Thanks to Wally Roberts both for his service to the civil-rights movement, and for his letter last week [Feedback: “Wrong About Civil Rights,” August 17]. When I said the civil-rights movement knew it would eventually win, I meant no discredit to the courage of its soldiers (in fact, as I pointed out, they needed to be much braver than those of us fighting climate change). What I meant was, they were clearly on the right side of history. As Martin Luther King Jr. said at the end of nearly every speech, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Climate change, on the other hand, won’t be beaten unless it’s beaten very quickly — the arc of the physical universe is short, and it bends toward heat. That’s all I meant, and I hope it removes the offense Mr. Roberts felt.
Editor’s note: McKibben was arrested during a protest against environmental policies last weekend in Washington, D.C. Kevin Kelley covered it for us on the Seven Days staff blog, Blurt.
Put this liberal idiot in jail [“Author-Activist Bill McKibben Gets ‘Disobedient’ About Climate Change,” August 10]. We need energy independence in order to survive. Look at the rise in gas prices since this liberal government has taken office. Any and all energy resources should be put on the fast track. It generates jobs, dollars and will improve the economy. We can worry about what’s best for the world when we can survive ourselves.
Where’s the Science?
Bill McKibben seems to be a nice enough guy. When I listened to him speak at Norwich in 2010, he owned up to being conservative and a Sunday school teacher. When I read his book, Wandering Home, I thought, “great, finally a book about this area that doesn’t lose its train of thought crossing the NY-VT state border.” Kevin Kelley’s recent article [“Author-Activist Bill McKibben Gets ‘Disobedient’ About Climate Change,” August 10] does point out incongruities in McKibben’s persona, i.e., he intends to maintain “decorum” when he and fellow activists partake in civil-disobedience actions in D.C. later this month.
Writer Kelley makes mention of McKibben’s “prophetic book” — 1989’s The End of Nature. When I finished reading this book, I still thought how outrageous a title — another “the end is near” gig … McKibben has to be winging a lot of science when he goes global in The End of Nature.
Of course, ignorance is always fertile ground. Take McKibben’s offhand comment about the structural failure at Vermont Yankee. Believe it or not, that section of tower did not contain safety-related components. Even [cartoonist Tim] Newcomb’s persistent, Depends-wearing caricature of VY eschews the facts. VY does not have a natural-draft, parabolic cooling tower, nor are they exclusive to nuclear power plants.
Kudos to Bill McKibben. He learned a lot about marketing a message at the New Yorker. As to emissions of mass destruction or comic vs. reality, the Popular Mechanics crowd probably has a better fix on the situation.
A post office as a place to develop community may be true, but community building is not a function of the postal service [“Mail Call,” August 10]. Many of the rural post offices are losing big money and always have. Close down those that are not profitable and let people build community in a way that they choose and they pay for, not everyone else.
View from Peru
I wished to remain fair before I responded to the so-called tongue-in-cheek article by one of your writers [“Things to Do in Plattsburgh When You’re Drunk,” July 27]. I read it a few times trying to understand exactly what he was writing about and why. Also, as a faithful reader of Seven Days, I did not want to overreact. That being all done, I can now say that the article reminded me of three blind men trying to describe an elephant. While Dan’s friends may have been at the trunk and ears, it is clear to me that Dan had his head squarely up the elephant’s ass. A crappy story is what we then got as the result.
Dem’s Double Standard?
In Fair Game [“Tilting at Turbines,” July 27] Shay Totten wrote: “Of course, when Gov. Jim Douglas was running the show, his relationships with Entergy and Omya raised eyebrows among the state’s environmentalists. Omya officials regularly donated to Douglas’ campaigns, and, in return, the governor’s regulators overlooked concerns that the company was polluting groundwater. Ditto Entergy. When Entergy began leaking tritium in 2010, Douglas called for a time out in lieu of regulatory action.”
But Douglas didn’t have a VP of Entergy or Omya run his campaign, or concurrently serve on his gubernatorial staff, à la Liz Bankowski. Conflict of interest? Ethics?
And neither Entergy nor Omya tried to manipulate health care in this state, as Gaz Metro (through GMP and Mary Powell) are attempting to manipulate nominations for the Green Mountain Care Board.
I thoroughly appreciate the value of Dumpster diving as a way of supplementing one’s food budget [“Garbage Gourmet,” August 3], but I must correct your quoted reasoning behind the locked Dumpsters at Red Hen Baking Co. The Dumpsters — one for garbage, one for recycling — are locked to keep people from putting items into the Dumpsters. The bakery pays for pick-up by weight, so we want to be sure we’re only paying for our garbage and recycling, not anyone else’s.
Meanwhile, we regularly donate day-old bread to the Montpelier Food Shelf, and any bread that’s deemed not good enough to sell but still good enough to feed to animals is donated to a dozen or so farmers in the area, who use it to supplement their chicken and pig feed. Everything else that was once food (but is no longer edible) is composted, which gets picked up once a week and processed just a few miles down the road.
Schectman is head of maintenance at Red Hen Baking Co. in Middlesex.
Exploding Energy Myths
Midsummer is a great time to be in Vermont, but maybe not for journalists looking for juicy stories. I support journalism that goes beyond paraphrasing press releases. However, Shay Totten is barking up the wrong tree in his “Tilting at Turbines” piece [Fair Game, August 3]. Totten implies that the Northeast Kingdom is under attack while wind turbines are under construction. He uses incorrect and inflammatory language, “exploding ridgelines,” and quotes Steve Wright, a NIMBY, not the comedian, who says “mountains are being blasted away into rubble.” Funny.
There is no gold rush happening with wind energy in Vermont. Wind farms have to work their way through a deliberately slow approval process. If there is a gold rush, it is happening in other states, where wind farms get regulatory decisions and projects built in months, rather than years. The last wind farm built in Vermont was 15 years ago. Panning for gold is a better career choice than developing wind farms in Vermont.
Polls show Vermonters support local generation of renewable energy. Most environmental organizations support wind development, because the threat of climate change and nuclear-waste disposal are greater evils. This isn’t news. Gov. Shumlin supported wind development long before being elected governor. No surprise there. GMP has nearly 15 years experience with the Searsburg wind farm and is building the Lowell project to further reduce its reliance on Vermont Yankee, which has an uncertain future at best. No surprise there, either.
Shay, focus on Vermont Yankee, the real scandal.
Hire Me, UVM
To the UVM Board of Trustees: I am hereby applying for a job. I am a class of ’73 graduate. For the last 27 years I have owned and run a small business in Middlebury. I think I’m ready for a change.
I find your payment packages very attractive [Fair Game, August 3, 10.] You are paying Michael Schultz $220,000, or about $13,000 per month, for the next 17 months. To sweeten the deal, he also receives health benefits. For that, he doesn’t have to do a damn thing. Pretty good deal for him.
Daniel Fogel gets an even better deal to sit back and relax: $322,536, or about $19,000 per month. He also gets a car allowance, housing, a life-insurance subsidy and a wellness fund, whatever that is.
If you think I’m kidding about applying for a job, I’m not. I require a fair, but not exorbitant, salary with benefits in line with that salary. I think you and Vermont taxpayers will find that I am a bargain. I am a mature, reasonably intelligent person. Perhaps more importantly, I will actually work for the payment I receive. I await your call and look forward to a formal interview.
Every Cop Is Different
[Re: “Bad Cops,” August 10]: I got pulled over a few nights ago for having a headlight out. The state trooper kept yelling at me about “drugs and weapons,” and at one point told me that he was “not paranoid.” He put me into a hold, squeezing my wrists, and then emptied my pockets out … When I asked the cop why he thought I had weapons, he told me, “Because anyone can have weapons.” When I asked the cop why he thought I had drugs, he told me, “Because I know people that do drugs.”
I filed a report with the lieutenant who was in charge of internal affairs. He was able to get a hold of the audio-video recording from the state trooper vehicle. He said the state police were acting as they are supposed to … He said that leaving my vehicle was a “red flag,” which is why the state trooper assumed I was armed.
Prior to this episode, I was pulled over by the Essex police, in the same exact location, at a similar time of night. The Essex police were friendly, had good communication, and sent me on my way without harassing me about anything. I had a headlight out, needed to fax my insurance, but … was not assumed to have a weapon, or drugs, in my possession. I was not treated with disrespect.
When I asked the state police lieutenant why these officers were so different, he told me that different departments train officers differently. So, this means that some police officers working for the state are trained to be hostile towards everyday citizens for having a headlight out?
Having just read “Pedaling Upstate” [July 27], I must say I was quite surprised by the amount of space you gave to dissing the road conditions in N.Y. I am a regular rider from Vermont to Saranac Lake and around that section of the Adirondack Park, and I must say I find the roads in N.Y. a quantum leap better than Vermont roads. I would suggest the writer try riding north from Essex, Vermont, on Route 15, Route 28 or Old Stage Road. Or perhaps he could try riding on Route 2 toward Montpelier (or even State Street in our capitol) or Route 128 up to St. Albans.
The League of American Bicyclists recently downgraded Vermont to a grade of D as a tourist destination for cyclists, based entirely on the poor infrastructure in our state. Perhaps Seven Days could send someone out to ride around this state on a bicycle to report on road conditions from a cyclist’s point of view. Be prepared for a big workman’s comp claim and a kidney transplant for the reporter.
Due to a misinterpretation of state law by Vermont Department of Public Safety staff, last week’s story, “Vermont Legalized Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Earlier This Year — So Where Are They?,” contained incorrect information: Vermont’s medical marijuana dispensaries will be up and running by July 1, 2012, not 2014. On that date, patients can legally buy medical marijuana.
Also, the name of percussionist Eduardo Leandro was misspelled in a calendar caption last week.