Letters to the Editor | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published August 17, 2011 at 4:12 a.m.

Falling Together

Rachel Phillips’ impending surgery, while not a cure-all, offers tremendous hope to others with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome [“Fletcher Allen Has a Candidate for Groundbreaking Windpipe Transplant,” August 3]. Her struggle with EDS and the myriad procedures necessary to simply function are all too familiar to those of us with this debilitating disorder. EDS can cause all tissues, not just joints and limbs, to be structurally deficient. Most of us experience a range of seemingly unrelated symptoms. These all tie back into a feeling of “falling apart,” as Rachel put it, which EDS can literally cause due to faulty collagen. Educating and advocating for yourself, assembling a compassionate medical team that listens, and continuing in the face of specialists, employers, insurance companies, potential partner, relatives and people who think nothing is really wrong with you is tough, painful, energy-draining work. I wish her the best of luck for a successful procedure.

Jessica Doerr


Editor’s note: Rachel Phillips’ condition has worsened and, as a result, the experimental surgery to save her life will not be performed in Burlington. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to Organic Church Community, 70 South Winooski Ave., #197, Burlington, VT 05401.


Google’s Motivation

After seeing — and hearing — Google’s ads everywhere promoting their visit to Vermont, I smiled when I saw your story probing the company’s real intentions [“Is Google in Vermont to Do Good or Buy Political Influence?” August 10]. While I don’t disagree with the author’s conclusion that Google may be attempting to buy itself some much-needed political influence with its well-timed foray into the Green Mountain State, I also believe there’s something else that is motivating Google. And that’s money, in the form of advertising revenue.

As an ad industry professional, I help clients navigate the myriad advertising options that Google sells. And while Google’s up-front offer of a free website, domain, etc., seems like a great deal for many small businesses, you can be sure that Google sees the long-tail benefit this creates for their bottom line. For every small business it helps to get online, Google creates another customer for its AdWords advertising platform, which is still the company’s bread and butter. I’m sure that in addition to touting “free” services while in town, Google will be hard-selling its portfolio of Internet marketing solutions to small-business owners who will see them as integral to the success of their newly launched digital worlds.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Google has some great things to offer small businesses, and I have been able to put to good use the effectiveness of Google products both for myself and for my clients. But I think it’s naïve to assume that Google’s presence here is not without self-serving purposes.

Elisa Garcia-Rey



Pas de Clichés

[Re: “Canadian Tourists Are All Over Burlington, But Nobody Knows What That’s Worth,” August 3]: I am a regular in Burlington, because I love the atmosphere. The locals are free of the anti-French prejudice we normally hear in Canada. That is why I normally go cycling near Burlington rather than Ottawa, which is the same traveling time. I heard recently that some people find there are too many of us, to the point that an editor suggested emptying Lake Champlain and filling it with Labatt Blue. I have heard enough of that in my own country, so I don’t need to hear it in your neck of the woods.

I want Burlington merchants and people to stay the way they are. If they would speak French, it would entice me to come more often. I think that the city council’s idea of promoting French is a nice plus. Why those negative reactions to the point of racist comments using references to poutine, sirop d’érable and Labatt Blue? If you do not like my accent and money, I can go many other places, including my own province. Why revert to those clichés every time someone has the idea of doing something nice for French-speaking tourists who want to spend some time in your area? The lake on which your city was built has a French name, and we share the same waters. I am very mobile when I feel offended!

Denis Giguère


Editor’s note: The letter writer is confusing a recent news story, about the economic impact of Canadian tourists on Burlington, with a tongue-in-cheek blog post by Lauren Ober [“Burlington City Council Proposal to Make BTV a French Colony,” August 4] satirizing a city council resolution to make Burlington French-friendlier.


Can’t Ag Endeavors All Get Along?

[Re: Feedback: “Not a CSA,” August 3]: I joined the Food Hub this summer, after two years with Full Moon. We made the switch for a number of reasons, but if it weren’t for the Hub we likely would be grabbing veggies at the grocery store on our way home from work — probably not nearly enough of them, and they wouldn’t be as good.

We all eat and shop in different ways. Isn’t there room for a variety of distribution models? I understand that small-scale, responsible farmers face huge challenges, and I don’t begrudge the extra effort and/or cost it takes to support them. At the same time, I believe we owe ourselves and each other sustainable, market-based solutions for promoting their long-term survival.

And that’s what the Intervale, parent company of Food Hub, is all about. It is not just a “feel-good name” — it’s an organization I really believe in and one that, incidentally, gave Full Moon Farm its start.

I would be interested to hear what other local farmers have to say. I hope they speak up.

Grace Per Lee



Police Problem

Interesting article [“Bad Cops,” August 10], but it misses a main point. Thuggery on the part of police has been steadily increasing in this country for years. The political climate of an increasing “police state” grants a kind of permission to police to behave as thugs. The issue is systemic and needs to be addressed as such.

Baruch Zeichner

East Montpelier


Wrong About Civil Rights

Perhaps his quote was out of context, coming as it did as the kicker at the end [“Author-Activist Bill McKibben Gets ‘Disobedient’ About Climate Change,” August 10], but as someone who was there, I find Bill McKibben’s remark that participants in the civil rights movement, though facing death, had it easier than today’s environmental activists “because they knew they were going to win,” deeply offensive.

We knew nothing of the sort. As far as we could tell in the mid-’60s, the state-sanctioned terrorism of the Deep South was as invincible as it appeared to be. Not one of the hundreds of people I knew in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Freedom Summer believed we were going to win. We could barely get through each day and had no thought of some future day when we would have “won.”

Neither the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 nor of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 changed that fact. And neither were those laws “victories,” because they were just words on paper. Without action by the Department of Justice, which we did not believe would happen based on the failure of the FBI to protect CR workers and blacks trying to register to vote, the words were hollow.

And I think very few of us would today think we had won a damn thing, not with 40 percent black unemployment, one-third of black males between 20 and 29 incarcerated, and the minds of millions of young black children wasted every year in the same kind of shitty public schools that pervaded the South and the urban ghettos before Brown v. Board of Education.

I have great respect for McKibben’s tireless work to push us and our policy makers to confront the problem of global climate change seriously, but he should take time out to read some U.S. history. A good place to start, for anyone, is crmvet.org.

Wally Roberts



Nothing “Green” About GMP

Why are our U.S. tax dollars going to Canadian shareholders? Thanks to all the buddies that Green Mountain Power and our governor share [Fair Game: “Tilting at Turbines,” July 27], GMP is getting this Lowell Mountain wind project railroaded through our state in order to get Obama’s tax dollars for creating alternative energy. Our watchdog agencies that oversee a project of this size and with this potential for environmental damage seem to have been asked to look the other way while we go for the green. Did they mean green technology or greenbacks?

The sheer scope of this project is anything but green. If blasting off the tops of our mountains in order to put a road the size of an interstate up there with towers that will be some of the tallest structures in our state is green, I must have missed something about alternative, green, environmentally friendly energy. 

Hey, you GMP ratepayers — get mad! Get your electric company to decentralize and use your tax money to help you get grid tie-in systems that will actually save you some money on your electric bill instead of fluffing the wallets of Canadian stockholders. It would employ hundreds of Vermonters installing appropriately sized green energy systems on a scale not seen in this country, setting yet another example of locavore to the world.

Say no to industrial-sized wind farms! Save our mountains!

Annie Gaillard



Klifa Coverage?

I enjoy reading Seven Days, but it has disappointed me lately. Your writers seem to cover some stories too thoroughly. Was it really necessary to cover the Schultz divorce in the Fogel story [Fair Game: “Dangerous Liaisons,” May 24]?

Other articles leave out important facts. The Klifa Club is closing after many years. Not mentioned was that proceeds from the eventual sale of the Klifa house will go to the Vermont Community Foundation for philanthropic purposes.

Eleanor Smith

South Burlington

Editor’s note: Actually, we covered the Klifa Club closing on our staff blog, Blurt [“Klifa Club Closing, Selling Historic Burlington House,” July 28.] The excerpt that appeared in the August 3 paper was just that.


“Legacy” at What Cost?

As a former UVM student and current Burlington resident, I was furious to read about former President Fogel’s compensation package [Fair Game: “The Presidential Parachute,” August 3]. While attending UVM and spending a few days a week on campus for work since graduating, I have had a chance to see Fogel’s legacy in action: an unnecessarily large student center, a swelling student population that the campus and Burlington can barely maintain, fewer teachers, larger classes, more administrators, and a poorer education. Is this really a legacy worth rewarding so handsomely?

Patrick Giblin



What Does T.J. Stand For?

I have reading a lot about T.J. Donovan, Chittenden County state’s attorney, in the papers lately [Fair Game, “Conflicts and Coincidences,” July 6]. T.J. this and T.J. that. And it got me wondering what the hell T.J. stands for. After reading about Burlington Telecom’s “BT” fiasco, and his “I decline to prosecute” statement, I’m thinking T.J. stands for “Terrible Justice” or “Total Jerk.” The city lost a lot of money on this deal, and I’m sure some crook or crooks made a lot. I’ll just sign off on this note with my initials, K.P.W. This might stand for Keep Pricks Wondering.

Kevin Patrick Ward



Adirondack Equivalents

I appreciate Kevin J. Kelley mentioning our little farm and even more the comparison to Vermont-area farms, which I both respect and love [“Pedaling Upstate,” July 27]. It might have been wise, however, to check the facts before quoting our café manager as not being paid what she is worth, because a free one-bedroom apartment with paid utilities along with $10.50 an hour pretty much guarantees she gets paid better than the 60-year-old farmer who employs her.

Sam Hendren

Chesterfield, N.Y.


Article Misfired

The article “Long Shot” [July 13], regarding Bruce Ryan’s personal crusade against the Montpelier Gun Club, contains major errors. The implication, by the EPA, that the club was not acting with a sense of urgency in constructing the shot curtain is without justification. A committee of five club members worked more than two years planning and contracting the construction of the shot curtain on the club’s property. Supplemental funding was needed through the federal Pittman-Robertson program because the cost easily exceeded the financial resources of the club.

An application had to be written, modified, passed through the legislature and finally approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department. There were many steps in the form of design, analysis, permitting, and funding required for numerous municipal, state and federal agencies. An archaeological study by UVM took more than six months to complete. These factors created the false perception of delay.

The EPA’s estimate that an “eye popping” 180,000 pounds (or 90 tons) of lead shot are deposited each year is wrong. There are approximately 135,000 clay targets shot at each year. At 1.125 ounces per shot, this equates to 9500 lbs. (or 4.75 tons) — a factor some 19 times less than estimated by the EPA! Mr. Ryan’s accusation that the club drops “6539 pounds of lead shot and 20,343 pounds of target debris ‘up to, into and across’ the river” is grossly deceiving. All of the target pieces and the vast majority of the lead shot fall substantially short of the river. The river has been protected by heavy vegetation for many years. The newly installed shot curtain creates a total shield.

Dennis DeVaux


DeVaux is a trustee of the Montpelier Gun Club.


Way to Blow

Shay Totten’s piece on windmills [Fair Game: “Tilting at Turbines” July 27] inaccurately portrays the position of Vermont’s leading environmental groups with respect to wind energy development.

Just as the vast majority of Vermonters support local renewable energy development — including wind power — so too do most environmental organizations. The leading green groups have noted that the significant wind resources that we have available in Vermont should be harnessed in responsible ways that minimize environmental impacts.

At VPIRG, for instance, our research shows that at least one-fourth of Vermont’s electric power could be provided by fewer than 150 grid-scale wind turbines and some smaller-scale community, home and business installations (see vpirg.org/repowervt).

But that’s just part of Vermont’s clean energy future. Our top priority must be to minimize our energy usage through conservation and efficiency programs. The energy we do need should come from the cleanest, safest and most affordable resources available to us. In Vermont, that means a healthy balance of renewable resources like wind, solar, hydro, farm methane and biomass.

Unlike the fringe groups that oppose all reasonable wind development in Vermont, VPIRG has led the charge against the continued operation of the troubled Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. We’re also working to end our dependency on fossil fuels that cause environmental destruction and threats to public health that dwarf any impact that could conceivably be caused by a Vermont wind farm.

If you really care about the environment and public health, wind has to be in the mix.

Paul Burns


Burns is executive director of VPIRG.