Paul Heintz does our democracy a great service by presenting readers with information to assess whether elected officials are being influenced by certain campaign contributions [Fair Game: “Who’s Chummy With Shummy,” September 19]. Unfortunately, his laudable attempts to follow the money took him one joke over the line with his insinuation that Gov. Shumlin’s position on marijuana law reform results from recent donations from “Big Bong,” Heintz’s label for nonprofit groups supporting marijuana legalization and/or greater patient access to medical marijuana.
Since his days as Senate President, Shumlin has been an outspoken leader in the effort to end the failed war on pot. He has consistently and eloquently articulated the concern that we’re misallocating law-enforcement resources on marijuana prosecution.
I am one of the many Vermonters who have long appreciated Shumlin’s leadership at a time when many politicians shy away for fear of being labeled as “soft on crime” or “sending the wrong message to our children.” It’s high time we stopped making criminals of otherwise productive, law-abiding citizens who wish to smoke marijuana safely in the privacy of their own homes. Shumlin’s smart and sincere stance is one of the main reasons why I have donated to his campaign. Accurately analyzing money’s influence in politics requires context to understand whether a politician took a position because he received a donation or whether he received a donation because he is championing a cause he believes in. In a truly “Fair Game,” Heintz would have provided readers with more of Shumlin’s history on this important issue.
[Re “Three Years Later, Burlington Telecom Is Still Stuck on Pause,” September 19]: Perspective is everything when it comes to Burlington Telecom. Both city hall and Montpelier see only a lump of coal when it comes to understanding the asset we have in BT’s ultra-high-speed fiber connection to the world. While businesses like ours — that move massive amounts of data every day — can’t grow here without it.
I can’t speak to the failures of management in the past, but I do know Burlington has one of the few all-fiber, all-digital networks in the U.S. It’s the envy of cities around the world, and we are ignoring its true value at our peril.
It’s time to stop slamming Burlington Telecom and move on. It doesn’t matter who owns it; all that matters is it exists.
Imagine what Burlington’s sanitation was like before citywide sewers; our need for efficient electricity before Burlington Electric; or our limping-along downtown before some smart folks had the vision to fight the flight to the ’burbs and big boxes and create the Church Street Marketplace.
Both Burlington and Vermont are sitting on a hidden gem. And we can’t see it before our eyes.
It’s time for those with vision to figure out the money, see the lump of coal as a diamond in the rough and the most undiscovered jobs-creation program this state has seen since the national highway system in the ’50s.
If we really want to work here and be a part of what’s out there, this is the best path to the future.
Loved the “Gone fission” pun, regarding the closing of the Gentilly-2 nuke plant in Québec [Facing Facts, September 19]. Ditto the Tim Newcomb Vermont Yankee cartoon in the same issue. I’ve got a new name for the aging Vermont-based reactor, owned by an out-of-state company that is deaf to the wishes of the majority of Vermonters: “Vermont Yanking.” Given the history of infrastructure malfunctions and safety events at the decrepit plant, including the cooling-tower collapse, the radioactivity detected in underground pipes that the company originally said didn’t exist and the traveling tritium leaks, I’m hoping Entergy will stop yanking our chain before a full-fledged chain reaction occurs. Our neighbors to the north are closing their out-of-date G2 reactor, and it’s time for ours to go, too. Gone fission, No. 2!
[Re “Jack Is Back: The Republican Candidate for Attorney General Makes His Case,” September 12]: How many teats does a cow have? Answer, according to Wikipedia: “Four main teats are found on a cow’s udder, however, occasionally a female may have one or two extra teats that are nonfunctional. This could be due to genetics, and may either be bred out in the dairy industry, and simply dealt with a pair of sterile scissors.” Apparently, Jack McMullen was not entirely wrong after all.
Here is a partial list of “out-of-state carpetbaggers” politicians elected, though not born, in Vermont: Howard Dean, Bill Doyle, Bernie Sanders, Jim Douglas, Richard Snelling, the senior Thomas Salmon, Shap Smith. Guess who was not even born in the USA? Madeleine Kunin.
Vanessa Albarelli-St. Louis
The story on Jack McMullen [“Jack Is Back: The Republican Candidate for Attorney General Makes His Case,” September 12] led with the tale of his race with Fred Tuttle for the Republican senate nomination. However, it left out the thing that Fred asked Jack in their debate that did him in: “How many town meetings have you attended?” Answer: none. “Well, that’s too bad,” Fred said. “How many school board meetings have you gone to?” Answer: none.
The story also failed to mention whether McMullen is yet a member of the Vermont bar. As of the day after the primary, he wasn’t. That a major party would run a candidate for attorney general who can’t even practice law here amazes me.
Editor’s note: Andy Bromage’s story did, in fact, mention that McMullen is not licensed to practice law in Vermont. McMullen’s response: “I’m in the process of becoming a member of the Vermont bar.”
[Re Whisky Tango Foxtrot: “What’s Up With the Baseball Players on Spear Street?”, September 12]: I grew up in the ’50s in New York City. Dad was a Giants fan; Mom was a Yankees fan. Aunt was a Dodgers fan. We would alternate Sundays among each team and its home park. I share the same birthday as Willie Mays — May 6 — although different years of birth. When I was 10, my dad took me out of school to go to a Giants game, and I got and still have Willie Mays’ autograph on the scorecard of that day’s game. Thanks for the article. It brought back a lot of warm and fond memories of the time and era, when ballplayers played hurt and sick — and were pure talent.