As a short-lived employee of Thibodeau’s Ice Cream, I was glad to see your article [“Small Vermont Retailers Frozen Out by Ben & Jerry’s New Purchasing Rules,” April 24]. Everything is true except for the minimum-order requirement. Eight cases is the minimum, but that includes all products. A 64-pint, eight-case minimum on Ben & Jerry’s is not correct. I am not sure what can be done given Unilever’s faith in Thibodeau’s. Hopefully the independent grocers have enough power to change things. Thanks again for the article.
[Re “In Vermont Architecture, Does Nostalgia Trump New Ideas?” April 10]: I enjoyed Kevin Kelley’s story and wholeheartedly agree with those panelists who believe that Vermont’s devotion to a 19th-century design template has stifled fresh and innovative public architecture. I would go a step further and say that, in a world that is rushing into the future, we risk becoming a stodgy and somewhat musty B&B in the “global village” we seek to prosper in.
What Vermont needs more than anything else is to attract and keep young people in the state. Vermont has a reputation for progressive public policy and a shared environmental ethic that should be expressed by a bold, 21st-century architecture that looks cutting edge, which is where young people want to be. It also reflects our transition to a prosperous, information-age economy.
Exciting architecture is not incompatible with preserving the village at the center of daily life, either. Switzerland is one example of modern design coexisting amiably with ancient villages and a working landscape. We could definitely do worse than to share their brand. Vermont is already at the cutting edge of many things. We should look like it.
Care for Everyone
Kudos to Kathryn Flagg for her article [“Obamacare and the Exchange Could Make Health Care Unaffordable for Some Vermonters,” April 17]. Despite the highly commendable efforts of Gov. Shumlin and his administration, the legislature and many health-care-reform advocates to make sense out of these nonsensical exchanges, it appears that many Vermonters, especially those from Catamount/VHAP, will suffer higher costs under them.
This is sad. Once more, many Vermonters will lose out because this nation cannot, or will not, summon the moral courage to cover all citizens in one system like so many other nations do. Thankfully, Vermont is the lone exception to this national lack of fiber, though, unfortunately, this cannot happen until 2017. I wholeheartedly agree with Sen. Tim Ashe’s (D/P-Chittenden) assessment about ensuring that those “with the dumb luck to have cancer or some other chronic disease shouldn’t be the ones we sock with new costs.” I am one of those who had that dumb luck.
I am now on VHAP and will most likely be one of those forced onto the exchanges in 2014. The exchanges are not our fault; that Vermont’s budget is mind-numbingly tight this year is not our fault. The budget will be this way long into the future. As Sen. Ashe suggested, we need to finance and subsidize these exchanges properly so that no Vermonter must suffer because of them. Otherwise, the ranks of our uninsured will swell with Vermonters like me and the woman named “Susan” in Flagg’s article.
Provided the information on the city-council deal is accurate [Fair Game, April 10], it leads me to the following comments, conclusions and opinions: While deals take place in backrooms, alleys and trusty woods (lyrics thanks to Bob Seger; he is back on tour), one like this involving the council president race, where the non-Dems are the guaranteed victors next year, is just impossible and wrong.
New councilors, if there are any next year, can and should not be bound by one evening of night moves, where the councilors seemed to be wearing shields (Seger again) over their eyes covering the reality of future councils in this decision (deal). Redistricting will take effect in the coming years, possibly changing the council from 14 to eight or 16 or whatever members, again making the deal null and void.
I stand proud and tall like a rock (Seger again), but not of the Burlington City Council. Turn the page (Seger again).
All About ECOS
We commend Kathryn Flagg and Seven Days for bringing the issues of stor m water, hazard mitigation and water quality to the attention of your readers [“Vermont’s Rain-Barrel Project: Lake Saver or Drop in the Bucket?” March 27]. Too often the issue of storm-water runoff is only discussed in the context of new development, when it is the existing built environment that is already causing so much harm.
The rain-barrel project mentioned in the article as being funded by a $40,000 grant by the ECOS Project is correct. However, the ECOS Project is not a nonprofit. The ECOS Project — which stands for Environment, Community, Opportunity, Sustainability — is the name of the integrated planning process sponsored by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation with more than 60 additional partners. This process has resulted in the ECOS Plan, which, for the first time, combines plans for economic development, transportation, and regional-land-use and natural-resources planning in one plan. It also addresses other issues important to the Chittenden County community, including education, health, housing and equity.
The ECOS Plan is in the final stages of refinement and is in the public-hearing process. We welcome comments and questions. You can read, download and comment on the plan at ecosproject.com.
Women at Work
I respectfully must disagree with Judith Levine [Poli Psy: “Leaning in Isn’t the Point,” March 27] to “never mind Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.” Sandberg intends to inspire professional women at all levels who have long been held back by institutionalized gender inequality. She focuses on tactics to improve one’s career and workplace. At no point does Sandberg state that this is the only piece of the puzzle. She does not claim to represent all working women — far from it. Her website, LeanIn.org, specifically opens the door for everyone to share their struggles.
Although many of her strategies are aimed at salaried women, many of them can be implemented by workers at any level. She asks: What would you do in your work life if you weren’t afraid? Who can’t relate to that? I agree that Barbara Garson’s book about the 99 percent is an important piece of the discussion and merits a concerted focus on minimum-wage earners. But can’t both voices be heard? It takes a village — that means many different tactics to achieve a goal.
Vermont women at institutions, corporations and nonprofits can use Sandberg’s advice to negotiate for themselves and recognize their own worth. These same women can use Garson’s advice to go to Montpelier and testify for paid-sick-day legislation. When the national war on women is still raging, why must we — fellow women, especially — tear down anyone who dares to speak up? Let’s celebrate each feminist who takes strides to close the still-present gender gap at any level.
Hainley is president of Burlington Business and Professional Women.
Dollar Wise or Foolish?
Readers respond to our story “Vermont Versus Dollar Stores: Fair Fight?” [April 17]
Enosburg Falls proudly features two of these crappy, low-rent discount emporiums. Richford weeps...
Why can’t Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development come out and say we don’t want a national chain store that sucks the money out of the community and destroys the town’s character? I’m very aware that people have limited incomes, but these stores mostly sell fringe items that people buy because the store is there — not because the store is filling a need.
Thanks to Kevin Kelley for raising the issue of the proliferation of dollar stores in Vermont. In the article he mentions that plans to locate two dollar stores in the town of Royalton were defeated under the state’s land-use law, Act 250. It is important to know how they were defeated, because other communities may want to follow this example.
In both cases, the proposed stores failed to conform to the local and regional plans. Strong policies in both these documents call for retail development to take place in downtowns and village centers and make it clear that retail development at interstate interchanges and along arterial highways is not allowed. To avoid the battles that towns like Chester are experiencing, towns could adopt similar language in their municipal plans and zoning regulations if they want to see retail stores focused in their town centers.
Regional planning commissions could follow the example of the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission and adopt land-use policies supporting retail development on Vermont’s main streets and not in sprawl locations, such as highway interchanges and strip commercial areas.
Why don’t you people in Vermont realize that you need businesses to grow? Every time a new company wants to open a new store, it takes them 10 to 15 years to do so. It’s just the idiotism of the people in Vermont.
As a South Hero resident, I read this story with interest, particularly how there are not many vocal defenders of Dollar General. As a supporter of the project, I would like to point out why I believe this perception exists. The fundamental fact is: Those who would benefit the most — at the lower end of the economic spectrum — are simply too busy trying to survive. They simply don’t have the time, awareness or confidence in their ability to influence change to speak up.
“Not consistent with the rural nature of the community,” “ugly and obtrusive,” “cheap quality,” “made in China,” “big corporations,” etc., are the specious arguments of those opposing Dollar General. Maligned as they are, the Dollar Generals, Big Lots and Walmarts provide a good service to that 30 to 40 percent of the community that could really stand to save a few bucks. The closest store of this type — the Dollar General in Colchester — is around 15 miles from South Hero. That’s not an insignificant drive for those who can ill afford it, considering today’s gasoline costs.
You quote Jocelyn Smith, the South Hero activist against Dollar General, saying, “We’re not making any judgments against the people who shop at dollar stores.” Well, I’m not reluctant to make a judgment about those people who are against it. I would submit that the great majority are the more affluent in the community — dedicated to maintaining their vision of a quaint, bucolic town — at the expense of the less-affluent, indigenous members of the community. When a town starts concerning itself more with how it looks rather than by how it benefits its people, that town has lost its moral compass.
Great timing on this article, as our town has also been approached by Dollar General. This company has met the preliminary request by the planning board, and the town residents are beginning to chatter and raise concerns about this type of business in the town of Georgia. Like South Hero, it has two Dollar Generals within a 10-mile radius of where the new location is proposed.
Residents need to get involved early and stay up to date about what is happening. In the Georgia case, the Dollar General had approached the board months ago seeking permits. By the time word spread and the momentum raised, it could be too late, as the Dollar General may meet all requirements and a permit can be issued based on the Georgia zoning laws.
Vermonters need to stay proactive, get involved, ask the town to engage in social media to communicate agendas and minutes. It is harder to fight reactively than proactively; our communities are what we give to them and what we value. Give of your time and demonstrate and articulate to elective officials how the community envisions growth and development that is congruent with the quality and value of the town.
In an April 17 story about health-care reform [“Obamacare and the Exchange Could Make Health Care Unaffordable for Some Vermonters”], we offered an example of one Vermonter whose health-care premium could go up between $13 and $60 a month when Obamacare kicks in on January 1. However, because child-support payments would not be included in overall income calculations under the new system, this person’s increased premium would only go up between $9 and $11 each month under the House’s proposed subsidy plan for the health-care exchange.