You might be tempted to feel sorry for the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus [“Earlier Deadlines and a Wrecked Press Imperil the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus,” August 31.] However, in this particular observer’s opinion, many of the TA’s injuries have been self-inflicted. I recall a telemarketer hell-bent on setting me up with a “limited time offer” for a special rate that was the same as the regular rate for the Times Argus. After a long, futile argument on the matter, I finally asked her, “Why would I take your introductory offer to the Times Argus, when I already subscribe?”
As competent reporters and other staff were replaced with inexperienced newbies — or nobody — the volume of quality, useful and local content continued to diminish until the Times Argus had shriveled to a typo-filled shell of its former self. The Times Argus never was the New York Times, but at one time it was a perfectly respectable publication that seemed interested in meeting the needs of its central Vermont readers, including this one.
My heart goes out to the workers who remain, as I am certain most are a dedicated bunch, trying as best as they can, and the flood must have been a disastrous setback. It must be a bit like dairy farming: If you want conditions to change, just wait a day or two and they almost certainly will… get worse. Regardless, when it comes to the print edition, management at the Times Argus seems to have done more than enough to destroy the paper on its own. It didn’t need a flood to do that.
$30 Million for Nothing
Thank you for doing an article on the Champlain Parkway [“Burlington’s Ill-Fated Champlain Parkway: Are We Finally There Yet?” August 17]. I am surprised and disheartened to see the lack of interest in and understanding of this major happening. If this road gets permitted, we will spend up to $30 million to build a road that is supposed to “lesson the truck traffic through residential streets.” The design does not lesson the traffic; it only moves the traffic from one residential neighborhood to another — from the southern end of Pine Street to the northern end and west.
If we have money to build roads, we should be doing all that we can to encourage and accommodate alternative transportation: bikes, pedestrians, busses, etc. In the proposed Champlain Parkway, we actually lose some existing bike lanes. Why would we do this? This plan may have made some sense 40 years ago, when initially proposed, but not today. I live on Maple Street and can attest to the high level of bike and pedestrian traffic. Bringing more traffic through this residential neighborhood is a bad idea.
P.S. Since I started this letter, Hurricane Irene has devastated much of Vermont. Luckily, Burlington escaped serious damage from this storm, but we also have a responsibility to do what we can to help less fortunate neighbors. I cannot believe the state could possibly spend any money on the poorly designed Champlain Parkway given that we need every dollar and more to help restore our destroyed and damaged neighboring villages, farms, roads and structures.
George Plumb’s letter on “Climate Change Behavior” [Feedback, September 7] says that each of the folks on VPR’s tour of Scotland will add two tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. It’s always unclear how such figures are calculated, but they probably come from taking the CO2 generated by the flights and dividing that by the number of passengers. The planes will fly with or without the VPR tourists, however; all they are responsible for is the extra CO2 that results from their being on the plane rather than not. If each adds, say, 200 pounds to a plane weighing 300,000 pounds, the amount of CO2 they actually generate will be all but unmeasurable (and probably less than Plumb adds by driving his car each week). VPR Scotland tourists, go in peace!
As one of the “group of Vermonters [who] will climb aboard a jet plane in Burlington to fly to Scotland to enjoy a tour sponsored by Vermont Public Radio,” I resent George Plumb’s assertion that I am selfishly contributing to so-called “global warming” [“Climate Change Behavior,” Feedback, September 7]. The Earth’s climate is constantly shifting and adjusting; sometime in recorded history, the ice-covered land mass of “Greenland” was green, for instance. Attributing this entirely, or even largely, to human activity is presumptuous.
On a personal note, I’m annoyed that some smug, self-righteous killjoy is trying to make me feel guilty for enjoying the first vacation I’ve had in more than 10 years. Over a pint of fine Scottish ale, I’ll drink this Celtic toast to Plumb: “Pogue Mahone!”
As a UVM staffer not yet represented by any union, I take exception to Max Tracy’s assertion that “1200 to 1500… staff want to align with the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association” [Fair Game, September 7]. What is missing from this press release is the fact that unionizing efforts have already been underway on campus with demonstrated support for United Staff. US is self-directed and independent, and draws upon UVM-centric expertise to build sustainable relationships necessary for a collaborative workplace. US dues will stay local and affordable, with no bureaucratic middle layer to fund. US is truly a grassroots movement.
A Different Union
Shay Totten should follow up with data that can substantiate the following claim, printed in his Fair Game column [September 7]: “…somewhere between 1200 to 1500 clerical, research and administrative support staff want to align with the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association, according to Maxwell Tracy, an admissions counselor who is on the organizing committee. ‘The UVM staff are the most fired up in at least a decade, and certainly the most fired up since I’ve been here,’ said Tracy.”
Those numbers cannot be supported based on information that I have as an active member of the organizing committee for the labor organization United Staff, which is actively organizing fellow staff members, and which does have data and numbers to support both our work and our organizing. Tracy should have been asked the basis for his claim. Although the staff at UVM may be fired up, what basis does Tracy offer to support the fact that this fired-up state has anything to do with the Vermont NEA? It is not a group I am willing to support. In fact, I work to educate my fellow staff members about why I will not join the Vermont NEA. In fact, I have some essays on the topic.
I work toward organizing my colleagues because we can best represent ourselves. United Staff is an independent labor organization, a true grassroots movement, and we are not affiliated in any way with the Vermont NEA or any other national union.
Typo about Sanders?
Re [“War of the Words: Chris Hedges on 9/11, Qaddafi and Sen. Bernie Sanders,” September 7]: Possible misprint? Did Chris Hedges really call Bernie Sanders “irrelevant” or could it be that he said “irreverent”? The latter would make more sense in context. Check your notes.
Editor’s note: Hedges did, indeed, call Bernie Sanders “irrelevant” in reference to the senator’s vote on health care reform.