Your article “Capital Capitalist” [March 9] about Jeffrey Jacobs and Montpelier refers to Mr. Jacobs’ proposed beer garden at Charlie O’s and says, “Both the city and the neighbors objected to the plan, and the project fell through.” In fact, Mr. Jacobs and Charlie O’s received all permits and licenses as requested from the city without any additional limiting conditions. The city council expressed support for the project, and city officials worked with Charlie O’s staff to help make the project successful. A neighboring property owner appealed the approved permit to court. Mr. Jacobs unilaterally withdrew his application rather than proceed with court-ordered mediation.
Fraser is the city manager of Montpelier.
Editor’s note: Seven Days was misinformed by another Montpelier city official.
Jury’s Out on Jacobs
[Re: “Capital Capitalist,” March 9]: It’s interesting that a classic-film fan is the same person who covertly gutted and renovated a turn-of-the-century movie theater housed in a long-unoccupied space above either Play It Again Sam or Charlie O’s. This was over 20 years ago. The projector ended up at Capitol Video the seats in a dumpster; who knows what else came out of there?
James Kochalka is the greatest [“Man-Child vs. World,” March 2]! He’s a perfect Vermont cartoonist laureate!
Changes for the Better
I’m happy to hear that the Burlington Planning Commission is taking a look at these changes that could make it easier for homeowners to do repairs and maintenance on their homes [“Heeding Unhappy Homeowners, Burlington Planners Look to Redefine ‘Historic,’” March 9]. Although I love Burlington, the reputation of “historic preservation” in the city contributed to our decision to purchase a home elsewhere. I can’t imagine that we were the only ones.
Historic Horror Story
We are victims of Burlington’s “historic home” renovation restrictions [“Heeding Unhappy Homeowners, Burlington Planners Look to Redefine ‘Historic,’” March 9]. We have kept our 90-year-old home in excellent condition, sensitive to the city’s concerns about character and quality, keeping the “arts and crafts” feel of the wonderful house we live in and love. We paid $70 for permitting to install a high-quality (expensive) and style-appropriate window replacement. When we were turned down, we had no opportunity to meet with the board making the decision unless we paid another fee of about $125.
Why should we have to pay an additional fee in order to get a response from the board? We were shocked to think that the city seemed to be in the money business when it came to the permitting process. Because of their demand for a specific type of replacement windows, our project went from expensive to exorbitant and quite unaffordable. No one from the city came to the house to see what we wanted to do. No one studied the house in situ to see how much of an improvement our plan would have been. There was no negotiating a solution. It was arbitrary, absurd and unfair.
Where’s the Pro Side?
I was very disappointed by Kevin Kelley’s article about the “demise” of the Progressive Party [“Has Bob Kiss Destroyed the Progressive Party?” March 2]. In fact, Progressives have had a strong run in Burlington and are stronger than ever before in Montpelier. There is much that is right in Burlington, and Progressives have led the way for over 30 years. The Kiss administration’s many achievements are not mentioned, and opposing parties’ representations are presented as “truth.” Surely Seven Days can do better.
Thank you for the recent article discussing the issue of composting bioplastics in Vermont [“Should Bioplastics Be Banned From Organic Compost Heaps?” March 2]. As a chemical engineer with experience in the biotechnology industry, I’d like to add some additional information as to why the use of such plastics may be counter to growing a food system.
Firstly, I echo the concerns regarding “organic” composting; the organic label has huge value and is one of our fastest-growing economic sectors. Furthermore, as Vermonters seek to reclaim our food sovereignty, we must consider the processes that generate the materials on which our food system is based. These so-called “bio”-plastics are labeled “bio” only because their monomeric constituents (monomers are the building blocks of plastics/polymers) are generated from the fermentative action of a genetically modified microorganism on plant starches, mainly from genetically modified corn. These monomers are then synthetically bonded together to generate the “bio”-polymer, which is then molded into the desired product.
Mr. Bond’s statement that Vermont would be moving into the Stone Age is short sighted and blatantly biased; by choosing “bio”-plastics, we are supporting the genetically modified monoculture biotechnology that antithesizes our efforts toward developing sustainable agroecosystems. While biodegradable polymers may be a step beyond their nondegradable and petroleum-derived cousins, they are also direct descendants of the agroindustrial complex, which is heavily fossil fueled. My suggestion: Whenever possible (and it usually is if you think about it), show some respect for your food system and earth: Bring your own reusable utensils!
Right About Reagan
Thanks for [“Poli Psy,” February 16]; few dare to challenge the myth. Far from being one of the greatest presidents, Ronald Reagan did more damage to the democratic ideal than any president we have had before or since. He created the insane idea — certainly it would have seemed insane to the Founding Fathers — that government is, in itself, the problem. He did more to concentrate power in the hands of the few — crushing unions, crushing freedom movements abroad, destroying the concept of progressive taxation — than George III ever could have done.
Work to Own
As Kevin Kelley notes in “Making It” [February 16], employee ownership empowers employees — and better business performance is often the result. Another important point is that when employees own the company, it’s much less likely to leave the state. Entrepreneurs who are concerned with their employees and their families, and the communities in which businesses reside, all can benefit from employee ownership.
Jamison is program director for the Vermont Employee Ownership Center.
Good job as usual in [“Fair Game,” February 23]. My memory may not be perfect, but I can’t remember anyone who has run against Bernie ever winning an election again. (Peter Smith is the only one I know of who beat him, and even he never won an election again. I think Paul Poirier was in that race, too, and he went into political exile for some time.) I don’t know of any other politician with such a record.
In her informative article on the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont Winter Conference [“Blood, Syrup and Samosas,” February 16], food writer Corin Hirsch underlined an accusation made by Shannon Hayes, author of Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from Consumer Culture: “‘Mainstream consumer culture’ is disconnected from the life-death cycle of the farm.”
The vestigial vermiform appendix, a now unused organ in the human digestive system, is considered by many to be a strong indicator that Homo sapiens once relied heavily on a high-fiber diet. Considering this possibility in a discussion of present eating habits, it is safe to assume that the inclusion of flesh in the human diet was based on need and, perhaps, preference. It goes without saying that the consumption of flesh of any kind requires the abattoir. In the sense that “life” is taken, this reality can be extended to consumption of fruits and vegetables. It is also wise to include in this reality the physical labor and skills required to produce the variety of crops and livestock now consumed.
It is purported by experts in varied disciplines that sustainability of lifestyle and culture is progressively moving away from dependence on global economy toward dependence on local community and, in the final analysis, to self-reliance and the return to the tasks implied in the concept of “domesticity.”
The HowardCenter pays $3000 a month in rent to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Vermont, and Burlington College is paying $5000 a month to house students. Those figures were reversed in a story that appeared in last week’s Seven Days.