someone on the program, I can say that it helps with the pain, nausea and calming of mental-health issues such as depression and frustration of being in constant pain. While she may have broken the law by cultivating, I would do the same if I was in her shoes! Sometimes the law isn’t right, and to deny the right to explain her actions — right or wrong — is to deny her the right to defend herself adequately. I say, give her chance to tell the whole story and let the jury decide — not the judges.
Honor Your Wait Staff
[“The Waiting Game,” November 17], about how to get good service at a restaurant, is spot on. We are lucky to have many truly professional and dedicated restaurant owners and workers in our area. Other than my family and friends, the people who feed me are as valued as almost anyone I know. They feed you, give you drinks, and more often than not try to make you happy. What could be better than that?
How you are treated in a restaurant, in my opinion, is often “instant karma.” You get what you give … it comes down to mutual respect and understanding of each other’s positions, needs and wants …Treat everyone with respect, and it almost always works. As in all good relationships, loyalty, understanding and mutual respect are usually rewarded.
I absolutely loved the “Liquid Diet” [November 17] by Carolyn Fox. She has such a great writing style; it was enjoyable to read. Her voice really shines through. I would love to see more articles written by her in the future.